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Friday Kid Lit Round-Up

Goosebumps_2 Hey folks.  If you read yesterday’s post and are interested in some voting books, check out Anastasia Suen’s picks from a few weeks back.  They dovetail nicely with the patriotic theme.

Halloween is officially here and what better time to grab a spooky Stine book and give yourself a good old fashioned case of the heebie jeebies.  Carly M. offers her thoughts on children’s author R.L. Stine over on InkSplot. For more Halloween teaching fun, check out Scholastic.com's Top 5 Halloween Activities and Lessons.

A link from A Fuse#8 Production led me to the First Annual Children's Book Halloween Costume Contest "where favorite characters from children's books show off their holiday best." Very fun!

According to NewsObserver.com, Aussie actress Mia Wasikowska will be Burton's Alice in the 2010 release of Alice in Wonderland based on the Lewis Carroll classic. "Johnny Depp is the inspired choice to play the Mad Hatter.”  Maybe we can concentrate on looking forward to this while the kinks are worked out of Where the Wild Things Are.

I hadn’t given much thought to how the economy is affecting libraries but the American Library Association sure has.  “The American Library Association (ALA) is asking Congress for $100 million in stimulus funding to aid the nation’s working families during the current economic crisis. Aid is sought to stem the bleeding of critical library services that help Americans with job searches, small business development, financial literacy and other essential assistance in hard economic times.”  Read more at ALA.org.

And with that folks, I’m off to prepare for the first wave of trick-or-treaters.  Remember to drive slow, resist the urge to egg anything, and brush after all the candy. We’ll see you back here next week.

Picture Book Thursday: United States of America

Scrambled_3 The Scrambled States of America Talent Show
Written and illustrated by Laurie Keller
Henry Holt
Age Range 4-9 years

Lady Lady Liberty: A Biography
Written by Doreen Rappaport
Illustrated by Matt Tavares
Candlewick Press
Age Range 7-12 years

Ballots Ballots for Belva: The True Story of a Woman’s Race for the Presidency
Written by Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen
Illustrated by Courtney A. Martin
Age Range 4-8 years

Hi folks.  Despite the fact that I awoke to snow flurries, I am doing my best to bring you great book picks for Picture Book Thursday.  And while a number of you are hoping my theme is the aforementioned snow, I hate to disappoint but we’re going with more of a patriotic tone.  Don’t worry, we’ll do snow when I’m more in the mood and I’ve become less bitter about having to pack away the shorts and T shirts.

Continue reading "Picture Book Thursday: United States of America" »

Video Wednesday: Cornelia Funke and Inkdeath

I am so excited to announce that Cornelia Funke will be our November Author of the Month! One of the great things about working for a children's book publisher is that you can get advance copies of books coming out sometimes even before the ARC is ready. I don't exercise this privilege often, but last spring I just couldn't wait another day to read Inkdeath, so I made a few  requests and managed to get the bound manuscript. I had to beg and grovel a little bit, but it was so worth it!

Inkdeath was officially released this October and if you haven't read it yet, you are in for a treat. I won't give anything away except to say that I was thrilled to interview Cornelia at ALA last June, and she answered some of my burning questions about the Inkheart series.  Here she is reading aloud a passage from the final book.

For the full interview as well as more video, lesson plans, bonus features from the Inkheart movie, and a chance to ask Cornelia your own questions, visit her Author of the Month page.

New Review Tuesday: Spooky Stories

I wrote about some of my favorite new picture books for Halloween in this month's issue of Instructor, but I wanted to share two other picks with you as well.

27976630 Steinbeck's Ghost, by Lewis Buzbee, is sure to haunt bibliophiles and ghost hunters alike. After Travis's family moves to a new neighborhood, he keeps going back to his old library in Salinas. There he becomes deeper and deeper enthralled with the work of John Steinbeck—and even starts seeing Steinbeck's characters in the real world. These mysterious sightings spark an adventure in which Travis struggles to save his library and finish the work of a favorite author. Buzbee is the author of the popular adult novel After the Gold Rush, and his children's debut is a literary page-turner that teachers and kids will both enjoy. Best for grades 3–6, but older kids, especially those who have discovered Steinbeck, will enjoy the story, too.

5144aympryl_sl500_aa240_ Boogie Knights, by Lisa Wheeler, illustrated by Mark Siegel, is one of those rhythmic picture books whose verses you can't help but get stuck in your head ("gremlins groovin', vampires movin', see that hunchback swing"). But the real treat is Siegel's black and sepia artwork, which manages to capture the spirit of a party full of goblins and monsters without being scary. Little ones in grades K–2 will get a kick out of being invited to the Madcap Monster Ball!

What are your favorite Halloween books?

Nonfiction Monday: Bats

Here's a fiction/nonfiction book pair for K-2 about bats just in time for Halloween.

Facts First

Littlelostbat Little Lost Bat
by Sandra Markle (Author)
and Alan Marks (Illustrator)

Reading level: K-2
Hardcover: 32 pages
Publisher: Charlesbridge Publishing

After an owl eats his mother, a baby bat from Bracken Cave is adopted by another bat.

Pair With

BatsatthelibraryBats at the Library
by Brian Lies

Reading level: K-2
Paperback: 32 pages
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Bats visit the library late at night for storytime in this rhyming picture book.


Continue reading "Nonfiction Monday: Bats" »

Friday Kid Lit Round-Up

So a few weeks ago I had my students create self-portraits using pumpkins.  I thought it was a pretty cool project and then Patty, Scholastic's high school teacher advisor, posted about literary pumpkins this week for Halloween.   “The literary pumpkin project is a great way to demonstrate understanding of a character, setting, or major plot development of a novel.  Students demonstrate immense creativity when designing their "pumpkins" (although man-made materials, gourds, and other fall season-related veggies and fruits are often used for these projects).”  All I can say is you HAVE to check out her blog.

Planning on being in Western Mass on Saturday, November 8?  The Eric Carle Museum and Blue Heron Restaurant will be hosting a Bookworm’s Luncheon with readings by:
• David Costello - Here They Come
• Leslea Newman - Cats, Cats, Cats and more...
• Erica Verrillo - Alyssa's Quest
• Jeannine Atkins - Mary Anning and the Sea Dragon
I went to one of these events a few years ago and it was a blast. Call 413.665.2102 for reservations.

Speaking of David Costello, last year he teamed up with students online to create a collaborative picture book  called Mr. Allgunky and the Missing Monster. To see videos of the story coming to life and find other monster book activities to use with your students, check out this article.

Here Costello explains how he developed the characters for his collaborative book.

To check out his Here They Come trailer, jump on over to his website.  If you really want to be wowed, book him to come to your school.  Simply put, David Costello is one of the most talented author/illustrators in the business.

Continue reading "Friday Kid Lit Round-Up" »

Picture Book Thursday: Spooks Have Feelings Too

Scary The Little Bit Scary People
Written by Emily Jenkins
Illustrated by Alexandra Boiger
Age Range 4-9 years

Glad Glad Monster, Sad Monster
Written by Anne Miranda
Illustrated by Ed Emberley
Little Brown
Age Range 3-8 years

Boo, Bunny!
Written by Kathryn O. Galbraith
Illustrated by Jeff Mack
Age Range 4-8 years

Hi folks.  Glad you could pop in for Picture Book Thursday.  I thought I’d toss you some books you can use for the impending Halloween celebrations.  While some weren’t written for this ghoulish season, they do feature monsters and emotions, like being scared.  Let’s jump in and you’ll see what I mean.

The Little Bit Scary People
If you think that particular bus driver, music teacher, or skateboarder is “a little bit scary,” then this book is for you.   As a young girl meets folks she views as scary, she imagines what they’re really like and renders them fun and very much likeable.  Children will surely enjoy comparing these characters to folks in their own lives.  (Be sure to stretch out the book jacket to discover who is creating the spooky shadow.) 

Glad Monster, Sad Monster
Reminiscent of Go Away, Big Green Monster! in its monster illustrations and ability to empower young children, this book is filled with detachable masks that children can wear as they ponder different emotions.   Feeling worried about “being chased by grumpy growly things” is just the tip of the iceberg.  Anger, love and sadness are a few of the other emotions covered that help to make this a great discussion starter for the Halloween season. Ed Emberly has another winner on his hands.

Boo, Bunny!
For me, fuzzy bunnies don’t usually conjure pictures of Halloween, but have illustrator Jeff Mack dress them up as a bee and a caped avenger and I’m eating candy corn with the best of them.  Beginning in rhyme, this book tells the story of two bunnies that hang tough as they brave a night of trick-or-treating together.  By the end, readers will realize it’s fun to feel a little spooked if you have a friend to share in that spookiness.  (And don’t forget to have your students compare the endpapers.)

Boo_bunny Here is Jeff signing books at the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art! Oh, and while he draws one mean fuzzy bunny, check out some of his other titles (Hurry! Hurry!) to see what else this talented guy has been up to! 

Have students use paper plates, glue and craft foam to create their own “feelings” face masks.  After they have finished and have a chance to wear them for a bit, use them to create a bulletin board display.

Ok folks, be sure to tune into the Round-Up tomorrow and I just might throw some more Halloween fun your way. 

Video Wednesday: Spooky Book Trailers

Have you seen the wonderful book trailers created by Scholastic Book Fairs? Kids in grades 3-5 won't be too scared by this one for Cornelia Funke's Ghosthunters series.

Older kids looking for scarier fare this Halloween will love these ghost stories by mystery master Mary Downing Hahn. Check out the video book trailers for The Old Willis Place and Deep and Dark and Dangerous.

I love the idea of video book trailers, and when they are done well, they really seem to get kids excited about the book. But there don't seem to be many out there. Have you seen (or created) some really great ones that I could feature here on Video Wednesdays? Please send me links in the comments! I would love to compile a whole stash of amazing videos for kids!

New Review Tuesday: Chains

41db6a2k7l_ss500_I was thrilled to see Laurie Halse Anderson's Chains nominated for a National Book Award. Chains hits shelves today, so get thee to a bookstore to find out what the buzz is all about.

Historical fiction isn't always the most accessible genre for young readers, but as she did in Thank You, Sarah, and Independent Dames, in Chains Laurie Halse Anderson illuminates an under-examined facet of history—slaves' struggle for freedom during America's battle for independence from Britain (also explored in M.T. Anderson's Octavian Nothing saga).

This Anderson's heroine is thirteen-year-old Isabel, a slave who becomes a Patriot spy for the slim possibility that it will mean freedom for herself. As always, Anderson has done some meticulous historical research, which makes Chains a perfect companion to fourth and fifth grade social studies curricula.

Have you read Chains or any of the other National Book Award nominees? What did you think?

Nonfiction Monday: Hunger

Middle schoolers can read about hunger in this fiction/nonfiction book pair and take action this week for Kids Care Week (October 19-25, 2008).

Facts First

Wtwe_medWhat the World Eats
by Faith D'Aluisio (Author)
and Peter Menzel (Photographer)
Reading level: Gr 6-8
Hardcover: 160 pages
Publisher: Tricycle Press

See what twenty-five families from around the world eat in a week in this striking photo-essay filled with maps, charts and recipes.

Pair With

KidsagainsthungerKids Against Hunger
by Jon Mikkelsen (Author)
and Nathan Lueth (Illustrator)
Reading level: Gr 2-3 / Interest Level Gr 5-9
Paperback: 40 pages
Publisher: Stone Arch Books

In this hi-lo book, Caleb and Ian follow Greg to an old warehouse to find out what he does when he misses soccer practice.


Continue reading "Nonfiction Monday: Hunger" »

Friday Kid Lit Round-Up

Paddington Hey folks.  Did anyone notice that Google was featuring a pic of Paddington Bear?  He just celebrated his 50th anniversary and according to London.jollypeople, “The bear, who still looks 25, used the momentous occasion to help raise funds for Action Medical Research’s Touching Tiny Lives Campaign.”  For more Paddington fun, including a new book, check out the official Paddington Web site.

Can You See What I See? On A Scary Scary Night “I was going to need new glasses (and possibly a barf bag) by the second page.”  Now who can resist a teaser like that?  I know you’re dying to check out the Halloween themed book Mir is referring to.  Catch her at Kitchen Table Reviews.

Els Kushner at Librarian Mom talks about the pleasures of story time with young children, (and with adults at professional workshops!)

I hadn’t given much thought to the role of clergymen in children’s literature but J.L. Bell has.  He had the opportunity to visit London’s Science Museum last summer and saw an exhibit on British technological progress in the 1950s and 1960s. You can check out his musings about the authors of the Thomas the Tank Engine and Narnia series over on Oz and Ends.

And under the title of "We Don’t Need No Stinking Book Reviews," is a discussion on A Chair, A Fireplace & ATea Cozy. “Reviewers and bloggers who have no sense of literary history (i.e. a "this idea has never been done" type of review) turn me off; I like writers who can link a book and connect it to other works, or historical perspective, etc. Frankly, some people do know more about certain things and their writing is richer for it.”  An interesting point, and one that makes me want to work that much harder for all you readers out there.

And finally folks, do I have a deal for you!  I would love to see some of your literature-based lesson plans.  As a bit of an incentive, I have cool gifts, prizes and weekly raffles.  What’s in it for me? Well, I get your feedback on a new Beta.  Yes, it’s that simple. Just send me an email and I’ll send you an invite.  Until then, keep reading and I’ll see you back here next week for Nonfiction Monday.

Picture Book Thursday: Cars and Trucks and Sheep that Go

Tin Tin Lizzie
Written and illustrated by Alan Drummond
Farrar, Strauss, & Giroux
Age Range 4-11 years

Littleblue Little Blue Truck
Written by Alice Schertle
Illustrated by Jill McElmurry
Age Range 3-8 years

Sheep Sheep Blast Off!
Written by Nancy E. Shaw
Illustrated by Margot Apple
Houghton Mifflin Co.
Age Range 3-8 years

Hi folks.  A snappy Picture Book Thursday to you.  I hope the holiday has found you rested and hungry for books.  With the weekend of travel behind us I thought cars and trucks and sheep that go would be an appropriate theme today.  So…here goes.

Tin Lizzie
You may come away from this book with the mantra, “You gotta have wheels!” firmly stuck in your head but you’ll also be thinking about why and how it is affecting our world.  Mr. Drummond does a nice job introducing the history of the automobile and tying it into the present day issues we face.  This book should lead to some great conversations in the classroom.

Little Blue Truck
With colorful retro illustrations and a story that has a dash of The Enormous Turnip and a pinch of The Little Engine That Could, this is one tasty book.  My class thoroughly enjoyed the rhyming text and animal noises as well.

Sheep Blast Off!
Yes, you guessed it; the seventh Sheep in a Jeep book is here. Those crazy sheep are back and behind the controls of a rocket.  This quick, cute and funny tale is told in rhyme, complete with Margot Apple’s wooly illustrations.

Get a refrigerator box from your local appliance store.  Stand it up, cut a porthole and rocket ship door in the side.  Toss in some snow pants and gloves for a spacesuit and you have a dramatic play center that will have kids begging to blast off.

Or try turning the box on its side to create a car or truck.  Cut off the top, cut some flaps for doors, line up some chairs for seats, and the kids will be on their way.

And with that I’m off to count sheep.  I’ll see you tomorrow for the Round-Up.

National Book Award Finalists

Ypl_finalist_jackets_6 THIS JUST IN! The winner was announced on November 19!

The National Book Foundation announced the finalists for the National Book Award. You can see all the finalists on their Web page, but I confess, I'm most interested in the Young People's Literature category:

by Laurie Halse Anderson (Simon & Schuster)
The Underneath by Kathi Appelt (Atheneum)
What I Saw and How I Lied by Judy Blundell (Scholastic)
The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks
by E. Lockhart (Hyperion)
The Spectacular Now by Tim Tharp (Alfred A.Knopf)

The winner will be announced on November 19.

Young People’s Literature Judges: Daniel Handler(chair), Holly Black, Angela Johnson, Carolyn Mackler, Cynthia Voight.

Video Wednesday: Teen Read Week

American Idol contestant Blake Lewis stopped by at Scholastic to do his part to get kids excited about reading. He is so absolutely charming and adorable in person! Check out his PSA for Teen Read Week!

Blake also performed a video booktalk for All Shook Up: The Life and Death of Elvis Presley, which tells the tragic story story of an extremely talented young Elvis who was very badly misused by the music industry. I definitely recommend it for teen music fans.

New Review Tuesday: Happy Teen Read Week!

Are you doing anything to celebrate Teen Read Week?

I'm making progress on the YA novels in my to-be-read pile (Sasha Watson's Vidalia in Paris, Amy Bronwen Zemser's Dear Julia, and Margo Lanagan's Tender Morsels), but Laurie Halse Anderson's modest proposal is decidedly more festive. Can you imagine what our world would look like if people gave teens more books? I try to give books as often as I can, because the stories I read growing up were one of the richest parts of my childhood. (And, okay, because I'm also a bit of a proselytizer when it comes to children's literature.)

In any case, here's a book I would happily gift teen readers:

21wka7majol_sl500_aa180_ The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation, Volume II: The Kingdom of the Waves is out today! Hooray. I imagine those of you who read the first volume, which won the National Book Award, have been waiting for this (massive, 592-page) puppy for a long time. I know I have. And I'm thrilled to report that it was worth the wait. The Kingdom of the Waves is an amazing conclusion to Octavian's struggle for freedom and the birth of our country. The use of 18th-century, formal English may seem off-putting for the classroom, but teachers have reported incorporating the first installment with great success. One high school teacher told me that even her struggling readers couldn't put it down—they had to find out what happened to Octavian next. Still, this is a challenging book with challenging themes, and I'd recommend reading it yourself before sharing it with students, so you know whether or not it's appropriate for your classroom.

What are you recommending these days to teen readers?

Nonfiction Monday: Survival!

Learn how kids survive real and imaginary "worst-case scenarios" with this fiction/nonfiction book pair for grades 3-5.

Nonfictionmonday Facts First

WorstcaseThe Worst Case Scenario Survival Handbook: Junior Edition
by David Borgenicht and Robin Epstein (Authors)
and Chuck Gonzalez (Illustrator)

Reading level: Gr 3-5+
Hardcover: 128 pages
Publisher: Chronicle Books

Survival skills for home, school, social life and the outdoors are explained step by step in this guide for kids.

Pair With

Salt_water_taffySalt Water Taffy: The Legend of Old Salty
by Matthew Loux

Reading level: Gr 3-5+
Paperback: 96 pages
Publisher: Oni Press

Eleven-year-old Jack and his eight-year-old brother Benny drive across country for a "boring" summer vacation and find adventure instead.


Continue reading "Nonfiction Monday: Survival!" »

Friday Kid Lit Round-Up

Hey folks.  What’s that you say?  Picture Book Thursday was not enough to satisfy your bibliographic cravings?  Well check out the Kid Lit Round-Up to sate your appetite.

So Hannah and I have started a trend.  I’m not sure if we’ve influenced publishers to put out dragon books or if we’ve encouraged folks to blog about them.  Before the power goes to my head, check out Madeline’s dragon reviews on BookKids.

A belated birthday wish to Waldo, who turned 21 on September 21st.  It seems like just yesterday I was eagerly awaiting his new sticker book.  Those were simpler times; now you can “friend” Waldo on any number of social networks. Click on the link for more games and activities featuring our intrepid traveler.

I was pleased to be tipped about ArtSmarts4Kids, a site that seems a perfect match for all of the artist themed picture books out now.  The Andy Warhol lesson is one I’ve used in class, along with James Warhola’s Uncle Andy's: A Faabbbulous Visit With Andy Warhol  and Susan Goldman Rubin’s Andy Warhol’s Colors.

Over at Jennifer's 1st Grade Classroom we have a new Baby Name Page Project based on When I Was Little: A Four-Year-Old's Memoir of Her Youth by Jamie Lee Curtis.  It’s a great project to help develop that home-school connection.

Roald Dahl a spy?  I bet you’re as surprised as I am but, hey, if it’s good enough for Julia Child.  Check out ChickenSpaghetti for the scoop on The Irregulars: Roald Dahl and the British Spy Ring in Wartime Washington.

OK folks, with that I’m on my way.   Have a super weekend filled with pumpkin picking and all that fun fall stuff and we’ll see you back here on Monday.

Picture Book Thursday: Columbus and Co.

Animals Animals Christopher Columbus Saw
Written by Sandra Markle
Illustrated by Jamel Akib
Chronicle Books
Age Range 7-10 years

Bear A Visitor for Bear

Written by Bonny Becker
Illustrated by Kady MacDonald Denton
Candlewick Press
Age Range 2-7 years

Foot I Feel a Foot!

Written by Maranke Rinck
Illustrated by Martijn van der Linden
Age Range 2-7 years

Welcome to Picture Book Thursday folks.  You're probably wondering how I've connected a turtle and a bear with Christopher Columbus. It was a feat of engineering considering the fact that my students were convinced Columbus was either a pirate or a dentist. The common themes I came up with are exploration and meeting new people.  OK, so it's a stretch but it works people.  Stay with me here.

Animals Christopher Columbus Saw
This is a nice twist on your classic Columbus book.  Sandra Markle has mined Columbus' ship logs for accounts of the animals he encountered on his travels.  This focus on animals is sure to help children more easily connect to this explorer and it's especially relevant as we see the current loss of biodiversity.

A Visitor for Bear
The story and illustrations are simply a treat.  An increasingly grouchy bear is at the end of his rope as he tries to rid himself of a pesky but very cute mouse.  Children love to see mouse continue to pop up, much to bear's frustration.  By the end, children will be rooting for bear and mouse to remain good buddies. 

I Feel a Foot!
I love the colors in this book.  The animals in this retelling of The Blind Men and the Elephant are created in rich patterns and textures reminiscent of Klimt.  The black background helps to really set off the shapes and colors.  And who can resist the subtle humor of an elephant in a hammock?

Have a swatch of silk and some whole spices on-hand when reading Animals Christopher Columbus Saw.  Give students time to feel the silk and grind the spices as they read about them in the book.  For more activities, download the Teacher's Guide.

OK folks.  Go check these books out for yourself and I'll see you tomorrow for the Round-Up.  See you then.

Video Wednesday: The True Meaning of Smekday

Teachers and librarians know it is not always easy to find books that are high in both literary quality and kid appeal. Even recent Newbery Award winners are being called into question on that score. The CYBILS Book Awards attempt to address that very problem, and you can be a part of the nominating process.

The True Meaning of Smekday a 2007 CYBILS winner by Adam Rex is a perfect example of a book with literary merit and must-read kid appeal. Check out this video book trailer to get a sense of the "kid appeal" part.

With nine categories, there is a CYBILS Award for everyone, and kids need to be able to find these amazing books. I hope you'll think about some of your favorites from 2008 and nominate them.

For more information, take a look at these nominating tips from Librarian Mom.

Continue reading "Video Wednesday: The True Meaning of Smekday" »

New Review Tuesday: Books About Authors

This is a circular New Review Tuesday, as today we look at some recent books about authors.

Great resources for report writing, no library should be without a collection of stellar author biographies and autobiographies. Some of my all-time favorites include Roald Dahl's Boy, and Charles D. Cohen's The Seuss, The Whole Seuss, and Nothing But the Seuss.

But some new author bios have caught my eye, too.

27420949 Sid Fleischman's The Trouble Begins at 8: A Life of Mark Twain in the Wild, Wild West is a romp through the legendary author's life, beginning with his birth in Missouri and detailing his journey towards fame. Fleischman is the perfect author to tackle Twain's life, as the former's sense of humor absolutely rivals the latter's. The Trouble Begins at 8 is a natural choice for middle school shelves.

51wq0jn8ihl_ss500_ And I'm embarrassed to say I'd never heard of Wanda Gág until I started graduate school in Minnesota. But I've since received a quick education. Gág, a Minnesota native, is the author of a picture book that's truly stood the test of time: Millions of Cats. She had a somewhat turbulent childhood, and Deborah Kogan Ray captures Gág's triumph over considerable obstacles in Wanda Gág: The Girl Who Loved to Draw. It's a moving story that will introduce Gág to a new generation of readers.

What are your favorite author biographies or autobiographies? Share in the comments!

Nonfiction Monday: Vote!

Easy does it with this K-2 fiction/nonfiction book pair of easy readers about voting.

Nonfictionmonday Facts First

Voting_2 Voting and Elections
by Patricia J. Murphy Marx

Reading level: K-2
Hardcover: 24 pages
Publisher: Compass Point Books

Use this easy reader to explain the basics of voting.

Pair With

Ameliabedelia4mayorAmelia Bedelia 4 Mayor
by Herman Parish (Author)
and Lynn Sweat (Illustrator)

Reading level: K-2
Hardcover: 48 pages
Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Amelia Bedelia takes everything literally as she "runs" for mayor and shakes things up (as she always does!)


Continue reading "Nonfiction Monday: Vote!" »

Friday Kid Lit Round-Up

Flyboycoversmall It’s Friday!  You can sleep in late tomorrow but before you do, get the skinny on the kid lit blogosphere here at the Round-Up.

Author/illustrator Bruce Hale wrote in with this comment,
“If you'd like some help hooking reluctant readers in your school or library, may I humbly recommend my newest book in the UNDERWHERE series, Flyboy of Underwhere? Like the first two books in the series, it's a hybrid of novel and comic book, with plenty of humor, action and fun illustrations.  Just the ticket for boys who aren't that 'into' books!  (How do I know?  I  was one.)”
And for some fun book extensions, try these PDFs: How to Draw Chet Gecko and How to Write a Story.

Our very own Scholastic blogger extraordinaire Jill White is offering tips in her Strategies for Gifted Learners blog.  Frog and Toad All Year and Happy Apple and the Mysterious Monster from Outer Space are two book-based lessons worth checking out. Hey, I’m all over any lesson that includes ice cream.  Do you have one with cookies Jill?

Jenny at Random House is reminding folks that this week is Banned Books Week.  She writes, “We're hoping everyone will make this year's Banned Books Week a time to celebrate the freedom to read - and to remember and remind others never to take that freedom for granted." Visit their First Amendment First -Aid Kit for more detailed instructions, valuable information, and interesting thoughts on censorship from some of their authors.

Over at American Library Association is this scary info:
The ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom received a total of 420 challenges last year. A challenge is defined as a formal, written complaint, filed with a library or school requesting that materials be removed because of content or appropriateness. The 10 most challenged titles were:

Continue reading "Friday Kid Lit Round-Up" »

Picture Book Thursday: Butterflies and Birds

South South
Written and illustrated by Patrick McDonnell
Little, Brown and Co.
Age Range 4-9 years

Houdini_2 Houdini the Amazing Caterpillar
Written and illustrated by Janet Pedersen
Clarion Books
Age Range 4-9 years

Red Red Butterfly: How a Princess Smuggled the Secret of Silk Out of China
Written by Deborah Noyes, Illustrated by Sophie Blackall
Candlewick Press
Age Range 6-10 years

Hey folks.  It’s Picture Book Thursday and the leaves are flying.  Along with them are the birds and butterflies, as they make their way south for the winter.  That makes this the perfect time of year for…

So I have to admit, I am not a fan of wordless picture books.  Sure many of them have gorgeous illustrations but I’m a meat and potatoes kind of guy; I need the words.  That said, Patrick McDonnell has totally won me over with South.  Illustrated in a warm sketchy style, the characters evoke so much emotion as a lost bird is helped out by a cat.  I was totally caught up in their journey and friendship.  I can picture using this story to kick off a unit on migration.

Houdini the Amazing Caterpillar
This title tells the tale of a caterpillar in a classroom. Readers are treated to Houdini and his “performances” as he molts, does a high-wire-stick routine and vanishing leaf act.   His humor would make him a great sidekick for the The Very Hungry Caterpillar.  My students had a blast predicting what his final magic trick would be and got a kick out of spotting the life cycle posters pictured in the illustrations.  Houdini will be a super addition to your collection of butterfly books. 

Red Butterfly: How a Princess Smuggled the Secret of Silk Out of China
While this isn’t a book about migration, it does recount the legend of how the silkworm traveled through Ancient China to Khotan, “an oasis north of the Plain of Tibet.”  As a Chinese princess comes to terms with leaving her family to start a new life with the king of Khotan, the reader is regaled with illustrations filled with peaches, pinks and patterns.  This is a nice title to include in poetry units, as it’s written in the style of T’ang Dynasty poetry.  Check out the Author’s Note in the back for some fascinating facts about the beginnings of silk production.

I hope you enjoy these books.  What am I talking about?  You’re going to love them.  See you tomorrow for the Round-Up

Using Patrick McDonnell’s South, cut speech bubbles out of Post-It notes and have students write text for the bird and cat.

Video Wednesday: Rick Riordan Author Study

I know we have been talking about Rick Riordan a lot, and the reason is he's REALLY COOL! His Percy Jackson and the Olympians series is a fun way to teach mythology, and his new series The 39 Clues incorporates history and geography into a fast-paced worldwide scavenger hunt adventure. He is that rare author whose books teachers can use in the classroom, and the kids (both boys and girls) will say, "This is the best book I've ever read!"

To help you teach his books, Scholastic.com has put together this Author Study unit. You'll find video, discussion guides, and a Message Board for students to talk about the books and ask questions for the author. Riordan himself will be joining the Message Board later this month to answer some of the posted questions.

In this video clip from my July 2008 interview with Rick, he talks about writing mistakes he's made that students can learn from. Share the video with students and then have them join the conversation with Rick Riordan on the Message Board!

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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.