Middle School April 2019 (2)

August 1st, 2018 | Posted by schliesman in 2018-2019 | 2018-2019 Middle School | Middle School | April - (Comments Off on Middle School April 2019 (2))

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Frost, Helen.
When My Sister Started Kissing. Margaret Ferguson Books / Farrar Straus Giroux, 2017. 187 pages (978–0–374–30303–7)

Ages 10-13

This novel in verse alternates between the voices of two sisters, 11-year-old Claire and 13-year-old Abigail, with occasional contributions in the voice of the lake where they are spending the summer with their dad and pregnant stepmother. Abigail (who now asks to be called “Abi”) is diving into adolescence, and is struggling between her feelings for two boys: TJ, a longtime summer friend whom she kissed at the end of the previous summer, and Brock, this year’s hot new guy. Claire is wary of the new Abi, and resents being asked to cover for her when Abi breaks their father’s rules. Claire also misses the way things were when it was just the three of them, before Pam, her stepmother, came into the picture. The pending arrival of a baby brother is yet another transition in the family structure. Frost’s deft skill with poetic form (including quatrains, kayak poems, free-verse, and acrostics) keeps the focus on the relationship between the sisters, as well as providing insight into the thoughts they keep private. Although their history includes a tragedy—their mother was struck and killed by lightning many years earlier—this is a summer without melodrama, but rife with the usual challenges of adolescence, family, friends, and change. ©2018 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Middle School April 2019 (1)

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

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Alexander, Kwame, with Chris Colderley, and Marjory Wentworth.
Out of Wonder: Poems Celebrating Poets. Illustrated by Ekua Holmes. Candlewick Press, 2017. 49 pages (978–0–7636–8094–7)

Ages 8-13

Twenty sparkling, original poems each celebrate a specific poet in a terrific collection that also serves as an introduction to the poets honored. The opening poem, by Kwame Alexander, “How To Write a Poem,” celebrates Naomi Shihab Nye (“Let loose your heart— / raise your voice. … find / your way / to that one true word / (or two).” The final offering, also by Alexander, celebrates Maya Angelou (“Rise / into the wonder / of daybreak. … Know your beauty / is a thunder / your precious heart unsalable. … Shine on honey! / Know you / are phenomenal.” In between are poems paying tribute to Robert Frost, e. e. cummings, Bashō, Nikki Giovanni, Langston Hughes, Walter Dean Myers, Emily Dickinson, Terrance Hayes, Billy Collins, Pablo Neruda, Judith Wright, Mary Oliver, Gwendolyn Brooks, Sandra Cisneros, William Carlos Williams, Okot p’Bitek, Chief Dan George, and Rumi. The poems, varied and wonderful, skillfully reflect their subjects thematically and stylistically. Additional information about each of the 20 poets is found at book’s end. A singular, beautifully composed illustration serves as a perfect accompaniment for each poem, complementing but never competing with words that will open eyes, and minds, and hearts to these writers. ©2018 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Intermediate April 2019

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

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Engle, Margarita.
Bravo! Poems about Amazing Hispanics. Illustrated by Rafael López. Godwin Books / Henry Holt, 2017. 48 pages (978–0–8050–9876–1)

Ages 8-12

“Flight! / I’m the first woman pilot, but I won’t be the last— / every little girl who sees me up here in blue sky / will surely grow up with dreams / of flying too!” (from “The World’s First Woman Pilot,” Aída de Acosta, 1884–1962, Cuba). Biographical poems introduce 18 Hispanics whose lives, notes author Margarita Engle, range from “some who were celebrated in their lifetimes but have been forgotten by history,” to others who “achieved lasting fame.” Even the shortest poems provide a brief but intriguing sense of their subjects’ lives and accomplishments while nurturing readers’ desire to learn more. Brief biographical “Notes about the Lives” at volume’s end are a starting point for doing just that, while a concluding poem, “More and More Amazing Latinos,” is a treasure trove of additional names—and lives—to learn about. The men and women profiled come from across Latin America and were accomplished in many fields. Gorgeous full-page portraits of each subject incorporate elements of the work for which they were known, while inspired spot illustrations add to the volume’s beauty. ©2018 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Primary April 2019

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

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Garza, Cynthia Leonor. Lucía the Luchadora. Illustrated by Alyssa Bermudez. POW!, 2017. 32 pages (978–1–57687–827–9)

Ages 3-6

Lucía is a brave, active girl who wants to be a superhero. The boys on the playground tell her girls can’t be superheroes because they’re made of sugar and spice and everything nice. Abuela comes to the rescue when she gives Lucía her own luchadora mask and tells her all about the Mexican tradition of lucha libre. Lucía assumes the luchadora persona and—now disguised—impresses all the boys on the playground by doing the exact same things she had done as a superhero. The difference is that no one knows she’s a girl until she reveals herself, surprising all the doubters. A playful, well-told story with spirited illustrations delivers a strong feminist message. ©2018 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

BTP April 2019

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

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Smith, Monique Gray. You Hold Me Up. Illustrated by Danielle Daniel. Orca, 2017. 32 pages (978–1–4598–1447–9)

Ages 3-8

What does it mean to hold someone up? To give and receive support? A series of simple, declarative statements offers answers to those questions for young children. “You hold me up when you share with me.” Or play, or learn, or laugh, or sing, or listen with me. “You hold me up when you comfort me.” Or respect me. Each action statement is accompanied by a full-page image of individuals engaged in the stated behavior in a book that creates space for children to talk about what each action means, and/or to think about how it might look in their own life. The author is Cree and Lakota and the full-page gouache, acrylic, and pencil illustrations show Indigenous children and adults in images that are stylized but have the warm emotional weight of scenes from real life in a picture book that affirms the importance and power of acts of kindness and connection. ©2018 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

High School April 2019

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

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Reynolds, Jason. Long Way Down. A Caitlyn Dlouhy Book / Atheneum, 2017.  306 pages (978–1–4814–3825–4)

Age 12 and older

Will learned “The Rules” from his older brother, Shawn. No. 1: No crying. No. 2: No snitching. No. 3: Get revenge. When Shawn is shot and killed, Will’s grief is trapped behind a wall of unshed tears. He’s sure he knows who did it: Riggs. And of course he won’t tell the police. Using the gun Shawn kept in his middle drawer, the gun he was never supposed to touch, Will leaves his 8th floor apartment the morning after Shawn’s death. He gets on the elevator at 9:08:02 a.m. Over the next 67 seconds and 234 pages of this taut, tightly paced novel in verse, different rules are broken: the rule in which no one talks on the elevator; and rules of life and death, space and time. On every floor, as Will descends, someone impossible gets on. Will knows each one of them, and their conversations—with him, with one another—explore the strange, unreliable honor of The Rules and reveal the cycle of violence they perpetuate. And now it’s Will’s turn to put The Rules into play, to shoot Riggs for killing Shawn. Isn’t it? The final two words of this novel are explosive, inviting discussion about what comes next, but it’s the entirety of Will’s reality-bending, expansive 67-second descent that makes it possible to wonder. ©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 | April - (Comments Off on APRIL (2))

Alan’s Big, Scary Teeth by Jarvis. U.S. edition: Candlewick Press, 2016

Alan the alligator has built his jungle reputation on scaring the other animals. “It was what he did best.” A snoutful of pointy teeth play a big role in Alan’s frightful credibility, and he is careful to guard the secret that his teeth are, in fact, dentures. But Barry the Beaver learns the truth and absconds with the detachable chompers. When Alan’s attempts at toothless scaring are a failure, he vents his loss of self-identity with loud and miserable tears, prompting the other creatures to offer to return his dentures. There’s one condition: Alan has to agree to stop scaring them. It turns out those big teeth have other uses, and Alan reinvents himself as a gardener, hairdresser, dentist, and scary storyteller. Despite the menacing dentition, Alan is nonthreatening from the get-go, depicted in rich jungle hues rendered with pencil, chalk, and paint and colored digitally, in illustrations bouncing with playful energy. Honor Book, 2017 Charlotte Zolotow Award ©2017 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Try these early literacy activities with children:

  • Read: A silly poem in Goodnight Songs, like “Bunny Jig”
  • Talk: About false teeth. Ask the child(ren) if they know anyone who has false teeth.
  • Sing: The Rafi song: Brush Your Teeth; if you don’t know it, look at the library or find a video on YouTube.
  • Write: Draw a new set of teeth for Alan. Use your own Alan drawing or this activity sheet.
  • Play: Pretend to brush your teeth and practice your scary face like Alan does!
  • Math or Science: Look for shapes throughout the book (Alan’s teeth are triangles). Look around you for shapes. How many sides do the different shapes have?




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

Snail & Worm: Three Stories About Two Friends by Tina Kügler. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2016

Three short stories in chapter format describe the initial meeting of Snail and Worm and two episodes in their friendship in a droll offering with a delightfully deadpan quality in the humorous interplay between the straightforward dialogue and the offbeat illustrations. In the opening chapter, “Meet My Friend,” Snail and Worm meet while playing with their respective friends Bob the rock and Ann the stick. In “Snail’s Adventure,” Worm provides support and encouragement as Snail scales a tall flower, although neither he nor Snail notes the flower has bent low to the ground under Snail’s weight. (“Wow! They look like ants down there!” exclaims Snail from no more than an inch off the ground as several large ants march by.) “Meet My Pet” has Worm looking for his lost pet, whom he describes as brown and furry with sharp teeth. Terrified Snail is convinced it’s a spider, even after Worm’s lost pet, Sam, shows up and is clearly a dog. Meanwhile Rex, Snail’s dog, is clearly a spider. Playful contradictions give readers and listeners a lot to notice and to laugh about in a book perfect for beginning readers or as a read-aloud. The deceptively simple and expressive art shows great thought and sophistication in its design and execution. ©2016 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Try these early literacy activities with children:

  • Read: “Buzz, Buzz, Buzz” in Goodnight Songs
  • Talk: About the humor of the book. Why is it funny? Talk about perspective.
  • Sing: A song very slowly then very quickly. Think about how Snail and Worm move.
  • Write: Draw a favorite activity you like to do with a friend or a favorite thing you like about a friend.
  • Play: A guessing game. Describe something then see how many clues it takes to guess the object. Let everyone have a turn describing as well as guessing.
  • Math or Science: Go outside and look for snails and worms and rocks and twigs. Explore what else you see outside.



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

Wet Cement: A Mix of Concrete Poems by Bob Raczka. Roaring Brook Press, 2016

“I like to think of poems as word paintings. A poet uses words like colors to paint pictures inside your head. In concrete poems, or shape poems, the words also paint pictures on the page.” A concise definition of concrete poetry introduces a collection of 21 elegantly simple, clever concrete poems. Even the poem’s single-word titles are playfully apt in their arrangement of individual letters, while the poems themselves offer further visual delight in describing the concept or object of the title. If the first 20 poems don’t also inspire young readers to try writing poems of their own, the final poem, “PoeTRY,” is a direct invitation, and appears on the page as an inverted pyramid: “poetry is about taking away the words you don’t need / poetry is taking way words you don’t need / poetry is words you need / poetry is words / try.” © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. Which poem do you like the best? Why?
  2. How do you think the form of a poem impacts its message?
  3. Where else have you seen concrete poetry?


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

Ada Lovelace, Poet of Science: The First Computer Programmer by Diane Stanley. Illustrated by Jessie Hartland. Simon & Schuster, 2016

Born in 1815, Ada Lovelace was the daughter of a poet father (Lord Byron) and a mother (Lady Byron) who nurtured her curiosity in math, science and technology. Ada loved both the arts and sciences. When her friend Charles Babbage asked for Ada’s help in explaining what the “Analytical Engine” he designed could do if it were built, Ada “had the vision to see, better even than Babbage himself, how much more a computer could do besides just processing numbers.” Ada took on the task of explaining how the machine’s ability to function required mathematical operations be converted into digital format, or code, that it could understand. In other words, she pioneered programming. This engaging, whimsical look at Ada’s brief life (she died at 36) and her extraordinary accomplishment in writing what is considered the first computer program shows that both knowledge and imagination are necessary for advances in technology and science, and that Ada embodied both. An author’s note tells more about Ada’s Notes and their impact, and acknowledges some have challenged Ada’s authorship (an idea Stanley refutes). A timeline, selected bibliography and glossary are also included in a volume set against illustrations that are blithe but never make light of Ada or her work. ©2016 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. How do you think this story would have been different if Ada was a man?
  2. How do imagination and science work together in Ada’s life? Can you think of other examples of how imagination and science work together?
  3. Read the “Author’s Notes” and “Controversy”. Why have most people never heard of Ada Lovelace?



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

Scythe (Arc of the Scythe, Book 1) by Neal Shusterman.  Simon & Schuster, 2016

In a future on earth when humans have become immortal, fatal disease and injury and even aging neutralized by the ability to regenerate, the population is kept in check by Scythes, individuals trained to kill, or “glean,” those whom they select. When teens Citra and Rowan are chosen as unwilling apprentice Scythes (saying no is not an option), they find themselves caught in the political machinations within the Scythedom. Scythes, says their mentor, Scythe Faraday, should abhor the taking of a life, but another faction gaining power relishes killing, and has been doing so with increasing violence. Citra and Rowan, already going through rigorous physical and mental training, know that they are competing for a single position, but the stakes grow higher when a rule change Faraday is helpless to challenge dictates that the first task of the winner will be to glean the loser. Timeless questions of whether the good of the many outweighs the good of the one, and ethical dilemmas exacerbated by power struggles and greed, invite contemplation, while martial arts combat training will entice thrill-seekers in this riveting work. ©2016 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. When faced with life or death situations, how is the humanity of the characters in the book challenged? How does that affect them later in life?
  2. Discuss how death is portrayed in Scythe. What do you think of this portrayal?
  3. What experiences lead to the growth of the characters in Scythe?



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