Read Your World

Americans by Douglas Wood

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Back of Book:
What makes Americans great?

Americans are different from one another in many ways. And despite these differences, Americans share certain ways of doing and being that hold us all together. From the Fourth of July to the Bill of Rights, Douglas Wood and Elizabeth Sayles share the story of what it is to be American.
My Review:
When I walked by this book at the bookstore and saw the cover, I knew that I wanted to read this book. The text in this book is nothing short of poetic. Each page teaches readers about something that Americans do. They love, create, dream, fight, choose and more. I absolutely love each description of what the American people do. The text tells readers about the historic events that have made America strong, diverse, and different from other places in the world. It talks about the Bill of Rights, The 4th of July, National Parks and more. The illustrations are beautiful and detailed. I love the diversity and history outlined in each picture. This book should be a part of every classroom library.

40 Pages

Ages 5 and up

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Food, Native Americans

Fry Bread: A Native American Family Story By Kevin Noble Maillard

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Back of Book:

Fry bread is food.

It is warm and delicious, piled high on a plate.

Fry bread is time. It brings families together for meals and new memories. Fry bread is nation .It is shared by many, from coast to coast and beyond. Fry bread is us. It is a celebration of old and new, traditional and modern, similarity and difference. 

My Review: 

I was thrilled to receive a copy of this picture book in a giveaway from author Kathy Ellen Davis. It is a perfect book to share with my class right before the Thanksgiving season. Debut picture book author Kevin Noble Maillard has beautifully captured the culture and tradition of making Fry Bread. Every part of this story affirms the impact that Native Americans have had throughout the years. The text is broken into sections that each celebrate a part of the Fry Bread making process. The use of figurative language enhances the story and draws readers into the experience. The story reads like a nonfiction text and opens readers’ eyes to many new aspects of Native American culture. The illustrations by Juana Martinez- Neal are a perfect complement to the story. I loved the connection that Juana made between the older generations teaching the younger generations. The different stages of Fry Bread cooking are also beautifully illustrated. Kevin wrote extensive authors note that gives readers a look at more of Native American history. I could tell that he put his entire heart in creating this book. Fry Bread is not just a book that focuses on food, it is an own voice look at how the Native American have people fought to keep a tradition alive. 

Ages 5 and up

48 Pages 

Winter

A Day for Skating By Sarah Sullivan

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Back of Book:
On a brisk winter’s day, the frozen pond is crisscrossed by figure skaters, hockey players, new skaters, and old pros, all gliding across the ice. It’s time to bundle up, lace your skates, and give it a try — then head inside for cocoa and snacks when your cheeks grow rosy and your toes are cold. Back at home, warm bedtime rituals make for the end of a perfect day. But when darkness falls at the pond, who will come out to skate?
I received a copy of this picture book from Candlewick Press in exchange for an honest review.
Sarah Sullivan used her childhood memories and created a delightful nostalgic story about the joy of ice skating.  The story follows a young girl and her father as they enjoy a winter day on the ice. The rhyming scheme flows beautifully and the figurative language draws readers into the experience. The text describes the many types of activities that happen on ice including hockey, speed skating and waltzing. The illustrations by Madeline Valentine are nothing short of magical! I loved the images of the community coming together and enjoying the winter wonderland. This is a beautiful story that is perfect for any winter unit.
Ages 5 and up
32 Pages

Government Process

Grace Goes to Washington By Kelly DiPucchio

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Back of Book:

Who’s in charge here?”
When Grace learns about the three branches of the United States government, she and the rest of the student council put the lesson into practice as they debate how to spend the money from a school fund-raiser. Should they buy new sports equipment? Books for the library? Instruments for the music room? The arguments continue as they travel to Washington, DC, for a field trip. Exploring government buildings and national monuments, Grace feels closer than ever to her dream of becoming president someday. But she and her classmates have a lot to learn about what it means to serve the needs of the people, especially when the people want such different things!
My Review:
Grace is back, and this time she is teaching readers about the branches of government, and how they are run. The story centers around a field trip to Washington D.C. and how that trip later impacts Graces’ decision on what should be done with the money they raised from the bake sale. The text explains the checks and balances in American politics in a fun and approachable way. I loved that the end of the story showed the classmates coming together to support a new friend. The illustrations by LeUYEN Pham are vibrant and detailed. I was in love with her images of the memorials in Washington D.C. The back of the book shares more information with readers about the three branches of government as well as how readers can become involved as citizens.
With an election year approaching, this is a timely and fun story to start conversations about how the government operates.
Ages 5 and up
32 Pages
Uncategorized

Nothing Wee about Me!: A Magical Adventure By Kim Chaffee

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Back of Book:
Equipped with her trusty magical ladle, Liesel is ready to embark on an epic adventure…and be home in time for dinner. She saves a prince from a dragon and an island from an exploding volcano in this whimsical, clever story chock full of girl power and creativity. Spunky Liesel’s heroics encapsulates the joy of imaginary play as she reclaims what it means to be a wee girl.
My Review:
I received a copy of this picture book from Page Street Kids in exchange for an honest review.
Liesel loves to visit her grandmother’s house where adventure is always just around the corner. When Liesel uses her imagination anything is possible. Throughout the story, Liesel is in charge of her adventures. She conquers volcanoes,  pirates, and dragons. I love how the plot centers on the importance of play. Often, we forget that children do not need elaborate things to have fun they simply need their imagination.  The illustrations by Laura Bobbiesi are whimsical and sweet. The colors are soft and engaging.
This is a creative and fun story that shows readers the magic of pretend.
Ages 5 and up
32 Pages

Biography, Bugs and Insects, National Womens Month

The Bug Girl: Maria Merian’s Scientific Vision By Sarah Glenn Marsh

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Back of Book:
Maria Sibylla Merian was fascinated with insects. But when Maria was a girl in the mid-1600s, superstitions about bugs prevented most people from taking a close look. People thought bugs were evil—and anyone interested in such creatures was surely evil too. That didn’t stop Maria. Filled with curiosity, she began to study and paint them. She even witnessed silkworms form cocoons and transform into moths—discovering metamorphosis! Painting and drawing as she studied, Maria pushed the boundaries of what girls were expected to do, eventually gaining recognition as one of the first entomologists and scientific illustrators.

My Review: 

Sarah Glenn Marsh has beautifully captured the life and work of Maria Merian. The story follows Maria throughout her life as she collected, and studied many types of insects. Maria knew that her work could make others suspicious of her and worked hard to keep her findings a secret. I was amazed at all the work she accomplished in secret. The illustrations by Filippo Vanzo are lovely especially the end pages that captured the illustrations from Maria Merian. The back of the book shares more information with readers about Maria and her life. I had never heard of Maria Merian and was thrilled to learn so many amazing facts about this scientific pioneer. A fantastic picture book biography for the classroom.
Ages 5 and up
32 Pages

Read Your World

Sulwe By Lupita Nyong’o

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Back of Book:
Sulwe has skin the color of midnight. She is darker than everyone in her family. She is darker than anyone in her school. Sulwe just wants to be beautiful and bright, like her mother and sister. Then a magical journey in the night sky opens her eyes and changes everything.
My Review:
Salwe is an absolutely stunning lyrical picture that focuses on the importance of self-love and acceptance. Sulwe feels alone because her skin is a different color than the rest of her family. She tries everything she can think to lighten the color of her skin. When nothing works she feels defeated and alone. I loved the message from her mother about the fact that beauty comes from the mind. The book has a lovely fable about the day and night weaved within the pages that show Salwe the importance of loving who she is. The illustrations by Vashti Harrison are nothing short of breathtaking! Her use of light and dark colors have an almost magical quality to them.
Lupita Nyong’o wrote a truly uplighting story that should be in every child’s library. She tackled the concept of colorism in a gentle manner that allows readers to see their own beauty and love who they are. I am excited to have this book in my classroom library and share Sulwe with my students.
Ages 5 and up
48 Pages 

Skills Children Learn, Winter

Just So Willow By Sara Shacter

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Back of Book:
Willow is a polar bear who likes things just so. She even irons her underwear and tidies her teacher! So when a storm covers her backyard in a smooth blanket of snow, she’s determined to keep it that way—in spite of all the other kids creating a lumpy, bumpy mess. Will Willow realize that being particular is making her miss out on all the fun?
My Review:
I was sent a copy of this picture book from Sterling Children’s Books in exchange for an honest review.
I love the message in this endearing story about allowing things to not always be perfect. Every year my classroom has a child who struggles with being a perfectionist. It is always hard for me to see them struggle with wanting things just so. I was so excited to share “Just So Willow” in my classroom. Willow is a young polar bear who loves to have things in perfect order. When show falls, Willow wants it to stay pristine and clean. In order to accomplish her goal, she makes a plan to stop her neighbors. In doing so, Willow realizes how much fun she can have not following the rules.  I loved using this book in my classroom to talk about social and emotional learning. It showed my students the value of having fun and not worrying about keeping everything perfect. The illustrations by Stephanie Laberis are colorful and charming. Willow’s facial expressions are spot on to match her emotions. A perfect book for readers of all ages.
Ages 5 and up
32 Pages

Fire Prevention, Safety, Uncategorized

Flash, the Little Fire Engine By Pam Calvert

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Back of Book:
It’s Flash’s first day on the job as a little fire engine—and it’s going to be a busy one! But Flash is ready to jump into action and save the day. The only problem is, every time Flash tries to pitch in, he is either too little or too late to help out. What if no one needs him? When a fire erupts in the middle of town, it looks like Flash might be the only one available to help. Does he have what it takes to save the day?
My Review:
I received a copy of this picture book from Two Lions Publishing in exchange for an honest review.
Flash is a little fire engine who is ready to fight fires and save the day. The only problem is that he always gets there a little too late to help out. I discuss fire prevention in my classroom every year and this is a perfection addition to my fire unit. The text is well written and kept even my wiggliest littles engaged the entire time. The use of figurative language throughout the text added another layer to the story.   My students loved learning about how fires are put out at airports, large buildings, and the forest. I loved the message that more matter how small everybody has an important job that they can do. The illustrations by Jen Taylor are bright and engaging. I loved the expressions on Flash’s face as he showed excitement, sadness, and joy. A perfect book to share with fire engine enthusiasts.
Ages 5 and up
32 Pages

 

Winter

When the Snow Is Deeper Than My Boots Are Tall By Jean Reidy

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Back of Book:
As the snow climbs over a boy’s toes, ankles, shins, and boots, there’s more and more fun to be had―snowmen, sledding, snow angels, and, finally, a cup of hot cocoa by a warm fire.
My Review:
I was sent a copy of this picture book from Henry Holt and Company in exchange for an honest review.
This charming story follows a young boy as he wakes up to find the first snowfall of the season. He is excited and immediately prepares for a fun day playing in the snow. The text is written in a fantastic rhyming scheme and rich in figurative language. The illustrations by Joey Chou are vibrant and whimsical.  They beautifully capture the boys’ adventures as he explores his winter wonderland. This is a perfect story to share with younger audiences about the joy of a snow day.
Ages 4 and up
32 Pages

Books and Library

This Is Not That Kind of Book By Christopher Healy

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Back of Book:
This clever alphabet book… Wait, that’s not right. This original fairy tale… Nope. Mystery? Joke book? Superhero story? Pirate adventure? This delightful mash-up features every kind of character found in the picture-book universe–all in one book. Just when the reader is convinced the story is going in one direction, it spins off in another.
My Review:
I was sent a copy of this picture book from Penguin Random House in exchange for an honest review.
This story is the perfect example of never judging a book by its cover or title. The book follows several characters from different genres as they work together to try to figure out what type of book they are in. The text will have readers laughing out loud as they  follow the confused characters throughout the story. The speech bubbles allow readers to follow the characters throughout the story.  I loved the message of friendship and inclusion that is presented within the text. The story shows readers that people with different ideas can still be friends. The illustrations by Ben Mantle are fun and colorful. This is a fantastic story to use as a read-aloud in the classroom. It is also a great introduction to the different classifications of books.
Ages 5 and up
40 Pages