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Author Archives: etownsend

High School Summer Titles: A Mix of Romance, Mystery, and Adventure

June 1st, 2015 | Posted by etownsend in 2014-2015 | High School | Summer - (Comments Off on High School Summer Titles: A Mix of Romance, Mystery, and Adventure)

Still Star-Crossed by Melinda Taub. Delacorte Press, 2013.

Three weeks after the deaths of Romeo and Juliet, the Capulets and Montagues’ unstable truce has Verona on edge. A masked swordsman is attacking Montagues and Capulets alike, while the statue of Juliet erected at her grave site has been scrawled with the word “Harlot.” Juliet’s cousin Rosaline feels no loyalty to either side, since the Capulets have shown her little kindness since the death of her father and its accompanying financial ruin years before. When her Uncle Capulet agrees to Prince Escalus’s peace plan to unite Rosaline and the Montague Benvolio in marriage, Rosaline refuses to cooperate. Not only does she find Benvolio arrogant, her heart has secretly belonged to Escalus since she was a child. But Escalus blackmails Rosaline, giving her no choice but to agree. Rosaline then conspires with her betrothed: If the two of them can figure out who is stirring up trouble between the families, they won’t have to marry. To Rosaline’s surprise, she finds unexpected pleasure in Benvolio’s company as they investigate. And then it turns out Escalus’s heart is not as cold and calculating as she feared. Author Melinda Taub has spun a delightful new story on the foundations of Shakespeare’s tragedy. Her narrative sparkles with rich language, dialogue, plotting and wit. There is mystery, romance, treachery, and murder, not to mention a ferocious race against time. And there is Rosaline: smart, strong, feisty, and certain to follow her heart. A terrific authors’s note outlines where Taub took liberties with characters whose backgrounds and fates were left unexplored (or presumed differently) in Romeo & Juliet. (MS) ©2013 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Liar by Justine Larbalestier. U.S. edition: Bloomsbury, 2009.

Seventeen-year-old Micah has always felt her identity is ambiguous: she is mixed race (Black/white), she is a girl who can pass for a boy, she is a scholarship kid in a wealthy private school, she is a city girl who spends summers running free in the country. She even has a secret boyfriend, Zach—they never acknowledge one another during the school day. Justine Larbalestier’s structurally and psychologically complex story is told through vignettes “Before” and “After” Zach’s mysterious death in which Micah reveals more about their relationship, and about her personal and family history. But Micah also makes it clear she is a liar, so everything she says is suspect. As Micah’s narrative progresses, she exposes more and more of her lies but also—perhaps—more of her truth. Micah’s becomes a story of the fantastic when she explains the “family illness” she inherited. But is Micah really what she claims to be, or is the family illness really insanity? Micah is appealing and sympathetic and the desire to believe her is strong even as her story constantly changes in this astonishing novel in which the ground is forever shifting beneath readers’ feet. As the implications of Micah’s lying become increasingly disturbing, the richness of Larbalestier’s storytelling is more fully revealed in a story that demands discussion once the final page has been turned. CCBC categories: Fiction for Young Adults.  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Marcelo in the Real World by Francisco X. Stork. Arthur A. Levine Books / Scholastic, 2009.

Seventeen-year-old Marcelo Sandoval is looking forward to a summer tending the ponies in his private school’s stables. But Marcelo’s dad wants him to spend the summer working at his law firm, and to attend public school in the fall. For autistic Marcelo, the idea of moving beyond the safety and security of familiarity and routine is scary, but he and his dad work out a compromise: Marcelo will work at the law firm and then decide for himself where he’ll go to school in the fall. “Marcelo is afraid,” he tells his mother. “I know,” she tells him. “That’s the point.” Francisco X. Stork’s debut novel is an astonishing look inside the mind of a teen with autism. Marcelo is a blend of acute awareness and naïveté, stating truths with frankness even as he struggles to understand the motivations behind much of what he sees. As he navigates new relationships and routines, Marcelo discovers that good and bad, right and wrong, can get muddied and complicated. Nothing illustrates this more than when he discovers his father’s firm is defending a companyIcon_HighSchoolhttp://readon.education.wisc.edu/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/Summer.png that was negligent, leading to the serious injury of a young girl. Marcelo’s growth is marked by his ability to move more assuredly through a world that is complicated for everyone, all the while remaining true to the voice inside himself. CCBC categories: Fiction for Young Adults.  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

ROW 2015-2016 Book Lists are HERE!

May 29th, 2015 | Posted by etownsend in Babies, Toddlers and Preschoolers | Primary (Grades K-2) | Intermediate (Grades 3-5) | 2015-2016 | Middle School | High School - (Comments Off on ROW 2015-2016 Book Lists are HERE!)

After much hard work and diligence from the Read On Wisconsin Literacy Advisory Committee and the CCBC librarians, the Read On Wisconsin book selections are now complete for the 2015-2016 year.

Please check out the NEW 2015-2016 Read On Wisconsin Books here or on the Books page of the website. And, spread the word!

Wisconsin Middle School Educators: Take Our Survey for a Chance to Win ROW Books!

May 20th, 2015 | Posted by etownsend in Middle School | 2014-2015 - (Comments Off on Wisconsin Middle School Educators: Take Our Survey for a Chance to Win ROW Books!)

Hello Middle School Educators!

Read On Wisconsin is looking for ways to support Wisconsin middle school educators in working with students to create book trailers.  Please help us out by completing our survey.

Before you start this survey, you may want to know more about book trailers.

What is a book trailer?  A multi-media book advertisement (Think movie trailer for a book!)

Why create a book trailer?

Here are just a few reasons teachers and librarians have shared with us:

  • Book trailers are a great way for students to analyze and synthesize what they have read and then make new meanings of the those texts through sounds, images, and technology.
  • Book trailers allow students to share their enthusiasm for a book with other students in their schools as well as the larger community, making reading personal, social and communal.

 Here are a few examples of book trailers from Read On Wisconsin projects:

Complete the Survey and Win!

For completing this survey by June 5, 2015, you will be entered in a drawing for a complete set of the Read On Wisconsin 2015-2016 Middle School titles!

Please follow this link to the survey: http://goo.gl/forms/Ca4eoAwCPS!

Thank you for taking the time to complete our survey!

ROW Ambassador for May: Super Storytime with Max and the Tag-Along Moon

May 13th, 2015 | Posted by etownsend in Babies, Toddlers and Preschoolers | 2014-2015 | May - (Comments Off on ROW Ambassador for May: Super Storytime with Max and the Tag-Along Moon)
Reading Max and the Tag Along Moon! We enjoyed a lot of interaction from the kids during the story!

Reading Max and the Tag Along Moon. We enjoyed a lot of interaction from the kids during the story!

Display of Moon Books

Display of Moon Books

Our May ROW Ambassador, Arlene Mabie, the library director at Hawkins Area Library, shared May 2015 title, Max and the Tag-Along Moon by Floyd Cooper in a moon-themed story time.

From book displays for the Early Literacy and Preschool programs to read alouds to make it and take it activities, Arlene found clever ways to share this lovely and loving story about Max and his grandfather with her little library patrons. After enjoying the story, the kids made their own tag-along moon mobiles, complete with glow in the dark paint and glitter.

Thanks, again, to Arlene Mabie, her preschool storytime kiddos, and the Hawkins Area Library.

Concentrating on applying glitter and glow-in-the-dark paint to her moon.

Excited little readers sharing their own Tag Along Moons

Excited little readers sharing their own Tag Along Moons

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Are you using Read On Wisconsin books in engaging and educational ways at your library, in your child care environment or at home? We’d love to hear about you, your kiddos and literacy activities with Read On Wisconsin books! Contact Read On Wisconsin and share your ideas! You could be one of the next ROW Ambassadors!

May 2015 HS Title: An Intense and Rewarding Read for Teens!

May 1st, 2015 | Posted by etownsend in 2014-2015 | High School | May - (Comments Off on May 2015 HS Title: An Intense and Rewarding Read for Teens!)

personal effectsPersonal Effects by E.M. Kokie. Candlewick Press, 2012.

The already tense atmosphere in Matt Foster’s house only tightened after his older brother, T. J., was killed in Iraq. Matt moves through the world like a clenched fist, ready to explode. His dad often does explode, with words, and sometimes physically. He also refuses to talk about T. J. or let Matt see any of T. J.’s things. Then T. J.’s footlockers arrive, and immediately disappear behind the closed door of T. J.’s old room. Matt secretly begins looking for his brother among the items inside. T. J. had made a real effort to connect with Matt on his last visit, and the brother Matt glimpsed then is echoed in some of what he finds. But there’s a surprise, too—a huge one. Correspondence and photos hint at T. J. having been in love with Celia, a fellow soldier, and the two of them having a child together. Celia’s letters are postmarked from Madison, Wisconsin, and Matt heads off on an illicit road trip—Pennsylvania to Madison—in hopes of meeting her and discovering more about T. J. What he finds when he arrives is wholly unexpected, and at first unsettling. But T. J. is there after all, in the memories of people who loved him deeply and understand how much Matt, too, loves and misses the older brother he was just starting to know as a man. E. M. Kokie’s intense and deeply moving debut novel is set in 2007 and rooted in wonderfully developed characters and the relationships among them.  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center.

Resources:

Connect with Wisconsin author, E.M. Kokie on Twitter: @EMKokie!

Find resources for Personal Effects at TeachingBooks.net!

Learn more about E.M. Kokie at TeachingBooks.net!

Generate conversation with these discussion questions:

Icon_HighSchool1. Identify points of acceptance for different characters in the book. What factors contribute to these changes?

2. What makes it difficult for Matt to trust people? How does he work through these issues? How do pressures from others along with a sense of urgency contribute to Matt’s challenges?

3. What are the multiple meanings of this title? How do these meanings relate to the plot?

Adventure, Action, Humor! May 2015 Middle School Titles Have It All!

May 1st, 2015 | Posted by etownsend in Middle School | 2014-2015 | May - (Comments Off on Adventure, Action, Humor! May 2015 Middle School Titles Have It All!)

 blufftonBluffton: My Summers with Buster Keaton by Matt Phelan. Candlewick Press, 2013.

Bluffton was an actors’ colony just outside Muskegon, Michigan, established in 1908 by Joe Keaton to give Vaudeville performers a place to relax during the summer months when theaters were too hot to draw an audience. For Joe’s son, Buster, Bluffton was a place where he could be a kid, pursuing his love of baseball and hanging out with kids his own age instead of starring in his parents’ act. A graphic novel spanning three summers is told from the point of view of Henry Harrison, a fictional boy who lives in Muskegon. He becomes Buster’s summer friend and dreams of being a performer himself. Life in Muskegon is anything but glamorous, but to be on the stage! Everything is wonderfully understated in Matt Phelan’s storytelling, from the color palette to the dialogue to the way he fills in Henry’s life between each of the summers with several brief, elegant, wordless page spreads. A handful of years can bring maturity and new depth of understanding, and just how Henry changes, and how his relationship with Buster affects and reveals that change, is gracefully told.  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Discussion Questions for Bluffton:

1. How does the author use pictures to convey Buster’s family and life situations? How does the use of text add to that?

2. What do you think Henry is trying to achieve by telling Sally that Buster has only been to school once in his life?

3. Buster Keaton was a real person who eventually went on to act in movies before they had sound and actors had to rely more on actions rather than words. Have you ever seen a silent movie? Explain how Buster Keaton’s physical talent of learning how to fall, flip, and roll would be important in silent movies.

 Poison by Bridget Zinn. Hyperion, 2013.poisonMS

Potions master Kyra is on the run after a failed attempt to assassinate Princess Ariana, heir to the throne. The fact that the princess is also her best friend doesn’t deter Kyra from wanting to succeed at her self-imposed mission. Krya’s had dire visions in which Ariana causes the complete destruction of the kingdom. With the princess now in hiding, Kyra ends up in possession of a pig with special hunting abilities to track her down. The small creature has an endearing disposition that Kyra tries to resist, not to mention a soft spot for dog biscuits. And then there’s Fred. Handsome and friendly, this wanderer Kyra meets in the woods is really the last thing she needs. But he did provide the dog biscuits, along with a name for the pig (Rosie), and a helping hand at a desperate moment. So when Fred is later accosted, Kyra comes to his aid, although she risks revealing her own considerable fighting skills, making it hard to maintain her disguise as nothing more than another wayfarer. She doesn’t want a traveling companion but seems fated to have found one in Fred—a proposition she finds both vexing and pleasing. Bridget Zinn’s buoyant novel brims with adventure, mayhem, intrigue, humor, and romance, along with surprising twists and revelations right up to the end. (Bridget Zinn, a former CCBC student employee and Friends of the CCBC board member, died at the age of 33 in 2011. Anyone who knew Bridget will sense her spirit on every page of a novel that is full of charm, exuberance, optimism, and plenty of pastry.) (MS) ©2013 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Discussion Questions for Poison:

1. Kyra and other characters have different perspectives on why Kyra attempted to assassinate the princess. How does this build tension in the story?Books for Middle School Age

2. What reason does each character have for concealing their identity? What does Kyra learn about herself from having two identities?

3. Throughout the story, Kyra resists an emotional attachment to Rosie the pig? What do you
think Rosie symbolizes in the story?

May 2015 Intermediate Title Offers Engaging, Accessible Look at Diversity!

May 1st, 2015 | Posted by etownsend in Intermediate (Grades 3-5) | 2014-2015 | May - (Comments Off on May 2015 Intermediate Title Offers Engaging, Accessible Look at Diversity!)

yes we are latinosGR3-5Yes! We Are Latinos by Alma Flor Ada and F. Isabel Campoy. Illustrated by David Diaz. Charlesbridge, 2013.

An introduction titled “Our Indigenous Roots” discussing the native peoples of Mexico and Central and South America is the entryway into a celebration of diversity within Latino culture in the United States. Thirteen fictional children then tell about their lives in verse narratives that are followed by short informational essays providing background on the cultural history the child represents. Each verse begins with the child stating who they are: “My name is Juanita. I am Mexican. I live in New York. I am Latina … My name is Santiago. I am Dominican. I live in Detroit. I am Latino … My name is Felipe. I am Panamanian and Venezuelan. I am black. I live in Chicago. I am Latino … My name is Lili. I am Guatemalan. I am Chinese. I live in Los Angeles. I am Latina …” The verse narratives are poems grounded in details of family and memories and desires. The essays provide facts about the history of the child’s country/culture of origin and migration to the United States. In truth, no single book can capture the incredible diversity within Latino culture in America. What this book does do is offer a sense of the breadth and depth of the culture and history, along with hopes and dreams, that can be represented by individual lives. Numerous resources for continuing to explore the topic of Latino diversity are suggested at book’s end.  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Extend reading and learning experiences with these discussion questions:

1. The book begins with the introduction, “What makes someone Latino?” After reading this book, how would you answer this question?Icon for the Intermediate (Grades 3-5) readers

2. Many stories are told in this book. Is there a story with which you identify or connect? Why? What makes you identify or connect with the story?

3. If you wanted a friend to read this book, how would you describe it?

Enjoy a Favorite Wisconsin Author with the May 2015 Primary Title!

May 1st, 2015 | Posted by etownsend in Primary (Grades K-2) | 2014-2015 | May - (Comments Off on Enjoy a Favorite Wisconsin Author with the May 2015 Primary Title!)

year of billy  millerGRK-2

The Year of Billy Miller by Kevin Henkes. Greenwillow Books/HarperCollins, 2013.

Seven-year-old Billy Miller starts second grade with a mix of anxiety and excitement. By the end of the first day anxiety wins out. There’s a bossy girl at his table who doesn’t like him. Even worse, he’s worried his teacher, Ms. Silver, thinks he was making fun of her (he wasn’t). Billy lives with his stay-at-home artist dad, his high-school English teacher mom, and his three-year-old sister, Sal. In a novel divided into sections titled Teacher, Father, Sister, Mother, Kevin Henkes’s story follows Billy over the course of his second-grade year by chronicling events that illuminate these four important relationships in his life, with each section following its own arc while fitting seamlessly into the novel as a whole. Henkes skillfully relates details and events of Billy’s life that will hit young readers right where they are at both socially and emotionally. Billy wants to fit in and stand out. He wonders. He worries. He is loved, but doesn’t always like what the people who love him—and whom he loves—do. Sometimes he falls short on patience as a big brother, and sometimes he excels at being wonderful. A novel substantial in every way is completely accessible to young children reading independently or listening to it read aloud. There’s plenty of white space, and occasional spot illustrations in storytelling defined by rich characterizations and fine plotting in a book that is often funny, but also thoughtful and touching and serious. Life is like that when you’re seven, after all. (MS) ©2013 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Encourage kids to examine the book and text more closely with these discussion questions:

1. Billy is nervous about starting second grade. What are some things that happen in the story to show us why he’s worried?Primary Icon of a White-Tailed Deer

2. What makes it the year of Billy Miller?

3. How do his relationships with his teacher, father, mother and sister change throughout the book?

May 2015 Titles for Babies, Toddlers, and Preschoolers: A Month of Discovery!

May 1st, 2015 | Posted by etownsend in Babies, Toddlers and Preschoolers | 2014-2015 | May - (Comments Off on May 2015 Titles for Babies, Toddlers, and Preschoolers: A Month of Discovery!)

max and the tag-along moonBTPMax and the Tag Along Moon by Floyd Cooper. Philomel, 2013.

Max discovers the moon is a constant companion on the drive home from his Granpa’s house. “The long ride home was swervy-curvy. This way and that, all the way. And the moon seemed to tag along.” Wonderful word choice chronicles Max’s journey home with the moon overhead, until “Dark clouds tumbled across the night sky.” The moon his Granpa said would always shine for him has disappeared. But as he’s falling asleep, the clouds fade and the moon returns. Floyd Cooper captures the magic of the moon and a grandparent to a small child in this picture book about a young African American boy. Cooper’s hallmark illustration style is especially adept at reflecting the wonder of moonlit landscapes. Highly Commended, 2014 Charlotte Zolotow Award  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Start a conversation with children about the Max and the Tag-Along Moon:

1. How does Max feel when he says goodbye to Grandpa?

2. Why can’t Max see the moon? Why does the moon disappear in the story?

3. Find the arrows on Max’s ride home.

wait! wait!

Wait! Wait! by Hatsue Nakawaki. Translated from the Japanese by Yuki Kaneko. Illustrated by Komako Sakai. U.S. edition: Enchanted Lion, 2013.

A series of typical toddler encounters are captured in a few simple lines of text accompanying illustrations that excel at depicting both the fascination and frustration that are part of a toddler’s experience. The story is told in pairs of page spreads. Over the course of the picture book, the young child on the cover notices a butterfly, a lizard, and two pigeons. “Wait! Wait!” But just as the child gets closer, the creatures flutter or wiggle or flap away. Help finally comes in the form of a grown-up, who picks the child up to ride, shoulder-high. Hatsue Nakawaki’s art has a nostalgic but not sentimental feel, and masterfully reflects the physical relationship of small children to the world around them. There is rich word choice in the spare text.  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Engage children during or after reading Wait! Wait! with these prompts:

1. Where did the animals go?

2. Point to the flowers.

3. Which animals can fly?

nino wrestles the worldBTP

Niño Wrestles the World by Yuyi Morales. A Neal Porter Book / Roaring Brook Press, 2013.

A young, masked, underwear-clad boy takes on one opponent after another as he imagines the toys strewn on his floor as full-size wrestling rivals. Luckily, Niño has a series of patented moves to guarantee victory. He does in the Guanajuato Mummy with the Tickle Tackle. Olmec Head is defeated by the Puzzle Muzzle move. And El Chamuco is ruined with the Popsickle Slick. But the ticking clock warns of coming dread: “His sisters’ nap is over. Time for Niño to tangle with Las Hermanitas!” Has Niño met his match in these two darling, diaper-clad girls? A vibrant picture book that integrates Spanish words and expressions into the English text is a dynamic and engaging portrait of a child’s pretend play. Full of energy and humor, Yuyi Morales’s words and pictures will have young readers and listeners cheering. An author’s note provides information about Lucha libre, a “theatrical, action-packed style of professional wrestling that’s popular throughout Mexico and many Spanish-speaking countries.” Niño’s story is rich with specific cultural references but universal in appeal. Among the elements adding to the fun are endpapers offering profiles of Niño and all his opponents. Highly Commended, 2014 Charlotte Zolotow Award (MS) ©2013 Cooperative Children’s Book Center.

Continue the fun and adventure of reading Niño Wrestles the World with these questions:

Icon_PreSchool1. How do you use your imagination when you play?

2. Do you pretend to be other people or characters? Who do you like to pretend to be?

3. The author attended  the Lucha Libre wrestling matches with her dad when she was a little girl. Is there some special activity you like to do with a family member?

Big Impact of Diverse Books: Student Interview with Mitali Perkins

April 29th, 2015 | Posted by etownsend in 2014-2015 | High School | January | April - (Comments Off on Big Impact of Diverse Books: Student Interview with Mitali Perkins)

Author Mitali Perkins and Middleton High School student, Ali Khan, shared thoughts on race, humor and her book, Open Mic: Riffs on Life Between Cultures in Ten Voices (Candlewick, 2013), during an interview in March 2015. Mitali’s addition of humor to discussions of race in her book has positively impacted Ali’s life and his approach to communicating ideas about culture and politics. This is an excerpt from that interview.

ROW 2015-2016 Titles Coming in May!

April 29th, 2015 | Posted by etownsend in 2015-2016 | May - (Comments Off on ROW 2015-2016 Titles Coming in May!)

The Read On Wisconsin Literacy Advisory Committee will be meeting on May 9th to select next year’s titles for Read On Wisconsin! At this annual meeting, the members come together to discuss books and select titles for our upcoming year. Stay tuned to learn more about the selection process and be sure to check back in late May for the new ROW titles.

Coming Soon! Interview with Mitali Perkins

April 26th, 2015 | Posted by etownsend in 2014-2015 | High School | January | April - (Comments Off on Coming Soon! Interview with Mitali Perkins)

In March 2015, Ali Khan, a senior at Middleton High School, interviewed author Mitali Perkins about her book, Open Mic: Riffs on Life Between Cultures in Ten Voices (Candlewick, 2013). As part of a book trailer project with Simpson Street Free Press, Madison Public Library, and Read On Wisconsin, Ali created a book trailer of Open Mic. Mitali’s approach to adding humor to discussions of race strongly resonated with Ali. Fortunately, we were able to bring Mitali and Ali together on Skype to share thoughts on the book, racial identity, and humor. Check back soon to see excerpts from the interview! In the meantime, enjoy Ali’s book trailer for Mitali Perkin’s Open Mic.

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