Saturday, July 30, 2016

Sizzling Summer $250 Cash Giveaway!

sizzling summer giveaway
Sizzling Summer $250 Cash Giveaway July 27th to August 16th

An Awesome Group of Authors & Bloggers have joined together to bring you a fabulous prize!! You could win $250 in Paypal Cash! Or alternately you can choose a $250 Gift Code! 

Sponsor List I Am A Reader Jennifer Faye ~ Romance Author Caroline Clemmons Simple Wyrdings Lori's Reading Corner Aubrey Wynne: Vintage Romance for Today Deanna Lynn Sletten, Author Glistering Bs Blog Diana's Book Reviews Krysten Lindsay Hager author Leora Krygier Author A Journey Without Map CoolCatMysteries B. Kristin McMichael Laurisa White Reyes, Author {A Leisure Moment} A Casual Conversation About Our Love For Literature Erin Unger- Writer of Killer Romance Darcus @ Rainy Days and Pajamas Every Free Chance Books Julie Reece Pauline Creeden, Author The Late Bloomer's Book Blog Julia E. Antoine Author Mary Ting/M. Clarke Suzi Love 

Giveaway Details 
 $250 in Paypal Cash (alternately the winner can choose a $250 Gift Code) Ends 8/16/16 Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use money sent via Paypal. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader and sponsored by the authors, bloggers and publishers on the sponsor list. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW. 
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, July 29, 2016

Animal Planet Animal Atlas

Published by Animal Planet
May 2016
Nonfiction-Reference Book
96 pages
Review copy provided by publisher

Goodreads Summary
Animal Planet's definitive atlas of animal life takes readers on a continent-by-continent and habitat-by-habitat passport to adventure!
What is a habitat? How is the North Pole's animal life different from the South Pole's? How and why do animals adapt to their environment? Is a food web different from a food chain? Animal Planet Animal Atlas answers all of these questions and many more. Through detailed maps, fun infographics, simple charts, and Find It! Fact boxes readers can track their favorite animals across the globe, learning about how animal habitats are affected by climate, food and water availability, migration, and human environmental impact.

My Thoughts
This book is big and beautiful! Information about hundreds of animals is presented in this oversized volume. Organized by continent sections and sub categorized into biomes within the continent, it helps young readers see where animals live on the planet and within what kind of habitat. Biome maps of the continent at the beginning of each section help readers to see that a single continent can have many biomes. 
Image of pages 24-25 copyright National geographic 2016
Many reference books are not easily accessible to younger children. With larger print, simplistic fonts and big, colorful pictures, this is an atlas that young readers will love. There are many different text features used such as maps, a table of contents, a glossary and an index. Information is presented in colored text boxes with just a few sentences about each animal. Cute little cartoon animals also pop up here and there with talk bubbles containing extra information. 

I am excited to share Animal Planet's Animal Atlas with my students. I would recommend it for grades 2-5. 

See what others have to say about this book:

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Painting Pepette by Linda Ravin Lodding

Painting Pepette 
by Linda Ravin Lodding
Illustrated by Claire Fletcher
Published June 2016
Little Bee Books
Fiction-Picture book
40 pages
F&G copy provided by publisher

Goodreads Summary
Join one little girl named Josette as she searches 1920s Paris to find the best artist to paint a portrait of her stuffed-animal rabbit, Pepette.
After seeing all the fine portraits of her family in her house in Paris, Josette decides that her stuffed-animal rabbit Pepette needs a portrait of her own. The two of them set off for Montmartre, the art center of 1920s Paris, to seek out an artist to paint Pepette’s portrait. They encounter Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dalí, Marc Chagall, and Henri Matisse, who all try their hand at capturing the rabbit.
Picasso gives Pepette two noses and three ears—which doesn’t sit well with Josette. Dalí gives Pepette very droopy eyes—so Josette says "no thank you" and moves on. Chagall paints Pepette flying through the clouds. Josette points out that Pepette doesn’t fly and is afraid of heights—so they decide to keep going through the square. When they meet Matisse, he paints Pepette pink, with lots of colorful dots and splashes covering the canvas. It’s a beautiful piece of art, but it’s not Pepette.
Giving up, Josette and Pepette make their way home. Josette is upset that no one was able to no one was able to capture the true essence of Pepette. Who could capture her soft gray ears, her heart-shaped nose, and all her wonderfulness? And then it comes to her—she, Josette, is the perfect person to do this.

My Thoughts
This story of Josette trying to get just the right portrait of her beloved stuffed bunny Pepette is very endearing. She considers him part of the family, deserving of his own family portrait. I know many children who have a special stuffed animal or toy that can relate to her feelings. 
I thought the concept of different famous artists trying to create a portrait in their signature styles was very clever. Imagine walking around Paris and having Matisse paint a picture for you! It would help young readers if an adult could show them the work of these artists so they can see the connections. A brief authors note at the back discusses the artists and the Parisian quarter of Montmartre.

The illustrations by Claire Fletcher are wonderful. Water colors and looser lines create light scenes that make one feel like they are walking in Paris in the springtime. 
After reading Painting Pepette, I can imagine children wanting to create paintings of their own special objects. It would be fun to experiment with different styles and displaying the artwork in a "gallery". 
I would recommend Painting Pepette for grades k-4.
Image from Amazon-

See what others have to say about this book:

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

See what others have to say about this book.

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

Read what others have to say about this book.
Publishers Weekly

Monday, July 18, 2016

It' Monday, What Are You Reading? July 18, 2016

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

I get many of my book recommendations from friends who have fabulous blogs and share wonderful books. They all link up Teach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readers. Be sure to check them out. Many of my blogging friends will recognize the books on my list from their own stacks. Thanks for sharing friends!
Click on the book covers to learn more about the books.
 Images from Goodreads

Picture Books
Excellent example of how one small girl can make a huge difference! Grades K-4
Great way to introduce books without pictures to young ones. Grades K-3
 What a creative way to tell a story. Grades K-4
 I love reading books about lesser known people who invented things we use all the time.
Finished Reading
 Upper middle graders will enjoy this sweet friendship.
Currently Reading

Up Next?
My daughter is going to be a high school Freshman in the fall. She has this as required reading (with a quiz the first week of school-ugh!) so we are making a mini book club out of it.

 What Are You Reading Friends?

Friday, July 15, 2016

Doodle Adventures: The Search for the Slimy Space Slugs by Mike Lowery

Doodle Adventures: The Search for the Slimy Space Slugs 
by Mike Lowery
Published May, 2016
Workman Publishing Company
112 Pages
Advanced copy provided by publisher

Goodreads Summary Doodle Adventures: The Search for the Slimy Space Slugs! is a lighthearted fantasy where the reader first draws him- or herself into the story, and then continues by following prompts and adding more illustrations and doodles. Set in space, the book invites the reader to join Carl, a duck and member of a super-secret international group of explorers, on a journey in search of a very important grail-like object. The book is sturdy paper over board with beautiful cream paper—perfect for defacing! And by the end, the reader will have co-written a tale to return to again and again, and show off to family and friends.

My Thoughts Fun, fun, FUN! Kids are going to love this book!  The reader is the hero and he or she adds artwork to make a one-of-a-kind adventure. This would be a great book to draw in resistant readers (pun intended) because of its graphic novel/comic format and fairly sparse text. The plotline is silly enough that young ones will find it hilarious. AND they get to write in it! 
                                                                                                                                                                                          Pages 20-21 from advanced reader's copy. 
I would recommend Doodle Adventures: The Search for Slimy Space Slugs for readers ages 5-9 and for anyone who would enjoy creating a story. 

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

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Whose Story is this, Anyway? by Mike Flaherty

Whose Story is this, Anyway? 
by Mike Flaherty
Illustrated by Oriol Vidal
Published May 2016
Sterling Children's Books
40 pages
Review copy provided by publisher

Goodreads Summary
What’s this book about? That depends on who you ask. Our humble narrator thinks he’s got a great story for you, but he barely begins before he’s interrupted . . . by a scallywag pirate with a thrilling legend of mermaids and sea monsters! Soon an entire cast of colorful characters—including a hungry dinosaur, an alien bent on world domination, and a heroic knight—derails the boy’s saga. Everyone has a tale to tell—but if they can all get on the same page, this might turn out to be the best story ever!

My Thoughts
I enjoyed reading this book and can't wait to share it with students. It reminds children that when they are writing, they are in charge of what happens on the page. 
The characters are charming and adorable from Salty Pete the pirate to Sir Knightly the gallant knight. The illustrations are playful and fun and remind me of some of Dan Santat's work. All of the dialogue is done in text bubbles with different colors for each character. I thought this was an interesting and effective way to clarify who was talking since there are many characters. 
The ending a sweet and I think it will satisfy readers. 
I plan to use this as one of my introductory texts for writer's workshop for my fourth graders. I would recommend this book for grades K-4. 

Possible Companions:

See What others have to say about this book:

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

AH-CHOO by Lana Kohler and Gloria Adams-Guest Post

by Lana Kohler and Gloria Adams
Illustrated  by Ken Min
Published March 2016
Sterling Children's Books
40 Pages

Summary from Goodreads 
I asked my mom if I could have
a pet, or even two.
But every time I brought one home,
my sister went

When hunting for his new best friend, a boy goes through an alphabetical menagerie of animals. From an antelope, to bobolink birds, to wolves and zebras—and of course, a cat and dog, too—he brings them all home. But each creature just makes his sister go AH-CHOO! Will he ever be able to have the perfect pet?

I would like to thank Lana Kohler and Gloria Adams for visiting today to discuss their fun new book, AH-CHOO.
Thank you for the opportunity to be here today to talk about our new book, “Ah-Choo!”. 

This book was inspired by my own allergies to pets. I’ve been sneezing most of my life! We wanted to write a fun book for kids who have allergies—or know someone who has them. 
Along the way, we were able to sneak in some important elements and skills to make this an educational book as well.
We started with the alphabet by listing the animals from Antelope to Zebra. By including some exotic animals with more familiar ones, we challenged our illustrator, Ken Min. He did a wonderful job of giving each animal a personality while maintaining accuracy!
Writing our story in rhyme, we used a familiar learning tool to help children with language and memory skills.
“Not only does the repetition of rhymes and stories teach children how language works, it also builds memory capabilities that can be applied to all sorts of activities.” Kay Vandergrift, Professor Emerita of Children’s Literature at Rutgers University
Repetition of the phrase, “Ah-choo!” engages the child as they listen for each opportunity to participate. They love to sneeze along!
Using the alphabet, rhyme, and repetition in “Ah-Choo!”, the parent or teacher enhances learning while offering up a fun way to connect with the child. And, who doesn’t like fun?

Thanks again, to the authors for stopping by today. I hope you will look for AH-CHOO at your local book store. 

Monday, July 11, 2016

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

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

Here are some of the books I have read over the last 2 weeks. Click on the book covers to learn more about the books.

Picture Books
Cute story of a unique friendship. Good for grades K-2. 

Reviewed this one last week. Click here to read my review. 

Middle Grade
Really enjoyed this book from the 2016-17 MSBA list. 

This book hit closer to home than I expected. Very powerful without being too focused on the "message". Upper middle grades.

I love Jennifer Nielsen's books and this was an excellent sequel to Mark of the Thief. 

 I have not read many historical fiction set during the Civil War. I really enjoyed this one. For YA readers.

An engaging audio book for YA readers. 

Currently Reading

I am reading this one very slowly because it is jammed packed with great ideas!

I am excited to be participating in my first ever #CyberPD this summer. We are reading DIY Literacy. Click here to read my first reflection. 

What are YOU reading friends?