MAY (2)

May 10th, 2017 | Posted by etownsend in 2017-2018 | High School | 2017-2018 High School | May - (0 Comments)

The Sun Is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon. Delacorte, 2016

Over the course of a single day on which they have a chance meeting, alternating chapters move between Natasha, who has been in the United States with her Jamaican immigrant family since she was 8, and Daniel, the son of Korean immigrant parents who feels intense pressure to become a doctor. It’s a monumental day for both of them even before their first encounter. Tasha is desperately trying to seek once last stay of her family’s deportation and Daniel is on his way to an interview with a Yale alum for an application he doesn’t care about. The perspectives and histories of other characters, from family members to people they encounter over the course of the day, like Irene, the security guard at the office building where INS is located, and Jeremy, the immigration attorney Natasha meets with, are also part of the story. Natasha, who loves science, and Daniel, who wants to be a poet, are both intelligent, and their exchanges are entertaining but also surprisingly deep in a novel that delves into political and historical aspects of race and culture as well as the dynamics of family and the delight of falling in love.  Like the two main characters, this unusual love story is poetic and witty, blithe and thought-provoking.  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. How is the novel timely on the topic of immigrants in the United States? Is the situation with undocumented immigrants complicated or straightforward?
  2. Natasha’s family considers themselves Americans, even though they are undocumented immigrants. Daniel’s family considers themselves Korean, even though they’ve been American citizens for many years with Daniel and his brother both born in the US. Is each family right or wrong?
  3. How do each of the characters in this book confront grief and experience love?




MAY (1)

May 10th, 2017 | Posted by etownsend in 2017-2018 | High School | 2017-2018 High School | May - (0 Comments)

Great American Whatever by Tim Federle. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2016

Quinn Roberts is a sixteen-year-old smart aleck and Hollywood hopeful whose only worry used to be writing convincing dialogue for the movies he made with his sister Annabeth. Of course, that was all before—before Quinn stopped going to school, before his mom started sleeping on the sofa…and before the car accident that changed everything. Enter: Geoff, Quinn’s best friend who insists it’s time that Quinn came out—at least from hibernation. One haircut later, Geoff drags Quinn to his first college party, where instead of nursing his pain, he meets a guy—okay, a hot guy—and falls, hard. What follows is an upside-down week in which Quinn begins imagining his future as a screenplay that might actually have a happily-ever-after ending—if, that is, he can finally step back into the starring role of his own life story. from the publisher  

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. How do you think the story would be different if Quinn had read the text message from Annabeth earlier in the book?
  2. Should Jeff have kept his romantic relationship secret from Quinn?
  3. How do each of the characters is the book confront grief and experience love?





May 8th, 2017 | Posted by etownsend in 2017-2018 | Middle School | 2017-2018 Middle School | May - (0 Comments)

Lowriders in Space (Lowriders, Book 1) by Cathy Camper. Illustrated by Raul the Third. Chronicle Books, 2014

Lupe Impala, El Chavo Flapjack, and Elirio Malaria love working with cars. You name it, they can fix it. But the team’s favorite cars of all are lowriders—cars that hip and hop, dip and drop, go low and slow, bajito y suavecito. The stars align when a contest for the best car around offers a prize of a trunkful of cash—just what the team needs to open their own shop! ¡Ay chihuahua! What will it take to transform a junker into the best car in the universe? Striking, unparalleled art from debut illustrator Raul the Third recalls ballpoint-pen-and-Sharpie desk-drawn doodles, while the story is sketched with Spanish, inked with science facts, and colored with true friendship. With a glossary at the back to provide definitions for Spanish and science terms, this delightful book will educate and entertain in equal measure.  (Ages 9-12) — from the publisher 

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. In the notes, it says: “This book was written to celebrate the artistry, inventiveness, mechanical aptitude, resilience, and humor that are all part of lowrider culture.” Give examples of how the author and illustrator accomplish this.
  2. What would be your playlist for this book?
  3. How is collaboration important in this story?

Find more resources here




Witty Satire: May 2017 High School

April 20th, 2017 | Posted by etownsend in 2016-2017 | High School | May - (Comments Off on Witty Satire: May 2017 High School)

The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness. Harper Teen / HarperCollins, 2015

Mikey, his sister Mel(inda), and their friends Henna and Jared, are about to graduate high school. Mel has anorexia and Mikey lives with severe anxiety and OCD, neither fitting the image their high-aspiring politician mother wants their family to project. Henna’s parents plan on taking her to the Central African Republic to do missionary work, despite the war there. Jared feels the weight of being an only child on the verge of leaving his single-parent father. Jared is also a god. Well, technically a quarter-god. And there is the delicious twist in this emotionally rich story about facing a time of transition and uncertainty: The otherworldly is real. When indie kids (it’s always the indie kids) in the foursome’s small community begin disappearing, it isn’t the first time. In the past the culprits were vampires and soul-sucking ghosts; now it’s aliens. Mikey and his friends aren’t indie kids (despite Henna’s name) but are aware of the danger, which plays out in hilarious chapter openings chronicling the indie kids’ efforts to combat the threat, making for a merry satire on countless young adult novels. But the heart of this novel is the reality of change—in relationships, in circumstances, in what we understand; imperfect families; and the sustaining power of friendship. As a narrator, Mikey is real and complex, and a little bit heartbreaking. As a work of fiction, Ness’s book is funny and tender and true, and a little bit dazzling. ©2015 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. What is satire? How is this novel satire? What are the targets of the author’s satire? What is the author critiquing in our culture?
  2. How is this save-the-world story told from a unique perspective?
  3. What does the title mean?

Find curated resources for The Rest of Us Just Live Here at TeachingBooks.net!

Fairy Tale Meets Sci Fi: May 2017 Middle School

April 20th, 2017 | Posted by etownsend in 2016-2017 | Middle School | May - (Comments Off on Fairy Tale Meets Sci Fi: May 2017 Middle School)

Cinder: Book One of the Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer. Feiwel & Friends, 2012

Humans and androids crowd the raucous streets of New Beijing. A deadly plague ravages the population. From space, a ruthless lunar people watch, waiting to make their move. No one knows that Earth’s fate hinges on one girl. . . .

Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg. She’s a second-class citizen with a mysterious past, reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s illness. But when her life becomes intertwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s, she suddenly finds herself at the center of an intergalactic struggle, and a forbidden attraction. Caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal, she must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect her world’s future. –from the publisher

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. What could the alienation or exclusion of cyborgs translate to in our society?
  2. Choose a different fairy tale. How would you set it the future?
  3. What diseases in our world’s history does the plague in Cinder reflect?

Find discussion guides, a book trailer, and more for Cinder at TeachingBooks.net!


Two Unusual Mysteries: May 2017 Intermediate

April 20th, 2017 | Posted by etownsend in 2016-2017 | Intermediate (Grades 3-5) | May - (Comments Off on Two Unusual Mysteries: May 2017 Intermediate)

Unusual Chickens for the Exceptional Poultry Farmer by Kelly Jones. Illustrated by Katie Kath. Alfred A. Knopf, 2015

Adjusting to life in the country brings challenges and surprises for Sophie Brown. While her unemployed dad learns about small-scale farming, her mom is churning out one freelance article after another to stay on top of bills. Sophie, meanwhile, is learning to care for the chickens that once belonged to her Great Uncle Jim, only Uncle Jim’s chickens prove to be far from ordinary. Henrietta has a Forceful gaze—literally. Sophie has seen her levitate things. Chameleon turns invisible. And all six are the target of a would-be chicken thief who clearly knows they’re special. A funny, spirited story is told almost entirely through letters. Many are from Sophie to her Abuelita or her Great Uncle Jim, both of whom have passed away. Letters full of questions and advice also go back and forth between Sophie and Agnes, owner of Redwood Farm Supply. Agnes’s letters are mysteriously typo-ridden, but her poultry correspondence course is informative and no-nonsense. Trying to protect her flock, Sophie makes the first friend her own age in town while asserting her claim on the chickens she’s come to love. Sophie, who is biracial (her mom is Mexican American; her dad is white), occasionally reflects on cultural aspects of her family history and identity in ways that are genuine and unforced in this blithe but not unsubstantial debut novel featuring pitch-perfect black-and-white illustrations. (MS) ©2015 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. Why do you think the author uses letters to tell the story?
  2. How do the illustrations add to the story?
  3. What community resources does Sophie use to care for her chickens? Who does Sophie build relationships with in the community?
  4. What challenges does Sophie perceive in making friends?

Finders Keepers by Shelley Tougas. Roaring Brook Press, 2015

Enjoy this book from a Wisconsin author. Shelley Tougas lives in Hudson, WI!

Christa spends every summer at the most awesome place in the whole world: her family’s cabin on Whitefish Lake, Wisconsin. Only her dad recently lost his job and her parents have decided to sell the cabin. But not if Christa can help it. Everyone knows there is Al Capone blood money hidden somewhere in Whitefish Lake, and her friend Alex’s cranky grandpa might have the key to finding it. Grumpa says the loot is gone, or worse—cursed!—but Christa knows better. That loot is the only thing that can save her family. – from the publisher

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. Pre-reading: Who was Al Capone and where did you live?
  2. How believable do you think it is that Al Capone’s money would be buried in Wisconsin? Why do you think Christa believes that his money is buried in Whitefish Lake?
  3. Choose 4 characters for the book and describe how their relationships with each other change throughout the story?
  4. What impact did the imaginative play have on the overall story?

Find resources for Unusual Chickens for the Exceptional Poultry Farmer  and Finders Keepers at TeachingBooks.net!

Humorous and Heartfelt: May 2017 Primary

April 20th, 2017 | Posted by etownsend in Primary (Grades K-2) | 2016-2017 | May - (Comments Off on Humorous and Heartfelt: May 2017 Primary)

It’s Only Stanley by Jon Agee. Dial, 2015

One by one every member of the Wimbledon family is awakened during the night by a strange noise or smell in the house, and every time Walter, the father, goes to investigate, he returns to report, “It’s only Stanley.” Stanley is an ordinary looking beagle engaging in increasingly ludicrous behavior, from banging on the basement boiler with a hammer to working on the bathroom plumbing. A sudden “Kapow!” is startling for everyone. “The Wimbledons went flying, Including Max, the cat. Wendy looked around and said, ‘Well, what on earth was that?!’ ‘I’ll go and look,’ said Walter, ‘And I’ll be back very soon.’ ‘It’s only Stanley,’ Walter said. ‘We’re going to the –’” Stanley, it turns out, is not only a mechanical genius, but he’s in love with a pink poodle on the moon. Jon Agee’s absurd and delightful picture book is full of visual clues and foreshadowing. Repeated readings guaranteed.  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. Why do you think Stanley wanted to go to the Moon, and what’s your evidence?
  2. Explain what action each sound-word (onomotapoia) represents?
  3. How do the text and illustrations tell different stories in the book? Why do you think the book was created this way?

When Otis Courted Mama by Kathi Appelt. Illustrated by Jill McElmurry.  Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2015

Cardell “had a perfectly good mama and a perfectly good daddy.” His coyote family’s perfection is marred only slightly by the fact that Cardell’s daddy lives in a different part of the desert and Cardell has to “share him with his perfectly nice stepmama, Lulu, and his perfectly cute stepbrother, Little Frankie.” But Cardell doesn’t have to share his mama with anyone. Then Otis shows up, “holding a handful of ocotillo flowers in one paw and a bag of cactus candies in the other. Cardell felt a grrr form in his throat.” Otis isn’t the first hopeful beau to court Mama, although the previous suitors were dispatched by both Mama and her son. But Mama isn’t sending Otis on his way. And although Otis is nothing like Cardell’s perfectly good daddy, he does have his strengths (he can whip up a delicious prickly pear pudding and demonstrates impressive pouncing skills), which include patience. Eventually, Cardell’s stubborn grrr evaporates. Not long after, Cardell is able to count on Otis as a perfectly good stepdaddy. The challenges of changing family structures are sympathetically embodied by this coyote clan, while regionally specific details in text and illustrations and perfectly patterned language lend depth and finely tuned humor. Honor Book, 2016 Charlotte Zolotow Award ©2015 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. Pre-reading: What is a family? Who is in your family?
  2. What do you learn about Cardell at the beginning of the story?
  3. In what ways do Cardell’s feelings change toward Otis throughout the book?
  4. What words and illustrations give you evidence of the desert habitat? Give some examples.

Find a complete curriculum guide for here! Also, find other great resources for When Otis Courted Mama from TeachingBooks.net.

Water and Weather: May 2017 Babies, Toddlers and Preschoolers

April 20th, 2017 | Posted by etownsend in Babies, Toddlers and Preschoolers | 2016-2017 | May - (Comments Off on Water and Weather: May 2017 Babies, Toddlers and Preschoolers)

Water Is Water: A Book About the Water Cycle by Miranda Paul. Illustrated by Jason Chin. A Neal Porter Book / Roaring Brook Press, 2015

A description of the water cycle that is concise, accurate, and lyrical begins with “Drip. Sip. Pour me a cup. Water is water unless … / it heats up. Whirl. Swirl. Watch it curl by. Steam is steam unless …” With each page turn the cycle moves on to its next stage, from liquid to steam to vapor and precipitation. Eventually, the water that has transformed into ice and snow returns to its liquid form and is absorbed by tree roots, finally becoming part of an apple that is pressed into cider. The rhyming text is expanded into a visual story by illustrations of a brown-skinned boy and girl interacting with the water cycle through the seasons as they wait for the school bus in the rain, skate on a frozen puddle, squelch through spring mud, and enjoy late summer cider. Supplemental pages describe the complete water cycle again, including relevant terms like evaporation, condensation, and precipitation that don’t appear in the primary narrative, as well as a few fascinating facts about water and conservation. Highly Commended, 2016 Charlotte Zolotow Award  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Try these early literacy activities at home, in the library or at school. Share with caregivers or add them in story or circle time:

  • Talk: Talk about different kinds or forms of water.
  • Sing: Rain, Rain, Go Away. Do you know other rhyming songs?
  • Write: Write on a steamy bathroom mirror.
  • Play: Splash in the bathtub.
  • STEM: Use a pan or bucket to collect water when it rains. Measure the water using measuring cups. How much water did you collect?

Hurry Home, Hedgehog! A Bilingual Book of Sounds by Belle Yang. Candlewick Press, 2015

One of a pair of board books that offers rich vocabulary in English and Mandarin Chinese. In Hurry Home Hedgehog, a young hedgehog hurries to make it home before a storm. “Pinecones fall / Plunk, plunk” and “Mice race for their holes / Skitter, skatter” alerting Hedgehog to the coming storm. “Crack! Baroom! / The sky sounds angry” and “Rain falls hard like soybeans / Ping ping, pang pang” before hedgehog makes it safely home to his warm den and his Mama. Attractive illustrations painted in impressionistic colors are simple yet detailed.

Try these early literacy activities at home, in the library or at school. Share with caregivers or add them in story or circle time:

  • Talk: What makes you warm and cozy?
  • Sing: Make the sounds in the book. What other sounds can you make?
  • Write: Tell a story about one of the other animals in the book.
  • Play: Pretend to be an animal in the rain. Would you run for shelter? Splash in puddles?
  • STEM: Find other ways to make the sounds from the book in your world.


Add some poetry from Changes: A Child’s First Poetry Collection:  page 14 and page 24

Find more resources at TeachingBooks.net!  And find more early literacy activities from the Wisconsin Library Association’s 2017 Early Literacy Calendar


Great Read Alouds and Books to Share: May 2017 Titles

April 17th, 2017 | Posted by etownsend in Babies, Toddlers and Preschoolers | Primary (Grades K-2) | 2016-2017 | Intermediate (Grades 3-5) | Middle School | High School | May - (Comments Off on Great Read Alouds and Books to Share: May 2017 Titles)

At every age level, the books this month are excellent read alouds or books to share with a group. Simple sounds and science fill the Babies, Toddlers, and Preschooler books, Hurry Home, Hedgehog! and Water is Water— by Wisconsin author, Miranda Paul!






The primary titles, It’s Only Stanley and When Otis Courted Mama, have amazingly imaginative and instructive language.







Mysteries, family and community are at the heart of the Intermediate titles, Finders Keepers and Unusual Chickens for the Exceptional Poultry Farmer.









Middle School title, Cinder, is a clever take on a sci-fi version of classic fairy tale, Cinderella — entertaining while raising interesting questions.

Finally, high school title, Patrick Ness’s The Rest of Us Just Live Here is a witty commentary on young adult fiction, asking what is life like for the kids stuck at the same school as the overly heroic or tragic or magical characters in some recent ya novels.


Click on an image to learn more about the book! Or, search below for resources and discussion questions for the titles as May approaches.










Exciting Adventures and Political Intrigue: May 2016 High School Titles

April 24th, 2016 | Posted by etownsend in 2015-2016 | High School | May - (Comments Off on Exciting Adventures and Political Intrigue: May 2016 High School Titles)

story of owenThe Story of Owen: The Dragon Slayer of Icon_HighSchoolTrondeim by E.K. Johnston. Carolrhoda Lab, 2014.

In this alternate to the world as we know it, most things are the same with one huge exception: carbon-craving, mammal-eating dragons have always existed, along with a long, proud tradition of dragon slaying. Every town once had its own dragon slayer, but the Industrial Revolution saw dragon slayers lured away from small towns to defend big cities like Detroit (it didn’t work — Detroit and most of Michigan were laid to waste). Recently retired, world-famous dragon slayer Lottie Thorskard wants to renew the tradition of community-based dragon slaying, so she’s moved to a small town in southern Ontario to train her nephew, Owen, and to recruit Owen’s classmate, Siobhan McQuaid, as Owen’s bard — another tradition that’s languished. Observant, musically talented Siobhan is the narrator of this lively, richly imagined story chronicling Owen and Siobhan’s emergence into their new roles, which coincides with a new rash of dragon attacks that leads them to suspect previously undiscovered hatching grounds may be closer than anyone realized. Fast-paced (locating the hatching grounds turns into a race against time), funny (driver’s ed. includes dragon evasion, since the beasts are attracted to most cars), and thoughtful (What is lost when traditions are abandoned in the name of “progress”? What is gained when traditions are challenged?), E. K. Johnston’s sure hand succeeds in all dimensions of world-building, from the cleverly reimagined events in world history to the complexity and appeal of her characters.  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Find resources for The Story of Owen at TeachingBooks.net.

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. How does having a bard support the cause of the dragon slayers? Additionally, how does the role of the bard shape the structure of the story?
  2. Dragons are the personification of petroleum gluttony. What geopolitical details in the story support this idea?
  3. Associating personality with the sound of a specific musical instrument is a technique the author uses to help develop the story as well as characters. Siobhan calls Owen a “French horn.” What instruments would the other main characters be and why?

Vango: Between Earth and Sky by Timothée de Fombelle. vangoTranslated from the French by Sarah Ardizzone. U.S. edition: Candlewick Press, 2014.

An intricate and intriguing story — part adventure, part mystery, part political intrigue — takes place across the map of Europe between the two world wars and revolves around a young man named Vango Romano. The story alternates between Vango on the run — he’s wanted by Rome police for the death of Father Jean, his beloved mentor — and other characters, and moves between the present and the past. Vango grew up on a small Italian island after he and his nurse washed ashore when Vango was three. His nurse always claimed to have no memory of where they came from. As Vango grew, the monks of Arkadah, a secret island monastery, became his second home. Ethel is a young Scottish woman who met Vango years before, when she was twelve and he was fourteen, on a Zeppelin trip around the world. A young Russian girl wonders about the escaped Bird her father sometimes speaks of, who has eluded capture for years. Her father, it turns out, is Joseph Stalin. And then there is the small, multinational group of World War I veterans who have vowed to do anything necessary to prevent another war. Everything and everyone ultimately revolves around Vango, who realizes he needs to know who he was before he ever landed on that island in order to make sense of what is happening now. Beautifully translated from the French, this breathless work offers clues to Vango’s origins, but leaves many answers for the coming sequel.  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Find a teaching guide and more resources for Vango at TeachingBooks.net.

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. How does the backdrop of World War II create tension in the story?
  2. What is Vango’s destiny? What in the story convinces you of this?
  3. How do the female characters in Vango contribute to his development as a character?

Artists and Dreamers: May 2016 Middle School Titles

April 24th, 2016 | Posted by etownsend in 2015-2016 | Middle School | May - (Comments Off on Artists and Dreamers: May 2016 Middle School Titles)

bird kingThe Bird King: An Artist’s Notebook by Shaun Books for Middle School AgeTan. Arthur A. Levine Books / Scholastic Inc., 2013.

“Staring at a blank piece of paper, I can’t think of anything original. I feel utterly uninspired and unreceptive. It’s the familiar malaise of ‘artist’s block’ and in such circumstances there is only one thing to do: Just start drawing.” Following this thoughtful introduction, which goes on to say more about creativity and the creative process, Shaun Tan opens the door to a treasure trove of visual gems, sharing sketches and drafts of both published and unpublished works. The book is divided into sections titled “untold stories”; “book, theater, and film”; “drawings from life”; and “notebooks.” Each section begins with a brief introduction by Tan followed by page upon page of sketches, drawings, and paintings. Only the “drawings from life” section offers a glimpse of the world as it really looks, for Tan’s works most often reflect the realm of his unique imagination, where fantastic creatures or impossible scenarios are suddenly possible and vivid, sometimes frightening, sometimes poignant, and always fascinating. A “list of works” at book’s end provides more information about each drawing—including the final version (film, poster, book) if there was one.  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Find out more about the author and illustrator, Shaun Tan, as well as a teaching guide for The Bird King at TeachingBooks.net.

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. Choose a sketch and tell its story.
  2. Did you notice any common themes among the drawings? Tell about one theme using examples from the book to support your argument.
  3. What thoughts, ideas, or information do you think the author/illustrator wants readers to take away from engaging with this book.

Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson. Nancy brown girl dreamingPaulsen Books / Penguin, 2014.

“And somehow, one day, it’s just there / speckled black-and white, the paper / inside smelling like something I could fall right into, / live there — inside those clean white pages.” Jacqueline Woodson’s childhood unfolds in poems that beautifully reveal details of her early life and her slow but gradually certain understanding that words and stories and writing were essential to her. Her older sister was shining smart. One of her brothers could sing wonderfully. She would come to realize words were her smart, her singing, her special thing. Woodson writes about growing up in Greenville, South Carolina, and then Brooklyn, New York, living with family members who were full of love and expectation, from her grandparents to her mother to her siblings, aunts and uncles. She sometimes felt she stood out — a northerner in the south; a southerner in the north; a Jehovah’s Witness knocking on doors. Experiences that shaped her came from within and beyond her family: “Don’t wait for your school to teach you, my uncle says, / about the revolution. It’s happening in the streets. “ And later, “This moment, this here, this right now, is my teacher / saying / You’re a writer, as she holds the poem I am just beginning.” Ten poems titled “How to listen” reveal another essential element of her story because she is also that: a listener, a recorder, an observer, writing something down even when she doesn’t understand it and trusting that “The knowing will come.” An album of black-and-white photographs and an author’s note round out this exquisite, quietly inspiring volume.  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Find many excellent resources – multiple lesson plans and interviews – for this multi-awarding winning author and book at TeachingBooks.net.

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. This book is the autobiographical. The author shares her experiences, feelings and memories from her life as well as factual information. How can memory differ from things that really happened? How does affect the story the author is telling?
  2. Choose a poem from the book. What does this poem tell you about the author? Explain your answer with examples from the poem.
  3. How did the author’s experience of Jim Crow align with or differ from other stories you have heard?

Surprises Around Every Corner! with May 2016 Intermediate Titles

April 24th, 2016 | Posted by etownsend in Intermediate (Grades 3-5) | 2015-2016 | May - (Comments Off on Surprises Around Every Corner! with May 2016 Intermediate Titles)

look up bird watchingLook Up! Bird-Watching in Your Own Icon for the Intermediate (Grades 3-5) readersBackyard by Annette LeBlanc Cate. Candlewick Press, 2013.

“You may not have a yard, but you do have the sky. Look up!” Busy pages and cartoon-like conversation bubbles encourage reluctant naturalists to give birding a chance by emphasizing how easy it is to do anywhere, from the window of a city apartment building to suburban backyards and beyond. Bird-watching requires no expertise and few supplies, but close observation—watching and listening—is key. There’s a wealth of information about bird appearance and behavior packed into this slim, highly visual volume in which author/illustrator Annette LeBlanc Cate shares her enthusiasm for and knowledge about birding, along with her silly sense of humor, with young readers.  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Find multiple lesson plans and interviews for Look Up! at TeachingBooks.net.

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. Before reading: What adventures can you have close to home?
  2. If you went birding and found ten birds, how would you classify them?
  3. What story does the map tell?
  4. How does this book combine information and narrative?

Rules of Summer by Shaun Tan. Arthur A. Levine Books /rules of summer Scholastic, Inc., 2014.

Shuan Tan’s imagination always harbors a rich and arresting world of possibilities. Here the wild and the extraordinary is found in paintings accompanying a simple, straightforward narrative in which a young boy states the things he learned last summer. “Never leave a red sock on the clothesline.” The accompanying illustration shows the boy and his brother huddled against a stark fence in an uninviting urban landscape. The single red sock on the clothesline, small and unassuming in the foreground, has attracted (one assumes) the giant, menacing, red rabbit-like creature that lurks on the other side of the fence. “Never argue with an umpire.” Especially, one gathers, when the umpire is your big brother, never mind the mechanical creature that is your opponent. There is both tension and whimsy in the relationship between what is stated and what is shown. A brief, wordless series of page spreads in the middle, preceded by “Never wait for an apology” and followed by “Always bring bolt cutters” underscores the slightly ominous yet playful feel of the entire volume. Is it all meant to be real? Surreal? Symbolic? The beauty is that it’s up to each individual reader of the words and images to decide.  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Find helpful resources for educators and librarians for Rules of Summer at TeachingBooks.net.

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. Before reading: What are your rules of summer?
  2. How do the illustrations and text work together to tell the story?
  3. How can the illustrations change the meaning of the text?
  4. Do you ever get told not to do something and you don’t know why?
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