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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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APRIL (2)

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

Freedom in Congo Square by Carole Boston Weatherford. Illustrated by R. Gregory Christie. little bee, 2016

A potent narrative begins, “Mondays, there were hogs to slop, / mules to train, and logs to chop. / Slavery was no ways fair. / Six more days to Congo Square.” Congo Square, the essential Foreword explains, was a legal gathering spot for enslaved and free Blacks in New Orleans. The first 14 couplets count down the days to Congo Square, documenting the work of enslaved men and women as they labored in fields and in houses, in despair and in defiance, Monday through Saturday. “The dreaded lash / too much to bear …. Run away, run away. Some slaves dared.” The remaining 11 couplets mark the transition to Sunday, and the gathering in Congo Square, spinning out details of music and dancing, chanting and singing, lifting spirits and hearts. The words are set against spare, expressive paintings in which stylized, elongated figures with little or no facial details carry out the heavy work of Monday through Saturday. The constrained figures break free once Sunday comes, moving with fluid joy and abandon. A glossary and an author’s note providing more historical context conclude this rich and stirring work. ©2017 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. How do the illustrations help the reader understand the text?
  2. Using the text and illustrations, compare what the slaves are doing on Sunday versus the rest of the week?
  3. How does Congo Square represent freedom? What makes Congo Square unique?

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APRIL (1)

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

Daniel Finds a Poem by Micha Archer. Nancy Paulsen Books / Penguin, 2016

Each day leading up to “Poetry in the Park,” Daniel asks a different animal what poetry is. And each animal has an answer. Poetry is “when morning dew glistens,” says Spider. It’s “when crisp leaves crunch,” says Squirrel. It’s “a cool place to dive into,” says Frog. By week’s end, when the event arrives, Daniel turns the many things he’s heard into a poem that reveals how poetry is senses, and observation, and language, and feeling. “On the way home, Daniel stops to watch the sunset sky reflecting in the pond. ‘That looks like poetry to me.’” A quiet, purposeful story featuring brown-skinned Daniel features lovely, striking collage illustrations and invites children to notice the poetry in the small moments of their lives. Highly Commended, 2017 Charlotte Zolotow Award ©2017 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. How does Daniel show that he is curious?
  2. What did you learn about poetry from Daniel’s experiences at the park?
  3. What looks like poetry to you?

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MARCH (2)

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

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

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

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

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

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MARCH (1)

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

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

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

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

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

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FEBRUARY (2)

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

A Bike Like Sergio’s by Maribeth Boelts. Illustrated by Noah Z. Jones. Candlewick Press, 2016

Everybody has a bike but Ruben. He longs for one like his friend Sergio’s, but he knows his family can’t afford any kind of bicycle. So when Ruben sees a neighbor in the grocery store drop a hundred-dollar bill from her purse, he snatches it up and pockets it. It’s enough to buy him a bike like Sergio’s. Will he do it? Ruben thinks through this ethical dilemma over the next day or so and ultimately decides to do the right thing. “What you did wasn’t easy,” his dad tells him later, “but it was right.” Both text and pictures show a family living on the economic edge, facing realistic challenges in their day-to-day lives. Highly Commended, 2017 Charlotte Zolotow Award ©2017 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. How does the author let the reader know Ruben’s family does not have a lot of money?
  2. How do Ruben’s feelings change throughout the story? How does Ruben show empathy?
  3. What do you think Ruben would have done if he had not seen the lady again at the grocery store?
  4. What do would you do if you found something valuable like Ruben, but you did not know who had lost it?

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FEBRUARY (1)

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

The Quickest Kid in Clarksville by Pat Zietlow Miller.  Illustrated by Frank Morrison. Chronicle, 2016

Alta prides herself on being the fastest runner in Clarksville, Tennessee, hometown of Olympic star Wilma Rudolph. But Charmaine, of the new-shoes-just-like-Wilma’s, is fast, too. She may be even faster than Alta, although it’s hard to say: Alta is sure Charmaine tripped her when she won the race between them. Alta ended up with a hole in her sneaker. “Oh, baby girl,” says Mama. “Those shoes have to last.” On the day of a parade for Wilma Rudolph, Alta and her friends Dee-Dee and Little Mo make a huge banner, but getting the banner all the way to the parade isn’t easy, and time is running out. Then Charmaine shows up and suggests they take turns carrying it–a relay, just like Wilma ran for one of her medals. “Three people ran it with her, you know,” Charmaine says. “I hate to admit it, but she’s right.” A spirited story set in 1960 ends with an author’s note featuring a photograph of Wilma Rudolph at the real parade held in her honor in Clarksville. The energetic illustrations are full of movement and feeling. ©2016 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. If you were going to try out for the Olympics, what event would you choose?
  2. How and why does the relationship between Alta and the new girl change?
  3. How do the girls see Wilma Rudolph as a role model? How does she inspire them?
  4. “Shoes don’t matter. Not as long as we’ve got our feet.” — Do you agree or disagree with this quote?
  5. What role does the setting play in the story?

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JANUARY (2)

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

The Cow Who Climbed a Tree by Gemma Merino. U.S. edition: Albert Whitman, 2016

“Tina was a very curious cow. She had a thirst for discovery.” But forging a nontraditional path has its naysayers. Tina’s three sisters meet her dreams with a constant refrain: “IMPOSSIBLE! RIDICULOUS! NONSENSE!” They say it when she imagines flying in a rocket ship, and they certainly say it when Tina tells her sisters about the friendly, flying dragon she’s met. Still, when Tina isn’t at breakfast the next morning they go in search of her, venturing beyond their farm for the first time. They can’t help but notice the scenery is beautiful. And what they go on to witness is impossible, ridiculous, nonsense! But it’s true: Tina is flying (well, parachuting; so are a pig and a penguin), her new dragon friend soaring nearby. This absurd and inspiring story is full of humor (e.g., Tina’s stickler-for-tradition sisters are cows living in a house, eating their grass at a well-set table) and set against singular illustrations that are distinctive and lovely, combining abstract washes of expressive color with quirky and charmingly detailed characters. Highly Commended, 2017 Charlotte Zolotow Award ©2017 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. What are some ways Tina shows her curiosity and individuality?
  2. How do the illustrations help the reader make predictions?
  3. How do Tina and her sisters see the world differently? In what ways have the sisters changed at the end of the story?
  4. Have you ever been told that something you wanted to do is silly (similar to Tina) and how did you respond?

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JANUARY (1)

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

The Infamous Ratsos by Kara LaReau. Illustrated by Matt Myers. Candlewick Press, 2016

Two rat brothers, Louie and Ralphie, live with their hard-as-nails father in a big city. They aspire to be as mean as their dad, so they constantly scheme ways to prove their toughness. Each episodic chapter recounts a different mean thing they plan and execute; however, each ends up having the opposite effect. For example, when they snatch a big bully’s hat right off his head, they are lauded for doing so—it turns out the bully had stolen the hat from a much smaller kid. When they make a sandwich with all the gross stuff in their fridge to give to a new student, Fluffy Rabbitski, it turns out to be all of her favorite foods. The chapters are short and snappy, and each one has a funny and surprising reversal. © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. What are the differences between being a bully and being tough? Use examples from the story.
  2. What do you do to make life easier for your community?
  3. Have you done something differently than you expected?

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DECEMBER (2)

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

Two Friends: Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglass by Dean Robbins. Illustrated by Sean Qualls and Selina Alko. Orchard / Scholastic, 2016

Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglass each had a significant impact on America in their own right, but the two also became friends when they were both living in Rochester, New York, in the mid-1800s. There is a statue in Rochester of the two of them having tea, and Madison author Dean Robbins has imagined what that meeting might have been like and what they might have talked about based on their mutual interest in fighting for civil rights. The text also serves as an introduction to both Anthony and Douglass as people and as change agents in American history. Mixed-media illustrations are at once playfully inventive and historically respectful. © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. Why were Susan and Frederick friends? What did they have in common? In what ways were they different? How did they help each other?
  2. How do the author and the illustrator show that words are important in this story?
  3. What do the two candles symbolize?

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DECEMBER (1)

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

The Princess and the Warrior by Duncan Tonatiuh. Abrams, 2016

The princess Izta is known for her beauty but rejects all suitors until the warrior Popoca compliments her kind and beautiful heart. Her father admires Popoca’s bravery as a solider but hoped his daughter would marry a ruler. Still, he agrees Popoca may have Izta’s hand in marriage after defeating Jaguar Claw, ruler of a neighboring land. Jaguar Claw tricks Izta into thinking Popoca is dead and gives her poison. Popoca, finding his beloved in a sleep from which he cannot wake her, does not leave her side, even as the snows begin to fall. Their two snow-covered forms eventually become two volcanoes. This traditional Aztec legend of eternal love is also an origin story for two volcanoes, Iztaccíhuatl and Popocatépetl, located south of Mexico City. This spirited retelling weaves in original elements and Nuhaatl words—“the language Popoca and Izta would have spoken.” An informative author’s note places this version in the context of many others, and of various forms of art created to honor the two volcanoes. A glossary defining the Nahuatl words is also included. Tonatiuh’s singular illustrations, inspired by Mixtec codices, provide striking visual accompaniment. Highly Commended, 2017 Charlotte Zolotow Award ©2017 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. What is a legend? Connect the names of the volcanoes to the story. What are some other similar stories you know?
  2. How are Popoca’s words “music to Izta’s ears”? How are they different than her other suitors’ words?
  3. How does Popoca show that he is brave, courageous, and loyal to Izta?

NOVEMBER (2)

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

Maybe Something Beautiful: How Art Transformed a Neighborhood by F. Isabel Campoy and Theresa Howell.  Illustrated by Rafael López. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2016

Mira brightens up her own life and the lives of those in her neighborhood with the colorful pictures she creates. When she meets a muralist, they begin painting on walls around the neighborhood and soon the whole community is involved: shop owners and teachers, police officers and parents. And of course, children. Music blares and colors dazzle and the atmosphere—physical and emotional—is transformed. “Everyone painted to the rhythm. Salsa, merengue, bebop! Even Mira’s mama painted and danced the cha-cha-cha!” A buoyant picture book is based on the true story of painter Rafael López who, with his wife, organizer Candice López, brought public art to a San Diego neighborhood, creating the Urban Art Trail. Rafael López illustrates this fictionalized account of that effort with dazzling mixed-media artwork that showcases the vibrant transformation. An author’s note includes photographs of the actual murals and some of the young painters. Highly Commended, 2017 Charlotte Zolotow Award ©2017 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. In the beginning, how does Mira show kindness and make her neighborhood less gray?
  2. What does the painter see when he looks at Mira’s picture?
  3. “Art followed the man and Mira, like the string of a kite.” What do you think that means?
  4. What ideas do you have for ways you can work with your community to bring more beauty to the place where you live?

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