Thursday, March 23, 2017

Brobarians by Lindsay Ward

by Lindsay Ward
Published March 28, 2017
Two Lions
40 Pages
Fiction Picture Book
Review copy provided by publisher

Goodreads Summary
This is the tale of the mighty Brobarians. Two warriors, once at peace…now at odds.
Iggy the Brobarian has taken over the land. Can Otto the Big Brobarian win it back? Or maybe, with a little help, the two brothers can find peace again…

This is an epic—and adorable—story of sibling rivalry and resolution.

My Thoughts
This engaging book shows the power and fun of two small siblings with big imaginations. The dramatic prose tells of an epic tale while the childlike illustrations offer adorable juxtapostion. It would be very fun to read the text to students first before showing them the illustrations to see what they picture. 

Young readers are exposed to rich vocabulary such as: counsel, plundered, conquered, colossal, seized, mischief, and many more throughout the story. 

The creative illustrations are not to be outdone by the inventive text. I loved looking at the pictures that were rendered in cut paper, pencil, crayon on chipboard (according to the front pages).  I know my 4th graders will really enjoy looking closely at each page. You can see the pencil marks in the drawings and each pages has a wonderful blend of overlapping textures. The end pages feature a backyard map that I would swear was drawn by a 5 year-old if I didn't know better. 

I would recommend Brobarians for ages 3-8, but it would also make a great mentor text for older elementary students. 

See what others have to say about Brobarians:

About Lindsay Ward
Lindsay Ward would never have written this book if she hadn't stayed up late one night watching Conan the Barbarian. She finds the idea of baby barbarians to be very funny . . . and hopes you do too. Lindsay's recent books include Rosco vs. the Baby and The Importance of Being 3. Most days you can find her writing and sketching at home in Ohio with her family. Learn more about her at or on Twitter: @lindsaymward.

I would like to thank Two Lions and Blue Slip Media for providing a giveaway of this book. 
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Monday, March 13, 2017

It's Monday, What Are You Reading? March 13, 2017

Please visit the amazing blogs: Teach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readers who host this terrific meme each week.

Hey remember me? I used to have a blog where I read lots of books and shared them? Well, I have still been reading, but wow has it been a long time since I shared! I am blaming my focus on trying to obtain national board certification and just the craziness of school and family. I hope you are all doing well!
Here are a few books I have read recently.  
Click on the covers to learn more about each book. 

Check out my post and enter the giveaway that still has a couple of days to go! Really sweet story of friendship and teamwork. 

It is very clear to me now, why this book was an award winner! #weneeddiversebooks

Really loved this middle grade novel. #weneeddiversebooks

What an amazing collection of authors and stories for upper middle grades! #weneeddiversebooks

Currently Reading

Friday, March 10, 2017

Duck and Hippo In the Rainstorm by Jonathan London and a Giveaway

Duck and Hippo In the Rainstorm
by Jonathan London 
Illustrated by Andrew Joyner
Published March 1, 2017
Two Lions
Picture Book
32 Pages
Review copy provided by publisher and Blue Slip Media

Goodreads Summary
Duck and Hippo may be completely different, but they are best friends. When playful Duck invites careful Hippo to go for a walk in the rain, they have trouble sharing Duck’s umbrella. But Duck and Hippo won’t let that stop them. Soon they are puddle-jumping and sailing down the river! Until…WHOOOSH! A terrible wind sends the umbrella flying up, up, up into the air, with one friend holding on. What will Duck and Hippo do now? Jonathan London’s charming text and Andrew Joyner’s delightful art bring to life two lovable friends in this fun new series.

My Thoughts
These two great friends are not about to let a little rain stop them from enjoying a spring day. Although they face some obstacles, they always cooperate and think outside the box to make everything work out "just fine". The story reaches a tense climax when Duck is blown way up in the air by a gust of wind with his open umbrella as Hippo frantically chases him. 

Jonathan London uses rich vocabulary such as plopped, creek, whirled, boulders, spluttered, and sloshed when telling this story. The repetitive pattern of "But that didn't work." and "...that worked just fine" will invite young readers to read along. 

The illustrations by Andrew Joyner offer a variety of layouts, patterns and sizes. Duck, with his bright red jacket, and Hippo, in his blue stripes and red bowtie, capturing the readers focus on each page. 
With themes of friendship, teamwork and resilience, Duck and Hippo in the Rainstorm is sure to be an entertaining and valuable read aloud for ages 3-8. 

See what others have to say about this book:
The Children's Book Review
Kid Lit Frenzy

Enter the Giveaway! I would like to thank Two Lions and Blue Slip Media for sponsoring a giveaway of a copy of the book. 
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Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Mapping My Day by Julie Dillemuth

Mapping My Day
by Julie Dillemuth
Illustrated by Laura Wood
Expected Publication March 13, 2017
Magination Press
Picture Book
Review copy provided by publisher and Blue Slip Media

Goodreads Summary
Flora loves drawing maps and uses them to tell us about her life! Mapping My Day introduces spatial relationships and representation: where things and places are in relation to other things. This book intends to show readers how maps can convey information, inspire children to draw their own maps, and introduce basic map concepts and vocabulary. Spatial thinking is how we use concepts of space for problem solving and is shown to be a key skill in science, technology, engineering, and math. Includes a "Note to Parents and Caregivers" with extra mapping activities.

My Thoughts
As I was reading this book, I immediately thought of the 2nd and third grade teachers that teach early mapping and geography skills. This books would make a good read aloud to launch the unit. 
Through her narration, Flora weaves in the geography and mapping skills that she uses through her day starting when she wakes up with the sun in her face since her room faces east. She shows the treasure map she created to find the box of treasures she has hidden from her brother and describes why she planted maple tree seeds to create shade on the playground slide that faces west. 

Many maps are weaved throughout the books using symbols, legends, grids, and a compass rose. The list of geography and mapping terms in the book include:
cardinal directions
compass rose
map scale 

The back of the book contains blank maps and activities that can also be downloaded and printed using the link provided. 

The book's  illustrations are simple with a variety of page formats. The characters represented are racially diverse. Flora's adorable shaggy dog makes many appearances throughout the story. I really love the cover that has various maps around the edges. 

I would recommend Mapping My Day for grades 1-3. 

About the Author
Julie Dillemuth was mystified by maps until she figured out how to read them and make them, and it was a particularly difficult map that inspired her to become a spatial cognition geographer. She lives with her family and writes children's books in Santa Barbara, California, where the west coast faces south. Visit her at her website:

Check out the fun activity pages on Julie’s website, and at:

Visit illustrator Laura Wood's website

I would like to thank Blue Slip Media for offering a giveaway of Mapping My Day. Enter in the rafflecopter below. 
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Friday, February 17, 2017

Mr. Fuzzbuster Knows He's the Favorite by Stacey McAnulty

Mr. Fuzzbuster Knows He's the Favorite 
by Stacey McAnulty
Illustrated by Edward Hemingway
Published Feb. 7, 2017
Two Lions
Picture Book
40 Pages
Review copy provided by Blueslip Media

Summary From Amazon
Mr. Fuzzbuster knew he was Lily’s favorite. They did everything together. Naps. Story time. Walks. And more naps. But now four more animals lived in the house.…

To prove he’s still Lily’s favorite, Mr. Fuzzbuster will have to ask her, but will her answer surprise him? This funny, heartwarming story is for every child who has ever wondered if there’s a favorite in the house.

My Thoughts
    What is your favorite color? Do you have a favorite food? What is your favorite game? Kids love to talk about favorites. I love the concept of Mr. Fuzzbuster investigating to prove that he is Lily's favorite pet, when the other four pets believe that they hold the top spot with Lily. 
    The repetitive pattern adds a bit of predictability as Mr. Fuzzbuster has to listen to Lily tell each pet that they are her favorite...(fish, lizard, bird, dog). When he is convinced that Bruiser the dog is Lily's favorite, Mr. Fuzzbuster is ready to leave the house with his tail between his legs until he remembers what Lily means to him. 
    The adorable illustrations, done with pencil, ink and digital media, will have kids talking about which character is their favorite. There is a variety of background colors and textures and page layouts that make the book visually interesting. 
    Mr. Fuzzbuster Know's He's the Favorite lends itself to some interesting classroom discussions. I can imagine kids talking about their own favorite pets or debating which pet should be Lily's favorite. 

I would highly recommend Mr. Fuzzbuster Know's He's the Favorite for kids ages 3-8. 
But, don't just take my word for it, see what others have to say about this book:

I would like to thank Two Lions and Blue Slip Media for offering a giveaway of Mr. Fuzzbuster Know's He's the Favorite. Enter in the Rafflecopter below.

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Saturday, February 11, 2017

Jasper and the Riddle of Riley's Mine-Guest Post by Caroline Starr Rose

Jasper and the Riddle of Riley's Mine
by Caroline Starr Rose
Published Feb, 2017
G.P. Putnam's and Sons Books for Young Readers
288 Pages
Historical Fiction
Middle Grade

Goodreads Summary
Hoping to strike it rich, two brothers escape an abusive father and set out on a treacherous journey to Alaska during the Klondike Gold Rush. 
Desperate to get away from their drunkard of a father, eleven-year-old Jasper and his older brother Melvin often talk of running away, of heading north to Alaska to chase riches beyond their wildest dreams. The Klondike Gold Rush is calling, and Melvin has finally decided the time to go is now--even if that means leaving Jasper behind. But Jasper has other plans, and follows his brother aboard a steamer as a stowaway. 
Onboard the ship, Jasper overhears a rumor about One-Eyed Riley, an old coot who's long since gone, but is said to have left clues to the location of his stake, which still has plenty of gold left. The first person to unravel the clues and find the mine can stake the claim and become filthy rich. Jasper is quick to catch gold fever and knows he and Melvin can find the mine--all they have to do is survive the rough Alaskan terrain, along with the steep competition from the unscrupulous and dangerous people they encounter along the way. 

In an endearing, funny, pitch-perfect middle grade voice, Caroline Starr Rose tells another stellar historical adventure young readers will long remember.

My Thoughts
I really enjoyed this story of Jasper and his brother Mel as they face MANY challenges on their journey to try to strike it rich. This book held on and would not let me go. I felt as though I was right there with Jasper every step along the way. Caroline Starr Rose is a gifted writer who understands her readers. 

Students that enjoy lots of adventure will love Jasper and the Riddle of Riley's Mine. 

I am thrilled that Caroline Starr Rose decided to stop by today. 

She answers the question:
How was writing JASPER AND THE RIDDLE OF RILEY’S MINE different from writing your previous novels?

At first glance, Jasper and the Riddle of Riley’s Mine isn’t much different than my other novels. All three are historical fiction about characters who bravely face their everyday worlds. But Jasper’s story steps outside the bounds of my previous work in a couple significant ways.

My first two novels, May B. and Blue Birds, are in verse, while Jasper’s written in prose. That’s significant for a whole host of reasons. A verse novel is like a photo album, a collection of images that capture one moment and add to the whole. But prose is like a movie with rolling film. Scenes run deeper and wider. While verse is spare and focuses on emotion and imagery, Prose is verbose. It lets a story unfold at its leisure. Though emotion and imagery can play a part, they’re not central to the form. A book of prose has far fewer scenes than a verse novel. There’s so much room in a single scene I wasn’t sure how to handle the limitless space. I raced through my first few drafts, worried I’d lose a reader’s interest with all those words. My editor encouraged me to take my time and luxuriate in the book’s present moment. It was like learning a new way to communicate. 

Researching the history for this novel was also a different experience from the behind-the-scenes work I did on the other two. May B., set on the Kansas frontier, is what I like to call history light: There are no historical events or figures anchoring the story to a set date. It is simply a book that takes place in another era. And while Blue Birds centers on a specific moment in time —England’s first (doomed) colony in the Americas — and includes true historical figures, very little is known about the events that unfolded on Roanoke island 430 years ago. Compare that to Jasper’s setting, the Klondike Gold Rush, where first-hand accounts are easily accessible. In fact, newspapers, letters, journals, stories, poetry, and a whole host of history books have been devoted to this event alone. It was almost overwhelming, the amount of information I had in front of me.

Another key difference between this book and my others is that it sold before I’d written a single word. Though I had an idea in mind and a feel for Jasper’s character, I hadn’t begun researching or drafting. While Blue Birds was with my editor, I had to learn the tricky process of writing while on deadline. If that’s not a crash course on the writing life, I don’t know what is!

There are so many other things I could mention: writing from a boy’s perspective (how fun this was, and how it sometimes exposed hidden biases I didn’t realize I had), the complexity of weaving a mystery into the story (What were the clues Jasper had to unravel to find Riley’s gold mine? Where would he find them? What would they mean?), or telling a story over a 2,000-mile journey. Each brought their own challenges and opportunities to learn. 

This is the book that taught me if I kept showing up to do the work, someday I’d run out of mistakes to make, someday I’d move closer to the story I was trying to tell: A historical novel with a character who bravely faces his everyday world, just like the other two.

Thanks again to Caroline Starr Rose for sharing about her writing here today. Please check out some of her other books. 

Please visit these other stops along the blog tour for Jasper and the Riddle of Riley's Mine. 

Wednesday, February 8th – Teach Mentor Texts

Thursday, February 9th – Mr. Schu Reads

Friday, February 10th – Mrs. Knott’s Book Nook

Saturday, February 11th – Late Bloomer’s Book Blog

Sunday, February 12th – Children’s Book Review

Monday, February 13th – LibLaura5

Tuesday, February 14th – All the Wonders

Monday, January 16, 2017

It's Monday, What Are You Reading?-January 16, 2017

Please visit the amazing blogs: Teach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readers who host this terrific meme each week.

It was a picture book week for me this week. 
Click on the cover to get more info about the book on Goodreads. 

I know several little girls who would LOVE this book!
In my opinion ages 3-8 would like it best.

Sweet, adorable, lovely! A book about finding friendships right in front of you. Ages 3-8 in my opinion. 

The librarian at my public library recommended these 
last two for me to read. 

Cute! Sort of a story of not knowing you want something until it's gone. Ages 5-8

So some might think this one is in poor taste, but I found these poems about how these animals "bought the farm" to be very funny. Ages 6-10 

Still Listening

Up Next? Not really sure right now. 

What are you reading friends?