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JANUARY (1)

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

A Poem for Peter: The Story of Ezra Jack Keats and the Creation of The Snowy Day by Andrea Davis Pinkney. Illustrated by Lou Fancher and Steve Johnson. Viking, 2016

As a child in the 1960s, Andrea Davis Pinkney was affected profoundly by The Snowy Day. It was the first book she encountered featuring an African American child like her. Her ingenious poem is a celebration of both the character Peter and of his creator, Ezra Jack Keats. Keats started out life as a poor Jewish boy in Brooklyn who dreamed of being an artist. Peter of The Snowy Day makes several of what Pinkney describes as “peek-a-boo” appearances throughout this lyrical account of Keats’ life, “waving at the reader.” When Keats was working early in his career as a comic-book artist, for example: “The brown-sugar boy / in a blanket of white / began to ignite by what kids saw, / and didn’t see, / in the not-so-funny comics / Ezra was made to draw. / All the heroes in all the comics / were always as white as a winter sky.” This tour-de-force is illustrated brilliantly with acrylic, collage, and pencil artwork that gives a true sense of Keats’s own artwork. ©2017 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

  1. How did Ezra’s responsibilities for his family affect his career?
  2. Why was/is Peter such an important character for so many children?
  3. Who and what supported Ezra’s dreams? Who supports your dreams?

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DECEMBER (2)

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

A Boy Named Queen by Sara Cassidy. Groundwood, 2016

Most of the kids in Evelyn’s grade 5 class don’t know what to make of the new boy, with his long hair, pink shirt, bead necklaces, and name: Queen. Evelyn doesn’t either, but when he’s shooting baskets on his own at recess the first day, missing every time, she shows him how to make a bank shot. From that moment, they’re friends. Queen takes the other kids in stride, telling Evelyn that he imagines he has a turquoise force field that mean comments bounce off. Evelyn’s imagination, no less active, works differently. She wonders, for example, what her walk home from school would have looked like 100 years ago. When Evelyn enters the realm of Queen’s easygoing, artistic family—his mom and dad are laid-back musicians (the dog is named Patti Smith)—Queen and his parents share the story of how he started calling himself Queen when he was four, wearing a purple velvet cape everywhere (his mother confesses it was actually velour). It couldn’t be more different from Evelyn’s staid home, but the love is the same. A short, charming novel distinguished by fine writing that reveals characters and relationships with wonderful clarity and great delight. © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. What lessons do Evelyn and Queen learn about friendship?
  2. How are Queen’s and Evelyn’s families alike and different?
  3. How might this story be continued?

DECEMBER (1)

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

Shadows of Sherwood (A Robyn Hoodlum Adventure) by Kekla Magoon. Bloomsbury USA Childrens, 2016

The night her parents disappear, twelve-year-old Robyn Loxley must learn to fend for herself. Her home, Nott City, has been taken over by a harsh governor, Ignomus Crown. After fleeing for her life, Robyn has no choice but to join a band of strangers-misfit kids, each with their own special talent for mischief. Setting out to right the wrongs of Crown’s merciless government, they take their outlaw status in stride. But Robyn can’t rest until she finds her parents. As she pieces together clues from the night they disappeared, Robyn learns that her destiny is tied to the future of Nott City in ways she never expected. Kicking off a new series with an unforgettable heroine, readers will be treated to feats of courage and daring deeds as Robyn and her band find their way in this cruel, new world. – See more at: Bloomsbury USA Children

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. What is a dystopian story? What are some elements of dystopian stories that you can find in this novel?
  2. What lessons does Robin learn about herself and the world around her?
  3. Do you think Robin is selfish? Why or why not?

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NOVEMBER (2)

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

Esquivel! Space–Age Sound Artist by Susan Wood. Illustrated by Duncan Tonatiuh. Charlesbridge, 2016

Juan Garcia Esquivel was an avant garde musician born and raised in Mexico. Captivated by music and by sounds as a child, he had no formal musical training and “focused on how sounds could be arranged” as he started to create music of his own. “He was an artist, using dips and dabs of color to create a vivid landscape. But instead of paint, Juan used sound. Weird and wild sounds! Strange and exciting sounds!” As a young man he moved to New York City, and soon was creating music that had everyone talking—and listening! The artist known simply, emphatically, as “Esquivel!” became hugely popular in the 1950s into the 1960s, in the heyday of easy-listening “lounge” music. Now new generations are discovering his unique and playful stylings. An energetic narrative set against distinctive illustrations with elements of whimsy introduces the musician to young readers and listeners, while end matter includes where to read, listen, watch, and find out more. (Ages 8–11)  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. How do the author and illustrator describe sound in the book? How would you describe – with words, images, action — a sound you hear around you?
  2. Why do you think Juan Esquivel was called a space-age sound artist?
  3. How did Esquivel make old styles of music new? How does the illustrator of the book make old styles of art new?

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NOVEMBER (1)

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

The Sound of All Things by Myron Uhlberg. Illustrated by Ted Papoulas. Peachtree, 2016

Both of the young narrator’s parents are deaf, but his father has vague memories of hearing as a child and often asks his son to describe in detail the sounds of experiences they share. On a trip to Coney Island the boy’s father asks him to describe the sound of the roller coaster they ride, and, later, the ocean waves. The boy, who speaks sign language to his parents, tells his dad waves are “loud.” His dad signs, “Don’t be lazy.” The boy thinks and tries again, explaining that the pounding water sounds like a hammer. That’s better, but the boy wants to say even more. A book of poems about the ocean turns out to be exactly what he needs. A story based on the author’s own childhood is set in the 1930s and features illustrations that vividly capture time and place along with the warmth of the loving family at the center of the lengthy picture book narrative. © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. How does the boy describe sounds for his father? How would you describe a sound you hear around you?
  2. The librarian helps the boy find a strategy for describing sounds. What is the strategy and how do the librarian and the boy develop this strategy?
  3. In what ways does the boy grow or change because he is the interpreter for his parents?

 

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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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SEPTEMBER (2)

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

Book Uncle and Me by Uma Krishnaswami. Illustrated by Julianna Swaney. Groundwood, 2016

Nine-year-old Yasmin visits Book Uncle’s Lending Library, located on a street corner near her apartment, every day. He calls her his Number One Patron. She usually borrows longer books, so the day Book Uncle suggests a picture book, she’s disappointed but politely accepts it. After she reads the story, about doves trapped in a hunter’s net working together to free themselves, she finds she can’t stop thinking about it. “How strange that such a skinny book can leave so many questions in my mind.” When Book Uncle is told by the city that he must shut down his library because he has no permit and can’t afford one, Yasmin is devastated. Then she’s determined. Together with her friends she draws attention to Book Uncle’s plight during the mayoral campaign, challenging the candidates to support Book Uncle and literacy, and finding out in the process that the current mayor was behind the lending library’s closure (he wanted to clean up the streets before his daughter’s marriage at a nearby fancy hotel). Engaging, child-centered, and often funny, this easy chapter book set in a large Indian city is also a primer in community activism for young children. ©2017 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. What are some of the ways that Yasmin’s community is the same as yours? What are some of the ways that it is different?
  2. What lessons does Yasmin learn about politics, activism, and standing up for someone who is being unfairly treated?
  3. Yasmin has a goal of reading one book each day. What are your goals for reading this year? Where does Yasmin get her books to read? Where do you get your books to read?

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SEPTEMBER (1)

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

Juana & Lucas by Juana Medina. Candlewick Press, 2016

Juana is a little girl living in Bogotá, Colombia. Lucas is her beloved dog. In a spritely conversational tone, Juana chats about the things she loves (her city, her dog, her abuelo, her best friend, Juli) and the things she doesn’t (her school uniform). Each one of these is accompanied by a diagram-style illustration that points out key factors (Abuelo’s love for chocolate, for example, and her uniform’s itchy skirt). Overall, Juana is a bubbly, happy girl. Then she starts having to learn “the English” in school. And she hates it. She asks everyone she trusts to give her a good reason to study English, sure they won’t come up with any. They all do, but only one of them convinces Juana it’s worth the effort: an upcoming family trip to Spaceland in Florida, where she can meet her hero, Astroman. The charming narrative, somewhat autobiographical, integrates Spanish words into the English text and is accompanied by amusing color illustrations on every page. © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. What are some of the ways that Juana’s community is the same as yours? What are some of the ways that it is different?
  2. How do the illustrations and text features (like the wrapped text, the bold words, and the labels on the character pages) add to the story?
  3. What are some of the challenges Juana faces and how does she overcome these challenges? What challenges have you faced?

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