The Art of Flying by Judy Hoffman

The Art of Flying

I was charmed by this sweet adventure story about a girl named Fortuna who finds a friend in Martin, a shy boy who has been transformed from bird to human. The fantasy elements–witchcraft, talking animals, and flying children–all felt believable.

Publisher’s description:                Fortuna Dalliance is practical. Rational. Clever. But when she finds herself at the doorstep of an adventure, she discovers something that has been inside her all along: the courage to step through. 

The old Baldwin sisters are in trouble, and they’ve asked Fortuna to help them out of a fix. The sisters have accidentally turned a swallow into a boy, and he refuses to be turned back. But if Martin doesn’t return to his original form within five days, he’ll remain a boy forever . . . and the Baldwin sisters will have a lot to answer for. Fortuna’s not sure she believes in magic, and once she’s gotten to know Martin, she’s not sure she wants him to be changed back. As Fortuna figures out what it truly means to be a friend, she must decide whose side she’s on-before it’s too late.

Judy Hoffman’s debut, with delightful illustrations by Stephanie Graegin, weaves an enchanting tale of loyalty, freedom, and feathers.

Hand this book to the kid who:

* wants to read about witches and bad guys but isn’t ready for anything super scary yet,

* has a  best friend who drifts away–not because of an argument, but just with the passage of time,

* loves being outside, or

* anyone who has ever dreamed of flying.

Use this to teach:

Points of view–While this story is told from Fortuna’s point of view, her challenge is to realize that what she wants isn’t necessarily best for her new friend, Martin. She has to make some tough choices for the benefit of her friend, which would make a good discussion starter on empathy and what it means to be a good friend.

* Anti-Bullying Strategies--The antagonist in the story is a bully–both in his human and owl form. The Baldwin sisters get into trouble because they change Martin and his brother from swallows into boys when they are being bullied by the owl. Use this opportunity to discuss the role of bystanders in bullying and what kids can do when they witness another person being bullied.

*Types of Conflict–There’re a lot examples to choose from in this story–character vs. character, self, and…magic.

The Nitty Gritty~

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Publication Date: October 29, 2013

ISBN-10: 1423158156

ISBN-13: 978-1423158158

Number of Pages: 310

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.

Visit Shannon Messenger's website for more marvelous middle grade titles!

Visit Shannon Messenger’s website for more marvelous middle grade titles!

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!

Anne Frank’s Chestnut Tree by Jane Kohuth, illustrated by Elizabeth Sayles

51a+Y+gSxDL._SY346_Publisher’s description: Hidden away in their Secret Annex in Amsterdam during World War II, Anne Frank and her family could not breathe fresh air or see the blue sky for years. But through an attic window Anne could see the branches of a tall chestnut tree. This small glimpse of nature gave Anne hope and courage. It inspired her writing, which, in turn, inspired the whole world. Jane Kohuth explores Anne Frank’s strong belief in the healing power of nature in this Step 3 leveled reader biography for newly independent readers ages 5–8.

My thoughts: As soon as I read the e-galley (Thank you, Random House Children’s and Edelweiss!) of Anne Frank’s Chestnut Tree, I ordered a copy for our school library. Many of my students check out The Diary of Anne Frank but end up not finishing it because of the reading level or because they don’t quite understand it. This version is part of Random House’s Step Into Reading (Level 3) early chapter book program, and I was happy to see that the illustrations, text, and handling of the subject matter are indeed appropriate for grades 1 to 3.

Several lines from Anne’s diary are woven seamlessly into the text, lending an authenticity to the storyline. Here’s an excerpt from the second page-spread in the book:

“‘As long as this exists, this sunshine and this cloudless sky, and as long as I can enjoy it, how can I be sad?’ The girl’s name was Anne Frank. She had not been outside for 597 days.”

You’ve got Anne’s own words, her name, and then a hook that begs for the next page-turn.

Even the complicated and horrific motives behind the Second World War are delivered in a straightforward manner that’s easy to understand:

“The Nazis blamed the world’s problems on Jewish people, even though they were a small minority. Anne and her family were Jewish.”

As adults, it’s easy to forget that a child first reading about Anne Frank may not know how Anne’s story ends. The arrest of Anne and her family is told in two simple sentences:

“But on August 4, 1944, the police found the Secret Annex.The Nazis sent Anne’s family and two of their helpers to concentration camps.”

The only reference to a concentration camp is earlier on, when the Nazis wanted to send Anne’s sister away, prompting the family to go into hiding:

“Anne’s parents knew that when Jews were sent away, they were never heard from again.”

Even Anne’s sad ending does not include any detail that might be disturbing for a young child:

“Anne did not survive the war. But her diary did.”

The book doesn’t end here, though; it comes full circle with the same chestnut tree in the opening of the story–the one that Anne used to gaze at from the window of the attic in the Secret Annex. The people of Amsterdam kept the chestnut tree alive, even when it had a disease, until a storm brought it down in 2010. Even then, saplings from this tree were planted all over the city and the world, including the United States.

An author’s note and photograph of the building where Anne and her family hid will help children to understand that this is indeed a true story.

Highly recommended.

Hand this book to the kid who:

* has heard of Anne Frank but may not yet be ready to read her diary

* is interested in World War II

* enjoys biographies

* needs an example of strength and hope in hard times

Use this to teach:

Biographies–Although this reads like fiction, it is 100% non-fiction–no invented dialogue in these pages.

*The themes of courage and overcoming adversity–The Holocaust is obviously not part of any primary grade curriculum, but this book could definitely be included in a study of books with themes of courage or overcoming adversity.

*The Holocaust–I know–I just said that young children don’t learn about the Holocaust in school, but some upper elementary children do, and  middle school students definitely do. If you’ve got an older struggling reader or a students who is learning English, this title would work well for differentiating instruction. Or if you’re reading aloud a book like Lois Lowery’s Number the Stars and you create a display of other books about World War II, definitely include this one.

The Nitty Gritty~

Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers

Publication Date: September 24, 2013

ISBN-10: 0449812553

ISBN-13: 978-0449812556

Number of Pages: 48

Interest Level: K-3

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.

Thanks to Anatastia Suen for creating Non-Fiction Mondays, and to Sally's Bookshelf for hosting today!

Thanks to Anatastia Suen for creating Non-Fiction Mondays, and to Stacking Books for hosting today! Click here for more Non-Fiction recommendations…

Not A Drop to Drink by Mindy McGinnis

NotaDroptoDrink_final_1I could not put this book down. Aside from the intriguing premise–what would we do if water suddenly became a scare commodity?–I found the characters to be believable, flawed, and empathetic. The plot is a tapestry of both tension and moments of tenderness, with several believable plot twists that I didn’t see coming. I would hand Not A Drop to Drink to both boys and girls; with the survival elements and light (very light) romance, this book should have wide appeal with teens.

Publisher’s description:  Regret was for people with nothing to defend, people who had no water.

Lynn knows every threat to her pond: drought, a snowless winter, coyotes, and, most importantly, people looking for a drink. She makes sure anyone who comes near the pond leaves thirsty, or doesn’t leave at all.
Confident in her own abilities, Lynn has no use for the world beyond the nearby fields and forest. Having a life means dedicating it to survival, and the constant work of gathering wood and water. Having a pond requires the fortitude to protect it, something Mother taught her well during their quiet hours on the rooftop, rifles in hand.
But wisps of smoke on the horizon mean one thing: strangers. The mysterious footprints by the pond, nighttime threats, and gunshots make it all too clear Lynn has exactly what they want, and they won’t stop until they get it….
With evocative, spare language and incredible drama, danger, and romance, debut author Mindy McGinnis depicts one girl’s journey in a barren world not so different than our own.

Hand this book to the teen who:

* enjoys dystopian tales and stories of survival

* likes strong female characters (Lynn is more skilled at self-defense and survival than is her friend Eli, a city-born teen.)

* wants (or doesn’t mind) books that have elements of light romance, yet doesn’t want (or need) romance to dominate the plot.

Use this to teach:

* Environmental Issues–Although the reason for the water shortage is never explained, this story is sure to spark discussions of resource conservation within the context of global warming and rising pollution levels.

* Human Nature--At which point does our survival instinct overcome empathy and charity towards others? Government policies and main character Lynn’s  believable shift in her world view will make excellent fodder for classroom discussion.

*Types of Conflict–Lots of examples to choose from in this story–character vs. character, self, society, and nature.

*Text-to-Text Connections–Pair this with Melanie Crowder’s Parched and Linda Sue Park’s A Long Walk to Water, as well as Mike Mullin’s Ashfall trilogy.

Resources for Educators here

The Nitty Gritty~

Click here for reviews and here for the author’s website.

Publisher: Harper Collins / Katherine Tegen

Publication Date: September 24, 2013

ISBN-13: 978-0062198501

Number of Pages: 320

Interest Level: Ages 14 to 17

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.

~
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.
.

-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.
.
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?
.

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.

Rose by Holly Webb

517zbG28mQL._SY300_I was charmed by Rose right from the start. She’s likable and believable–someone you’d want as a friend.

Publisher’s description: Rose isn’t like the other orphans at St Bridget’s Home for Abandoned Girls. Instead of dreaming of getting adopted by loving, wealthy parents, Rose wants to get a job and be independent. She doesn’t need anyone but herself. She finds her escape working as a maid for Mr. Fountain, an alchemist. Unable to ignore the magic that flows throughout the grand residence, Rose realizes that just maybe; she might have a little bit of magic in her too. This new series featuring magicians, witches, talking cats, mist-monsters, and friendships will have young readers in a trance!

Hand this book to the kid who:

* enjoys reading about magic and alchemy and mystery,

* is ready for some scariness, but not too too much, and

* gobbles up historical fiction or stories set back in time.

Use this to teach:

Points of view–While this story is from Rose’s point of view, we soon meet Freddie, the alchemist’s haughty apprentice. Freddie has no redeeming qualities at the start, but will grow on you as you (and Rose) get to know him better. Ask students to retell (in writing or orally) Rose’s first meeting with Freddie from Freddie’s point of view.

* Chemistry--Although the potions and magic mixtures are straight fiction, it would be fun to pair this title with a science unit on mixtures, solutions, and chemical properties.

*Genre blending–More and more books today are difficult to fit into one genre, and this is one of them. Fantasy? Check. Historical fiction? Yup. Is it more one than the other? Let you students decide.

The Nitty Gritty~

Click here for reviews.

Publisher: Sourcebooks/Jabberwocky

Publication Date: September 3, 2013

ISBN-13: 978-1402285813

Number of Pages: 240

Interest Level: Ages 9 and up

The Accidental Time Traveler by Janis Mackay

cover27782-medium

This story grew on me with each passing chapter. Saul is a likable, flawed kid who ultimately wants to do the right thing–send Agatha back to her life in 1813. Agatha is gutsy and kind and an inspiration to Saul and his scaredy-cat friends.

Publisher’s description:                

Saul is on his way to the corner shop on a seemingly ordinary day, when a girl appears suddenly in the middle of the road. She does not understand traffic or the things she sees in shops, and she’s wearing a long dress with ruffled sleeves. Her name is Agatha Black.

Agatha Black is from 1813, and Saul needs to find a way to get her back to her time. With help from his buddies Will and Robbie, he tries to figure out how to make time travel happen.

This face-paced, time-traveling adventure from Janis Mackay (author of the Magnus Fin books) is full of funny misunderstandings and gripping action.

Hand this book to the kid who:

* likes reading about time travel–you might pair this with Rebecca Stead’s When You Reach Me

* enjoys historical fiction–this tale is history brought forward in time to present-day

* appreciates a strong female lead. Although this story is from Saul’s point of view, we get a good take on Agatha, who does things that Saul wouldn’t dream of doing, like spending the night alone in the abandoned lot that houses Saul’s and his friends’ clubhouse–the site that used to belong to Agatha’s grandfather back in the day.

Use this to teach:

Essay writing–Saul enters an essay-writing contest about life in his hometown back in the “olden days.” He gets his material first-hand from Agatha, of course, but the final interpretation is all his. It might be fun to have students interview someone from an older generation–a grandparent or another senior citizen–and then compose an essay that compares and contrasts life now with life in the past.

* Anti-Bullying--There’s an obvious bully in this story–a boy who torments Saul and every other kid who dare cross into his territory. But Saul and his friends are bystanders who completely shut out another classmate–a girl who, as it turns out, has a future family tie to Agatha. Not only does Saul gain the courage to stand up to the bully who has threatened him since always, but he also learns to reach out to a loner girl in his class–someone who has always existed on the fringes, of society, both socially and economically.

The Nitty Gritty~

Click here for reviews.

Publisher: Floris Books (UK)

Publication Date: July 2013

ISBN-13: 978-0863159541

Number of Pages: 240

Interest Level: Middle Grade (ages 9-12)

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.

Visit Shannon Messenger's website for more marvelous middle grade titles!

Visit Shannon Messenger’s website for more marvelous middle grade titles!