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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New Years, Read Your World

Freedom Soup By Tami Charles

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Back of Book:

Every year, Haitians all over the world ring in the new year by eating a special soup, a tradition dating back to the Haitian Revolution. This year, Ti Gran is teaching Belle how to make the soup — Freedom Soup — just like she was taught when she was a little girl. Together, they dance and clap as they prepare the holiday feast, and Ti Gran tells Belle about the history of the soup, the history of Belle’s family, and the history of Haiti, where Belle’s family is from. In this celebration of cultural traditions passed from one generation to the next,
My Review:
I received a copy of this picture book from Candlewick Press in exchange for an honest review.
Tami Charles began the year with her amazing book Fearless Mary: The True Adventures of Mary Fields, American Stagecoach Driver By Tami Charles   and is now ending the year with Freedom Soup. Her ability to write stories with such beauty and depth is truly a gift. The story follows a young girl named Bella, and the lessons she learns from her grandmother as they work together and make Freedom Soup. I loved the way Tami tied in history, culture, and preserving traditions. The text is written with strong figurative language that draws readers into the story. The first person narrative made me feel like I was in the kitchen with Bella cooking to the beat of the Haitian music. The illustrations by Jacqueline Alcantara capture the essence of the strength pride and determination of the Haitian people. The back matter includes the author’s story about how she learned to make Freedom Soup. She shares with readers that she continues the tradition of making soup every year with her son. Tami also shares the recipe so that readers can make the soup themselves. Freedom Soup is an ode to the strength resilience, and passion of the Haitian people. It is also a beautiful tribute the how important it is to pass on the traditions from long ago.
Ages 5 and up

32 Pages

Christmas, Santa Stories

Ho Ho Homework By Mylisa Larsen

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Back of Book:
It’s almost Christmas, and Jack’s classroom has a new substitute teacher. There’s something funny about Mr. Clausen—he seems awfully familiar.…Is it his long, white beard? Is it the way his laugh sounds a lot like “Ho, ho, ho”? Or maybe it’s his snack of milk and cookies—reindeer-shaped cookies!
Jack’s classmates are convinced they know who Mr. Clausen really is, but Jack’s not so sure…
My Review:
I received a copy of this picture book from Harper Collins in exchange for an honest review.
This is the perfect story to read to get children in the  Christmas spirit. Jack is discouraged that it is almost Christmas and not one flake of snow has fallen. He soon becomes distracted with the antics of his substitute teacher Mr. Clausen. Mr. Clausen brings the classroom together in a way that almost seems merry. Jack cannot help but be hopeful that maybe his Christmas wish can come true. The end of the story is truly satisfying and will bring a smile to readers.
The illustrations by Taia Morley are nothing short of pure magic! The bright details come together to ensure that every aspect of the book stays with the Christmas theme. The snowflake activity is a perfect addition to the story. My students loved making them and writing down their own Christmas wishes. This is a perfect book to share during the holiday season.
Ages 5 and up
32 Pages

Christmas, Santa Stories

Santa’s Secret By Denise Brennan-Nelson

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Back of Book:
Everyone knows that when Christmas rolls around Santa employs a legion of helpers to ensure the season goes off without a hitch. But between the Santas on parade, the Santas at the malls, and the ones ringing bells in front of busy department stores…one intrepid investigator wants to know exactly WHO the real Santa is. Armed with a notebook, pencil, and a barrage of questions, can this young detective get to the bottom of Santa’s secret?
My Review:
I received a copy of this picture book from Sleeping Bear Press in exchange for an honest review.
Christmas is among my favorite time to share books with my students. I love that they still believe in Christmas magic. Santa’s Secret by Denise
Brennan-Nelson follows a girl as she enjoys the holiday festivities with her family. Throughout the day, she sees several different Santas. She is perplexed as to which Santa Clause is the real Santa. So, she does what any good sleuth would do, she gets out her notebook and creates a list of foolproof questions.  Readers will be captivated at the surprise ending that shows the magic of a mystery.
The text is written in a first-person narrative which allows readers to connect to the little girl and her inquiry. The rhyming scheme is catchy and well written. Denise put a lot of thought into the sequence and conclusion of the story.
The illustrations by  Deborah Melmon are bright and festive. I loved the details on every page.
This is a fantastic story to share during the Christmas season and is sure to become an instant favorite.
Ages 5 and up
32 Pages
Friendship

Something for You By Charlie Mylie

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Back of Book:
A mouse’s friend is sick. What can he do to help her? He’ll go get her something! But what? Something little? Something to share? Or something just for her? When his search doesn’t go as planned, our mouse realizes that the best gift to give is something he’s had all along.

My Review:
I received a copy of this picture book from  Farrar, Straus, and Giroux in exchange for an honest review.
With the holiday season around the corner, Something For You is a perfect story to share about the beauty of giving to others. Debut author    Charlie Mylie wrote and illustrated a tender story about what it means to give from the heart.
The plot centers around a mouse who is trying to find something to make his friend feel better. He goes on a mission to find the perfect present. The only problem is that no matter what he tries it fails. The mouse returns feeling defeated and sad. On further reflection, he realizes that he is the best gift for his friend all along. The illustrations are whimsical and bright. I loved the expressions on the mouses face throughout the story. Readers can recognize and relate to different emotions throughout the pictures  The text is sparse but powerful!  Every word reinforces the beautiful illustrations and allows readers to understand the message that time is the best gift of all.
I plan on using this story in my classroom to discuss the importance of kindness and spending time with family during the holidays.
Ages 5 and up
32 Pages

Winter

Snowy Race By April Jones Prince

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Back of Book:

This timeless seasonal classic captures the thrill of snow and the warmth of family. In the midst of a whirling snowfall, a girl and her father pile into their big red snow plow. Through slippery streets, up winding hills, they race– clearing the snow and heading for the train station to meet a very special traveler.

My Review:
I received a copy of this picture book from Holiday House Publishing in exchange for an honest review.
I live in Southern California so once in a while we get a light dusting of snow but never enough snow to need a snowplow. The story follows a young girl and her father as they race the storm to meet an extra special passenger on the train. The ending is sweet and satisfying.  The text is snappy and full of figurative language that brings the story to life. The illustrations by Christine Davenier are whimsical and showcase the beauty of freshly fallen snow. This is a perfect read-aloud to share during cold winter days. My students were amazed that other states need vehicles like snowplows to get from one place to another. This was a perfect book to use as an example of different weather in different areas.
Ages 5 and up
40 Pages

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