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OCTOBER (1)
Riding Chance by Christine Kendall. Scholastic Press, 2016 Since his mom died, it’s been hard for Troy, 13, to stay on an Read more.
OCTOBER (2)
Wolf Hollow by Lauren Wolk. Dutton Books for Young Readers, 2016 Growing up in the shadows cast by two world wars, Read more.
OCTOBER (1)
When We Were Alone by David A. Robertson. Illustrated by Julie Flett. Highwater Press, 2016 A young Cree girl gardening Read more.
OCTOBER (2)
Little Cat’s Luck by Marion Dane Bauer. Illustrated by Jennifer A. Bell. Simon & Schuster, 2016 A small calico cat, Read more.
OCTOBER
Burn Baby Burn by Meg Medina. Candlewick Press, 2016 Nora López is finishing high school uncertain about the future. Encouraged Read more.
OCTOBER (1)
In the Footsteps of Crazy Horse by Joseph Marshall. Amulet/Abrams, 2015 Jimmy McLean is self-conscious about his blue eyes, fair Read more.
OCTOBER (2)
I Am Not a Number by Jenny Kay Dupuis and Kathy Kacer. Illustrated by Gillian Newland. Second Story Press, 2016 Read more.
OCTOBER (1)
My Heart Fills with Happiness by Monique Gray Smith.  Illustrated by Julie Flett. Orca, 2016 “My heart fills with happiness Read more.
OCTOBER (2)
Good Night, Bat! Good Morning, Squirrel! by Paul Meisel. Boyds Mills Press / Highlights, 2016 When Bat loses his home, Read more.

OCTOBER (2)

May 16th, 2017 | Posted by etownsend in Babies, Toddlers and Preschoolers | 2017-2018 | 2017-2018 Babies, Toddlers & Preschoolers | October - (Comments Off on OCTOBER (2))

Good Night, Bat! Good Morning, Squirrel! by Paul Meisel. Boyds Mills Press / Highlights, 2016

When Bat loses his home, he has a hard time finding a new one. One animal after another turns him away, but he finally finds the perfect spot inside a leafy nest up a tree. Squirrel’s already there, but she’s dozing and so Bat deposits the bugs he’s gathered on the bed and happily finds a twig to hang from and goes to sleep. Squirrel is startled and annoyed when she discovers the uninvited guest in the morning and writes an emphatic note telling Bat to leave. (“Dear Bat, Bug off! Sincerely, Squirrel”). When Bat finds the note he understands it to mean that Squirrel didn’t like the insects on her bed, so he politely moves them to a corner of the nest. That begins a series of misunderstandings, all conveyed through correspondence, with Squirrel telling Bat to leave, and Bat, ever the optimist, consistently misinterpreting her messages. Eventually Squirrel realizes that she’s come to appreciate the ever-cheery Bat, while Bat knows he’d be lonely without Squirrel, and so the duo agrees to be roommates. Appealing illustrations sweeten this charming comedy of errors featuring an odd couple of the animal world. ©2017 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Try these early literacy activities with children:

  • Read: The poem “Fall of the Year”
  • Talk: About how words can have different meanings.
  • Sing: Sing “Skidamarink a Dink a Dink”
  • Write: A note to a friend.
  • Play: Try some leaf rubbings by laying paper over leaves and coloring the paper with crayons
  • Math or Science: Talk about seasons. What season do you think this is? Why do you think that?

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OCTOBER (1)

May 16th, 2017 | Posted by etownsend in Babies, Toddlers and Preschoolers | 2017-2018 | 2017-2018 Babies, Toddlers & Preschoolers | October - (Comments Off on OCTOBER (1))

My Heart Fills with Happiness by Monique Gray Smith.  Illustrated by Julie Flett. Orca, 2016

“My heart fills with happiness when … ” A comforting board book offers young children the opportunity for reflection, and for affirmation, too. Moments of happiness tucked into each and every day celebrated here include time with family (“I see the face of someone I love”), self-expression (“I sing”), and the natural world (“I walk barefoot in the grass”). Author Monique Gray Smith (Cree/Lakota) has written a narrative lovingly grounded in First/Native Nations culture, community, and traditions (“I smell bannock in the oven … I drum”). Illustrator Julie Flett (Cree/Métis) invites children into the book’s warm embrace with intimate and expressive gouache and digital collage illustrations of First/Native Nations children, or children and adults together in a book that invites all children to consider, “What fills YOUR heart with happiness?” ©2016 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Try these early literacy activities with children:

  • Read: A book that makes you happy.
  • Talk: What fills your heart with happiness?
  • Sing: “You Are My Sunshine” & “If You’re Happy and You Know It” Use the book to make some new verses. For example, “If you’re happy and you know it, play your drum”.
  • Write: Draw a picture of what makes you happy/or what your face looks like when you’re happy.
  • Play: Act out actions on each page. Make up your own actions to go along – pretend to play the guitar.
  • Math or Science: Talk about what the ingredients – what is used to make — bannock. Have them guess first. And if you can, find some to try?

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OCTOBER (2)

May 10th, 2017 | Posted by etownsend in 2017-2018 | October | Intermediate (Grades 3-5) | 2017-2018 Intermediate - (Comments Off on OCTOBER (2))

I Am Not a Number by Jenny Kay Dupuis and Kathy Kacer. Illustrated by Gillian Newland. Second Story Press, 2016

Irene Couchie is an eight-year-old Anishinaabe living happily with her family on the Nippissing Reserve in Northern Ontario. But when the Indian agent comes to their home to take her and her two brothers away to attend a residential boarding school, the only thing her parents can do to protect them is to tell them to never forget who they are. Life in the school is terrifying. Irene is separated from her two brothers and has her identity stripped from her—even her name. She is told that from now on she will be number 759. The year passes slowly. Irene faces harsh living conditions and cruel physical punishment for speaking her own language. When summer finally comes, she and her brothers return home, and her parents vow to never send them back after hearing what the children endured, hiding them when the agent returns. Based on the childhood experience of the author’s grandmother, the heart- wrenching story is illustrated with realistic paintings that convey Irene’s fear and sadness. © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. Pre-read: Why do you think it is it important for people to share their stories/experiences?
  2. What are some of the ways that Irene and the others are being denied their identity?
  3. How do the illustrations help to tell the story? To you think the story would have been the same without the illlustrations?
  4. Is this part of history new to you? Read the afterward. Why is it important to share this history?O

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OCTOBER (1)

May 10th, 2017 | Posted by etownsend in 2017-2018 | October | Intermediate (Grades 3-5) | 2017-2018 Intermediate - (Comments Off on OCTOBER (1))

In the Footsteps of Crazy Horse by Joseph Marshall. Amulet/Abrams, 2015

Jimmy McLean is self-conscious about his blue eyes, fair skin, and light hair. He even worries about his last name—McLean—which doesn’t sound Lakota, and is sometimes teased at middle school about being too white. Over summer, Jimmy’s Grandpa takes him to visit places significant in the life of the Lakota warrior and leader Crazy Horse, who was known as Light Hair as a boy. Over the course of their journey, which moves chronologically through a number significant events in Crazy Horse’s life, the history of Westward expansion and the Indian Wars, including the Battle of Little Bighorn, unfolds from a Lakota perspective, rooted in the drive for survival, while Jimmy gains insight into courage and identity. Lakota author Joseph Marshall echoes the oral tradition he grew up with in Grandpa’s stories about Crazy Horse. Set in italics, these are gripping accounts full of urgency that reveal the warrior’s intelligence and effort to keep his people free. Light Hair, later Crazy Horse, is witness time and again to brutality, persistence, and lies of Long Knives and others. But Grandpa is not unsympathetic to the fear and discomfort of U.S. soldiers fighting the Lakota and others so far from home—war is a human story for everyone. The present-day narrative featuring Jimmy and Grandpa is less fluid, but at times unexpectedly moving.  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. What causes Jimmy and his grandfather to start their road trip?
  2. Grandpa Nyles and Jimmy point out that the battle has a different name than they have given it (page 49). Why are there different names?
  3. What does Jimmy learn about himself through this road trip with his grandfather?

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OCTOBER

May 10th, 2017 | Posted by etownsend in 2017-2018 | October | High School | 2017-2018 High School - (Comments Off on OCTOBER)

Burn Baby Burn by Meg Medina. Candlewick Press, 2016

Nora López is finishing high school uncertain about the future. Encouraged to apply to the New York City Community College trades program, she can’t imagine being able to go when her mom, Mima, struggles to pay the rent. When recent murders of young, dark-haired women in the city turn out to  be the actions of a serial killer, who begins writing letters to the press signed “Son of Sam,” the growing tension and fear is tangible. It pulses through Nora’s Queens neighborhood and the city like the disco rhythms and intense heat so prevalent that spring of 1977. And it explodes into looting following the citywide blackout. But the more pressing danger for Nora is at home, where her younger brother, Hector, is increasingly violent and out of control. Cuban- born Mima says Hector is just a boy in need of a good girl to help him settle down. Mima’s sexism and blinders infuriate Nora, but Nora is also too ashamed to tell her best friend, her boyfriend, her caring boss at the market, teachers, or anyone else what’s happening. Son of Sam is caught, almost anticlimactically, even as the threat in Nora’s personal life escalates. An exceptional novel captures the textures and turbulence of time and place and the complexities of Nora’s relationships vividly. Even before Son of Sam is arrested, it’s becoming clear that community rather than family is Nora’s greatest source of safety, while her own resilience is her greatest strength, especially once she breaks her silence. ©2016 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. Why do you think Nora keeps the issues she was experiencing at home secret?
  2. “The real dangers are often closer to home then we’d like to admit.” What do you think this quote from the blurb on the back cover of the book means or conveys?
  3. How does setting both at home and in the world impact Nora’s life?

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OCTOBER (2)

May 9th, 2017 | Posted by etownsend in 2017-2018 | Primary (Grades K-2) | October | 2017-2018 Primary - (Comments Off on OCTOBER (2))

Little Cat’s Luck by Marion Dane Bauer. Illustrated by Jennifer A. Bell. Simon & Schuster, 2016

A small calico cat, Patches, lives in a loving home with a girl she adores, but when she suddenly feels the need for a special place she escapes through a faulty screen and ends up lost just three blocks from home. She spies what looks like a perfect special place when she sees a dog house, but it belongs to Gus, the meanest dog in town. Both a mouseling and a squirrel a bit more worldly than Patches warn her about the dog. Still, Patches slips in and gives birth to three kittens. It turns out Gus isn’t really scary—he’s just lonely. He falls hard for gentle, clever Patches and her kittens, and when it’s time for them to leave, he doesn’t want to let them go, growling, “Mine.” But Patches is determined to get her kittens back home. This companion book to Little Dog Lost is written in short verse lines with a humorous voice that speaks directly to the reader. The story ends happily, but not before Bauer builds narrative tension that keeps sweetness restrained and readers on the edges of their seats. (Ages 6–9)  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. How does the text, written like a poem, help the reader to visualize the story?
  2. How do Patches’ feelings about her home change by the end of the story?
  3. Explain how Gus, the humans, and Patches all say the kittens are, “Mine”. Why do you think they feel this way?

OCTOBER (1)

May 9th, 2017 | Posted by etownsend in 2017-2018 | Primary (Grades K-2) | October | 2017-2018 Primary - (Comments Off on OCTOBER (1))

When We Were Alone by David A. Robertson. Illustrated by Julie Flett. Highwater Press, 2016

A young Cree girl gardening with her kókom asks about certain habits she has observed: Her kókum always wears bright color and a long braid. She often speaks in Cree and enjoys spending time with her brother. There is a story behind each that is connected to kókum’s years in Indian Boarding School. The students were not allowed to wear bright colors, for example. “But sometimes,” Kókom says, “in the fall when we were alone, and the leaves had turned to their warm autumn hues, we would all roll around on the ground. We would pile the leaves over the clothes they had given us, and we would be colorful again. And this made us happy.” Each question and answer follows this same pattern, with Kókom describing small acts of resistance that helped her and her classmates survive emotionally. The beautiful, affecting narrative is accompanied by Julie Flett’s striking, culturally authentic illustrations that show the connection between the child and her elders. (Ages 5–8)  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. What is your favorite story from your grandparent or from an older community member?
  2. The grandmother in the story has kept many of her cultural traditions. What are some of your favorite family traditions?
  3. How do you think the illustrations in the book reflect the feelings of the grandmother?

OCTOBER (2)

May 8th, 2017 | Posted by etownsend in 2017-2018 | October | Middle School | 2017-2018 Middle School - (Comments Off on OCTOBER (2))

Wolf Hollow by Lauren Wolk. Dutton Books for Young Readers, 2016

Growing up in the shadows cast by two world wars, Annabelle has lived a mostly quiet, steady life in her small Pennsylvania town. Until the day new student Betty Glengarry walks into her class. Betty quickly reveals herself to be cruel and manipulative, and while her bullying seems isolated at first, things quickly escalate, and reclusive World War I veteran Toby becomes a target of her attacks. While others have always seen Toby’s strangeness, Annabelle knows only kindness. She will soon need to find the courage to stand as a lone voice of justice as tensions mount.

Brilliantly crafted, Wolf Hollow is a haunting tale of America at a crossroads and a time when one girl’s resilience, strength, and compassion help to illuminate the darkest corners of our history. (Age 10 and up) From the publisher

 

Start some conversation with there discussion prompts:

  1. If you were Annabelle’s parents, would you have lied to the authorities to protect Toby? If you were Toby, would you have let them? Why or why not?
  2. Did Betty deserve her fate? Did Toby deserve his fate? Explain.
  3. What connections can you make from this story to today’s world?

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OCTOBER (1)

May 8th, 2017 | Posted by etownsend in 2017-2018 | October | Middle School | 2017-2018 Middle School - (Comments Off on OCTOBER (1))

Riding Chance by Christine Kendall. Scholastic Press, 2016

Since his mom died, it’s been hard for Troy, 13, to stay on an even keel in his tough Philadelphia neighborhood. When he and his best friend, Foster, get caught for petty larceny they are offered the chance to participate in a juvenile offender program working at a city stable, cleaning out horse stalls and, if they’re interested, learning to ride. Unlike Foster, Troy discovers he has an affinity for horses. Step by step he learns how to trust them and how to earn their trust in return, and before long caring for and riding his favorite horse, Chance, is always on his mind. He’s also interested in one of the other riders, a kind, outspoken girl who seems to like him, too. The two men in charge of the program see Troy’s potential and get him involved in the all-Black polo team they also run. The competition is typically upper-class white kids, but the bigger challenge for Troy is that the best player on his own team clearly has it in for him. And just when he needs a friend most, he and Foster are struggling to reconnect after a fallout. Author Christine Kendall has crafted a compelling and relatable story populated with well-developed, realistic characters in a debut that will keep readers turning the page. (Ages 11–15)  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Start some conversation with these discussion questions:

  1. Horses require a lot of care, attention, and money. What do friendships require?
  2. Troy rode a horse named Chance. How else does the title fit the story?
  3. What role do secrets play in the story?

    Find more resources here

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Explore Body Positivity: October 2016 High School

September 20th, 2016 | Posted by etownsend in October | 2016-2017 | High School - (Comments Off on Explore Body Positivity: October 2016 High School)

dumplinIcon for High School AgeDumplin’ by Julie Murphy. Balzer + Bray / HarperCollins, 2015

Willowdean routinely introduces herself as a fat girl, but her feelings about her body are much more complicated than this forthrightness suggests. The daughter of a former beauty queen, she’s rarely allowed to forget she isn’t thin. Still, Willowdean makes no apologies for her weight. She decides to enter the local Miss Teen Blue Bonnet pageant for her beloved late aunt, who lived largely in seclusion because of her weight. She’s also doing it for the girls she’s convinced to join her—three other teens at school who don’t meet typical standards of beauty. Together, she tells them, they can make a statement. But when Willowdean’s pretty best friend Ellen signs up with them, Willowdean feels betrayed. Meanwhile, Willowdean is growing close to Bo, on whom she’s had a longstanding crush. But she recoils when he puts his hand on her waist while they’re kissing, worried what he’ll think of her fat. She can also imagine what people at school would say if they see the two of them as a couple. It’s easier to picture herself with Mitch. Like Bo, Mitch is an athlete. Unlike Bo, he’s on the heavy side. Both boys genuinely like her. Bo is the one she’s attracted to. Mitch is the one she’s convinced herself makes sense, although she knows she’s not being fair to Mitch in letting him think she feels more. Willowdean’s ultimate struggle isn’t accepting herself; it’s accepting the love of others in an insightful, honest, funny novel that comes with a big ol’ riotous dose of Dolly Parton.  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

  1. Willow Dean is simultaneously confident and insecure. Can she both proud of her body and afraid to show it in public? Do you find this realistic?
  2. How does perform in beauty pageants? Who are the pageants for?
  3. Who do you think one the pageant? Does it matter? Why do you think Julie Murphy does not tell the reader who won the pageant?

Real-World and Otherworldly : October 2016 Middle School

September 20th, 2016 | Posted by etownsend in October | 2016-2017 | Middle School - (Comments Off on Real-World and Otherworldly : October 2016 Middle School)

hoodooBooks for Middle School AgeHoodoo by Ronald L. Smith. Clarion, 2015

Eleven-year-old Hoodoo Hatcher has a bad feeling about the Stranger in town, with good reason. The man is a servant of the devil after something he calls Mandragore, or Main the Gloire—“the one that did the deed.” To Hoodoo’s dismay, his own left hand is what the Stranger is looking for. Hoodoo’s father, lynched years before, tried to escape into his young son’s body but succeeded only as far as his hand. Hoodoo knew none of this before the Stranger’s arrival. Determined to face the Stranger on his own in order to protect his family and friends, Hoodoo goes in search of spells and knowledge beyond the conjuring his family already knows. He finds answers following clues in an old book of his father’s, and he finds great, just power in his left hand. Author Ronald L. Smith takes his time—in a wonderful way—establishing setting (a small rural African American community in Tuscaloosa County Alabama in the past) and characters in a story that deftly balances real-world and otherworldly scary but never feels heavy or heavy-handed, in part because Hoodoo is such an appealing, smart, and often funny narrator who never loses his sense of goodness, or even innocence, in spite of all the knowledge he gains of darkness in and beyond this world.  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

  1. How does Hoodoo grow into his name?
  2. Who does the stranger represent in this story? What evidence helps you figure this out?
  3. Why does the author use italicized writing throughout the text?
  4. Why does Hoodoo reject the help of his family and insist on pursuing the challenge on his own?

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