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Start the New Year with Some Stunning Reads! January 2016 Titles

January 4th, 2016 | Posted by etownsend in 2016-2017 | January - (Comments Off on Start the New Year with Some Stunning Reads! January 2016 Titles)

nestlion and the birdblizzard

incredible life of baltolulu and the cat in the bag

misadventures of the family fletcher001

patient zero

courage has no colorlooks like daylight

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Liven up January with these highly discussable books. Click on each cover for an annotation, discussion questions, and link to resources from TeachingBooks.net.

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A New Year! Start it Right with these January 2016 Babies, Toddlers and Preschoolers Titles

December 15th, 2015 | Posted by etownsend in Babies, Toddlers and Preschoolers | 2015-2016 | January - (Comments Off on A New Year! Start it Right with these January 2016 Babies, Toddlers and Preschoolers Titles)

lion and the birdThe Lion and the Bird by Marianne Duboc. Translated Icon_PreSchoolfrom the French by Claudia Z. Bedrick. U.S. edition: Enchanted Lion, 2014.

A picture book of great tenderness begins with a lion raking his yard. When a bird from a flock flying high overhead is injured, the lion bandages the bird’s wing, but the flock moves on — autumn is clearly waning. So the lion and the bird spend a snug winter together, warm in his cozy home, sometimes venturing out for some cold-weather fun, the bird tucked into his mane. “It snows and snows. But winter doesn’t feel all that cold with a friend.” Spring brings warm weather, and the return of the other birds. It’s time for the lion and the bird to part. Time passes, lion carries on his solitary life, then it’s autumn again and he wonders about his friend. There is an absence, an ache, and, finally, sweet joy. Marianne Dubuc’s picture book is told largely through beautifully composed, muted illustrations that make use of both full-page spreads and spot illustrations surrounded by white space, with brief lines of lovely narrative punctuating the images every so often. There is a film-like quality to the visual storytelling in this rich, emotionally resonant tale.  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

  • Read & Talk: On the wordless spreads, ask your child to describe what is happening. Let your child have time with this activity. Use a bookmark so you can come back to the story. Ask your child what their favorite season is and why?
  • Write: Together with your child, write a letter to someone they love that lives far away and take a trip to the post office to mail your letter. Create a bookmark for the book.
  • Play: Take care of a friend, toy, or imaginary friend by hosting a tea party. Find out what they like they to eat. Act out some of the activities in the book like fishing, sledding, and gardening.
  • STEM: Provide dried beans or seeds. Feel them, count them, sort them or plant them in a cup. While sorting, create charts and graphs.

Nest by Jorey Hurley. A Paula Wiseman Book / Simon & Schuster,nest 2014.

A single word per double-page spread takes very young children through a year in the life cycle of a robin, from “nest” to “hatch” to “explore,” eventually ending with another “nest.” The simple narrative is an accompaniment to the uncluttered, striking, stylized illustrations, each of which is an artful work of graphic design. The art strongly and realistically conveys the beauty of the changing seasons and the drama within and beyond the natural world, as on the “jump” page, where the robins sit in a tree just out of the reach of an eager and interested cat, or “surprise,” which as a purple kite on a taut string flying above their treetop resting place. An author’s note provides additional information about robins.  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

  • Talk: Talk about the four seasons with your child.
  • Sing: Sing “Two Little Blackbirds Sitting in a Tree”. Now replace blackbirds with robins and other birds.
  • Write: Collect leaves. Ask children to trace the different parts of leaves – stem, outline, veins – with their fingers. Point out curved and straight lines on the leaves and how letters are made of straight and curved lines.
  • STEM: Go for a walk and observe nature. When spring comes, place four inch strands of yarn on tree branches for nest building. Discuss the order of the events in the book.

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.

New Year, New Stories to Share: January 2016 Primary K-2 Titles

December 15th, 2015 | Posted by etownsend in Primary (Grades K-2) | 2015-2016 | January - (Comments Off on New Year, New Stories to Share: January 2016 Primary K-2 Titles)

blizzardBlizzard by John Rocco.  Disney / Hyperion, 2014.Primary Icon of a White-Tailed Deer

“Outside, the ground is cold and white. Inside, my home is warm and bright,” begins this satisfying picture book for young children. A small boy describes what is happening, both outside and inside his home, during a snowstorm. While the snow “swirls and blows” deeper and deeper into drifts, he warms his toes by the fireplace, drinks hot cocoa, and snuggles under a quilt. Pairs of simple sentences and their accompanying illustrations contrast the wild beauty of the storm with the snug comfort of the boy’s warm house. As the storm abates, the boy ventures out into a calm, cold, crystalline nighttime to make a snow angel. Then it’s back inside and off to bed, but not before he takes one more look at his sleeping angel. CCBC categories: Seasons and Celebrations; Books for Babies and Toddlers; Concept Books.  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Resources from TeachingBooks.net.

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. Before reading: What would you not want to be without in a snow storm?
  2. What visual clues show you the depth of the snow?
  3. How do the illustrations tell you about the passage of time?
  4. Which member of the family saves the day? How does he or she save the day? Show examples of this from the illustrations.

The Incredible Life of Balto by Meghan McCarthy.  Alfred A. Knopf, incredible life of balto2011.

Meghan McCarthy offers a compelling expansion on the usual story of Balto, the sled dog leader of the team that completed the famed delivery of Diptherium serum to Nome in 1925. From an exhilarating description of the final leg of the serum run, McCarthy goes on to describe Balto’s celebrity status after the event (he even starred in a movie!), and then his decline from fame into life as a side-show attraction. Eventually money was raised in a public effort in Cleveland to purchase Balto and his teammates from the sideshow owner. The dogs were donated to the Brookside Zoo, where “Balto could relax and enjoy the rest of his life.” A lengthy section in the afterword titled “Detective Work” is a fascinating account of the author’s efforts to track down Balto’s history and accurate physical description, separating rumor and error from fact. McCarthy’s distinctive art style offers up an endearingly googly-eyed Balto, which seems fitting for a dog considered an unlikely choice for a hero.  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Resources from TeachingBooks.net.

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. What is the setting for the book or when and where does Balto’s story take place?
  2. In what ways do you think Balto was a hero? Show examples from the book to support your opinion.
  3. Kimble did not have enough money to buy Balto, how did he manage to pay for him?

Family Fun: January 2016 Intermediate Titles

December 15th, 2015 | Posted by etownsend in Intermediate (Grades 3-5) | 2015-2016 | January - (Comments Off on Family Fun: January 2016 Intermediate Titles)

lulu and the cat in the bagLulu and the Cat in the Bag by Hilary McKay. Illustrated by Icon for the Intermediate (Grades 3-5) readersPriscilla Lamont. U.S. edition: Albert Whitman, 2013.

Irrepressible, animal-loving Lulu is back in two new breezy outings. In Lulu and the Cat in the Bag, Lulu’s grandma, Nan, has come to stay with Lulu and her cousin, Mellie, while their parents are on vacation. Nan is decidedly not an animal lover, and the arrival of a breathing burlap bag on the doorstep has her in a panic about what might be inside. The marigold cat it proves to be isn’t too thrilled, either, and bolts when Lulu opens the bag. But she returns when Nan isn’t looking, making herself at home on Lulu’s bed. When the cat disappears, it’s Lulu’s turn to panic. The outcome of her search for the missing feline is surprising to everyone—perhaps Nan most of all. In Lulu and the Dog from the Sea, Lulu’s parents take Lulu and Mellie on a trip to a seaside cottage. After spotting a stray dog on the beach, Lulu is determined to capture the canine and take care of it. Mellie, meanwhile, is determined to build a kite from the complicated kit she has brought along. Hilary McKay, masterful at writing funny books about families and friends alike, once again offers up a cast of singular, delightful characters in two outstanding books for newly independent readers continuing the series about brown-skinned Lulu that began with Lulu and the Duck in the Park (U.S. edition: Albert Whitman, 2012).  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Resources from TeachingBooks.net.

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. Before reading: What would you do if you found a cat on your doorstep?
  2. What role do pets play in the family in this book? What role do pets play for the main character?
  3. How is the grandmother different at the beginning of the story from the end of the story? Why did the grandmother change her mind about the cat?
  4. How does the setting affect the story? What setting might create a different ending for this story?

The Misadventures of the Family Fletcher by Dana Alison Levy. misadventures of the family fletcher001Delacorte, 2014.

The multiracial Fletcher family is comprised of four boys — twelve-year-old Sam, ten-year-olds Jax and Eli (who are not twins), and six-year-old Frog — along with their adoptive Dads, whom they call Dad and Papa. Set over the course of a single school year, a warm, funny story in the tradition of classics like The Saturdays features wonderful family dynamics that will ring true to readers regardless of what their own family structure looks like. Over the course of the novel, each of the boys faces a dilemma. Sam, who has been single-minded about soccer, is taken by surprise at how much he enjoys acting in the school play and feels torn about where to put his energy. Jax chooses their crabby next-door neighbor as the focus of a year-long Veteran’s Project for school, but then finds it impossible to engage the unfriendly man. Eli hates the special school for gifted academic kids that he begged to attend, but now feels he has to stick with it. And Frog has a new friend, Ladybug, that the rest of the family assumes is imaginary, like the cheetah that lived under his bed. Their good-humored yet often exasperated parents and a variety of friends and neighbors all add to the fun of a story that is fresh, lively, and comforting.  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Resources from TeachingBooks.net.

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. How is each brother featured as a protagonist? How does that change the story?
  2. This book features messages and emails at the beginning of each chapter. How does that affect your understanding of the narrative? What do you learn about the characters from these notes?
  3. Why did Mr. Nelson appear to be grumpy for much of the story?
  4. Which character changes the most throughout the story? Why do you think this? Cite examples.

Enthralling Nonfiction: January 2016 Middle School Titles

December 15th, 2015 | Posted by etownsend in 2015-2016 | Middle School | January - (Comments Off on Enthralling Nonfiction: January 2016 Middle School Titles)

patient zeroPatient Zero: Solving the Mysteries of Deadly Books for Middle School AgeEpidemics by Marilee Peters. Annick Press, 2014.

“Who’s our Patient Zero?” Today this is one of many questions scientists ask when looking at a disease outbreak. This captivating look at the development of the field of epidemiology, which blends hard science and social science, looks at seven significant outbreaks of disease over the past 350 years. Starting with the Black Death in London in 1665, readers see how the approach to investigating diseases has developed over time. Each account, which include the Soho Cholera outbreak (1854), Yellow Fever in Cuba (1900), Typhoid in New York City (1906), Spanish Influenza (1918–19), Ebola in Zaire (1976), and AIDS (1980), reads like a mystery as those on the front lines looked for clues to understanding what was happening, where it started, and how it spread, often developing better practices that applied to both the specific illness and the broader field of epidemiology. (The current Ebola outbreak had not yet happened when this book was written; but the discussion of Ebola notes that a re-occurrence is an ongoing concern.) A paperback volume with an engaging design includes numerous visual elements and informative sidebars, as well as a glossary, chapter-by-chapter sources, suggestions for finding out more, and an index.  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Resources from TeachingBooks.net

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. What does Patient Zero mean? Do you think this is fitting title for this book? Why?
  2. What were some of the similarities of the different epidemics? How does the time period each epidemic was set in influence how each epidemic was handled?
  3. What are some elements of this informational text (text size, organization, design, illustrations) that are engaging to you as a reader?
  4. Which disease would you like to learn more about? Why?

Courage Has No Color: The True Story of the Triple Nickles, courage has no colorAmerica’s First Black Paratroopers by Tanya Lee Stone. Candlewick Press, 2013.

In 1943, Sergeant Walter Morris, a guard at Fort Benning, Georgia, saw how his fellow Black soldiers were struggling with morale. He began leading his men through the ground training exercises he saw the white paratroopers doing. No one had given him permission, but he wanted to prove to them that they were just as capable as white soldiers. Instead of being reprimanded, Morris got official go-ahead for formation of the first Black paratrooper unit, the 555th Parachute Infantry Company. Tanya Lee Stone follows Morris and other soldiers through the first training classes, and their subsequent expectation that the newly minted Triple Nickles would be sent into battle—the war in Europe was raging. Instead, they were sent to fight forest fires in the Pacific Northwest and California as smoke jumpers. A repeated theme in Stone’s narrative is how the members of the Triple Nickles had to swallow bitterness over and over. But they did, performing the jobs they were asked to do with distinction because they knew the long road was important. Stone introduces a number of the unit’s members, some of whom she interviewed as part of her research. She also provides broader social context for the racism that defined much of the experience of Black soldiers both within and beyond the military during World War II. Her author’s note is an informative discussion of her research and decision-making as a writer—the difficulty of gleaning some facts, and the choices she made at certain points as she gained information and insight through reading and first-person interviews. Numerous black-and-white photographs, and detailed source notes, are included.  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Resources from TeachingBooks.net

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. What are specific ways the author shows how racism was a barrier and a burden for individual members of the Triple Nickles and the group as a whole?
  2. How did the Triple Nickles change history and people’s perceptions of African Americans? Cite evidence from the book.
  3. Do people of color experience the same kinds of prejudice today?

Life Stories from Native Youth: January 2016 High School Title

December 15th, 2015 | Posted by etownsend in 2015-2016 | High School | January - (Comments Off on Life Stories from Native Youth: January 2016 High School Title)

looks like daylightLooks Like Daylight: Voices of Indigenous Kids by Deborah Ellis. Icon_HighSchoolForeword by Loriene Roy. Groundwood / House of Anansi Press, 2013.

 Forty-five contemporary Native youth in Canada and the United States, most of them teens, share details about their lives in this gathering of voices that resounds with hopes for the future and echoes with pain from the distant and not-so-distant past. The kids come from many different Indian nations. Some live on reservations (called “reserves” in Canada), some in cities. Some have had lives of stability, some have struggled, and continue to struggle, within or outside of families facing challenges. Many of the young people find grounding and solace and strength in their culture. Native and non-Native readers alike will find elements of their stories relatable. Deborah Ellis provides an introduction to the volume as a whole that gives an overview of the politics that have come to shape many realities of Native lives. She also provides an introduction to each profile. But it is the voices and lives of the kids that stand out, whether they are young artists or activists, horse-lovers or budding engineers, or struggling with harsh things that have happened, in need of support and finding their way.  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Resources from TeachingBooks.net

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. This book is entitled, Looks Like Daylight. Why do you think the author chose this title? How does it reflect the overall tone of the stories the author chose to include? What do you think it suggests about the long term prognosis for Native youth in America? Provide examples from the stories to support your opinion.
  2. In each chapter, Native youth describe some of the challenges they face. Frequently, these challenges include alcohol abuse, discrimination, and suicide. How has the history of Native Americans (i.e., repatriation to reservations, boarding schools, language extinction) contributed to these challenges? In what ways do Native youth cope positively with these challenges? How are these challenges similar or different from the experiences of non-Native youth or even from your experience?
  3. Many of the Native youth describe their relationship to Native history. Give examples of how this has been a positive experience as well as a negative experience for these youth. Are there examples of your personal history, or the history of someone you know, that affect your behavior or life outlook today? Discuss why it’s important for these Native students to remember history and, equally, why it’s important to identify with the present and plan for the future.

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.

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.

Boxers and Saints / Open Mic

January 1st, 2015 | Posted by etownsend in 2014-2015 | High School | January - (Comments Off on Boxers and Saints / Open Mic)

boxers saintsHSBoxers (Boxers and Saints) by Gene Luen Yang. First Second, 2013.
Saints (Boxers and Saints) by Gene Luen Yang. First Second, 2013.

1. How do you think the order in which the books are read impacts a reader’s perspective on the rebellion?

2.  How is the influence of religious and spiritual beliefs in this pairing of books developed? How do Four Girl and Bao’s religious beliefs, as portrayed across the two books, parallel one another?

3. What elements of this book can you find in today’s headlines about similar religious or political conflict?

 

open micHS

Open Mic: Riffs on Life Between Cultures in Ten Voices by Mitali Perkins. Candlewick Press, 2013.

1. How does the use of humor in these stories help to open discussions about race and ethnicity?

2. What are some similarities between the styles and perspectives of  the short stories? What are some differences?

3. Choose one of the stories. What is the author’s experience with racial and ethnic differences? How does the author convey this in his or her story? How does humor help the author explore and understand these differences?

 

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Pinned

January 1st, 2015 | Posted by etownsend in Middle School | 2014-2015 | January - (Comments Off on Pinned)

pinned Pinned by Sharon G. Flake. Scholastic Press, 2012.

1. How does the author use the text to differentiate between Adonis and Autumn? How are their voices different?

2. Autumn perseveres through her struggles with wrestling and during her pursuit of Adonis, but she gives up more easily when trying to read. Why doesn’t she apply herself to reading the way she does with wrestling and in her pursuit of Adonis?

3. Why is Adonis so resistant to Autumn’s advances?

Books for Middle School Age

The No. 1 Car Spotter and the Firebird / Tua and the Elephant

January 1st, 2015 | Posted by etownsend in Intermediate (Grades 3-5) | 2014-2015 | January - (Comments Off on The No. 1 Car Spotter and the Firebird / Tua and the Elephant)

no 1 car spotter and the firebirdThe No. 1 Car Spotter and the Firebird by Atinuke. Illustrated by Warwick Johnson Cadwell. U.S. edition: Kane Miller, 2012.

1. What are some examples of the ways the No. 1 car spotter “works smart, not hard”? What are some examples of the ways he is good at problem-solving?

2. How do the different people in the village contribute to the success of everyone? Additionally, how do you contribute to your community?

3. On page 14 Grandfather says, “Nobody is good at everything, No. 1…You are the No. 1 car spotter. That is enough.” Is this a true statement? Why or why not?

 

tua and the elephant

Tua and the Elephant by R.P. Harris. Illustrated by Taeeun Yoo. Chronicle Books, 2012.

1. Describe Nak and Nang. How are they the same and how they different?

2. Who are some of the people who help Tua and Pohn-Pohn on their journey? How do they help?

3. What is a sanctuary? Why is it important for Tua and Pohn-Pohn get there?

Both of these books are set in faraway places and have a strong sense of community. How are No. 1 and Tua similar?

Icon for the Intermediate (Grades 3-5) readers

Nora’s Chicks / This is the Rope

January 1st, 2015 | Posted by etownsend in Primary (Grades K-2) | 2014-2015 | January - (Comments Off on Nora’s Chicks / This is the Rope)

nora's chicks

Nora’s Chicks by Patricia MacLachlan. Illustrated by Kathryn Brown. Candlewick Press, 2013.

1. What are ways the author and illustrator let us know that Nora is lonely?

2. Who do we meet at the beginning of the story? What is happening then?  Who do we meet in the middle of the story?  What happens? At the end of the story, how have things changed for Nora?

3. How do Nora’s chicks help her?

 

this is the ropeGRK-2

This Is the Rope:  A Story from the Great Migration by Jacqueline Woodson. Illustrated by James Ransome. Nancy Paulsen Books/Penguin, 2013.

1. Who is telling the story of the rope? About whom is she telling the story?

2. In what different ways is the rope used in the story?

3. What object does your family own that tells a story?

 

Primary Icon of a White-Tailed Deer

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