Friday, January 29, 2016

Little Elliot, Big Family by Mike Curato

Little Elliot, Big Family
by Mike Curato
Published 2015
Henry Holt and Co. 
40 pages
Review copy provided by publisher

Goodreads Summary

When Mouse heads off to a family reunion, Little Elliot decides go for a walk. As he explores each busy street, he sees families in all shapes and sizes. In a city of millions, Little Elliot feels very much alone-until he finds he has a family of his own!

My Thoughts
I am so in love with Little Elliot! His good friend Mouse has gone to his family reunion and Little Elliot begins to feel lonely as he travels the streets of the "big city" alone and notices different families. He then learns that family does not need to include relatives, families just made up of people who love each other. 

It is a sweet, simple story with few words and big, beautiful illustrations. Each page is filled with color and the scenes of New York are very realistic. 

Little ones ages 2-7 will LOVE Little Elliot, Big Family. 

See what others have to say about this book:

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday-January 27, 2016

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

Two Friends:Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglass
by Dean Robbins
Illustrated by Sean Qualls and Selina Alko
Published Jan. 5, 2016
Orchard Books
Nonfiction Picture Book
32 Pages
Review copy (F&G) provided by publisher.

Goodreads Summary
Two friends, Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglass, get together for tea and conversation. They recount their similar stories fighting to win rights for women and African Americans. The premise of this particular exchange between the two is based on a statue in their hometown of Rochester, New York, which shows the two friends having tea.

My Thoughts
I love reading books where I learn something new. While I knew a bit about each of these two important Americans, I did not realize they were friends and worked to help each other. The text contains a bit written on present tense as the friends sit down for tea and some information written in past tense about their childhoods and what they wanted to change. I did wish the book included more specific information about each person as it seemed a bit brief. 
The illustrations are wonderful. The two illustrators included actual quotes in collage form. which I thought worked very well. 
I would recommend Two Friends for Grades 1-4. 

                                                                                                                                                                                                              Photo taken of the F&G

Possible Companion Text

Here is a very short video showing the sculpture of the Two friends having tea. 

See what others have to say about Two Friends.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Raymie Nightingale by Kate DiCamillo

Raymie Nightingale
by Kate DiCamillo
Expected Release Date April 12, 2016 
Candlewick Press 
Middle Grade Fiction
272 Pages
Review copy provided by publisher

I was beyond thrilled to receive this advanced copy of Raymie Nightingale and started reading it right away. I am not ordinarily a fast reader, but I devoured it. Not only that, but after I finished, I started reading it again. This never happens. I needed to spend more time with these incredible characters and within Kate DiCamillo's words. While I want to share my thoughts with others here, I have been, and expect to be, thinking about Raymie, Louisiana, and Beverly for quite some time.  

Raymie has a plan, a plan to get her father to come back home. Her mother and father have recently separated since Raymie's father "left town two days ago with a dental hygienist." She plans to enter and win the Little Miss Central Florida Tire 1975 competition. She feels that when her father sees her picture in the newspaper as the winner, then he will want to come home. 

Raymie has been told that she should learn to twirl a baton for the talent portion of the competition, so the story opens with Raymie at baton twirling lessons with two other characters, Beverly Tapinski and Louisiana Elefante. Each girl has a goal connected to the Little Miss Central Florida Tire competition. While Raymie wants to bring her father home, Louisiana wants to win the prize money so she and her grandmother can afford to buy food for her cat Archie, who they had to give up to a shelter recently. And Beverly wants to sabotage the entire competition so it never happens. 

The three girls could not be more different from one another, but through a series of interesting events, they slowly become friends. I loved each of them and the three of them so much! Raymie is desperate and determined, yet unsure of herself and very aware of what makes "her soul" expand or shrink. Beverly, the daughter of a NYC police officer is rougher around the edges, but has the sweetest soft side at just the right times. And Louisiana is innocent, naive, and optimistic to the extreme.

This story is filled with characters, each as interesting and real as the next. There is the quirky, unorthodox neighbor, Mrs. Borkowski who offers advice. Mrs. Sylvester is the motherly secretary at Raymie's father's insurance office who offers candy corn and gives assurances that "Most things work out right in the end." Then there is Louisiana's grandmother who is feisty and eccentric and Ida Nee, the former baton twirling champion who doesn't want to leave her glory days behind. Whether the character is present throughout the book or says three words in a brief encounter, DiCamillo made me care about each one. She masterfully circles them back throughout the book as though to remind us why each one was important. In the end the reader learns how each event and person was connected. 

Kate DiCamillo is well-known for her use of descriptive language. I was continually struck by her creative choice of words. There is a notable phrase or sentence worth quoting on nearly every page. 
I could honestly go on and on about this book. It would make a fabulous read aloud or independent read for middle graders.
Raymie Nightingale is simply the best book I have read in recent memory and has taken a spot among my very favorite books. It is certain to become a beloved favorite with many readers. 

See what others have to say about Ramie Nightingale.
Publishers Weekly
Huffington Post

Monday, January 25, 2016

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

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

Hello friends, I have been very fortunate to read several ARC's of books to be released this spring recently. There is much to look forward to. Please click on the covers to go to the book's page on Goodreads. 

 Fiction Picture Books 
A wonderful new bedtime story coming in April!
 A sweet story of finding one's own voice. 
Coming in March. 
A second book by Boats for Papa author Jessixa Bagley.  Loved it! February release. 
A must-have new beginning of the school year book! 
Coming in June.
 Humorous story that recognizes and celebrates the "little guy". Coming in June.
 A remarkable wordless picture book.
Due to be released in April.

A smart, humorous book that kids will want to hear over and over again. Coming on Feb. 2!  

Using close up photos and factual clues, readers guess which animal's eye is shown. Released Jan. 30. 
Young readers learn about birds through poetry. 
February 23rd released date. 

Middle Grade 
It will be difficult for many to wait until April for this book. I am planning a full review for tomorrow, but in short, it is perfection. It was so good that I reread it right after finishing it. Kate DiCamillo has a remarkable gift.

Currently Reading
 I love Leslie Connor's books and this one is great so far!

Just received this in the mail over the weekend. Excited to really get into it this week. 

What Are YOU Reading Friends?

Friday, January 15, 2016

Treasury of Norse Mythology by Donna Jo Napoli

Treasury of Norse Mythology 
by Donna Jo Napoli
Illustrated by Christina Balit
Published September 2015
National Geographic Children's Books
192 Pages
Review copy provided by publisher

Goodreads Summary
Animals are...surprisingly human. Finding the ways in which people and animals connect may inspire the next generation to be true caretakers of Earth. Animal Planet Animals: A Visual Encyclopedia is a comprehensive look at the major animal groups, highlighting their unique but also relatable personalities and behavior. 

Classic stories and dazzling illustrations of gods, goddesses, heroes and monsters come to life in a stunning tableau of Norse myths, including those of the thunder god Thor, the one-eyed god and Allfather Odin, and the trickster god Loki. The lyrical storytelling of award-winning author Donna Jo Napoli dramatizes the timeless tales of ancient Scandinavia. This book is the third in the trilogy that includes the popular National Geographic Treasury of Greek Mythology and National Geographic Treasury of Egyptian Mythology.

My Thoughts
I have to admit, I had never heard of Norse mythology before reading this book. I was familiar with a small amount of Greek mythology, mostly from my students and reading The Lightning Thief, but Norse mythology was not something I knew existed. For those of you who are like me, Norse mythology is actually the religion of a large part of Scandinavia and Germany before the introduction of Christianity. 

I am a fan of Marvel's Avengers movies so when I read about Thor and Loki in this book, I finally realized that they came from Norse mythology. I found the timeline history and the character glossary in the back of the book to be very helpful as mythology often has many characters and can get confusing.  The author also includes little side notes with additional, helpful information, including photographs or artifacts and historical information for the reader throughout the book. 

The story is very intriguing and written so children will be able to understand the complicated events, creatures and characters. The accompanying illustrations have a definite mythological feel to them with large, exaggerated characters. 

Children love mythology and folklore and this book will help them learn about a lesser known world of mythology. 

You may also want to look at the other two books in this series:

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Elizabeth Started All the Trouble by Doreen Rappaport

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

by Doreen Rappaport
Illustrated by Matt Faulkner
Expected Publication February 23, 2016
Disney Hyperion 
Nonfiction Picture Book
40 Pages
Review copy obtained by publisher

Goodreads Summary
She couldn't go to college.
She couldn't become a politician.
She couldn't even vote.
But Elizabeth Cady Stanton didn't let that stop her.
She called on women across the nation to stand together and demand to be treated as equal to men-and that included the right to vote. It took nearly seventy-five years and generations of women fighting for their rights through words, through action, and through pure determination . . . for things to slowly begin to change.

With the help of these trailblazers' own words, Doreen Rappaport's engaging text, brought to life by Matt Faulkner's vibrant illustrations, shows readers just how far this revolution has come, and inspires them to keep it going!

My Thoughts
Doreen Rappaport is the master of picture book biographies. This book chronicles the effort of Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and many others, in the fight to allow women the right to vote. I was ashamed that I did not realize all that these women went through and how long it took (from 1850-1920) before President Wilson granted all women the right to vote. Susan B Anthony alone gave 75 speeches a year for 45 years!!!

Rappaport includes many of the female activists of the time including: Susan B Anthony, Elizabeth Blackwell, Lucy Stone and Carrie Chapman to name a few. She shares the information in a way that will help children understand what life was like at the time. I expect (and hope) that they will be surprised and upset by how differently women were treated. 

Matthew Falkner provides the amazing illustrations. He has a gift with drawing faces and I felt as through I was looking at photographs of the actual people.  His attention to background details and deliberate use of size and space help to deliver the author's message.
Image from Doreen Rappaport's Website:

I will definitely be reading this book to my fourth graders and would recommend it for grades 3-6. 

A Mighty Girl website has a great list of books about influential women in history.

Possible Companion Texts:

See what others have to say about this book:

Visit Doreen Rappaport's website to learn more about her research.

Monday, January 11, 2016

It's Monday, What Are You Reading? January 11, 2016

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

Here are the books I read last week. 
Click on the covers to learn more about each book. 

Great series for grades 2-3

Oh my word! Wordless perfection!

Loved this middle grade historical fiction novel. Review to come. 

A good read for teacher writers.

At ALA I read a bunch of picture books! I don't have time to include them now, but will next week. 

 What are YOU reading friends? 

Friday, January 8, 2016

Animal Planet: Animals-A Visual Encyclopedia

Animal Planet: Animals-A Visual Encyclopedia

Published September 22, 2015
by Animal Planet
304 Pages
Reference Book
Review copy provided by publisher

Goodreads Summary
More than 2,500 animals from the seven major animal groups: mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, insects and arachnids, invertebrates, and fish are featured in 1,050 stunning full-color photos, plus dynamic illustrations, maps, and charts.

Special book features include:
A giant, removable poster featuring record-breaking animal kingdom facts and amazing photos of animals in action Embedded QR Codes that transport readers from the book page directly to Animal Planet's L!VE animal cams across the world A comprehensive glossary, index, and study resources for extended learning in geography, climate change, biology, and ecosystems Animal Planet's R.O.A.R (Reach Out. Act. Respond.) facts throughout discuss conservation and animal rescue efforts 

Highly accessible for both curl-up reading and dip-in reference needs, care has been taken to offer animal-loving families less work and more wow by weaving the taxonomic and biological information throughout the individual sections rather than putting it all up front. Specialist authors and life science experts offer, in words and pictures, the most up-to-date view of the animal kingdom, making it an ideal homework helper and a crucial family reference for the school years and beyond.

My Thoughts
This book is like one-stop-shopping for animal information. It is organized by classifications in the animal kingdom with different types of vertebrates and invertebrates organized into numerous subcategories. Since it is an encyclopedia, the animals are organized alphabetically within their category. 
The information is nicely organized into boxes next to colored pictures of the animal. Each entry includes the animal's size, habitat, and food followed by a brief description of the animal. 
I can see young children paging through it to look at the spectacular pictures and older students enjoying the pictures while learning about new animals. 

I would highly recommend Animals: A Visual Encyclopedia for any classroom or home library. It would also make a wonderful gift for any animal lover or budding biologist. 

See What Others Have to Say About This Book

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Winnie: The True Story of the Bear Who Inspired Winnie-the-Pooh by Sally M. Walker

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

Winnie: The True Story of the Bear Who Inspired Winnie-the-Pooh 
by Sally M. Walker
Illustrated by Jonathan D. Voss
Published 2015
Henry Holt and Co.
40 Pages
Review copy obtained from library

Goodreads Summary
Who could care for a bear? When Harry Colebourn saw a baby bear for sale at the train station, he knew he could care for it. Harry was a veterinarian. But he was also a soldier in training for World War I. Harry named the bear Winnie, short for Winnipeg, his company’s home town, and he brought her along to the training camp in England. Winnie followed Harry everywhere and slept under his cot every night. Before long, she became the regiment’s much-loved mascot. But who could care for the bear when Harry had to go to the battleground in France? Harry found just the right place for Winnie while he was away — the London Zoo. There a little boy named Christopher Robin came along and played with Winnie — he could care for this bear too! Sally Walker’s heartwarming story, paired with Jonathan Voss’s evocative illustrations, brings to life the story of the real bear who inspired Winnie the Pooh.

My Thoughts
Who would have thought that two wonderful nonfiction books about the history of Winnie-the-Pooh would be released in the same year? I read Finding Winnie earlier in the year and loved that as well. I find the story of Winnie-the-Pooh to be very interesting and I know children will too. Walker tells the story in sparse text giving young readers bite-sized bits of information at a time. The illustrations in this book have a pleasant "older" feel almost as though you are reading a book published in the mid 20th century.  I would recommend this book for grades K-5. 

A video about the real Winnie.

Possible Companion Texts

See what others have to say about this book:
School Library Journal
Publishers Weekly
New York Times

Monday, January 4, 2016

It's Monday, What Are You Reading-Jan. 4, 2016

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

It has been a month since I posted my reading. Here are some highlights. Click on the covers for more information. 

I finally got to this one and it was well worth the wait!

An excellent books about amazing women in US history. 
Review to come.

A gorgeous compilation of poetry and photographs. Review to come.

Sweet story of the real Winnie-the-Pooh.

Little Elliot is ADORABLE!
Really interesting fantasy.

First book of 2016! Perfection!

Adorable early chapter book.

Currently Reading

What Are YOU Reading Friends?