Wednesday, July 27, 2016

New Books From National Geographic

National Geographic Kids has some amazing and informative books. I'd like to share three new 2016 titles that are sure to be a hit with kids of all ages. 

Published May 2016
National Geographic Children's Books
352 Pages
Review copy provided by publisher

Goodreads Summary
This New York Times bestseller is packed with incredible photos, tons of fun facts, crafts, activities, and fascinating features about animals, science, nature, technology, and more. New features include highlights on National Geographic Explorers and their amazing projects (plus, ways you can get involved!); a tour of history's most famous sites; an updated "Fun and Games" chapter filled with
all-new games, jokes, and comics; an exclusive sneak peek from a National Geographic Kids Chapters book; all new weird-but-true facts, crafts, and activities; a new special "17 Facts for 2017" feature in every chapter; updated reference material, and much more.

My Thoughts
Wow! This book is jam packed with information! From history, geography, science and culture-this book has it all. I can see kids poring over it and telling all their friends about the interesting facts they are learning. Great for anyone who loves facts and trivia. 
Of course, it is filled with amazing images from National Geographic! I would recommend this almanac for grades 3+

100 Things to Know Before You Grow Up
by Lisa M. Gerry
Published May 2016
National Geographic Children's Books
256 Pages
Review copy provided by publisher

Goodreads Summary
It's fun to be a kid, but are you ready for what comes next? Challenge yourself with these 100 things and you will be! Jam-packed with tips, tricks, and skills that every kid should master before turning 18, this is the ultimate guide to becoming a fun-loving, well-rounded, totally competent and confident young person. Complete with expert advice from real life explorers, adventurers, and masters of their craft, it's perfect for jump-starting an amazing life!

My Thoughts
First of all, many adults could benefit from reading this book. From reading it, I learned how to make snow ice cream and how to press flowers. The book is organized by skills, knowledge and attitudes. I love how kids can learn practical things such as how to wrap a present or load the dishwasher. But it also presents tips on how to resolve conflict and how to recover from embarrassment. Each of the tips is short and accompanied by a photo or other graphics. I may read one tip each day to my 4th graders until the 100th day. 
I would recommend it for grades 3+.

Published May 2016
National Geographic Children's Books
112 Pages
Review copy provided by publisher

Goodreads Summary
Curious kids who want to know the who/what/where of the coolest things on the planet will welcome this first book in an awesome new National Geographic Kids series. Every turn of the page presents a different theme and counts down the greatest of the great top 8 of its kind. For example: The Awesome 8 Coolest Coasters, Haughtiest Hotels, Wicked Water Slides, Perilous Predators, Remarkable Ruins, Weirdest Wonders, Swankiest Subways, and anything else you can imagine. It's truly something you have to see to believe--which is why the entire list appears in photographs, layered with fun facts and insightful stories.

My Thoughts
With lists such as "Dream Homes", "Fearless Foods, and "Ultimate Toilets" what kid wouldn't like this book? This book is very clever and is full of fascinating facts. Did you know that there is a lake in Australia that is pink because of the algae? And there is a hotel in France where you can stay in a clear plastic bubble to enjoy the natural environment. I can't wait to share Awesome 8 with my students. I would recommend it for grades 3+. 

Monday, July 25, 2016

It's Monday, What Are You Reading? July 25, 2016

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

Click on the book covers to learn more about them. 

Very timely, but it was just ok for me. 

Cute picture book where famous artists try to paint a portrait of a beloved stuffed animal. 
Review this Tuesday. 

Finished Reading

Still Reading


What are YOU reading friends? 

Sunday, July 24, 2016

The Airport Book by Lisa Brown

by Lisa Brown 
Published May 2016
40 pages
Review copy provided by publisher

Goodreads Summary
Follow a family and the youngest member's favorite sock monkey through all the inner and outer workings of an airport.

In a book that is as intriguing as it is useful and entertaining, we follow a family on its way through the complexities of a modern-day airport. From checking bags and watching them disappear on the mysterious conveyor belt, to security clearance and a seemingly endless wait at the gate to finally being airborne.
But wait! There's more! The youngest family member's sock monkey has gone missing. Follow it at the bottom of the page as it makes a journey as memorable as that of the humans above.

 My Thoughts
If I had a little one traveling by plane, I would definitely get this book. Although it is a story about an adorable fictional family going on vacation, the text reads like nonfiction giving children a glimpse into what they might expect on their journey. Brown presents realistic situations like standing in many long lines, waiting at the gate, squeezing into the seat, etc. I can imagine this book bringing comfort to children as they read it over and over again before traveling. 
 There is just something about Lisa Brown's illustrations. They are realistic, yet soft and make you want to just look at them over and over again. Each page has lots of things for young eyes to explore. They will enjoy trying to find the little girl's sock monkey's tail that hangs out of her luggage somewhere on each page. 
Image obtained at Macmillan Publishers

I would recommend The Airport Book for children ages 2-6. 

See what others have to say about this book: 

Friday, July 22, 2016

Bucky and Stu vs. The Mikanikal Man by Cornelius Van Wright

Bucky and Stu vs. The Mikanikal Man 
by Cornelius Van Wright
Published 2015
Nancy Paulsen Books
32 Pages
Review copy provided by publisher

Goodreads Summary
It’s the adventure of a lifetime when best friends—and self-proclaimed superheroes—defeat bad guys of their own invention.

It’s wonk ’em time when Bucky and Stu have to stand up to Phat Tyre, TrashMan and Hose-Nose. No matter that the bad guys are all made out of household items that Bucky and Stu have assembled themselves—these bad guys don’t stand a chance against the boys’ power moves. Still, it’s quite a surprise when their latest villain, the giant Mikanikal Man, gets zapped during a lightning storm and comes to life! The battle—and thrill—of a lifetime ensue. Full of surprises and laughs, this upbeat, action-packed story celebrates imagination, creativity, and friendship in even the most unexpected forms. Cornelius Van Wright’s hilarious illustrations are full of surprises and are perfect for portraying the high-speed antics of two enthusiastic boys.

My Thoughts
I really liked how Bucky and Stu spend their time outside playing and using their imaginations (unless they are eating). This is something kids don't do enough in my opinion. 
Kids will enjoy watching Bucky and Stu as they try to rid their hometown (or their backyard) of bad guys or "baddies" as they call them. The two have a great friendship and work together well. Bucky understands that Stu is always hungry and Stu appreciates Bucky's creativity, especially after he makes the Mikanikal Man robot.
The story feels almost like an old super hero TV show with phrases like, "Is this THE END for our fearless heroes?" The boys even have an attack phrase, "Wonk 'Em Time!" 
The illustrations are done in water color and pencil. Each page is formatted differently with some pages containing one large illustration and others are formatted with frames like in a comic book or graphic novel. I think kids will enjoy this variety.

Bucky and Stu's adventure will appeal most to students in grades K-3.

Watch the book trailer.

Visit the author's Bucky and Stu website.

See what others have to say about this book:
Unleashing Readers

If you are interested, Cornelius Van Wright and his wife Ying-Hwa Yu are both write and illustrate children's books. Visit their website

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Summer #CyberPD Reflection Weeks 2 and 3

This summer I am participating in my first #CyberPD session. This virtual book club is organized and facilitated by educators, Cathy MereLaura Komos and Michelle Nero.  This group started in 2011 and has grown every year. This summer, we are reading and discussing DIY Literacy: Tools for Differentiation, Rigor and Independence

This post serves as my reflection for weeks 2 and 3 since I never got to it last week. 

For me, chapters 3-5 were the really the "heart" of the book for me. It hit upon all of the reasons I need to use these tools:
*To help students remember what I have taught them.
*To help motivate students.
*To tailor my teaching to meet the needs of all of my students. 

Of all of these reasons, helping my students remember what I have taught them is probably one of my biggest issues in the classroom. On page 38 Kate and Maggie list all of the things our students must try to learn and attend to on a given day. No wonder our students can't remember what we teach them. 

I really love the idea of using anchor and repertoire charts and bookmarks for this purpose. I also like the list on page 42 of the ways to keep charts alive. I am very guilty of creating a chart and expecting the students to remember to refer to it. These tips such as interrupting the students' reading or writing during workshop to remind them to check a chart for a certain strategy for example are excellent ways to help students remember to use the tools. 

A Couple of Takeaways
*Just because I taught it, doesn't mean they learned it. It they actually learned something, they would remember it. So I already knew this but it is always a good reminder. 

*Tools can motivate students and give them confidence by providing them with a place to turn when they need help. It also helps with independence because the teacher can always refer the student to the tool before intervening.  

Now I Wonder...
*How can I let go of the fact that my handwriting looks like I wrote while riding a roller coaster? I know Kate and Maggie said it's ok, but I still hate my charts. 
*How can I share what I have learned with other staff members?
*Will I really be able to organize all the tools effectively? 

I have enjoyed participating in this #CyberPD summer session. I hope we can all continue to extend our learning as we apply what we have learned in the classroom. 
A BIG Thank you to Cathy, Laura and Michelle for hosting! 

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday-Whoosh! Lonnie Johnson's Super-Soaking Stream of Inventions by Chris Barton

My Friend Alyson Beecher at Kid Lit Frenzy hosts weekly link up to share Nonfiction Picture Books. Please visit her amazing website.

by Chris Barton
Illustrated by Don Tate
Published May 2016
by Charlesbridge
32 Pages
Copy obtained from public library

Goodreads Summary
You know the Super Soaker. It’s one of top twenty toys of all time. And it was invented entirely by accident. Trying to create a new cooling system for refrigerators and air conditioners, impressive inventor Lonnie Johnson instead created the mechanics for the iconic toy.
A love for rockets, robots, inventions, and a mind for creativity began early in Lonnie Johnson’s life. Growing up in a house full of brothers and sisters, persistence and a passion for problem solving became the cornerstone for a career as an engineer and his work with NASA. But it is his invention of the Super Soaker water gun that has made his most memorable splash with kids and adults.

My Thoughts
Picture book biographies are a bit of a recent obsession for me. I like reading about famous people, but I really love stories about interesting, lesser-known people. So many things are invented that we use in our daily lives and we never really know the story behind the invention. Lonnie's story is important because it shows how he persevered even though many doubted his abilities. It shows children that inventors and scientists fail...A LOT before they succeed and sometimes the best creations come from "accidents". 

The author does not shy away from using more sophisticated vocabulary and provides a detailed description of Johnson's struggles and accomplishments making Whoosh! appealing to older readers. Don Tate's illustrations are always amazing! It is fun to see how he changes Lonnie from a young school boy, through college and into adulthood. 

I would recommend Whoosh! Lonnie Johnson's Super-Soaking Stream of Inventions for grades 2-5. 

Possible Companion Texts

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Tuesday, July 19, 2016

My Pet Human by Yasmine Surovec

My Pet Human 
by Yasmine Surovec
Published August, 2015
Roaring Brook Press
Early Chapter Book
112 Pages 
Review copy obtained from public library

Goodreads Summary
From queen cat lady Yasmine Surovec comes a cuddly new chapter book series about a cat in need of a pet human.
Oliver is an independent kitty. He has his run of the neighborhood and looks at his animal friends with their fussing humans with pity. But when a freckle-faced girl moves into town, Oliver sees the opportunity to train a human to provide him with a few creature comforts. And if he can help her adjust to her life and make a new friend, that's just all in a day's work. The real surprise comes, however, when Oliver needs Freckles just as much as she needs him. Not a comic book and not a traditional illustrated chapter book, My Pet Human is truly a hybrid of text and art that could only come from the whimsical and brilliant mind of Yasmine Surovec.

My Thoughts
Writing early chapters books from children ages 6-8 is very tricky. The text must be written at a manageable level with interesting illustrations and a story young ones will enjoy. Surovec has done all of that beautifully in My Pet Human. Using first person narration, the stray cat tells the story of how to train humans to do what you want. Speech bubbles are used whenever the animals or humans speak which I thought was very clever, especially since there are several characters. The simple, black and white line illustrations are adorable work with the text to help young readers understand the story. 

The story itself involves conflict near the end that will have children needing to find out how it ends. 
I loved this book and will recommend it to anyone with children who are ready for chapter books or as a read aloud for ages 6-8. 

 Reminds me of...
 a series I also love called Down Girl and Sit

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Publishers Weekly