Have you signed up yet for Scholastic Mini Books? Now's the time my book-savvy friends. There is quite a selection, including resources on favorites like The Grouchy Ladybug and Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?
Fly, Kit Fly!: A Story of Leonardo and a Bird Catcher
Written and illustrated by John Winch
Fly, Kit Fly!: A Story of Leonardo and a Bird Catcher
What a innovative way to help children to appreciate art. Bob Raczka "interviews" a number of the figures found in the paintings of Vermeer, allowing him to comment on artistic style and symbolism as well as everyday life in the 1600s. You're going to enjoy reading this as much as your students will.
I have fond memories of watching Weston Woods film strips in my Elementary school library; the excitement of watching a book come to life, the whirl of the projector, the smell of old books, the carpet square under my seat. I still get a little thrill when I watch them.
Recently, I added 36 clips of my favorite Weston Woods videos to our video center. It wasn't easy picking through 400+ books, but it sure was fun.
I always liked this one -- Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People's Ears? -- for the colorful illustrations (courtesy of Leo and Diane Dillon). Watch:
See all 36 Weston Woods video clips.
And visit our friends at Weston Woods if you don't see a clip you remember. They've got hundreds!
This week on Kid Lit Kit we're focusing on the best books of the school year. I certainly have dozens of nominations for that category, from The Hunger Games to Chains to last week's The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate. But since my posts have spotlighted the newest books to hit shelves, I thought it might be fun to take a sneak peak at the great reads that lie ahead. To me, that's the wonderful thing about children's literature—there's always a new adventure around the corner.
Here are some of the upcoming titles that have me the most excited.
The Magician's Elephant, by Kate DiCamillo. My fiance and I just finished reading an advanced reading copy of DiCamillo's latest. We both cried. A lot. This is DiCamillo at her best, and I predict big things for the orphan Peter Augustus Duchene, who goes on a search for an elephant after a fortune teller hints the animal might lead Peter to his sister. (Sept. 8)
Al Capone Shines My Shoes, by Gennifer Choldenko. I literally squealed when I saw an advanced reading copy of this much-anticipated sequel to the delightful Al Capone Does My Shirts. I haven't gotten a chance to read it yet but I'm putting it on the top of my summer beach read pile. (Sept. 8)
Catching Fire, by Suzanne Collins. The sequel to The Hunger Games! Need I say more? (Sept. 1)
Going Bovine, by Libba Bray. A surprising and incredibly captivating departure for the author of the Gemma Doyle series that began with A Great and Terrible Beauty. When 16-year-old Cameron is diagnosed with mad cow disease, he embarks on an epic and hallucinatory road trip that you really have to read to believe. (Sept. 22)
What's on your reading horizon? What are you most looking forward to about the summer? Feel free to share in the comments.
It's been a blast talking with you about great children's books this year. Thanks for checking in and as always, happy reading!
Cathleen at Chronicle Books tipped me off to a bunch of cool book features they have online. They include teacher guides, printable posters and videos. Check out the links for the following: Duck! Rabbit!, Little Oink, and Horse Crazy.
The Missing Chick
It takes a special kinda guy to admit to reading the Baby-Sitters Club books -- and John Green is just such a guy. The author of funny-and-true YA books, like his newest Paper Towns, talks about the origins of "nerdfighters," how he creates characters, and how reading those aforementioned Baby-Sitter Club books helped him understand high school girls -- sort of.
I'd been reading rave reviews for Jacqueline Kelly's new middle-grade novel The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate and finally got a chance to read it myself this past weekend.
Wow! What a rich story about a young girl growing up in Texas during the turn of the 20th-century. Eleven-year-old Calpurnia is a nature enthusiast who begins to investigate why the yellow grasshoppers in her backyard always grow bigger than the green ones. With the help of her grandfather she realizes the yellow grasshoppers have a biological advantage: they blend into the dry Texas grass.
First-time author Kelly does an amazing job at weaving the science in the story with Calpurnia's struggle to find herself in a rough-and-tumble house filled with brothers. The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate would be a great summer reading recommendation for kids in grades 5 and up.
If you're interested in exploring the evolution angle, pair Calpurnia with Deborah Heiligman's recent biography of the Darwins, Charles and Emma.
Another interesting comparison might be Ellen Klages' The Green Glass Sea, also about an 11-year-old girl coming of age within a scientific context, but this time WWII Los Alamos.
Follow That Map! A First Book of Mapping Skills
by Scot Ritchie
Reading level: Grades 1-3
Hardcover: 32 pages
Publisher: Kids Can Press
Follow Sally and her friends as they search for Max the dog and Ollie the cat while traveling across different types of maps.
The Journey of Oliver K. Woodman
by Darcy Pattison (Author)
and Joe Cepeda (Illustrator)
Reading level: K-2
Hardcover/Paperback: 52 pages
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
In this story told in postcards and letters, different travelers take a life-sized wooden man across the country.
Participate in the Oliver K. Woodman Map Project and geo-tag Oliver's travels.
Plan ahead for the next school year with these Travel Pal Scrapbook lesson plans.
Print and perform this mini-book, A Play: Follow the Map and make the map center in the lesson plans.
According to PBS, Dr. Seuss's The Cat in the Hat is coming to TV this fall in the new animated series "The Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot About That!" With comedian Martin Short giving voice to the whacky feline, "the world's most beloved cat will whisk preschoolers off on a voyage of scientific discovery for the first time ever as an animated TV series..."
I'm guessing any number of you Twilight fans would have loved to trade places with beauty salon owner Casey Ray. She found the script for New Moon laying in the trash and went to lengths to return it to the studio. Nice job Casey!
Cornelius P. Mud, Are You Ready for Baby?
I was traipsing around YouTube the other day and nearly tripped over this beautiful trailer for the book Blueberry Girl, read by Neil Gaiman. Normally, I have to admit, I'm a little creeped out by Gaiman, Newbery medal or not, but the beautiful prose and bright illustrations in this picture book may have won me over.
Such a sweet and tender story about a prayer for a little baby girl growing up.
The wonderful thing about picture books dealing with anger and other difficult emotions is that they offer kids such a relatable experience to their own lives, and usually a way of coping with those emotions as well.
In Mouse Was Mad, by Linda Urban, illustrated by Henry Cole, Mouse tries to hop, stomp, scream, and roll around through his anger, but those are the strategies used by other animals (Hare hops, Bear stomps, Bobcat screams, and Hedgehog rolls), and they just don't work for poor Mouse. It's only when Mouse stumbles on his own coping mechanism—standing very, very still—that he begins to feel better.
Students in grades K–3 will no doubt have sympathy for Mouse, but also laugh out loud at Henry Cole's illustrations, which show Mouse falling into mud puddle after mud puddle after each unsuccessful attempt at dealing with his anger.
Urban, author of last year's charming middle-grade novel A Crooked Kind of Perfect, has found a unique lens into a universal problem, offering a surprising resolution that readers may just want to try out themselves!
Read Mouse Was Mad along with Molly Bang's fantastic When Sophie Gets Angry—Really, Really Angry, Lisa Jahn-Clough's Alicia Has a Bad Day, Judith Viorst's Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day and even Maurice Sendak's Where the Wild Things Are.
Compare and contrast Mouse's actions with the actions of the main characters in the other stories and make a list of the different ways they end up feeling better. Which are ways that kids might use when they're feeling grumpy?
Did I miss your favorite picture book about anger? Share in the comments.
That Book Woman
by Heather Henson(Author)
and David Small (Illustrator)
Reading level: Grades K-3
Hardcover: 40 pages
Cal is not the readin' type, but that Book Woman keeps coming up the mountain and Cal learns to read so he can find out what the words say. (Inspired by the Pack Horse Librarians, the "Book Women" who carried books on horse or mule into the Appalachian Mountains of Kentucky in the 1930s.)
Three Cups of Tea: One Man’s Journey to Change the World…One Child At A Time Young Reader’s Edition
by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin (Authors), Adapted by Sarah Thomson
Reading level: Grades 4-8
Hardcover: 240 pages
Rescued by villagers in Pakistan while mountain climbing, Greg Mortensen returned their kindness by building schools in Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Download the Children's Book Week Bookmark and print one for each child in your class.
Visit Scholastic's Professional Development Articles and Curriculum Ideas for National Children's Book Week 2009.
Students can write their own books with these Author Activities for National Children's Book Week.
Leanne Italie has created an interesting list of famous moms and their favorite kid-lit lines. See if you can make the match for this quote from Charlotte's Web: "You have been my friend. That in itself is a tremendous thing. I wove my webs for you because I liked you." Was it Cokie Roberts, June Lockhart, or Lori Loughlin?
And I know how much you all enjoy a good contest. Throw in a chance to win a copy of Meg Cabot's Airhead and you've got yourself a bucket load of fun!
Talk about a fascinating guy! Elder statesman Sid Fleishman has written over 50 books for children and adults, and has dabbled in magic, movies, and newspaper reporting. We met up with him last November and asked him about picking character names, the Charlie Chaplin bio he's been working on, and much more. So much, that I couldn't decide on which clip I liked best to highlight.
I finally decided on this clip; Fleishman talks about the magicians' manual he wrote in high school, which is still in print. I had no idea there were publishing houses just for magician books. Fascinating!
I'm in awe of the multifaceted talent of author Jen Bryant, who in the past few years has delivered powerful novels-in-verse such as Pieces of Georgia and Ringside 1925, as well as incredible non-fiction picture books including the 2009 Caldecott Honor A River of Words (pictures by Melissa Sweet) and February's Abe's Fish: A Boyhood Tale of Abraham Lincoln.
Bryant's newest book is Kaleidoscope Eyes, another novel-in-verse but one that takes us to a different time and era than Bryant has explored before. Set in 1968, Kaleidoscope Eyes tells the story of thirteen-year-old Lyza, who discovers three mysterious maps and together with friends Malcolm and Carolann discovers they may lead to the buried treasure of the legendary pirate Captain Kidd.
It may sound like an over-the-top pageturner, and Kaleidoscope Eyes will definitely appeal to middle school adventure fans, but Bryant based the novel on a true story, and each page is filled with rich historical detail. Bryant's simple verse style makes her a great recommendation for reluctant readers, who will also appreciate the quick pace and plot twists of Kaleidoscope Eyes.
It would be fun to pair Kaleidoscope Eyes with other books featuring maps, such as Harry Potter's Mauraders Map, and have students recreate the maps and present them to the class.
Have you read any of Jen Bryant's books? What's your favorite? Share in the comments!
May is Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month, so let's begin with a taste of Asia for Grades K-8.
How My Parents Learned to Eat
by Ina R. Friedman(Author)
and Allen Say (Illustrator)
Reading level: Grades K-2
Paperback: 32 pages
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin
An American sailor and a Japanese student teach each other how their families eat.
by Lynne Barasch
Reading level: Grades 3-5
Paperback: 32 pages
Publisher: Lee and Low Books
In this true story, a Japanese-American girl grows up and learns how to make sushi in her father's restaurant.
What the World Eats
by Faith D'Aluisio (Author)
and Peter Menzel (Photographer)
Reading level: Grades 6-8
Hardcover: 160 pages
Publisher: Tricycle Press
See what 25 families around the world eat in this photo-essay filled with maps, charts and recipes.
Discover Asian Pacific American stories with these lesson plans and videos from Scholastic.
Visit the Asian Pacific Heritage Month pages at the Library of Congress for lesson plans, student activities, collection guides and research aids using primary sources.
Write a Reader's Theater script for your K-8 classroom with these Asian Folktales Lesson Plans.
All the talk of Jacques Cousteau at GreatKidBooks has me reminiscing as well. Although I only have vague recollections of watching his specials as a tot, to me he was the Jeff Corwin of the ocean. You don't want to miss Manfish, the new book about his adventures.