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Explore the Artistic Life: December 2015 Primary Titles

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

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

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

Find resources at TeachingBooks.net

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

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

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

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

Resources from TeachingBooks.net

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

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

Sweet Bedtime Stories: December 2015 Babies, Toddlers and Preschoolers

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

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

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

Resources from TeachingBooks.net.

Early literacy activities for both books below.

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

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

Resources from TeachingBooks.net.

For both books:

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

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

Enter New Worlds with this Gritty Sci-Fi Story: November 2015 High School Title

October 23rd, 2015 | Posted by etownsend in November | 2015-2016 | High School - (Comments Off on Enter New Worlds with this Gritty Sci-Fi Story: November 2015 High School Title)

tin starTin Star by Cecil Castellucci. Roaring Brook Press, 2014.Icon_HighSchool

Teenager Tula Bane, beaten and left for dead aboard a space station in a remote part of galaxy, is now living in the station underguts, bartering to survive. Heckleck and Tournour, members of two different insect-like species, have both been kind to Tula, but she’s still incredibly lonely as the only human on board. Then the Imperium takes control of the station and Tula hears rumors that it’s putting political pressure on isolationist Earth to join it. It’s an effort apparently orchestrated by Brother Blue, the man who tried to kill her. The arrival of three more human teens on the station who may or may not be loyal to the Imperium gives Tula the opportunity she’s been looking for to plan revenge against Brother Blue, if she can get them to reveal information she needs. At the same time, they ease her loneliness as she delights in human contact and conversation, and even begins to fall in love. Cecil Castellucci’s satisfying work of science fiction has a complex political backstory, but it’s the wonderful characterizations and relationships that shine. Castellucci is adept at imagining how a wide variety of species whose cultural norms and habits differ relate to one another on a personal level, including how lack of cultural knowledge leads to misunderstanding. Tula’s survival has been dependent upon her ability to understand and communicate in a variety of ways. But as successful as she’s been, she’s failed to realize the most important thing: she has never been as alone as she thought. A novel that feels complete on its own leaves the door wide open for a sequel.  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Find resources at TeachingBooks.net.

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. How are insider/outsider lines defined in this book and in what cases are they blurred?
  2. Where do Tula’s loyalties lie? How do her loyalties change throughout her experience on the space station? Cite examples from the text.
  3. Make a text-to-world connection relating the political figures and issues in Tin Star to historical or contemporary events.

 

Creativity and Determination in Nonfiction Reads: Nov. 2015 Middle School Titles

October 23rd, 2015 | Posted by etownsend in November | 2015-2016 | Middle School - (Comments Off on Creativity and Determination in Nonfiction Reads: Nov. 2015 Middle School Titles)

etched in clayEtched in Clay: The Life of Dave, Enslaved Potter and Books for Middle School AgePoet by Andrea Cheng. Lee & Low, 2013.

Andrea Cheng examines the life of Dave the Potter (who took the name David Drake after the Civil War ended) through a verse novel that tells his powerful, poignant story of endurance, artistry, and rebellion. Cheng’s poems reveal Dave’s hunger for words and learning and self-expression, and his pain of living in slavery. He was trained by and worked for Pottersville Stoneware in Edgefield, South Carolina, where founder Abner Landrum developed unique glazes. Dave later worked for Landrum’s brother and nephew, Lewis Miles, a kind man who nonetheless did not think to free Dave. Dave endured multiple, lifelong separations from people he loved: his first wife, Eliza; his second wife, Lydia; and Lydia’s two sons, whom he had taught to read. The poems are in the voices of these and other individual’s, all listed in a cast of characters near the beginning of the volume. Cheng incorporates some of the inscriptions Dave carved into his pots into her poems, and the novel as a whole gives a context for those words, showing them as a form of rebellion. Lovely, occasional black-and-white woodcut prints punctuate a work that includes back matter with more information on Dave and his poems and pottery in Edgefield, South Carolina. Cheng talks about her interest in Dave in an author’s note that precedes her list of sources. (MS) ©2013 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Close reading and teacher’s guides as well as other resources available from TeachingBooks.net

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. Why do you think the author chose to use various points of view to tell Dave’s story? What affect do the different points of view have on the reader’s understanding of the story and Dave’s life?
  2. The author also used poetry to tell Dave’s story. Why do you think the author chose this format? Did you find it effective in relaying information, developing characters, telling a story? Why or why not?
  3. How did Dave rebel against slavery while still remaining a slave? How does the author show this? What risks did Dave take in creating his art? Cite examples for the story that show why he took these risks?
  4. In what way is Dave’s story part of the story of the struggle for Civil Rights?

The Mad Potter: George E. Ohr, Eccentric Genius by Jan mad potterGreenberg and Sandra Jordan. A Neal Porter Book / Roaring Brook Press, 2013.

The folded shapes and crenellated forms created by potter George E. Ohr may not look that distinctive now, but the striking pots he shaped were like nothing else seen in the late 1800s. And they were largely unheralded at the time. But Ohr was more than the genius he knew himself to be; he was a personality and a showman in Biloxi, Mississippi, where he had his potter’s studio. But beneath all his dazzle was incredible talent: He spun out pots and pitchers and vases and vessels with twists and turns that were sometimes quirky and playful and sometimes, simply, strikingly beautiful. He experimented with glazes. And he thrived on his own eccentricity (although his family did not). Jan Greenberg and Sandra Jordan provide a lively introduction to this American artist who was all but undiscovered until the final decades of the twentieth century, long after his death. Their final chapter shows his influence on contemporary pottery, and even contemporary architecture—a museum dedicated to Ohr designed by Frank Gehry was inspired by his forms. Detailed source notes follow a primer on “How to Look at a Pot.”  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Lesson plans and teacher’s ideas and other resources for The Mad Potter available at TeachingBooks.net.

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. Do you think George was unrealistic for continuing to make pottery despite the fact that no one bought it? Why?
  2. How does George’s pottery reflect his personality? Cite examples from the book.
  3. In George’s time, fairs were a place that people visited to discover and explore new ideas and inventions? What fills that role today?

Striking Stories about Family! November 2015 Intermediate Titles

October 23rd, 2015 | Posted by etownsend in Intermediate (Grades 3-5) | November | 2015-2016 - (Comments Off on Striking Stories about Family! November 2015 Intermediate Titles)

arcady's goalArcady’s Goal by Eugene Yelchin. Henry Holt, 2014.Icon for the Intermediate (Grades 3-5) readers

Young Arcady is living in an orphanage in the Soviet Union in 1950, and soccer is his answer for everything. When Ivan Ivanyvich adopts him, Arcady assumes the man must be a soccer coach. In truth, Ivan is simply a sad, lonely widower trying to fulfill a promise by adopting a child. He is patient, loving, and occasionally annoyed, but Arcady is so convinced he’s a coach that Ivan finally plays along. He forms a team, he tries to coach Arcady and the other boys, and he fails. Then comes word that the Red Army soccer team is holding tryouts, and Arcady is determined to attend. Eugene Yelchin’s novel is about a boy and a man who are learning to become a family. The disconnect between Ivan’s understanding of this and Arcady’s absolute blindness to it is both funny and tender. Arcady first calls the Ivan “Coach,” and, when he proves to be no coach, Ivan Ivanyvich. When Arcady, who is also learning that it’s safe to feel, and that love can be unconditional, finally calls him “Dad” it feels like something far sweeter than victory. Occasional black-and-white illustrations by the author offer additional moments of poignancy in a story set against the backdrop of Stalinism, with the fear under which so many lived occasionally bubbling up to the surface.  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. Before reading: What makes a family?
  2. This story takes place in Communist Soviet Union in the 1950’s. How does this setting help explain the characters’ actions?
  3. Why does Arcady believe Ivan is a soccer coach? What makes Arcady believe this?
  4. How does the author show that Arcady is learning to trust Ivan? What causes Ivan to open up to Arcady?

Teaching guide and more from TeachingBooks.net.

Kinda Like Brothers by Coe Booth. Scholastic Press, 2014.kinda like brothers

Eleven-year-old Jarrett and twelve-year-old Kevon are thrown together when Jarrett’s mom becomes a temporary foster parent to Kevon and his two-year-old sister. Jarrett is sometimes resentful of how much time his mom spends taking care of other children, but they’re usually babies and toddlers that he genuinely likes. This is different. Kevon is cool in a way Jarrett isn’t, inviting easy admiration from other kids. In Jarrett’s mind, that makes Kevon a potential threat socially, not to mention someone with whom he has to share his room. Meanwhile Kevon resents the implication that he can’t care for his sister—a responsibility he’s used to–and worries about his mentally ill dad. He has no time for Jarrett’s jealousy. Author Coe Booth’s characters are likable, genuine, and flawed in all the ways that make us human. Adults and kids alike in her story are well-rounded and wonderfully real. The two boys’ have good hearts but their treatment of each other ranges from bright moments of generosity to indifference to cruelty. The larger community—from Jarrett’s mom and her boyfriend to teachers at school and adults at the community center–strives to make a difference in the lives of these boys and other children, preparing them for a world that is not always fair or just. But for Jarrett and Kevon to make peace with one another they must let go of anger and hurt, and acknowledge the bond that has developed between them in spite—or because—of everything.  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. What makes Jarrett and Kevon kind of like brothers?
  2. How did the author use foreshadowing in the narrative? Cite examples.
  3. How do Jarrett’s feelings about Kevon change? At what point in the story, did you notice these changes?
  4. How would this story be different if told from Kevon’s perspective? What makes you think this?
  5. What role does community play in this story?

Discussion questions, excerpts from book and audiobook, and other resources from TeachingBooks.net.

Explore Emotions with November 2015 Primary Titles

October 23rd, 2015 | Posted by etownsend in Primary (Grades K-2) | November | 2015-2016 - (Comments Off on Explore Emotions with November 2015 Primary Titles)

bullyBully by Laura Vaccaro Seeger.  A Neal Porter BookPrimary Icon of a White-Tailed Deer/ Roaring Brook Press, 2013.

Not a bully but a bull takes center stage in Laura Vaccaro Seeger’s visually eloquent look at name-calling and insults. “Go away!” a big bull tells a smaller one, the rejection unmistakable on the small bull’s face. When the small bull is then approached by a group of animals inviting him to play, he puffs himself up and says, “No!” But he doesn’t stop there. He calls the chicken a chicken. He calls the turtle a slow poke. He calls the pig a pig. His anger intensifies each time, and even though the words at face value are generally factual (a chicken is a chicken and a pig is a pig, after all), intent is everything here. When a billy goat counters with a name of his own for the bull, everything changes. “Bully!” Suddenly the bull, which had been growing larger with each insult he hurled, deflates. Despite its seemingly obvious message, Seeger’s book is leaves plenty of space for readers of the words and pictures to observe, reflect upon, and discuss the characters’ thoughts, feelings, and actions. The spare text is comprised only of the words the animals exchange, while the bold illustrations are simple in composition but complex in terms of gesture and feeling. (MS) ©2013 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Teaching ideas and guides, book trailer, and author interviews for Bully at TeachingBooks.net.

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. Why do you think the bull picks on the other animals? Which animal makes the bull change?
  2. What does the bull say to insult the animals? How do these words relate to the specific animal being insulted? How are these words insulting and not insulting to the animals?
  3. Why do you think the illustrator shows the bull growing larger with each animal it teases?

Ivan: The Remarkable True Story of the Shopping Mall Gorilla byivan the remarkable true story Katherine Applegate. Illustrated by G. Brian Karas. Clarion, 2014.

“In leafy calm, in gentle arms, a gorilla’s life begins.” The baby gorilla learned as he played in the tropical forest of central Africa. He learned, too, by watching and listening to his mother and his father and other gorillas. But he didn’t learn about humans until he was captured by poachers and shipped in a crate with another baby gorilla to the United States. “A man who owned a shopping mall had ordered and paid for them, like a couple of pizzas, like a pair of shoes.” They were given names in a contest: Burma and Ivan. Then Burma died and Ivan was alone. He learned how to do things humans do—hold babies, sleep in a bed—but not the things that gorillas do. Eventually, he was too big to do anything but live a cage at the mall, with a TV, some art supplies, and a tire. After many years, people began to get angry on Ivan’s behalf. After twenty-seven years in a cage, he was finally moved, to Zoo Atlanta, a safe haven where he was released into the open air again. “In leafy calm, in gentle arms, a gorilla’s life begins again.” Katherine Applegate tells the story of the gorilla that inspired her Newbery-award-winning The One and Only Ivan in this lyrical and moving picture book tenderly illustrated by G. Brian Karas. A two-page photo essay at story’s end tells more about Ivan.  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Teaching guides and a dedicated website for Ivan available through TeachingBooks.net.

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. Before reading: How would you feel if you had to live in a shopping mall?
  2. What are some differences between Ivan’s life in the jungle and in captivity?
  3. How do the author and illustrator show you how Ivan feels throughout the story?
  4. Why do you think the shopping center owner let Ivan leave? What in the text and illustrations shows you this?

Counting and More: November 2015 Babies, Toddlers and Preschoolers

October 23rd, 2015 | Posted by etownsend in Babies, Toddlers and Preschoolers | November | 2015-2016 - (Comments Off on Counting and More: November 2015 Babies, Toddlers and Preschoolers)

gastonGaston by Kelly DiPucchio.  Illustrated by ChristianIcon_PreSchool Robinson.  Atheneum, 2014.

Mrs. Poodle is the proud parent of Fi-Fi, Foo-Foo, Ooh-La-La, and Gaston. The first three are spitting images of their mother. And Gaston — well, he clearly comes from different stock. Fi-Fi, Foo-Foo, Ooh-La-La are poofy and puffy and the size of teacups, while Gaston is solid and stocky and as big as a teapot. But if being dainty and delicate and neat like their mother doesn’t come as easily to Gaston, he always “worked the hardest, practiced the longest, and smiled the biggest.” Then the family meets Rocky, Ricky, and Bruno, three stocky, solid bulldog pups, and their poofy, puffy sister, Antoinette. “It seems there’s been a terrible mistake,” says Mrs. Bulldog. And so the two puppies trade places. The problem is, “Antoinette did not like anything proper or precious or pink.” And Gaston didn’t like anything “brutish or brawny or brown.” Kelly DiPuccio’s delightful romp gets even better as the pups return to their original families, and eventually have pups of their own who are encouraged to be whatever they want to be. It’s a tongue-in-cheek look at nature versus nurture, but also an affirmation of being true to oneself.  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Resources from TeachingBooks.net.

Engage children with these early literacy activities:

  • Talk: Talk about manners. What are examples of good manners? “Oui” is the French word for yes. What other ways can you say “yes”?
  • Write: Draw a map of your home and label the different rooms.
  • Play: Play a matching game or game of memory.
  • STEM:Challenge your senses by comparing and contrasting different textures. Look at the illustrations in the book. How are the dogs the same and how are they different?

We All Count: A Book of Cree Numbers by Julie Flett. Native Northwest, 2014.we all count cover

Read a review by Debbie Reese from her blog, American Indians in Children’s Literature.

Check out this book trailer from the iSchool at The University of British Columbia.

Resources from TeachingBooks.net.

Engage children with these early literacy activities:

  • Read: Find other books about the animals shown in this book.
  • Talk: What languages do you speak? Who are the people in your family? Do you have cousins, aunts, uncles?
  • STEM: Point and count as your share the book. Count to 10 with your child.

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.

Find ROW November Titles Here!

October 19th, 2015 | Posted by etownsend in Babies, Toddlers and Preschoolers | Primary (Grades K-2) | Intermediate (Grades 3-5) | November | 2015-2016 | Middle School | High School - (Comments Off on Find ROW November Titles Here!)

Click on an image to read the CCBC annotation for the title. Check earlier posts below for discussion prompts and resources! And, Read! On Wisconsin!

we all count covergastonbully

 

 

ivan the remarkable true storyarcady's goalkinda like brothers

etched in claymad pottertin star

 

Read On Wisconsin Posters! With Free Downloads!

October 13th, 2015 | Posted by etownsend in Primary (Grades K-2) | Intermediate (Grades 3-5) | 2015-2016 | Middle School | High School - (Comments Off on Read On Wisconsin Posters! With Free Downloads!)

Check out our posters for this year’s Read On Wisconsin reading program! Please feel free to download these posters for printing and sharing in your library as well as for use in social media, websites, and other media! Find downloadables below.

Read On Wisconsin poster of Michala Johnson with Kwame Alexander's The Crossover

 

Thanks to Badgers Give Back, the University of Wisconsin Athletics and the Men’s and Women’s Basketball teams we have two excellent reading ambassadors in our posters: Michala Johnson from the UW Women’s Basketball team and Wisconsin high school basketball stand-out, Zak Showalter of the UW Men’s Basketball team. Of course, Michala and Zak are enjoyingRead On Wisconsin poster of Zak Showalter with Jason Chin's Gravity two of our fabulous Read On Wisconsin titles in the posters.

 

Multi-award winner Kwame Alexander’s The Crossover (Houghton, Mifflin, Harcourt, 2014) and Jason Chin’s Gravity (Roaring Brook Press, 2014). Fitting books for basketball players, don’t you think?!

A big thank you to Anna Lewis, director of MERIT, and photographer, John Sable, generously photographed and designed the posters.

 

 

Michala Johnson with The Crossover 8.5×11 pdf

Michala Johnson with The Crossover 8.5×11 jpeg

Michala Johnson with The Crossover 11×17 pdf

Michala Johnson with The Crossover 11×17 jpeg

Zak Showalter with Gravity 8.5×11 pdf

Zak Showalter with Gravity 8.5×11 jpeg

Zak Showalter with Gravity 11×17 pdf

Zak Showalter with Gravity 11×17 jpeg

 

Please read and follow our Terms of Use below for this year’s ROW posters.

Terms of Use:

Permitted Uses of the 2015 Read On Wisconsin Poster:

  • Use as printed promotional material distributed to Wisconsin students, educators, librarians and library patrons.
  • Use as digital promotional material on school and library websites, social media sites, and video screens in schools and libraries in Wisconsin.

Prohibited or Restricted Uses of the 2015 Read On Wisconsin Poster:

  • No alteration other than changing the size of the poster is permitted. 

Find Out What Really Happened: October 2015 High School Title

September 24th, 2015 | Posted by etownsend in October | 2015-2016 | High School - (Comments Off on Find Out What Really Happened: October 2015 High School Title)

how it went downHow It Went Down by Kekla Magoon. Henry Holt, 2014.Icon_HighSchool

The murder of African American teenager Tariq Johnson and its aftermath is experienced through the voices of witnesses, family members, and his best friend, Tyrell. Two facts are clear: A white man got out of his car and shot Tariq. The police have let that man go free. The rest is conflicting perceptions: Had Tariq just robbed a neighborhood store? (The store owner says no, but his voice is lost in the rush to assume the worst.) Did Tariq have a gun or a Snickers bar in his hand? (Even the two teens from the neighborhood standing close to him disagree.) Meanwhile, as the story hits the news, much of the attention from the media focuses not on the murder but on questions about whether Tariq was a member of the Kings, a neighborhood gang. Tariq and his best friends from childhood all swore they’d never join. Two already have; Junior is even in prison. Tyrell thought Tariq and he were staying strong; now he’s not so sure. But he is sure that Tariq’s death will make it much harder for him to not be drawn or forced into that life. Meanwhile Jennica, who did CPR on Tariq, and whose boyfriend Noodle is in the gang, is desperate to escape her current life. Kekla Magoon’s fearless, tragic, poignant novel examines racism, poverty, violence, and how mightily all of these can trap youth by limiting their options — real and perceived. Not every question is answered outright, but Magoon provides evidence for readers to decide for themselves while adding her voice to the urgent call to acknowledge and address racism and violence.  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Find teaching guides and ideas and more at Teaching.Books.net.

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. Using evidence from the text, explain one character’s perspective of how it went down.
  2. What is Tina’s (the little sister) role in the story? Why does Magoon include non-witness characters like her?
  3. After having read this book, how will this novel effect your view of events in real life similar to those in this novel?

Enjoy Some Haunting Tales: October 2015 Middle School Titles

September 24th, 2015 | Posted by etownsend in October | 2015-2016 | Middle School - (Comments Off on Enjoy Some Haunting Tales: October 2015 Middle School Titles)

swallowThe Swallow: A Ghost Story by Charis Cotter. Tundra Books for Middle School AgeBooks, 2014.

Polly often feels lost in the chaos of her big family. But she’s fiery and feisty and doesn’t have trouble speaking her mind. Quiet only child Rose feels invisible. Her parents think about work even when they’re home in the house to which they recently moved, which once belonged to Rose’s grandmother. Polly, who loves ghost stories, wonders if Rose, who can see ghosts, might not be a ghost herself: Rose is pale and wild-looking. Rose’s attempts to convince Polly she’s a real girl recovering from meningitis are temporarily set back when they discover a grave stone with Rose’s name. The girl, the same age as Rose, died years before. Rose realizes this Winifred Rose must be her aunt, and soon encounters the ghost of Winifred at home. Winifred is not only an unhappy ghost, she’s a dangerous one and seems intent on hurting Polly in particular. The two girls are determined to figure out what happened to Winifred and form a deepening friendship as they dig into the past, each finding the companionship and validation they need, each understanding themselves and their families better for knowing one another. Charis Cotter’s satisfyingly scary ghost story, set in 1963 Toronto, is also, and at its most essential, a moving tale of friendship that ends with a revelation.  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Find resources for The Swallow at TeachingBooks.net.

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. Fear is a recurring theme in this story. What are the different kinds of fears that the characters experience? How does this affect the pace and tension in the story?
  1. Explain the way that different characters in the story feel invisible.
  1. The swallow is a symbol throughout the book. What does the swallow represent? What is the significance of the swallow? Why do you think the author used the title, The Swallow?

The Screaming Staircase. (Lockwood & Co.: Book One) by screaming staircseJonathan Stroud. Disney / Hyperion, 2013.

In this parallel universe, London residents are at risk from hostile “Visitors”—aka ghosts. Adults lack the ability to see ghosts, so it’s left to young people to put up a fight. Several agencies (think private eye meets Ghostbusters ) serve Britain in this capacity. Lockwood and Company, run by charismatic Anthony Lockwood along with studious George Cubbins and risk-taking Lucy Carlyle, is the only agency without an adult supervisor and as such is viewed as unreliable and rebellious. Lucy narrates her early career with Lockwood and Co. as their clever and brave attempts at ghost removal often end in botched results, lending credence to their detractors’ claims. Eventually they are driven to accept a high-risk, high-reward job in order to repay debts and save their company’s reputation after one of their investigations goes horribly wrong. This smart middle-grade adventure, alternately funny and scary with fallible characters that grow emotionally and intellectually, sets the stage for the continuing escapades of Lockwood and Company.  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Find lesson plans, a book trailer and more at TeachingBooks.net.

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. In what time period do you think this story is set? What evidence can you cite?
  1. Secrecy is a theme in this book. How do the secrets affect the plot? How do the secrets affect the development of the characters?
  1. This book’s setting mixes fantasy and realism by imagining that ghosts are real. How do the fantasy aspects of this book affect the realistic parts of the world?

Exploring and Challenging Inequalities: October 2015 Intermediate Titles

September 24th, 2015 | Posted by etownsend in October | Intermediate (Grades 3-5) | 2015-2016 - (Comments Off on Exploring and Challenging Inequalities: October 2015 Intermediate Titles)

separate is never equalBoth of this month’s books talk about inequality? How do the authors show the inequalities? How do the inequalities affect the main characters’ communities? How are communities different due to inequalities?

Separate Is Never Equal: Sylvia Mendez & Her Family’s Fight Icon for the Intermediate (Grades 3-5) readersfor Desegregation by Duncan Tonatiuh. Abrams, 2014.

In 1944, Sylvia Mendez’s Mexican American family had recently moved. She and her siblings were not allowed to go to the public school nearest their farm and were instead told they had to attend the Mexican school, which was farther away and had fewer resources. Sylvia’s father found other families willing to join him in suing the school district, whose only explanation had been, “That is how it is done.” During the trial, Sylvia and her family sat through infuriating testimony in which school district officials blatantly claimed that Mexican children were inferior to white children — in their personal habits, their social abilities, and their intelligence. Author/illustrator Duncan Tonatiuh quotes from the trial as part of this narrative that is grounded in both facts and the emotional experience of young Sylvia. The ample end matter includes a lengthy author’s note with additional information and photographs of Sylvia then and now. A glossary, bibliography, and index round out this distinctively illustrated picture book account of the events surrounding the court case that desegregated California schools seven years before Brown v. Board of Education.  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Find reader’s theater, various teaching guides, Common Core guide and more for this title at TeachingBooks.net

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. Why is separate never equal? What are some examples of this from the story?
  2. How do the illustrations help tell the story?
  3. What changes from the start of the story to the end of the story?

The Madman of Piney Woods by Christopher Paul Curtis. Scholastic Press, 2014.madman of piney woods

In 1901, thirteen-year-old African American Benji, an aspiring newspaper reporter, lives with his parents and younger twin siblings in the Black Canadian town of Buxton. Thirteen-year-old Irish American Red, an aspiring scientist, lives in nearby Chatham with his father and immigrant grandmother. Benji gets work in Chatham as an apprentice at a Black-owned newspaper, where the demanding, good-humored woman owner shapes his talent as a writer (Benji is prone to high drama and alliteration). Meanwhile, patience-tested Red is gaining insight into his unlikable, bitter grandmother, who was scarred by her experiences in the Irish famine and the trauma she faced as a new immigrant. Red thinks it should make her particularly sensitive to racism; instead, she is hateful and bigoted. The boys are drawn together by their good hearts, humor, intelligence, and fascination with differences in how they think about the world. Meanwhile, the man the people Buxton call the Madman in the Woods and the people of Chatham call the South Woods Lion Man is Cooter Bixby, an old friend of Benji’s parents whose experiences in the Civil War left him emotionally damaged. Benji’s encounters transform his understanding of the Madman from frightening figure to kindred spirit–someone else completely at home in nature–while Red’s experience leaves him certain the Lion Man, although eccentric, is good hearted. In a stand-alone, companion novel to Elijah of Buxton, Benji and Red’s friendship, organic and wonderful, represents hope even as it comes into full relief during a tragedy mired in wrong ways of thinking. Christopher Paul Curtis has once again penned a novel of high humor and exquisite grace.  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Find interviews with Christopher Paul Curtis about writing Madman of Piney Woods, Common Core guide from Scholastic and more at TeachingBooks.net.

Start some conversation with these prompts:

  1. This story is told from the perspective of two different characters, Benji and Red. How would the story be different if it was told by Grandma O’Toole or the Madman of Piney Woods?
  2. How do the traumatic experiences in Grandma O’Toole’s and the Madman’s lives affect them, their families and their communities? How do these experiences change the choices each makes in life? How are the grandmother and the madman alike? How are the different?
  3. How does the setting of the book help in the development of the characters and the difference in their experiences?
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