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NOVEMBER (3)

May 16th, 2017 | Posted by etownsend in Babies, Toddlers and Preschoolers | 2017-2018 | 2017-2018 Babies, Toddlers & Preschoolers | November - (Comments Off on NOVEMBER (3))

Thunder Boy Jr. by Sherman Alexie. Illustrated by Yuyi Morales.  Little, Brown, 2016

Thunder Boy Smith Jr. hates his name. Because his father is also Thunder Boy Smith, Thunder Boy Jr. is nicknamed Little Thunder, which sounds to him “like a burp or a fart.” He wants his own name, one based on his talents, like learning to ride a bike when he was three (Gravity’s Best Friend); or his interests, such as garage sales (Old Toys Are Awesome), or powwow dancing (Drums, Drums, and More Drums!); or his future dreams of traveling the world (Full of Wonder). “I love my dad but I want to be mostly myself.” It turns out his dad understands, announcing one day that it’s time for Thunder Boy Jr. to get a new name: Lightning! “My dad and I will light up the sky.” A story the author has stated is based on his own Spokane heritage is full of warmth and good-hearted humor. Lively, playful illustrations represent both Thunder Boy and the world of his imagination. Dialogue bubbles are used throughout, while Thunder Boy’s little sister, Lillian, mentioned once in the text, has a key role in the visual narrative. Honor Book, 2017 Charlotte Zolotow Award ©2017 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Try these early literacy activities with children:

  • Read: Go to the library and ask your librarian about other books on thunder and lightning storms.
  • Talk: Ask your family what your name means. Are you named after anyone in your family? Do you have a middle name? What does your last name mean?
  • Sing: Make rain/a thunderstorm using hands- start with rubbing hands quietly, then snap, then tap on legs, then clapping.
  • Write: Practice writing your name.
  • Play: Draw a picture of yourself or act out doing something you love to do
  • Math or Science: Talk about differences and similarities between lightning and thunder. Which one is audible and which one is visual? What are some connections between thunder and lightning?

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NOVEMBER (2)

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

Sleep Tight Farm: A Farm Prepares for Winter by Eugenie Doyle. Illustrated by Becca Stadtlander. Chronicle, 2016

The transformation from autumn to winter on a small farm means “putting the farm to bed.” Strawberry plants must be covered with straw, the autumn harvest finished, oats and rye planted to replenish the fields. “Good night, fields, peaceful and still.” Brush is burned, wood is cut and stacked, hay bales placed as a windbreak for the hives of bees. “Good night, bees, sheltered and safe.” The repeated “good night” refrain follows a detailed accounting of many tasks that also give a sense of the abundant harvests that came before. The work, shared by every member of the farm family—mother, father, girl, boy—is realistically yet refreshingly non-gender-stereotyped. This contemporary story is set against warm, detailed folk-art illustrations that have a nostalgic, almost idyllic feel. Everything looks cozy, which seems appropriate for a good-night story. (Ages 3–7)  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Try these early literacy activities with children:

  • Read: “Big Tractor” by Nathan Clement
  • Talk: About the vegetables and fruits grown on the farm. What does the family in the book do to ready the farm for winter? What do you does your family do to get ready for winter?
  • Sing: “Farmer in the Dell”
  • Write: Use vegetables in paint or ink to make vegetable stamp prints.
  • Play: Use play materials to build your own farm. Pretend to tuck the farm in for winter.
  • Math or Science: Find all the vegetables that are orange/red/green. Find all the animals.

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NOVEMBER (1)

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

Owl Sees Owl by Laura Godwin. Illustrated by Rob Dunlavey. Schwartz & Wade, 2016

A little owl leaves his mama, brother, and sister sleeping in their nest and ventures out one night on his own. The entire story is told with just four words per page. “Stars Twinkle Mice Scamper” is accompanied by luminous illustrations that track the owl’s journey, conveying the quiet wonder of the moonlit night. When the owl lands on a log over a body of water, he looks down and sees his own reflection. This is the only time the four-word pattern is broken in order to heighten the dramatic moment: “Owl / Sees Owl.” The little owl then returns home, his journey described with words from the previous pages in reverse: “Scamper Mice Twinkle Stars,” for example, and, finally, “Sister Brother Mama Home” in a book that is lovely both visually and textually. (Ages 2–4)  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Try these early literacy activities with children:

  • Read: The poem “Quiet in the Wilderness”
  • Talk: About the colors, animals, and nature that the children see in the pictures (for babies and toddlers); talk about the mirror image of the poem in the book (for preschoolers)
  • Sing: Find the song “Nocturnal” by Billy Jonas at your library or online and sing along.
  • Write: Your name and think of words of things you like that start with each letter with the help of a grown-up.
  • Play: Have a mirror for kids to see themselves like Owl. Make expressions. Pretend to be an owl.
  • Math or Science: Talk about nocturnal animals. What animals would you see at night in the woods?

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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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NOVEMBER (2)

May 10th, 2017 | Posted by etownsend in 2017-2018 | November | High School | 2017-2018 High School - (Comments Off on NOVEMBER (2))

Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys. Philomel, 2016

The sinking of the Nazi passenger ship Wilhelm Gustloff, killing an estimated 9,000 evacuees escaping the advancing Russian army in the last days of WWII, inspired this riveting, haunting novel. Joanna and Emilia are refugees; Florian is on the run for reasons he won’t reveal. All three teens are desperate to reach the Polish port where German ships are waiting. Each is struggling with a secret and all are damaged by what they’ve experienced, unable to easily trust, but they form a makeshift family with other travelers. Teenage Alfred is a Nazi sailor at the port. Reviled by peers for his self-importance, he also exhibits sociopathic behavior that is, in its way, a personification of facism. The fates of the other three intertwine with Alfred after their harrowing journey to the port culminates in discovery of thousands more refugees than the waiting ships can possibly carry. Short chapters moving back and forth among the four points of view makes for a swiftly paced story in which the characters are revealed in how they interact and through internal reflection that also illuminates their backstories. Oppression under Stalin, Nazi greed, the brutality of war, and the intriguing mystery of the legendary Amber Room are all part of a tense, tragic novel in which the fate of the ship will not be changed by fiction, even as some fictional characters do survive. An author’s note gives more information about the Wilhelm Gustloff tragedy and other factual elements of the narrative. ©2016 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. Bravery and patriotism can be defined in different ways, in different contexts. How do the characters differ in their representations of bravery and patriotism in Salt to the Sea?
  2. Had you previously heard of the historical events depicted in this book? Why do you think you may have or have not heard about these events?
  3. When told that the soldiers “with a strong chance of survival will be embarked” upon the Wilhelm Gustloff, and Alfred says: “Quite wise. Leave the browned cabbage in the basket. It makes no sense to save a head with only a few good leaves.” How does this reflect the Nazi view of humanity? How is this view flawed? Would he pass as a healthy cabbage?

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NOVEMBER (1)

May 10th, 2017 | Posted by etownsend in 2017-2018 | November | High School | 2017-2018 High School - (Comments Off on NOVEMBER (1))

Sabotage: The Mission to Destroy Hitler’s Atomic Bomb by Neal Bascomb. Arthur A. Levine Books / Scholastic, 2016

This riveting account chronicles Norwegian underground fighters’ efforts to sabotage the German production of heavy water in Norway, being used by the Nazis in an effort to develop an atomic bomb during World War II. Most of the men had escaped the country after the Nazi invasion. Working with the British in England, they planned the mission and then parachuted back into Norway in the middle of winter, joining others who had remained from the beginning of the German occupation. The effort ended up far more complicated than hoped when the initial assault did not completely destroy the plant where heavy water was produced. When the Germans finally decided to shut the plant down and move the existing heavy water, the partisans had to destroy the supply in transit, a mission that carried the emotional weight of risking civilian lives. A number of the partisans, whose commitment and endurance were remarkable, are introduced throughout a narrative informed by numerous interviews with their family members, as well as memoirs, diaries, and other primary source materials. Black-and-white photographs are included throughout, and ample notes are provided at volume’s end. © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. Bravery and patriotism can be defined in different ways, in different contexts. How do the characters differ in their representations of bravery and patriotism in Sabotage?
  2. Had you previously heard of the historical events depicted in this book? Why do you think you may have or have not heard about these events?
  3. How does Bascomb use characteristics from different genres to tell this story?

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NOVEMBER (2)

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

Maybe Something Beautiful: How Art Transformed a Neighborhood by F. Isabel Campoy and Theresa Howell.  Illustrated by Rafael López. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2016

Mira brightens up her own life and the lives of those in her neighborhood with the colorful pictures she creates. When she meets a muralist, they begin painting on walls around the neighborhood and soon the whole community is involved: shop owners and teachers, police officers and parents. And of course, children. Music blares and colors dazzle and the atmosphere—physical and emotional—is transformed. “Everyone painted to the rhythm. Salsa, merengue, bebop! Even Mira’s mama painted and danced the cha-cha-cha!” A buoyant picture book is based on the true story of painter Rafael López who, with his wife, organizer Candice López, brought public art to a San Diego neighborhood, creating the Urban Art Trail. Rafael López illustrates this fictionalized account of that effort with dazzling mixed-media artwork that showcases the vibrant transformation. An author’s note includes photographs of the actual murals and some of the young painters. Highly Commended, 2017 Charlotte Zolotow Award ©2017 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. In the beginning, how does Mira show kindness and make her neighborhood less gray?
  2. What does the painter see when he looks at Mira’s picture?
  3. “Art followed the man and Mira, like the string of a kite.” What do you think that means?
  4. What ideas do you have for ways you can work with your community to bring more beauty to the place where you live?

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NOVEMBER (1)

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

The Hole Story of the Doughnut by Pat Miller. Illustrated by Vincent X. Kirsch. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2016

Prior to 1847, little round cakes fried in lard were a dietary staple for sailors aboard ships. They were easy to prepare and easy to eat. But Hanson Gregory, a 16-year-old cook’s assistant aboard a schooner, listened to his fellow sailor’s complaints about the cakes, which they called “sinkers” because the centers were so heavy with grease, and he came up with a way to improve them: He took the top of a pepper shaker and cut the centers out of the cakes before he fried them. They were such a hit that Hanson shared the idea with his mother when he got back home, and she began to cook up dozens of “holey cakes” to sell on the docks to the sailors, and pretty soon, all the ships’ cooks began to adopt the practice, thereby spreading doughnuts far and wide. Gregory later became a ship’s captain, and tall tales began to develop about how he came to invent the doughnut, some of which are included in this book. A great deal of primary and secondary research went into recounting the doughnut’s—or, more accurately, the doughnut hole’s–entertaining history. Each whimsical watercolor illustration is framed within a circle, echoing the importance of the doughnut hole. ©2016 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. Captain Gregory spent a lot of time on large ships, what is the largest vehicle you’ve ever seen, and where were you when you saw it?
  2. Why is Captain Gregory considered a hero? What is he remembered for?
  3. In the book, what is the problem Hanson Gregory was trying to solve with his invention? How does his invention help the sailors?
  4. How do the sailors’ stories differ from Hanson Gregory’s story (How do tall-tales differ from non-fiction?)

NOVEMBER

May 8th, 2017 | Posted by etownsend in 2017-2018 | November | Middle School | 2017-2018 Middle School - (Comments Off on NOVEMBER)

We Will Not Be Silent: The White Rose Student Resistance Movement That Defied Adolf Hitler by Russell Freedman. Clarion, 2016

As young adults in Nazi Germany in the 1930s, Hans Scholl joined the Hitler Youth, his sister Sophie the League of German Girls. They quickly became disillusioned. The White Rose Movement grew out of gatherings of Hans and a few friends in Munich in the early 1940s. As soon as Sophie knew Hans was behind the first White Rose flyer in 1942, encouraging Germans to resist fascism “before it’s too late,” she demanded to be part of the work. The Movement’s weapons were words: flyers written and printed in secret, distributed with great planning and care. Their commitment was unwavering, right through their capture, interrogation and brief trial. “I would do it all over again,” 21-year-old Sophie told her Gestapo interrogator. “I’m not wrong … You have the wrong world view.” Along with a third White Rose member who’d been captured (they did not reveal the names of others) Hans, 24, and Sophie were executed by guillotine in early 1943. A detailed account full of intrigue and danger and heroism and heartbreak presents the Scholls’ courageous activism in the context of the terrible wrongs being committed by the Nazi regime, and the greater good that the White Rose Movement sought to inspire. Ample black-and-white photos, including candid snapshots of the Scholls, and other visual material are part of a work that ends with source notes and a bibliography.  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. What role does propaganda play, and how can you recognize it?
  2. Why do you think that by the 5th leaflet the name had changed from “The White Rose” to “Leaflets of the Resistance”?
  3. What would it take to get you to stand up and risk your life like Hans, Sophie, and Alex?

Find more resources here

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Excellent Concept Books for Early Literacy: November 2016 Babies, Toddlers and Preschoolers

October 20th, 2016 | Posted by etownsend in Babies, Toddlers and Preschoolers | 2016-2017 | November - (Comments Off on Excellent Concept Books for Early Literacy: November 2016 Babies, Toddlers and Preschoolers)

Alphabet SchoolIcon for Babies Toddlers & PreschoolersAlphabet School by Stephen T. Johnson. A Paula Wiseman Book / Simon & Schuster, 2015

Stephen T. Johnson brings his artist’s eye to a school environment to locate letters of the alphabet in ordinary objects and scenes. The shadow of a school bus mirror forms the letter B. Two flags on a pole make an F. Remnants of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich curl into a G. A flipped-up toilet seat is an almost perfect U. Johnson’s striking full-page, realistic paintings have a tinge of grittiness with their speckled texture, looking like well-worn photographs. The imperfections amplify the realism, and while these are surely images drawn from one or more specific places, there is also a universality, as if this could be any school. It’s hard to imagine children not being inspired to look closely around their own classrooms, hallways, gymnasiums, and playgrounds to see what letters might be lurking, and some will surely want to create images and books of their own.  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Try these literacy activities after reading Alphabet School

  • Talk: Talk about the shapes within the letters. Which letters are curvy? Which are straight?
  • Sing: Sing the Alphabet Song. Try singing the alphabet to a different tune.
  • Write: Use different objects from around your house to form the first letter of your name.
  • Play: Go on a letter walk and look for the first letter of your name.
  • Math or Science: Make a cutout of the first letter of your name. Bring it with you on your letter walk.

i dont like snakesI (Don’t) Like Snakes by Nicola Davies. Illustrated by Luciano Lozano. U.S. edition: Candlewick Press, 2015

When her puzzled, snake-loving family asks a young girl why she doesn’t like snakes, she points out that snakes slither and have “slimy, scaly skin” and “flicky tongues.” They also stare. In response to these and other points, her dad, mom, and brother have an explanation—and sometimes a correction (e.g., snakes aren’t slimy; their skin is dry)—expanding the girl’s understanding of and appreciation for snakes. This picture book deftly blends the appealing fictional story and its blithe illustration style with factual text and images about snake biology and behavior. A brief bibliography and an index conclude the volume.  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Try these literacy activities after reading I Don’t Like Snakes

  • Talk: Find another book with snakes. Compare the snakes in the two books.
  • Sing: Can you hiss like a snake? Can you hiss like a snake? Try to “sing” a song by hissing.
  • Write: Can you draw a snake? What will your snake look like? Is it long? Is it curvy? What is your snake doing? Sleeping? Eating?
  • Play: Without using words, act out how you show that you don’t like something or do like something. Have someone guess which is like and which is dislike.
  • Math or Science: Snakes shed their skins. What else sheds its skin? Do you shed your skin?

 

moving blocksMoving Blocks by Yusuke Yonezu. U.S. edition: Minedition, 2015

A book offering a plethora of possibilities for interaction (color concept, spatial reasoning, prediction, and types of transportation for a start) begins with a page spread showing a rectangular pattern of yellow, green, blue, and red blocks with die-cuts suggesting a shape. The text asks, “What are you building? What can it be?” A page turn shows the die-cut shape surrounded by white against the block pattern on the previous page to reveal a vehicle made of blocks: car, bus, train, ship, rocket ship. The full rectangle of blocks and two questions repeat on every other spread before the next reveal, giving a sense of pattern and order to the book as a whole that is also visually suggested by the repetition of the block shapes in this clever, developmentally appropriate board book.  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Try these literacy activities after reading Moving Blocks

  • Talk: Name the shapes. Talk about curves and straight lines in the shapes.
  • Sing: The Wheels on the Bus
  • Write: Draw shapes in the air.
  • Play: Create vehicles out of shapes and pretend to go on a trip.
  • Math or Science: Make shapes out of blocks. Count how many blocks you used for each shape.

Don’t forget this poem from Changes: A Child’s First Poetry Collection by Charlotte Zolotow: page 30

Find more resources for Alphabet School, I (Don’t) Like Snakes and Moving Blocks at TeachingBooks.net!

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Community Engagement: November 2016 Primary (K-2)

October 20th, 2016 | Posted by etownsend in Primary (Grades K-2) | 2016-2017 | November - (Comments Off on Community Engagement: November 2016 Primary (K-2))

last stop on market streetPrimary Icon of a White-Tailed DeerLast Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Peña. Illustrated by Christian Robinson. Putnam, 2015

As he and his nana take the bus across town, observant young CJ is full of questions and more than a little wishful thinking: Why don’t they have a car instead of having to take the bus? Why do they always have to go somewhere after church? How come that man sitting near them can’t see? Why is the neighborhood where they get off the bus so dirty? In response, his nana points out everything they would miss if they weren’t right where they were at each moment, from the interesting people they get to see and meet to the realization that beauty can be found everywhere. Rather than telling CJ about what community means, she’s showing him that he’s a part of it. After an event-filled ride, they arrive at their destination. “I’m glad we came,” CJ says looking at the familiar faces in the window of the soup kitchen where they both volunteer. Wonderful descriptive writing (“The bus creaked to a stop in front of them. It sighed and sagged and the doors swung open.”) full of abundant, child-centered details propels an engaging picture book set against marvelous illustrations that have a naïve quality while reflecting the energy, vibrancy and diversity of a contemporary city. Honor Book, 2016 Charlotte Zolotow Award ©2015 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. How does the text make us feel the sights, sounds, and smells of the city? What are some verbs and adjectives that the author uses to convey these feelings?
  2. In what ways do CJ and Nana see the world differently?
  3. How does CJ’s mood change throughout the book? How does the weather reflect CJ’s moods in the beginning and at the end of the book?

trombone shortyTrombone Shorty by Troy Andrews and Bill Taylor. Illustrated by Bryan Collier.  Abrams, 2015

Growing up in Tremé, a New Orleans neighborhood, Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews was surrounded by music. It was in his house as his brother played trumpet, in the streets, in the air all year long, but especially during Mardi Gras. And he loved it. Wanting to create musical “gumbo” of his own, he used homemade instruments and paraded behind his brother before he found a broken trombone. His brother gave him his nickname, and Andrews was still smaller than his trombone when Bo Diddley called him up to play on stage at the New Orleans Jazz Festival. Today the young man is a performer around the world, but he always returns to New Orleans. The musical energy and vibrancy of that city burst from every page of a dynamic picture book written by Andrews and featuring the pulsing images of Bryan Collier. A photo essay at book’s end, also by Andrews, expresses more of his appreciation for the city and people who nurtured him.  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. How does the Tremé community shape or influence Trombone Shorty’s passion for making music on the trombone?
  2. This book talks about New Orleans gumbo as food and as music, how do the illustrations remind you of the cooking (food) and composing (music)? How are the illustrations like gumbo?
  3. What do you think “Where y’at” means? Do you know different phrases that have a similar meaning?

Find more resources for these Last Stop on Market Street and Trombone Shorty at TeachingBooks.net!

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