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Find Some New Favorites: December 2015 Titles

November 30th, 2015 | Posted by etownsend in 2015-2016 | December - (Comments Off on Find Some New Favorites: December 2015 Titles)

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It Is Night and Chendu Could Not, Would Not Fall Asleep

Frida and The Scraps Book

viva frida

 

http://readon.education.wisc.edu/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/what-the-moon-said-e1440431906617.jpggreat american dust bowl

 

 

 

 

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House of Purple Cedar

 

 

 

 

 

 

So many favorites books this month! What the Moon Said and The Great Greene Heist would make great read aloud books heading into the winter break or a great read for winter break. Toddlers will want to read and re-read It is Night and Chengdu Could Not, Would Not Fall Asleep. Kids of all ages will linger over the creative imagery in Frida and The Scraps Book. Get a new perspective on historical fiction with the graphic novel from Don Brown, The Great American Dust Bowl, and Choctaw storyteller, Tim Tingle’s House of Purple Cedar. Click on the covers above to read the CCBC annotation of that book and find classroom and library resources for the titles.

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Powerful and Beautiful: December 2015 High School Title

November 15th, 2015 | Posted by etownsend in 2015-2016 | December | High School - (Comments Off on Powerful and Beautiful: December 2015 High School Title)

house of purple cedarHouse of Purple Cedar by Tim Tingle. Cinco Puntos Icon_HighSchoolPress, 2014 (c2013).

In 1967, Rose is an old woman looking back on her childhood in Skullyville, Oklahoma, in 1897, in a novel that moves back and forth between Rose, her family and Choctaw community, and residents of the nearby town of Spiro. Among them is the marshall, a man who is despised by Choctaw and whites alike. His cruelty is often random, as when he strikes Amafo, Rose’s grandfather, at the train station one day. Amafo turns the other cheek, and in doing so finds allies among some of the whites in Spiro while leading his community away from confrontation. Tim Tingle writes beautifully and deeply about love and forgiveness as antidotes to violence and hatred in a novel that also doesn’t ignore hard realities. Sometimes bringing the truth into the light isn’t enough; sometimes you have to fight back with violence. This is illuminated not only through what happens to Rose and her community but also through the lives of several women in Spiro, one of them the marshall’s wife, who has endured his beatings for years. The power of family, of community and connection, and of love and compassion to transcend divides — among individuals, across cultures, between the living and the dead — is profound and hopeful in a story that is, above all, about the human heart. The tense plot unfolds through characters drawn with astonishing depth and subtlety, their actions and interactions richly revealing. Solace for Rose’s community is also found in both Christianity and in spiritual experiences imbedded in their culture, the two seamlessly reconciled in their lives.  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Resources from TeachingBooks.net.

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. Decisions to perform acts of violence and nonviolence play a pivotal role in the course of the book. For example, Amafo’s response to the marshall’s attack was deliberate. Argue how this was or wasn’t an effective strategy.
  2. Explain the significance of the title, House of Purple Cedar.
  3. Find two examples of symbolism in this novel. Explain the importance of each to the narrative arc of the story or development of a character.

The Ultimate Middle School Heist Novel for December 2015!

November 15th, 2015 | Posted by etownsend in 2015-2016 | Middle School | December - (Comments Off on The Ultimate Middle School Heist Novel for December 2015!)

great greene heist001The Great Greene Heist by Varian Johnson. Arthur A. Books for Middle School AgeLevine Books / Scholastic, Inc., 2014.

When Jackson Greene learns classmate Keith Sinclair is trying to steal the election for eighth grade class president—with the help of the principal no less!—he steps up. It might not be the noblest of intentions that convinces him to get involved, but it’s not wholly selfish, either. Jackson’s friend Gaby de la Cruz is Keith’s opponent. Although they had a falling out, Gaby is still someone Jackson likes—a lot—while her twin brother, Charlie, is his best friend. And then there’s the fact that outsmarting Keith and the principal means running a con, something Jackson happens to like doing, and is very, very good at. But he can’t do it alone, so he and Charlie put together a team, each member with specific skills necessary to complete their part of a plan that involves technology, psychology, and a series of carefully crafted interactions. Varian Johnson’s entertaining tale has all the machinations of the best con games, but is set against the backdrop of a contemporary middle school. Johnson’s intentionally diverse cast of characters feels natural rather than heavy-handed in a story of humor and hijinks featuring a winning African American protagonist who, it turns out, is carrying on family tradition.  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Resources from TeachingBooks.net

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. This book is a classic con or heist story. Different genre elements are present in Great Greene Heist that make it recognizable as a heist or con story. What are some things that make this book fall into the heist genre?
  2. Some passages in this book make Keith seem sympathetic. Provide some examples of this from the book. Did you ever feel sorry for him? Why or why not?
  3. Jackson is a student, a friend and a con man. What qualities does Jackson possess that makes him a good con man? What are some qualities that Jackson a good friend?
  4. Do you agree with the actions that Jackson takes to help his friend? Why or why not? Is it ever okay to break rules?

The Great Depression in Fiction and Nonfiction: December 2015 Intermediate 3-5

November 15th, 2015 | Posted by etownsend in Intermediate (Grades 3-5) | 2015-2016 | December - (Comments Off on The Great Depression in Fiction and Nonfiction: December 2015 Intermediate 3-5)

what the moon saidWhat the Moon Said by Gayle Rosengren. Penguin Icon for the Intermediate (Grades 3-5) readersGroup, 2014.

After Esther’s father loses his job in Chicago during the Depression, the family manages to buy a small farm in Wisconsin. Her immigrant parents include her warm German father and her more emotionally distant, Russian-born mother. In fact, Esther’s mother is so distant that Esther sometimes wonders if her mother loves her, especially because she seems much more affectionate with Esther’s siblings. As the family adjusts to rural life, Esther makes a good friend in Bethany, and loves her new teacher at the small school. But superstitious Ma soon forbids Esther from spending time with Bethany because of her new friend’s mole, which Esther’s mother believes is a devil’s mark. Soon Esther can’t help but blame a lot of the family hardship on her mother, especially as the Depression continues to bear down and makes their future on the farm she’s come to love uncertain. There’s an old-fashioned sensibility to this story that goes beyond its setting and time period. The storytelling itself, with several dramatic plot elements leading to revelations, has the feel of a piece from an earlier time. But if there is a sense of predictability, it comes with comfort and great satisfaction, even as Esther’s story ends happily but not in the prefect way she might have wished.  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Resources from TeachingBooks.net.

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. Before reading: Do you have any superstitions?
  2. What is Esther’s life like on the farm? How is it different from her siblings?
  3. How does Ma’s background affect Esther?
  4. How is Esther different in the beginning of the story from the end of the story? How is Ma different?

The Great American Dust Bowl by Don Brown. Houghton Mifflin,great american dust bowl 2013.

“It fell across our city like a curtain of black rolled down. We thought it was our … doom.” Don Brown’s informative and affecting graphic novel look at the Dust Bowl examines its causes and effects from the perspective of both science and social history. He covers the geologic history of the Plains, and the changing ways people and animals used the land. When the grasslands were stripped to plant crops to meet the European food shortage during World War I, farmers were living high. Then prices fell, the Great Depression struck, and a drought hit. The stage was set for ecological and human disaster. Brown’s writing is straightforward and spare, at times poetic as he takes readers through the years of the Dust Bowl, sharing dramatic and painful experiences of people who lived during the devastating time. His poignant illustrations are heavily shaded in dusty tones of brown and yellow. Readers can see and feel the heat of the sun and the thickness of the dust, as well as the weight of worry, fear, and despair in the bodies and faces of people and animals alike. A final page spread discusses droughts that have taken place in the Plains since the 1930s (most recently in 2012), and offer a selected bibliography and source notes for quoted material. (MS) ©2013 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Resources from TeachingBooks.net.

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. What do you think the author wanted you to know about the dust bowl? What are some of the things he included in the text and the images to tell you that?
  2. How did the illustrations help tell the story?
  3. How does the graphic novel format differ from other informational text formats? What are the benefits of the graphic novel format in relaying information?

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Explore the Artistic Life: December 2015 Primary Titles

November 15th, 2015 | Posted by etownsend in Primary (Grades K-2) | 2015-2016 | December - (Comments Off on Explore the Artistic Life: December 2015 Primary Titles)

scraps bookThe Scraps Book: Notes from a Colorful Life by Primary Icon of a White-Tailed DeerLois Ehlert. Beach Lane Books, 2014.

Lois Ehlert’s creative journey began in early childhood and continues today. Here she offers an open, inviting look at some of her own work as an artist creating books for children. Page spreads dazzle with Ehlert’s colorful collage art, including images from some of her best-known books along with a brief, friendly narrative about where the idea came from and how it developed. There is a scrapbook feel to the assorted illustrations, personal photographs, and notes in an offering that is a collage both visually, and in the content that combines insight into her personal journey as an artist with information about how her art and her books take shape. Inspiration can come from everywhere. Chaos can lead to beautiful creations. This treasure trove feels like a love letter to the beauty all around us, and encourages young artists to “find your own spot to work and begin.” (MS) ©2014 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Find resources at TeachingBooks.net

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. Before reading: What do you like to create or make?
  2. How did the author’s parents help her to become an artist? Show examples from the text.
  3. Where does the author get ideas and materials for the picture books she writes and illustrates?
  4. What kind of art technique does the author/illustrator use? How is this described in the book in text and in images?

Viva Frida by Yuyi Morales. Photographs by Tim O’Meara. A Nealviva frida Porter Book / Roaring Brook Press, 2014.

Yuyi Morales’s playful, lush, elegant, heartfelt picture book about artist Frida Kahlo concludes with an author’s note titled “My Frida Kahlo,” which begins: “When I think of Frida Kahlo, I think of orgullo, pride. Growing up in Mexico, I wanted to know more about this woman with her mustache and unibrow. Who was this artist who had unapologetically filled her paintings with old and new symbols of Mexican culture in order to tell her own story?” The note itself is an informative and loquacious conclusion to a work that is linguistically spare, visually complex, and emotionally rich and stirring. Morales’s illustrations combine photographs of three-dimensional tableaus she created featuring hand-crafted puppets representing factual elements of Kahlo’s life, including the child-friendly details of Kahlo’s pet deer and monkey, and paintings that reference Kahlo’s own work, representing elements of her vivid creative life as expressed through her art. The bilingual text is a series of simple statements in Kahlo’s voice, which concludes, “I love / and create / and so / I live!”  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Resources from TeachingBooks.net

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. Before reading: What verbs would you use to describe yourself?
  2. The author uses strong verbs to describe Frida? What do you learn about her?
  3. What do you learn about Frida from the illustrations?
  4. This book is written in both English and Spanish? Why do you think the author writes in both languages?

Sweet Bedtime Stories: December 2015 Babies, Toddlers and Preschoolers

November 15th, 2015 | Posted by etownsend in Babies, Toddlers and Preschoolers | 2015-2016 | December - (Comments Off on Sweet Bedtime Stories: December 2015 Babies, Toddlers and Preschoolers)

chengduChengdu Could Not, Would Not Fall Asleep by Icon_PreSchoolBarney Saltzberg. Disney / Hyperion, 2014.

While everyone else in the bamboo grove slumbers, a panda named Chengdu is tossing, twitching, scrunching, rolling, even hanging upside down, but no matter what he does he can’t fall asleep. His eye-popping, wide-awake visage is one of the charms of a picture book in which the black and white panda is once shown as nothing but big open eyes. He finally climbs up high in a tree and finds a perfect spot to slumber. Too bad for his brother Yuan it’s right on top of him. A witty and wonderfully paced pairing of text and illustrations will definitely charm young readers and listeners, with occasional fold-out and varied trim-size pages adding to the fun. Honor Book, 2015 Charlotte Zolotow Award  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Resources from TeachingBooks.net.

Early literacy activities for both books below.

It Is Night by Phyllis Rowland. Illustrated by Laura Dronzek. it is nightGreenwillow / HarperCollins, 2014.

Originally published in 1953 with illustrations by the author, an almost stream-of-conscious bedtime book is given a cozy, comforting new look with the warm, rich hues and soft, soothing, curved lines of Laura Dronzek’s art. The narrative ponders where a variety of animals and objects might sleep at night. “Where should a sleek seal rest his head? On the quiet beach of a faraway island, or safe in an island cave.” A dog in a doghouse “can keep his eye on the stars and see that they don’t bump into the moon.” Rooster and rabbit, elephant and mouse, not to mention a train and dolls “big and small” are all considered. But do any of them sleep in the places imagined? “No! They sleep in the bed of one small child … ALL OF THEM.” It’s a familiar ritual of childhood made fresh.  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Resources from TeachingBooks.net.

For both books:

  • Read: Find other books about plants, animals, and the solar system.
  • Talk & Write: Talk about your bedtime routine. Make a list of your bedtime routine as your child describes the routine and hang the list by your child’s bed. Encourage your child to draw a picture of each routine.
  • Sing: Sing a favorite or traditional lullaby together. For example, “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.”
  • Play: Have your child get their favorite doll or toy ready for bed.
  • STEM: Collect twigs, stones, leaves and other natural materials. Which of these materials do you think animals would use in their habitats? Why?

Find more early literacy activities from the Youth Services Section of the Wisconsin Library Association’s 2015 Early Literacy Calendar created by Youth Services librarians across Wisconsin.

Far Far Away

December 1st, 2014 | Posted by etownsend in December | 2014-2015 | High School - (Comments Off on Far Far Away)

far far awayFar Far Away by Tom McNeal. Alfred A. Knopf, 2013.

1. What connections can you make between this story and fairy tales?

2. Throughout the novel, characters actively try to help others. Give some examples of when the help is sincerely offered and other examples when help is offered for selfish motives. How does this advance the plot?

3. Where and when do you think this story takes place? What tells you this?

 

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Orleans / How I Became a Ghost

December 1st, 2014 | Posted by etownsend in Middle School | December | 2014-2015 - (Comments Off on Orleans / How I Became a Ghost)

orleansMSOrleans by Sherri L. Smith. Putnam, 2013.

1. How does the dystopian New Orleans setting shape the characters’ beliefs and actions?

2. How do the points of view of Daniel and Fen differ? What are ways the author differentiates their two perspectives?

3. Safety and trust are two ideas explored in the story. Do any specific elements (scenes, character interactions, etc.) stand out when you think of how either one of these ideas was explored?

 

how i became a ghostMS

How I Became a Ghost by Tim Tingle. The RoadRunner Press, 2013.

1. During the course of the book, Isaac dies and becomes a ghost. How do his relationships with the other character change because of this?

2. How does the author show us ways that Isaac’s point of view is grounded in his identity as a Choctaw as well as his experiences as a child?

3. From the start, the reader knows that Isaac will die. How does this create suspense or tension in the story?

 

Books for Middle School Age

Sophie Scott Goes South / Little Dog, Lost

December 1st, 2014 | Posted by etownsend in Intermediate (Grades 3-5) | December | 2014-2015 - (Comments Off on Sophie Scott Goes South / Little Dog, Lost)

sophie scott goes southSophie Scott Goes South by Alison Lester.   U.S. edition:  Houghton Mifflin, 2013.

1. There are lots of types of illustrations in this book. Why do you think the author/illustrator decided to use so many different types of illustrations? How do you think these different styles of illustrations help you understand the things Sophie describes?

2. Who are some of the people who work on the Aurora Australis and what are their roles? What about the people at Mawson Station?

3. Sophie is a child making this trip for the first time. How do you think that that makes a difference in what she describes? How do you think the story might be told differently if her dad was telling it?

 

little dog lost

Little Dog, Lost by Marion Dane Bauer.  Illustrated by Jennifer A. Bell.  Atheneum, 2012.

1. People in the town have formed opinions of Charles Larue without getting to know him. What do the kids in the town think of Charles Larue? What is Charles Larue really like? Charles Larue changes throughout the story. What is he like in the beginning of the story? How is he different at the end of the story?

2. This book tells the story of three characters, Buddy, Charles Larue, and Mark. How do these three different perspectives help you to understand the characters and their actions?

3. The author wrote this book as a story in verse. Do you think this format, using poetry to tell the story, adds to or distracts from the story? Why?
Icon for the Intermediate (Grades 3-5) readers

Meet the Dogs of Bedlam Farm

December 1st, 2014 | Posted by etownsend in Primary (Grades K-2) | December | 2014-2015 - (Comments Off on Meet the Dogs of Bedlam Farm)

meetthedogsofbedlamfarm

Meet the Dogs of Bedlam Farm by John Katz. Henry Holt, 2011.

1. What are the different jobs of the dogs? How do the dogs help the farm by performing these different jobs?

2. What is your job in your family? How does this help your family?

3. What do you think the author wants us to learn from this book?

Primary Icon of a White-Tailed Deer

Quinito’s Neighborhood / Inside, Outside

December 1st, 2014 | Posted by etownsend in Babies, Toddlers and Preschoolers | December | 2014-2015 - (Comments Off on Quinito’s Neighborhood / Inside, Outside)

quinitosneighborhood

Quinito’s Neighborhood = El Vecindario de Quinito by Ina Cumpiaño. Illustrated by José Ramírez. Children’s Book Press, 2005.

1. Do you know someone with one of these jobs? Which job would you like to do?

2. What do people in your family do in your neighborhood or town?

3. Who are some of the people you might meet on a walk in your neighborhood?

 

inside outside

Inside Outside by Lizi Boyd. Chronicle, 2013.

1. Which shapes can you find and name?

2. How many patterns can you find? Describe the patterns.

3. What do you see through the windows?

 

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Z Is for Moose / Animal 1 2 3

December 1st, 2013 | Posted by schliesman in Babies, Toddlers and Preschoolers | December | 2013-2014 - (Comments Off on Z Is for Moose / Animal 1 2 3)

Z is for Moose cover

Z is for Moose by Kelly Bingham. Illustrated by Paul O. Zelinsky. Greenwillow / HarperCollins, 2012

1. How does Moose feel when he finds out he isn’t going to be the letter “M”? How can you tell what he’s feeling?

2. Can you figure out what letters were supposed to be on the pages after “M Is for Mouse” and “N Is for Needle?.” What clues can/did you use?

3. What makes you impatient? What do you do when do you have to wait?

 

animal 1 2 3 cover

Animal 1 2 3 by Britta Teckentrup. Handprint Books, 2012

1. Let’s count ___________s (creatures from each/any page in book).

2. What comes after _____ (number)? How much is it if we add one more?

3. Let’s move like ______ (creature from each/any page in book).

 

Poem to pair from Here’s a Little Poem: A Very First Book of Poetry edited by Jane Yolen and Andrew Fusek Peters. Illustrated by Polly Dunbar. U.S. edition: Candlewick Press, 2007:

“The NO-NO Bird” by Andrew Fusek Peters, p. 28

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