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Video Wednesday: Jan Brett

Wild In honor of Jan Brett's birthday on December 1, Scholastic has compiled this Author Study with lesson plans for many of her beloved picture books.
Jan Brett's Home Page has 4,691 pages of free activities, coloring pages, projects, games, printable cards, and video. It is really pretty amazing.

Take a look at this video interview with Brett talking about The Wild Christmas Reindeer.

And in this video, Brett introduces viewers to her adorable baby pet hedghog and demonstrates how to draw a hedgehog. So cute!

There are lots more videos on her home page. It would probably take days to go through all the great stuff she has there, but that sounds like a great project for a holiday weekend! Enjoy!

New Review Tuesday: The Holiday Jitters

By now, everyone's feeling ramped up for the Thanksgiving vacation. With thoughts of turkey, mashed potatoes, and hugs from Great Aunt Shirley on the brain, it can be tough for kids to concentrate on just about anything else. These new books are perfect for just such an occasion. Kids can pick them up instead of pulling each other's hair while you wait for the last bell to ring.

9780545053334_sm Zany Miscellany is just what it sounds like...a fun compilation of totally wierd facts and figures that are sure to captivate even the most antsy readers. You might challenge kids to find the strangest tidbit or a fact that somehow relates to them--one that pertains to their favorite animal or food, for instance. Or make a fun fact bulletin board, using information from the book, to keep wandering minds focused during quiet time.

9780811865630_normSpot 7 Toys is the latest in the Spot 7 series, similar to the I Spy books, but each two-page spread offers a challenge to find seven specific items. If you have five or ten minutes, partners can compete to find the objects in an individual spread, or work together to go through the entire book.

Do you use encyclopedias, trivia books, or other compilations to hook kids? If so, what are your favorites?

Thanksgiving Books

Thanksgiving Thanksgiving: The True Story
Written by Penny Colman
Henry Holt
Age Range 10-16 years

Hey folks.  Picture Book Thursday is coming early this week.  (I’m hoping that will distract you from realizing that today’s pick is not a picture book.) When you’re done partaking, head on over to your local library or bookstore and pick up a copy of Penny Colman’s Thanksgiving: The True Story.  She has packed this nonfiction book with everything from a chart and map tracking the competing claims of the first Thanksgiving to all 12 verses of the Thanksgiving song "Over the River and Through the Woods".  This book is a super resource for teachers as well as an interesting read for young history aficionados. Colman also has a wonderful blog where she offers some ideas for using her book to teach Thanksgiving.

And so you don't feel completely cheated of picture books this week, here are a few lists of Thanksgiving picture books:
Penny Colman's favorite Thanksgiving books for kids
ReadingRockets.org recommended Thanksgiving picture books

Continue reading "Thanksgiving Books" »

Nonfiction Monday: Real Life Situations

Just in time for the holidays, a fiction/nonfiction book pair about real life situations for grades 6-8.

Nonfictionmonday Facts First

Be_confidentBe Confident in Who You Are
by Annie Fox, M.Ed. (Author)
and Matt Kindt (Illustrator)

Reading level: Gr 6-8
Paperback: 96 pages
Publisher: Free Spirit Publishing

Fictional middle school situations illustrated in graphic novel style are followed by practical advice from an advisor and real teens.

Pair With

HoldmetightHold Me Tight
by Lorie Ann Grover

Reading level: Gr 6-8
Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry

Essie's father leaves the family on Thanksgiving and her pregnant mother is devastated in this novel told in short poems.


Continue reading "Nonfiction Monday: Real Life Situations" »

Friday Kid Lit Round-Up


Hey folks.  Our blogger-at-large, Jennifer Atkinson has some super lesson plan ideas for Thanksgiving in the primary classroom, including activities for how to use her favorite Turkey Day book, A Turkey for Thanksgiving by Eve Bunting.  It’s worth a perusal.

I should probably be waiting for Presidents' Day to tell you about this but I’m still pumped up from all the election coverage.  Head over to the National Portrait Gallery to check out this interactive “Portrait for Kids” and have fun learning about George Washington.

I know a number of you have set your watches to countdown to the movie release this weekend of Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight.  In case you weren’t there to catch the premiere, you can sink your teeth into the trailer for now. Sonja compiled a list of video trailers for holiday movies based on beloved books.

According to FirstBook, “In low-income neighborhoods, there is just one book for every 300 children.” Check out how they’re proposing to remedy this situation and how you can be part of the solution.

If you’re looking for good multicultural books to help students make connections with other children from around the world, you’re going to want to head over to Shen’s Books to check out Come and Play: Children of Our World Having Fun edited by Ayana Lowe.  It is a compilation of photographs of children at play from around the world. Each photograph is accompanied by a poem collaboratively written by children in Lowe's cultural art classes in New York City.”

Alrighty.  You’re probably chomping at the bit to get a head-start on the stuffing.  With the Holiday rush about to begin, remember to take the time to enjoy a good book.  See you on Monday.

National Book Award Winner

Whatisaw Judy Blundell won the 2008 National Book Award for her Young Adult novel What I Saw and How I Lied!

In a starred review, Publishers Weekly called it "...a taut, noirish mystery/coming-of-age story set in 1947; it's easy to picture it as a film starring Lana Turner, who is mentioned in these pages.Readers can taste Evie's alienation and her yearning; it's a stylish, addictive brew."

For more insight into the novel, read this interview with Blundell via the National Book Foundation.

Judy Blundell is well known to Star Wars fans by her pseudonym, Jude Watson, but she has written many books for children and adults. Her next project will be Book 4 in The 39 Clues series.

Blundell will be appearing in New York on December 3 at the New York Public Library as part of a special author event.

Blundell_judy_r Teen Author Reading 6-7:30 p.m.
Jefferson Market Branch of NYPL
425 6th Ave, at 10th St.
Featuring: Judy Blundell, What I Saw and How I Lied
Coe Booth, Kendra
Daniel Ehrenhaft, Dirty Laundry
Caroline Hickey, Isabelle’s Boyfriend
Margo Rabb, Cures for Heartbreak
David Van Etten, All That Glitters

Picture Book Thursday: Harvest Time

Written and illustrated by Gail Gibbons
Holiday House
Age Range 6-10 years

GoldenGolden Delicious: A Cinderella Apple Story
Written by Anna Egan Smucker
Illustrated by Kathleen Kemly
Albert Whitman & Company
Age Range 4-9 years

Bestgirft_2 The Best Gift of All
Written by Jonathan Emmett
Illustrated by Vanessa Cabban
Candlewick Press
Age Range 4-9 years

Hi folks.  It’s official.  The cold weather is here and the scraping of frost off of windshields could be heard throughout New England.  I’m using today’s picks to help me hang onto images of sunny fall days.

Continue reading "Picture Book Thursday: Harvest Time" »

Video Wednesday: The 39 Clues

Get ready for Book 2 of The 39 Clues coming out December 2! Gordon Korman has written the second book in the series, One False Note. It's so top secret, I was not able to beg, borrow or steal an advance copy. Not that I actually contemplated stealing it. . . But I was able to download a PDF of the first chapter so I know that this book has the Cahill kids traveling to Vienna to chase clues about another famous historical figure - who also happens to be related to them - Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Korman himself will be talking about his new book in the live webcast happening on December 1.


Scholastic has gathered some teaching resources for the 39 Clues series including booktalks, video author interviews, and text excerpts.

New Review Tuesday: Pie!

One of my favorite of the comedian Jack Handey's "Deep Thoughts" goes something like this: "If you ever get to make the choice between regular heaven and pie heaven, choose pie heaven. It may be a trick, but if not, mmm boy."

That could pretty much be my life motto, and of course I'm getting geared up for next week's pie-centric celebration, as I'm sure you are, too.

Here are two pie-happy picture books to serve up to your kids before you take that much-needed Thanksgiving break.

51gg3dkul_ss500_1 How to Make a Cherry Pie and See the U.S.A. is Marjorie Priceman's follow-up to How to Make an Apple Pie and See the World, and although she keeps to a very similar concept, it's an effective one. Readers will learn about the origin of each and every ingredient in a cherry pie, in addition to finding raw materials across the country for a mixing bowl, rolling pin, and measuring cup. Invite kids to find all the places Priceman mentions on a large map, and then try sourcing the ingredients for another favorite recipe. If you have access to a kitchen, you can even try your hand at the recipe for cherry pie in the back of the book. Best for grades K–2.

26392270 Laurel Snyder's Inside the Slidy Diner, with illustrations by Jaime Zollars, may be the answer after Thanksgiving has passed and you're ready to toss the leftovers or risk bursting a seam or two. This gross-out picture book portrays the greasiest of greasy spoons, and the pie here is adorned with what looks suspiciously like eyeballs. Eww!! This one could inspire a fun writing assigment for kids in grades K–2—"The Grossest Meal Ever" or some stomach-turning poetry, anyone? Yeah, better wait until after Thanksgiving!

What flavor of pie are you looking forward to next week? I'm a traditional pumpkin girl, myself.   

Nonfiction Monday: Thanksgiving

Here's a Thanksgiving fiction/nonfiction book pair for grades K-2.

Facts First

Pilgrimsfirstthanksgiving NonfictionmondayThe Pilgrims' First Thanksgiving
by Ann McGovern (Author)
and Elroy Freem (Illustrator)

Reading level: Gr K-2
Hardcover: 32 pages
Publisher: Scholastic

Find out how the children of Plymouth Colony helped prepare for the first Thanksgiving.

Pair With

Thanksgivingatthewhitehouse Thanksgiving in the White House
by Gary Hines
and Alexandra Wallner (Illustrator)

Reading level: Gr K-2
Paperback: 32 pages
Publisher: Holt

President Abraham Lincoln's youngest son, Tad, is very fond of his pet, Jack the turkey. Can he convince his father to save Jack's life or will Jack be eaten for Thanksgiving dinner?


Find Thanksgiving crafts galore at Making Friends.

Sign up for two email letters, one from a Pilgrim girl and one from a Native American boy, to be sent to your class on November 20th.

Print DLTK's color posters of Thanksgiving poems and songs for your class.

Use Enchanted Learning's Thanksgiving Early Readers in your classroom.

Try Family Fun's Thanksgiving crafts (and sign up for a free bi-weekly Arts and Crafts newsletter.)

If you're blogging about nonfiction books on this Nonfiction Monday, go to Picture Book of the Day  and add your blog to this week's Round-up. (Classroom blogs welcome!)

Friday Kid Lit Round-Up

Hungrycaterpillarquilt222x300 Hey folks.  If you’re looking to pep up your correspondence with Eric Carle designs or add some jazz to your photos with an Eric Carle motif, then Kodak can help you out.  According to Kodak.com you can “create your own cards with Eric Carle designs” or “tell your stories with exclusive Eric Carle hardbound photo books.” Prices start at $1.49 per card.

If you’re looking for another way to bring a little Eric Carle into your home, you should consider buying a raffle ticket from the Advisory Board of First Book-Deschutes County.  For $5 you can have the chance to win a beautiful The Very Hungry Caterpillar quilt along with the book and DVD.

Oh that Hungry Caterpillar would enjoy a tasty treat in Jill White’s classroom.  Her students are learning about things from the inside out and are using Tomie dePaola’s The Popcorn Book to do it.  According to Jill, “Yes, we even tasted the kernels.”  Wow, hardcore!

Now that I’ve gotten you hungry thinking about hot buttery popcorn I’m going to up the ante by showing you cakes filled with white and milk chocolates. On Chicken Spaghetti this week, you can find links to some ideas for creating your own Dr. Seuss inspired creatures, including a video of the Food Network Dr. Seuss Cake Challenge. The artistry behind these Dr. Seuss sweets is nothing short of spectacular.  (Quick warning, if you’re planning on using this video in the classroom, you may want to pre-screen it for language.)

And last but not least, when I was in England a few summers ago I picked up a copy of Neil Gaiman’s adult book Neverwhere but could simply not get into it.  I finally did a few weeks ago and loved it.  Now I keep seeing Neil’s name everywhere, including as part of this video read-aloud of his new children's title, The Graveyard Book.  To learn more about this award winning writer, listen to the interview on ScottishBookTrust.com.

And with that folks, I am off to hunt down some cake or popcorn, whichever comes first.  You all have a wonderful weekend and keep on reading.

Picture Book Thursday: Thanksgiving Books

One Is a Feast for Mouse: A Thanksgiving Tale
Written by Judy Cox
Illustrated by Jeffrey Ebbeler
Holiday House
Age Range 4-9 years

This_isthefeast This Is the Feast
Written by Diane Z. Shore
Illustrated by Megan Lloyd
Harper Collins Publishers
Age Range 4-9 years

Gus Gus, the Pilgrim Turkey
Written by Teresa Bateman
Illustrated by Ellen Joy Sasaki
Albert Whitman & Company
Age Range 4-9 years

Hi folks.  So I hop in the car to head home the other night and after a few minutes of singing along to the radio, I realize it’s a Christmas carol that I’m singing.  Now I’m all about being in a Christmas mood after Thanksgiving but not right after Halloween!   I want to enjoy the season, savor the food and goodwill, not rush through it all.  So rather than skip by Thanksgiving in this mad race we seem to be in, I’m highlighting some Thanksgiving books for you to enjoy.  That’s right, I’m not trying to speed through the season by reviewing Christmas or Valentine’s or the Fourth.  It’s just good old turkey and dumpling time folks, so pull in your chair, tuck in that napkin, and loosen your belt.  It’s all about Turkey Day.

Continue reading "Picture Book Thursday: Thanksgiving Books" »

Video Wednesday: The Spiderwick Chronicles

That beautiful and super-cool woman reading in the video is author Holly Black. She was kind enough to read aloud for us the first chapter of Book 1 in The Spiderwick Chronicles: The Field Guide.

Lest there is still any doubt how cool Holly Black is, you should also know that she has a secret library in her house! Just imagine the coolness of having a secret library in your house! I probably wouldn't come out for days on end. Holly talks about that as well as other aspects of her life as a writer in our video interview filmed last June.

Also visit The Steampunk Home to see pictures of her library, and try not to drool on the keyboard!

Finally the Spiderwick movie is one of several book-based movies out on DVD. Would make a great holiday feature!

New Review Tuesday: To Infinity and Beyond

I'm so excited to share two wonderful space-themed books that have recently crossed my desk: Frank Cottrell Boyce's newest middle grade novel, Cosmic, along with the picture book The Moon Over Star, written by Dianna Hutts Aston and illustrated by Jerry Pinkney. Finding these gems seems serendipitous considering there will be a lovely full moon tomorrow night!

51fxmvubf0l_ss500_ Boyce is the author of the charming Millions and Framed, but I think Cosmic might be my favorite of his middle grade novels yet. Cosmic stars the extraordinarily tall Liam, the only eleven-year-old in town who can ride the Cosmic roller coaster by himself. Liam towers over his peers by such leaps and bounds that he's often mistaken for an adult—and it's this possibility that sets the motion in action, as Liam assumes the identity of his father and sets off for China with his friend Florida, in order to compete against other father-child teams for a trip to the moon. Boyce expertly explores the resulting humor and challenges, and middle grade readers will get a kick out of imagining what it would be like to play Mom or Dad. If you're doing a space unit, Cosmic would also be a fun way to hook the kids who aren't as captivated by constellation names or planet facts.

28741569 Aston spins a more realistic tale in the picture book The Moon Over Star, which tells the story of the Apollo 11 mission from the perspective of an eight-year-old African-American girl, Mae. Mae prays for the astronauts at church, plays rocket ship with her cousins, and as Neil Armstrong touches down, dreams of going to the moon herself someday. Pinkney's gorgeous watercolors made me want to go to the moon, too—kids won't help but get sucked into the rich and vivid illustrations. It's another good fiction pairing for a unit on space, especially for kids in grades 1–3.

Do you have a favorite space book? Let us know about it in the comments.

Nonfiction Monday: Teeth

Learn more about teeth - both real and imaginary - in this fiction/nonfiction book pair for grades 3-5.Nonfictionmonday

Facts First

by Sneed B. Collard (Author)
and Phyllis V. Saroff (Illustrator)

Reading level: Gr 3-5
Hardcover: 32 pages
Publisher: Charlesbridge Publishing

Explore the many sizes, shapes and types of teeth. (Did you now that trout have teeth on their tongues?)

Pair With

CapiaincrowsteethEoin Colfer's Legend of Captain Crow's Teeth
by Eoin Colfer

Reading level: Gr 3-5
Paperback: 112 pages
Publisher: Miramax

Nine-year-old Will knows he doesn't believe in ghosts - until late one night he hears someone calling his name...


Continue reading "Nonfiction Monday: Teeth" »

Friday Kid Lit Round-Up

Waywework David Macaulay.  What an illustrator!  He’s taken on mosques, cathedrals and castles and now he’s taking on the human body in his new book The Way We Work.  Check out Roger Sutton’s interview with him over on Notes from the Hornbook.

President Elect Obama’s favorite picture book is Where the Wild Things Are but do you have a suggestion for a book he should read before taking office?  Why not check into Shelf Talker and post your suggested title?

Does “tubby little cubby all stuffed with fluff,” mean anything to you?  Well it meant about $65,000 to some German Winnie-the-Pooh collectors.  Visit the BBC to find out what that item was.

With the Twilight movie being released on November 21, fans are getting pretty excited. Ever wonder what would happen if you put the actors Robert Pattinson and Catherine Hardwicke in a Soho Apple Store?  Our very own Stacks staffer Nancy found out firsthand and she has the photo to prove it.

A bit closer to home, Just One More Book reports that the Richard Michelson gallery in Northampton, Massachusetts will be hosting its 19th annual Children’s Illustration Show.  Listen to the podcast to hear Richard talk about this popular show. 

And with that folks, I think I might just zip down to the Michelson Gallery to check out the show.  Have a great weekend and we’ll see you back here next week.

Picture Book Thursday: Squirrels

Squirrels Those Darn Squirrels!
Written by Adam Rubin
Illustrated by Daniel Salmieri
Clarion Books
Age Range 4-9 years

Rabbit Rabbit & Squirrel: A Tale of War and Peas
Written by Kara LaReau
Illustrated by Scott Magoon
Age Range 4-9 years

Lookingforloons Looking for Loons
Written by Jennifer Lloyd
Illustrated by Kirsti Anne Wakelin
Simply Read Books
Age Range 4-8 years

Hi folks.  With all the election hub-bub I know people are feeling a bit squirrely, which is the perfect segue way for today’s Picture Book Thursday.  No, I’m not talking about Lois Ehlert’s Nuts to You, but about a whole new crop of books that have me in an autumn mood.

Here’s a quick story for you.  My Nana used to have a bird feeder that hung beside her recliner.  She was convinced a rap on the head with a wooden ruler would deter the squirrels from stealing the seed.  With a good book in hand and ruler at the ready, she’d watch for little gray thieves prowling around her window.  While she probably could have made a go of her Little Bunny Foo Foo inspired plan, a bear took her entire bird feeder off into the woods, saving her the distress of trying to combat the squirrels.  And now for more squirrel drama…. 

Continue reading "Picture Book Thursday: Squirrels" »

Video Wednesday: Cirque du Freak

When I found out that Jake T. Austin, the 13-year-old star of Disney Channel's Wizards of Waverly Place, would be visiting Scholastic, my first question was "What is his favorite book?" Turns out it's the Cirque du Freak series by Darren Shan, those creepy gross horror books full of the disgusting details that boys love to read about. Motivate the boys to read with Jake's video booktalk for Book 1 in the series, A Living Nightmare.

For more video booktalks, visit Scholastic Videos.

And to hear more kids' reviews of books or to submit your own, visit Kids' Picks at 5 Minutes for Books.

New Review Tuesday: Election Special!

Jeremy beat me to the punch this morning by posting about one of my favorite election books of the season, Our White House. I've already posted reviews of the picture book candidate biographies, but I wanted to share another fun book that will take you from this very important day through the inauguration and beyond.

9780545033695_lg No matter who wins today, a new family will be setting up camp in the White House, taking their place in a long line of quirky parents, kids, and pets. First Kids: The True Stories of All the Presidents' Children is packed full of interesting facts about these presidential families, including:

  • The Roosevelt family loved to eat scrambled eggs together.
  • The Carter family used a secret acronym with one another, ILYTG, which means "I Love You the Goodest!"
  • Chelsea Clinton was named for the Judy Collins song "Chelsea Morning"

Interestingly the author of First Kids is a kid himself, 13-year-old Noah McCullough, who's appeared on many national tv shows and has already thrown his hat in the ring for 2032. 

This is a great book to have on hand for quick research for upper-elementary kids. It would be fun to share a few facts from it every morning until inauguration day. You could also use it as a model for different kinds of non-fiction writing, including bulleted lists and time lines.

Are you planning any kind of countdown until the next president is installed in office? And more importantly, did you vote? :)

VOTE! White House History Lesson Plan

Whitehouse Our White House: Looking In, Looking Out
Inspired by the National Children's Book and Literacy Alliance
Introduction by David McCullough
Candlewick Press

Today is the big day folks.  Since you’re in such a voting mood I thought you deserved an extra post.  If you’re not in a voting mood yet, a copy of Our White House: Looking In, Looking Out will do the trick.

Candlewick describes the book as, “Conceived and co-created by the National Children's Book and Literary Alliance, this incomparable collection of essays, personal accounts, historical fiction, and poetry melds with an equally stunning array of original art to offer a multifaceted look at America's history through the prism of the White House.”

I would describe the book as an incredible resource.  With an intro by David McCulough, and beginning with a copy of the call for architectural plans for the White House, readers will know they’re in for a treat.  With over 108 authors and illustrators contributing, this book has something for everyone.  White House Colonial Kitchen Gardens, Mary Todd Lincoln Speaks of Her Son’s Death, 1862 and Backstairs at the White House are just a few of the offerings.  I know I'm going to find many uses for this book in the classroom.

Activity:  After showing students the various illustrations of the White House, have them draw their own version.  Find a prominent place to display them, like the hall by the office, or even in your local bookstore or library.

Nonfiction Monday: The Unexpected (Science Fairs and Magic)

Things aren't always what they appear to be in this fiction/nonfiction book pair for grades 3-5.

Nonfictionmonday_4 Facts First

64daringexperimentsThe Book of Totally Irresponsible Science: 64 Daring Experiments for Young Scientists
by Sean Connolly (Author)

Reading level: Gr 3-5
Hardcover: 208 pages
Publisher: Workman Publishing

Learn how to make a Frankstein Hand (page 46), turn milk into stone (page 52), make Do-It-Yourself Blubber (page 160) and more in this book of "daring" science experiments.

(See a video of some of the experiments in this book.)

Pair With

MerlinghostHumpty Dumpty Junior: Hardboiled Detective: The Mystery of Merlin and the Gruesome Ghost
by Nate Evan, Paul Hindman and Vince Evans

Reading level: Gr 3-5
Paperback: 128 pages
Publisher: Sourcebooks

When Lily discovers a ghost at her school, Merlin's Institute for the Knowledge of Everything, she asks Humpty and his sidekick Rat for help. Who will take the sword out of the stone in New Yolk City and save the day?


Continue reading "Nonfiction Monday: The Unexpected (Science Fairs and Magic)" »

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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.