The Misadventures of Salem Hyde by Frank Cammuso



Spelling Trouble
Author and Illustrator: Frank Cammuso
Published October 1st, 2013 by Harry N. Abrams


Big Birthday Bash
Author and Illustrator: Frank Cammuso
Published May 20th, 2014 by Amulet Books

Spelling Troubles Goodreads Summary: Salem Hyde just isn’t like other kids. For one thing, she’s stubborn, independent, and impulsive. For another, she’s a witch. Salem acts first and thinks later—which means most of her thinking involves coming up with excuses!

Good thing she’s been assigned an animal companion, Lord Percival J. Whamsford III. This over-anxious cat doesn’t like Salem calling him “Whammy,” and Salem doesn’t like listening to his long-winded explanations as to why she shouldn’t do something . . . like enter the class spelling bee.

Salem knows she can beat all her classmates at spells, no problem. Too late, she realizes the competition is about spelling words, not magic. And there’s nothing like a misspelled spell to cause all kinds of havoc!

Big Birthday Bash Goodreads Summary: Young witch Salem Hyde is stubborn, impulsive, and loves flying. Her cat companion, Whammy, is nervous, careful, and loves staying on the ground. Somehow, though, they’re best friends. In this second book in the series, Salem is invited to a birthday party, and she wants to make sure everything goes perfectly. But from the invitations to the presents, party games, and spells gone awry, nothing happens exactly the way it should, and she’ll need Whammy’s help to sort it all out. 

My Review: I made sure to pick this up at NCTE from Abrams because Frank Cammuso is a big hit in my classroom. His series, Knights of the Lunch Table (great allusion to King Arthur!) is loved by many a reader (so much so that I think my copy of the first in the series just bit the dust and I’ll need to replace it). Although they did tell me that readers of TKotLT are older than the intended audience for Salem Hyde I wanted to make sure to read it because I was sure I was going to enjoy it—and I did! I’m also so pleased with the embracing of graphic novels that have been happening over the last 5 years and even graphic novels for young readers. The amount of graphic novels for young readers is really starting to accumulate and I have been impressed with most of the ones I’ve read, Salem Hyde included. I feel that many of the juvenile graphic novels are well done, multi-layered, and truly respectable just like the YA graphic novels.

Salem Hyde reminds me of Sabrina the Teenage Witch, but a bit more of a trouble maker. Salem made me laugh and made me shake my head. She is one headstrong, independent little lady who, mixed with trying to figure out all of her match powers as she grows up as a witch, is a great main character.

Teacher’s Tools for Navigation: These books will find most of its success in children’s hands; however, it could definitely be used as a read aloud. Also, in both of these books Whammy, at one point, tells Salem a story to help teacher her a lesson and they are both based off of classics. In Spelling Trouble it is Moby Dick and in Big Birthday Bash it is Gift of the Magi. Salem Hyde would be a perfect introduction to these two stories for young readers.  Another aspect of Salem Hyde that I, as a teacher, may use in the classroom are the character introductions that were included. Each new character got a “Getting to know ____” with their likes, dislikes, and other fun facts (magic powers, etc.). This would be a fun activity to do when writing a narrative and trying to develop characters.

Discussion Questions: How does Whammy use stories to help Salem understand?; How is Salem a better friend to Edgar than Shelly?; Why was Whammy exactly what Salem needed?

We Flagged: 

Or “Look Inside” Spelling Troubles on Amazon

Read This If You Loved: Babymouse and Squish series by Jennifer and Matthew Holm, Gabby and Gator by James Burk, Luz Makes a Splash by Claudia Davila, Sadie and Ratz by Sonya Hartnett, Lulu series by Judith Viorst, Bink and Gollie series by Kate DiCamillo, Franny K. Stein series by Jim Benton, Marty McGuire series by Kate Messner, Giants Beware by Jorge Aguirre

Recommended For: 

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Halloween Hustle by Charlotte Gunnufson




Halloween Hustle
Author: Charlotte Gunnufson
Illustrator: Kevan J. Atteberry
Published September 3rd, 2013 by Two Lions

Goodreads Summary: In the dark, a funky beat. / Something white with bony feet. / Skeleton dancing up the street, / Doing the Halloween Hustle. Skeleton is dancing his way to a Halloween party but as he grooves across town, he keeps stumbling, tumbling, and falling apart! Can Skeleton stay in one piece long enough to make it to the party?

Kellee’s Review: This is a perfect Halloween book for young readers who want to get into the spirit yet do not want to be scared. The colorful illustrations add an extra element of fun to the book which will suck the readers even more into the book. My favorite part, though, is the rhyming and rhythm. It adds something special to the book that makes it different than other Halloween books.

Ricki’s Review: This is the first book I read to my pregnant belly. My future son was kicking the entire time! It was such an entertaining story, and my husband even listened in. My favorite aspect of this book would easily be the great examples of figurative language. For example, this alliteration: “Gets up and grooves with ghoulish grace” (p. 7), or this consonance: “Bones scatter / What a clatter / Spine is like a broken ladder!” (p. 4). You may also notice the simile in that last passage! Like Kellee, the colorful illustrations also drew me in, and I also loved all of the famous scary characters in the book, like Frankenstein’s Monster and Dracula.

Teacher’s Tools for Navigation: This book is made for reading aloud! It rhymes, has a great rhythm, and has repetitive text for students to read aloud with the teachers. It also has a great message to students and has opportunities for discussion about cause and effect, imagery, and rhyming. Teachers of any level would it beneficial to use this book to teach alliteration, assonance, consonance, similes, and other types of figurative language.

Discussion Questions: What characteristics does the Skeleton have that makes it so he is able to get to the party? What characteristics does the Skeleton have that would make him a new friend?; How does the author use rhymes to convey her message effectively?; Is this book a poem? Use textual evidence to defend your answer.

We Flagged:

“In the dark, a funky beat,
Something white with bony feet.
Skeleton dancing up the street,
Doing the Halloween Hustle.

Bony thumbs and fingers snap.
Bony heels and toes tip-tap.
Knees knock-knock and elbows flap,
Doing the Halloween Hustle.” (p. 2-3)

Skeleton and his Sidekick

Read This If You Loved: Spider and the Fly by Mary Howitt, Dragon’s Halloween by Dav Pilkey, Goodnight Goon by Michael Rex, Monster Mash (Babymouse #9) by Jennifer L. Holm, Scaredy Squirrel Prepares for Halloween by Melanie Watt; Man Made Boy by Jon Skovron

Recommended For: 

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**Thank you to Charlotte Gunnufson for providing us copies for review!**

The Salem Witch Trials: An Unsolved Mystery from History by Jane Yolen & Heidi Elisabet Yolen Stemple


NF PB 2013

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday is hosted by Kid Lit Frenzy and was started to help promote the reading of nonfiction texts. Most Wednesdays, we will be participating and will review a nonfiction text (though it may not always be a picture book).
Be sure to visit Kid Lit Frenzy and see what other nonfiction books are shared this week!


The Salem Witch Trials: An Unsolved Mystery from History
Authors: Jane Yolen & Heidi Elisabet Yolen Stemple
Illustrated by: Roger Roth
Published September 7th, 2004 by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers

Goodreads Summary: In 1692 Salem, Massachusetts, witnessed one of the saddest and most inexplicable chapters in American history. When a group of girls came down with a horrible, mysterious bout of illness, the town doctor looked in his medical books but failed to find a reasonable diagnosis. Pretty soon everyone in town was saying the same thing: The girls were ill because they were under a spell, the spell of witchcraft! And still, the question remains: Why did the hysteria occur? The townspeople had many things to worry about back then: smallpox, strife with the local Indians, a preacher demanding higher wages, and the division of land in the community. But did all of those problems justify a witch hunt?

Become a detective as you read this true story, study the clues, and try to understand the hysteria! The Unsolved Mystery from History series is written by acclaimed author Jane Yolen and former private investigator Heidi Elisabet Yolen Stemple. This is an innovative history lesson that’s sure to keep kids thinking throughout.

Review: The mystery of the Salem Witch Trials is one that has haunted the United States for over 3oo years now and is one that students love to read about (and I do, too!). Most of my thoughts about this book are about how awesome this book is for the classroom. The Yolens seemed to have written it specifically for teachers to use.

Teacher’s Tools For Navigation: This book promotes studying history, inquiry, and vocabulary. The book begins with an introduction to a young girl who enjoys unsolved mysteries from history and then the book is set up like her case notebook. Each page of the case notebook includes a narrative nonfiction section about what was going on in Salem, an informational nonfiction section where facts about the story are explained even more in detail, and then there are vocabulary words from the two sections defined for the reader. Finally, in the back of the book the different theories about what could be the answer to the unsolved mystery are shared and briefly discussed. The set up of this book leads to infinite possibilities of being used in the classroom. Students could debate, write research papers, could do their very own case notebook about a different mystery, etc. Another option is to get all of the Unsolved Mystery from History books and have students get into lit circle groups and have each group read a different mystery then research and share.

Discussion Questions: What do you think happened in Salem? [Could be a wonderful debate or cooperative research presentation/paper in class. Have each students, after reading the different theories, decide which they believe is true. Then within their groups come up with evidence that supports the theory that they believe in.]

We Flagged: Narrative Nonfiction Section: One bitterly cold day in February, Betty and Abigail both fell ill, collapsing onto their small rope beds. They convulsed. They contorted. Their arms and legs jerked about. They shouted bizarre, unintelligible words. They crouched under chairs and cowered as if frightened. In other houses in Salem Village several of their friends began to act the same way.

Informational Nonfiction Section: The other sick girls in Salem village included Ann Punam Jr. (age 12), Mercy Lewis (age 19), Mary Walcott (age 16), Elizabeth Hubbard (age 17), and Mary Warren (age 20). Like Abigail, Elizabeth and Mercy were orphans; Mercy may have witnessed her parents being killed in an Indian attack three years earlier in Main. Mary Walcott had lost her mother when she was eight. Ann and Betty were daughters of landowners, but Marry Warren, Elizabeth, and Mercy were maidservants.

Vocabulary: Convulsed: shook violently, Contorted: Twisted into unusual shapes, Unintelligible: Impossible to understand” (p. 12-13)

Read This If You Loved: I Walk in Dread by Lisa Rowe Fraustino, The Sacrifice by Kathleen Benner Duble, Witch Child by Celia Rees, The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare, Witches: The Absolutely True Tale of Disaster in Salem by Rosalyn Schanzer and other nonfiction books about Salem

Recommended For: 

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