Saturday, September 24, 2016

To Burp of Not to Burp: A Guide to Your Body in Space by Dave Williams and Loredana Cunti

To Burp of Not to Burp: A Guide to Your Body in Space 
by Dr. Dave Williams and Loredana Cunti
Illustrated by Theo Krynauw
Expected Publication Oct. 11, 2016
Annick Press
56 Pages
Review copy provided by publisher

Goodreads Summary
Of all the questions astronauts are asked by kids, the most frequent one is “How do you go to the toilet in space?”
This book not only answers that question, but many others about the effect of zero gravity on the human body:

How do you brush your hair in space? What happens when you sweat? What does food taste like? The best thing is that the answers are provided by Dr. Dave Williams, a NASA astronaut who speaks from first-hand experience. Written for kids ages 7 to 10, this book uses age-appropriate language to explain the different phenomena that astronauts encounter during a mission. The bright, colorful pages, short blocks of text accompanied by photos and humorous illustrations make this a very attractive choice for young readers. The opening message from Dr. Dave empowers kids to follow his example by believing in themselves and following their dreams.

My Thoughts
True or false: People actually grow a bit taller while they are in space. TRUE! The space between vertebrae expands, making astronauts a bit taller while in space.
True of False: Astronauts do not cut their hair in space. FALSE! Electric clippers attached to a vacuum hose are used to keep hair trimmed. 

People (and especially kids) have a natural curiosity about space travel. This book answers so many questions that many want to know and some I would have never thought of. Nothing seems off limits. In fact the entire first chapter is dedicated to using the bathroom. 

The illustrator uses a black back ground with bright yellow text boxes and colorful illustrations. There are also several actual photographs with captions. Other text features include a table of context, index, and headings. 

Dr. Dave Williams is a Canadian astronaut who has completed two tours on NASA space shuttles. Loredana Cuntis is a former Senior Vice President of Children's Programming at Universal Studios. Together, with illustrator Theo Krynauw, they have created an engaging and informative resource about space travel for kids. 

The trio also has another book due out next spring. 

I am excited to add this book to my classroom collection. I would recommend To Burp or Not to Burp for grades 3-5. 

Pair With:

See what others have to say about this book:
Kirkus (Starred review)

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

A Child of Books by Oliver Jeffers and Sam Winston

A Child of Books 
by Oliver Jeffers and Sam Winston
Published Sept. 2016
Candlewick Press
40 Pages
Review copy provided by publisher

Goodreads Summary
A little girl sails her raft across a sea of words, arriving at the house of a small boy and calling him away on an adventure. Through forests of fairy tales and across mountains of make-believe, the two travel together on a fantastical journey that unlocks the boy’s imagination. Now a lifetime of magic and adventure lies ahead of him . . . but who will be next? 
Combining elegant images by Oliver Jeffers and Sam Winston’s typographical landscapes shaped from excerpts of children’s classics and lullabies, A Child of Books is a stunning prose poem on the rewards of reading and sharing stories—an immersive and unforgettable reading experience that readers will want to pass on to others.

My Thoughts
Let me make this perfectly clear, if you love books, you need this gorgeous new picture book for your collection.  It is a beautiful reminder of the power and magic of words. Words and book text from classic children's stories are woven into the pages and are part of the illustrations. Everywhere you look there are words! Even the end pages are covered in quotes from books! It is hard for me to adequately describe how breathtaking it is so please take a moment to watch the book trailer and you will see what I mean.

Jeffers and Winston remind us how reading can impact our world.
Share it with the book lover in your life!
I am so excited to share it with my 4th graders! I can just see them poring over the pages right now! 

Pair with:

Visit the book's webpage

See what others have to say about this book:
School Library Journal (starred review)
Kirkus (starred review)

Tuesday, September 13, 2016


Four authors that are true friends write four books about friendship for middle-grade readers. 

Four "real life" friends-authors Kirby Larson, Susan Hill Long, Augusta Scattergood and Barbara O'Connor are joining forces to expand conversations about friendship, writing and reading. 

Here are the ways teachers and librarians can participate. 

Use the hashtag #TrueFriends on Twitter to share about friendship or books about true friendship.

Subscribe to the Youtube channel where you can view videos by all four authors about their book and the #True Friends hashtag.  

Visit the doc that has interviews and fun resources.

Or visit the Google doc that has all the links you need. 

Click on the book covers to learn more about each author's book.

Have fun reading and sharing about #TrueFriendship!

Monday, September 12, 2016

It's Monday, What Are You Reading? September 12, 2016

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

Click on the covers to learn more about each book.

Loved this book that shows girls that they are much more than how they look. 
Ages 3-8
See my review posted yesterday here. 

This boy faces a tough decision as he tries to choose just one instrument to play.
Grades K-2.

A must-read for fall!
Ages 3-8

Will Brunhilda learn to like the feeling of being nice? 
Great for Grades K-2!
Review to come.

Get the tissues for this one. A fictionalized version of a real friendship between polars bears Gus and Ida at The Central Park Zoo. 
Grades 1-4

An absolute must-have for book lovers! Just gorgeous!

Fascinating, if kinda creepy nonfiction picture book about microbes. 
Grades 2-6

Finished Listening

Still Reading (but did not touch all week)...

What are you reading friends? 

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Beautiful by Stacy McAnulty

by Stacy McAnulty
Illustrated by Joanne Lew Vriethoff
Published Sept. 2016
Running Press Kids
32 Pages
Review copy provided by publisher 

Goodreads Summary
Every girl is unique, talented, and lovable. . . . Every girl is BEAUTIFUL.
Much more than how one looks on the outside, true beauty is found in conquering challenges, showing kindness, and spreading contagious laughter. Beautiful girls are empowered and smart and strong!

BEAUTIFUL breaks barriers by showing girls free to be themselves: splashing in mud, conducting science experiments, and reading books under a flashlight with friends. This book will encourage all girls to embrace who they are and realize their endless potential.

My Thoughts
Every little girl needs this book! 
With simple text following the pattern of "Beautiful girls _____" this book shows what girls are and what they can be. The words and illustrations work in wonderful juxtaposition. For example on a page with the text, "Beautiful girls move gracefully." the illustrations show a girl playing football and two girls in wheelchairs playing basketball. "Beautiful girls smell like flowers." shows messy girls planting and digging in the dirt. 

The illustrations are fabulous. The characters represent many cultures with different shapes and sizes. Girls are sure to see someone that looks like them in Beautiful.

This books sends the message that girls are beautiful just the way they are. This is a message young girls cannot hear enough in my opinion. 

I would highly recommend Beautiful for ages 3-8. 

Possible Companions:

See what others have to say about this book:

Follow the Beautiful blog tour stops here:

Thursday, September 8, 2016

National Geographic Kids-Extreme Wildfires: Smoke Jumpers, High-Tech Gear, Survival Tactics, and the Extraordinary Science of Fire

National Geographic Kids-Extreme Wildfires: Smoke Jumpers, High-Tech Gear, Survival Tactics, and the Extraordinary Science of Fire
by Mark Thiessen
With Glen Phelan
Published August 30, 2016
National Geographic Children's Books
112 Pages
Review copy provided by publisher.

Goodreads Summary
In one moment, there’s a simple spark, and then roaring flames surge 200 feet into the air, devouring forests. Trees, from root to canopy, are burned to the ground. Airtankers and helicopters hover above, executing an air attack. Brave firefighters, equipped with flame resistant suits, leap from helicopters onto the treetops and descend to the blazing forest floor. 

In this book, young readers will learn about the ecological impacts of wildfires, the ins and outs of fire science including tactics for prevention and containment, cutting-edge technology used to track wildfires and predict fire behavior, and about the impressive skill, survival tactics, and bravery required to control a wildfire. Also included are expert tips, fun facts, and breathtaking photos taken by the author.

My Thoughts
Living in Maine, we don't many wildfires and in my lifetime I have never seen nor heard of an extreme wildfire happening here.  I found this book fascinating.  Mark Thiessen is a fire photographer. He narrates this book in first person about his many adventures while photographing wildfires. In the introduction, he states that he puts himself in harms way to document the work of brave firefighters. Without his work, we might be able to see some of the work that firefighters do. 
The readers follows Thiessen on his many adventures. His stories, combined with photographs, graphics and "Fire Fact" text boxes work together to share the information. Chapters include: The Anatomy of Wildfire, Battling Wildfire from the Ground, Battling Wildfire from the Air, Ecology of a Wildfire and Living with Wildfire. There is also a section on fire safety, how to train like a firefighter, a glossary and index. 
This book is informative and inspirational. It made me have a better understanding of wildfires and an even bigger appreciation for the firefighters that fight them. 

I would recommend Extreme Wildfire for grades 4+. 

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Reading Without Walls Blog Tour

I am so excited to be participating in the Reading Without Walls Tour! This tour is inspired by National Ambassador for Young People's Literature, Gene Luen Yang's platform to encourage children to read books about people or topics they don't know much about. For me it is STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) books. 

Today I would like to highlight Gene Luen Yang's newest book in his Secret Coders series. In addition, I will be sharing another STEM book I read called Human Body Theater: A Nonfiction Revue

by Gene Luen Yang and Mike Holmes
Published August 30, 2016
by First Second
Graphic novels 
96 Pages

Goodreads Summary
There's something lurking beneath the surface of Stately Academy—literally. In a secret underground classroom Hopper, Eni, and Josh discover that the campus was once home to the Bee School, an institute where teachers, students, and robots worked together to unravel the mysteries of coding. Hopper and her friends are eager to follow in this tradition and become top-rate coders. But why are Principal Dean and the rugby team suddenly so interested in their extracurricular activities?

From graphic novel superstar (and high school computer programming teacher) Gene Luen Yang comes the second volume of Secret Coders: Paths & Portals, a wildly entertaining new series that combines logic puzzles and basic programming instruction with a page-turning mystery plot!

My Thoughts
I have to admit, I probably would not have picked up this book on my own. Coding is a mysterious and confusing entity to me. It really is a language all its own. Lines, dashes, numbers and a whole lot of symbols can create a program? It boggles the mind. After reading Paths and Portals, coding is still perplexing, but I think I "get it" a little bit more. 
Paths and Portals is first, a story of friends (if somewhat reluctant friends) working and learning together. They are working together to learn more about coding with the help of the janitor, who they find out used to be a professor. There are successes and failures as they try, practice, tweak and try again with the army of robotic turtles stored in the depths of the school. 
Of course a good story has a protagonist or several in this case. The muscle-headed rugby team steals one of the powerful turtles to give to the evil principal. The story ends with a cliffhanger, leaving the reader excited to read the next book: Secrets and Sequences. 

The authors do a nice job showing the process of coding with split panels of code on one side and the actions performed on the other. I know many students will be excited to try coding after reading this book (and series). 
I would recommend it for grades 3-6. 

Praise for Secret Coders: Paths and Portals

Don't miss the first Secret Coders book!

by Maris Wicks
Published 2015
by First Second
240 Pages
Goodreads Summary
Welcome to the Human Body Theater, where your master of ceremonies is going to lead you through a theatrical revue of each and every biological system of the human body! Starting out as a skeleton, the MC puts on a new layer of her costume (her body) with each "act." By turns goofy and intensely informative, the Human Body Theater is always accessible and always entertaining. 

Maris Wicks is a biology nerd, and by the time you've read this book, you will be too! Harnessing her passion for science (and her background as a science educator for elementary and middle-school students), she has created a comics-format introduction to the human body that will make an expert of any reader -- young or old!

My Thoughts
This book is an amazing work of fictional nonfiction. In full color, the host, Skeleton, takes the reader through the body systems in a way that is entertaining, informative and makes sense to young readers. The characters are entertaining and the story has a humorous tone. What a great way to learn about the human body. 
For parents and educators: There is a section about the reproductive system with illustrations.

Visit the other stops along the Reading Without Walls Blog Tour!

August 31: Colby at Sharp Read
September 1: Jess at Reading Nook Reviews
September 2: Samantha at Forest of Words and Pages
September 5: Jennifer at YA Book Nerd
September 6: Maria at Maria's Mélange
September 7: Gigi at Late Bloomer's Book Blog
September 8: Jen at Starry Eyed Revue
September 9: Cheyenne at The Hollow Cupboards
September 12: Anya at On Starships and Dragonwings
September 13: April at Good Books and Good Wine
September 14: Cindy at Charting by the Stars
September 15: Erica at The Book Cellar
September 16: Sandie at Teen Lit Rocks
September 19: Asheley at Into the Hall of Books
September 20: Daphne at Gone Pecan
September 21: Mary Ann at Great Kids Books
September 22: Kathy at The Brain Lair
September 23: Michelle & Leslie at Undeniably (Book) Nerdy
September 26: Laurie at Reader Girls
September 27: Margie at Librarian's Quest
September 28: Victoria at Art, Books, & Coffee
September 29: Cee at The Novel Hermit
September 30: Amanda at Forever Young Adult

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Dear Dragon by Josh Funk- Q and A with Illustrator Rodolfo Montalvo

Dear Dragon
by Josh Funk
Illustrated by Rodolfo Montalvo
Expected publication Sept. 6, 2016
Viking Books for Young Readers
40 Pages
Review copy provided by publisher

Goodreads Summary
A sweet and clever friendship story in rhyme, about looking past physical differences to appreciate the person (or dragon) underneath.
George and Blaise are pen pals, and they write letters to each other about everything: their pets, birthdays, favorite sports, and science fair projects. There’s just one thing that the two friends don’t know: George is a human, while Blaise is a dragon! What will happen when these pen pals finally meet face-to-face? 

My Thoughts
This book made me want to search for some pen pals for my 4th graders. I used to LOVE getting letters in the mail when I was young. Actually, I still enjoy getting letters, it just doesn't happen very often. Today we communicate quickly and efficiently with texts, messaging and social media. Letter writing is a lost art for many. 
Dear Dragon reminded me how exciting this form of communication can be. Blaise and George have been assigned to be pen pals throughout the school year. George doesn't know that Blaise is a dragon and vice versa. Not only will they write back and forth, but they do it in rhyming couplet! 
There are several things I love about this book. First, I love how the characters both mention that they don't particularly like to write in their first letter to each other. Their letters start out fairly safe and basic and evolve into each boy learning lots of things about the other.
I also love how the thoughts of each boy are shown in a thought bubble as they read the letter while the reality is shown on an adjacent page. This would give teacher an opportunity to discuss preconceptions with students. 
I also love the ending, but I won't give it away here. 

I will be reading Dear Dragon with my 4th graders for sure and can't wait to add it to my classroom library. 

I would like to thank illustrator Rodolfo Montalvo for taking the time to participate in a little Q and A today. 

1. When did you discover your talent for drawing?

Sadly, I don't have or remember many drawings before 4th grade. But, by then, I was kind of crafty and enjoyed drawing very much. I loved copying (not tracing) other illustrations from books, comic book trading cards, and any cool video game-related art. As a kid of the early 90's there was a lot of Ninja Turtles-themed art. Little by little, as the years went by, I began to notice that not many of the kids around me spent much time drawing. There was always a friend or two who also liked to draw, I still remember one of our collaborations. Somehow, a passion for drawing always stuck around.

2. Can you describe your typical work day?

It's always a little different. It depends on what part of a project I'm in. If there's a project in the works on my table, whether I'm at the thumbnailing stage, final pencils stage, or working on final art, I like to jump in early in the morning. On good days I might clock in six to seven hours by the time noon arrives. Depending where I am on the deadline, I might continue on after lunch, or do some sketchbook sketching or writing. But typically, there are always other things to take care at home that might break up the art sessions a little bit. Lately, every two or three days, I've spent my first couple hours of the day at the coffee shop nearby, working on picture book writing. And sometimes, if I'm not too busy, the day can get a little scattered and run late into the night, but I try to always cross a few things off the list.

3. What is your favorite thing to draw?

Short answer: Stories.
Longer answer: I think my default setting is set to adventure. I love drawing animals, robots, monsters, cultural objects, figures from history, donuts, plants, trees, and robots. The answer to that question is always changing and the questions comes up a lot in my mind. For me, that question can also come with another question, which is, what is your favorite way to draw? Both may vary from day to day.

4. Is there anything that is hard for you to draw?

Emotions are hard to draw. Especially when you're trying to convey them through things like animals or inanimate objects. For me, the difficulty of a drawing comes from the amount of expectations you have for it. Things can get complicated fast if you want a perfect drawing. I try to stay loose and willing to start over at any point of a drawing.

5. In Dear Dragon, the characters write pen pal letters back and forth all year. Today, most people correspond electronically, how important do you think it is for children to practice letter writing?

This question makes me think of a typography class I took in college. Even though we were mostly producing work with computers, there was one assignment where we had to create large scale letterforms that had to be hand drawn and inked. I think the goal was gain a greater connection and understanding of the shapes and details that exist in letters, and also to see and experience the creation of the letters on paper not to just click a button and have them appear. That kind of connection is the type of connection I think of when I think of letter writing, about making art on paper, or writing a story with a pen. For me, it is a way to have a greater connection with my work and hopefully that translates to the audience, as well. Letter writing is great in this way because it is so easy to put a bit of yourself in each letter and try to connect with someone else. With time, people might call letters an archaic method of communication; I would just call it a more special way to connect.

6. In Dear Dragon, the two main characters form some preconceived ideas about each other as they become friends. Have you ever met someone for the first time and they were different than you expected?

Well, I did meet Josh Funk earlier in the year for the first time. By then, we had already communicated on-line and work on Dear Dragon was well underway, but of course there's nothing like meeting in person. Though I didn't have many preconceived ideas about him, I was pleasantly surprised to see what he was really like in person. He's a fun, very positive, and confident guy.

7. What question do you wish people would ask you about your work and what would be your answer?
Usually, I like the work to speak for itself, unless I'm in a critique type situation. I don't mind talking about the visual or narrative aspects of my work but I think I would prefer a question like, what do you think your work will look like in twenty-five years?  I wonder what the answer might be. I hope it's a good answer. For me, it raises questions about where I want to go as an artist and what I want my work to accomplish over time. Those are good questions to be reminded of and to have conversations about. Especially, with people who might be on a similar professional journey.

Thank you Rodolfo! I hope we can look froward to many more books from you!

Visit Josh Funk's website.
Visit Rodolfo Montalvo's website.

See what others have to say about Dear Dragon:
Unleashing Readers

Read Josh and Rodolfo's Nerdy Book Club Post-and see the book trailer.

Be sure to visit other stops along the tour!
LibLaura5 – September 5
Teach Mentor Texts – September 7
As They Grow Up – September 8
Emily’s Reading Room – September 9

Reederama – September 10

Monday, September 5, 2016

It's Monday, What Are You Reading? September 5, 2016

I have 2 giveaways running right now for Kim Norman's The Bot that Scott Built and Dave LaRochelle's This is NOT a Cat.  Both end in a couple of days. Be sure to enter! 

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

Click on the covers to learn more about each book.

A lovely story of using one's talents. 

The third Flora book by Molly Idle is beautiful!

A gorgeous nonfiction book about beetles. 
Grades 3-6

Unique illustrations accompany facts about North American birds. 
Grades 2-5

A stunning biography about a lesser-known artist.

A touching novel in verse about family stories and traditions. 


Just Started

Listening to...

What are you reading friends? 

Friday, September 2, 2016

The Bot that Scott Built by Kim Norman Review and Giveaway!

The Bot that Scott Built 
by Kim Norman
Published August 2016
Sterling Children's Books
32 Pages
Review copy provided by publisher

Goodreads Summary
When Scott builds a bot, a bippity-bot, sparks fly . . . and his entire classroom goes wild. Before long, fiery ants and carnivorous plants, a freaky frog, a big-bellied boa, and an exploding "volcano" have wreaked total havoc. Can Scott's bot, which started it all, manage the mess? Cheers for the handy hero! A cumulative story with fun that grows and grows and GROWS.

My Thoughts
A "House that Jack Built" for the technology age! This cumulative story will have kids laughing, cringing and squealing as they watch the antics happening on Science Day that all start with the Robot that Scott built. From fiery ants and carnivorous plants to a boa constrictor and a vinegar volcano-this book is packed with fun! 

Agnese Baruzzi's digital illustrations are done in bold colors. The displays vary from full page illustrations to various oval shaped pictures on a page. All of the illustrations create a sense movement and excitement as Science Day accidents happen one after the other. 

The author uses some sophisticated vocabulary. Young readers will have the opportunity to learn words such as:

I would recommend The Bot That Scott Built to children in grades K-3. 

Possible Companions

See what others have to say about this book:
Diapers and Daydreams

Visit Kim Norman's website.
Visit Agnese Baruzzi's website-Plum Pudding Illustration Agency.

Enter the Giveaway!
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Thursday, September 1, 2016

This is NOT a Cat by David LaRochelle Review and Giveaway!

This is NOT a Cat 
by David LaRochelle
Illustrated by Mike Wohnoutka
Published August 2016
Sterling Children's Books
40 Pages
Review copy provided by publisher

Goodreads Summary
Welcome to Sunny Hills Mice School where the first lesson is recognizing DANGER! And that means CAT. So Miss Mouse shows her students pictures of things that are, and are not, a kitty. But the kids are a bit restless . . . until something enters the classroom that makes them all sCATter. But, is their unwelcome guest really a cat?

My Thoughts
Too cute! As I read this book, I thought about how it could be one of the first books that a child could read all the words by themselves. With sparse, repetitive text, and big, colorful, illustrations, kids will want to read it again and again. 

In a classroom with posters of cheese shapes and mice throughout history, the mouse teacher is teaching the class how to identify a cat by showing them pictures of things that are not cats. Throughout the lesson readers will see the cat creeping in the window behind the teacher bit by bit on each page. I can see young readers pointing and squealing with anticipation as they try to warn the mice that the cat is approaching! 

There is so much to look at on each page. The students don't pay much attention and start to doodle or throw paper airplanes. Even the fish in the fish bowl has a different expression on each page. 

I would highly recommend This is NOT a Cat for ages 2-6. 

Possible Companions:
Here are a couple of picture books that have just a few words:

See what others have to say about this book:
Here Wee Read

Get resources including activities and a teacher's guide here

Visit Mike Wohnoutka's website

Enter to win a copy of This is NOT a Cat! 
One winner will be chosen randomly by Rafflecopter. Book will be mailed to the winner in the US. 
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