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Friday Kid Lit Round-Up

Read2_2 If you haven’t visited Angela’s blog yet, now is the time to check it out.  Her post on Vocabulary Strategies that Help is super.  She lists “five ways to support your readers in becoming vocabulary virtuosos,” complete with pictures.

The Horn Book has posted an interesting list of titles for young readers.  Plants, Animals and the Natural World includes Meerkat Mail, Dolphin Talk: Whistles, Clicks and Clapping Jaws and Pale Male: Citizen Hawk of New York.  The titles are all fairly recent and are listed by grade level.

Are your eyes tired from all this reading?  Why not take a break and enjoy some marmalade with Paddington Bear?  His Marmalade Mayhem game is quite addictive.  I scored a 64 before calling it quits for the night.

If you’re curious about following election coverage from a child’s point of view, be sure to check out Scholastic’s Election Blog.  As reported by Kid Reporter Jack Greenberg:
“Pam Haynes, an African American citizen from California, summed up the importance of this night to her and thousands of others as she recalled her childhood.
'I saw on my TV black children not being allowed into schools with white children,' she said. 'There were bulldogs, protesters, and more. I never thought that in my lifetime that a black man could possibly be the President of The United States. I thought it would happen, but when my grandkids were my age.'"

Picture Book Thursday: Buster Goes to Cowboy Camp

Buster_2 Buster Goes to Cowboy Camp
Written and illustrated by Denise Fleming
Henry Holt and Co.
Age Range 3-9 years

Hey folks.  It’s another edition of Picture Book Thursday and what better way to celebrate the end of summer than with a book about camp?  And yes, you guessed it, Buster the dog is back and ready to rustle up some fun.

Author and illustrator Denise Fleming has written a fun sequel to Buster, one that finds him full of reservations as he is sent to cowboy camp.  Despite missing his owner Brown Shoes, and kitten pal Betty, Buster comes into his own, overcoming his shy nature and making friends.  By the end of the book, Buster has bought into cowpoke living, chowing down on bacon and beans, helping to build campfires and looking forward to digging for gold.

The degree of emotion Denise Fleming is able to evoke from poured pulp illustrations always amazes me.  Whether it’s Buster curling up to go to sleep or his forlorn expression as he’s being taken to camp, I can’t help but think of my dog and their shared quirks.  I think children will easily make connections Buster and their pets as well.

Observant readers will notice the endpapers are illustrated with the bandana that Buster wears at camp.  Provide students with paper and paint so they can create their own bandana design.  Run the “bandanas” through the laminator to create colorful placemats.

If bandanas aren’t your thing, provide students with twine, glue and card stock.  Have them create name tags for their desks, based on the lasso rope “Buster” on the cover of the book.

For paper doll fun, check out these publisher links:
Buster Paper Doll (PDF)
Buster Paper Doll Cowboy Clothes (PDF)

Video Wednesday: New Video Booktalks

We scoured the New York City Scholastic offices for the best booktalkers and we found a whole crop of hidden talent among our editors, marketing experts and summer interns! Here are the most recent Scholastic video booktalks featuring our new breakout stars, Carrie, Jonathan, and Jessica.

Here is Carrie booktalking Airhead the newest YA title by Meg Cabot.

This booktalk for Amulet: The Stonekeeper a new graphic novel series for grades 4-7, features Jessica.

And last but definitely not least, Jonathan booktalks Magic Pickle and the Planet of the Grapes, a silly story for grades 2-5.

To see the complete archive of all our video booktalks, visit Scholastic Videos.

New Review Tuesday: Hannah Trierweiler Likes These Books

Has anyone else noticed a trend among recent novels with fiesty young heroines? I'm talking about LONG book titles, usually containing the protagonist's full name. I'm thinking if Because of Winn-Dixie was published today it would be called India Opal Buloni Adopts a Dog, Makes Friends, and Comes to Terms With the Death of Her Mother. And of course Little Women would be Jo March Sells Her Hair to a Wig Shop.

Anyhow, I actually have a soft spot in my heart for these artfully-titled stories and their spunky characters. Here are three that would be great to recommend to your second through fifth graders.

Samantha Samantha Hansen Has Rocks In Her Head
by Nancy Viau, is a debut novel about a ten-year-old girl who's crazy for geology and therefore over the moon about her family's upcoming trip to the Grand Canyon. Viau expertly captures the relationships between Samantha, her mother, and her sister—and explores some pretty big questions about death and grief with humor and grace. There are lots of curriculum connections, so keep this one on your list for a geology unit.


Violet_2 Violet Raines Almost Got Struck By Lightning
by Danette Haworth reminded me a great deal of Because of Winn-Dixie—it's a southern story about a girl struggling to find a place in the world. In this case, tomboy Violet resists growing up and becoming a "proper young lady"—and of course she finds that she doesn't have to give up as much as she thinks she does. Violet's voice is full of wit and humor—I had a hard time putting this one down.   

Moxy Finally, I loved the chapter titles in Moxy Maxwell Does Not Love Writing Thank You Notes by Peggy Gifford. For example, Chapter 16 is "In Which Mrs. Maxwell's 1989 Volvo DL with the Three New Tires and the 2002 Transmission and the Once-Heated Seats and the Broken Back Windshield Wiper Vibrates Down the Driveway." The story radiates with the same humor, and is a terrific follow-up to Moxy Maxwell Does Not Love Stuart Little.

Am I missing your favorite long-titled tale? Or does anyone want to re-title some more classics? Go for it in the comments!

Nonfiction Monday: Night Shift

It's almost time for Labor Day, the day we celebrate the everyday worker, so here is fiction-nonfiction pair about the workers children seldom see, the night shift...

Nonfictionmonday Facts First


Night Shift
by Jessie Hartland

Reading level: Ages 4-8
Hardcover: 32 pages
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Children's Books

When you go to bed, who is hard at work? The night shift! Explore the world of workers who start work when you go to bed and end their "day" when you wake up.

Pair With

Night_shift_daddy_2Night Shift Daddy
by Eileen Spinelli (Author) and Melissa Iwai (Illustrator)

Reading level: Ages 4-8
Hardcover: 32 pages
Publisher: Hyperion Books for Children

Before he goes to work, Daddy shares the evening with his daughter. Then he tucks her into bed before he goes to work. In the morning he comes home from work and she tucks him into bed before she goes out to play.


Continue reading "Nonfiction Monday: Night Shift" »

Friday Kid Lit Round-Up

For a number of years now Oprah’s Book Club has made hits of books for adults.  Now she’s making her way into books for children with her Kids Reading List.  The site even has a list of tips to keep kids reading, including, “Make sure that books are easily accessible within your home.  If Dr. Seuss is closer than the DVR, your children might just be encouraged to reach for something bigger than the remote.”

Brown_bearElephant_4And not to be left behind, Kohl’s continues its Kohl’s Cares for Kids campaign, complete with Eric Carle merchandise.  As stated on their site:

"Everyone knows books are good for children, but Kohl’s brings new meaning to the idea of books benefiting America’s youth. Since the inception of Kohl’s Cares for Kids® in 2000, we have turned our $5 books and plush into more than $102 million for children’s initiatives nationwide while providing affordable books for millions of eager readers."

Yes, you read correctly folks.  Kohl’s is selling copies of Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?Panda Bear, Panda Bear, What Do You See?, and Baby Bear, Baby Bear, What Do You See? for $5 apiece!
But wait!  That’s not all!  They also have the Eric Carle plush elephant and leopard.  And they’re only $5 a pop as well!

Continue reading "Friday Kid Lit Round-Up" »

Picture Book Thursday: Animals in the Library

LibraryLibrary Mouse
Written and illustrated by Daniel Kirk
Age Range 4-12 years

Bats_4 Bats at the Library
Written and illustrated by Brian Lies
Houghton Mifflin Company
Age Range 4-12 yrs
Publication date September 2008

Hey folks.  Picture Book Thursday is here and we have a tie!  Yes, it’s two reviews for the price of one. And the theme is cute creatures in the library. Now you may be squeamish when it comes to mice and bats but you’re going to love the characters in these books.

Daniel Kirk’s Library Mouse is a cute tale of Sam, a mouse who lives in a bustling library.  After reading up a storm, Sam begins to write his own books, dabbling in different genres and eventually inspiring the students to become authors themselves.  The font and illustrations are pleasantly retro and the use of color is similar to that found in classics like Richard Scarry’s Best Storybook Ever!, with primary colors making the palette pop.

Brian Lies' Bats at the Library brings readers on a post-Bats at the Beach adventure, as they enjoy all the accommodations a library has to offer at night.  Mr. Lies' illustrations feature an Arts and Crafts inspired library, chock full of little details for the enjoyment of children and adults alike.  The illustration of the bats Xeroxing themselves is funny in itself; those darn bats seem to be having such a blast I couldn’t help but laugh.

These are two fun titles to share with students, whether you’re concentrating on writing, reading, genre or simply want to prep for a trip to the library.  To get the most bang for your buck, read them both to your students.

For many parents all it takes is a nudge to get them to visit the library with their child.  Your newsletter can be that nudge.  Send home a special edition newsletter with relevant library info.  Include the name of the library, location, hours and name of the children’s librarian.  You might also try contacting the librarian to see what books are popular with your students and include that list.

Video Wednesday: Nic Bishop and Spiders

Even though Sonja's got a crush on Nic Bishop, I got to sit next to him at the Newbery/Caldecott Awards dinner in California this summer. Boy, was she pea-green with envy!

Now everyone can see just how cool he is in this video from our friends at Scholastic Book Fairs. Bishop goes spider hunting in his backyard (with a HUGE net) and shows us how he snapped those wonderful (sometime gross) photos for his 2008 Sibert Honor-winning book Nic Bishop Spiders.

New Review Tuesday: Hooray for Henkes!

In my mind, a new Kevin Henkes book is cause for celebration. So I'm throwing a party, and you're invited—along with Owen, Lily, Chrysanthemum, Kitten, and the rest of Henkes' gang of memorable characters.

Old_bear The guest of honor is Old Bear, whose story Henkes tells in his newest picture book. Old Bear has been around the block more than a few times. He's sleepy, he's tired, and during the long winter, he dreams of his cub days. Old Bear's dreaming is at the heart of the story, and Henkes dazzles with his poetic language and images, which take us through the four seasons: "Then he dreamed that it was summer. The sun was a daisy, and the leaves were butterflies. Part of the sky clouded over, and it rained blueberries."

The tale ends with Old Bear waking for another spring, and it "takes him a minute to realize that he isn't dreaming."

What a wonderful way for kids in grades K–2 to talk about hibernation, the four seasons, and life cycles. Teachers in the older grades would do well to use Henkes' powerful metaphors and images as examples in writing workshop.

I think this might be my favorite Henkes books yet. What's yours?

Nonfiction Monday: Swimming

With swimming in the headlines thanks to Michael Phelps' 8 Olympic gold medals(!), let's look at a fiction-nonfiction pair of swimming books.

Facts First Nonfictionmonday_2

Surfer Surfer of the Century
by Ellie Crowe (Author) and Richard Waldrep (Illustrator)

Reading level: Ages 7-11
Hardcover: 48 pages
Publisher: Lee & Low Books

This biography introduces young readers to the father of modern surfing, Duke Kahanamoku. Duke grew up swimming in Hawaii and was recruited to swim in the 1912 Olympics. His times were so fast they weren't believed at first. Over the years he won six Olympic medals in swimming and introduced surfing to the mainland U.S. and Australia.

Pair With...

Continue reading "Nonfiction Monday: Swimming" »

Friday Kid Lit Round-Up

Pigeon Yes, school is upon us folks and what better way to adjust to scratchy school clothes, paper, pencils and pens than to enjoy a good book?  Meghan over on Book Kids has compiled a short list of titles to help young students transition back to school.

Angela Bunji, one of our super new mentor teachers here at Scholastic.com, has posted some great info on how she uses multiple intelligences in her reading class.  To top it all off, she ends her post with a quick review of Andrew Clements’ A Million Dots, a super book to include in your classroom library.  Make sure you say hi to Angela when you check out her blog!

Popular Pigeon books creator Mo Willems has been getting a lot of press this summer.  Over on the Big Picture he has an interesting interview with his take on why being a kid is tough and some insight into Pigeon.  He also has a great take on books:
    "'I don’t believe that books should be read, I believe they should be played,’ he explains. ‘And one way to play them is to draw them. All my lead characters are retrofitted to be as fundamental as possible.’"
Read the fascinating full interview.

For those of you familiar with the Rough Guide travel book series, some bittersweet news.  In conjunction with Britain’s Big Picture campaign, they have published The Rough Guide to Picture Books.  This handy little guide features a synopsis, tips section and “Why Choose This Book?” breakdown for the various titles.  So here’s the bitter part; you can get it for free at Tesco but you have to pick it up in the UK.  If any of you industrious readers have a connection, let us know!  It’s a super little guide.

Looking for ways to make your classroom more poetry friendly?  Michael Rosen has a series of video clips on everything from "Stage a Poetry Swap" to "Turn a Poem into a Play."  Is it any wonder he’s the Children’s Laureate in the UK?  And I bet he has a copy of The Rough Guide!

If I had a dollar for every time a student asked me, “What book got Scarlett Johansson hooked?” Well, I’d be poor, but she is going to be featured in the movie based on Roald Dahl's The Fantastic Mr. Fox set for November 2009 release.

Picture Book Thursday: Fine As We Are

Fineasweare_2 Fine As We Are
Written and illustrated by Algy Craig Hall
Boxer Books
Age Range 3-8 years

Hey folks.  It’s great to see you’ve broken away from Olympic coverage to check out Picture Book Thursday.  With school on its way for many of you, I thought you might enjoy a book with a quick activity for classroom management.

Fine As We Are is written and illustrated by Londoner Algy Craig Hall.  His first title covers a lot of relevant themes for the early childhood classroom including frogs, life cycles and new siblings.  He covers these themes in such a gentle and fun way, the reader doesn’t realize how much ground is covered.

In short, Little Frog is intrigued to find some tadpoles at his home but not impressed when they grow into his rambunctious brothers and sisters.  Struggling with learning how to enjoy his new siblings, Little Frog grows to love his expanded family and his new role as big brother.

Now the teacher in you is going to want to remember this book for units on frogs, family, and life cycles but don’t worry.  As with all picture books, it’s ok to read it more than once. And the children will love revisiting Little Frog and his family.

Tell your students they are going to be lining up like quiet little frogs.  If you have a large class you may want to have students line up a few at a time, showing them how to take little hops on their way.  Remind them that they need to stop once they reach the line and that they should not bump into the other “frogs.”  You can add this to your bag of tricks on how to make a straight quiet line fun.

Video Wednesday: Sara Pennypacker and Clementine

Jessica and I are huge Clementine fans! I think Clementine is just the coolest third-grader ever. She is sensitive, creative, generous, and attentive, but somehow she always manages to get herself into trouble. In this video book trailer, author Sara Pennypacker describes what makes Clementine so endearing.

And don't miss this Author Read-Aloud video of Sara reading from the first chapter of Clementine.

New Review Tuesday: Mark Your Calendars

Every season there are a few books for which I'm wildly excited—I mark their release dates down on my calendar, and then I eagerly count down the days until my much-anticipated reading material hits the shelves. It's like the book-reviewer equivalent of camping out in the parking lot, waiting for basketball tickets.

Perhaps you've seen this behavior in your students—kids who couldn't wait for Stephenie Meyer's Breaking Dawn or are biting their nails for Christopher Paolini's Brisingr.

Here are some (but by no means all!) of the other books on my radar for fall: 


The Diamond of Darkhold, by Jeanne DuPrau (releases  August 26). No doubt you'll have students clamoring for the fourth installment of DuPrau's Books of Ember series, which finds Lina and Doon back underground. Interest in the series is bound to hit a peak with the release of The City of Ember movie, due out October 10. The books are a great choice for readers in grades 3 through 7.

Louise_5 Louise, The Adventures of a Chicken, by Kate DiCamillo, illustrated by Harry Bliss (releases September 23). I was lucky enough to attend an early reading of this avian adventure, and folks, you're in for a treat. Our plucky heroine is tired of the henhouse and sets off on a worldly journey that takes her aboard a pirate ship, across a circus high wire, and back home again. It's DiCamillo at her straight-talking best. Bliss does wonders, too, showing Louise ride a camel, travel on a steam ship, and float in a hot air balloon, all to make it back to the coop. It's truly a read aloud for all ages.

Sourpuss_4 Sourpuss and Sweetie Pie, by Norton Juster, illustrated by Chris Raschka (releases October 1). Juster and Raschka return to the world of their Caldecott-winning The Hello, Goodbye Window. In this new story Nanna and Poppy's granddaughter reveals she's actually *two* people—Sourpuss and Sweetie Pie. K–2 teachers will be able to use this colorful tale as a springboard for talking about emotions, high and low.

Hunger_4The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins (releases October 1). The first installment of a new trilogy from the author of The Underland Chronicles, The Hunger Games is set in a dystopian future where teens are forced to fight to the death on national television. It's a grim scenario, but Collins will have readers in grades 7 and up turning pages—and asking questions about pop culture, romance, and morality.

What books are you looking forward to this fall? Share in the comments!

Nonfiction Monday: 2008 Olympics

The Games have begun! Pair a nonfiction book about playing fair at the 2002 Olympic Games (by not doping) with a BMX novel about playing fair (by following the rules.) BMX debuts at the 2008 Summer Olympics...

Facts First

Olympics The Night Olympic Team: Fighting to Keep Drugs Out of the Games
by Caroline Hatton

Reading level: Ages 10 and up
Hardcover: 56 pages
Publisher: Boyds Mill Press

The author of this book, Dr. Caroline Hatton, was a member of the "Night Olympic Team" that tested athletes for drug use at the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City. This behind-the-scenes look at the fight against doping at the 2002 Winter Games also includes sidebars that explain the science behind the testing.

Pair With...

Continue reading "Nonfiction Monday: 2008 Olympics" »

Gross Books for Boys

Vlad_2 Boys don't like to read? This article in the Wall Street Journal offers a solution: "Books That Are Really Gross"

Here are a few of the gross books mentioned in the article:

The Adventures of Captain Underpants
Oh Yuck! The Encyclopedia of Everything Nasty
Sir Fartsalot Hunts the Booger
Wicked History: Vlad the Impaler
It's Disgusting and We Ate It
24/7 Behind the Scenes Medical Files: Help What's Eating My Flesh
The Day My Butt Went Psycho


More ideas to get boys reading . . .

Continue reading "Gross Books for Boys" »

Friday Kid Lit Round-Up

I’ve been a big fan of Craig Frazier since I first started using Stanley Mows the Lawn in picture book presentations.  His graphics are sleek and draw you right into the story.  Now you can check out Hank and many other picture books on Lookybook.

As always, the folks at the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art have some helpful info on their site. Included in their Suggestions for Sharing Picture Books with Young Children (PDF) are standards like get a library card and create your own books but they make the list fresh with ideas like, “get silly.”

Still spooked from the new Harry Potter trailer?  Well head on over to Magnetic Poetry’s home page and relax while you mix and match words to create a Zen inducing state of mind.  My favorite is the garden edition.  You get all the word play without tracking dirt into the house.

More for all you poets out there, some exciting news and especially timely with Bill Bryson’s Shakespeare: The World as Stage recently published.  It seems The Theater
has been uncovered
in London or at least the foundation.  This is believed to have been an important theater during old William’s time. Having visited the reproduction of the Globe Theater last summer, I find this exciting news for poets and Shakespeare aficionados alike.

Picture Book Thursday: The Pencil

Pencil The Pencil

Written by Allan Ahlberg

Illustrated by Bruce Ingman

Candlewick Press

Age Range 4-8 yrs

Hey folks. Glad you could join us here on Picture Book Thursday. Not to be a downer while summer is in full gear but the clock is ticking for school to start back up and I know you’ll be looking for books to kick off the year. You should check out Allan Ahlberg’s The Pencil, a zany tale of a pencil that draws a world populated by talking animals, somewhat fickle folks and an eraser that’s a bit of a loose canon.

For a quick activity try drawing half a picture for your students to finish. It sounds daunting, I know, but stay with me here. Draw half a house, half a sun, half a tree, half a cloud and half a person and you’re half way there. Make copies of your drawing and have your students draw in the parts that are missing. If you want to create some buzz, use a fine tip Sharpie to draw a face on the pencils before handing them out.

To show students how pencils are made, check out the Let’s Make a Pencil video. You could also go to the Faber-Castell site for colored pencil drawing techniques. They have some interesting tips, including drawing on sandpaper!

Video Wednesday: Blue Balliett Author Read-Aloud

Every day there is more and more video on the web. Some of it is great, educational and engaging. Some of it is . . . well, not so great. Jessica and I work together on the Scholastic.com Books & Authors Web site, so our job is to create many of the Scholastic videos about books and authors found around the site. On Video Wednesday we will cull the best videos both from Scholastic.com and beyond to find the gems you can share with your students to get them excited about reading.

Today we have a video of author Blue Balliett reading Chapter 1 of her newest art-inspired mystery, The Calder Game.

Scholastic.com has lots more teaching resources about Blue Balliett and her books.

Check back every Video Wednesday for video booktalks, book trailers, author interviews and author read-alouds. And please leave a comment letting us know what kinds of videos you would like to see here in the coming weeks.

New Review Tuesday: Born to Read

I couldn’t have asked for a better book to kick off my entries on this blog, which will focus on the latest and greatest in children’s literature. What’s worth adding to your classroom library? What should you spend your gift certificates on? What release dates should you mark on your calendar?

Those are just some of the questions I hope to answer on New Review Tuesdays.

WwwrandomhousecomWild Born to Read
by Judy Sierra, illustrated by Marc Brown, and published by Knopf Books for Young Readers, is a lovable ode to reading from the team behind the best-selling Wild About Books.

While Wild About Books centered on the librarian Molly McGrew, who accidentally drives her bookmobile into the zoo, Born to Read stays closer to home, following a young boy with a love for books from infancy to school age.

There’s still a good dose of zaniness, however, as Sam ends up using his favorite stories to kick a giant out of town. And Sierra’s silly rhyming verse will definitely get kids giggling. Brown’s over-the-top illustrations add to the fun.

Born to Read is best for grades K–3, but it would also be a fantastic read-aloud for upper-elementary kids during the first days and weeks of school, when you’re trying to build up excitement around books. Do you have another story that you use to get kids enthused about reading? Please share it in the comments!

Nonfiction Monday: Yoga

Welcome to Nonfiction Monday! My name is Anastasia Suen. I'm the author of 106 books (with 4 more due in September!) Since 1977, I've taught kindergarten to college. I'm a presenter for Staff Development for Educators, a children's literature consultant for several children's book publishers and an online writing instructor. (I teach adults how to write for kids.)

An active blogger, I created Nonfiction Monday in January 2008 because I wanted to have one day of the week when bloggers would read and talk about nonfiction books for kids. And now I'm bringing that day to Scholastic.

Let's begin....

Facts FirstYoga
The Kids' Yoga Book of Feelings

by Mary Humphrey (Author) and Michael Frost (Photographer)

Reading level: Ages 4-8
Hardcover: 40 pages
Publisher: Marshall Cavendish Children's Books

Yoga teacher and school librarian Mary Humphrey also teaches yoga to teachers. In this book, twenty yoga poses for kids are photographed and explained, as are emotions these poses can generate. The book follows a common yoga practice of beginning with the seated position of Lotus Blossom "Feeling: Peaceful" and ending with the quiet reflection of Opossum "Feeling: Satisfaction."

Pair With . . .

Continue reading "Nonfiction Monday: Yoga" »

Harry Potter News!

9780545128285_xlg_2Welcome to the new Kid Lit Kit, your toolkit for teaching with books! Every day we hope to provide you with exciting book news and ideas for using books in the classroom.

Thursday July 31 was a great day for Harry Potter fans. Not only was it Harry’s birthday, it was also J.K. Rowling’s birthday, and she made an exciting announcement about her new book, The Tales of Beedle the Bard. You can buy your copy in December 2008 but you might want to pre-order it now!

We also got a first look at the Half Blood Prince movie trailer.
What do you think? Does that young Tom Riddle look pure evil or what?

And if you're looking for Harry Potter lesson ideas, check out the lesson plans and activities in this J. K. Rowling Author Study.

Be sure to come back next week for Nonfiction Monday, New Review Tuesday, Video Wednesday, Picture Book Thursday, and the Friday Blog Round-Up. We look forward to providing you with a full week's worth of ideas for sharing books with your students!


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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in Kid Lit Kit are strictly those of the author and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Scholastic, Inc.