Middle School February 2019

August 1st, 2018 | Posted by schliesman in 2018-2019 | 2018-2019 Middle School | Middle School | February - (Comments Off on Middle School February 2019)

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Walker, Sally M.
Sinking the Sultana: A Civil War Story of Imprisonment, Greed, and a Doomed Journey Home. Candlewick Press, 2017. 196 pages (978–0–7636–7755–8)

Ages 10-14

More than 2,000 passengers were on board the steamboat Sultana in April 1865 as it traveled up the Mississippi. The majority of them were Union soldiers recently released from Confederate prison camps heading north to be mustered out of the army. When one of the ship’s boilers exploded in the middle of the night, it marked the start of the worst maritime disaster in U.S. history. This gripping account provides context for this time in American history, but the narrative returns again and again to the hours leading up to and following the explosion. Those who weren’t killed in the blast ended up in the frigid Mississippi, some severely burned. People on shore and in other boats heard cries for help and did what they could to rescue survivors. In the aftermath, an investigation into what might have caused the blast and why so many were on board a boat authorized for 376 when the army left a second steamship empty are also chronicled. Older children and teens fascinated by the Titanic and other disaster accounts will be just as compelled by this one. A note on the author’s research, source notes, and glossary round out the volume. ©2018 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Intermediate February 2019 (2)

August 1st, 2018 | Posted by schliesman in 2018-2019 | 2018-2019 Intermediate | Intermediate (Grades 3-5) | February - (Comments Off on Intermediate February 2019 (2))

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Mahin, Michael.
Muddy: The Story of Blues Legend Muddy  Waters. Illustrated by Evan Turk. Atheneum, 2017. 48 pages (978–1–4814–4349–4)

Ages 7-10

Born into an area rife with poverty and racism in the Mississippi Delta, Muddy Waters could count on two things in his life: his Grandma Della, and music. Muddy loved the music he heard in church on Sundays, but his favorite was “fish-fry music,” “shake off the dust / and wring out your worries / and laugh and cry and feel alive music.” Muddy loved the blues. After leaving his “back- busting, soul-breaking” job as a sharecropper, Muddy moved to Chicago to make music. He was told he needed to incorporate more jazz into his style, but he stuck with what he knew and brought “the sound of the Delta” to the big city. As it turned out, people in Chicago couldn’t get enough of Muddy’s blues. After a few false starts in the recording business, a record producer gave Muddy a chance to record his own music, his own way, and it was a hit. Muddy was on his way to becoming one of the greatest blues musicians the world has ever known. Bright, bold illustrations against a black background, and an inventive, evocative choice of descriptive words, set the tone and conjure up the sound of the blues in this picture book biography.  ©2018 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Intermediate February 2019 (1)

August 1st, 2018 | Posted by schliesman in 2018-2019 | 2018-2019 Intermediate | Intermediate (Grades 3-5) | February - (Comments Off on Intermediate February 2019 (1))

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Jacqueline Briggs, and June Jo Lee. Chef Roy Choi and the Street Food Remix. Illustrated by Man One. Readers to Eaters, 2017. 32 pages (978–0–9836615–9–7)

Ages 6-9

From the endpaper photograph of tightly packed, wavy ramen noodles to the mouthwatering descriptions of food, this account of Chef Roy Choi’s fusion of fine dining and street food and cultures will whet appetites, but for more than just something to eat. Born in Seoul, Roy Choi grew up in Los Angeles, eating his mom’s Korean cooking at their family restaurant and exploring the city. Looking for where and how he fit in, he found the answer in cooking, attending culinary school and then working as an elite chef until “he couldn’t cook fast enough for all those diners. He forgot recipes. Lost his job.” He opened a Korean barbecue taco truck, Kogi Tacos, with a friend. But he didn’t just want to make food; he wanted to feed people. Roy opened cafés in “worn- out neighborhoods” and encouraged other chefs to open fast-food restaurants in challenged areas of town. He also taught kids to make and sell their own food. For Roy Choi, cooking is activism and community as well as good eating as he strives to “remix neighborhoods everywhere with hope, mad cooking skills, and fresh ingredients.” Street artist Man One’s spray paint and digital ink illustrations further energize a vibrant work full of optimism.  ©2018 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Primary February 2019

August 1st, 2018 | Posted by schliesman in 2018-2019 | 2018-2019 Primary | Primary (Grades K-2) | February - (Comments Off on Primary February 2019)

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Heder, Thyra. Alfie. Abrams, 2017. 40 pages (978–1–4197–2529–6)

Ages 4-8

On her sixth birthday, Nia welcomes her new pet turtle, Alfie, into her home. She introduces him to her stuffed animals, sings songs she wrote just for him, and tells him stories each night about her school day. Alfie, though, is not the most enthusiastic companion, and Nia gradually loses interest in him— until he disappears as her seventh birthday approaches. A switch in perspective offers Alfie’s side of the story: despite his demure personality, he adores Nia and deeply appreciates everything she does for him. In search of a present for her birthday, he explores the nooks and crannies of their apartment before venturing outdoors. Tired after his long journey, he slips into the backyard pond for a nap. Beautifully detailed ink-and-watercolor illustrations show both Alfie’s perspective (scavenging behind the couch, crossing the sandbox “desert”) and African American Nia’s (building a snow turtle in the winter, planting seeds beside the pond in the spring unaware of Alfie’s presence nearby). Alfie’s obliviousness to the passage of time makes the ending all the more delightful when he emerges triumphantly from the pond, gift in hand (or rather, on shell), ready for Nia’s seventh birthday, never realizing that she is now celebrating her eighth. ©2018 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

BTP February 2019 (2)

August 1st, 2018 | Posted by schliesman in 2018-2019 | 2018-2019 Babies, Toddlers & Preschoolers | Babies, Toddlers and Preschoolers | February - (Comments Off on BTP February 2019 (2))

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Sidman, Joyce. Round. Illustrated by Taeeun Yoo. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2017. 32 pages (978–0–544–38761–4)

Ages 3-6

“I love round things,” says the young child narrator of this picture book, who goes on to give examples of round things found in nature, from the obvious (oranges, seeds) to the harder-to-find (rings on a tree stump, small butterfly eggs). Some things that don’t start out round become round with time (a mushroom grows into its curves; once-jagged rocks smooth over many years). Round can be ephemeral (bubbles, ripples in a pond) or forever (the moon and stars). “I can be round, too,” the girl says, “in a circle of friends” or curled up alone. Intimate yet expansive, the simply stated observations are childlike even as they suggest a deep, visceral human response to roundness: the desire to touch, the feeling of being secure. Brief examples at story’s end reference both science and aesthetics in discussing why so many things in nature are round. Ample curves in the flat, naïve-style illustrations featuring bright colors with a muted, slightly retro feel complement the quiet narrative.  ©2018 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

BTP February 2019 (1)

August 1st, 2018 | Posted by schliesman in 2018-2019 | 2018-2019 Babies, Toddlers & Preschoolers | Babies, Toddlers and Preschoolers | February - (Comments Off on BTP February 2019 (1))

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Oikawa, Kenji, and Mayuko Takeuchi.
Circle, Triangle, Elephant! A Book of Shapes & Surprises. Translated from the Japanese. U.S. edition: Phaidon, 2017. 20 pages. (978–0–7148–7411–1)

Ages 1-3

In this delightful board book featuring three stacked objects on each page, the expectation of a simple pattern of geometric shapes (“Triangle, circle, square / Circle, rectangle, triangle”) is interrupted when an elephant makes a sudden appearance on page three (“Triangle, elephant ?!, circle”). After that all bets are off as each flip of the page throws an unexpected object into the mix. Expertly playing on the concept of humor through incongruity, this silly book would make an excellent read-aloud with a group or one-on-one. Clear illustrations also invite children to participate in a point-and-say reading experience. ©2018 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

High School February 2019

August 1st, 2018 | Posted by schliesman in 2018-2019 High School | 2018-2019 | High School | February - (Comments Off on High School February 2019)

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Dimaline, Cherie.
The Marrow Thieves. DCB, 2017. 234 pages (pbk  978–1–77086–486–3)

Age 12 and older

“It began as a rumor, that they had found a way to siphon dreams right out of our bones.” In a not-too-distant future when environmental devastation has killed millions, many people no longer dream when they sleep. At the Canadian government’s new residential “schools,” the dreams of Indigenous people are distilled from their marrow for later use by the wealthy and privileged. Sixteen-year-old Frenchie escaped school Recruiters at 11 and has been with his found family ever since. One elder, one middle-aged adult, four teens, and four children from several Nations, they are constantly on the move evading Recruiters as new schools are built farther and farther north. Although they’re skilled at survival, safety is an unknown destination, and when tragedy strikes at the heart of their group Frenchie decides it’s time to stop running and take a stand. This riveting work confronts the reality of genocide but never loses sight of hope. It’s the breath of those who survive. It’s the love, the solidarity with others, cultural traditions, and the power of languages kept alive. Métis author Dimaline’s plot is fast-paced and unyielding while her finely drawn main characters, although marked by pain, are full of intelligence, compassion, and grace. Dimaline’s exquisite writing offers beautiful turns of phrase and lines that sting with their sharpness and honesty, while Frenchie’s teen voice and feelings, often surprisingly funny, are, like the story itself, at once of his time and our own. ©2018 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Find out more about this month’s titles by clicking a cover image below!



May 16th, 2017 | Posted by etownsend in Babies, Toddlers and Preschoolers | 2017-2018 | 2017-2018 Babies, Toddlers & Preschoolers | February - (Comments Off on FEBRUARY (2))

Looking for Bongo by Eric Velasquez. Holiday House, 2016

A small, pajama-clad boy is on a morning hunt at home for Bongo. “Dónde está Bongo?” He asks Wela, his grandmother; Gato the cat; Daisy the dog; and his dad. He tries to ask his mom, but she’s busy. Even the delivery man at the door is questioned. No one knows where Bongo is. The boy finally finds Bongo, a small brown-and-white stuffed animal dog, peeking out from behind a set of bongo drums. “Tonight I will hold on to Bongo so he won’t run away.” It turns out Bongo isn’t on the run, but someone else is in this picture book with an ending that is surely a surprise to the boy and may be to child readers and listeners, although others may have noticed a certain look on the guilty party’s face earlier in the story. The illustrations in this picture book featuring an Afro- Latino family provide a wonderful sense of home and warmth and morning routine. (Ages 3–6)  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Try these early literacy activities with children:

  • Read: In the book, what do you think Bongo is? Can you find clues in the pictures or words that help you guess what Bongo is?
  • Talk: Do you have a favorite stuffed animal? What kind of animal is it? How did you get it? What do you call it? What can you do with a stuffed animal that you can’t do with a live animal?
  • Sing:  “Who Stole the Cookies From the Cookie Jar?”
  • Write: Draw a picture of your family. Who is in your family?
  • Play: Hide a toy and work together to find it.
  • Math or Science: Recreate the booby trap at the end of the book. Or, try making your own pretend way to catch someone.




May 16th, 2017 | Posted by etownsend in 2017-2018 Babies, Toddlers & Preschoolers | Babies, Toddlers and Preschoolers | 2017-2018 | February - (Comments Off on FEBRUARY (1))

Old Dog Baby Baby by Julie Fogliano. Illustrated by Chris Raschka. A Neal Porter Book / Roaring Brook Press, 2016

A family’s old dog is perfectly content to spend the day snoozing but “here comes baby baby crawling across the kitchen floor.” The dog has no choice but to wake up. He seems to enjoy the attentions of the baby, even the poking and paw-squeezing, but before long both dog and baby are stretched out together on the kitchen floor asleep. The gentle rhythmic text uses just a few words to show the loving relationship between the two, and the watercolor illustrations are comfortingly soft-edged, showing a rotund blonde baby. The rest of the family plays a minimal role but, when shown, includes two moms. (Ages 2–4)  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Try these early literacy activities with children:

  • Read: “The Kitten’s” Dream” from Goodnight Songs
  • Talk: About pets. Do you have any pets in your family? What is your favorite kind of pet?
  • Sing: “BINGO” or other dog song
  • Write: Draw a picture of your dream pet.
  • Play: Act out how to approach an animal. How would you approach a family pet? An animal or pet that is new to you? Who should you ask for permission to approach a pet?
  • Math or Science: Talk about life cycles and animal names. How are puppies different from dogs, kittens different from cats.




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

Some Writer! The Story of E. B. White by Melissa Sweet. Afterword by Martha White. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2016

Elwyn Brooks (E. B.) White, known to family and friends from early adulthood on as Andy, was shy and often anxious throughout his life. But with a pen in his hand, or a typewriter in front of him, he was entertaining and eloquent. Readers who know him as the author of Stuart Little, Charlotte’s Web, and The Trumpet of the Swan will relish the stories here about those books. They will also love discovering White the young adventurer, White the amateur naturalist and avid outdoorsperson, White the urbane journalist, White the opinionated commentator and essayist and defender of democracy, White the humorist, White the family man, White the farmer, White the literary stylist and master of clarity, and much more. Author/illustrator Melissa Sweet brilliantly distills these qualities into an appealing, accessible portrait of White in a book that blends original watercolors, photographs, and collage with a clear (White would approve!) and engaging substantial narrative that integrates many quotes from White’s professional and personal writing. The gorgeous book design offers a sense of effortless interplay between the visual elements and text. A timeline, ample citations and source material, an author’s note and an afterword from writer Martha White about her grandfather and this book all add to a work that will bring delight to, and shows such respect for, young readers. ©2016 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. What makes the style of this biography unique?
  2. How do the illustrations and text work together or separately to tell the reader about E.B. White, his life, and his writing?
  3. What kind of child was E.B. White? What were some of his experiences, interests and/or fears?
  4. What do you notice about his writing and revision process (pages 87 to 91)? How did this influence his writing as an adult?


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

Catching a Storyfish by Janice N. Harrington. WordSong / Highlights, 2016

Katheren, called Keet by her family—short for Parakeet, because she never stops talking—loves telling stories. But when her African American family moves from Alabama to the north and she’s teased at her new school for her southern accent, she stops talking in class. She makes a new friend in Allegra, who lives next door and who Keet nicknames Allie-gator, and continues to tell stories at home, but remains quiet at school. When her grandpa has a stroke and seems lost, Keet tells him a story every day, willing him to come back. She misses him, and she needs his support, faced with the terror of giving a “Dream Day” oral report. “My hands are grasshoppers / my heart is a kangaroo / my lungs are too small / my throat is a desert / my tongue … / where’s my tongue?” After seven weeks of silence the words come pouring out. “My voice is all the places I’ve been / and all the stories I’ve heard. / It’s Grandpa, Grandma, Mama, Daddy, / and Nose. It’s my uncles, aunties, / and my hundred-hundred cousins.” Lovely characterizations, language, and word play propel a story about family, friendship, and the power of story to hold and express a heart. A poetry glossary defines the different types of poems that comprise the novel. © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. “Knowing someone’s story is one way to put an end to a lot of trouble in the world.” (pg. 152). What does that quote mean to you?
  2. Relationships are very important in this story. How do they help Keet find her voice again?
  3. Use the Poetry Glossary on pg. 219 to find out more about different types of poetry. What type of poetry would you use to tell your story?



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