Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday - Women Aviators

Daredevil: The Daring Life of Betty Skelton
Author/Illustrator: Meghan McCarthy
Publisher: Simon & Schuster (June 4, 2013)
Audience: Second to Fifth Grade

Description from GoodReads:
A riveting picture book biography of Betty Skelton, aviation and auto racing pioneer, from award-winning author/illustrator Megan McCarthy. In the 1930s most girls were happy playing with dolls. But one girl, Betty Skelton, liked playing with airplanes, watching them fly around outside, and even flying airplanes herself! She lived for an adventure—in the air, the water, and on land—and nothing could stop her, especially not being a girl.

When Betty Skelton was young there weren’t many women flying airplanes or racing cars, but she wouldn’t let that stop her. She was always ready to take on a challenge, and she loved to have fun. Beetty rode motorcycles, raced cars, jumped out of planes, and flew jets, helicoptors, gliders, and blimps. And by the time she was an adult, Betty was known in the press as the “First Lady of Firsts!”

This vibrantly illustrated picture book biography reveals the exciting life of a brave pioneer who followed her dreams and showed the world that women can do anything!

Betty Skelton Day (July 11, 1948) - archival footage but no sound:

Daredevil - Meghan McCarthy's Timelapse Painting:

Flying Solo: How Ruth Elder Soared into America's Heart
Author: Julie Cummins
Illustrator: Malene R. Laugesen
Publisher: Roaring Brook Press (July 23, 2013)
Audience: Second to Fifth Grade

Description from Publisher:
In 1927, airplanes were a thrilling but dangerous novelty. Most people, men and women, believed that a woman belonged in the kitchen and not in a cockpit. One woman, Ruth Elder, set out to prove them wrong by flying across the Atlantic Ocean. Ruth didn't make it, crashing spectacularly, but she flew right into the spotlight and America's heart. This is the story of a remarkable woman who chased her dreams with grit and determination, and whose appetite for adventure helped pave the way for future generations of female flyers.

Trailer for Breaking Through the Clouds: The First Women's National Air Derby: Can you spot Ruth Elder in this clip?

My thoughts on these books:
Two fabulous picture book biographies on two amazing women.  I loved discovering these two new releases.  Ruth Elder (1902-1977) and Betty Skelton (1926-2011) may not seem unique today, but as young women, what they attempted certainly was.  In 1927, just a few short years after women received the right to vote, Elder attempted to fly a plane across the Atlantic.  Though she did not succeed, she continued to fly.  In 1929, Elder and twenty other women pilots participated in the first Women's National Air Derby race which has become the subject of the documentary, Breaking Through the Clouds.

Skelton's interest in flying was just the beginning of a career that included being a stunt pilot, race car driver, and even training to see if women had what it takes to go into space.  She was truly a daredevil with a love of speed and new excitements.

The styles of the two books seem to match these fascinating women.  Meghan McCarthy uses a more animated cartoon style for the illustrations in Daredevil, whereas, Malene Laugesen's choice of paintings seem to match the elegant and sophisticated Ruth Elder.   

Watch C-SPAN's oral history interview with Betty Skelton regarding her experiences, career, and also, training to be an astronaut.

Both books would make great additions to any classroom or school library.  Look for each book at your local bookstores or public libraries.

Don't forget to link up your nonfiction reviews:

Monday, July 29, 2013

It's Monday! What are you reading? From Picture Books to YA - 7/29/13

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

This week's edition of What are you reading?  Looks more like, what did you buy? or which events did you attend?  That's right.  Most of my reading time was filled up by attending book events.  Now don't get me wrong, I had a lot of fun at these events.  I saw friends at all of them.  I met knew friends too.  However, I did not get any real reading in this week.

Here is just a glimpse of each of the events...more to follow:

Monday, July 22, 2013
Once Upon a Time in Montrose
John Barrowman and Carole Barrowman

Wednesday, July 24, 2013
Once Upon a Time in Montrose
Adventures Inbetween (Barbara Brauner, Elisabeth Dahl, Kristen Kittscher, James Mattson, and Jenn Reese)

Saturday, July 27, 2013
Barnes & Noble, Glendale/Americana
Summer of Y.A.

Check out the pictures on Flickr that Katie (@pocketofgreen) took at the event. She has some great candids.

Keep an eye out for more on each of these events...and until then, what are you reading?

Sunday, July 28, 2013

#DollBones Twitter Chat - Mark Your Calendars

Several weeks ago, I read and reviewed Doll Bones by Holly Black.  It is one of my favorite books this year.  As a result of my tweeting about the book, others started reading it.  I thought it would be fun to do a twitter chat with the book.  Sasha Reinhardt, 8th Grade ELA Teacher from KY and blogger over at Middle Grade Reads, offered to co-host the chat.

As I thought about it, I began to wonder if maybe Holly Black would be able to join in.  I sent off an email to Simon & Schuster with my proposal for the chat and asking if Holly would be able to join us.  After several emails and some clarifying times and dates, it is official.  We are having a twitter chat.

Here are the details:

Date:         Thursday, August 15, 2013
Time:         8 p.m. Eastern (5 p.m. Pacific) - The chat will run for an hour.
Hashtag:    #dollbones

Closer to the date, I will post a little bit more about Twitter Chats for those who have never participated.

Until then, you have just under three weeks to find a copy of and read Doll Bones by Holly Black.  

Sasha and I look forward to talking about the book with everyone and having an opportunity to ask Holly some questions.

By the way, if you don't want to wait for August 15th or just want to talk about Doll Bones all the time,  you can join @daydreamreader and @epan11 for a #virtualbookclub on Aug. 5th at 9 p.m. EST!

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Designed by Apple in California #slice2013

Every Tuesday, Ruth and Stacey, host Slice of Life at their blog, Two Writing Teachers.  This is a very supportive and encouraging community.  If you are interested in participating, you can link up your posts on Tuesdays. (Pssst...I know that it isn't Tuesday, but it has been a crazy week.  Sometimes it is important to still do something even if you missed the day.)

You can watch the Official Designed by Apple in California Trailer below:

One morning as I was starting up my computer and opened up my web browser, the Apple page came up.   My first week back at work was already super busy. However, there were a few words and an image that caught my eye before I had time to open up another window for my work email.  When I clicked on the image, I could read the whole statement.  I took a screen shot and posted it on my facebook page.  However, I knew I wanted to say more. 

The two images below make up Apple's Mission Statement. 

As an educator, I have never once thought of education as a business.  Others do, and I will let them have their thoughts.  For me, it has always been about the children.  In the first half of the mission statement, I was emotionally struck by the following lines:

Who will this help?
Will it make life better?
Does this deserve to exist?
If you are busy making everything,
How can you perfect anything?

As I am looking towards the start of a new school year, I can't help but ask myself some similar questions.  Will the programs and instruction that we present help the students that we are teaching?  Will it make their lives better?  Will their lives be better because of the time spent with us?

Ponder that for a moment.  Then move on and ask...

If you are busy making everything, how can you perfect anything? 

Wow!  There are times when I find myself feeling pulled in many directions.  New curriculum.  New initiatives. New teaching techniques.  New compliance requirements. New paperwork. Am I so busy with doing everything that I am failing to do the most important thing? Perfect the craft of teaching so that children grow and learn?

When looked at through that lens, do I have to plead guilty?

And Apple doesn't stop there.  Keep reading.

When I got to the line, there are a thousand "no's" for every "yes", I could almost hear the collective agreement.  Apple has always taken their time to put out a product.  Do we take our time so that every interaction we have with a student enhances each life it touches?

Teachers are just as much engineers and artists, craftsmen and inventors. Though those outside of education may rarely see what we do, and we may not always see the results of our efforts, we leave our signature on every child that walks through the door of our classroom or shares an interaction with us.

This year, I am going to be working on a District-level overseeing programs for English Language Learners at our Elementary Schools.  It is so easy to get overwhelmed by all of the needs of the students and the teachers and the families.  What will be my "no's" and "yeses"?  Will I maintain a focus on what is critically important to making a difference?  

Over the next few weeks,  I can plan to check off things on my "to-do" list or I can plan with the goal that every idea (and lesson or training) that I develop will enhance each life it touches

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday - Koalas and Sloths

Jimmy the Joey: The True Story of an Amazing Koala Rescue
Authors: Deborah Lee Rose, Susan Kelly
Photographs: Susan Kelly
Publisher: National Geographic Kids (July 9, 2013)
Independent Reading Level: Grades 2nd to 5th

Description from GoodReads:
This warm and inspirational photographic picture book for ages 4 to 8 is a compelling and uplifting true story, with a sweet message about coping with loss that draws attention to an important and threatened wild animal.

Jimmy is an adorable baby koala whose tender tale is sure to strike at the heartstrings of every animal lover. Readers will marvel at Jimmy's new life at Koala Hospital, being raised by loving human caregivers and interacting with other koalas healing from injury. The book also introduces young readers to the need for conservational awareness: Through Jimmy's life story readers will come to understand the many obstacles koalas and other species face today.

A Little Book of Sloth
Author/Photographer: Lucy Cooke
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books (March 5, 2013)
Independent Reading Level: Grades 2nd to 5th

Description from GoodReads:
Cozy up with adorable baby sloths in this irresistible photographic picture book. Hang around just like a sloth and get to know the delightful residents of the Avarios Sloth Sanctuary in Costa Rica, the world’s largest sloth orphanage. You’ll fall in love with bad-boy Mateo, ooh and ahh over baby Biscuit, and want to wrap your arms around champion cuddle buddy Ubu!

From British filmmaker and sloth expert Lucy Cooke comes a hilarious, heart-melting photographic picture book starring the laziest—and one of the cutest—animals on the planet.

My thoughts on these books:
Yes, I don't normally combined two books into one review; however, both of these books share some similarities and will appeal to the same audience.  As a result, I thought it would be fun to share them at the same time.  

First, how can you look at the covers of these two books and not fall in love with those faces? Seriously?!

Sure, I have seen dozens of pictures of koalas and probably even had a stuffed koala as a child.  It wasn't going to be a hard sell to convince me to pick up Jimmy the Joey.  Plus, I love every book I have ever read by National Geographic Kids.  The quality of the text and photographs make their books a must have for any classroom or school library.  

But, I honestly have to say that I didn't really have much of an awareness about sloths.  My understanding of sloths basically was that they were slow or slept a lot. And then I saw A Little Book of Sloth and I found myself falling for the baby sloth on the cover.  I know, I know, I am a sucker for cute baby animal pictures.

In Jimmy the Joey, Deborah Lee Rose and Susan Kelly pair up to tell the story of Jimmy, a baby koala who was orphaned as an infant.  The story follows his stay at a Koala Hospital, his development from baby to adult koala and his eventual return to the wild.  Jimmy's story was considered a success story by the staff.  Readers get a clear sense of what it means to rescue and care for a baby koala bear and how staff work to reintegrate koalas into their natural habitats.  However, children also learn that not all koalas are as successful as Jimmy.  

Lucy Cooke shares with readers about not just one but several different kinds of sloths who reside at a sloth orphanage in Costa Rica.  Through a similar process as in Jimmy the Joey, young readers in A Little Book of Sloth learn about how workers take care of the baby sloths and what is needed to help them develop into adult sloths. I was surprised about how you need to bathe and care for the fur of a sloth and also how strong they must be in order to hang onto someone or something.   Since readers may be less familiar with sloths, their story does attempt to dispel some myths and also talk about how the sloth's digestive system functions perfectly to fit their very slow lifestyle.

If you are looking for books to expand an animal collection in your library or to share with readers who love animals and want to learn more about them, I would highly recommend adding both of these to your collection. 

Update:  Thanks to Crystal for the link to this really cute video of baby sloths getting a bath.

Don't forget to link up your nonfiction reviews:

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

You're Invited: Summer of Y.A. - Barnes & Noble at The Americana

Saturday, July 27, 2013 at 2:00 pm
Barnes & Noble at The Americana
210 Americana Way 
Glendale, CA 91210
From Paranormal Romance to Action-Adventure join us for a "speed dating" styled event where you can sit down and meet 11 up-and-coming YA authors. 
Jessica Brody (Unremembered)
Stacey Jay (Of Beast and Beauty)
Kathy McCullough (Who Needs Magic?)
Lissa Price (Starters)
Elizabeth Ross (Belle Epoque)
Sarah Skilton (Bruised)
Andrew Smith (Winger)
Ann Stampler (Where It Began)
Carol Tanzman (Circle of Silence
Allen Zadoff (Boy Nobody)
Don't miss this chance to chat with these talented individuals and have them sign your books! All of the authors' books will be available for purchase at Barnes & Noble, Glendale. The event is ticketed but tickets are free! Click here to sign up Purchases from the weekend of the event benefit Book by Book; event attendees can recommend which school or library will receive a Barnes & Noble gift card from the fundraiser -- the benificiary will be chosen randomly from all the school/library names submitted! The winning attendee will also win a gift card. You can also enter to win a gift card right now -- just for helping us promote the event locally! The only catch is you have to be able to come to the Glendale, CA store in person to pick up the prize. 
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, July 22, 2013

It's Monday! What are you reading? From Picture Books to YA - 7/22/13

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

This week I spent a lot of time catching up on picture books. I love when I have a couple of hours to look through new picture book releases or to go through a stack that I have been meaning to read.  Some of these are so good that they will be showing up again with reviews or in other posts. 

Though I read over 20 picture books, I am only going to highlight my favorites. 

Here is what stood out from the pile...

One Gorilla: A Counting Book by Anthony Browne (Candlewick, February 12, 2013) - I wish I had seen this one prior to putting together my Top Ten Picture Books For the First Half of 2013.  This one would have definitely made the list.  The illustrations are gorgeous. Primate fans will love this counting book.

Brush of the Gods by Lenore Look (Schwartz & Wade, June 25, 2013) - A beautiful story about Wu Daozi (689-758). 

S is for Steampunk by Nat Iwata (Cameron & Co, May 14, 2013) - If you are a Steampunk fan, you will want to take a look at this one. Not quite a board book but it has reinforced pages.

Lifetime: The Amazing Numbers in Animal Lives by Lola M. Schaefer; Illustrated by Christopher Silas Neal (Chronicle Books, September 24, 2013) - Looking for a book that looks at math averages? Might want to pick this one up and take a look. 

How Do You Burp in Space? And Other Tips Every Space Tourist Needs to Know by Susan E. Goodman; Illustrated by Michael Slack (Bloomsbury, July 9, 2013) - This isn't exactly a picture book though it has a lot of illustrations. It is actually a chapter book for third to sixth graders.  Fun way to look at space travel.

Jimmy the Joey: The True Story of an Amazing Koala Rescue by Deborah Lee Rose, Susan Kelly; Photographs by Susan Kelly (National Geographic, July 9, 2013) - Who doesn't like Koalas? I love the books that National Geographic has been producing and this one is no exception. 

Daredevil: The Daring Life of Betty Skelton by Meghan McCarthy (Simon & Schuster, June 4, 2013) - I wish I was as willing to take risks like Betty Skelton.  This picture book biography focuses on Betty Skelton, who admits that she loved going fast.

Little Red Writing by Joan Holub; Illustrated by Melissa Sweet (Chronicle Books, September 24, 2013) - Little Red Riding Hood gets a bit of a makeover in this book that takes a look at writing a story.

So, what are you reading?

Sunday, July 21, 2013

2013 Eisner Award Winners

"Comic-Con International is the home of the Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards, the comic book equivalent of the “Oscars.” The Eisner Awards, named after famous comics creator, Will Eisner (The Spirit, Contract with God), who is regarded as the father of the modern graphic novel, started at Comic-Con in 1987. For the awards' first two decades, Eisner himself was on stage to present the awards to each year’s recipients. The Eisners are given out each year at Comic-Con International: San Diego in a gala event held the Friday evening of the convention at a local hotel. The awards feature more than two-dozen categories covering the best publications and creators of the previous year. A blue-ribbon committee selects nominees from thousands of entries submitted by publishers and creators, which are then voted on by members of the comic book industry." - About Comic-Con

Congratulations to the following winners:

Best Publication for Early Readers (up to age 7): Babymouse for President, by Jennifer L. Holm and Matthew Holm (Random House)

Best Publication for Kids (ages 8–12): Adventure Time, by Ryan North, Shelli Paroline, and Braden Lamb (kaboom!)

Best Publication for Teens (ages 13–17) A Wrinkle in Time, by Madeleine L’Engle, adapted by Hope Larson (FSG)

To see all the winners: click here.

To see all categories and nominees, click here.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Top Ten Picture Books for the First Half of 2013

We have just moved beyond the half-way mark in the year and I thought it would be fun to list my favorite picture books for the first half of the year.   Books selected had to be released by June 30, 2013.  Last year, two of my 10 went on to win Caldecott Honors.  Will there by any award winners in this group?! Not sure, but certainly hope so.

Bluebird by Bob Staake (Schwartz & Wade)

Flora and the Flamingo by Molly Idle (Chronicle Books)

Exclamation Mark! by Amy Krouse Rosenthal; Illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld (Scholastic Press)

The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt; Illustrated by Oliver Jeffers (Philomel)

Miss Maple's Seeds by Eliza Wheeler (Nancy Paulsen Books)

No Fits, Nilson! by Zachariah Ohora (Dial)

The Story of Fish and Snail by Deborah Freedman (Viking Juvenile)

The Mighty Lalouche by Matthew Olshan; Illustrated by Sophie Blackall (Schwartz & Wade)

The Beatles Were Fab (and They Were Funny) by Kathleen Krull, Paul Brewer; 
Illustrated by Stacy Innerst (HMH Books for Young Readers)

Illustrated by Melissa Sweet (Balzer & Bray)

Friday, July 19, 2013

Book Review - Battle Bunny

Author: Mac Barnett, Jon Scieszka
Illustrator: Matthew Myers
Publisher: Simon & Schuster (October 22, 2013)
Source: An advanced copy
Audience: Ages 5 and older

Description from GoodReads:
Encourage creativity with this wildly entertaining picture book mash-up from the minds of Jon Scieszka and Mac Barnett. Alex has been given a saccharine, sappy, silly-sweet picture book about Birthday Bunny that his grandma found at a garage sale. Alex isn’t interested—until he decides to make the book something he’d actually like to read. So he takes out his pencil, sharpens his creativity, and totally transforms the story!

Birthday Bunny becomes Battle Bunny, and the rabbit’s innocent journey through the forest morphs into a supersecret mission to unleash an evil plan—a plan that only Alex can stop.

Featuring layered, original artwork that emphasizes Alex’s additions, this dynamic exploration of creative storytelling is sure to engage and inspire.

My thoughts on this book:
Since Battle Bunny doesn't come out until October, I was thinking of waiting to review this one. However, after ALA, I started seeing some buzz on Twitter about it and thought I would post a review now. 

When I first saw the Folded & Gathered (F&G) for Battle Bunny, I  wondered a lot about this book.  After reading it, I realized this book was not a typical picture book or early reader? And this was not going to be a cute little read aloud either.   For a moment, I even questioned the state of mind of Scieszka and Barnett.  I mean absolutely no disrespect for either of these two authors.  Both are brilliant and very talented.  Let's take a look at the book for a moment. 

Battle Bunny begins in a manner that is reminiscent of a Little Golden Book. Here is the cover for Home for a Bunny:

Here is the cover for Battle Bunny.  See the similarity underneath all the scratch outs?

And when you open up to the first page of Battle Bunny, there is a sense that you are taken back to the 1940's and 1950's. 

Now turn the page, and the fun begins....

I like to imagine what the creative process was for Battle Bunny.  Did Barnett and Sciezska send the text for Birthday Bunny to Matthew Myers, who then sent back clean illustrated pages made to look like a Little Golden Book?

And if so, can you imagine his reaction, when receiving "edits" on pages like the one above after Mac and Jon had some fun?  Birthday Bunny has morphed into Battle Bunny. 

I realize that Mac and Jon may likely have been working in different states as they wrote this book, but I enjoy imagining that the two were sitting together with pencils out and a mad gleam in their eyes as they "re-wrote" the book. 

I wondered how much they shared with their editor in advance and how much was a surprise?  If I was the editor, I am not even sure where to begin in giving feedback. Did the editor get into the fun? Or did she just pull out an ice pack for her headache and reach for the anti-acids and let this creative team run ripshod over the book?

Regardless of the process, the end results are actually brilliant.  Now what to do with this book?

If you know of or have seen an earlier copy of this book, please talk it up with booksellers and librarians and teachers.  I am so thankful that many of my twitter friends get this book, but my fear is that there are many teachers who will not find this book or may not see the potential for how the book can be used in the classroom.

Yes, this book could be enjoyed one on one with a young child, but this will be an excellent text for discussion the writing and editing process with older students.  Locate all those old Little Golden Books in storage, pull out a document camera, and begin to have fun with this book.  

Though this site isn't fully functioning yet, check back closer to the release date for the website for Battle