Category Archives: picture books

Ghost in the House by Ammi-Joan Paquette, illustrated by Adam Record

ghost_thumbJust in time for Halloween, Ammi-Joan Paquette’s newest picture book Ghost in the House is a must-add title to elementary school libraries and classrooms. It’s fun and shivery and perfect for the preschool and primary grade set. One child I read this to actually squealed and clapped her hands in anticipation at some of the page-turns–can you ask for a better endorsement than that??

Today Biblio Links welcomes back prolific author Ammi-Joan Paquette. Ghost in the House is her third picture book, and she’s got two middle grade and one young adult novel published so far. Her fourth picture book is out this month called  Petey and Pru and the Hullabaloo.

Publisher’s summary:   When a little ghost goes slip-sliding down the hallway, he suddenly hears…a groan! Turns out it’s only a friendly mummy, who shuffles along with the ghost, until they encounter…a monster! As the cautious explorers continue, they find a surprise at every turn — and add another adorably ghoulish friend to the count. But you’ll never guess who is the scariest creature in the house!

Boo! Watch out for this rollicking, cumulative counting book for a Halloween treat that’s more playful than scary.

JoanI asked Joan to tell us how Ghost in the House might fit into your library or classroom.

BiblioLinks:  A student walks into my library and I think: That kid needs a copy of  Ghost in the House. Who is this kid?

Joan: The ideal reader for GHOST IN THE HOUSE is a preschooler who loves humorous, lively stories with a silly side. It’s great for non-readers as an engaging read-aloud, and for emerging readers looking for a simple and highly illustrated text upon which to practice their new skills. It’s a perfect title to pull out around Halloween, though it would work equally well for read-alouds year-round.

BiblioLinks: If we were to peek into a classroom where a teacher is using Ghost in the House in a lesson or with a small group, what might we see?

 Joan: Ghost in the House makes great use of rhyme, and could be great for a unit on this topic. There’s also deductive reasoning in the page turns and anticipating what is to come, as well as prompting a discussion about surprise endings, expectations, and how stories (and life situations) sometimes turn expected tropes upon their head and force us to see everything a little differently than we’d expected to.

 BiblioLinks: Where can teachers, librarians and students learn more about you and your book?

 Joan: Read more about the book at my website, www.ajpaquette.com!

Biblio Links: Thanks for joining us, Joan!

Teachers and librarians, click here for glowing reviews of Ghost in the House.

The Nitty Gritty~

Publisher: Walker Childrens/Bloomsbury

Publication Date: July 2013

ISBN-13: 9780763655297

Interest Level: ages 3-7

Number of Pages: 32

Thanks to Sheila at Book Journeys for starting this meme, and Jen (Teach Mentor Texts) and Kellee (Unleashing Readers) for turning it into a kid-lit meme!

Thanks to Sheila at Book Journeys for starting this meme, and Jen (Teach Mentor Texts) and Kellee (Unleashing Readers) for turning it into a kid-lit meme!

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All Through My Town by Jean Reidy, illustrated by Leo Timmers

Today Biblio Links welcomes prolific picture book author Jean Reidy! Jean’s picture books are full of rhythm, rhyme, and fun–perfect for sharing with young and emerging readers. Her latest–and sixth!–picture book, All Through My Town, was released earlier this year to rave reviews.

Here’s the summary from the publisher’s website:

Town_cover

Rising, waking
Bread is baking

School bus honks its horn

Who are the people in your neighborhood? Perfect for the pre-K set, this adorable rhyming text takes a walking tour of your community. The fresh modern art of Leo Timmers features hidden details and a perennial theme reminiscent of Richard Scarry. Little ones will beg to re-read again as they discover the characters who repeat throughout the art in this sweet and vibrant story.

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All Through the Town is a fun, rollicking romp through a fictitious town from a toddler’s point of view. The take-away here is that everyone counts–we all play a role in making our communities hum like a well-oiled machine. The text rolls off the tongue–perfect for reading aloud. Publishers Weekly calls the illustrations “…an undeniable feast for the eyes,” and a feast it is from cover to cover.
Here’s what Jean had to say about using All Through My Town in the classroom.
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-2-3Biblio Links: A student walks into my library and I think: That kid needs a copy of All Through My Town. Who is this child?

Jean Reidy:  It’s a kid who is insanely curious, who loves to explore, fully engage and interact with a book, and who will spend gobs of time studying the illustrations. That kid might be one who demands rereads during which new details, discoveries and self-referential moments are revealed and reveled in. It may be a kid who is just on the brink of reading. He’s ready to proudly recite the text, aided by the rhythm and rhyme pattern. Finally, it’s a kid who devours all thing busy (think fans of Richard Scarry) – sites, sounds, vehicles – a kid who is possibly even wearing a beloved fire chief hat.
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Biblio Links: I love that there’s so much to discover in this book! The illustrations invite us to take a second look (and third, and fourth…) and the text is so catchy that even pre-readers will be reciting the text after a few read-alouds.
If we were to peek into a classroom where a teacher is using All Through My Town in a lesson or with a small group, what might we see or hear?
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Jean Reidy:  You might find kids dressed as community helpers and performing jobs in a classroom make-believe town, complete with a post office, library and grocery story. The class could be playing community helper Bingo or make-a-match with rhyming words or acting out the many action verbs used in the story. Students might be performing an oral reading – with the honking, beeping, shrieking, ringing, city sounds – as well as rapping with the rhyme, rhythm and repetition in the book. Or you might find a fireman or policeman visiting as a special guest speaking to the kids about safety. The class may even be “out” of the classroom, touring a local bakery or library or touring their own neighborhood and then drawing neighborhood maps. Many, many more ideas for use in the classroom can be found in my free downloadable teacher’s guide here

Biblio Links: The teacher’s guide really is amazing–so many activities to choose from! It also includes author and illustrator interviews, which are great for classrooms who do author/illustrator studies.  
Where can teachers, librarians and students learn more about you and your book?  
 

Biblio Links: Thanks for joining us, Jean!

~

The Nitty Gritty~

Read the glowing reviews here.

Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Children’s

Publication Date: March 2013

ISBN: 978-1619630291

Interest Level: 3-6 years

Number of Pages: 32

Thanks to Sheila at Book Journeys for starting this meme, and Jen (Teach Mentor Texts) and Kellee (Unleashing Readers) for turning it into a kid-lit meme! Click here for more Monday reviews.

Thanks to Sheila at Book Journeys for starting this meme, and Jen (Teach Mentor Texts) and Kellee (Unleashing Readers) for turning it into a kid-lit meme! Click here for more Monday reviews.

The Vampirina Ballerina books by Anne Marie Pace, illustrated by LeUyen Pham

Today Biblio Links welcomes picture book author Anne Marie Pace! Anne Marie’s fourth picture book was released this summer to rave reviews, and it is guaranteed to make Vampirina Ballerina fans squeal with delight. (If you haven’t met Vampirina yet, then get thee to a bookstore!)

Here’s the description of the first Vampirina book:

9781423157533Oh, to be a ballerina! It’s a challenge for any little girl, but even more so if you happen to be a vampire like Vampirina. First of all, you have to find a class that meets at night. Then you have to figure out how to perfect your form when you can’t see yourself in the mirror?  And then there’s wearing pink (not the most flattering of colors if you happen to be undead) and that nagging urge to take a little nip out of the other dancers. And worse of all… STAGE FRIGHT!!!

…and the adorable second book:

9781423175704Before Vampirina can host her very first sleepover there are a few things she must keep in mind: be polite and offer her guests food (like blood pudding); plan some games like scavenger hunt (but keep the clues simple so no one gets lost); and don’t forget to dance! Vampirina may be a little nervous at first, but by following a few simple rules she will host the Best Sleepover Ever.

I promise you will fall in love with this ballet-loving vampire who just wants to fit in. The Vampirina books are the kind that offer something different each time you read them. My students love Vampirina, and the first read-through with them is always a delight. But the more kids hear or read the book and examine the detail in the illustrations, the more they glean from the story. They always make text-to-self connections about times when they felt different from their peers.

In the second Vampirina book, I know my students will make these same types of connections, but this time centered on family. Many of my students are immigrants, and their families bring their own rich and layered cultural traditions with them to this country. Sometimes it makes them stand out from other families, and it can be tricky for a kid to balance their home culture with that of the community in which they now live. I can’t wait to share this new Vampirina book with my students.

I asked author and former teacher Anne Marie Pace how her Vampirina books might be used in the classroom.

16048Biblio Links: Welcome, Anne Marie!
A student walks into my library and I think: THAT kid needs a Vampirina Ballerina book. Who is this child?

Anne Marie Pace: I can think of several types of kid who might need a Vampirina book. There are certainly people who see a little girl ballerina on the cover and assume it’s meant for small girls who love to dance, and definitely the books work for those girls.  In fact, even last year, in the first months after release, I received photographs of more than a few girls who had dressed as Vampirina for Halloween.

But surprisingly, when I’ve done school visits, I find that third and fourth grade boys really get the book as a whole.  They really appreciate the tiny creepy details that go over younger children’s heads.  For an example of what I mean, take a look at the ways in which LeUyen Pham portrays Dame Margot Fonteyn, the famous ballerina, throughout the book.

Speaking of tiny details, I’d say a reader who loves examining illustrations closely would also be a great candidate for the  Vampirina books because LeUyen Pham includes incredible telling detail throughout.  I am still discovering new things.

Another reader who might like Vampirina would be a child who feels a little different from his or her peers and needs reassurance that being different is not only a-ok, it’s actually pretty cool.  And of course, they’re good for anyone who likes to laugh!

Biblio Links: If we were to peek into a classroom where a teacher is using your book in a lesson or with a small group, what might we see or hear?

Anne Marie Pace: I hope you’d see a lot of kids laughing!  The teacher would have lots to point out to the kids.  She could talk about Dame Margot Fonteyn, whose influence figures prominently in Vampirina’s life; and they might discuss how we can look up to role models.  They could trace the numerous subplots that are present in the illustrations.  And they could move!  Because Vampirina is a dancer, she loves movement. There’s also a wonderful teachers’ guide developed by one Natalie Lorenzi.  It’s available for download on my website.  There are wonderful activities in that guide, from patterning to tooth brushing!

Biblio Links: Creating the teacher’s guide for Vampirina was so much fun! The story and illustrations lend themselves so well to activities across the curriculum. With the story’s theme of fitting in, school guidance counselors will want to add these to their shelves, too.

Where can teachers, librarians and students learn more about you and your book?

Anne Marie PaceMy website is a starting point:  http://www.annemariepace.com.  There are also a lot of links on the Vampirina Ballerina Facebook page, at http://www.facebook.com/vampirinaballerina.  And Linda Urban did a series of blog posts with both me and LeUyen Pham, the illustrator.  Those links are here, here, and here.

Biblio Links: Thanks for stopping by, Anne Marie!

You can also follow Anne Marie on Twitter: @AnneMariePace.

Look for Anne Marie’s other picture books published by Scholastic Book Clubs. Click on either book cover to learn more.

Strangers final front coverTeacher for Bear

The teacher’s guide link to the first Vampirina book is here.

The Nitty Gritty~

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Publication Dates: Fall 2012 (Vampirina Ballerina) and Summer 2013 (Vampirina Ballerina Hosts a Sleepover)

ISBN-13: 978-1423157533 (Vampirina Ballerina)

ISBN-13: 978-1423175704 (Vampirina Ballerina Hosts a Sleepover)

Interest Level: Ages 2 to 6

Number of Pages: 40

Thanks to Sheila at Book Journeys for starting this meme, and Jen (Teach Mentor Texts) and Kellee (Unleashing Readers) for turning it into a kid-lit meme! Click here for more Monday reviews.

Thanks to Sheila at Book Journeys for starting this meme, and Jen (Teach Mentor Texts) and Kellee (Unleashing Readers) for turning it into a kid-lit meme! Click here for more Monday reviews.

The Gingerbread Man Loose in the School and The Gingerbread Man Loose on the Fire Truck by Laura Murray, illustrated by Mike Lowery

Today Biblio Links welcomes picture book author Laura Murray! 

Full disclosure: I had the pleasure of creating curriculum guides for each of these delightful books. Both stories are twists on the traditional gingerbread tale.

Here are the summaries from the publisher’s website:

gbm-coverThe Gingerbread Man Loose in the School:   When a class leaves for recess, their just-baked Gingerbread Man is left behind. But he’s a smart cookie and heads out to find them. He’ll run, slide, skip, and (after a mishap with a soccer ball) limp as fast as he can because: “I can catch them! I’m their Gingerbread Man!”

With help from the gym teacher, the nurse, the art teacher and even the principal, the Gingerbread Man does find his class, and he’s assured they’ll never leave him behind again.

Teachers often use the Gingerbread Man story to introduce new students to the geography and staff of schools, and this fresh, funny twist on the original can be used all year long. Includes a poster with fun activities!

GB cover 10.1.12The Gingerbread Man Loose on the Fire Truck:   Guess who gets to go along on a field trip to the firehouse? The Gingerbread Man! But when he falls out of his classmate’s pocket, Spot the Dalmatian comes sniffing around. Luckily, this Gingerbread Man is one smart cookie, and he races into the fire truck, up the pole, and all through the station, staying one step ahead of the hungry dog the whole time.

Then an emergency call comes in and the Gingerbread Man knows just what to do:
“I’ll ride to the rescue, as fast as I can.
I want to help, too! I’m the Gingerbread Man!”
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With snappy rhymes and fresh illustrations, the Gingerbread Man makes a sweet return in his second school adventure. Includes a poster with fire safety tips and activities.
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I adore both of these books, and so do kids. Laura Murray’s rhyme is spot-on, making it a flowing, fun read-aloud. In both books, the gingerbread man isn’t running away from anyone (well, except for a brief sprint from the fire house Dalmatian)–he’s running to  his friends, the kids who made  him in their classroom, befriended him, and then lost track of him.  Mike Lowery’s illustrations are just as appealing as the text–bright, cheery and comic-book-like with speech bubbles galore.
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Here’s what Laura had to say about using these fun titles in the classroom.

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Biblio Links: A student or teacher walks into my library and I think: That person needs a copy of one of Laura Murray’s Gingerbread Man books. Who is this person?

Laura Murray:  This kid loves adventure and a good giggle, or field trips, fire trucks, and fire fighters. These books are for every kid who ever felt nervous on the first day of school, or who longed to be accepted; who wants to be a helper and a hero, or who likes comic-book/ graphic novel-like pictures.Or possibly a teacher who is looking for a fun way to  introduce his/her students to the school and staff – by chasing the Gingerbread man through the school, or who simply wants a fresh, funny take on the traditional story to highlight his/her Holiday unit. Maybe this teacher or librarian wants to complement  a fire safety or community helpers unit by giving his/her students an adventurous tour of the fire station (via the GB Man) during October Fire Prevention Week. 
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Biblio Links: If we were to peek into a classroom where a teacher is using one of your books in a lesson or with a small group, what might we see or hear?
 

Laura Murray:  Being a former teacher myself, I wanted to incorporate lots of fun curriculum tie-ins within these books. Teachers can find printables and standards- based activities here.  These are just a few of the lessons that you might see:* Math – Gingerbread-related measuring and estimation* Science – A five senses lessons while making gingerbread; Properties of the ingredients and batter  (and kids who are very excited that they might get to taste a cookie!)* Language Arts – Comparing/contrasting the many versions of the GB Man story; Identifying story elements, structure, story event sequencing; Identifying (and chiming in on) rhyming words

* Life Skills – Fire Prevention and Safety Rules; How to navigate your school

* Social Studies –  Community helpers; Map skills in the school and community

 
Biblio Links: Where can teachers, librarians and students learn more about you and your book?  
 
Laura Murray:  Please feel free to visit my website at www.LauraMurrayBooks.com for loads of activities, printouts, and standards /common core-linked teacher’s guides, as well as information about school author presentations.Here’s  The Gingerbread Man Loose in the School’s book trailer. Fun just to watch or to practice skills like story prediction, sequencing, compare/contrast, and retelling. Enjoy!  

Biblio Links: Thanks for joining us, Laura!

~

The Nitty Gritty~

Read the glowing reviews here and here.

Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons

Publication Dates: The Gingerbread Man Loose in the School (July 2011);   The Gingerbread Man Loose on the Fire Truck (July 2013)

ISBN-13: 978-0399250521 (The Gingerbread Man Loose in the School)

ISBN-13: 978-0399257797 (The Gingerbread Man Loose on the Fire Truck)

Interest Level: 5-8 years

Number of Pages: 32

Thanks to Sheila at Book Journeys for starting this meme, and Jen (Teach Mentor Texts) and Kellee (Unleashing Readers) for turning it into a kid-lit meme! Click here for more Monday reviews.

Thanks to Sheila at Book Journeys for starting this meme, and Jen (Teach Mentor Texts) and Kellee (Unleashing Readers) for turning it into a kid-lit meme! Click here for more Monday reviews.

Ten Picture Books with Multicultural Casts of Characters (That Have Absolutely Nothing To Do With Race or Culture)

42cc2-pb10for10015-1Many thanks to teachers Mandy Robek and Cathy Mere for creating the August Picture Book 10 for 10 event! Click on their names above to visit their blogs where you’ll find  links to more Top 10 picture book lists from  bloggers around the kidlitosphere.

My list has more than 10 titles, because I’ve included several series–same authors with (usually) the same illustrators and the same lovable cast of characters.

As a school librarian in a culturally and linguistically diverse school district, I’m always looking for books that highlight different cultures and life experiences for my students. Books introduce kids to everything from Cinco de Mayo to Ramadan to the life experiences of an undocumented immigrant child in the U.S. But my students also want stories about fairies and friends, monsters and space travel.

Try this…the next time you’re at the library or in a book store, pull some picture books at random from the shelves–books with at least one character who is a child  (not only animals or aliens or monsters), and a story or subject that is not tied to culture or race. Do this until you’ve chosen ten books. Next, count how many of those ten  show children of different races. If you’re coming up empty, check out some of these titles from the following list:

(All summaries come from the publishers’ websites.)

Wokka_cover-330How Do You Wokka Wokka? by Elizabeth Blumle, illustrated by Randy Cecil

Some days you wake up and you just gotta wokka. Wokka what? Wokka-wokka! It’s about movement. It’s about dance. It’s about shimmy-shakin’, be-boppin’, and more! It’s about gathering friends and joining the party. The creative team behind MY FATHER THE DOG returns with a call-and-response for preschoolers, an exuberant invitation to be part of the fun — and show your stuff!

Say “HEY!” to your neighbors and get your dance on! Jazzy rhythms, silly rhymes, and welcoming images are guaranteed to entice little readers.
cvr9781416933625_9781416933625_lgOh How Sylvester Can Pester! And Other Poems More or Less About Manners by Robert Kinerk, illustrated by Drazen Kozjan
Robert Kinerk pokes fun at what can happen when good manners are neglected. From Eleanor Ickity who is served nothing that she likes to eat or Sylvester who can pester and pester and pester, this charming cast of characters will warn the ill mannered about the consequences of their shameful behavior.
ATW_CaldecottAll the World by Liz Garton Scanlon, illustrated by Marla Frazee
All the world is here.It is there.It is everywhere.All the world is right where you are.Now.Following a circle of family and friends through the course of a day from morning till night, this book affirms the importance of all things great and small in our world, from the tiniest shell on the beach, to warm family connections, to the widest sunset sky.
thinkbigThink Big by Liz Garton Scanlon, illustrated by Vanessa Newton
Art is so much more than easels and paintbrushes as this delightful new picture book by two exciting talents makes clear. Follow along as a classroom of exuberant young kids explore art and the power of creativity in its most varied forms-painting, music, writing, cooking, performing … there’s no end to where their imaginations can take them! The lilting poetry of Liz Garton Scanlon’s text pairs perfectly with the playful art of Vanessa Newton in this warm, thoughtful, and-of course-creative picture book. Young listeners will want to jump right into the pages to find their own muse.
ray-starsStars by Mary Lyn Ray, illustrated by Marla Frazee
A star is how you know it’s almost night.
As soon as you see one, there’s another, and another.
And the dark that comes doesn’t feel so dark.
What if you could have a star?
From acclaimed author Mary Lyn Ray and two-time Caldecott Honor winner Marla Frazee comes this tender, evocative—and profound—exploration of stars both near and far.
gbm-coverThe Gingerbread Man Loose in the School by Laura Murray, illustrated by Mike Lowery
When a class leaves for recess, their just-baked Gingerbread Man is left behind. But he’s a smart cookie and heads out to find them. He’ll run, slide, skip, and (after a mishap with a soccer ball) limp as fast as he can because: “I can catch them! I’m their Gingerbread Man!”With help from the gym teacher, the nurse, the art teacher and even the principal, the Gingerbread Man does find his class, and he’s assured they’ll never leave him behind again.
GB cover 10.1.12The Gingerbread Man Loose on the Fire Truck by Laura Murray, illustrated by Mike Lowery
Guess who gets to go along on a field trip to the firehouse? The Gingerbread Man! But when he falls out of his classmate’s pocket, Spot the Dalmatian comes sniffing around. Luckily, this Gingerbread Man is one smart cookie, and he races into the fire truck, up the pole, and all through the station, staying one step ahead of the hungry dog the whole time.
Then an emergency call comes in and the Gingerbread Man knows just what to do:
“I’ll ride to the rescue, as fast as I can.
I want to help, too! I’m the Gingerbread Man!”
With snappy rhymes and fresh illustrations, the Gingerbread Man makes a sweet return in his second school adventure.
fairies400The Tiptoe Guide to Tracking Fairies by Ammi-Joan Paquette, illusrated by Christa Unzner
Could a tulip be a good place for hide-and-seek? Could a bit of dandelion fluff be a pillow? They could be, if fairies live nearby. This book invites kids to have a backyard adventure searching for the telltale signs of fairies who might be residing all around them. Not only can children “search” for fairies in the book’s unique blend of art and photography, but they will also be encouraged to discover the wonder and magic in nature, whether in a backyard or a local park.
mermaids400The Tiptoe Guide to Tracking Mermaids by Ammi-Joan Paquette, illustrated by Marie Letourneau
Have you ever walked on the beach and looked for shells or clams? There are creatures, more like you and me, who are even more interesting to look for. Most people don’t see them, but they might just not know how to look for signs. That sand dollar – why, that could be a mermaid-size surfboard. Those twisted reeds – a bed for a lovely afternoon mermaid nap. And if you peer closely into the water, you might see a mermaid market.
9780061762758Is Your Buffalo Ready for Kindergarten? by Audrey Vernick, illustrated by Daniel Jennewein

Your buffalo is growing up. He plays with friends. He shares his toys. He’s smart! But is he ready for kindergarten? (And is kindergarten ready for him?)

A hilarious look at first-day-of-school jitters from author Audrey Vernick and illustrator Daniel Jennewein.

9780061762536Teach Your Buffalo to Play the Drums by Audrey Vernick, illustrated by Daniel Jennewein

Does your buffalo pound on pots and pans?
Tap out rhythms at the dinner table?
It’s not as unusual as you might think.
He’s simply at the start of an exciting new journey.
A very loud musical journey that begins by teaching your buffalo to play drums.
(Did we mention it might be loud?)

bees-cover-300x220These Bees Count! by Alison Formento, illustrated by Sarah Snow

How do bees count? The bees at the Busy Bee Farm buzz through the sky as one big swarm, fly over two waving dandelions, find three wild strawberries bursting with sweetness . . . As the children in Mr. Tate’s class listen, they learn how bees work to produce honey and make food and flowers grow. Bees count–they’re important to us all.

7688367-300x236These Trees Count! by Alison Formento, illustrated by Sarah Snow

If you listen carefully to the lone tree behind Oak Lane School, it has a story to tell about… one owl, two spiders, three squirrels, four robins, five caterpillars, six ants, seven crickets, eight flies, nine ladybugs, and ten earthworms, all living safe and free in their tree home.

What does this tree need?  The children know — it needs friends!

Formento-cover-300x237These Seas Count! by Alison Formento, illustrated by Sarah Snow

Mr. Tate’s class helps clean up a local beach and listens to the sea as it tells them about all the wildlife that make it their home. One whale, two giant sea turtles, three marlins . . . and more. Of course, the class discovers that “this sea counts!” These Seas Count! explores the environmental impact and importance of the seas, and how crucial it is to keep them healthy.

Alison Formento’s gentle story and Sarah Snow’s amazing collages combine for a powerful message about the environment and what we can do to preserve our oceans.

cover32259-mediumHow Do You Burp in Space? And Other Tips Every Space Tourist Needs to Know by Susan E. Goodman, illustrated by Michael Slack

Want to blast into orbit? Walk on the moon? Snag a personal photo of a shooting star? Well your time is coming! And when it does, you’re going to need How Do You Burp in Space? 

This guide is filled with the kind of information you’d need to plan any vacation including what to pack (hint: no bubble bath or juggling balls!); what to expect from your accomodations (a sleeping bag attached to the wall), and what to do for fun (leapfrog on the moon!). Grounded in the history of space travel and the planned future of space tourism, this guide book will leave young adventurers daydreaming about future intergalactic space vacations. Get ready to rock your rocketship!

And the Winner Is…Amazing Animal Athletes by Etta Kaner, illustrated by David Anderson

amazing animalThere’s a lot packed into these 31 pages–a comic-style layout, sidebars with quick facts about the featured animals, running jokes from the peanut-gallery sports fans and event participants–yet it doesn’t feel too crowded or overwhelming. Even the page set-up is well planned, with a double page spread introducing four animals and their attributes, then asking the reader to guess which of the four would take the gold medal in a particular skill–speed, high jumping, etc. Turn the page to find out the winner and how a human’s performance in the same event would compare. Each animal’s size is taken into consideration, so the winner isn’t always the animal you’d think. For example, the best long-jumper is the Rocket Striped Frog–in proportion to its size, the length of its jump would compare to a human jumping the length of a football field.

Although the publisher says that this is for readers from ages 4 to 8, I would definitely hand this to older kids who are struggling and/or reluctant readers.

Publisher’s description:  In this unique facts book, animals compete in sporting events such as high jump, swimming and weight lifting. Readers are encouraged to guess which animal will win before turning the page, while walrus and cockatoo “announcers” provide funny commentary and interesting statistics about the athletes’ amazing abilities. This is a winning format for kids who want to know which animals can be faster, stronger and more powerful, and how humans compare.

Hand this book to the kid who:

* is interested in animal facts

* reads joke books, riddles, and plays on words

* enjoys comics and graphic novels

* loves numbers, stats, and math challenges

Use this to teach:

Animal Units–All students in the U.S. study animals and habitats at some point during their elementary school years. In addition to the animal facts, there’s also a quick review of habitats around the globe at the start of the book.

* Research--This would make a nice springboard for kids’ own animal research projects. Using the same format, students could come up with their own events and animal participants.

*Predicting–Children can use their own background knowledge to make predictions at first. Once they’ve caught on that the winners aren’t always the obvious choices, they’ll likely make more thoughtful predictions as they read further.

*Proportion–Challenge older  kids to calculate how other animals would fare in similar competitions.

* Olympics–Display this alongside traditional sports books for a winning Olympic display.

The Nitty Gritty~

Click here for reviews.

Publisher: Kids Can Press

Publication Date: April 2013

ISBN-13: 978-1-55453-904-8

Number of Pages: 31

Reading Level: Fountas & Pinnell: N (3rd grade)

Interest Level: Ages 4 to 8 (Although I’d give this to older struggling readers in a heartbeat…)

Thanks to Anatastia Suen for creating Non-Fiction Mondays, and to Prose and Kahn for hosting today!

Thanks to Anatastia Suen for creating Non-Fiction Mondays, and to Prose and Kahn for hosting today!

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Click here for more children’s book recommendations that highlight science, technology, engineering and math!

Sophie’s Squash by Pat Zietlow Miller, illustrated by Anne Wilsdorf

Happy Book Birthday tomorrow to Sophie’s Squash!

CoverWith school starting rather soon-ish, my first thought was to recommend Sophie’s Squash to teachers, librarians and parents as a charming book for autumn. But I hesitate to  limit this gem to the “books for fall” shelf. Inspired by Pat’s own squash-loving daughter, Sonia, this lovely story is really about friendship, and is a joy for all seasons.

From the publisher’s website: On a trip to the farmers’ market with her parents, Sophie chooses a squash, but instead of letting her mom cook it, she names it Bernice. From then on, Sophie brings Bernice everywhere, despite her parents’ gentle warnings that Bernice will begin to rot. As winter nears, Sophie does start to notice changes…. What’s a girl to do when the squash she loves is in trouble? With absolutely delightful text by Pat Zietlow Miller and downright hilarious illustrations from Anne Wilsdorf, Sophie’s Squash will be a fresh addition to any collection of autumn books.

If you’re thinking this book sounds like a must-read, you’re not alone. So far it’s received four–count ’em–FOUR! starred reviews:

“In a perfect blend of story and art, the humorous watercolor-and-ink illustrations are bursting with color and energy on every page… This is a paean to love and friendship, which can come in all species, shapes, and sizes.” ~Booklist

“With lessons on life, love, and vegetable gardening, this tale will be cherished by children, and their parents will be happy to read it to them often.” ~School Library Journal

“Sensitive but funny… Miller’s easygoing storytelling taps into the familiar scenario of children making fierce attachments to favorite objects.” ~Publishers Weekly

“This season-spanning turn with high-spirited Sophie offers endearing lessons about nurture and regeneration.” ~Kirkus Reviews

I asked Pat Zietlow Miller how Sophie’s Squash might be used in the classroom.

PAT ZMBiblio Links: A student or teacher walks into my library and I think: THAT person needs a copy of Sophie’s Squash. Who is this kid or teacher?

Pat Zietlow Miller: The kid would be any preschool through second-grade kid carrying a stuffed animal, a pet rock or a blanket that has been loved into oblivion. Or a kid with one best friend he or she does everything with. Those kids would totally understand why Sophie loves Bernice.

The teacher could be a teacher looking to talk about friendship with her class. Or loss. Or a teacher who’s just looking for a new fall book. Or maybe a teacher who’s about to take his or her class on a field trip to a farmers’ market.

Biblio Links: If we were to peek into a classroom where a teacher is using your book in a lesson or with a small group, what might we see or hear?

Pat Zietlow Miller: Well, in a perfect world, I’d love to peek into a classroom and see all the kids happily decorating squash of their own so they would have new friends. This would be after the teacher had read the book to them and talked about what a good friend is, how you know when you’ve found one and how you can be a good friend to others.

Biblio Links: I’d also add that this book is a natural pick for school guidance counselors. In addition to the topic of friendship, Sophie’s Squash is the perfect springboard for discussions  on loss–of pets, friends who move away, loved ones. etc. 

Where can teachers, librarians and students learn more about you and your book?

Pat Zietlow Miller: My main website is www.patzietlowmiller.com.

I also have a Pinterest board that suggests books with similar themes to SOPHIE’S SQUASH. It’s at: http://pinterest.com/patzmiller/sophies-squash-and-similar-books/

Biblio Links: Thanks for stopping by, Pat!

You can also follow Pat on Twitter: @PatZMiller. And the titles on her Pinterest board? They’d all make nice pairings with Sophie’s Squash for lessons on making text-to-text connections.

Look for Pat’s upcoming books in 2015: Sharing the Bread, a Thanksgiving book from Schwartz and Wade, and The Quickest Kid in Clarksville, inspired by Olympic sprinter Wilma Rudolph, from Chronicle Books.

The Nitty Gritty~

Publisher: Schwartz and Wade

Publication Date: August 6, 2013

ISBN-10: 0307978966

ISBN-13: 978-0-307-97896-7

Interest Level: Ages 3 to 7

Number of Pages: 40

Thanks to Sheila at Book Journeys for starting this meme, and Jen (Teach Mentor Texts) and Kellee (Unleashing Readers) for turning it into a kid-lit meme! Click here for more Monday reviews.

Thanks to Sheila at Book Journeys for starting this meme, and Jen (Teach Mentor Texts) and Kellee (Unleashing Readers) for turning it into a kid-lit meme! Click here for more Monday reviews.