Thursday, August 31, 2017

Beauty and the Beak by Deborah Lee Rose and Janie VeltKamp Blog Tour and Giveaway!

Welcome to Day #4 of the Beauty and the Beak Blog Tour!
To celebrate the release of Beauty and the Beak by Deborah Lee Rose and Janie VeltKamp (8/27/17), blogs across the web are featuring exclusive content from Deborah, plus 5 chances to win a copy of Beauty and the Beak!


The two plush animals are a baby koala, named Joey, and a baby harp seal from my earlier animal books.
On my bookshelf you will find classic animal stories like The Jungle Book, Charlotte's Web and The Trumpet of the Swan. I first loved these animal books as a child because through my imagination, they took me to places far away and I could pretend I was part of those worlds. I still reread these books today, and each time I discover something new and wondrous. I tell kids that Charlotte, the spider in Charlotte's Web, is my favorite children's book character because she is actually a WRITER and works a lot like I do. She likes to write when it's quiet and everyone else is asleep. She gets help from her friends for her research, and she even checks her spelling! If she makes a mistake (or a fly gets caught in her letters), she fixes it. She loves the meaning of words and chooses them carefully, presenting them to her readers in the best light possible, when the morning dew is sparkling on her web. Most importantly, she knows that words have POWER—even to save the life of a friend.  
Blog Tour Schedule:
August 29th — Word Spelunking
August 30th — Chat with Vera
August 31st  — Late Bloomer's Book Blog
September 1stLiving Simply
Buy: Persnickety Press Follow Deborah: Website | Facebook | Twitter Follow Janie: Website | Facebook
BEAUTY AND THE BEAK is a new, nonfiction picture book about Beauty, the wild bald eagle that made world news when she was illegally shot, rescued, and received a pioneering, 3D-printed prosthetic beak. BEAUTY AND THE BEAK follows Beauty close up from the moment she uses her baby beak to emerge from her egg, through her hunt when she uses her powerful adult beak to feed herself, to the day her beak is shot off leaving her helpless. This brave and heartlifting story continues through her rescue, into the months of engineering her 3D-printed prosthetic beak and intense hours of her beak surgery, to the moment she takes the first drink of water by herself with her new beak. BEAUTY AND THE BEAK captures the spirit and courage of this amazing bird and America’s national symbol―whose species was nearly wiped out by human activity, only to be restored and thriving because of environmental conservation and human compassion. This book will resonate with stories of other animals endangered or in need, and with stories of humans, from young children to military veterans, in need of prosthetic limbs, who are being given new lives with state-of-the-art devices. The book includes expanded information about bald eagles as a top predator species, their near extinction in most of the U.S., their successful reintroduction back into the wild, and efforts to conserve this critical raptor species today.
About the Authors: Deborah Lee Rose is an internationally published, award-winning author of many beloved children’s books. Jimmy the Joey: The True Story of an Amazing Koala Rescue is a Reading is Fundamental/Macy’s Multicultural Collection title and Notable Social Studies Trade Book for Students K-12. Into the A, B, Sea was named to the New York Public Library’s 100 Titles for Reading and Sharing. Deborah helped create and directed communications for the ALA/AASL award-winning national STEM education website, and helped created STEM activity apps for Lawrence Hall of Science which have been downloaded more than one million times. She also served as Director of Communications for Lindsay Wildlife Experience, which includes one of the first wildlife rehabilitation hospitals established in the U.S. Deborah lives in Walnut Creek, CA, and speaks at book events, conferences, schools and libraries across the country. Visit her website at
Jane Veltkamp is a raptor biologist and rehabilitator, wildlife educator, trained nurse, and master falconer. She led the team who developed Beauty the Bald Eagle’s prosthetic beak and has lifetime care of Beauty. Jane is founder and executive director of Birds of Prey Northwest, in Idaho, a raptor center which educates the public about raptor conservation, including through live raptor programs, and has provided medical treatment and rehabilitation to thousands of injured birds of prey to return them to the wild. She spent ten years of her career reintroducing ospreys and peregrine falcons to regions where they had disappeared from their habitat in South Dakota and Indiana. She rescues and cares for Bald Eagles, including Beauty, by permit from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Jane lives near Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, and is also the eagle expert for the Coeur d'Alene Tribe's Native American Aviaries. Visit her website at
About the Persnickety Press: Persnickety Press is the sister imprint of the Cornell Lab Publishing Group. Persnickety publishes a broad range of books for children and young adults, both fiction and nonfiction, from picture books through teen titles. Our books focus on empowerment, showing young people that what they do matters, what they care about is worthy of their attention and dedication, and even as children, they can make a real difference. 

Follow Deborah: Website | Facebook | Twitter
Follow Janie: Website | Facebook

  • One (1) winner will receive a copy of Beauty and the Beak
  • US only
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Monday, August 28, 2017

It's Monday, What Are You Reading? August 28, 2017

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

Here is what I have read recently. 
Click on the covers to learn more about each book. 
So loved this! 

Simple and adorable!

Great for beginning of school year. K-3.

I had no idea! Good, simple biography. 

Listened to...
Yes, it is as good as you have heard. 

Currently Reading

Currently Listening

What are you reading friends? 

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Celebrate This Week-Change is Messy-August 26, 2017

Ruth Aryes gives us a platform to celebrate each week. Visit her amazing blog!

This week I celebrate change and all its messiness. 
After a VERY long time as a classroom teacher in 4th grade, I am transitioning to a new role as a K-2 intervention teacher. It is exciting, invigorating, scary, strange and wonderful all at the same time. 
I am used to feeling (fairly) confident in what it is that I need to do. I know 4th grade well. I knew what to expect and I was good at it. I have left the comfortable familiarity of my classroom, set up a new space, and left my teaching partner of 8 years. We had a rhythm and knew each other well. 

I have a new teaching partner, who is also a dear friend, and a new team of amazing educators, many of whom I have known for years. I am working with 16 classroom teachers who worked with my successor for a long time. I have much to learn and much to prove.
I am not confident....yet, but I take comfort in others' faith in me. 

This week I celebrate and embrace the opportunity to grow as an educator by relying on the expertise of others. I embrace the opportunity to surround myself with young children who will surely challenge and inspire me. It is awkward and uncomfortable and I am loving every minute of it. 

Friday, August 25, 2017

The Case of the Stinky Stench Lady Pancake and Sir French Toast #2 by Josh Funk

The Case of the Stinky Stench (Lady Pancake and Sir French Toast #2)
by Josh Funk
Illustrated by Brendan Kearney
Published May, 2017
Sterling Children's Books
40 pages

Goodreads Summary
There’s a stinky stench in the fridge—and our favorite foodie friends must solve a smelly mystery! Sir French Toast’s nephew, Inspector Croissant, begs him and Lady Pancake for help in finding the source of the foul odor. Could it be the devious Baron Von Waffle? A fetid fish lurking in the bottom of Corn Chowder Lake? Featuring the same delectable wordplay and delicious art that won critical raves for Lady Pancake & Sir French Toast—there’s even an actual red herring—his fun follow-up is an absolutely tasty treat for kids!

My Thoughts
I was one of those kids that always thought that my toys came to life and played in the toybox when I wasn't looking. This book will have kids wondering what actually goes on in the fridge when the door is closed. 
I loved the first Lady Pancake and Sir French Toast book and this one is just as clever. Readers follow Inspector Croissant as he searches for clues, including a real red herring, to try to find what is stinking up the fridge. The unique characters and hilarious situations make this a laugh-out-loud story that young readers will ask for again and again.
Funk is a master of using creative language to enhance the story. It is filled with puns and sophisticated vocabulary that will also appeal to upper elementary students. The rhyming text is natural, imaginative and super-fun to read aloud. 

Brendan Kearney's illustrations are fabulous. The characters are really adorable and settings like Corn Chowder Lake, Casserole Cliff and Mt. Everbean add even more entertainment to this fun story. 

I would highly recommend this book for students in grades K-4. 

Watch the book trailer.

See what others have to say about this book:

Also by Josh Funk:

Coming in September! Look for my review on Sept. 27.

Some other books from Brendan Kearney:

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Don't Save the Good China

As I was flipping through a stack of picture books and putting them on the yardsale bookcase in my new classroom, one book made me pause.  

It was this one.
I love this book by Joan Holub and Melissa Sweet. The story and illustrations are amazing and Red's perilous writing journey offers a unique look into writing with so many uses in the classroom
But that is not what made me stop. As I looked at the pristine cover, wrapped in a protective library sleeve, I paused because I realized that I never read this book to my 4th graders. Why? Because I was saving it. Yes, saving it for just the "right" time. Certainly a book such as this deserved to be read during a very special lesson or activity. 

Maybe I should have used it to launch our writing workshop?
Perhaps as a mentor text for story development?
Or as an author/illustrator study of Melissa Sweet who lives in my state?
Share it just because it is wonderful? 

As it turned out, by waiting for just the "right" time, I never got around to actually sharing it with my students. 

Earlier this summer I was at a writing retreat and we were invited to participate in an activity where we wrote inspirational words or phrases on pennies (from Textbook Amy Krouse Rosenthal). 
One of the phrases I wrote was, Don't save the good china for company. I am not exactly sure what made me think of this phrase, but I was referring to the tendency to save the nicest things for the right time or for "special" people or occasions and not for regular everyday life.

Holding Little Red Writing in my hands I was disappointed. I am not teaching 4th grade next year and perhaps I was a bit emotional about this, but it made me think about what else I avoided doing because I was waiting for just the right time? 
A fun activity? 
A meaningful project? 
A terrific read aloud? 
A special visitor?
It is too late to go back. I don't get a do-over. 

As I begin my 25th year as a teacher today, I am looking forward to a year of changes and challenges in my new position providing RTI interventions for K-2 students. I can only hope to end the year without regretting something I didn't do. 

I invite you to reflect, dear friends. What is your "good china"? What have you been wanting to do, but just haven't? 
Hosting a mock Newbery club?
Digital writing?
An art-inspired project?
An exciting math activity?
Book buddies?

Whatever it is, make this the year that you don't save the good china for company. 

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

My First Book of Soccer by Sports Illustrated Kids

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

My first Book of Soccer: A Rookie Book-Mostly Everything Explained About the Game
by Sports Illustrated Kids
Published May, 2017
48 Pages
Review copy provided by publisher

Goodreads Summary
The ref blows the whistle, the striker approaches for kickoff, feet fly-a soccer match is underway! With a fun mix of Sports Illustrated action photography, simple text, a full glossary of terms, and awesome graphics, My First Book of Soccer introduces readers to the world's favorite game. Kids (and probably a few adults, too) will learn how the clock counts "up" and never stops, what an offside means, what's up with those yellow cards, and how kicks become a gooooaaaallll!
Illustrated "rookie" characters appears on every page, guiding the reader moment by moment, and helping to make My First Book of Soccer an ideal shared reading experience between parents and their little rookies before, during, and after the game.

My Thoughts
It's that time of year again. The time where families pack up their kids and their camp chairs and meet at the soccer field. In my town just about EVERY kid plays recreational soccer starting from age 5. I remember my daughter's team just running around in circles or everyone trying to get the ball as the learned how to play this popular sport. This book could help young players learn the ins and outs of soccer. 

This is the 4th book in the Rookie Book series by Sports Illustrated Kids. Like the others, it provides a simple introduction to the terms, moves and rules of the sport. Each page is big and colorful with real photos of players and some cartoon images of a little boy and girl learning to play. Both male and female players, with different racial backgrounds, are represented. 

The sturdy pages will standup to rereadings and little hands. I would highly recommend My first Book of Soccer for budding soccer enthusiasts. 

See what others have to say about this book. 
Mom Read It
Little BIG Reads
Kid Lit Frenzy

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

The Football Fanbook: Everything You Need to Become a Gridiron Know-it-All

The Football Fanbook: Everything You Need to Become a Gridiron Know-it-All
by Gary Gramling
Published August 2017
by Sports Illustrated
192 pages 
Review copy provided by publisher

Goodreads Summary
So you're a football fan and now you want to take your passion for the game to the next level? The Football Fanbook from Sports Illustrated Kids is just what you need. A key addition to every young sports fanatic's library, The Football Fanbook is filled with fun trivia and unique lingo to impress friends, illustrated behind-the-skills how-to's, important game-winning strategies, and much more. Readers will sound like experts in no time.

My Thoughts
Are you ready for some football? It is preseason time and my husband has been watching games, analyzing stats are reading updates on his favorite team. Boy was I able to impress him with some things I learned from this book. And thanks to the "Talk the Talk" section, I am able to actually keep up during the games!

The Football Fanbook is a great resource about the popular fall pastime. It is organized into 7 chapters with topics such as Think Like a Coach, Obscure Facts, and Know These Numbers to name a few. It is filled with trivia facts, stats and lingo for fans or those just wanting to learn more. 

Here are a few interesting facts I learned:
*In an average football game there are only around 11 minutes of action?
*The huddle was invented by Paul Hubbard, a deaf quarterback.
*The University of Phoenix stadium has a grass field that is rolled out of the stadium between games to grow in a natural environment. 
*Former Viking, Fred Cox, invented the Nerf football. 
Cool right?!

Information is accompanied by photographs, captions, and infograms. There is even a diagram showing the reader how to throw a perfect spiral pass, but I did not try it. 

Here is a trailer of some of the football lingo readers will learn.

I would recommend this book for fans in 4th grade and up. 

See what others have to say about this book:
Books Babies and Bows
A Rup Life
Mom Always Finds Out

Enter the giveaway! I would like to thank Sports Illustrated and Blue Slip Media for sponsoring a giveaway to one lucky reader!
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Sunday, August 20, 2017

Blogiversary Celebration and Giveaway!

Five years ago today, I launched this little blog of mine with this post about my journey as someone who had difficulty learning how to read and how I came up with the blog name. 

I remember sitting in front of my computer, ready to hit "post" feeling nervous and seriously doubting that anyone would ever want to read anything I had to say. It turned out to be one of the best professional decisions I have ever made. Because I started this blog, I have been able to collaborate with talented educators, meet some of my teacher and author idols, and form true and lasting friendships. I have grown exponentially as a teacher because of these relationships. 

It still genuinely amazes and humbles me when someone mentions something I have written or talks about a book they have seen posted here. 

Each year, I like to give back to readers. This year I though it would be fitting to give away 5 books to one reader. 

I want these books to go to someone who visits and reads this blog so simply leave any kind of comment on this post and I will enter everyone in a "hat" and TJ will randomly choose one winner on August 26 (my birthday).  

Thanks for reading!

**Edited August 27
TJ chose the winner!
Congratulations Susan K!

Friday, August 18, 2017

Busy Builders Books and Activity Kits by Silver Dolphin Books

I was fortunate to receive these 3 activity kits from Silver Dolphin Books in exchange for an honest review. 

Currently, there are three kits. 

Busy Builders: Airport
by Timothy Knapman
Illustrated by Carles Ballesteros
Published Dec. 2016

Busy Builders: Fire Station
by Chris Oxlade
Illustrated by Carles Ballesteros
Published Dec. 2016

Busy Builders: Construction Site
by Katherine Sully
Illustrated by Carles Ballesteros
Published Dec. 2016

My Thoughts
I was skeptical at first since activity kits can sometimes be a bit flimsy and rip or break easily. They can also be tricky to put together. These kits are very sturdy with thick cardboard for the base and for all the small components that you put together. Easy to follow directions in the back of each book make them simple to assemble, although parents may want to supervise that kids don't push too hard to slide pieces into place. Both sides of the vehicles etc. have the image on them and stand up nicely alone when assembled. 
The box that holds the kits has a velcro latch and also serves as the center of the kit scene. The back side of the box shows a scene from the inside of the location. 

The books have thick pages and are filled with information about the topic. 

My son really likes his airplane kit. I gave his cousins the other two kits and they loved them as well. 

With a book and an activity, the Busy Builder kits would make a great gift or addition to classroom games (think indoor recess!). 

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Hoot and Honk Just Can't Sleep by Leslie Helakowski

Hoot and Honk Just Can't Sleep 
by Leslie Helakoski
Published by Sterling Children's
March, 2017
40 Pages
Review copy provided by publisher

Goodreads Summary
Some chicks like day, others like night. Some sleep in the dark, and some in the light. Hoot, an adorable owlet, and Honk, a fuzzy gosling, have just hatched—but their eggs got switched and now they’re in the wrong nests. Will they find their way home? Leslie Helakoski’s gentle, lilting verse and irresistible illustrations make the perfect bedtime story as they capture two adorable babies exploring the world for the first time.

My Thoughts
This story is so sweet. The baby owl and baby goose wake up in the wrong nests and notice that they are different from the other baby birds in their family. When the other birds want to sleep, the baby owl and baby goose are wide awake. They go exploring when they can't sleep and find other babies that are like them and discover a family where they belong. 
The illustrations are exceptional. Pastels are used over sanded paper to create colorful, textured pictures. The pages are thick enough for little hands to turn again and again. 

Picture of book taken by me.

The rhyming text is simple and filled with creative language and the font size and style are great for young readers.

I would recommend Hoot and Honk Just Can't Sleep for ages 2-6.  

See what others have to say about this book:
We Have Kids
Jill Bennett

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Duck and Hippo Lost and Found by Jonathan London Review and Giveaway!

Duck and Hippo Lost and Found 
by Jonathan London
Illustrated by Andrew Joyner
Published August 15, 2017
Two Lions
Review copy provided by publisher

Goodreads Summary
Duck and Hippo invite their friends Turtle, Elephant, and Pig to a picnic at their favorite pond. Yippee! It’s time to dance and sing, swim and eat. Everyone brings goodies to share…except Hippo. He didn’t bring ANYTHING. So Hippo sets off into the forest to find some berries. But he is gone a long time, and Duck begins to worry that Hippo is lost. What should his friends do to find him? Join Duck and Hippo on another fun adventure!

My Thoughts
You likely know Jonathan London's work with his widely popular Froggy books. My daughter particularly liked Froggy Eats Out. London and Joyner have teamed up again to bring us more Duck and Hippo. 
I really enjoyed the first Duck and Hippo book, Duck and Hippo in the Rainstorm (see my review here).  In Lost and Found, Duck and Hippo are back and they have brought some friends. Hippo feels bad that he did not bring something to the picnic and leaves to look for some berries. He searches high and low, but doesn't find any berries even as night falls. His friends are concerned and go looking for him. 
I think this story lends itself to many themes and discussion topics. 
Problem solving

The illustrations are excellent and the characters are adorable.  The color palate is subdued with pops of bright red in Duck's coat and Hippo's bowtie. A variety of text fonts, sizes and colors adds another element of interest to the book. 

Kids will be excited to see if Hippo's friends ever find and if they finally get to have their picnic. 
I would recommend Duck and Hippo Lost and Found for ages 3-8. 

See what others have to say about this book:

Visit Jonathan London's website
Visit Andrew Joyner's website

Find some activities to use with this book here

Enter the giveaway! 
Two Lions and Blueslip Media are generously offering a copy of Duck and Hippo Lost and Found AND a copy of the first book, Duck Hippo in the Rainstorm. Enter in the rafflecopter below. 

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Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Blooming at the Texas Sunrise Motel by Kimberly Willis Holt

Blooming at the Texas Sunrise Motel 
by Kimberly Willis Holt 
Published by Henry Holt and Co. 
March 2017
336 Pages 
Realistic Fiction
Review copy provided by publisher

Goodreads Summary
Twelve-year-old Stevie's world changes drastically when her parents are tragically killed and she is forced to live with her estranged grandfather at his run-down motel. After failed attempts to connect with her grandfather, Stevie befriends the colorful motel tenants and neighbors. Together, they decide to bring some color and life to the motel by planting a flower garden, against Stevie's grandfather's wishes. It will take Stevie's departure before her grandfather realizes just how needed she is by everyone.

My Thoughts
"A heartfelt middle grade novel about life, loss, and finding your true family." This is what I wrote in my Goodreads review of this book. I also called Stevie, "A character that stays with you." and boy is that the truth. Her character is so well-developed that you feel her emotions of loss, anger, frustration and hope right along with her.
Winston, Stevie's curmudgeon of a grandfather, is stuck in his ways and really seems to resist any kind of change. He is standoffish with Stevie who doesn't feel as though he wants her to be living with him. Stevie is desperate to learn more about her mother, but Winston is tight lipped on the subject. Stevie gets the feeling that there are secrets about her parents that no one is telling her.

The cast is balanced out with loads of colorful characters. Roy, Arlo and Ida, who work at her grandfather's aging motel, become a family of sorts for Stevie. Mrs. Crump is Stevie's elderly homeschool teacher who nods off during each day's lesson and surly, brooding Frida is Stevie's only classmate.

When Stevie learns about an aunt she never knew she had, she goes to visit and has a wonderful time. She gets a glimpse at feeling like a part of a family for the first time since her parents' death.
Will Stevie learn to "bloom" where she has been planted? The ending is touching and gives the reader some closure.
I enjoyed this book very much and would recommend it for grades 4-8.

See what others have to say about Blooming at the Texas Sunrise Motel:
Redeemed Reader
Book Page

Monday, August 14, 2017

It's Monday, What Are You Reading? August 14, 2017

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

Here is what I read this week. 
Click on the covers to learn more about each book. 

Middle grade historical fiction of how Cuba became a literate nation.

Middle Grade. Sports enthusiast, Hudson, may get sidelined due to asthma. 

Currently Listening

Currently Reading-Paper Book

Currently Reading-ebook