Tag Archives: picture books

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 8/8/16

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? is a meme started by Book Journey. The folks over at Teach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readers have given it a children’s/YA spin. I thought it would be a fun way to recap last week’s reading and give a sneak peek of my TBR pile.

Last Week’s Books:

So droves of other people and I read Harry Potter and the Cursed Child this week. I have not spent an abundance of time reading other people’s review/opinions of this play; however, from what I have read, it seems that readers either love it or hate it. I am planted firmly in the “love it” camp. I picked up the book and after a few minutes of acclimating to the play format, I found myself completely immersed in Harry’s world once again. I found the plot and the characters engaging, and there were just the right amount of dashes of peril and fun. An, most importantly, I know that when school starts I will have many junior high readers eager to talk to me about it or to get their hands on a library copy. This book counts for my Read Harder Challenge 2016 (category 23 – a play).

The Case for Loving: The Fight for Interracial Marriage by Selina Alko is an informational picture book about a lesser known area in the struggle for civil rights. In 1958, Richard Loving and Mildred Jeter wanted to marry, but their home state of Virginia did not allow interracial marriage. So they crossed into Washington, D.C. for their ceremony and went back home to live. Not long after, police broke into their home and jailed them for “unlawfully cohabitating.” The couple were forced to leave Virginia, but in 1966 they missed their families and hometown and hired lawyers to fight against the unfair law. Their case went all the way to the Supreme Court and won! This book is a great way to introduce this civil rights achievement and the idea of marriage equality for all to readers at a variety of age levels. The text is simple enough for elementary students, but the topic will provoke discussion among middle and high school students who experience it as a mentor text or read it on their own . Alko and her husband, Sean Qualls, collaborated on the illustrations, which are a mixture of painting, collage, and colored pencil and are a great accompaniment to the narrative. The author’s note, list of sources, and suggestions for further reading will inspire interested students to continue to learn more.

I read Drones in Education to review it for School Library Connection. I cannot provide my full review here, but I will say that it is a comprehensive guide for educators interested in exploring the use of drones in the classroom, written with the newbie in mind.

Currently Reading/Listening To:

On Deck:


At 50, Flat Stanley’s Still A Travelin’ Man

I hadn’t thought about Flat Stanley for a looooong time. And then my 7-year-old niece called from Arizona to ask if he could come visit us for a couple of weeks.

flatstanleyoldjpgThe Books
The original Flat Stanley was born in 1964 to proud parents author Jeff Brown and illustrator Tomi Ungerer. Flat Stanley loved the giant bulletin board his father hung over his bed–until it fell on him in the night and squashed him flat! Deciding to make the best of it, Stanley did such things as sliding under doors to get into locked rooms (cool), getting his brother to fly him like a kite (cooler), and posing as a painting on the wall in a museum to catch some art thieves (coolest). But being flat is only fun for so long, and Stanley returned to normal when his brother, Arthur, fixes him with a bicycle pump. Fun story! And one enjoyed by tons of kids for many years.

Jeff Brown wrote five sequels to Flat Stanley from 1983 until his death in 2003, so Flat Stanley got to do such things as visit space and have a Christmas adventure. In 2009, the Flat Stanley’s Worldwide Adventures series was launched and features authors Sara Pennypacker and Josh Greenhut.

flatstanleynewIn celebration of Flat Stanley turning 50, the original six books were reissued in December 2013 with completely new illustrations by Macky Pamintuan and an accompanying website. It’s neat to see the books appeal to a new generation, but I still prefer Flat Stanley’s classic look.

The Flat Stanley Project
In 1995, Dale Hubert, a third-grade teacher in Canada, created The Flat Stanley project–a pen-pal-type project where teachers sign up their classrooms and students to exchange Flat Stanleys with each other, take pictures of Flat Stanley, and write about his adventures in another city, state, or country. I vaguely remember my daughter participating back in the early 2000s, but not well enough to share any details.

The Flat Stanley Project is still going strong today, and its website facilitates the registration and matching of classrooms, includes templates for Flat Stanleys and other flat characters, has archives of pictures and stories, and gives ideas for curriculum connections. For those who don’t want to pay postage, there is now a Flat Stanley App available from iTunes that allows you to send a virtual Flat Stanley or Stacie around the world!

IMG_6781Flat Stanley’s Illinois visit
My niece’s Flat Stanley is the traditional kind–made with construction paper and crayons and folded flat in an envelope that says “Handle with Care. FRAGILE. Flat Stanley inside! Real Boy!” 🙂 There’s also a letter from the teacher with instructions and the school’s return address. Since Flat Stanley is used to living in Arizona, it was fortunate that he arrived this afternoon–along with a snow storm. Our family can’t wait to take him on some winter adventures and share them with my niece and her class!

Pull up a Chair, It’s a Saturday Book Share: Ray Bradbury’s Switch on the Night

Saturday Book ShareThis meme prompts me to go into a little more depth about a book on a weekly basis–thanks, Styling Librarian.

Today I highlight the second book I have read in 2014 (although technically, I am still reading the first one; it’s called savoring 🙂 )

Ray Bradbury2I had absolutely no idea today’s book existed until I stumbled across it a few weeks ago at my local indie book store, Babbitt’s Books. I showed Switch on the Night to my husband, who immediately wanted it solely because it was written by Ray Bradbury. I also noticed that it was illustrated by the Caldecott-award-winning team of Leo and Diane Dillon. It got put on a shelf and Christmas came and went, and I just noticed it again this morning.

Switch on the Night is about a little boy who is afraid of the dark. He always has some sort of light going via flashlight, candle, lamp, etc. in order keep the Night out. And so he is very lonely. One night when the boy’s father is away and his mother goes to bed early, he turns on every light in the house and then hears a knock at the door. A girl named Dark invites him outside to meet the Night so he will have the courage to play outside with the other children. She encourages him to view things in a new way–instead of turning out lights, he will be “switching on the Night.”

“And when you switch on the Night,” said Dark,
“why you switch on the crickets!”
“And you switch on the frogs!”
“And you switch on the stars!”

bradbury 3This edition, first published in 1993, is illustrated by the Dillons, and although you can definitely recognize that it is their beautiful work, there is an Escher-like quality to many of the scenes (see left). The contrast between the blond, sad, fearful boy and the Afro-sporting, vibrant, adventurous Dark is powerful. For a look at more of the illustrations, check out this post from The Art of Leo and Diane Dillon.

switch2The book was originally published in 1955, Bradbury’s first work after Fahrenheit 451. It has been said that it was written for one of his children to help combat his fear of the dark (also a childhood fear of the author himself). In Ray Bradbury: The Life of Fiction, Eller, Touponce, and Nolan tell us that Bradbury “worked especially hard to convey to his illustrator and to his Pantheon editors the kind of presentation he expected.” The original illustrations by Swiss artist Madeleine Gekiere are wildly different from the Dillons’. My daughter loves the line drawings, which give the book a starker, more abstract presentation. I now want to get a copy of the original, as I don’t think I can truly compare the two by just seeing the drawings online on this 2008 post at Vintage Kids’ Books My Kid LovesPlus, of course, we would then have a copy of the original.

I love that there are so many new books to discover out there, even from authors I think I know well. More proof that 2014 will be an adventure in reading!

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 9/9/13

It’s Monday! What are you Reading? is a meme started by Book Journeys. The folks over at Teach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readers have given it a children’s and YA spin. I thought it would be a fun way to recap last week’s reading and give a sneak peek of my TBR (to be read) pile.


If you click the image above, then you can connect to other participating blogs and discover even more new books.

Last Week’s Books:


Sometimes you find the right book at exactly the right time. This week Hold Fast by Blue Balliett was exactly that book. I started writing a post about it, but it wound up being a post about me–an important one. You can check it out here.  And here’s another reason why it was a great book for right now. Earlier this week over at The Nerdy Book Club Blog, JoEllen McCarthy wrote about heartprint books. Yeah, this definitely qualifies.

So I thought I was going to have to say that I read only one book this week and that I needed to up that to at least two next week. And then I remembered that I can count ALL books, not just YA and middle grade books.


I read eight picture books that I will be using in my small-group reading intervention classes that I begin teaching this week: Train to Nowhere by Eve Bunting, Dandelions by Eve Bunting, Enemy Pie by Derek Munson, Me and Uncle Romie by Claire Heartfield, Baseball Saved Us by Ken Mochizuki, The Memory String by Eve Bunting, Nim and the War Effort by Milly Lee, and Albert by Donna Jo Napoli.  And so it wasn’t skimming picture books–it was reading picture books–and taking notes on them and figuring out reading strategies to focus on, etc., etc.  Also WOW, it has been a long time since I was a children’s librarian (at the public library–yep, story hour and everything) so I almost forgot how AWESOME Eve Bunting is. Heartprint book after heartprint book, JoEllen….

I also finished Teach Like a Pirate by Dave Burgess. It has been getting a lot of buzz as a great professional read, and while I can say that I really enjoyed it, I did not find anything earth-shattering inside. To me a lot of it had to do with doing interesting things to capture students’ attention and finding the best ways to make your lessons accessible to students. I think librarians who work with children and young adults and who do programming use this approach all the time. Also, lots of junior high / middle school teachers operate in this fashion. The high school teachers always swear that we must be crazy to work with this age of students. Still, all that said, I would definitely recommend this book to student teachers and young teachers–who can tend to be so focused on getting all the content in that they often forget to let loose, have fun, and, in turn, better engage students.

Next Week’s Books:

Currently Reading:

inhumanMy Kindle app says that I am 23% finished with Inhuman by Kat Falls. I still have to get used to no page numbers for e-galleys. I have to say that it really starts off with a bang, and I am intrigued by the Farae plague that resulted in America building a wall to cut off everything east of the Mississippi and calling that area a total loss. More on this next week….

On Deck:

Saving Zasha

Saving Zasha by Randi Barrow


Chupacabra by Roland Smith, an e-galley
The book will be published on 9/24
Hope it is on my Scholastic Book Fair

Whew! Loooooonnnngggg post. What are YOU reading?