Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Picture Book Wednesday: Pirasaurs!

In his second book, Pirasaurs Josh Funk moves readers from the kitchen (the setting of Lady Pancake & Sir French Toast) to the Jurassic seas to meet a group of pirate dinosaurs. A young dino joins the pirate crew, introducing us to the veterans, with giggle-producing names like Captain Rex and Triceracook. 

Funk's rhyming couplets (typically one line per page) are delightful, creating a rhythm that is extremely fun to read. The Pirasaurs characters come alive in Michael Slack's vibrant illustrations.

Will the newest Pirasaur prove his muster or wind up walking the plank? Read Pirasaurs and find out! Highly recommended for home, school and public libraries. It would be a great read aloud for "Talk Like a Pirate Day," celebrated on September 19. Arr, me hardies!

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

New Book Tuesday 8/30

I think this is the most books I've ordered to all arrive on the same day. It's an epic Tuesday! Happy Reading!

Not a new release, but I decided I had to buy this one:

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Dear Dragon

Have you ever had a pen pal? I did. Unfortunately, I do not remember my pen pal's name. I started writing to my pen pal when I was in the second grade. My teacher located pen pals for us from different states and we wrote our first letter in class. I don't remember much about my pen pal but I do remember how it felt to have one. I loved sitting down to write a letter to her. I also loved receiving letters from her and learning more about her and where she lived. I never met my pen pal and eventually the letters stopped coming. I think the memories of my pen pal help to foster my love for Dear Dragon.

Dear Dragon takes the reader into the world of pen pals. This story features a boy named George and a dragon named Blaise. They are assigned to be each other's pen pals by their teachers. They are also told that their letters must be written in rhyme. George and Blaise write to each other from September to May. During this time they learn a lot about each other while they wait for the pen pal picnic in June. Find out what George and  Blaise write about and what happens when they meet by reading Dear Dragon for yourself. 

Overall, Dear Dragon is an excellent book. Besides being an excellent story this book can be used in the classroom. Students can use it to locate rhyming words and understand rhyming poetry. It can also be used to help students to understand the concept of writing letters. It may even awaken a passion in teachers and students to re-establish pen pals and writing by hand. I know this book will be a favorite at my school and for my son George. I recommend this book for classroom libraries, public libraries, school libraries, and home libraries. This is definitely a book I will be adding to George's book collection. I give this book 5 out of 5 stars. 

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Picture Book 10 For 10: Our favorites (of late)

On August 10, kidlit bloggers publish a picture book post featuring 10 books. Search the #pb10for10 in Twitter to read more posts. These are some of our recent favorites; all of these were published in 2015 or 2016.

Sara's Picks - I had a hard time picking just five, and chose to go with more recent reads. 

Our names are one of the most significant parts of our identity. In this first picture book by Sherman Alexie, Thunder Boy Jr. does not want to be named after his dad, instead searching for a name of his own.

The school year is almost upon us! This heartwarming story is told from the perspective of a brand new school that is just as nervous about the first day of school as the students may be!

An inspiring true story about students in Paraguay who create and play instruments made from items from the landfill where they live. I loved sharing this one with the musicians in my family!

A biography of an amazing young man bicycling 400 miles across Ghana with one leg.

Return is the final chapter that Aaron Becker began with Journey, and followed up with Quest. You will want to finish the last page, and start all over again. Simply stunning!

Amy's Picks 

I love all picture books and narrowing it down to five was very difficult. These are some of my personal favorites from 2015-2016. 

Lady Pancake and Sir French Toast makes this list because my students absolutely loved it. This is a great book for teaching sequence to students so I read it to my classes. It soon became a favorite at my school. 

I love Mother Bruce because it is just so funny. My favorite part is when Bruce tries to make the geese fly. I can't wait until Hotel Bruce comes out. 

This book makes my list because it is beautiful. It also discusses waiting which is difficult for children. This book tells them it is okay to wait. 

 Horrible Bear made my list because I love the characters in this book. I also love that the book teaches children not to assume the worst about someone. This book also focuses on the importance of forgiveness. 

I have to admit that I love all books written or illustrated by Lauren Castillo but this one is special. I love this book because it reminds me of my childhood because I always lined my stuffed animals up before I went to sleep. I have read this book to George many times and I am sure it will be a bedtime favorite when he is born. 

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Early Chapter Books: The Infamous Ratsos

In July I had the opportunity to spend two weeks with Donalyn Miller and Mr. Schu. Two Nerdy Sisters saw them at Nerd Camp. Then we attended the Scholastic Reading Summit the next week in Concord, NC. As usual Mr. Schu gave away books at his session. I did not win a book during the session. Mr. Schu (the Oprah of books) decided to give me a copy of The Infamous Ratsos at the end of the session. 

The Infamous Ratsos is the story of two rat brothers who are trying to be tough. Every time they make a plan to show people how tough and mean they are it back fires. They end up being nice and helping others. The Ratsos family learns an important lesson at the end. 

I really enjoyed this book. I think that kids are often pressured to be something they are not. This book tells them that it is okay to be themselves and not fit into a preconceived mold. I really appreciate authors like Kara Lareau. Authors who write early chapter books are very important to my students. One of trends at my school is a desire to read chapter books. Some of my students in1st and 2nd grade are not able to read long chapter books. I recommend short chapter books to them and they love them. Thank you Kara Lareau for writing for my younger students. I can't wait for another adventure with the Ratsos. 

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Genre Avoidance

was going to write a review of The Girl Who Drank the Moon for today, but it was reviewed wonderfully yesterday on the Nerdy Book Club blog by two of my nerdy friends. Stacey Reidmiller, who teaches 4th grade in Ohio, is the most creative and organized teacher I've ever met. I want to go back in time and be a 4th grader in her classroom. Donalyn Miller is a former teacher and author of The Book Whisper and Teaching in the Wild, as well as co-founder of the Nerdy Book Club. I take every opportunity I can to hear her speak because I learn so much.

Read their review here:

In her Scholastic Book Fairs’ #ReadingSummit session called "Dead Presidents and Whales," Donalyn discussed genre preference and  avoidance, asking us first to reflect on our own reading lives. 

One of the (sub)genres I avoid is high fantasy. As a child, I loved mostly realistic fiction and historical fiction. I read everything by Judy Blume and Beverly Cleary. I LOVED The Babysitters Club. My favorite two books, Charlotte's Web and Anne of Green Gables, led to my middle child's name, Charlotte Anne.

As a teen, I read all Stephen King, all the time. Now, I read about 60% children's books, 35% YA and 5% books published for grown ups. Harry Potter is awesome, of course, but I do not like much else in the high fantasy realm. The worst experience I had in the past year was when my friend, Benji Martin and I read The High King for our Newbery Pie blog. This was the last book in a 5 books series; I was confused for the majority of the book. 

One of the most important reminders for me from Donalyn's session is that we have to read the books our students read. How else are we going to have authentic conversations about books? If you only read the genres you prefer, are you only going to discuss books with students who like the same books as you do? 

Donalyn recommended I read The Girl Who Drank the Moon when I shared that I avoid high fantasy. Fortunately, I picked up an ARC from Nerd Camp, although I had preordered it already. I may avoid some genres, but I never fail to buy buzzworthy books. Reading them is another matter! This was not a book I struggled through, and I was grateful it was summer so could stay up as late as I wanted reading. I loved the characters, became lost in the story and read it way too fast! As a mother, I weeped at parts of it. When my published copy comes next week, I need to smell the paper and read it again, taking more time to appreciate the language. I also need to read The Witch's Boy and The Mostly True Story of Jack, currently sitting neglected on my bookshelf. Thank you Kelly Barnhill for killing my genre avoidance and Donalyn Miller for (in the words of Colby Sharp) being awesome! 

Amy's genre that she avoids: science fiction. I recommend that she read the HILO series and Red's Planet

My favorite part of Donalyn’s presentations? Book recs! Check out:

Don't forget to look for The Girl Who Drank the Moon when it releases on next Tuesday!

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

New Book Tuesday 8/2

Car issues today... Thank heavens for new books! If I updated you on all the books I've bought recently, you'd be here all day, so let's focus on just today. #nErDcampMI and #ReadingSummit make you want to buy the whole world!

Coming today...

I took a picture of Return at B&N (and resisted the urge to read it there). 

I got impatient (shocking, huh?) and bought a copy of HP8 on Sunday, so I will be donating my 2nd copy.

Other books coming today:

Checked the two Julies' book out at the library and had to have it.

#titletalk, enough said.

And finally, because I really don't NEED anyone to persuade me to buy books: 

You may be thinking, in the words of Ron Weasley, "Bloody hell! That's a lot of books." At least I'm not a drug addict.  Happy Reading!

Monday, August 1, 2016

ARCs and F&Gs

Amy and I are not the type of bloggers that receive loads of ARCs, and that is not the purpose or goal of this blog. An author friend sent us an F&G of his picture book, and I received 4 ARCs at Nerd Camp. I gave 2 of those to a friend who came from NC, but could not get there early enough to get books. I'm writing a review about one of the books later this week so I wanted to share my thoughts about ARCs and F&Gs.

I much prefer my first reading experience of a book to be with a finished, published copy. If you follow this blog, you know that many Tuesdays, I post about the books that will be arriving at my house. I love the feel and the smell of a brand new book. With a F&Gs the pages literally fall apart as you read it. My youngest child bent up the cover of one of my Nerd Camp ARCs and I had to quell my rage, reminding myself I had already ordered a final copy of that book. ARCs sometimes have illustrations that are omitted altogether or other cool features not included in ARCs. Just to add, selling/buying ARCs is beyond wrong. I also don't thing they belong in libraries. #sorrynotsorry I know budgets are dreadful, but authors deserve to be compensated for their work. 

One of the funniest ARC experiences I had was when I received El Deafo from Nerd Camp in 2014. My girls (at the time aged 11, 8 and 6) read it over and over again, often fighting over it. ARCs of graphic novels do not have color. When I brought the full-color copy home on the publication date, they were mad at me because they thought I had been keeping it from them, sticking them with the black and white copy. 

F&Gs and ARCs make sense for professional reviewers and for people like Mr. Schu, whose job it was to tell me 3x this summer that Deborah Freedman's Shy (her newest picture book, out on 9/27) is amazing. And while I'll be waiting almost two more months for it, that's okay, because it'll be worth it.

If you think I'm crazy, that's okay because I think someone else does too.