Wednesday, April 25, 2018

But the Bear Came Back by Tammi Sauer and Dan Taylor

But the Bear Came Back 
by Tammi Sauer
Illustrated by Dan Taylor
Published April 3, 2018
Sterling Children's Books
32 Pages
Review copy provided by publisher

Goodreads Summary
What happens when a bear comes knocking at your door—and won’t go away?
“And I said, ‘Go home, bear.'
And that was that.
But the bear came back.”

Knock, knock. Who’s there? A BEAR! A furry, friendly PERSISTENT bear. And no matter how many times a grouchy little boy tries to tell him that bears don’t belong in houses, he keeps coming back—until, one day, he doesn’t. Only then does the boy realize how much he cares about the bear . . . and misses him. Can he find his friend again?

My Thoughts
You never know what you've got until it's gone. The little boy learns that lesson in this book. He finds the bear annoying and sends him away time and again only to have him return. Then after he screams at the bear to go home, the bear does not return. After a few days the boy realizes that he misses the bear and starts looking for him. He enlists the help of the neighborhood and even draws pictures of the bear to post around town. Does the bear come back? I'll never tell, but little ones will be waiting on the edge of their seats to see if he does. 
The illustrations are really great. The bear is absolutely adorable and the illustrator, Dan Taylor, takes great care by including small details in the background. 

Image from
I would highly recommend But the Bear Came Back for ages kids 3-7. 

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Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Up in the Leaves by Shira Boss and Jamey Christoph

Up in the Leaves 
by Shira Boss
Illustrated by Jamey Christoph
Published March, 2018
Sterling Children's Books
40 pages

Goodreads Summary
“Bob lived in the big city. The city was very crowded .”
A true story about Bob Redman, a New York City boy who built a series of intricate treehouses hidden in Central Park.
This picture book tells the true story of Bob Redman, a child growing up in New York City. Tired of the noise, the people, and the rushing around, Bob took shelter in the natural beauty of Central Park—where he covertly built a series of treehouses, starting with a simple platform and growing more and more elaborate over time. He played cat-and-mouse with the park workers, who kept tearing down his houses, until he was finally caught. But his story ends with a happy surprise . . .

My Thoughts
I was captivated by this story. My family have recently visited NYC for the first time and Central Park was naturally one of the places we wanted to visit. Being from Maine which has lots of space, trees, and relatively few people, we found the spacious park surrounded by huge buildings looming over it to be quite fascinating. 
As a child, I loved to climb trees. It was fun to imagine this young boy finding an escape from the busy, crowded city up in the trees. He built and rebuilt tress houses for twelve years after each one was torn down. Now that is dedication. 
Kids will love this story based on the true story of Bob Redman who is now an arborist for the city. The story itself is wonderful, but it is brought to life with wonderful illustrations from Jamey Christoph. Each page is filled with beautiful colors and interesting textures. There is an epilogue that introduces readers to the real Bob Redman. 
I would highly recommend this book for all elementary school ages. 

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Monday, April 23, 2018

It's Monday, What Are You Reading? April 23, 2018

Please visit the amazing blogs: Teach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readers who host this terrific meme each week.
Here are some books I have enjoyed recently. 
Click on the covers to learn more about each book. 

Interesting book based on the true story of a Young boy who loved to the up in the tress of Central Park. Full review on Tuesday. For all elementary grades. 

Super-cute picture book that explores how people don't always know what wthey have until it's gone. Review Wed. 

This medieval adventure story was so good! Review Thursday. 

Still Listening

What are you reading friends? 

Friday, April 20, 2018

Celebrating the Tenth Anniversary of Kathi Appelt's The Underneath + Giveaway!

The Underneath
by Kathi Appelt
Published May, 2008
Athenuem Books for Young Readers
320 pages
Middle grade

Goodreads Summary
There is nothing lonelier than a cat who has been loved, at least for a while, and then abandoned on the side of the road.

A calico cat, about to have kittens, hears the lonely howl of a chained-up hound deep in the backwaters of the bayou. She dares to find him in the forest, and the hound dares to befriend this cat, this feline, this creature he is supposed to hate. They are an unlikely pair, about to become an unlikely family. Ranger urges the cat to hide underneath the porch, to raise her kittens there because Gar-Face, the man living inside the house, will surely use them as alligator bait should he find them. But they are safe in the long as they stay in the Underneath.

Kittens, however, are notoriously curious creatures. And one kitten's one moment of curiosity sets off a chain of events that is astonishing, remarkable, and enormous in its meaning. For everyone who loves Sounder, Shiloh, and The Yearling, for everyone who loves the haunting beauty of writers such as Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, Flannery O'Connor, and Carson McCullers, Kathi Appelt spins a harrowing yet keenly sweet tale about the power of love — and its opposite, hate — the fragility of happiness and the importance of making good on your promises.

About the Author
Kathi Appelt is the New York Times best-selling author of more than forty books for children and young adults. Her first novel, The Underneath, was a National Book Award Finalist and a Newbery Honor Book. It also received the PEN USA Award. Her other novels include The True Blue Scouts of Sugar Man Swamp, a National Book Award finalist, and Maybe a Fox, one of the Bank Street Books Best Children’s Books of the Year. In addition to writing, Ms. Appelt is on the faculty in the Masters of Creative Writing for Children and Young Adults at Vermont College of Fine Arts. She lives in College Station, Texas. To learn more, and to find curriculum materials and activity pages, visit her website at

Check out the new trailer for The Underneath !

Fifteen lucky winners will receive an autographed paperback copy of THE UNDERNEATH. In addition, one Grand Prize winner will win a classroom set of 20 copies of the book PLUS a 30-40 minute Skype visit for her/his school, classroom, or library with award-winning author Kathi Appelt. Enter here!

Thursday, April 19, 2018

You're My Little Cuddle Bug by Nicola Edwards

You're My Little Cuddle Bug 
by Nicola Edwards
Illustrated by Natalie Marshall
Published February, 2018
Silver Dolphin Books
18 pages
Board book
Review copy provided by Media Masters

Goodreads Summary
Celebrate your little cuddle bug with this sweet and colorful rhyming board book!

Celebrate your little cuddle bug with this sweet and colorful rhyming board book! With chunky pages for little hands and die-cut cuddle bugs to add depth and interest, children will love the interactive features alongside the story.

My Thoughts
Definitely add this little board book to the library of your little one.  It compares the close relationship between caregivers and babies as each page features the love of a big and little insect. 
With rhyming verses, colorful chunky pages and cute cutouts, babies and toddlers will love hearing it over and over again. 
Grab it this spring! 

Image from

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Wednesday, April 18, 2018

A Bit of Crowd-Sourcing-Help with Research Gathering

Hello literacy friends, 
This post is a plea for collaboration. I am finishing up a certificate of advanced study (CAS) certificate in literacy in May. This is a 30-credit post-masters certificate. As a final assignment I need to do a capstone project that I am very excited about! I have been working hard to create a website that will be organized into literacy practices and topics and pertinent research and articles that apply to those practices. For example, one topic is "independent reading". Clicking that tab brings you to a page with a list of research/articles and resources about independent reading. 

I have gathered many research studies and articles already and I will continue to gather many more, but I want this to be a valuable resource for educators and I don't want to miss any important research. Here is where you come in my friends. 

If you have a piece of research or article (or more than one) that you particularly find valuable, and are willing to share, please leave the title, authors or link in the comments. 

Right now I am focusing on reading K-5. Here are some of the topics I have so far.
Balanced Literacy      
Independent Reading     
Text levels, structure, selection    
Reading Life     
Small group instruction     
Spelling/Word work     
Read aloud     
Phonological/phonemic awareness
Reading Responses      

As a small token of appreciation I will randomly select 5 people, who comment with a piece of research by May 1st, to receive a mystery book (picture book, middle grade or YA) from me.  

I hope this project will benefit many teachers and I look forward to sharing it. Thank you for your help! 

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Bob by Wendy Mass and Rebecca Stead

by Wendy Mass and Rebecca Stead
Expected publication May 1, 2018
Feiwel and Friends
ARC provided by publisher
Middle Grade

Goodreads Summary
A classic middle-grade tale of magic and friendship, about a girl who helps an old friend find home, by two New York Times–bestselling authors Wendy Mass and Rebecca Stead.
It’s been five years since Livy and her family have visited Livy’s grandmother in Australia. Now that she’s back, Livy has the feeling she’s forgotten something really, really important about Gran’s house.
It turns out she’s right.
Bob, a short, greenish creature dressed in a chicken suit, didn’t forget Livy, or her promise. He’s been waiting five years for her to come back, hiding in a closet like she told him to. He can’t remember who—or what—he is, where he came from, or if he even has a family. But five years ago Livy promised she would help him find his way back home. Now it’s time to keep that promise.

Clue by clue, Livy and Bob will unravel the mystery of where Bob comes from, and discover the kind of magic that lasts forever.
Wendy Mass and Rebecca Stead, two masterminds of classic, middle-grade fiction come together to craft this magical story about the enduring power of friendship.

My Thoughts
This book is the sweet story of a very special friendship that stands the test of time and distance. Livy had forgotten all about her friend Bob until she returns to her Grandmother's house in Australia 5 years after her last visit. There are so many questions to be answered....Is Bob an imaginary friend? Can others see him? What kind of creature is he? Does he have a family? Why did Livy forget about him? This mysterious story unfolds gently as the questions are answered and readers learns more about Bob and Livy and their unique connection. 
Readers will love Bob! Although the ARC did not have illustrations inside (the finished book will have some) his description is adorable as are his actions. But it is his undying devotion for his friend Livy that makes him so wonderful. 

I feel like grades 3-4 is the sweet spot for this book, although some 5th graders would also like it. Bob would also make a good read aloud for grade 2-4. 

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Monday, April 16, 2018

It's Monday, What Are You Reading? April 16, 2018

Please visit the amazing blogs: Teach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readers who host this terrific meme each week.
Here are some books I have enjoyed recently. 
Click on the covers to learn more about each book. 

Excellent new nf from Sarah Albee! See review here

LOVED this one! See review here. 
Middle Grade 4-6

A sweet, gentle story of friendship. 
Middle grades 3-5

Currently Reading

Currently Listening

What are you reading friends? 

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Dog Days of History by Sarah Albee

Dog Days of History 
by Sarah Albee
Published March, 2018
National Geographic Kids
112 Pages
Review copy provided by Media Masters

Goodreads Summary
What is it we love about dogs so much? From ancient times to the present, dogs have guarded us, worked with us, marched off to war with us, and of course, just sat on the couch with us for a cuddle. Throughout the course of human history, this partnership deepened from dogs doing a service into friendship. Dogs have been by our side through it all, and this book tracks our common story from wild wolves in ancient civilizations to modern-day breeds, highlighting famous pooches of the past and present along the way.

My Thoughts
I feel as though I need to make a confession first. Please don't hate me, but I am not exactly what you might call a dog lover.  I like most dogs just fine and I would never wish harm on any animal, but I am not the kind of person who goes crazy when they see a dog. So if Sarah Albee can make me interested in a book all about dogs, you know it has to be good. 
Boy, has she done her research! Readers will learn a ton about the history of the 4-legged friends in this book. There are nine chapters organized chronologically from a WAY long time ago BC to present day. Each chapter is broken into small sections with just a few paragraphs, each accompanied by a photograph. The back matter includes a bibliography, index, places to visit and how to say "bow-wow" in many languages. 
I can see readers pausing to share information they are learning from this comprehensive volume. It would make a great addition to any library, and, of course, a great gift for the dog lover in your life. 

Check out this great book trailer.

See what others have to say about this book:
Deborah Kalb
Kristi's Book Nook

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Amal Unbound by Aisha Saeed

Amal Unbound 
by Aisha Saeed
Expected publication May 8, 2018
Nancy Paulsen Books
240 pages
Middle grade
Review copy provided by publisher

Goodreads Summary
Life is quiet and ordinary in Amal's Pakistani village, but she had no complaints, and besides, she's busy pursuing her dream of becoming a teacher one day. Her dreams are temporarily dashed when--as the eldest daughter--she must stay home from school to take care of her siblings. Amal is upset, but she doesn't lose hope and finds ways to continue learning. Then the unimaginable happens--after an accidental run-in with the son of her village's corrupt landlord, Amal must work as his family's servant to pay off her own family's debt.

Life at the opulent Khan estate is full of heartbreak and struggle for Amal--especially when she inadvertently makes an enemy of a girl named Nabila. Most troubling, though, is Amal's growing awareness of the Khans' nefarious dealings. When it becomes clear just how far they will go to protect their interests, Amal realizes she will have to find a way to work with others if they are ever to exact change in a cruel status quo, and if Amal is ever to achieve her dreams.

My Thoughts
Amal's story will capture so many readers. Through a series of unfortunate events, and really bad luck, Amal ends up a house servant to pay off her family's debts to the cruel landlord. Suddenly Amal's dreams of continuing school and becoming a teacher are gone. She holds on to the hope that her family might be able to come up with the money to pay for her freedom. In the meantime, she serves the landlord's mother, tries to fit in with the long-time servants and  finds some comfort in reading the books she sneaks from the landlord's library. 
The cast of characters are interesting and well-developed and all play a part in this gripping story. Middle grade readers will not be able to put it down. I would recommend it for grades 4-8 most. It has also been chosen as the Global Read Aloud choice for middle grades for 2018. It has also earned several starred reviews. 

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Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Review and Giveaway of Kalinka and Grakkle by Julie Pashkis

Kalinka and Grakkle 
by Julie Pashkis
Published April 1, 2018
Peachtree Publishers
32 Pages
Fiction-Picture book
Review copy provided by publisher

Goodreads Summary
Kalinka's a showy little bird with an eye for neatness, but her grumpy neighbor Grakkle doesn't care one bit about cleaning. He just wants to relax in his favorite chair and soak his feet in a cool bucket of pickle juice. "Grakk!" he complains as Kalinka "tidies up" his messes. "You’re welcome," she responds. They simply aren't on the same wavelength. Can an unfortunate accident plus a little humor and empathy help an odd couple like this see eye to eye?

My Thoughts
This is the story of unlikely friendship. Little Kalinka thinks she is being helpful, but is oblivious to the fact that she is making a big mess in Grakkle's house. I think little ones will get a huge kick out of seeing the mess Kalinka makes. Poor Grakkle just wants to rest, but Kalinka takes his only comfy chair. In the end, the two form a sweet friendship. With themes of accepting differences and compromising, this story offers valuable discussion opportunities for little ones.  
The illustrations, done in ink and gouache, are wonderful and unique with many interesting colors and patterns. 
I would recommend it for ages 3-7. 

See what others have to say about this book:

I would like to thank Peachtree Publishers for offering a giveaway of this Kalinka and Grakkle!

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Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Review and Giveaway of Mama's Belly by Kate Hosford and Abigail Halpin

Mama's Belly 
by Kate Hosford 
Illustrated by Abigail Halpin
Expected Publication April 17, 2018. 
Abrahms Books for Young Readers
32 pages
Fiction-Picture Book
Review copy provided by publisher and Blue Slip Media

Goodreads Summary
As a curious little girl awaits the arrival of her baby sister, she asks Mama many questions: “Will she have freckles?” “Will I have to share my blanket?” She helps Mama and Dad prepare to meet her little sister, singing her songs and knitting her a new blanket. But the most important part of getting ready is taking care of Mama. When Mama can’t see her toes, she counts to make sure there’s still ten. When Mama’s tired, she draws her a picture and gives her hugs. An honest and gentle exploration of the excitement and anxiety kids feel when welcoming a new family member, Mama’s Belly is ultimately a celebration of motherly (and daughterly) love and a soothing story for older siblings that even with the spotlight on a new baby, there is always enough love for everyone.

My Thoughts
Oh the sweetness! The little girl watches her Mama's belly as her little sister's arrival gets closer and closer. The story addresses many of the worries that older siblings may be having about becoming a big brother or sister. Will they need to share things? Will mom and dad have enough love for both? 
The book also gives a real portrayal of the end of a pregnancy by showing the mom achy, (slightly) grumpy and tired.  This shows children that those things are all typical and temporary. 
I really loved how the text was organized into bite-sized pieces, 1-2 sentences at a time. The illustrations are colorful and a bit on the darker side with a variety of interesting layouts. 

I would highly recommend this book for any family expecting a second (or third, fourth...) child. It's great book to have in classrooms for students who are becoming big siblings. It is also available with plenty of time to get for Mother's Day. 

Check out the book trailer.

About the Author
Kate Hosford is the author of several picture books, including Infinity and Me, which was a New York Times Best Illustrated Children's Book award and was named an ALA Notable Children's Book. Her books have been translated into Chinese, Korean, French, and Romanian. Kate lives with her family in Brooklyn, New York. To learn more, visit her website:
Twitter: @khosford_author
Instagram: @katelhosford

About the Illustrator
Abigail Halpin is the illustrator of many books for children, including Finding Wild. She lives in southern Maine. Visit her on the web at or on Instagram: @abigailhalpin

The Giveaway!
One lucky winner will receive a copy of MAMA’S BELLY, courtesy of Abrams Kids (U.S. addresses).Special thanks to Abrahms Books and Blue Slip Media for organizing and sponsoring this giveaway!

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Monday, April 2, 2018

It's Monday, What Are You Reading? April 2, 2018

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! Great historical fiction for middle grade.

Neat futuristic, dystopian story. Grades 5+

Sweet book. Review Tuesday. 

Currently Reading 

Currently Listening

What are you reading friends?