Thursday, February 28, 2013

Take Me Out to the Ball Game - Books on Baseball

Last week, I was hanging out at Vroman's and noticed that they had a display for children's books featuring baseball.  Either I like baseball and I am more attune to the number of books featuring America's favorite past time, or there are simply more children's books on baseball than any other sport.  Regardless, I decided I needed to share some of the new releases and some old favorites that you might want to check out.  If you are looking to increase your collection of baseball related titles, there is something here for everyone. 

Baseball Books released in 2013...

Becoming Babe Ruth by Matt Tavares (Candlewick, February 2013)

Pete the Cat: Play Ball! by James Dean (HarperCollins, February 2013)

Who's On First? by Bud Abbott, Lou Costello; Illustrated by John Martz (Quirk Books, February 2013)

Take Me Out to the Yakyu by Aaron Meshon (Simon & Schuster, February 2013)

Miracle Mud: Lena Blackburne and the Secret Mud that Changed Baseball by David A. Kelly; Illustrated by Oliver Dominguez (Millbrook Press, April 1, 2013)

Something to Prove: The Great Satchel Paige vs. Rookie Joe Dimaggio by Robert Skead; Illustrated by Floyd Cooper (Lerner/Carolrhoda Books, April 1, 2013)

Perfect Game by Fred Bowen (Peachtree Publishers, March 2013)

Some favorites from previous years...

We are the Ship: The Story of Negro League Baseball by Kadir Nelson (Jump at the Sun, 2008)

There Goes Ted Williams: The Greatest Hitter Who Ever Lived by Matt Tavares (Candlewick, 2012)

Brothers at Bat: The True Story of an Amazing All-Brother Baseball Team by Audrey Vernick; Illustrated by Steve Salerno (Clarion Books, 2012)

Silent Star: The Story of Deaf Major Leaguer William Hoy by Bill Wise (Lee & Low, 2012)

She Love Baseball: The Effa Manley Story by Audrey Vernick; Illustrated by Don Tate (Collins, 2012)

Poem Runs: Baseball Poems by Douglas Florian (Harcourt Children's Books, 2012)

Players in Pigtails by Shana Corey; Illustrated by Rebecca Gibbon (Scholastic, 2003)

ABC's of Baseball by Peter Golenbock; Illustrated by Dan Andreasen (Dial, 2012)

King of the Mound: My Summer with Satchel Paige by Wes Tooke (Simon & Schuster, 2012)

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday - Hoop Genius

Author:  John Coy
Illustrator: Joe Morse
Publisher: Carolrhoda Books/Lerner (March 1, 2013)
Source: Netgalley - Digital Review Copy
Audience: Grades 1 to 4
Basketball * History * Sports

Description from GoodReads:
Taking over a rowdy gym class right before winter vacation is not something James Naismith wants to do at all. The last two teachers of this class quit in frustration. The students--a bunch of energetic young men--are bored with all the regular games and activities. Naismith needs something new, exciting, and fast to keep the class happy...or someone's going to get hurt. His only resources are a gymnasium, a couple peach baskets, some soccer balls, and his imagination. Saving this class is going to take a genius. Discover the true story of how Naismith invented basketball in 1891 at a school in Springfield, Massachusetts.

My thoughts on the book:
I will admit that basketball is probably my least favorite sport.  Really, you have a bunch of players who run down a court and toss a ball into a hoop and then turn around and repeat in the opposite direction.  Yes, I have completely over simplified the game. *sigh

However, the 1890's is an interesting time period and well, the history of how basketball began is far more exciting to me.   Plus the cover of Coy's book Hoop Genius: How a Desperate Teacher and a Rowdy Gym Class Invented Basketball is eye-catching.  If you are looking for a picture book history of the sport of basketball, then you may be disappointed.  Coy's focus is truly on James Naismith and how his need to discover a game to keep a rowdy group of young men busy resulted in the game of basketball.  The book briefly touches upon how the game spread including when women began playing and when basketball became an official Olympic sport in 1936.  (For fans of the TV series Murdoch Mysteries which is set in 1890's Toronto, there is an episode where women are playing basketball and using a wooden basket for the hoop. I loved that little detail.)

The end of the book includes an author's note, a selected bibliography, and the "original" two-pages of rules created by Naismith.  Joe Morse created the illustrations with an old-time feel.  Each picture appear to be sepia-washed which mutes the bold blues, greens, and burgundy colors.  Fans of the sport of basketball who might want a book that features key players or the great highlights of game may not find this the book for them.  However, if you are interested in history and how basketball began, then this is definitely a book to add to your collection. 

Check out this video about James Naismith Founding Rules of Basketball:

Don't forget to link up your nonfiction reviews:

Monday, February 25, 2013

It's Monday! What are you reading? From Picture Books to YA - 2/25/13

It's Monday! What are you reading? is hosted by Sheila of Book Journey. Jen & Kellee from Teach Mentor Texts have adapted this to focus on Picture Books to Young Adult Books.

After a few weeks of a reading slump, I finally found myself getting back into a great reading routine.

Here is what I have been reading:

Picture Books that stood out of the stack:

I'm Not Reading! by Jonathan Allen (Boxer Books, February 2013) - This one made me chuckle several times as I read it.  I think it might make a good read aloud.  I am going to test it out this week.

Perfectly Percy by Paul Schmid (Harper Collins, January 2013) - I like Paul Schmid's books.  In this one, a porcupine and a balloon come to an understanding.

Early Readers:

Pete the Cat: Pete's Big Lunch by James Dean (HarperCollins, February 2013) - Pete the Cat in an early reader is just as fun as Pete the Cat in a picture book. 

Everything Goes: Henry on Wheels by Brian Biggs, Simon Abbott (HarperCollins, February 2013) - I just love the big books for Everything Goes and the early readers.

Graphic Novels, Middle Grade Novels & More:

Fancy Nancy: Nancy Clancy, Secret Admirer by Jane O'Connor; Illustrated by Robin Preiss Glasser (Harper Collins, January 2013) -Fancy Nancy has moved to an early chapter book format that works for 2nd and 3rd graders. 

The Bird King and Other Sketches: An Artist's Notebook by Shaun Tan (Scholastic, February 2013) - Getting an inside peek at the work of Shaun Tan - so fun.

Astronaut Academy: Re-entry by Dave Roman (First Second, May 2013) - Astronaut Academy is back.  Look for this in May. 

Better Nate Than Ever by Tim Federle (Simon & Schuster, February 2013) - Federle's debut story is about an 8th grader who decides to pursue his dream of trying out for a Broadway musical.  A full review to come.

Reading with my ears:

Seraphina by Rachel Hartman (Random House, 2012) - I started listening to this and it will take me a little longer to finish it but I love the audiobook of this story so far.

What I am reading this week:

Platypus Police Squad: The Frog that Croaked by Jarrett J. Krosoczka (Walden Pond Press, May 2013) -Krosoczka debuts his first full length Middle Grade novel.  It will be out in stores in May 2013. 

Navigating Early by Claire Vanderpool (Random House, January 2013)

Check back on Wednesday for all of the nonfiction picture books I have been reading.  And stop by on Thursday for a Baseball edition of What I am Reading?

So, what are you reading?

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday - Frog Song

Author: Brenda Z. Guiberson
Illustrator:  Gennady Spirin
Publisher: Henry Holt & Co. (February 5, 2013)
Source: Personal Copy
Audience: Ages 4 to 8
Nonfiction * Frogs * Habitats/Behavior

Description from GoodReads:
Since the time of the dinosaurs, frogs have added their birrups and bellows to the music of the earth. Frogs are astonishing in their variety and crucial to ecosystems. Onomatopoeic text and stunning illustrations introduce young readers to these fascinating and important creatures, from Chile to Nepal to Australia.

My thoughts on the book
The team of Guiberson and Spirin have partnered to create a beautiful book about various frog species.  
"Frogs have a song for trees, bogs, burrows, and logs.  When frogs have enough moisture to keep gooey eggs, squirmy tadpoles, and hoppity adults from drying out, they can sign almost anywhere. CROAK! RIBBIT! BZZZT! PLONK! BRACK! THRUM-RUM!"

Guiberson goes on to talk about 11 different frogs in various countries.  Sometimes the focus is on child-bearing behaviors and other times about how they co-exist in a delicate balance with other creatures.  Regardless of the particular focus on the page, each frog species has a unique song which has meaning and purpose.  Frog Song, in a way, is Guiberson's ballad to the health and survival of frog in a world where the existence of humans has in many places thrown off the delicate balance of the ecosystem.  

Spirin's paintings are stunning and give the impression of almost being so real that if you are still enough you may just see a frog jump off the page.  The end of the book contains additional information on each of the 11 frog species, additional resources, and an author's note about the survival of frogs.  Definitely a book to add to any classroom or school library collection. 

Check out the Macmillan Publisher's page for a preview of the pages. 

Don't forget to connect up your Nonfiction Book Reviews.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

What makes a book the perfect read aloud?

For the past week, I have been "sitting with" A TANGLE OF KNOTS by Lisa Graff.  When I say "sitting with", I am referring more to the feeling that is left behind.  The one where you want to hold the book close to your chest in a tight embrace or find yourself lost in thought reliving a scene or two or thinking about what might happen if you used a line from the book as a snappy comeback.  Graff's newest book left me wanting to live in the world of talents and wondering about all the connections between peoples lives that are out there.

As I was having dinner last night with Kellee Moye, Nerdy Book Club friend and awesome educator, we chatted about read alouds.  I shared with her that last year I had read aloud THE ONE AND ONLY IVAN by Katherine Applegate to at last 3 classes and how every class loved it.  What makes one book the perfect read aloud and another book simply one that we recommend a lot? Is it a feeling that one gets? Or is it something more.

Several years ago now I read aloud AL CAPONE DOES MY SHIRTS by Gennifer Choldenko to a class.  At that time, I can honestly say I probably didn't have a good reason for why I picked the book.  Luckily, it turned out to be a great read aloud choice and the class & I had a lot of fun.  A few years later, I decided to read AL CAPONE again, but this time I was much more intentional.  I clustered it together with TURTLE IN PARADISE by Jennifer L. Holm and BUD, NOT BUDDY by Christopher Paul Curtis.   As a class, the students and I could discuss the Great Depression and 1935 from the perspectives of Moose, Turtle & Bud.  I added in snippets of movies and music and comics from that era to provide further background knowledge for students.

Being intentional about books plays a large role in selecting books for read alouds.  However, before that there has to be something else.  Some stories seem to have a special element that just works for a certain class or group of students.  When I finished reading TORTILLA SUN by Jennifer Cervantes, I just knew I had to share it with my students who come from a predominately Latino culture.  Here was a story that they might resonate with at a completely different level than they have with other books. 

At other times, when I read a book, a class will come to mind.  It might be a little like Miss Mallory's (from A Tangle of Knots) talent for matching orphans with their perfect families.  Is there a talent for matching just the right story, or book, or character to just the right class?  When I read MARTY MCGUIRE by Kate Messner, I immediately knew that the I had just the right class of second graders who would love Marty.  After reading it aloud to them, I knew a perfect match had been made.

Sometimes while I am reading a book, I find myself asking if my __________ (fill in the blank with whatever grade or class I am currently working with) would be able to read and understand a book.  I have a lot of students that are English Language Learners who often struggle with books with complicated vocabulary or ones with lots of imagery that they may not understand.  When I read GOBLIN SECRETS by William Alexander a few months ago, I realized that I must have mentally asked myself 5 or 6 times how I could make the book accessible to a class of fifth grade English Language Learners.  I realized that most would likely miss the meaning of many of the words and phrases leaving them with a less than satisfactory understanding of the book.  If I wanted them to appreciate the story and enjoy it as much as I had, then I would need to read it aloud.  Sharing a book through a read aloud can provide teachers with a means of making a wonderful book accessible for their students when it may be beyond their current independent reading level.

So back to A TANGLE OF KNOTS... as a read aloud.  Sometimes, a book just feels right for a read aloud.   You don't always need a super special reason for why you want to read a book aloud.  And right now this beautiful story is begging to be shared with a class of students.

What are some of your favorite read alouds?

Enter below to win a copy of A TANGLE OF KNOTS by Lisa Graff.

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Monday, February 18, 2013

It's Monday! What are you reading? From Picture Books to YA - 2/18/13

It's Monday! What are you reading? is hosted by Sheila of Book Journey. Jen & Kellee from Teach Mentor Texts have adapted this to focus on Picture Books to Young Adult Books.

Here are three stand outs from the past couple of weeks:

A Tangle of Knots by Lisa Graff (Penguin, February 12, 2013) - This book and the characters in this story will stay with you for a long time.  And it will definitely make you hungry for cake.

Seeds, Bees, Butterflies and More!: Poems for Two Voices by Carole Gerber; Illustrated by Eugene Yelchin (Henry Holt & Co., February 5, 2013) - The 5th graders that I am working with LOVED this book of poems.  They enjoyed reading them aloud.

Follow, Follow: A Book of Reverso Poems by Marilyn Singer; Illustrated by Josée Masse (Penguin, February 7, 2013) - This follow up to Singer's Mirror Mirror is just as wonderful.  I can't even imagine trying to write a reverso poem.  My hat is off to Singer for her creating this fantastic book of poems.

As for this week, I think I am going to read Better Nate Than Ever by Tim Federle (Simon & Schuster, February 5, 2013).  I have heard such great things about this book. 

So, what are you reading?

Thursday, February 14, 2013

The Yuckiest, Stinkiest, Best Valentine Ever

Author: Brenda A. Ferber
Illustrator: Tedd Arnold
Publisher: Dial Books for Young Children (December 6, 2012)
Audience: Ages 4 to 8
Source: Copy for Review
Valentine's Day * Friendship * Fiction

Description from GoodReads:
Even boys will fall in love with this valentine!

Leon has a crush. A let-her-cut-in-line-at-the-water-fountain kind of crush. And he's got the perfect valentine. But this valentine has no intention of getting caught up in any romantic conspiracy. "Love is yucky, kid! Valentine's Day is all about CANDY!" the card yells at Leon, before leaping out the window and running away, leaving Leon to chase it across town, collecting interested kids along the way.

Here is a hilarious take on the holiday that boys love to hate, the most complex holiday of them all. Saying "I love you" has never been so yucky or so sweet

Thoughts on this book:
If you are looking for some humor on Valentine's Day, Ferber's book The Yuckiest, Stinkiest, Best Valentine Ever will provide you with a chuckle and leave you with a sweet feeling.  Leon has a crush on Zoey Maloney and proceeds to create a Valentine for her.  With a nod to the Gingerbread Man, what happens next mixes humor and excitement as the neighborhood boys, and girls and teens run after Leon in an attempt to capture the Valentine who seems to be opposed to being a valentine.  I love when Leon and the Valentine finally meet up with Zoey Maloney.  Maybe there is more than one match about to happen in the end.

Tedd Arnold's illustrations are the perfect partner for the text and adds just the right amount of fun and sass to the story.  I don't often add too many new books to my Valentine's collection because most do not add anything new to the vast number of books out there.  However, this one definitely has a place in a classroom or school library.

For additional resources, check out Brenda Ferber's website for an activity kit for the book.

2012 CYBILS Book App Winner - Dragon Brush

Creators: John Solimine and Andy Hollinger
Seller: Small Planet Digital
Category: Book App
Version: 1.2
Compatible with: iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch. Requires IOS 4.3 or later.
Twitter | Facebook

Description of the App from Webpage:

Based on a traditional Chinese folktale, Dragon Brush is the story of Bing-Wen, a young boy who loves to paint. When given a magical brush that makes drawings come to life, Bing-Wen must use his art and his wits to outsmart the greedy Emperor. 

* Help Bing-Wen’s drawings come magically to life 
* Create your own drawings with Dragon Paint 
* Discover interactive elements on every page

Congratulations to Dragon Brush App & Small Planet Digital for winning the CYBILS 2012 Childrens and Young Adult Bloggers' Literary Awards.  Congratulations to the CYBILS Book App Committe Rounds 1 & 2 for all of their hardwork as judges.  If you haven't seen this wonderful Book App take a peak at the video below.  The App is available on iTunes

Checkout Mary Ann Scheuer's review on Great Kid Books.

Video of the App:

Dragon Brush from Small Planet Digital on Vimeo.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday - Nelson Mandela

Author: Kadir Nelson
Paintings by: Kadir Nelson
Publisher: Katherine Tegan Books (January 2, 2013)
Source: Copy for Review
Audience: Grades 2nd to 5th
Biography * South Africa * Political Leaders

Description from GoodReads:
One day when Nelson Mandela was nine years old, his father died and he was sent from his village to a school far away from home, to another part of South Africa. In Johannesburg, the country's capital, Mandela saw fellow Africans who were poor and powerless. He decided then that he would work to protect them. When the government began to keep people apart based on the color of their skin, Mandela spoke out against the law and vowed to fight hard in order to make his country a place that belonged to all South Africans.

Kadir Nelson tells the story of Mandela, a global icon, in poignant verse and glorious illustrations. It is the story of a young boy's determination to change South Africa and of the struggles of a man who eventually became the president of his country by believing in equality for people of all colors. Readers will be inspired by Mandela's triumph and his lifelong quest to create a more just world.

My thoughts on the book:
Over the past few years, Kadir Nelson has focused on what he does best - picture book biographies.  Kadir Nelson has taken on the former South African president Nelson Mandela as the focus for his latest book.  It is quite conceivable that someone would want to purchase a book by Kadir Nelson simply for the artwork.  The oil painting portrait of Mandela on the cover captures the illustrious leader with warmth and power.  Each two page spread demonstrates Nelson's ability to communicate deeply through his paintings which convey emotion and strength.  Yet, Nelson's choice of words including the verse-like style of text is perfectly suited to relay to the reader the story that is Nelson Mandela.

Kadir Nelson has created a picture book biography on Nelson Mandela that will provide young readers with an introduction to the South African leader from his childhood to the end of apartheid.    The author's note and additional bibliographical information at the end will provide readers with some further details about Nelson Mandela.  Whether you choose to pick up a copy of this book because of the amazing illustrations or as an addition to a school or classroom biography collection, Kadir Nelson's newest book Nelson Mandela is an excellent choice. 

For additional books to consider, check out the New York Times post Black History Greats.

Don't forget to link up your nonfiction book reviews below:

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday - February 2013

As part of the Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge, I try to post new releases for the month.  Here are some of titles that I found being released in February 2013.  Books marked with an asterik (*) indicated full length chapter books for grades 5 to 8. 

February 1, 2013

*A Marked Man: The Assassination of Malcolm X by Matt Doeden (Twenty-First Century Books)

February 12, 2013

Becoming Babe Ruth by Matt Tavares (Candlewick Press)

February 19, 2013

Who Says Women Can't Be Doctors? The Story of Elizabeth Blackwell by Tanya Lee Stone; Illustrated by Marjorie Priceman (Henry Holt and Co.)

If you know of a book that should be included in this list, please include the title and author in the comments section and I will update the list.  

If you have posted any nonfiction book reviews, please link them up with this post: