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MAY (2)

May 10th, 2017 | Posted by etownsend in 2017-2018 | Intermediate (Grades 3-5) | 2017-2018 Intermediate | May - (Comments Off on MAY (2))

One Half from the East by Nadia Hashimi. HarperCollins, 2016

After Obayda’s family moves from Kabul to the village where her father grew up, the 10-year-old’s aunt suggests she become a bacha posh—a girl who passes as a boy—to give her family the advantage of a son. Obayda’s parents reluctantly agree. Obayda, now Obayd, likes being a girl, and doesn’t know how to move through the world with a boy’s swagger and certainty. Befriended by Rashid, an older bacha posh, Obayd soon is relishing the freedoms and privilege her older sisters do not enjoy, even in their progressive family. Obayd does things as a boy she never would have considered before, discovering a different kind of action and agency as she tries to help her father recover from injuries he suffered in a Kabul explosion. But there is nothing she can do to help Rashid(a) when her friend’s time as a bacha posh abruptly ends when she’s married off to the village war lord. A fascinating, swiftly paced, story firmly grounded in Obayd(a)’s perspective and experience makes clear gender has nothing to do with her physical or intellectual ability, only with how those abilities are perceived in a society where males are privileged. The book is not about gender identity (although Rashid references women she knows of who remained bacha posh or continued to pose as men their entire lives) but about how power is proscribed based on gender. These are big ideas, yet Obayda’s voice feels childlike and true. An author’s note provides additional information about bacha posh and context for the story. ©2016 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. Why does Obayda/Obayd feel it iss so much better to be a boy? How do other family members feel?
  2. Why would/does the practice of bacha posh exist?
  3. How does the experience of being a bacha posh empower Obayda and how does she use these lessons to empower others?

MAY (1)

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

Garvey’s Choice by Nikki Grimes. WordSong / Highlights, 2016

Garvey is often teased at school for his weight, while his father’s disapproval weighs heavily on him at home. “‘Why can’t Garvey be / like his sister?’ I heard Dad / ask when I was eight. Mom said, / ‘That’s the wrong question. / Ask Garvey what interests him.’” Unlike his sister, Garvey could not care less about sports. But he loves to read, especially science fiction. He also loves music, and often hums, or sings alone at home, but has never considered trying out for middle school Chorus. It’s his best—and only—friend Joe who encourages him to do so. In Chorus, Garvey finds acceptance, and a second friend, Manny. Garvey shines when he sings, and it’s no surprise that his mom and sister are proud of him. But Garvey discovers singing is a source of surprising pride for a dad who, he learns, once sang in a band. A quietly triumphant novel told through Japanese Tanka poems (explained in an author’s note) follows an African American boy gaining confidence and finding connection doing something he loves. © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. Do you think the poetry makes this story easier or more difficult to read? What do you think are the benefits of writing and reading a story-in-verse? How do you think the book would be different if it were not told in verse?
  2. How do Garvey and Joe (and Manny) keep their friendship strong?
  3. How do Garvey’s friends and family shape him, and how does Garvey shape them?

MAY (2)

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

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?

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MAY (1)

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

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?

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MAY (2)

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

Narwhal: Unicorn of the Sea: Unicorn of the Sea. (A Narwhal and Jelly Book) by Ben Clanton. Tundra Books, 2016

When Narwhal and Jellyfish first meet, neither can believe the other is real. “I can’t believe this! The thing I’m imagining is imagining that it is imagining me,” observes a somewhat disgruntled Jelly. Even once Jelly is convinced Narwhal is real, and agrees that Narwhal’s horn is awesome, Narwhal identifies Jelly as an imaginary friend. “We’re friends?” Jelly asks hopefully. “Sure thing!” They seal the deal by eating waffles (“Nom Nom Nom”). That opening chapter in this droll graphic novel is followed by two more stories, “Narwhal’s Pod of Awesomeness” and “Narwhal and the Best Book Ever.” Two brief interludes include “Really Fun Facts” about narwhals and jellyfish (e.g., a narwhal’s horn- like tooth can grow to up to 3 feet; a group of jellyfish is called a smack), and the “Narwhal Song” praising waffles and parties. Open-hearted Narwhal and dubious Jelly are a dynamite friendship duo. The simple, engaging line drawings are done with a limited, somewhat muted palette dominated by watery blue. © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. What are some ways Narwhal’s imagination makes the story funny?
  2. What information about Narwhals do you find the most interesting in this book?
  3. At first, Jelly did not understand Narwhal’s book. At the end, he wanted to borrow it. What changed?
  4. If you had a blank book like Narwhal, what story would you tell?

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MAY (1)

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

Whoosh! Lonnie Johnson’s Super–Soaking Stream of Inventions by Chris Barton. Illustrated by Don Tate. Charlesbridge, 2016

Lonnie Johnson once took an aptitude test that indicated he wouldn’t make a good scientist. Luckily he ignored it. As a teen he led his team to a science fair victory, and as an adult he worked for NASA. But perhaps the biggest impact his work has had on today’s children is as inventor of the Super Soaker. It was an accidental invention that occurred when he was working on a new cooling system for refrigerators and air conditioners. This picture-book biography shows Lonnie as an inquisitive, tinkering child who faced some obstacles growing up in Mobile, Alabama, in the 1960s. As Barton has done in previous books, he does not shy away from racial history, as he discusses some of the obstacles Lonnie has faced as an African American scientist. Tate’s appealing illustrations show Lonnie’s life-long determination as well as the technical details of his inventions. They include an amusing fold-out page that shows the blast of water from his prototype Super Soaker as part of a successful demonstration aimed at a board room full of toy company executives. (Ages 6–11)  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. How did Lonnie overcome the challenges in his life?
  2. Have you ever invented something or do you have an idea for an invention?
  3. If you had the opportunity to meet Lonnie Johnson, what questions would you ask him?

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MAY

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

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

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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!

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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

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