Monday, September 30, 2013

It's Monday! What are you reading? From Picture Books to YA - 9/30/13

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 is going to be an unusual "What are you reading?"  Last week was a bit insane for me.  I had several evening meetings and was super busy prepping for a training that I organized at work and a presentation that I did for the Southern California Independent Booksellers Association (SCIBA) so even though I was around books and reading I did not have much time to actually read.

However, while at the SCIBA event, I did pick up a number of 2014 Advanced Readers.  Here are some Middle Grade and YA titles that came highly recommend that you might want to add to your TBR pile for the first quarter of 2014.

January 2014

Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy by Karen Foxlee (Knopf Books)

The Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson (Viking)

February 2014

Tin Star by Cecil Castelucci (Roaring Brook)

Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith (Dutton)

March 2014

Under the Egg by Laura Marx Fitzgerald (Dial)

The Last Wild by Piers Torday (Viking)

Half Bad by Sally Green (Viking)

April 2014

Noggin by John Corey Whaley (Atheneum)

So, what are you reading or most looking forward to reading?

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday - Rotten Pumpkin

Author: David M. Schwartz
Photographer: Dwight Kuhn
Publisher: Creston Books (July 23, 2013)
Source: Copy for Review
Audience: 2nd to 4th graders
Keywords: Food Chains * Mold * Nonfiction

Description from GoodReads:
Compost won't mean the same thing after readers have seen the amazing transformation of Jack from grinning pumpkin to mold-mottled wreckage to hopeful green shoot. The story of decomposition is vividly told so that science comes to life (and death). Part story, part science, and a whole lot of fun. Features a teacher guide in the back of the book, and additional material (including instructions on how to put on a Rotten Pumpkin play in your school) are on the Creston and Author websites.

My thoughts on this book:
This book is gross.  Seriously, I don't mean that in a bad way, but how else do you describe a book that is basically filled with images of various kinds of molds and insects?  Schwartz and Kuhn give readers a whole new insight into the concept of decomposition in ROTTEN PUMPKIN.

When someone creates the beautiful carved pumpkin for Halloween, the process for decomposition has been triggered.  However, most of us do not keep our Jack-o'-lanterns around until they have completely broken down and resulted in compost for next year's crop of pumpkins.  Dwight Kuhn's photographs are vivid and very descriptive on their own, but David M. Schwartz's simple but clear text helps readers understand the various stages of decomposition that a carved pumpkin goes through.  In addition to understanding the decomposition process, readers learn about the various rodents and insects that further facilitate the process.

In some ways, I have to say that this book is not for the faint of heart.  However, I suspect there will be a number of children who will pick this one up out of curiosity or to make someone else say "ewwww".  If you are looking for something with a more science related focus to use around Halloween, you might want to take a look at Rotten Pumpkin. The end of the book also contains key vocabulary and classroom investigation ideas.

If this book isn't available at your local bookstore or public library, I would suggest requesting that they carry it.  For more information about the book, read about David M. Schwartz's creative process for ROTTEN PUMPKIN.

Also available - Teacher Resources from Creston Books:
Curriculum GuideActivities | Rotten Pumpkin Play

Don't forget to link up your nonfiction reviews:

Monday, September 23, 2013

It's Monday! What are you reading? From Picture Books to Young Adult - 9/23/13

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.

Lately, getting a lot of reading in hasn't been easy.  And then there is the award reading that I can't talk about and the list of books to share looks sparse.

Here's what I read this week that I can share:

Sky Jumpers by Peggy Eddleman (Random House, September 24, 2013) - Check out the review and Giveaway here.

Watch the Official Book Trailer here:

Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass by Meg Medina (Candlewick, March 2013) - I read this for a book club that I attend and it was a timely read for both Banned Books Week and for National Bullying Month (October).  A powerful story that looks at the effects of bullying on one girl's life. I would love to be able to afford a stack of these and just pass them out to students.

Watch the official Book Trailer here:

So, what are you reading? 

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Banned Books Week Hop September 22nd - 28th

This year's Banned Books Week Hop is hosted by Mary of BookHounds and Kathy of I am a Reader, Not a Writer

One aspect of a free society is the right to read what you want.  Though I don't believe that all books are right for everyone, I do believe that people have the right to decide what is best for them.  Are you looking for ways to celebrate Banned Books Week or to provide information to other teachers and parents about Freedom to Read?  Here are some resources/links that you will want to check out in order to celebrate Banned Books Week 2013.

Banned Books Week Website

     * Banned Books Week YouTube Channel
     * Banned Books Pinterest Page


ALA's Banned Books Week Resource Page

     * Frequently Challenged Books List

National Council of Teachers of English Celebrate Banned Books Week
     • NCTE celebrates with a Twitter Chat #nctechat on 9/22 at 8 p.m. ET -
         Join Teri Lesesne @professornana and Laurie Halse Anderson @halseanderson

To Celebrate Banned Books Week 2013 I am giving away one book of your choice (must be on a banned books list) worth $15 or less. 

To enter the giveaway, please complete the Rafflecopter form below.  You must be 13 or older and have a U.S. mailing address.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Don't forget to check out the other blogs participating in the Giveaway Hop

Friday, September 20, 2013

2013 CYBILS Panelists Announced

This week, the CYBILS 2013 Panelists were announced. I love the CYBILS.  They are like the PEOPLE'S CHOICE AWARDS of Children's and Teens Literature. For the past two years, I was honored to serve as a Book Apps Judge.

Here are the links to each of the announcements for the Panelist for each category:   

2013 Fiction Picture Book Judges

2013 Middle Grade Fiction Judges

2013 Young Adult Fiction Judges

2013 Elementary/Middle Grade Speculative Fiction Judges

2013 Young Adult Speculative Fiction Judges

2013 Book Apps Judges

2013 Graphic Judges

2013 Poetry Judges

2013 Nonfiction Elementary/Middle Grade Judges

2013 Nonfiction Young Adult Judges

And the big announcement...
2013 Early Readers/Early Chapters

Now presenting the Round 1 and 2 panelists for Easy Readers/Early  Chapter Books:

Round 1

Jennifer Wharton, Jean Little Library

Lauura P. Salas, Lara Salas: Writing the World for Kids

Jodie Rodgriguez, Growing Book by Book

Diana Pettis, Finding the Right Book

Deb Nance, Readerbuzz

Danyelle Leach, Bookshelves in the Cul-de-Sac

Janssen Bradshaw, Everyday Reading

Round 2
Travis Jonker, 100 Scope Notes

Freya Hooper, One Great Book

Sara Brown, Mrs. Brown Loves Bookworms

Alyson Beecher, Kid Lit Frenzy

Nicole Barnes, Daydream Reader

I am honored to be serving this year as a Round 2 Judge for Easy Readers/Early Chapter Books.  What a great team of panelists and I know I will have fun working with everyone. 

Congratulations to all of the bloggers, teachers, librarians who will be serving this year as a 2013 CYBILS Panelist. 

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Sky Jumpers Blog Tour - Review and Giveaway

by Peggy Eddleman
Random House Publishers
September 24, 2013
Audience: 4th to 8th Grade
Fiction * Dystopian/Postapocalyptic * Adventure

Description of the book from the publisher's page:
What happens when you can't do the one thing that matters most? Twelve-year-old Hope Toriella lives in White Rock, a town of inventors struggling to recover from the green bombs of World War III. But Hope is terrible at inventing and would much rather sneak off to cliff dive into the Bomb's Breath—the deadly band of compressed air that covers the crater left by the bombs—than fail at yet another invention. When bandits discover that White Rock has priceless antibiotics, they invade. With a two-day deadline to finish making this year's batch and no ingredients to make more, the town is left to choose whether to hand over the medicine and die from the disease that's run rampant since the bombs, or die fighting the bandits now. Help lies in a neighboring town, but the bandits count everyone fourteen and older each hour. Hope and her friends—Aaron and Brock—might be the only ones who can escape to make the dangerous trek through the Bomb's Breath and over the snow-covered mountain. Inventing won't help her make it through alive, but with Aaron and Brock's help, the daring and recklessness that usually gets her into trouble might just save them all.  

My thoughts on the book:
Recently, I asked a group of 9 to 11 year olds what they liked to read.  Nearly everyone in the group indicated books with action, and adventure.  Another thing that I have noticed is that Middle Grade readers are just as interested as teens in reading Dystopian or Post-apocalyptic novels, yet there are very few of these for this age group.

Debut author, Peggy Eddleman has created a post-apocalyptic novel about a community of people living in a world with the after effects of World War III and the "green bomb".  One of the results of the "green bomb" is something called "Bomb's Breath".  I am not certain that I can describe Bomb's Breath but the air quality of Bomb's Breath results in immediate death if someone were to breath it in. 

Eddleman concentrates on building her world and developing her characters in the initial part of the book.  One of the things that is a very high value to this community is the ability to invent or create.  Since WWIII happened, all the inventions especially technology and those items that required electricity have been lost.  In an effort to regain items, there are contests recognizing the best inventors.  Holly, the main character, does not have skills in inventing, but her friend Aaren is actually quite talented in this area.  What Holly is able to do is revealed throughout the story, as it is her skills that turn out to be quite important in saving the community.

It is always difficult to know how much to share and how much to allow readers to discover.  Eddleman has created a story and characters that will appeal especially to readers in the 4th and 5th grades.  I can see children wanting to be like Hope and wanting to save the day.  However, maybe a more important message is learning to appreciate what skills and talents you do have.  Additionally, I appreciated not only the main characters but the supporting community of characters.  There are few books that show a community of adults being caring and supportive.  Readers will enjoy when Holly, Aaren, and Brock set out on an adventure to help save their community.  And, though the book is the first in a series, it can also be read as a stand alone.

To share SKY JUMPERS with your own children or students start looking for it at your local public library or at you closest independent bookstore on September 24, 2013. 

For more information about author, Peggy Eddleman:

SKY JUMPERS Blog Tour Stops

September 11th: Taffy’s Candy
September 12th: Smack Dab in the Middle
September 13th:
Once Upon a Story
September 14th:
Inky Elbows
September 15th:
Society of Young Inklings
September 16th:
Me, My Shelf & I
September 17th:
Kayla’s Reads and Reviews
September 18th:
The Haunting of Orchid Forsythia
September 19th:
Kid Lit Frenzy
September 19th:
Word Spelunking
September 21st:
The Mod Podge Bookshelf
September 22nd:
The Write Soil
September 23rd:
The Hiding Spot
September 23rd: Literary Rambles
September 23rd:
Nerdy Book Club
September 24th: OneFourKidLit

Thanks to Random House, readers will have a chance to win a copy of SKY JUMPERS by Peggy Eddleman. Please complete the Rafflecopter form below. The winner must have a U.S. mailing address and be 13 or older. a Rafflecopter giveaway

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday - Thomas Jefferson Builds a Library

Author: Barb Rosenstock
Illustrator: John O'Brien
Publisher: Calkins Creek Books (September 1, 2013)
Source: Purchased
Audience: 2nd to 4th grade
Keywords: American History, Biographical, American Presidents, Libraries

Description from Publisher:
Thomas Jefferson loved books, reading, and libraries, and he started accumulating books as a young man. This original and lyrical picture-book biography tells the story of how Jefferson's vast book collections helped to create the world's largest library, the Library of Congress in Washington, DC. Filled with excerpts from primary documents, including Jefferson’s thoughts on books, reading, and learning, this title also features John O’Brien’s whimsical and detailed illustrations. Rosenstock and O’Brien worked closely with experts to ensure the text and images are accurate. The book concludes with an author’s note, bibliography, and source notes.

My thoughts on this book:
Last year I read, Barb Rosenstock's The Camping Trip that Changed America.  This was my first introduction to Rosenstock's work, and I really enjoyed the book.  I was excited to see that she had a new one out, and pulled if off of the new release wall at Vroman's.  I don't think I had read more than a couple of pages when I knew that this was one that I had to have.   A few days later, I attended a book group of about 20+ teachers and librarians who book talk their latest book finds.  Guess which book I brought with me? If you said Thomas Jefferson Builds a Library, you would be 100% correct.

What made me like this book as much as I did?   Page 6.  Well, yes, I did love page six and it is in the book trailer. Hint: What word did Jefferson spell out?  But, let me be serious for a minute.  Rosenstock fully captures Thomas Jefferson's love for books.  Jefferson loved to read nearly above all else.  Jefferson loved books so much that he began collecting them.  On his first trip to Europe, Jefferson shopped for books.  "Tom bought two thousand books in five years, more than a book a day."  That is some serious book shopping.

Still, there is more to love about this book.  Did you know that Jefferson had his own system for organizing books?  Did you know that while president, Jefferson tripled the number of books in the Library of Congress?  And after the Library of Congress experienced a fire that burned through 3,000 books, Jefferson donated his personal collection to the Library of Congress.

Though this book is focused on specific events in Jefferson's life as they related to books, the foucs is a good one that works.  The book does include an author's note and other tidbits of information and various resources at the end.  I encourage you to read through them.  Also, Rosenstock's text provides readers with information for further research on Jefferson and the Library of Congress.  Readers are invited to read through the book using the main text to inform and inspire them.  However, readers can read the book for a second or third time, as they look through the illustrations and read all of the small text boxes.  

Rosenstock's Thomas Jefferson Builds a Library would make a nice addition to any  classroom or school library.  Look for this book at your public library or pick up a copy at your local independent bookstore.

Official Book Trailer:

Educator's Guide, click here.

Don't forget to link up your nonfiction reviews:

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Author Event: Elizabeth Wein

Last night, I attended the author event for Elizabeth Wein at Once Upon a Time in Montrose. It is one of my favorite indie bookstores in the area and it has some awesome events. Alethea (@frootjoos), Thuy (@fishgirl182), and Kimberly (@thewindypages) joined me.

We were in the front row and felt like we were nearly on top of where Elizabeth was going to be sitting.

I had heard Elizabeth give her Printz acceptance speech in June and knew that she would be articulate, warm and funny. She began by sharing how her interest in learning to fly a plane was the impetus behind writing Code Name Verity and then Rose Under Fire.

She then pulled out a "personal gas protection bag" and several of the items that were part of her research.

Elizabeth explained that this was a replica of a manual that was considered so important back in the 1930's-1940's that it was considered a treasonable offense if you lost it. The funny story behind this book is that Elizabeth actually left it behind at a school visit and the librarian called her to let her know and reminded her that it was a treasonable offense.

This was an original map from World War II. Elizabeth is a self-professed map geek and uses them in every book she has ever written.

This escape and resistance map from 1940 is made from silk so that it would not make any sound or lose the image if it got wet. Of course, it can be turned into fashion wear if you get caught trying to cross an enemy line.

Elizabeth was rockin' some cool red shoes. I had to take a picture since I now want a pair.

In addition to cool shoes, Elizabeth explained about several pieces of her jewelry that either were made by friends or were given to her. Her necklace had a charm pendant of a Spitfire airplane. Though she didn't have this with her, she did mention that one of her friends had made Code Name Verity Barbie Dolls to represent Maddie and Julie.

I was so glad to meet Elizabeth and have a chance to hear her. Code Name Verity was one of my favorite books in 2012 and I am looking forward to reading Rose Under Fire.

Note: This was cross posted to Clever Bee

Monday, September 16, 2013

It's Monday! What are you reading? From Picture Books to Young Adult - 9/16/13

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.

Here is what stood out of from the pile this week...

The Surprise Attack of Jabba the Puppett (Origami Yoda #4) by Tom Angleberger (Abrahms, August 6, 2013) - I finally got to the latest book in the Origami Yoda series.  This one ends with a cliffhanger of sorts.  When does book 5 come out?

Mitchell Goes Bowling by Hallie Durand; Illustrated by Tony Fucile (Candlewick, September 10, 2013) - This follow up to Mitchell's License is wonderful for a good laugh.

No Monkeys, No Chocolate by Melissa Stewart, Allen Young ; Illustrated by Nicole Wong (Charlesbridge Publishing, August 1, 2013) - I reviewed this one last week.  This is a definite favorite of mine. 

The Great Trouble: A Mystery of London, the Blue Death, and a Boy Called Eel by Deborah Hopkinson (Knopf Books, September 10, 2013)- Another book that I reviewed last week, The Great Trouble is part historical fiction and part mystery.

The Girl and the Bicycle by Mark Pett (Simon & Schuster, April 29, 2014) - If you enjoyed The Boy and the Airplane by Pett, this is another wordless picture book with a great lesson. However, it won't be out until spring 2014. 

So, what are you reading?

Sunday, September 15, 2013

International Dot Day 2013

Each year, I share information about the annual International Dot Day celebration and activities with teachers.  I hope that when a teacher sees the information and he or she will get excited about participating in this annual celebration.  This year, two teachers decided to join in.  On Friday, September 13th, I went up to Altadena Elementary to hang with Ms. Camargo's fourth graders and Ms. Major's kindergartenters as they celebrated Dot Day together.

These two great teachers paired their students together for the reading of Peter H. Reynold's book, The Dot.

Then the two classes paired together for a variety of activities to celebrate Reynold's book and it's message of creativity and collaboration. 

Enjoy the video of their Dot Day celebration!

Thank you Ms. Camargo and Ms. Major for running with this idea and sharing it with your students.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

The Great Trouble Review & Blog Tour

Author: Deborah Hopkinson
Publisher: Knopf (September 10, 2013)
Source: Copy for Review
Audience: Grades 5th to 8th
Keywords: Historical Fiction, Europe, 1800's, Epidemics

Description of the book:
Eel has troubles of his own: As an orphan and a "mudlark," he spends his days in the filthy River Thames, searching for bits of things to sell. He's being hunted by Fisheye Bill Tyler, and a nastier man never walked the streets of London. And he's got a secret that costs him four precious shillings a week to keep safe. But even for Eel, things aren't so bad until that fateful August day in 1854—the day the Great Trouble begins. Mr. Griggs, the tailor, is the first to get sick, and soon it's clear that the deadly cholera—the "blue death"—has come to Broad Street. Everyone believes that cholera is spread through poisonous air. But one man, Dr. John Snow, has a different theory. As the epidemic surges, it's up to Eel and his best friend Florrie to gather evidence to prove Snow's theory before the entire neighborhood is wiped out. Part medical mystery, part survival story, and part Dickensian adventure, Deborah Hopkinson's The Great Trouble is a celebration of a fascinating pioneer in public health and a gripping novel about the 1854 London cholera epidemic. Backmatter includes an author's note, time line, and further reading suggestions.

My thoughts:
When I read a book, I have a checklist in my head to determine if I liked it and why.  The checklist for Deborah Hopkinson's newest book The Great Trouble would look a little like this:

      Historical Fiction that makes you want to know more about the subject.  -  check
      Description of the setting that makes you actually feel like you experienced it.  - check
      Characters that your care about and would want to know (or not).  -  check
      Mystery and intrigue.  - check
      Book that sucks you in and you can't put down.  -  check

Yes, this book has it all.  As a 5th grader, I would have been thoroughly fascinated with Eel (the main character), the setting of London in 1854, and what was happening at the time to the individuals of this city as a result of the Cholera epidemic.  I guess the adult me is still intrigued by the same things.  Since no one seems to have created a machine which would allow me to travel through time, I will have to travel to different time periods through books.   And when you think about it, travel through books has its advantages. 

In The Great Trouble, Hopkinson from the beginning paints a very real picture of life for the poor and working class of Victorian London.  It is really not a great place to be in some ways.  Most of the time there is not enough food or clean water.  The sewage and waste disposal system was - well non-existant, and it really was a smelly place.  Aside from making me appreciate modern bathrooms, plumbing, and sewers,  I was really thankful for my life versus the life of many people during that time period. 

Hopkinson then introduces readers to the very real concern of cholera and disease during that time period.   She also has created memorable fictional characters such as Eel, his best friend Florrie, Thumbless Jake, and Fisheye Bill Tyler, and paired them with the very real Dr. John Snow, Jane Weatherburn (Dr. Snow's housekeeper), and Rev. Henry Whitehead.   There are characters that you love, and ones that you will emotionally feel for, and ones that you just plain won't like.  It is the emotional connection to the characters that also fuels the readers interest in these individuals, and in their plight.

By adding in the race to discover what causes cholera as well as what is causing the spread of cholera, readers have a gripping story that will keep them reading.  At the end of the book, readers can learn more about the actual historical figures in the book by reading the author's note.  There is also a timeline, and additional resources to investigate.

Look for The Great Trouble at your local public library or pick up a copy at your community bookstore.  When possible, please consider an independent bookstore.   

Check out this Meet the Author video by AdLit:

Find out more information about author, Deborah Hopkinson visit her website:

Consider pairing the picture book A Boy Called Dickens by Deborah Hopkinson (see my review here)  with The Great TroubleA Boy Called Dickens is set in a London, though a bit earlier than 1854, and the illustrations provide students with a visual and a sense of place for that time period.  Adult readers looking for more information about the Cholera Epidemic and Dr. John Snow might want to check out The Ghost Map by Steven Johnson. 

If you are interested in the Teacher's Guide, click here.

To visit all of the stops for The Great Trouble Blog Tour, see the schedule below:
September 10 – Sharp Read
September 11 – Librarian in Cute Shoes  
September 12Random Acts of Reading  
September 13Styling Librarian  
September 14Kidlit Frenzy  
September 15Busy Librarian  
September 16{Eat the Book} 
September 17Nerdy Book Club

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday - No Monkeys, No Chocolate

Author: Melissa Stewart; Allen Young
Illustrator: Nicole Wong
Publisher: Charlesbridge Publishing (August 1, 2013)
Source: Personal Copy
Audience: 2nd to 5th grade
Keywords: Nonfiction, Cacao Plants, Microhabitats

Description from GoodReads:  
Most kids love chocolate, but few of them know that its main ingredient, the cocoa bean, comes from a tree that grows in tropical rain forests. Dual-layer text describes the life cycle of the tree, emphasizing its botanical structures and highlighting the interdependence of the plant and animals such as the pollen-sucking midge, brain-eating coffin fly, and aphid-munching anole lizard. Two wise-cracking bookworms offer meta-textual commentary and humor in this fascinating depiction of a microhabitats survival.

My thoughts on this book:
I love chocolate.  So, of course, a title like No Monkeys, No Chocolate caught my attention.  Stewart, with input from Young,  has effectively combined factual information about cocoa beans with a touch of humor to make an enjoyable read for children.

In addition to the great illustrations, there are several elements to this story.  One element is the headline like sentences that continue across two pages.  Another element is the detailed text that shares how cocoa beans grow in tropical rain forests.  Another element are two funny bookworms that provide humorous commentary on the story.  Finally, there is a build up to the title by a play on the title:  "No midges, No chocolate." "No lizards, No chocolate."

The progression of the story helps readers understand not only the way a cocoa tree grows but also how so many other things like midge insects, leaf-cutter ants, maggots, aphids, lizards, and eventually monkeys all have a part in the successful growth and development of cocoa trees and their seed pods.  Nicole Wong's colorful and detailed illustrations are a beautiful compliment to the text.

This is one book to definitely add to a classroom or school library. Look for this book at your local independent bookstore or library.

Though I couldn't find a book trailer for No Monkeys, No Chocolate, here is a short video from that compliments the book:

Don't forget to link up your nonfiction reviews:

Monday, September 9, 2013

It's Monday! What are you reading? From Picture Books to Young Adult - 9/9/13

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.

The two classes that I was taking this summer are finally over.  Things are settling in at work.  And I am slowly getting back into a regular reading pattern.  Here is what jumped out from this week's pile.

Bluffton: My Summers With Buster Keaton by Matt Phelan (Candlewick Press, July 23, 2013) - This was a wonderful biographical/historical fiction story featuring Buster Keaton as a boy.  It is one of my favorites from Matt Phelan.  And it made me want to go out and read a biography on Keaton.

Journey by Aaron Becker (Candlewick Press, August 6, 2013) - This wordless picture book is beautiful and one of my favorites of this year's releases. 

Thomas Jefferson Builds a Library by Barb Rosenstock; Illustrated by John O'Brien  (Calkins Creek Books, September 2013) - I'll be reviewing this in a couple of Wednesdays.  I learned a lot about the Library of Congress from this one.

Here Comes the Easter Cat by Deborah Underwood; Illustrated by Claudia Rueda (Dial Books for Young Readers, January 2014) - This one won't be out for a few more months, but I had a great chuckle while reading this one.

The Dangerous Alphabet by Neil Gaiman; Illustrated by Gris Grimly (HarperCollins, 2008) - I thought I knew most of Grimly's work, so I was excited to find this one.  I am a huge fan of his work and love different twists on the standard picture book.

So, what are you reading?

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Online Social Studies Resources for Elementary School Teachers

One of the things that I have observed in teachers is how some educators are very closely connected with their TE's (Teacher Editions) and student textbooks, and others like the freedom to create and explore and develop their own lessons.  Regardless of which style you embrace, there are multiple resources available for free online which allow you to incorporate primary source information and media to any lesson.

In my pursuit to find these resources, I turned to my online PLN.  Thank you to Cindy Minnich, Cynthia Alaniz, Donalyn Miller, Margie Myers, Shawn Weisser, and Susan Dee for your contributions to this list. 

Here are several resources that I have uncovered and I have included the websites below.  I am planning on sharing these with teachers this week. 

AASL’s 2013 Best Websites for Teaching and Learning

Avalon Project



Fordham University – History (listing of multiple sites to explore)

Library of Congress: Teaching with Primary Sources

Life Photo Archive

National Archives Teachers’ Resources

National Geographic Kids

PBS Learning Media

Smithsonian’s History Explorer

Spartacus Educational

TED Talks (variety of topics)

Time for Kids

Thinkfinity Resources


YouTube EDU