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MARCH (1)

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

When the Sea Turned to Silver by Grace Lin. Little, Brown, 2016

A historical fantasy weaves retellings of traditional Chinese legends into the story of a girl and boy, Pinmei and Yishan, searching for the Luminous Stone That Lights the Night. The new emperor kidnapped Pinmei’s grandmother, the Storyteller, and Pinmei wants to find the stone and offer it in exchange. On their journey they meet those who’ve already faced loss at the hands of the emperor, who is conscripting men and boys to build a vast Wall. At first hesitant to share the stories she’s grown up hearing from her grandmother, stories she knows like her own heart, shy Pinmei becomes a storyteller in her own right as they travel. Visually the legends are set apart with a distinct font, but there is satisfaction in the way they are also woven into the fabric of Pinmei and Yishan’s quest, even offering clues: Not everyone Pinmei and Yishan meet is who and what they seem. There is also delight in how this story connects to the two earlier books in the cycle, Where the Mountain Meets the Moon and Starry River of the Sky, although it, like the others, stands on its own. Exquisite book- making, including full-color plates and color accents on chapter headings, add to the pleasure of this enticing volume. © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. What examples of foreshadowing can you find in the story?
  2. What makes storytelling so valuable?
  3. What folklore do you recognize in the novel?

MARCH

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

The Passion of Dolssa by Julie Berry. Viking, 2016

In 13th-century western Europe, the Inquisition is control through terror, as those whose beliefs or behaviors offend Church authorities face persecution as heretics. Dolssa is a young woman who says Christ is her true love. Even the threat of death cannot make her deny that he speaks to her. But it is her mother who is burned by Inquisitors as Dolssa watches. When her bonds are cut and a voice tells her to run, Dolssa flees. Spirited Botille and her two equally confident, gifted sisters run an inn in the village of Bajas. When Botille discovers a dying young woman by a river, instinct or intuition or perhaps something else tells her to lie when a passing friar asks about a missing girl. Botille smuggles the young woman—Dolssa—back to her village, where the sisters secretly nurse her back to health. Dolssa remains hidden until a crisis forces her to call on her divine gift for healing. Word about her miracles spreads and the determined friar tracks Dolssa down. A taut narrative arc in this work of historical fiction is richly embellished with vivid period details and a cast of vibrant, singular, complex, contradictory characters. The story is tragic, funny, satisfying, and scathingly critical. It also leaves space for genuine faith and miracles and mystery and devotion, however one chooses to define it (earthbound romance included). A detailed author’s note about the historical period concludes this intricate and astonishing work.

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. Do you think Dolssa’s “beloved” is real or imaginary? If he is real, why doesn’t he save Dolssa and her mother? How do you explain the miracles that seemed to occur in her presence?
  2. Dolssa is being pursued because she is seen as a criminal by the church. The people of Provensa see her as good. What risks are the people of Provensa taking by siding with Dolssa instead of the church?
  3. Do you believe Botille at the end of the story? In an interview, Julie Berry herself tells readers not to trust her.

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MARCH (2)

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

The Sound of Silence by Katrina Goldsaito. Illustrated by Julia Kuo. Little, Brown, 2016

On the busy streets of Tokyo, Yoshio asks a koto player her favorite sound. She replies that the most beautiful sound to her is ma, the sound of silence. Yoshio tries to hear the sound of silence, but can’t find it. Noise seems to be everywhere: kids at school, traffic on the street, his family’s chopsticks and chewing during dinner. It’s not until Yoshi is engrossed in reading a book in an empty classroom that he realizes he’s hearing a moment of ma. “It had been there between the thumps of his boots when he ran; when the wind stopped for just a moment in the bamboo grove; at the end of his family’s meal, when everyone was happy and full; after the water finished draining from his bath; before the koto’s player music began—and hovering in the air, right after it ended. It was between and underneath every sound.” A picture book set in Tokyo is illustrated with detailed pen and digitally colored scenes that are both expansive and intimate, much like the story is full of both activity and quiet. An Afterword gives additional information about the Japanese concept of ma. Highly Commended, 2017 Charlotte Zolotow Award ©2016 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. What is your favorite sound and why?
  2. What words does the author use to describe the sounds in the city?
  3. Have you ever heard silence like Yoshio?
  4. Throughout the story, what is the connection between the setting and Yoshio?
  5. In what ways is Yoshio’s home similar and/or different from your home?

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MARCH (1)

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

When Green Becomes Tomatoes: Poems for All Seasons by Julie Fogliano. Illustrated by Julie Morstad. A Neal Porter Book / Roaring Brook Press, 2016

“just like a tiny, blue hello / a crocus blooming / in the snow” (march 22). A collection of poems full of lovely, often playful observations and turns of phrase moves through the seasons. In summer “you can taste the sunshine … ” (june 15). In autumn, “because they know / they cannot stay / they fade and fall / then blow away / because they know / they cannot stay / they leave / they leave / they leave” (october 15). Finally, there is winter, when “i would not mind, at all / to fall / if i could fall / like snowflakes …” (january 5). The poems are titled with a date, and are set in every month across the year. With the exception of pumpkin-carving on October 31 there are no references to either religious or secular observances, another refreshing aspect of a book featuring perfectly paired illustrations. The art features diverse children in scenes with a soft, cozy, almost nostalgic feel. (Ages 4–8).  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. What is your favorite poem in the story? How does it make you feel?
  2. What is your favorite season? If you were writing a poem about your favorite season, what would you include?
  3. Choose a poem and talk about what you see in your mind when hearing it. Ask others what they see in their mind when they hear your poem.

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MARCH

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

The Lie Tree by Frances Hardinge. Amulet / Abrams, 2016

When 14-year-old Faith’s scientist father is accused of trying to pass off a fake fossil as authentic, public censure prompts the family to move from their Kent home to the site of an archaeological dig on a sparsely populated island. But scandal follows the family to the island, where Faith covertly investigates the mystery behind her father’s secretive behavior. She discovers the Mendacity Tree, an obscure plant he’s hiding that is nourished by lies rather than sunlight. If well fed, it bears a fruit that reveals the truth when eaten. When her father dies suddenly, Faith is convinced he was murdered. She sets out to prove it, using the Mendacity Tree to aid her mission. Truth and lies shift uneasily as Faith sinks deeper and deeper into a quagmire of greed and treachery— including her own. The shifting world of natural science a decade after the publication of Darwin’s The Origin of the Species plays an important role is this novel that compares and contrasts the behavior of complex characters and the intricacies of their relationships. At the center of it all is Faith, an intelligent girl who resents the limitations of the gender roles of her time, and yet judges her mother with the same stereotypical bias that she abhors. (Age 12 and older)  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. If given the chance, would you eat the fruit from the Lie Tree? Why or why not?
  2. Faith’s brother uses guns and his toy stage to act out his fears and to talk about tough stuff. What helps you through tough stuff and problems? How do you cope?
  3. Faith has complicated relationships with both her mother and father. Which parent do you think she is most like? Why?

    Find more resources here

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Take a Peak at ROW March 2017 Titles

February 21st, 2017 | Posted by etownsend in Babies, Toddlers and Preschoolers | Primary (Grades K-2) | 2016-2017 | Intermediate (Grades 3-5) | Middle School | High School | March - (Comments Off on Take a Peak at ROW March 2017 Titles)

Babies, Toddlers and Preschoolers: Family! Books about family from a newly living-in grandparent to adjusting to new siblings to all types of families! Also, language and math concepts in this month’s books for Babies, Toddlers and Preschoolers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What could art and insects possibly have to do with one another? In the March 2017 Primary books, both are presented in ways that ask young readers to think differently about the subject. Creative and engaging, these titles are winners!

 

 

 

Intermediate titles in March embrace sports buzz! Learn about the origin of the “fast break” and the coach who introduced it to the game in John Coy’s Game Changer . Find out whether a love of baseball can bring a grieving family together in Wendy Wan-Long Shang’s The Way Home Looks Now.

 

 

 

March Middle School titles offer riveting nonfiction about a group of student resistors during WWII and historical fiction set in Berlin during the Cold War. These books will start some conversation on how governments challenge and control people’s freedoms and possible responses.

 

 

 

 

An engrossing look at U.S. government deception of the American public throughout our involvement in Vietnam, and Daniel Ellsberg’s efforts to make that deception—chronicled in the Pentagon Papers—public.

Part political thriller, part American primer, Sheinkin’s account be-comes even more riveting as it follows the release of the story in the Times, a court injunction to stop publication of additional stories in that paper, and Ells-berg, hiding from federal authorities, getting additional copies into the hands of one major paper after another.

 

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March 2017 High School

February 20th, 2017 | Posted by etownsend in 2016-2017 | High School | March - (Comments Off on March 2017 High School)

Most Dangerous: Daniel Ellsberg and the Secret History of the Vietnam War by Steven Sheinkin. Roaring Brook Press, 2015

An engrossing look at U.S. government deception of the American public throughout our involvement in Vietnam, and Daniel Ellsberg’s efforts to make that deception—chronicled in the Pentagon Papers—public. Ellsberg, a veteran and Harvard Ph.D., worked at the Pentagon, and later for the State Department in Vietnam, gradually changing his views on U.S. involvement there, especially as he realized how much was being kept from the public. U.S. fears of Communism post World War II, and the refusal of one president after another to “lose” a war, were among the barriers to rational decision-making. But at a new position for a California-based think tank, Ellsberg ended up with access to a single copy of the Pentagon Papers, which he eventually decided to photocopy. No politician would touch what he begged them to make public, so he went to the New York Times. Part political thriller, part American primer, Sheinkin’s account becomes even more riveting as it follows the release of the story in the Times, a court injunction to stop publication of additional stories in that paper, and Ells-berg, hiding from federal authorities, getting additional copies into the hands of one major paper after another. Ellsberg’s patriotism is never in doubt in Sheinkin’s account, but neither is the patriotism of soldiers serving in the war who, like Vietnamese civilians and our military allies there, were also at the mercy of the decisions being made. Detailed source notes round out this masterful account that includes occasional black-and-white photos.  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. How are we affected today by the decisions our political leaders make?
  2. Was Daniel Ellsberg right or wrong to release the Pentagon Papers? What role did his experiences in the war affect his eventual decisions?
  3. Who should decide what secrets the government gets to keep? Should all government information eventually become public?
  4. Steve Sheinkin has tells us about history in a much different way than a history textbook. How is it different and how does Sheinkin hold the reader’s interest in such a complicated story?

Find more resources at TeachingBooks.net!

March 2017 Middle School

February 20th, 2017 | Posted by etownsend in 2016-2017 | Middle School | March - (Comments Off on March 2017 Middle School)

The Boys Who Challenged Hitler: Knud Pedersen and the Churchill Club by Phillip M. Hoose. Farrar Straus Giroux, 2015

When Germany invaded Denmark in April, 1940, the Danish government signed an agreement not to fight back. This capitulation did not sit well with many ordinary Danes. Knud Pedersen was a school boy, but he and his brother and some friends began acts of resistance—small scale annoyances and mayhem. When the Pedersens moved, the brothers formed the Churchill Club, and their activity began to escalate. From the time they stole their first gun, the boys began thinking about what they were doing in moral terms: Could they shoot a German? Under what circumstances? Meanwhile, they focused on the sabotage of train cars and vehicles. Caught, they were eventually sent to prison, but their trial sparked greater resistance efforts across the nation. By the time Knud got out of prison, his family had become an important part of the growing Danish resistance. Phillip Hoose interviewed Knud Pedersen extensively as part of this riveting account, which goes back and forth between Knud’s reminiscences and Hoose’s narrative. The boys’ youth, and at times immaturity, is conveyed along with their commitment and passion for their cause.  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. How did the boys’ deeds have an effect on Denmark’s resistance movement?
  2. Would you categorize the boys as impetuous or heroic? Support your answer.
  3. What world/societal issues could this story relate to today?
  4. If this book became a movie, which part, person or role would you want to play?

A Night Divided by Jennifer Nielson. Scholastic, 2015

With the rise of the Berlin Wall, twelve-year-old Gerta finds her family divided overnight. She, her mother, and her brother Fritz live on the eastern side, controlled by the Soviets. Her father and middle brother, who had gone west in search of work, cannot return home. Gerta knows it is dangerous to watch the wall, to think forbidden thoughts of freedom, yet she can’t help herself. She sees the East German soldiers with their guns trained on their own citizens; she, her family, her neighbors and friends are prisoners in their own city.

But one day, while on her way to school, Gerta spots her father on a viewing platform on the western side, pantomiming a peculiar dance. Then, when she receives a mysterious drawing, Gerta puts two and two together and concludes that her father wants Gerta and Fritz to tunnel beneath the wall, out of East Berlin. However, if they are caught, the consequences will be deadly. No one can be trusted. Will Gerta and her family find their way to freedom? from the publisher

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. What purpose did the quotes serve at the beginning of each chapter?
  2. Gerta got help from unexpected people. What were their motivations for helping her?
  3. Why did the East Germans need a wall to keep people from leaving?

Find more resources at TeachingBooks.net!

March 2017 Intermediate

February 20th, 2017 | Posted by etownsend in 2016-2017 | Intermediate (Grades 3-5) | March - (Comments Off on March 2017 Intermediate)

Game Changer: John McLendon and the Secret Game by John Coy. Illustrated by Randy DuBurke. Carolrhoda, 2015

In 1944, the Duke University Medical School basketball team played a secret game against five members of the Eagles from the North Carolina College of Negroes in defiance of segregation laws. The match was arranged by Eagles coach John McLendon, who had an African American father and Delaware Indian mother, and believed an interracial game could help erase prejudice. The Eagles blew out Duke with a final score of 88 to 44, dominating the play with their new fast-break attacking style. A second game of shirts and skins followed, with players from both teams mixing to make a more evenly matched competition. In a post-game gathering at the Eagles’ dormitory, all players agreed to keep the game secret in order to protect one another and Coach McLendon from legal liability or social retribution. A concluding sentence of this captivating story pays tribute to Coach McLendon and the players of both teams who “were years ahead of their time” on the road to athletic racial integration.  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. What was the significance of these two teams playing together? Why was it important for this game to be secret?
  2. Why do you think the author titled this book “Game Changer”? What are some of the different meanings of “game changer” in the book?
  3. Have you ever changed your assumptions about someone once you got to know them?
  4. Why do you think the illustrator changed the style of the art after the game?

The Way Home Looks Now by Wendy Wan-Long Shang. Scholastic Press, 2015

Peter’s Taiwanese American family is struggling since the death of his older brother, Nelson. Peter, Nelson, and their mother shared a love of baseball, so Peter tries out for a team in hopes it will spark his mother’s interest, since she’s so sad she rarely leaves the couch. But it’s Ba who gets involved, volunteering to coach Peter’s team. Angry that his father, who argued with Nelson about the Vietnam War, can’t make things at home better, Peter is now embarrassed by him as a coach. But turns out Ba has been paying attention to baseball—he even played as a boy—and to what’s happening at home more than Peter knew. A novel grounded in the perspective of a child in a family working through grief also succeeds as an accessible, engaging sports story, one that addresses changing social norms in the 1970s.When one of the team’s best players, Aaron, turns out to be Erin—a girl—parents threaten to pull their sons from the team. Ba leaves it up to the kids to decide if she should stay. Meanwhile, there are moments when Peter’s mother shows a spark, but baseball is not a magic cure. Time, says Ba. Nuanced characters, including Peter’s mother and Nelson, both developed in flashbacks, are among the story’s many strengths. (MS) ©2015 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. How do the different characters handle grief?
  2. How does baseball bring people together in this story? How does it change their views of each other?
  3. How did you feel when you learned Erin was a girl?

Find more resources at TeachingBooks.net.

Art, Science, and Creativity: March 2017 Primary

February 20th, 2017 | Posted by etownsend in Primary (Grades K-2) | 2016-2017 | March - (Comments Off on Art, Science, and Creativity: March 2017 Primary)

Grandma in Blue with Red Hat by Scott Menchin. Illustrated by Harry Bliss. Abrams, 2015

An art teacher asks a boy and his classmates touring a museum to consider why various pieces are on display: What makes them art? “Because it’s beautiful,” says Alice about one painting. “Because it came from somewhere far away,” says Thomas about another. “Because it’s different.” “Because it tells a story.” “Because it makes me feel good.” “Because it’s funny.” That night the boy thinks about his classmates’ observations, and about what the teacher said, “Anything can be in an art exhibition.” And then he thinks about his Grandma, who is different, funny, tells him stories, makes him feel good, and comes from far away. “I should give Grandma to the museum!” Alas, the museum director explains, they don’t accept Grandmas. A playful yet probing narrative is paired with illustrations blending cartoon styling with renditions of the real works of art that inspire the students’ thinking and creativity. The African American boy at story’s center goes on to paint a whimsical series in tribute to his Grandma.  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

  1. Pre-reading: What is art?
  2. Do you recognize some of the paintings and sculptures in the book?
  3. Why do you think text appears in two formats?
  4. After reading this book, how has your understanding of art and making art changed?

I, Fly: The Buzz About Flies and How Awesome They Are by Bridget Heos. Illustrated by Jennifer Plecas. Henry Holt, 2015

The fly narrating this informative picture book is full of enthusiasm, not to mention knowledge, eager to convince a class studying butterflies that flies are just as worthy a subject. “Here’s how the story goes: My 500 brothers and sisters and I started out as eggs. Our mom tucked us into a warm, smelly bed of dog doo.” The fly’s impromptu lecture (it came in through the window during a science class) is followed by a Q-and-A session, with the fly dispelling misinformation about its species. Bridget Heos’s funny, factual narrative (well, except for the talking fly) is perfectly matched by Jennifer Plecas’s clean-lined, cartoon-like illustrations.  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

  1. How does the fly show us the difference between facts and myths?
  2. What information about flies do you find most interesting in this book?
  3. In what ways are flies and butterflies alike? different?

Find more resources for Grandma in Blue with Red Hat and I, Fly: The Buzz About Flies and How Awesome They Are at TeachingBooks.net!

Families Together: March 2017 Babies, Toddlers and Preschoolers

February 20th, 2017 | Posted by etownsend in Babies, Toddlers and Preschoolers | 2016-2017 | March - (Comments Off on Families Together: March 2017 Babies, Toddlers and Preschoolers)

Mango, Abuela, and Me by Meg Medina. Illustrated by Angela Dominguez. Candlewick Press, 2015

Mia doesn’t speak Spanish well and her abuela, who has come to live with Mia’s family, doesn’t speak English well. They share a room, and Abuela watches Mia after school, but there is a lot of silence. Then Mia begins teaching her grandmother English words, even labeling things at home like they sometimes do in her classroom at school, and Abuela teaches Mia Spanish words. The locked door between them starts to open. It opens wider when Mia sees a parrot at the pet shop and the family buys it for Abuela, who had a pet parrot back home. By story’s end, Abuela is reading Mia her favorite book, and telling stories “about Abuelo, who could dive for river stones with a single breath and weave a roof out of palms.” A warm picture book story that has some lovely turns of phrase and integrates Spanish words into the English text is set against cheery illustrations.  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

  • Talk: How do you say hello, goodbye, and I love you without words?
  • Sing: Visit your library and listen to songs in Spanish.
  • Write: Draw a picture of yourself with a grandparent or a favorite adult.
  • Play: Visit your library and find more bilingual books.
  • Math or Science: Taste a mango! Is it sweet, sour, tangy?

One Family by George Shannon. Illustrated by Blanca Gómez. Frances Foster Books / Farrar Straus Giroux, 2015

An unusual, conceptually sophisticated counting book looks at the way the number “one” can be represented by a single object, a pair of items, or a group of things varying in number from three all the way up to 10. For every number from two to 10, “one” is also a group with that many members. “One is three. One house of bears. One bowl of pears … One is five. One bunch of bananas. One hand of cards.” The narrative works hand-in-hand with the illustrations, with each page spread featuring a scene in which everything named can be found and counted (e.g., a family of three walking down a street in which one building they pass has a bowl with three pears in the window and a toy shop with a window display featuring the three bears in a doll house). While the art has a nostalgic feel, there is multicultural and intergenerational diversity within and across the families, all of whom are shown together on the final page spread: “One is one and everyone. One earth. One world. One family.”  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

  • Talk: Who is in your family? Name them all.
  • Sing: A counting song.
  • Write: How old are you? How many different ways can you show this number using different objects?
  • Play: Hopscotch
  • Math or Science: Count the groupings on each page. What kinds of groups can you find in your world?

The New Small Person by Lauren Child. Candlewick Press, 2015

Elmore Green enjoys being an only child. He doesn’t have to worry about anyone messing with his stuff, and “Elmore Green’s parents thought he was simply the funniest, cleverest, most adorable person they had ever seen.” When a “new small person” arrives, Elmore Green’s perfectly ordered life is turned upside down. “They all seemed to like it … maybe a little bit MORE than they liked Elmore Green.” As the new small person gets bigger, he disrupts Elmore’s things, he licks Elmore’s jelly beans, he follows Elmore around, he moves into Elmore’s room. It’s awful, until the night Elmore has a bad dream and the small person comforts him. Not long after, Elmore is arranging his precious things in a long line, and the small person is adding his own things to the effort. “It felt good to have someone there who understood why a long line of things was SO special.” And it turns out that this small person has a name: Albert. A fresh, funny take on a familiar family scenario features two brown-skinned brothers in droll, spirited illustrations that are a perfect match for the narrative’s tone. Lauren Child’s story is joyful even as it acknowledges the very real feelings of frustration and uncertainty that come with a new sibling. Honor Book, 2016 Charlotte Zolotow Award  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

  • Talk: Talk about your favorite things. Do you share them with others?
  • Sing: Choose a song. Sing it loudly. Sing it quietly. Sing it in a silly way.
  • Write: Draw a picture of your favorite things.
  • Play: Share your favorite toys with a friend.
  • Math or Science: How many are in your family? Do you think it’s a big or small family?

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Our March Titles are Here! Check Them Out!

March 1st, 2016 | Posted by etownsend in Babies, Toddlers and Preschoolers | Primary (Grades K-2) | Intermediate (Grades 3-5) | 2015-2016 | Middle School | High School | March - (Comments Off on Our March Titles are Here! Check Them Out!)

socksifyouwereadogfirefly july

what forest knows

flora and ulysses

stubby the war dog

scavengers

falling into place

Click on any of these book cover images to learn more about that book! Read an annotation from the CCBC! Find discussion questions and activities as well as links to TeachingBooks.net and all of their fabulous resources!

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