Sunday, March 31, 2013

April is National Poetry Month

Tomorrow is the start of National Poetry Month.  How are you going to celebrate with your students?  Here are a few ideas to try this month... 

- Poem of the Day: Have different students share a favorite poem each day of the month.

- Poem in Your Pocket: Have children carry around a poem in their pocket and be prepared to share it with classmates and others at school.

- Spine Poetry:  Have children create poems from interesting titles of books.  Stack the books so that the titles can be read like a poem.

- Poetry Night/Poetry Reading:  Talk with your local library or Independent Bookstore and arrange for a poetry reading event.  Invite parents and friends to listen to students read poems that they have written.

- Poetry Workshops - Set up the classroom with images, and props to inspire children to write their own poetry.  You can even have students go on a walk around the school and bring back a picture or an item to write about.  

- Poetry Videos:  Have children create their own videos featuring their poetry using a website such as Animoto

- Poetry Wall: Create a space where students can post favorite poems that they have discovered and also, post their own poetry

And don't forget to just simply share dozens of different types of poetry books and styles of poems with children.  Poetry can be a wonderful way to support all learners in a classroom in building vocabulary and in developing as writers.  

Here are a few new poetry books that I love ...

Forest Has a Song by Amy VanDerwater; Illustrated by Robbin Gurley - check out my review and giveaway here.

Follow, Follow: A Book of Reverso Poems by Marilyn Singer; Illustrated by Josée Masse (Penguin,

Seeds, Bees, Butterflies and More!: Poems for Two Voices by Carol Gerber; Illustrated by Eugene Yelchin (Henry Holt, February 2013)

For more of my favorites check the links below:

Poetry Books for Teachers (Kid Lit Frenzy, July 12, 2012) - A list of 10 of my favorites.

Four Poetry Books to Add to Your Collection (Kid Lit Frenzy, December 11, 2012) - 4 more favorites of mine.

Here are some on my favorite websites for poetry:

National Poetry Month for

Reading Rocket's National Poetry Month Page

Scholastic's April is National Poetry Month Page

Poetry for Children Blog

Dare to Dream Poetry Contest for Kids

Poetry Lessons and Plans (The Teacher's Guide)

Kristine O'Connell George's Teacher Resources

Amy VanDerwater's  The Poem Farm

Kathi Mitchell's Poetry for Kids

Happy National Poetry Month - may you and your students be inspired!

Friday, March 29, 2013

Book Review - Forest Has a Song

Author:  Amy VanDerwater
Illustrator:  Robbin Gurley
Publisher:  Clarion Books (March 26, 2013)
Source:  A copy for review
Format: Hardcover
Audience: Ages 6 to 9
Keywords: Poetry, Nature, Forests

Amy VanDerwater: website | blog | twitter | facebook
Robbin Gourley: website |

Description from GoodReads:
A spider is a “never-tangling dangling spinner / knitting angles, trapping dinner.” A tree frog proposes, “Marry me. Please marry me… / Pick me now. / Make me your choice. / I’m one great frog / with one strong voice.” VanDerwater lets the denizens of the forest speak for themselves in twenty-six lighthearted, easy-to-read poems. As she observes, “Silence in Forest / never lasts long. / Melody / is everywhere / mixing in / with piney air. / Forest has a song.” The graceful, appealing watercolor illustrations perfectly suit these charming poems that invite young readers into the woodland world at every season.

My thoughts on the book:
Over the past few years, I have grown to love children's poetry.  Initially, I wasn't a big fan of poetry in general.  However, I started to put some concerted effort into reading children's poetry and discovered that there were some wonderful books out there.  Now I look forward to discovering new books of poetry and sharing them with children.  Debut author, Amy VanDerwater's Forest Has a Song is a beautiful addition to the world of children's poetry and it arrives to us just in time for both spring and National Poetry Month.

VanDerwater explores the forest and the changing seasons with each of her 26 poems.  She has managed to capture the magical qualities of life in the forest with poems that are accessible to all readers. One of my favorite poems is entitled Moss:

Barefoot on this emerald carpet
toe-by-toe I squish across.
I softly sink in velvet green.
Oh how I wish for socks of moss.

As I read this poem, I could feel the soft, damp, coolness of the moss as my feet sank into it.  Can't you?  This is part of the brilliance of VanDerwater's writing.  She has the ability to not only make the reader understand but to also see it and feel it.

VanDerwater's poetry is complimented by Robbin Gourley's gentle artwork.  The combination makes for a beautiful book on multiple levels.  Also, don't miss out on the book trailer created by VanDerwater's husband.  It is a wonderful way to introduce readers to the book.

Forest Has a Song will make a wonderful addition to your school or classroom library, consider picking up a copy of at your local Independent Bookstore.   And happy National Poetry Month - it almost here.   

Check out the official book trailer:

*I received this book free of charge from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This, in no way, affected my opinion or review of this book.

Thank you to BlueSlip Media for offering a copy of Forest Has a Song for giveaway.  Don't forget to enter for a chance to win a copy of Forest Has a Song a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Book Review - Hattie Ever After

Author: Kirby Larson
Publisher: Random House (February 12, 2013)
Number of Pages: 240
Format: Hardcover, eBook, Audiobook
Source: Advanced Readers Copy
Audience: Ages 11 and up
Sequel: Hattie Big Sky
Historical Fiction * Early 1900's * Woman Reports

Description from GoodReads:
After leaving Uncle Chester's homestead claim, orphan Hattie Brooks throws a lasso around a new dream, even bigger than the Montana sky. She wants to be a reporter, knowing full well that a few pieces published in the Arlington News will not suffice. Real reporters must go to Grand Places, and do Grand Things, like Hattie's hero Nellie Bly. Another girl might be stymied by this, but Hattie has faced down a hungry wolf and stood up to a mob of angry men. Nothing can squash her desire to write for a big city newspaper. A letter and love token from Uncle Chester's old flame in San Francisco fuels that desire and Hattie jumps at the opportunity to get there by working as a seamstress for a traveling acting troupe. This could be her chance to solve the mystery of her "scoundrel" uncle and, in the process, help her learn more about herself. But Hattie must first tell Charlie that she will not join him in Seattle. Even though her heart approves of Charlie's plan for their marriage, her mind fears that saying yes to him would be saying no to herself. Hattie holds her own in the big city, literally pitching her way to a byline, and a career that could be even bigger than Nellie Bly's. But can making headlines compensate for the pain of betrayal and lost love? Hattie must dig deep to find her own true place in the world. Kirby Larson once again creates a lovingly written novel about the remarkable and resilient young orphan, Hattie Inez Brooks.

My thoughts on this book:
There are a few authors that I simply love as an author and as a person.  Kirby Larson is one of those authors.  She is as wonderful in person as she is as a writer.  Everything I have read from her I loved, and it was an honor to get to meet her in Seattle during ALA's Midwinter this year. 

Now onto my review...I can't believe that I missed the release date on this wonderful book.  Yes, February was a bit of a crazy month, but seriously, how did I miss getting my review out on time?  No more excuses.  Let's start with taking a step back, I have to say that my 11 year old self would have loved, loved, loved Hattie Big Sky. I would have wanted to have known Hattie (though I may not have wanted to live on a homestead in the winter).  By the time I finished reading Hattie Big Sky, I felt like Hattie was one of my best friends. I was so proud of her and all that she attempted and all that she learned. And then she leaves Vida to start a new chapter in her life.   The story was wonderful and I always wondered how Hattie's life turned out.

When I heard that other people were wondering about Hattie and her life after Vida, I felt like I was in good company.  Then Kirby announced that there was going to be a sequel, I was thrilled. A little nervous. What would happen to Hattie now? Would our "friendship" still be there?

Well, I should never have doubted Hattie or author, Kirby Larson. Hattie's voice rang clear and true in this sequel. It felt a bit like connecting up with a dear, dear friend after too much time apart but what is so special is that you immediately pick up where you left off. There is a comfortableness in the relationship. Hattie still has the same spirit of adventure and learning but now in a whole other location and challenge.

The war is over and Hattie has found her way to San Francisco after paying off her debts from Vida.  Readers get to meet Charlie, and still get news from old favorites from Vida.  However, now Hattie is working as a cleaning lady at the San Francisco Chronicle and begins to dream of becoming a reporter.  Overlapping with Hattie's professional goals, she sets upon unraveling more of the mystery behind her Uncle Chester's life.  Even though, Hattie Ever After is only about a year after Hattie Big Sky, Hattie is certainly growing up and there is even a touch of romance in this one.  When I finished up the book, I just hugged it to my chest.  I had come to love Hattie even more than I already did.

Hattie's Fans will love Hattie Ever After and if you haven't read Hattie Big Sky you must so you can fall in love with her too.

For more information about Kirby Larson:  website | blog | twitter | facebook 

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday - Brave Girl: Clara and the Shirtwaist Makers' Strike of 1909

Author: Michelle Markel
Illustrator: Melissa Sweet
Publisher: Balzer & Bray (January 22, 2013)
Source: Bought
Audience: Grades 2 to 5
Nonfiction * Women's History * Strikes * Clothing Makers
Melissa Sweet's website | Michelle Markel's website

Description from GoodReads:
When Clara Lemlich arrived in America, she couldn't speak English. She didn't know that young women had to go to work, that they traded an education for long hours of labor, that she was expected to grow up fast.

But that did not stop Clara.

She went to night school, spent hours studying English, and helped support her family by sewing in a factory.

Clara never quit. And she never accepted that girls should be treated poorly and paid little.

So Clara fought back. Fed up with the mistreatment of her fellow laborers, Clara led the largest walkout of women workers in the country's history.

Clara had learned a lot from her short time in America. She learned that everyone deserved a fair chance. That you had to stand together and fight for what you wanted. And, most importantly, that you could do anything you put your mind to.

My thoughts on this book:
To close out National Women's History Month, I am featuring Brave Girl: Clara and the Shirtwaist Makers' Strike of 1909 by Michelle Markel and Melissa Sweet.  It's books like this that can ignite an interest in children to research and look into historical events which they may not have otherwise had an opportunity to learn about.  Markel's story focuses on one particular women, a young immigrant named Clara Lemlich who played a significant role in launching one of the most significant strikes in United States history, the Shirtwaist Makers' Strike of 1909.

In Brave Girl, Markel provides young readers with enough background history for them to understand some of the conditions faced by factory workers in the late 19th century and early 20th century.  By sharing Clara's story, readers have a face and a name in which to identify with the cause including the significant risks that workers took when striking against factory owners.

Melissa Sweet's mixed media illustrations beautifully compliment this story and there is a link below where you can browse through the book on the HarperCollins website.  At the end, more information is provided on the history of the Garment Industry along with some additional resources.  Below, I have included a link to a discussion guide also provided by the publisher. 

If you can't tell already, I am very excited about this book.  Pick up a copy of it for your classroom or school library.  And remember to shop Indie whenever possible.

If you are wondering, what is a Shirtwaist? Check out this article.
A video of Shirtwaist Makers' & The Strike of 1909:

Remembering the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire of 1911, check out video below:

Browse inside the book, click here. HarperCollins has put together a discussion guide, click here.

Don't forget to link up your recent nonfiction reviews:

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Book Review - Write This Book

Author: Pseudonymous Bosch
Illustrator: Gilbert Ford
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers (April 2, 2013)
Source: Copy for Review
Audience:  Ages 9 and up
More about the author: website | twitter | facebook

Description from GoodReads:
I feared this may happen. I knew reading was a dangerous business, but now it's not safe for writers either! You see, the author of this book is missing. Well, maybe not "missing." A certain author whom I won't name (okay, me) has abandoned his book and has left his readers hanging out to dry. This is a crime, I admit, but there it is. Most of this book, well, I just haven't written it. And I'm not going to, either.
Why? Oh, I have my reasons. Big. Grown up. Author. Reasons. Unfortunately, I can't reveal them yet. Let's just say a life is at stake (mine) and leave it at that. So will you do it? Pretty please? You'll do it? Thank you! But please hurry! Time is of the essence and you can't wait any longer. You must WRITE THIS BOOK!
This imaginative companion to the New York Times bestselling Secret Series teases, prompts, and leads readers through the steps of writing a story. Bosch's signature rip-roaring voice delivers an engaging narrative (for the reader to help complete!) and interactive puzzles and games. Readers get the chance to create their own story while enjoying a satisfying mystery as well.

My interview with Jax's (age 12) regarding Write This Book:

Why did you like the book?
The book had some comedy thrown into it because Pseudonymous Bosch is just funny.  It is similar in style to The Secret Series.  I, also, liked it because it seemed like it was written just for me.  It was just plain awesome. 

What did you learn from it?
I liked that Bosch gave us blanks to fill in, as an example of what to write.  I learned little tips on what authors use sometimes when writing from the "how-to's". 

Why would you recommend it?
I would recommend it because it is well written and will appeal to a wide age range (from kids to adults).  I would also recommend it because the comedy is great.

Who would you recommend it to?
I would recommend it to almost anyone over the age of 9 or 10.  It seems great for anyone to read.  I would also recommend it to anyone who likes mystery books, mad libs, and funny books.

What should I have asked you about the book? 
You should have asked me what my favorite scene is, but my answer would have to be all of them. 

Thanks Jax for that awesome endorsement of Write This Book. 

My thoughts on this book:
Not that you really need my endorsement after reading Jax's thoughts, but I guess I need to chime in here.

Fans of The Secret Series will feel right at home with Bosch's trademark style and humor which starts right from the beginning.  He encourages readers to create their own titles and even come up with their own "nom de plume".  Bosch does not take anything for granted.  He recognizes that his young audience has many questions about writing and may not know even some of the first steps; however, he is never condescending to his audience.  Instead, I could not help but think about the amazing vocabulary that is used as part of word play (particularly in the notes on various pages).  It is not as if students would need to sit with a dictionary, but Bosch has a respect for the intelligence of his audience and their ability to grasp words and concepts.

Write This Book is an interactive text.  Readers are encouraged to write thoughts down, play with ideas, and try different exercises.  This would be a great book to use in summer writing groups or as part of a writing club at a school.    

For those of you in the Pasadena area, check out the this event at Vroman's Bookstore on Tuesday, April 2, 2013 where Pseudonymous Bosch and Story Pirates present Write This Book: A Do-It Yourself Mystery at McKinley School.

Monday, March 25, 2013

It's Monday! What are you reading? From Picture Books to YA - 3/25/13

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.

I read through a stack of books this week.  Some good, some okay, and some that were exceptional.

Here's what stood out from the pile....

Let's Go, Hugo! by Angela Dominguez (Dial, March 7, 2013) - A cute book about friendship and taking risks and accepting challenges. 

The Museum by Susan Verde; Illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds (Abrams, March 1, 2013) - Fans of Peter Reynolds' other books will enjoy this one.

Friends by Mies van Hout (Lemniscaat, April 1, 2013) - Simple but excellent.

Nelly May Has Her Say by Cynthia C. DeFelice; Illustrated by Henry Cole (Farrar, Straus, & Giroux,  March 19, 2013) - Just a fun book that made me laugh as several points.

Owly & Wormy, Bright Lights and Starry Nights by  Andy Runton (Atheneum Books for Young Children, November 13, 2012) - If you love Owly and Wormy, you'll enjoy this one.  If you haven't read an Owly book before, check this one out.

The Beatles were Fab by Kathleen Krull, Paul Brewer; Illustrated by Stacy Innerst (Harcourt Children's Books, March 19, 2013) - A really well done picture book biography.  I'll be reviewing this in the near future for Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday.

Forest Has a Song by Amy Ludwig VanDerwater; Illustrated by Robbin Gourley (Clarion Books, March 26, 2013) - Just in time for National Poetry Month and spring.  Lovely book of poetry.  A review will be coming in the near future.

Otis Dooda by Ellen Potter; Illustrated by David Heatley (Feiwel & Friends, June 4, 2013) - I plan to review this one closer to the release date.  However, I will say that there are a lot of 8 year olds who are going to love this one.

Write This Book: A Do-It Yourself Mystery by Pseudonymous Bosch (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, April 2, 2013) - Review coming tomorrow.

So, what are you reading this week?

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday - Who Says Women Can't Be Doctors?

Author: Tanya Lee Stone
Illustrated: Marjorie Priceman
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co. (February 19, 2013)
Source: Personal Copy
Audience: Ages 5 to 8
Nonfiction * Biography * Women's History * Women Doctors

Description from the Publisher's Website:
In the 1830s, when a brave and curious girl named Elizabeth Blackwell was growing up, women were supposed to be wives and mothers. Some women could be teachers or seamstresses, but career options were few. Certainly no women were doctors.

But Elizabeth refused to accept the common beliefs that women weren’t smart enough to be doctors, or that they were too weak for such hard work. And she would not take no for an answer. Although she faced much opposition, she worked hard and finally—when she graduated from medical school and went on to have a brilliant career—proved her detractors wrong. This inspiring story of the first female doctor shows how one strong-willed woman opened the doors for all the female doctors to come.

My thoughts on this book:
First, I caught a glimpse of Who Says Women Can't Be Doctors? The Story of Elizabeth Blackwell a few months ago at ALA Midwinter.  At that time, I knew it would be a perfect book for both Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday and also for Women's History Month.  This year, the theme of Women's History Month is Women Inspiring Innovation Through Imagination with a focus on women who have contributed to STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics) fields.   

Second, Tanya Lee Stone is the author of this book.  I almost feel like I need to say nothing more.  Seriously, Stone is an amazing, amazing author of nonfiction books.  I was recommending nonfiction titles to one of my librarians a few weeks ago, and suddenly I stopped and realized that nearly every title I had recommended was a book written by Stone.  And to top it all off, Tanya Lee Stone writes both picture books and nonfiction for older readers.

I guess I should finally get to my thoughts on Who Says Women Can't Be Doctors?

Stone tells the story of Elizabeth Blackwell who became the first woman doctor in the United States.  Not an easy thing in the mid-1800's.  Blackwell received 28 rejections from medical schools until she received an acceptance letter from Geneva Medical School in upstate New York.  Blackwell graduated from medical school in 1849 at the age of 28.  Though the book ends with Blackwell's graduation from Medical School, the end notes provide further information about the challenges Elizabeth faced.  Those challenges led her, with the assistance of her sister who also became a doctor, to eventually open up the New York Infirmary for Women and Children in 1857.  This was followed by the opening of a Women's Medical College in 1868. 

Though the book focuses more on Blackwell as a child and what factors led her to pursue becoming a doctor, the inclusion of the author's note rounds out the story.  Stone's description of Blackwell's personality and spirit as a child is humorously portrayed through Priceman's illustrations.  What shines through the story is the determination and strength that Blackwell possessed that allowed her to break ground for other women to later become doctors. 

With Blackwell's text and Priceman's spirited illustrations, young readers will find this story very accessible.  If you love looking for nonfiction picture books or nonfiction biographies, then you will want to add Who Says Women Can't Be Doctors? The Story of Elizabeth Blackwell to your personal collection or to a classroom or school library. 

Look for this book at your local bookstore and shop indie when possible.

More about Tanya Lee Stone: website | blog | twitter | facebook |

Don't forget to link up your nonfiction reviews:

Monday, March 18, 2013

Update - Picture Book Blog Tour Ann Stampler

Some great news - Ann Stampler has offered to sign and giveaway a copy of each book to a lucky winner.  This giveaway is open internationally as well.  For information about The Wooden Sword and The Cats on Ben Yehuda Street, check out my blog post here.

Enter the giveaway below:
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Picture Book Blog Tour - Ann Redisch Stampler

Kid Lit Frenzy is honored to be kicking off the Picture Book Blog Tour for Ann Redisch Stampler.  Ann has written numerous picture books over the years and last year entered the scene as a debut Young Adult author with her book, Where It Began (Simon Pulse, 2012).

The Picture Book Blog Tour is featuring Ann's newest picture book The Cats on Ben Yehuda Street that was released in January of this year and The Wooden Sword which was released in 2012.  There will be 10 stops in this blog tour and you can get more information from Read Now Sleep Later where Ann's books will be featured tomorrow (March 19, 2013).  Scroll down to read my thoughts on each of the books.   

The Cats on Ben Yehuda Street written by Ann Stampler; Illustrated by Francesca Carabelli (Kar-Ben Publishing, January 1, 2013)

This book is absolutely charming, and cat lovers will adore it.  Mr. Modiano owns a Fish Shop on Ben Yehuda Street in Tel Avi.  Mrs. Spiegel is his neighbor and the owner of two cats.  Each day, Mr. Modiano brings a fish up to Mrs. Spiegel and each day, after he leaves, she gives the fish to her cats to enjoy.  Then one day, her dear Ketzie goes missing.

The writing in this book is both perfect for the story and for young readers who will enjoy the humor and seriousness of the tale.  The repetitive format of the text will provide readers with the ability to join in on guessing what will happen next.  Both Mr. Modiano and Mrs. Spiegel are quirky in their own way.  The two cats, Ketzie and Gatito are unique as well.  Though, I wasn't surprised by the ending of the story, I was certainly pleased with how things work out when Ketzie disappears.

Francesca Carabelli's illustrations work well in complimenting the tone of this book.  There is a certain sense of fun and humor that is conveyed by her depiction of each of the characters.  This story works on several levels because of how well Stampler's text works with Carabelli's pictures.   

The Wooden Sword by Ann Stampler; Illustrated by Carol Liddiment (Albert Whitman & Co, March 1, 2012)

Whereas, there is a certain sense of fun and humor in The Cats on Ben Yehuda Street, Stampler displays a more serious note in The Wooden Sword.  Her retelling of the classic Afghani Jewish folktale is pitch perfect.  I have spoken with Ann several times about this book and have always been struck about her desire to get this one "just right" from both the text to the illustrations.  I have admired her diligent efforts in capturing the cultural setting for this folktale too.

As I read, The Wooden Sword, I was drawn to the faith of the poor Jewish shoemaker in the face of the challenges presented by the Afghani Shah.  The folktale works perfectly in our world today.  For many, challenges come constantly in the decisions that we face each day and in wondering how to deal with loss of jobs or other things.  The Jewish shoemaker remains faithful and optimistic through it all and shows great wisdom in how he deals with some difficult decisions.

Carol Liddiment's illustrations work to compliment and highlight Ann's storytelling.  Readers will find this story fulfilling and an excellent addition to classroom and school collections on folktales. 

Information about Ann Redisch Stampler:
Ann Redisch Stampler loves folk tales! She is an award-winning picture book writer, most recently receiving the National Jewish Book Award for The Rooster Prince of Breslov. She also writes for young adults.

From her website: In terms of the facts of my life, I was born on the East coast and raised mostly in the West, and live in Los Angeles where my husband, Rick, and I raised our two children. I studied English literature, psychology, and law, all of which still interest me. But I have always wanted to be a writer, and I feel extremely lucky to have had the opportunity to fulfill that dream.

Where to find her: Picture Book Website | YA Website | Twitter | Facebook

Blog Tour Stops:

Tue - March 19 - Alethea at Read Now Sleep Later 
Wed - March 20 - Gail at Nightengail Art 
Thu - March 21 - Danielle at There's a Book
Fri - March 22 - Wendy at Noodling with Words 
Sat - March 23 - The Cats on Ben Yehuda Launch Party at Children's Book World, Los Angeles
Mon - March 25 - Julie Rowan-Zoch 
Tue - March 26 - Joanna at Miss Marple's Musings 
Wed - March 27 - Niki at Daydream Reader 
Thu - March 28 - Cynthia at Teaching in Cute Shoes 
Fri - March 29 - Colby at Sharpread

It's Monday! What are you reading? From Picture Books to YA - 3/18/13

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's what has stood out from the pile...

Wordles by Amy Krouse Rosenthal; Illustrated by Serge Bloch  (Chronicle Books, June 1, 2012) - Last year Krouse Rosenthal did Wumbers and this year we have Wordles.  Look for this one coming in June.

Born to be Giants: How Baby Dinosaurs Grew to Rule the World by Lita Judge (Roaring Brook Press, 2009) - How does Lita Judge go from something like Red Hat or Red Sled to doing something like Born to be Giants? Amazing.  Enjoyed this book a lot.

The Buffalo are Back by Jean Craighead George; Paintings by Wendell Minor (Penguin, 2010) - Minor's paintings are beautiful and the story of the Buffaloes and their importance to the environment is beautifully captured in this book.

The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne M. Valente; Illustrated by Ana Juan (Feiwel & Friends, May 2011) - I know in some places this one is marked for Middle Grade but the language is fairly sophisticated in this one.  This book is as if Alice in Wonderland, and The Chronicles of Narnia, and The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, and The Phantom Tollbooth had a love child.  If you have students who have read and loved the classics, then they will love this one.

Currently reading:

Ghoulish Song (Zombay #2) by William Alexander (Simon & Schuster, March 2013) - I loved the first book in this series (Goblin Secrets) and excited to be starting the sequel. 

Sticks and Stones: Defeating the Culture of Bullying and Rediscovering the Power of Character and Empathy by Emily Bazelon (Random House, February 2013) - This is one that I'll be reading for awhile. 

So, what are you reading?

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday - Louisa May's Battle

Author: Kathleen Krull
Illustrator: Carlyn Beccia
Publisher: Walker Childrens
Source: Personal Copy
Audience: Grades 3rd to 5th
Nonfiction * Women's History * American History * Famous Authors

Description on GoodReads:
Louisa May Alcott is best known for penning Little Women, but few are aware of the experience that influenced her writing most-her time as a nurse during the Civil War. Caring for soldiers' wounds and writing letters home for them inspired a new realism in her work. When her own letters home were published as Hospital Sketches, she had her first success as a writer. The acclaim for her new writing style inspired her to use this approach in Little Women, which was one of the first novels to be set during the Civil War. It was the book that made her dreams come true, and a story she could never have written without the time she spent healing others in service of her country

My thoughts on the book:
One of my favorite authors when I was in 5th grade was Louisa May Alcott.  I read and loved Little Women, Little Men, Jo's Boys, and Eight Cousins.  However, I never really bothered to look into who Louisa May Alcott was or what influenced her as a woman and writer.  Recently, I read the biographical picture book Louisa: The Life of Louisa May Alcott by Yona Zeldis McDonough (Henry Holt, and Co., 2009) I found the book fascinating and the historical information interesting.

In Louisa May's Battle: How the Civil War Led to Little Women, Kathleen Krull focuses on Alcott's experiences as a nurse during the Civil War and how it influenced her as a person and also as a writer. Krull brings to life Alcott's experience from the train ride to the her travels on a ship to her experience tending soldiers.  Unfortunately, Alcott wasn't immune from the illnesses facing the men and boys she was caring for.  Several weeks in, she became ill with Typhoid fever.  Alcott was never quite the same after her illness, but when she was well enough to consider work again, she began revisiting her writing with more success than she had before.

The combination of Krull's text accompanied by Beccia's paintings make this book a success for me.  Krull provides additional sources at the end as well as some additional information of Women in Medicine.  This is a great addition for any classroom or school library, and a wonderful book to celebrate Women's History Month.  

Don't forget to link up your nonfiction reviews:

Monday, March 11, 2013

It's Monday! What are you reading? From Picture Books to YA 3/11/13

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 some of my favorite books from this past week:

Louisa May's Battle: How the Civil War Led to Little Women by Kathleen Krull; Illustrated by Carlyn Beccia (Walker Books for Young Readers, March 2013) - I love Louisa May Alcott and Kathleen Krull's work.  Krull writing about Alcott -fantastic!  Just in time for Women's History Month.

Miss Moore Thought Otherwise: How Anne Carroll Moore Created Libraries for Children by Jane Pinborough; Illustrated by Debby Atwell (Houghton Mifflin Books for Children, March 2013) - Fascinating story about the woman who created libraries for children including the Children's Room at the New York Public Library. 

The Longest Night: A Passover Story by Laurel Snyder; Illustrated by Catia Chien (Schwartz & Wade, February 2013) - Laurel Snyder has created a beautiful story for and about Passover. 

A Sweet Passover by Lesléa Newman; Illustrated by David Slonim (Abrahms, 2012) - This one is truly a "sweet" Passover story.  I want to try the recipe at the end.

Red Hat by Lita Judge (Simon & Schuster, March 2013) -  The Red Hat from The Red Sled finds a place in Judge's latest book. 

Nobody by Jennifer Lynn Barnes (Egmont, January 2013) - Check out my review and giveaway here.

So, what are you reading?

Friday, March 8, 2013

Book Review - Nobody

Author: Jennifer Lynn Barnes
Publisher: Egmont USA (January 22, 2013)
Form: Hardcover, E-Book
Source: ARC for review
Audience: Young Adult
Fiction * Action/Adventure * Science Fiction

Description from Egmont USA:
There are people in this world who are Nobody. No one sees them. No one notices them. They live their lives under the radar, forgotten as soon as you turn away.

That’s why they make the perfect assassins.

The Institute finds these people when they’re young and takes them away for training. But an untrained Nobody is a threat to their organization. And threats must be eliminated.

Sixteen-year-old Claire has been invisible her whole life, missed by the Institute’s monitoring. But now they’ve ID’ed her and send seventeen-year-old Nix to remove her. Nix is a killer. Claire is his target. But from the moment he sets eyes on her, everything changes, because only the two of them can truly see each other – and two Nobodies are more than twice as dangerous as one.

My thoughts on the book:
When I was asked to provide a review of this book, I agreed based on the premise.  The concept that there were these "Nobodies" who could be used as assassins just seemed intriguing.  Once I actually picked up the ARC of the book and started, I wondered if it was all going to make sense.

Barnes has created a world where there are four different kinds of people - Normals, Sensors, Nobodies, and Nulls.  There was initially a lot of explanation of who all these individuals were based on an energy theory.  I have to admit I found myself having to read and re-read some sections trying to understand the "science" behind it. However, once I simplified it and realized that Normals were every day individuals, Nobodies were individuals who basically were not seen by Normals, Nulls were able to be seen and influence others (very much the exact opposite of Nobodies) and Sensors were able to recognize Nobodies and Nulls, then I was able to move on and the book moved quickly despite being nearly 400 pages.

Nix is a 17 year old Nobody who has been raised and trained by the Institute.  Claire is 16 and has been raised in the world of Normals and is unaware of what she is.  When Nix is sent after Claire to terminate her, he believes her to be a Null.  For Claire, Nix is the first person who can really see her. Initially it was a bit difficult to connect with Nix and Claire which I felt was normal considering that for both teens, their lives lacked connections to others.  As the book proceeds and the relationship between Nix and Claire develops, the readers connection to the two main characters grows as well.

As I mentioned earlier, despite the length, the book actually reads quickly.  I found myself drawn into the story and wanting to know more about the Institute and Sensors and the conspiracy that surrounds/involves Nix and Claire.  I recognize that there are a lot of mixed reviews out there regarding Nobody and I wondered what I would think.  However, after the first couple of chapters, I found myself completely drawn into the story and not wanting to put it down.  I would encourage readers who are intrigued by the concept of the book to pick it up and give it a try.
Check out this video of Jennifer Lynn Barnes talking about her writing process:

More about the author:
Jennifer Lynn Barnes is the author of the popular Raised by Wolves series. A former competitive cheerleader, teen model, and comic book geek, she wrote her first book at the age of nineteen. She just completed her PhD in developmental psychology at Yale University and has returned to her native Oklahoma to teach at the University of Oklahoma.

You can visit her online at or follow her on Twit­ter @jenlynnbarnes or on Tumblr.

*I received this book free of charge from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This, in no way, affected my opinion or review of this book.

Thank you to Egmont for sponsoring a giveaway of Nobody and Every Other Day.  Please enter below:

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Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday - March 2013 Releases

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

March 1, 2013

Hoop Genius: How a Desperate Teacher and a Rowdy Gym Class Invented Basketball by John Coy; Illustrated by Joe Morse (Carolrhoda Books)

March 5, 2013

Tito Puente, Mambo King/Tito Puente, Rey del Mambo by Monica Brown; Illustrated by Rafael Lopéz (Rayo)

March 12, 2013

The World is Waiting for You by Barbara Kerley (National Geographic Children's Book)

Twelve Days of New York by Tonya Bolden; Illustrated by Gilbert Ford (Abrahms)

March 28, 2013

How the Oysters Saved the Bay by Jeff Dombek (Schiffer Publishing)

Don't forget to link up your recent Nonfiction Reviews: