Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday-Little Melba and Her Big Trombone

My Friend Alyson Beecher at Kid Lit Frenzy hosts weekly link up to share Nonfiction Picture Books. Please visit her amazing website.
by Katheryn Russel-Brown
Illustrated by Frank Morrison
Published September 1, 2014 
Lee and Low Books
Nonfiction Picture book
40 pages
Coretta Scott King Honor book

Goodreads Summary
Melba Doretta Liston loved the sounds of music from as far back as she could remember. As a child, she daydreamed about beats and lyrics, and hummed along with the music from her family s Majestic radio. At age seven, Melba fell in love with a big, shiny trombone, and soon taught herself to play the instrument. By the time she was a teenager, Melba s extraordinary gift for music led her to the world of jazz. She joined a band led by trumpet player Gerald Wilson and toured the country. Overcoming obstacles of race and gender, Melba went on to become a famed trombone player and arranger, spinning rhythms, harmonies, and melodies into gorgeous songs for all the jazz greats of the twentieth century: Randy Weston, Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Billie Holiday, and Quincy Jones, to name just a few. Brimming with ebullience and the joy of making music, Little Melba and Her Big Trombone is a fitting tribute to a trailblazing musician and a great unsung hero of jazz."

My Thoughts
I love learning about lesser-known, but important people. Melba discovered her musical talent at a very young age. Children can learn a lot about determination and perseverance during difficult times from Melba's story. They will also learn about the time period and the discrimination that was prevalent at the time. Frank Morrison's illustrations are absolutely wonderful. It is easy to see why Melba's story earned a Coretta Scott King 2015 honor award. 
Russel-Brown uses several idioms throughout the book like: "piece of cake" and "rock bottom". She also uses some of the language of the period like "swell" and "kinfolk". 
Little Melba and her Big Trombone would make a great addition to a biography picture book collection. It could also be used during a unit on American History 1940's-60's I would recommend it for grades 1-5. 

The Girls in the Band-more info about Melba and her career. 

Monday, March 2, 2015

It's Monday, What Are You Reading? March 2, 2015

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

Here are the books I read this week. Click on the covers to learn more about them.

A story about labels and acceptance. Good for Grades K-4.

A fun, fun, FUN interactive book for the little ones.

A beautifully illustrated wordless picture book about how drawing can transport you to different worlds. 

Currently Listening
I struggle with many of the early Newbery winners. This one is not easy to listen to so far.

Currently Reading
LOVING this one!!!

What Are You Reading Friends?

Monday, February 23, 2015

It's Monday, What Are You Reading-Feb. 23, 2015

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

Be sure to enter my giveaway of a signed hardcover copy of Lynda Mullaly Hunt's Fish in a tree here.

Thanks to a trip to the book store, I was able to read a bunch of picture books. Click on the covers to learn more about them.

Really cute book about counting and sharing. K-2

A book about fate and friendship. K-4

I really love the illustrations in this book about 
the ingredients necessary to make a good book. K-3

Neat story of creativity, persistence and making 
mistakes. Good for K-3.

LOVED this adorable parallel story. Great for any 
child who has ever been afraid of monsters. K-3.

Betty wants to peel her banana by herself. If you have 
spent any time around toddlers, you will totally recognize this scenario. 

I finished....
Thanks to my friend Jason Lewis for lending me this arc. 
Loved it! Good for grades 6+. Review later.

Currently Reading....
Really loving so far!

What Are You Reading Friends? 

Friday, February 20, 2015

Dory Fantasmagory by Abby Hanlon

Dory Fantasmagory 
by Abby Hanlon
Published 2014 by Dial Publishing
160 Pages
Early Chapter Book
Copy obtained from public library

Goodreads Summary
To say that six-year-old Dory has a wildly creative imagination is an understatement. Her family calls her Rascal because she pesters them with too many questions and is a general pest to her brother and sister. She has developed a rich imaginary life with her imaginary best friend Mary. In an attempt to get her to stop acting "like a baby" her siblings tell her that a person name Mrs. Gobble Gracker is looking for her. Mrs. Gobble Gracker eats babies so they warn Dory to stop acting like a baby.  This only fuels Dory's imagination further as she starts firing questions about Mrs. Gobble Gracker. 
Can Dory escape Mrs. Gobble Gracker? Will she stop acting like a baby? 

My Thoughts
Dory is adorable! This book is filled with Dory's real and imaginary events. She plots to escape Mrs. Gobble Gracker, annoys her siblings to no end, goes through a phase where she pretends to be a dog, yells and has lots of temper tantrums. Fans of Junie B. Jones or Clementine will love Dory. At 160 pages with lots of hilarious kid-like pictures to support the text, this early chapter book will feel like a "big kid book".  I can imagine many children wanting to tell about the next crazy thing Dory has done in their book. I hope for many more Dory books to come. 

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Giving Away a Signed Copy Fish in a Tree by Lynda Mullaly Hunt

I can not say enough about Lynda Mullaly Hunt's latest book, Fish in a Tree. It is a middle grade must-read! As she did with One for the Murphys, Lynda tells an emotionally-charged story that will live on in the hearts of its readers. Readers will LOVE Ally and find inspiration in her story. 

My daughter and I are huge fans of Lynda and both of her books. Click here to see our thoughts about Fish in a Tree.   

You can also read about it at

Because I love it so much, and truly feel it should be part of every middle grade classroom, I am giving away a signed hardcover copy. 

Here is the official book trailer. 
Looks great right? 
Use the rafflecopter below to enter (US only please). 
Good luck! 
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday-February 18, 2015

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

by Sara Levine
Illustrated by T.S. Spookytooth

By asking questions, the author helps the reader compare human skeletons to the skeletons of other animals. For example all animals have skulls, ribs and vertebrae. The author adds, changes or removes types of bones and asks the reader to predict what type of animal would have that kind of skeleton. Then she gives more information about the animal. This book is filled with interesting facts. For example, did you know that a single giraffe vertebrae can be ten inches long? 

With a mixture of realistic skeleton illustrations and adorable cartoonish children, Bone by Bone will engage elementary readers. Sara Levine includes extra information about bones and vertebrates, a glossary and suggestions for further reading in the back of the book. 

Bone by Bone would make a wonderful addition to a nonfiction picture book collection or a unit on the skeletal system or animal classification. Grades K-4.


Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Slice of Life-The Power of Book Talks

Each Tuesday the amazing bloggers at Two Writing Teachers host Slice of Life Stories (SOLS). This is where bloggers link up to share anything they would like to share about what is happening in their lives. 

I like to do a few book talks each week in my fourth grade classroom, but recently due to snow days and just regular business, I have not been doing them regularly. This week I made sure to do two book talks. I shared Jennifer Richard Jacobson's new book, Paper Things and Fish in a Tree by Lynda Mullaly Hunt. 

My students do not always hang on my every word when I am teaching, but they do when I am talking about books I love. Even if the book does not interest them, they want to know why I liked it so much. 

I must have been pretty excited because after talking about these two books this week, almost every single student wanted to enter for a chance to be the first reader, even the boys who normally prefer fantasy. I felt like a gameshow host as I pulled out the "winners". There were squeals of delight and fist pumping. This was followed by negotiations by classmates to get the book when the winners were done. 

Why am I NOT doing this more often? Book talks are a simple, quick way to get students motivated and excited to read. This week was a good reminder for me. If you have not tried book talks in your classroom, just try one and you will be hooked. Just choose a book you love and tell your audience what it is about and why you love it. Make sure not to give too much away. I keep a jar and slips of paper for my two classes to enter to read the book first, but any procedure will work as long as your enthusiasm shines through.