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Friday Blog Round Up

Ten A while back I reviewed Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes on Picture Book Thursday.  Recently on Read Roger, Roger Sutton blogged about his take on the book, and judging by the number of comments he's received, it seems to have struck a chord with readers.

Do you have a list of picture book titles you like to share with students but are still looking for good books to share with your own little ones?  Amy Borrell offers some of her favorites, directly off her 2-year-old daughter's bookshelf.

I've always enjoyed Captain Underpants author Dav Pilkey's quirky sense of humor, and he certainly ups the ante with the videos featured on his website.  Super Silly Streak, Super Diaper Baby Country Shuffle, and Calling Captain Underpants are just a few of the um . . .unique offerings.

It's not too late to hop on the Valentine's Day bandwagon and support a good cause at the same time.  Mo Willems, along with pals Brian Selznick, Kevin Henkes, LeUyen Pham, Marla Frazee, Ian Falconer and Rosemary Wells have created sets of nifty Valentines cards to benefit Save the Children

Don Tate brings us this worrisome news: "As an unintended consequence of too hastily passed legislation, (The Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act or CPSIA), intended to protect children from lead covered toys, children's books have been thrown into the regulatory hopper."  Visit his website to read more on the subject and to see what readers have to say.

And with that my friends, you're free to go to your local bookstore to pick up a few of the newly awarded titles and hunker down for an enjoyable weekend.  I'll see you back here next week.

Picture Book Thursday: Presidents ~ Part One

Abrahamcomes home Abraham Lincoln Comes Home
Written by Robert Burleigh
Illustrated by Wendell Minor
Ages 6-12 years

Written by Deborah Hopkinson
Illustrated by John Hendrix
Ages 4-8 years

Farmer george Farmer George Plants a Nation
Written by Peggy Thomas
Illustrated by Layne Johnson
Ages 8-12 years

With Presidents' Day on its way, I thought I'd give you a chance to check out these books for your classroom.  They cover the range from somber to playful, and they're all worth sharing with students.

Continue reading "Picture Book Thursday: Presidents ~ Part One" »

Video Wednesday: Neil Gaiman

2009 is turning out to be quite a year for Neil Gaiman! On Monday he won the Newbery Medal for The Graveyard Book (which Jack reviews on InkSplot 26.) And next week the movie version of his book, Coraline, comes out on February 6.

So much excitement! Where to start? I definitely recommend taking a look at Neil Gaiman's Website for Young Readers. He's got video of himself reading aloud each chapter of The Graveyard Book, a Graveyard Sudoku game, a Graveyard Book trailer, audiobook excerpts, printable posters and downloadable wallpapers, and several amazing videos from the Coraline movie!

I was honestly surprised by the video previews of Coraline I've seen. It seems to have that freaky Nightmare Before Christmas look, mildly creepy but in a childlike magical kind of way, which is not how I read the book at all. I read the book much more in a full-on frightening terror-filled sort of way. Do other people think the movie looks less scary than the book, or should I just stop reading alone on dark stormy nights?

New Review Tuesday: Snowed In

As much of the country braces for a few more inches for the white stuff, why not cozy up with a new picture book or two about snow? Jeremy mentioned some of his favorites a couple of weeks ago; here are a couple more that I love.

61gLHv9RyEL._SL500_AA240_ The Snow Day, by Kamiko Sakai, is the beautiful story of a bunny and his mama all snowed in on a blustery day; dad has been stranded at the airport on his way home. I love the quiet moodiness of the illustrations, and think they'd be terrific inspiration for writing snow poems in the younger grades (K–3).

34395604 A Penguin Story is by Antoinette Portis, author of the irresistible This Is Not a Box and This Is Not a Stick. Edna the penguin knows only three colors—white (snow), black (the sky), and blue (the sky and the water). And so she sets off on an adventure to find more color. If you teach PreK–2, this would be a great addition to a discussion of color as well as the seasons.

What are your favorite snow stories?

ALA Awards

House Graveyard The ALA awards were announced today! The Newbery, Caldecott and a whole bunch of other exciting and important awards for the best children's books of the year were announced from Denver CO starting at 7:45am MST.
Here is the rundown of the winners (and I will do my best to add the Honor books too):

Continue reading "ALA Awards" »

Hunger Games Sequel

Catching From Publishers Weekly comes the first news about the next Hunger Games book! I can't wait!!!

We still have no details about the book itself, other than the cover and the title, but that was plenty to get Jessica and me speculating about what will happen! Even though we work at Scholastic, we are not among the lucky people who get to read the manuscript, so we are left guessing like everyone else.

But the title gives some good clues to work with, doesn't it? We have lots of ideas:

1) "Fire" could represent Katniss, as in the "girl on fire," and she does something to anger the Capitol so they are trying to catch her. Maybe she refuses to be a coach in the next Hunger Games and runs away or something.

2) Or maybe it is Gale and Peeta who are trying to catch her and win her love. Maybe we will find out who Katniss is really in love with.

3) Or maybe there is a grassroots revolution against the Capitol and it is starting catch on in a big way -- spreading like wildfire, so to speak.

4) Or maybe the arena for the next Hunger Games has a volcano in it, or the tributes have to fight fire in some way to survive. Kind of a twisted homage to Katniss.

5) Or President Snow has a secret assassination plot against Katniss involving fire. He will make it look like an accident if her house catches fire or something.

6) Or maybe one of the tributes this time will have a superpower ability to start fires like Selma Blair's character in the Hellboy movies. She scores off the charts at training and all the other tributes try to catch her.

What do you think is going to happen in The Hunger Games sequel? Add a comment with your ideas that we missed.

Friday Blog Round Up

Purplepie I came across an article in the American Profile insert the other day.  It recounts Jill Morgan's journey to become a publisher of out of print picture books.  Miss Suzy, Mr. Pine's Purple House, The Blueberry Pie Elf and Pickle Chiffon Pie are just a few of the books offered.  Jump over to Purple House Press if you're curious about your favorite childhood picture book.

"That's one reason I like drawing -- it's like the part of my brain that imagines things visually is in my hands, and I can only see my thoughts properly if I draw them."  This is just part of a very interesting interview with illustrator Viviane Schwarz over on Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast.  

When I was in England a few summers ago I wasn't able to fit in a visit to Beatrix Potter's Lake District. I am able to learn a lot about it though, and play some fun games like Find Peter on PeterRabbit.com. There are also Peter Rabbit crafts, coloring sheets and downloadable wallpaper for your computer. I especially enjoy the pop-up book format of some of the site.

"They don’t call me the Meanest Mom in the World for nothing, people."  How can you read this intro and not want to find out what book Mir is reviewing over on Kitchen Table Reviews?

Wayback home If anyone is familiar with Oliver Jeffers' The Way Back Home, I'd love to hear your thoughts.  You can listen to a podcast on Just One More Book and be as intrigued as I am.  I want to track down this book!

On that note, I'm off to track down that book.  I'm a man of my word.  Until next time, have a super weekend folks.

Picture Book Thursday: Birds

Eggs Eggs Written by Marilyn Singer Illustrated by Emma Stevenson Holiday House Ages 4-11

Sparrows Sparrows Written by Hans Post & Kees Heij Illustrated by Irene Goede Lemniscaat Ages 4-11

Duck Duck & Goose: How Are You Feeling? Written and illustrated by Tad Hills Schwartz & Wade Ages 2-7

Hi folks. I had planned to come up with some witty kind of bird pun but decided to spare you. You can thank me later. I did pick birds as this week's topic. I think you're going to like what's out there. Here goes...

Continue reading "Picture Book Thursday: Birds" »

Video Wednesday: Jackie's Nine

The adorable actor/ singer Mishon Ratcliff came to the Scholastic offices to do a booktalk of Jackie's Nine: Jackie Robinson's Values to Live By, a nonfiction book about the values that helped the legendary baseball player succeed, written by daughter Sharon Robinson.

New Review Tuesday: Honest Abe

What a moment in history we celebrate today, witnessing Barack Obama take his oath of office upon the same Bible President Lincoln used in 1861.

This month in Instructor, I review some of the fabulous Lincoln books that publishers have released in honor of the 200th anniversary of Lincoln's birth on February 12.

There were so many outstanding titles, I couldn't fit them all into the magazine. Here are two more new Lincoln books worth checking out:


Chasing Lincoln's Killer, by James L. Swanson, is a riveting look for upper-elementary and middle school readers at the chase and pursuit of John Wilkes Booth. Swanson tells the story as a fast-paced mystery/adventure, but stays extremely close to the facts, using only actual dialogue and testimony from witnesses and primary source material.


The Lincolns: A Scrapbook Look at Abraham and Mary, by Candace Fleming, offers upper-elementary kids several ways in to the lives of our 16th president and his wife. Fleming uses letters, photographs, cartoons, and engravings, as well as captivating text, to tell the stories of the famous couple. Kids will feel as if they're receiving a VIP museum tour as they read.

Will you be honoring Abe's 200th birthday in your classroom? How will you celebrate? Please share in the comments.

Nonfiction Monday: Slavery

This slave narrative/poetry book is two books in one for grades 6-8.

NonfictionmondayFacts First

9781932425574The Freedom Business
including A Narrative of the Life and Adventures of Venture, a Native of Africa
Poems by Marilyn Nelson
and Art by Deborah Dancy

Reading level: Grades 6-8
Hardcover: 72 pages
Publisher: WordSong

This amazing book is two books in one. Open the book and you'll see a true story on the left, a slave narrative written in the eighteenth century by Venture Smith. On the right side are poems that bring that capture the essence of the prose on each page.


Continue reading "Nonfiction Monday: Slavery" »

Friday Blog Round Up

Winnie Pooh fans worldwide will be ready this October for a Return to the Hundred Acre Wood, the first authorized sequel to A.A. Milne's classic series.  Visit the Wall Street Journal to read about the biggest challenge to bringing back Pooh Bear and Co.

"Whenever Cristian Garza stumbles over a word while reading, the fourth-grader can get support from his friends – Mandy the Mastiff, Zoe the Border Collie and Maddy the Chesapeake Bay Retriever."  No, this isn't some strange edition of Henry and Mudge or Old Yeller, but a pretty cool literacy program in Raleigh.

Naomi and Alexandra are at it again, pairing good books with fun activities.  I've always been a fan of Jan Brett's The Mitten and these kindergarten teachers have some activities to kick it up a notch.

Talk about your dedicated Spiderwick Chronicles fan.  Over the years I've been tempted to try drawing a scene or two from my favorite book, but I've never attempted sculpture. At Tony DiTerlizzi's Imaginopolis blog, you'll be amazed by Troy's leprechaun art and how he gave it to his daughter.  I'm blown away by the detail.

On the off chance I didn't give you your fill of snow yesterday, here's one more idea for you.  Check out the world's tallest snow-woman in Bethel, Maine and use pictures from their gallery to create a class book.

And with that folks, I'm off to find my own Winnie-the-Pooh books.  It may just be time to share them with my students.  In the meantime, I hope you have a super weekend and we'll see you back here on Monday.

Picture Book Thursday: Snow

Snow Snow
Written by Cynthia Rylant
Illustrated by Lauren Stringer
Age Range 3-7 years

Footprints Footprints in the Snow
Written & illustrated by Mei Matsuoka
Henry Holt
Age Range 3-6 years

Thesnowshow The Snow Show
Written & illustrated by Carolyn Fisher
Age Range 4-8 years

Snow; you just can't have enough of the stuff.  I decided that with so many teachers enjoying indoor recess duty and pining for the fluffy white flakes, I'd review a few snow themed titles.  Here goes. . .

Continue reading "Picture Book Thursday: Snow" »

Video Wednesday: Online Author Visits

Author visits are a great way to inspire kids to read. And now with internet video, teachers have a new way to bring authors into the classroom. There are several places on the Internet where teachers can find video interviews like this one with Ellen Levine, author of Henry's Freedom Box.

Take a look at Scholastic's other Author Videos.

You can see more author videos at Reading Rockets, AdLit, and BookWrap Central.

Apparently authors are excited about this possibility too. At I.N.K.:Interesting Nonfiction for Kids, author Melissa Stewart says,
"Seeing someone on screen isn’t quite as powerful as a live visit, but videos are a great option for schools that lack the time, resources, or funding to bring in authors and illustrators. They’re also a great way for any school to increase their students’ exposure to book creators. And because teachers can watch the video clips in advance, they can easily build lesson plans around the footage. "

Here is a video of Melissa Stewart describing how she got the idea for her nonfiction picture book When Rain Falls.

Nonfiction Monday: Inauguration Special

Prepare for the inauguration with these three Barack Obama biographies, one for K-2, 3-5, and 6-8.

Nonfictionmonday Facts First

by Jonah Winter (Author)
and AG Ford (Illustrator)

Reading level: Grades K-2
Paperback: 32 pages

This picture book biography of Barack Obama for K-2 is written in prose. (See an excerpt.)

9781416971443_lgBarack Obama: Son of Promise, Child of Hope
by Nikki Grimes (Author)
and Bryan Collier (Illustrator)

Reading level: Grades 3-5
Paperback: 48 pages
Publisher: Simon & Schuster

This picture book biography of Barack Obama for grades 3-5 is poetic. (See an excerpt.)

9780312537098_lgYes, We Can: A Biography of Barack Obama
by Garen Thomas (Author)

Reading level: Grades 6-8
Paperback: 256 pages
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

This chapter book biography for grades 6-8 was updated after the election.


Continue reading "Nonfiction Monday: Inauguration Special" »

Cybils Shortlists!

If you are looking for the best children's books of 2008, definitely look at the lists of Cybils finalists.What I love about the Cybils Award is that it aims to choose books with literary merit and kid appeal. So what you have here is a list of amazing high-quality books that kids will absolutely devour! And really, what could be better than that?

Easy Readers
Fantasy & Science Fiction
Fiction Picture Books
Graphic Novels
Middle Grade Fiction
Non-Fiction MG/YA
Non-Fiction Picture Books
Young Adult Fiction

Friday Blog Round Up

Yesterday I posted about books featuring things you might receive for Christmas.  Over on the Teacher Share Beta Blog I posted this:  "I've received other unique gifts over the years but my multi-colored bunny can't be beat.  So help satisfy my curiosity.  What's the most unique gift you've received from a student?"  Click to read the full post and tell me what your most unique gift was.

Continue reading "Friday Blog Round Up" »

Picture Book Thursday: Winter Gifts

Red_sled Red Sled
Written by Patricia Thomas
Illustrated by Chris L. Demarest
Boyds Mills Press
Age Range 2-6 years

Fanny Fanny
Written and illustrated by Holly Hobbie
Little, Brown
Age Range 4-8 years

Underwear Underwear: What We Wear Under There
Written by Ruth Freeman Swain
Illustrated by John O’Brien
Holiday House
Age Range 5-10 years

Welcome back folks!  In the spirit of giving I thought I’d highlight some books featuring popular gifts.  Anastasia beat me to the punch with Red Sled but it’s a title worth repeating.  Throw in a doll and some underwear and our list is complete. 

Continue reading "Picture Book Thursday: Winter Gifts" »

Video Wednesday: The Invention of Hugo Cabret

Brian Selznick describes how he researched and created the hidden spaces behind the walls of the train station in The Invention of Hugo Cabret.

For an in-depth author study unit on Brian Selznick, including more video, lessons, and a chance to interract with Brian Selznick himself, visit Scholastic's Author of the Month.

New Review Tuesday: 3 Willows

411nnncgvdl_ss500_Hello! I hope everyone had very happy holidays and a marvelous start to 2009.

I was so excited to read today's featured book, 3 Willows by Ann Brashares. I was a huge, huge Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants fan, so I had high hopes for the first book in Brashares' new follow-up series, which takes place in the same high school that Carmen, Tibby, Lena, and Bridget attended, but focuses on a new circle of friends: freshwomen Polly, Amy, and Jo.

It may take students a few chapters to get into 3 Willows, simply because it's hard not to miss the original foursome. But persistence pays off in this summertime story of romance, finding yourself, and of course, friendship—and by the end readers will be clamoring for the next installment.

3 Willows officially makes it to bookstores next week, and is a good recommendation for middle school girls and up.

I'm curious whether readers of this blog use YA literature in their classroom and like hearing about new titles, or if you'd rather I'd focus on new picture books, chapter books, and middle grade novels. If you want to weigh in in the comments, it would be much appreciated.


Nonfiction Monday: Winter

Here's a fiction/nonfiction book pair about living and playing in ice and snow for K-2.

NonfictionmondayFacts First

9781570916212_lg_2A Mother's Journey
by Sandra Markle (Author)
and Alan Marks (Illustrator)

Reading level: K-2
Paperback: 32 pages
Publisher: Charlesbridge

After an emperor penguin lays her egg, she leaves it with the male and goes off to find food.

Pair With

9781590785591Red Sled
by Patrica Thomas (Author)
and Chris Demarest (Illustrator)

Reading level: K-2
Paperback: 32 pages
Publisher: Boyds Mills Press

This sledding story poem is written in the shape of a hill, just perfect for sledding!


Continue reading "Nonfiction Monday: Winter" »

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