Book Birthday, Picture Books

Who Eats Orange? by Dianne White Illustrated by Robin Page

Beagles and Books wishes a very Happy Book Birthday to Who Eats Orange?  written by Dianne White and illustrated by Robin Page. Special thanks to Barbara Fisch of Blue Slip Media for sending a copy of Who Eats Orange? in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

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Who Eats Orange? is an engaging and lively informational picture book that teaches young readers about animal diets.  Focusing on the color of food, the book begins with the question “Who eats orange?” and then shares four animals that enjoy consuming orange foods. A fifth animal that does not fit the pattern is introduced as a means of transitioning to the next color.  Subsequent colors are green, red, yellow, purple, and blue.

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Written in a repetitive pattern with few words, young children will undoubtedly join in the reading of the text.  The page size illustrations are eye-catching and stand out against the white background and vividly show each animal’s anticipation for or pleasure in devouring the delicious food.  What I love about Who Eats Orange? is that while it teaches or reinforces colors, children also learn about animals, their habitats, and the foods they eat.  Included at the end of the book is backmatter which identifies how each color corresponds to a particular habitat, additional facts about the animals, and the specific names of the foods that were featured in the text.   As a teacher, I am always looking for engaging nonfiction picture books to read aloud for #classroombookaday. Who Eats Orange? has earned a spot during my read aloud!

Click here for a free activity kit for Who Eats Orange?

Diane White has also written other picture books such as Goodbye Meets Hello published in June 2018.  To read my review, click here.

Dianne White_credit Bridgette Balmes

About Dianne White:
When she was five, Dianne White said goodbye to her house and her teacher, Mrs. Dunlap, and hello to a new school, and her newest favorite teacher, Mr. Loop. She has an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts and is the award-winning author of Blue on Blue. She lives in Arizona, where she writes full-time. For more information, visit diannewrites.com or on Twitter @diannewrites

#Bookexcursion, Book Birthday, Picture Books

Happy Book Birthday to Capstone Publishing August Picture Book Releases!

It’s August 1st! Beagles and Books is proud to share 5 fabulous new Capstone Publishing picture books that are celebrating their book birthdays today and 1 title that will be released in September. A special thank you to Jennifer Glidden who has provided these ARCs to my #bookexcursion group.  All opinions are my own.

Harrison P. Spader, Personal Space Invader

Harrison P. Spader, Personal Space Invader by Christianne Jones  Illustrated by Cale Atkinson

Harrison loved life but, his excitement was becoming a problem.  He sat too close, shook hands too long, hugged a little too much and talked way too close.  Harrison was a personal space invader. After hearing complaints, Harrison’s father taught him a simple technique called the Space Saver to help him give others their own personal space.  While the Space Saver solved the problem, it created another problem when Harrison gave his friends too much space. With continued support from his family, teacher, and friends and his own self-awareness and restraint, Harrison is bound to meet with success!

Working with students for over 20 years, I sincerely thank the author Christianne Jones for writing an entertaining and humorous picture book that can teach students a valuable skill.  Young children struggle with understanding the definition of personal space; the Space Saver rhyme will be a welcome strategy for teachers to use with students.  I am a big fan of Cale Atkinson’s illustrations and his drawing of Harrison sweetly demonstrates the young hippo’s enthusiasm, for life, his true concern when his father shared the problem , and sheer determination to improve.  A great story for the beginning of the year, I cannot wait to share Harrison P. Spader, Personal Space Invader with teachers and students.

Awesome!

Awesome! by Craig Shuttlewood

Marvin, a moose and Woody, a beaver are the best of friends.  After Moose rescues a squirrel falling from a tree, he becomes a local hero in the forest.  Moose who was once ordinary is now awesome, and his new-found popularity means Woody and Moose spend less time together.  Feeling left out, Woody concocts a plan to get some attention of his own, but his actions are not-so-awesome.  Will Moose and Woody be able to be repair their friendship?   With bold and vibrant illustrations, Awesome! is a great read aloud. Young students will be able to connect to this engaging story which explores themes of friendship, jealousy and forgiveness.

Do Not Bring Your Dragon to Recess

Do Not Bring Dragons to Recess by Julie Gassman Illustrated by Andy Elkerton

The third book in the series, Do Not Bring Dragons to Recess teaches children about the dos and don’ts of recess.  Written in rhyme, Dragon demonstrates what not to do during recess such as running down the hall, hogging the monkey bars, and pushing the merry-go-round too fast.  Children will love actively participating in the read aloud chanting the repetitive refrain, “So Do Not Bring Your Dragon to Recess!”   Fortunately, with the help of his classmates and teachers, Dragon learns recess etiquette such as having patience, taking turns, sharing, and showing respect and kindness.  This amusing story with large, eye-catching illustrations would be a great read aloud for the beginning of the year to reinforce following recess rules with young children.

The Picky Eater

The Picky Eater by Betsy Parkinson Illustrated by Shane Clester

When eating, Piper is a picky little pig!  She has one simple rule for her food: It must begin with the Letter P. Piper prefers pancakes over waffles, pears instead of apples, and peas rather than beans. Looking for a solution, Piper’s mother attempts to hide veggies in pineapple upside down cake but Piper is not tricked.  Will Piper ever change her picky habits?  The Picky Eater is a title in Capstone’s Little Boost series, which are books that tackle early life lessons in a funny and relatable manner.  As a teacher, I could also see reading this story to reinforce the letter p and its sound to pre-kindergarten or kindergarten students.

Unstoppable: How Jim Thorpe and the Carlisle Indian School Football Team Defeated Army

Unstoppable by Art Coulson  Illustrated by Nick Hardcastle

Unstoppable is a nonfiction narrative picture book which shares a biography of Jim Thorpe, who was the great-great grandson of Sauk warrior Black Hawk.  While some details from his early life are shared, the focus of the text is Jim’s journey to becoming a star on the Carlisle Indian Industrial School football team which was due to his determination and perseverance.  The story ends with the legendary 1912 game between Carlisle and West Point, which was advertised by sportswriters as a rematch between the Army and the Indians who had fought on the battlefield 20 years before.  Carlisle was victorious beating Army 27-6 with Jim integral to the team’s surprising win.

Unstoppable is written for an upper elementary audience, but teacher guidance is crucial, for in the afterword, Author Coulson, Cherokee, provides additional and important context about the story such as a brief biography of Jim which provides greater detail about the hardships in his early life, a list of the other members of the 1912 Carlisle Indians Varsity Football Team, a biography of Carlisle coach Pop Warner, historical information about The Carlisle Indian Industrial School, and a glossary.

Gabi's If/Then Garden

Gabi’s If/Then Garden By Carline Karanja  Illustrated by Ben Whitehouse

A title in Capstone’s Code Play series written by developer and designer Caroline Karanja, Gabi and her best friend  are coding creatives.  Adi loves to make things and say “I wonder…” and Gabi likes to fix things and say “What if..” In this story, Gabi and Adi use if/then statements to help them with gardening.  For example, “If it doesn’t rain, then they water the plants.”  The girls engage in a game of If/Then taking turns being the programmer and computer.  When Gabi does not follow Adi’s command, Gabi explains that there is a bug in the code and how a programmer needs to ask questions to solve the problem.

Gabi’s If/Then Garden will appeal to both teachers, students, and parents because it uses a narrative format to introduce coding concepts to children.  Sidebars explain the definitions for coding terms such as if/then statements and bugs in the code. Included at the end of the book is matching if/then activity and a glossary of terms.  After reading, I can see children engaging in games of If/Then which is a great way to develop critical thinking and problem solving skills.  Gabi’s If/Then Garden releases on September 1, 2018.

The Kiddie Table by Colleen Madden

Where do you sit on Thanksgiving when you are between a tot and a teen? Unfortunately, for this eight year old girl, she is forced to sit with the much younger crowd and is not happy about it! Written in rhyme, The Kiddie Table is a hilarious yet honest story about that awkward period when you are stuck in between.  Will the girl be able to convince the adults that she deserves a spot at the their table?

The Kiddie Table is a story that will amuse students because it is funny and relatable.  We all have experienced a time when we feel out of place.  A good read aloud for before Thanksgiving, the story also teaches us if you have to sit at the kiddie table, be thankful for family, fun, growing up, and drinking without a sippy cup!

 

 

#Bookexcursion, Book Birthday, Debut Author, Picture Books

Sterling, Best Dog Ever by Aiden Cassie

Beagles & Books wishes Aiden Cassie and her debut picture book, Sterling, Best Dog Ever a very Happy Book Birthday!   A very special thank you to Aidan Cassie and Macmillan for sending a copy of Sterling to my #bookexcursion group to read and review prior to its release. Below is my review which was featured on my #IMWAYR post on 6/25/18.

Sterling is determined to find a home.  Sleeping outside the Butlery Cutlery Company, he sneaks into a box of forks that are delivered to the Gilbert family.  When the family opens the box and finds Sterling, the mom and dad are perplexed but the daughter ‘s and her baby sister’s smiles say it all.  Sterling strives to be the best fork ever but soon discovers that perhaps, the family doesn’t need a fork.  Being adaptable, Sterling attempts to be a whisk, a rolling pin, and even a stick but none of these tools seems to make him or the daughter happy.  Will Sterling ever realizes his one and only job is to just be himself?

Sterling, The Best Dog Ever is a heartwarming and humorous story about learning to be comfortable in your own skin or in Sterling’s case, fur. The rich and colorful illustrations beautifully complement the plot and depict not only Sterling’s determination to be needed and useful but also the little girl’s true desire to have a dog of her own to love.

I can’t wait to share Sterling, The Best Dog Ever with students in the fall!  Its message of self acceptance makes it a perfect read aloud for #classroombookaday. If you need any more convincing, get a sneak peek of Sterling by viewing the trailer below.

 

Book Birthday, Picture Books

Happy Book Birthday to It’s Your First Day of School, Busy Bus! by Jody Jensen Shaffer

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Beagles and Books wishes a very Happy Book Birthday to It’s Your First Day of School, Busy Bus written by Jody Jensen Shaffer and illustrated by Claire Messer. Special thanks to author Jody Jensen Shaffer for sending me a copy that I will also share with my #bookexcursion group. All opinions are my own.

Who isn’t nervous on the first day of school?  It’s Your First Day of School, Busy Bus tells the tale of Busy Bus who is both anxious and excited for his first day on the job. Ben, the bus driver, thoroughly checks Busy to make sure he is ready performing tasks such as measuring the air in his tires, filling his gas tank, turning his lights on and off, inspecting his emergency door, and of course, starting Busy’s engine.  Although Ben is confident that Busy is ready for the road, Busy is worried.  What if he gets homesick or doesn’t make any friends?  Thankfully, Ben is there to ensure Busy’s first day of school is a success!

For early childhood teachers, It’s Your First Day of School, Busy Bus is the perfect read aloud for the first week back.  Busy is experiencing all the same emotions that children feel anticipating their first day of school.  Busy is adorably drawn, and Messer sweetly conveys his range of emotions with his eyes and mouth. The illustrations span the spread so the artwork is large enough for children to view during a read aloud, which is a plus.

What I love most about the book is that Ben is right by Busy’s side to support him.  When he places Busy’s nameplate on him, Busy not only realizes he is ready but also that he is safe, clean and most importantly, loved.  When I think about children returning to school in the fall, building relationships is by far the most crucial.  Like Busy, children need to feel safe and loved which in turn instills confidence and a belief that they can achieve great things.

Book Birthday, Picture Books

Happy Book Birthday to Goodbye Brings Hello: A Book of Firsts by Dianne White

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Beagles and Books wishes a very Happy Book Birthday to Goodbye Brings Hello: A Book of Firsts  written by Dianne White and illustrated by Daniel Wiseman. Special thanks to Barbara Fisch of Blue Slip Media for sending a copy of Goodbye Brings Hello in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

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“There are many ways of letting go. With each goodbye, a new hello.”  These sentences open this incredibly beautiful picture book that extols the positive effects of change.

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From growing out of an old coat, leaving home, taking your first plunge in a pool, trying out a new hairstyle, writing letters, making your own lunch or getting ready for your very first day of school, change can be scary.  What I love about Goodbye Brings Hello is it celebrates being brave enough to take that leap big or small and try something new.   Written in short rhymes, Diane White delivers the story’s message beautifully and concisely.  Daniel Wiseman’s soft and colorful illustrations tenderly show each child’s apprehension but once the reader turns the page, the children’s expressions shows their immense pride and happiness in taking the leap.   As I am reading and gathering read alouds for the new school year and planning for #classroombookaday, Goodbye Brings Hello is without a doubt a picture book I will share with both teachers and students in the fall.

A free Goodbye Brings Hello activity kit is available by clicking here.

Dianne White_credit Bridgette Balmes

About Dianne:
When she was five, Dianne White said goodbye to her house and her teacher, Mrs. Dunlap, and hello to a new school, and her newest favorite teacher, Mr. Loop. She has an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts and is the award-winning author of Blue on Blue. She lives in Arizona, where she writes full-time. For more information, visit diannewrites.com or on Twitter @diannewrites

About Daniel:
Daniel Wiseman remembers saying goodbye to the training wheels on his bike, and saying a great big hello to skinned knees and elbows. But the freedom of rolling on two wheels was well worth the bumps and bruises. He still rides his (slightly larger) bike almost every day. Daniel loves to draw, and has illustrated several books for children. He lives in St. Louis, Missouri. Visit him at danieldraws.com. and at Instagram @d_wiseman

Book Birthday, Bookexcursion, Debut Author

The Adventures of a Girl Called Bicycle by Christina Uss

Happy Book Birthday to Christina Uss’ The Adventures of a Girl Called Bicycle! 

Ever since she was three years old, Bicycle has lived at the Mostly Silent Monastery in Washington, DC. with Sister Wanda and the mostly silent monks. With Sister Wanda as her teacher, Bicycle excels at her studies and is especially good at making anagrams.  On an errand to buy groceries with Brother Otto, Bicycle and the monk see a old orange bicycle for sale in front of the post office.  Buying it for less than a dollar, Bicycle brings the two-wheeler home to clean and repair it.  She names it Clunk.

Sister Wanda hopes that Clunk will help Bicycle make friends but sadly Sister Wanda’s dream does not come true.  Due to Bicycle being a fast cyclist, her chances of making friends is low because no one can keep up with her. Concerned for Bicycle, Sister Wanda decides to send her to sleepaway camp at the Friendship Factory where she is guaranteed to make three friends or your money back.  Bicycle has a different idea.  Polish cyclist Zbig Sienkiewicz is visiting America for the first time to host a blessing of bicycles.  Bicycle desperately wants to travel to California to meet her hero.  Sister Wanda will not acquiesce; therefore, Bicycle boldly decides to make the journey to San Franscisco with Clunk to meet Zbig who will become her first and only friend.

On her travels to California, Bicycle befriends a friendly ghost named Griffin who haunts her handlebars, the Cookie Lady, Chef Marie, fried pie making Jeremiah, and Dr. Luck Alvarado.  While she hits some bumps in the road (well actually pigs), Bicycle remains focused on proving to Sister Wanda that she can make a friend on purpose.  With Clunk out of commission, Bicycle is fortunate to buy a new bike, the Fortune 713-J at an auction except now Bicycle is being followed by a lady in black who she believes wants to steal her new riding companion.  So many questions remain. Will Bicycle be able to avert the lady in black? Will she get to San Francisco in time to meet Zbig? Will they become friends?  Will Sister Wanda forgive Bicycle for her transgression?

Reading The Adventures of a Girl Called Bicycle was an exhilarating ride.  Debut author Christina Uss’ story of a girl biking towards a solution is equally heartwarming and humorous.  While the plot is fantastical, the message is real.  As Dr . Alvarado states, “Luck flows around us like a river, but we have our own paddles.”  In other words, we have the ability to change where we are headed.  Through Bicycle’s journey across the country, readers will discover that while friendships may begin due to some luck, true friendships remain because of two people’s ability to talk, listen, and actually hear each other.  And that is a lesson worth learning and remembering.

A very special thanks to Christina Uss for sending an advanced reader’s copy of The Adventures of a Girl Called Bicycle to my #bookexcursion group.

Book Birthday, Picture Books

Happy Book Birthday to My Magic Breath: Finding Calm Through Mindful Breathing

My Magic Breath: Finding Calm Through Mindful Breathing by Nick Ortner and Alison Taylor Illustrated by Michelle Polizzi

Disclaimer: I was provided a copy of this book to review by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.  All opinions are my own.

Review:
My Magic Breath; Finding Calm Through Mindful Breathing teaches children about breathing strategies to help combat negativity.  Magic breath is special because taking deep breaths can help children handle worried, nervous or sad thoughts.  The book continues by asking children to focus on things that make them smile and use their magic breath to blow out those happy thoughts directly on the page.  The new page reveals an almost full spread of colorful bright waves which evokes a sense of calm.  My Magic Breath continues to ask children to use breathing and a focus on happy thoughts to help combat sad ones.  Blue waves appear on the next page but are gradually blown away as children breathe deeply.  The sad blue waves are replaced with vivid and vibrant ones. At the end of the book, children are reminded to use their magic breath to not only help them through difficult moments but also to appreciate happy times!

I sponsor a second grade class for #classroombookaday.  Each day, I read a picture book aloud and ask students “What is the author trying to teach us?”   After reading My Magic Breath, one student shared that the book can help kids visualize good things so that they will stop thinking about bad things.  Another student also made a connection to a previous read aloud, Jabari Jumps by Gaia Cornwall.  In the story, Jabari is having second thoughts about jumping off the diving board.  Jabari’s father tells him when he is scared, he takes a deep breath to help him get ready.   The student went on to say that deep breaths can help calm you down when you are nervous.

About the Book:
From New York Times bestselling author Nick Ortner comes a beautiful picture book that will help children discover calm through the magic of mindful breathing:

Do YOU have the magic breath?
Let’s see…Take a deeeeeep breath in…and BLOW it out…

…and like magic, you can feel better just by breathing! Sometimes it’s hard to feel happy. But with this interactive picture book, children breathe along as they learn how to make angry or sad thoughts disappear.

In a world that is sometimes too busy, with too many things going on, My Magic Breath will help steer children into a serene space of mindfulness, self-awareness, and balance.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Blog Tour, Book Birthday, Middle Grade Literature, Rockstar Book Tours

Captain Superlative Blog Tour: Review & Giveaway

Happy Book Birthday to J.S. Puller’s Captain Superlative!

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Title: CAPTAIN SUPERLATIVE
Author: J.S, Puller
Pub. Date: May 8, 2018
Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Formats: Hardcover, eBook
Pages: 256
Find it: AmazonB&NiBooksTBDGoodreads

Summary:
“Have no fear, citizens! Captain Superlative is here to make all troubles disappear!” Red mask, blue wig, silver swimsuit, rubber gloves, torn tights, high top sneakers and . . . a cape? Who would run through the halls of Deerwood Park Middle School dressed like this? And why?

Janey-quick to stay in the shadows-can’t resist the urge to uncover the truth behind the mask. The answer pulls invisible Janey into the spotlight and leads her to an unexpected friendship with a superhero like no other. Fearless even in the face of school bully extraordinaire, Dagmar Hagen, no good deed is too small for the incomparable Captain Superlative and her new sidekick, Janey.

But superheroes hold secrets and Captain Superlative is no exception. When Janey unearths what’s truly at stake, she’s forced to face her own dark secrets and discover what it truly means to be a hero . . . and a friend.

Review:
At Dearwood Park Middle School, Janey is content with being Just Plain Jane because the alternatives are much worse.  By flying under the radar, Janey is less apt to get picked on by Dagmar Hagan who to adults is the service-award-winning star of the soccer team, but to students is a brutal bully.   Although Janey has witnessed Dagmar picking on fellow classmate Paige, she does not feel compelled to step in until….she meets Captain Superlative.

Unlike Janey, Captain Superlative has no problem with the spotlight.  Wearing her superhero costume, her mission is to spread kindness to all students including Dagmar.  Janey is intrigued by the masked student.  Who is Captain Superlative?  What is her motive?  Once Dagmar crosses a line with Paige, Janey’s invisible cloak disappears, and she becomes Captain Superlative’s sidekick holding open doors, passing out study guides, giving out mints, and most importantly realizing she can do good things instead of just breezing by.  When Captain Superlative is absent from school for three days, Janey get worried.  She uncovers the superhero’s secret which not only resurfaces the past but also makes Janey question who she really is.  Is she really Plain Jane or Janey with an exclaimation point?

This story really drew me in, and it was difficult to stop reading.  Once Janey made the choice to stand up for Paige and join Captain Superlative, she truly blossomed.  By performing simple acts of kindness, she discovered that she can make a difference.  While Captain Superlative’s secret hit Janey hard, it also forced Janey to think about her identity.  Who is she and what does she stand for?  Middle school is tough to navigate, and readers will definitely be able to relate to Janey’s journey.    Similar to the Julian Chapter in Wonder, readers also learn a revelation about Dagmar which does not excuse her awful actions but helps you better understand them.  I must admit that Captain Superlative was my favorite character because she reminds us of the importance of being someone and doing the right thing.  We can all be superheroes.

Disclaimer:  I received a copy of Captain Superlative in exchange for a honest review.  All opinions are my own.

j.s.

About J.S.:
J. S. Puller a playwright and debut author from the Windy City, Chicago. She has a master’s degree in elementary education and a bachelor’s degree in theatre from Northwestern University. She is an award-winning member of the American Alliance for Theatre and Education and is actively involved in researching the social-emotional benefits of arts education with the University of Chicago Consortium on School Research. When not writing, she can usually be found in the theatre. Her play, WOMEN WHO WEAVE, was published by Playscripts, Inc.

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads

Giveaway:
Would you like to own a copy of CAPTAIN SUPERLATIVE for your library?  Thanks to Rockstar Book Tours, they are giving away 3 copies of this fabulous book (US only).  Be sure to take the time and enter this fantastic giveaway.  Please click link below to enter!

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/e2389ba2735/

Tour Schedule:
Join us on the other stops of this tour for more giveaway chances and to read more about CAPTAIN SUPERLATIVE and the author J.S. Puller.

Week One:
4/30/2018- BookHounds YA– Interview
5/1/2018- Two Points of Interest– Review
5/2/2018- RhythmicBooktrovert – Review
5/3/2018- Wonder Struck– Review
5/4/2018- A Dream Within A Dream– Excerpt

Week Two:
5/7/2018- Becky on Books– Review
5/8/2018- Beagles and Books– Review
5/9/2018- Ginger Mom and the Kindle Quest– Review
5/10/2018- Novel Novice– Guest Post
5/11/2018- Owl Always Be Reading– Review

#Bookexcursion, Book Birthday

Happy Book Birthday to Every Shiny Thing & The Battle of Junk Mountain

Happy Book Birthday to Cordelia Jensen’s and Laurie Morrison’s Every Shiny Thing and Lauren Abbey Greenberg’s The Battle of Junk Mountain!  

Every Shiny Thing by Cordelia Jensen & Laurie Morrison

Every Shiny Thing is a uniquely structured novel told in alternating points of view.  Told in prose, Lauren comes from an affluent family and is struggling with her parents’ decision to send her brother to a residential school for autistic teens.  Told in verse, Sierra is the foster child of Lauren’s neighbors as well as her new classmate.  While her father has been in jail, Sierra’s mother was recently arrested and needs to complete rehab as a condition of her sentence.

With her Quaker school’s theme of simplicity and her new friendship with Sierra, Lauren becomes increasingly cognizant of her privilege.  She embarks on a project to help autistic children from less affluent families and enlists Sierra to help her. While well intentioned, Lauren becomes consumed with raising money at any cost which begins to negatively affect her friendship with Sierra. Sierra is also grappling with her own personal battle of always taking care of everyone but herself. She finally learns that sometimes the best thing you can do for anyone is to let them fall.

I absolutely adored this beautifully written novel on so many levels.  The use of both prose and verse was perfect to share each character’s point of view.  I applauded Lauren’s altruism but I was so worried observing how easily the lines between right and wrong became blurred for her.  Due to her family circumstances, my heart broke for Sierra but I was touched by the fact that she remained courageous and hopeful.  Sierra’s story was definitely a window for me because I know she could be a mirror for many students I teach.

A very special thanks to Laurie Morrison for sending an advance reading copy of Every Shiny Thing to my #bookexcursion group.

This review was originally published on March 25, 2018.

The Battle of Junk Mountain by Lauren Abbey Greenberg

With all the cold, icy, and rainy Maryland weather this week, The Battle of Junk Mountain was the perfect read.  I was transported to the Maine coast with 12-year-old Shayne on her summer vacation.  Shayne lives in Maryland and always spends summers on Thomas Cove with her grandmother Bea and her best friend Poppy.  Nostalgic for summers past, this vacation is different.   Poppy’s free time is limited because she has to work at her father’s grocery store. Bea is not ready to let go of her treasured collectibles  as Shayne is organizing  and pricing them for sale at a flea market. Then to her surprise, Shayne develops an unlikely friendship with Civil War obsessed Linc, the grandson of Bea’s neighbor Cranky.

The Battle of Junk Mountain is a definitely a page turner. Once I began, it was hard to stop reading. The novel starts with anticipation of a fun-filled summer but as you read each chapter (and by the way, pay close attention to each title),  Lauren begins to tackle not only familiar topics like changing friendships but also the serious topic of hoarding.  Readers will quickly fall in love with Shayne for she shows both maturity and vulnerability.  While she can tackle new situations like banding lobster claws and driving a boat, it is evident that Shayne like Bea is holding on to the past and apprehensive about change.  Growing up and letting go is hard, but Shayne learns that change can actually surprise you in a good way.

A sincere thank you to fellow Marylander Lauren Abbey Greenberg for sharing an ARC of her debut middle grade novel The Battle of Junk Mountain with my #bookexcursion group.

This review was originally published on February 11, 2018.

#Bookexcursion, Book Birthday, Poetry

With My Hands: Poems About Making Things by Amy Ludwig VanDerwater Illustrated by Lou Fancher & Steve Johnson

Happy Book Birthday to Amy Ludwig VanDerWater’s With My Hands: Poems About Making Things.  

While it’s true that  “a maker creates something new that never was before,” creativity can come in many forms.  Ludwig VanDerwater has written 26 poems celebrating countless ways ideas can come to life with one’s own hands.

What I love about the poems is the reminder that creating is a very personal experience.  In Painting,  the painter shares that “nobody can tell I’m painting wrong.”  In Collage, the carefully chosen scraps torn from photos are a “window to my heart.”  Making also teaches perseverance and patience.  In Knot, the narrator says while “it is not easy to tie a knot, I am “knot” giving up.” In Soap Carving and Tie Dye Shirt, we are reminded that it takes time to create something, and in Clay, listening is important because the lump of clay will “tell you what it is and what it is not.”

Of course, the very best part about being a maker is that you are forever changed. As Ludwig VanDerwater eloquently writes in the last poem baring the same name as the book title, “I am different because I brought something new to life in my hands.”  Fancher’s and Johnson’s illustrations demonstrate a variety of mediums from pencil and paint to collage in their bold yet warm illustrations.  The illustrations coupled with the poetry invite all readers to become makers and thinkers by rolling up their sleeves and getting messy!

With a district focus on Developing Lifelong Learners Through Literacy and the creation of Makerspaces in elementary, middle, and high school libraries, With My Hands is the perfect book to support initiatives in my district, Baltimore County Public Schools. I plan on sharing this gorgeous book in my district!

Special thanks to Amy Ludwig VanDerWater for sending a copy of With My Hands to our #bookexcursion group.