Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday-Separate is Never Equal by Duncan Tonatiuh

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

by Duncan Tonatiuh
Published 2014 by Harry N. Abrahms
Nonfiction Picture Book
40 Pages
Review copy obtained from public library

Goodreads Summary
Almost 10 years before Brown vs. Board of Education, Sylvia Mendez and her parents helped end school segregation in California. An American citizen of Mexican and Puerto Rican heritage who spoke and wrote perfect English, Mendez was denied enrollment to a “Whites only” school. Her parents took action by organizing the Hispanic community and filing a lawsuit in federal district court. Their success eventually brought an end to the era of segregated education in California.

My Thoughts
This story of the Mendez family's fight to allow their children (and all children) to attend their neighborhood school is an important story to share. It shows how real change happens when people work together for what is right. Duncan Tonatiuh does a wonderful job of telling the story so that children will understand what was happening during the time period. With a good amount of text on each page, I feel that this book is a great one to share with older students. I recommend it for grades 2-5.  

Use this book:
As part of a unit on civil rights.
As a way to discuss fairness and equality.
As a mentor text to discuss character traits. 

The author discusses the book in this video.

Here is a nice book trailer

Here is a 4 minute video about Sylvia's story.

Monday, March 16, 2015

It's Monday, What Are You Reading?-March 16, 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.

Really cute book about self-acceptance. Grades K-3. 

Giveaway ends at midnight tonight (EST)
Great middle grade series. 

Currently Reading
Still loving this one!

Thursday, March 12, 2015

A Review of Berenson Schemes #3: Jack at the Helm

Berenson Schemes #3: Jack at the Helm
by Lisa Doan
Illustrated by Ivica Stevanovic
Expected Publication April 1, 2015
Lerner Classroom
152 Pages
Review copy provided by Blueslip Media

In this third installment Jack's parents continue their streak of continuously losing Jack. Despite his attempts at educating them on how to be good parents, they have decided to start a new religion, Nosnereb, in Nepal. As has happened in previous Berenson Schemes, careful, level-headed Jack gets separated from his parents. This time he is with Harry, a free-spirited teenager who is trying to "find himself" by traveling around the world. Harry and Jack are about as opposite as two people can be. Yet, they need to work together as they try to get to "Sangrilala" and Jack's parents.
As they travel down a river, the two must face crocodiles, navigate rapids, boulders and waterfalls. Through it all a special bond is formed as the two learn more about each other and themselves. 

My Thoughts
This book (and series) is delightful. I really enjoyed harry and Jack's relationship as they try to find Jack's parents. I think children will like Harry a lot with his laid-back style and his frequent use of the word "dude". There is a lot of action as the pair face challenges on the river. This quick pace will keep students engaged and wanting to know what will become of the boys. With text that is easy enough to read, but not too simple and a length of 152 pages, Jack at the Helm is perfect for students who are ready for chapter books that are a bit longer. There are a few entertaining pictures scattered throughout that readers will enjoy. 

I would recommend this book and series to any reader who likes Magic Tree House or Time Warp Trio books. Great for grades 2-4. 

Info about the Author

Lisa Doan is the author of The Berenson Schemes series – Jack the Castaway, Jack and the Wild Life and Jack at the Helm. She received a master’s degree in writing for children and young adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts. Her extensive travel in Africa and Asia and eight years spent living in the Caribbean were the basis for the series’ international settings. She has hatched her share of harebrained schemes, including backpacking alone from Morocco to Kenya, hitchhiking across the Sahara with Nigerian car dealers, sauntering off on an ill-advised, one-person walking safari, and opening a restaurant with no actual restaurant experience. Her occupations have included master scuba diving instructor, New York City headhunter, owner-chef of a “sort of Chinese-like” restaurant, television show set medic, and deputy prothonotary of a county court. Visit the author and download free, CCSS-aligned curriculum guides at

Other books in the Berenson Schemes series.

Jack the Castaway

Jack and the Wild Life

Follow along on the blog tour!
Just a Little Creativity     
The OWL for YA
Mar 4
Once Upon a Story
Mar 5
Kid Lit Frenzy
Mar 6
Children's Book Review
The Compulsive Reader
Books Unbound
Geo Librarian
The Late Bloomer's Book Blog
 Mar 13
Sharpread and The Hiding Spot

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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?