Thursday, September 28, 2017

You are not my friend, but I miss you

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Book talk: Dog used to be monkey's friend. They used to play together for hours. They used to have so much fun. Not anymore. Dog stole monkey's ball and monkey stole it back. Now monkey has his ball, but who will he toss it to?

This short story is full of emotion and describes a common childhood experience. Monkey gets upset at his friend, Dog, but after a while realizes he misses Dog. All is forgiven and they're back to happily playing a game of catch. The pictures vary from close-ups of monkey to action sequences with multiple scenes depicted on a page. The emotions are clearly visible on all the animals and the background colors further emphasize the emotions. There's happy pastels in the scenes with friends playing and brown, blue, and red on the close-ups of an upset Monkey. The animals all have a fabric texture that makes you want to cuddle them. This would be great for sparking a discussion about friendship and sharing with young kids.

Every book its reader: I'd read this with students pre-school to 1st grade.

Topics and Trends: picture books, sharing, friendship


Daniel Kirk has a website where he describes the inspiration behind the book and some of the process of making it: "I have long been interested in writing a book where the main character has feelings and points of view that to us, the reader, are clearly wrong." He also includes a great list of questions for discussion and things to do after reading the book, "Try writing an 'I’m sorry' letter to someone. If there’s anybody out there you owe an apology to, try telling them in a letter. Even if you choose not to send it, it will help to see your thoughts and feelings in writing."

Source: school library

You Are Not My Friend, But I Miss You by Daniel Kirk

Friday, September 22, 2017

Somos como las nubes

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Book talk: 
We Sing

Since we left home
we haven't stopped singing.
My father says
if we keep singing,
we'll scare away all the tiredness
and the fear
and become a song.

Rave: This collection of poems tells the story of migration from Central America to the United States. The author himself grew up in El Salvador and came to the United States in the 1980's, fleeing war in his home country. The poems range from the specific story of an individual to describing the migrant experience as a whole. They move in time chronologically starting in Central America and ending in the United States. Each poem has both a Spanish and English version and they're accompanied by beautiful, dreamy acrylic paintings. The poems are short, but their impact is big and could easily spark longer discussions and more research into the migrant experience.

Every book its reader: This is a great for those looking for bilingual books as well as classroom teachers and parents who want to introduce the topic of migration.

Source: school library

Somos como las nubes /We Are Like the Clouds by Jorge Argueta & Alfonso Ruano

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

The Grand Mosque of Paris

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Book talk: During the Nazi invasion of France, thousands of Jewish people found sanctuary in the Grand Mosque of Paris. This book describes how Muslims in Paris helped their Jewish brothers and sisters during World War II. They saved lives in a myriad of ways ranging from writing false papers identifying Jews as Muslims, to secreting Jewish people and resistance fighters through hidden tunnels and out of Paris in emptied wine barrels.

Rave: There are so many fascinating vignettes of courage and defiance in this book. The actions described were secretive by nature and never officially documented, but the authors have hunted down the scraps of information they could find to present these stories. Full-page oil paintings throughout illustrate the story. There's a glossary, bibliography, index and further information in the back.

Ever book its readers: This would be a great classroom share for grades 3rd - 5th.

Topics and Trends: World War II, religion, Islam, Judaism, the Holocaust, the Resistance


This travel video has some beautiful shots of the Grand Mosque of Paris for those interested.

Source: school library

The Grand Mosque of Paris: A story of how Muslims rescued Jews during the Holocaust by Karen Gray Ruelle and Deborah Durland DeSaix

Giant Squid

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Book talk: The giant squid is a tantalizing mystery. We have more close-ups photographs of Mars. We know more about dinosaur behavior. Much of what we do know about giant squids comes from pieces we have found and dissected--pieces often found in sperm whales. Despite how rarely giant squids are sighted by humans, sperm whales have been found with as many as 7,000 indigestible giant squid beaks in their stomachs. Get a glimpse into the life of these mysterious and beautiful creatures with Giant Squid by Candace Fleming and Eric Rohmann.

Rave: This book is beautiful and a bit terrifying, much like the creatures it describes. What little we know is described in a poetic language that creates a rich atmosphere. The pictures are gorgeous, showing parts of the squid to emphasize its size and the sense that it's lurking just out of sight. This would make a great read-aloud for budding science enthusiasts.

Every book its reader: I'd give this to students 1st-3rd with an interest in marine life who don't frighten easily.

Topics and Trends: nonfiction, giant squids, marine biology, narrative nonfiction, picture books


The AP has raw footage of one of these creatures making a rare appearance at the surface of the ocean. There's no voice-over, just the gentle bubbling of the diver's oxygen tank, which lends it a rather hypnotizing air.

Source: school library

Giant Squid by Candace Fleming and Eric Rohmann


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Book talk: A lone wolf strikes out from his pack and heads south to California. His radio collar allows scientists and animal lovers to follow his progress. Abby watches with excitement as he heads closer to where she lives, but she's also worried. Some people don't want the wolves to come back to their land. Will this one survive?

Rave: Journey alternates between the perspectives of the wolf and a young girl following his progress. The young girl's story provides context and adds tension as she worries over the fate of the wolf. She even participates in a contest to name him. The wolf is from Oregon and the girl lives in Northern California. Even the girl's grandparents as far away as Mexico follow the wolf's progress. This is based on real events and there's a lot of great back matter including the real Journey's path, a timeline of wolf conservation efforts, and questions and activities for a classroom.

Every book its reader: This would be great as a part of a science unit in a classroom, but it's also an excellent story for young wildlife enthusiasts at bedtime. 1st - 3rd grade.

Topics and Trends: wildlife conservation, wolves, picture books

Brain scoop did an excellent episode talking about wolf conservation that gets into wolf and coyote cross breeding and goes further into other topics mentioned in passing in this book. There are scenes in the video that show animal carcasses that are graphic, so preview it before sharing it.

Source: school library

Journey: Based on the true story of OR7 the most famous wolf in the west by Emma Bland Smith; illustrated by Robin James

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

A Handful of Stars

A Handful of Stars

Book talk: Lily loves life in her small town and she's looking forward to summer and the annual Blueberry Queen Pageant. Then her blind dog slips away and runs off into the blueberry field. Salma, the daughter of one of the migrant workers, sacrifices her lunch to lure the dog back to safety. It's the beginning of a new friendship that will change both their lives. But will their friendship survive when they both enter the Pageant?

Rave: This sweet story of friendship is everything I've come to expect from Cynthia Lord. It's touching without being overly saccharine. It teaches lessons without being preachy. It's filled with a gentle humor and well-drawn characters. It's perfect for summer reading, and who can resist a book with a dog on the cover?

Every book its reader: I'd give this to students 3rd & up looking for a sweet tale of friendship.

Topics & Trends: Friendship, #weneeddiversebooks, migrant workers, Maine, dogs, pageants


Here's an interview with the author about the book:

And here's a picture of an adorable panda enjoying the book:
(from The Nerdy Panda blog-- Check it out!)

Source: school library

A Handful of Stars by Cynthia Lord: buy it or check it out today!

Monday, September 18, 2017

Willow and the Wedding

Book talk: Willow loves weddings, so she is excited Uncle Ash is getting married to David, and even more so when she finds out that she gets to be the flower girl. Their wedding will be on the beach and dessert will be her favorite: donuts with sprinkles. Everything will be perfect--if only she can convince her uncle to put his childhood fears behind him and dance. 

Rave: This sweet story is a lesson in empathy. Willow learns that her uncle used to love dancing until he was in the school musical and got teased for his affinity for dance. Willow sets out to help him reclaim his love of dance to great success. Her care for others is on display at the wedding as she helps relatives: providing a blanket for an aunt who gets cold and a cool drink for an overheated uncle. Adults will appreciate this diverse but not didactic offering and kids will enjoy imagining they're at this fantastic beach and donuts wedding.

Every book its reader: Hand this book to aspiring dancers and flower girls in grades k-2.

Extras: Don't miss the end papers and this delightful dino:

Source: school library

Willow and the Wedding by Denise Brennan-Nelson; illustrated by Cyd Moore: buy it or check it out today!

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Circus Mirandus

Circus Mirandus

Book talk: Micah Tuttle loves listening to his grandpa's stories of the magical Circus Mirandus with its invisible tiger, flying birdwoman, and a powerful magician known as the Lightbender. People think they're just stories, but Grandpa insists that they're true and Micah believes him. Now Grandpa is dying and the only thing that can save him is a miracle. Luckily, the Lightbender owes his grandpa just that. But is the circus real? Will Micah be able to convince the Lightbender to pay his debt? It's hard to believe in magic in a world of cynics, but Micah would do anything to give his grandpa another chance.

Rave: This is a beautifully-told, heart-breaking story of the connection between a boy and his grandfather. The circus is delightful and the magical elements fantastic, but when you boil it down this relationship is the core of the story. It suffuses the whole book with emotion and a deep meaning about the difficulty of letting go. On top of all that it's a great magical quest/adventure story.

Every book its reader: I'd give this to fans of magical adventures and tear-jerkers. It has a classic feel like Peter Pan and would make a great family read-aloud. 3rd & up.

Topics and Trends: Grandfathers, grief, circuses, magic, tearjerkers


The Texas Bluebonnet Awards made a great trailer:

There's a lot of great quote images made to promote this book:

Bonus Quote:

“Grandpa Ephraim was always saying things that sounded so important Micah wanted to wrap them up in boxes and keep them forever.”

Source: School Library

Circus Mirandus by Cassie Beasley: buy it or check it out today!

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Lost in the Sun

Lost in the Sun

Book talk: Playing sports always brought Trent joy. Everyone in town knew him as the golden kid who could excel at any type of game, and he took pride in his reputation. Until the day a pick-up hockey game changed his life forever. One slapshot to the chest combined with an un-diagnosed heart condition made Trent a killer. Now it's a new school year and a new baseball season. It should be a fresh start, but Trent can't leave the past behind. He's changed into someone his friends and family don't recognize and he's not sure if he can ever go back, or if he even wants to. Will he ever play sports again? Who will he be without them?

Rave: The characters in this story are simply fantastic. It would take a very cold heart not to sympathize with Trent as he recovers from the grief and guilt of accidentally killing another kid. The adults around him seem to think that just telling him it's not his fault should be enough for him to get over it, which sadly reflects the lack of knowledge around mental health in our society. I appreciate the way Trent's struggle is depicted, but I think kids will just enjoy the compelling story. Those who enjoy sports will be especially impacted by the loss Trent feels at his inability to play the way he did before. Misfits and sports neophytes, on the other hand, will relate to the other main character Fallon, who helps Trent adjust to his new life. A little something for everyone.

Every book its reader: I'd give this to students looking for a moving novel, especially sports enthusiasts. 4th grade and up.

Topics and Trends: mental health, grief, guilt, sports, baseball,


There's a fan-made book trailer

Source: public library

Lost in the Sun by Lisa Graff: buy it or check it out today!