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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Family

Five Minutes: (That ‘s a Lot of Time) (No, It’s Not) (Yes, It Is) By by Audrey Vernick and Liz Garton Scanlon

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Back of Book:
Families everywhere will recognize themselves in this clever, hilarious, and completely irresistible picture book. Five minutes is a lot of time… or is it? Well, it depends on what you’re doing, of course! Follow one little boy and his family on a very busy day, as he discovers that sometimes five minutes feels like forever–like when you’re finishing up at the dentist’s office or waiting in line for the bathroom or in the backseat on a long car ride–and sometimes five minutes feels like no time at all–like when you’re playing your favorite game or at the tippy top of a roller coaster or snuggling up with a book before bedtime.
My Review:
I received a copy of this picture book from Penguin Kids Publishing in exchange for an honest review.
This is a fun story that focuses on the extension of five minutes and how it can pass quickly or slowly depending on the circumstances. When the young boy in the story is having fun then the five minutes goes by so quickly, if it is something that he isn’t enjoying them time goes by slow. Liz Garton Scanlon and Audrey Vernick created a fantastic story that both children and adults can relate to. Every parent and teacher has had children ask them if they are done yet? and how much longer? The illustrations by Olivier Tallec are spot on and hysterical. He perfectly captured how children can react when they are bored with a situation. This is a fabulous book and one that will be enjoyed by readers over and over.
Ages 5 and up
32 Pages

Skills Children Learn

We Really Do Care By Tami Lewis Brown

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Back of Book:
A little boy has a ball. It’s his, and he really doesn’t care if nobody else has a ball. He’s not sharing. He’s not sharing his pets either. Or his family. Especially not his brother. But then he realizes that both he and the new little girl he meets–the one who’s all alone without a ball or a pet or a family of her own–are actually quite similar. And when he sees their similarities instead of their differences, he’s happy to share. Even his little brother.
My Review:
I received a copy of this picture book from Penguin publishing in exchange for an honest review.
A few years ago I attended a  teaching conference where the focus was on teaching children empathy. The speakers that week discussed the importance of incorporating empathy into our daily teaching.  My school has now adopted social and emotional learning standards and one of the main concepts I focus on is showing empathy to others.
Tami Lewis Brown has created a simple and touching story that allows readers to understand the importance of compassion and kindness. The young boy in the story meets a young girl and realizes that other children may not have all the wonderful things that he does. He and his friends come together to let the girl know that she is not alone in the world.
The illustrations by Tania de Regil are bright and colorful. I loved the images of the children playing together in harmony.
This story can be incorporated into any social and emotional lesson. It is so important that we teach children how to have empathy, kindness, and compassion,  for all people.
Ages 5 and up
32 Pages
Fairy Tales

Seriously, Cinderella Is SO Annoying!: The Story of Cinderella as Told by the Wicked Stepmother By Trisha Speed Shaskan

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Back of Book:
OF COURSE you think Cinderella was the sweetest belle of the ball. You don’t know the other side of the story. Well, let me tell you…
The Story of Cinderella as told by the Wicked Stepmother.
My Review:
I love using fractured fairytales to show readers a different perspective of different stories. Seriously Cinderella is So Annoying is a perfect comparison to add to any Cinderella unit. The story is told from the wicked stepmother’s point of view and spins a different view for readers. The text is hysterical and keeps readers laughing the entire time.
The illustrations by Gerald Guerlais are bright and bring the story to life. The details on the animals are engaging and colorful.
The back of the book has discussion questions that are perfect for compare and contrast conversations. Trisha wrote these stories with teachers in mind. She added a glossary, further reading, and internet sites for extra research. I am planning on getting this entire collection to share in my classroom. A perfect addition to any lesson on different points of view.
Ages 6 and up
32 Pages

Family

Around the Table That Grandad Built By Melanie Heuiser Hill

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Back of Book:

In a unique take on the cumulative classic “This Is the House That Jack Built,” a family gathers with friends and neighbors to share a meal around a table that brims with associations: napkins sewn by Mom, glasses from Mom and Dad’s wedding, silverware gifted to Dad by his grandma long ago. Not to mention the squash from the garden, the bread baked by Gran, and the pies made by the young narrator (with a little help). Serving up a diverse array of dishes and faces, this warm and welcoming story is poised to become a savored part of Thanksgiving traditions to come.

My Review:

I received a copy of this picture book from Candlewick Press in exchange for an honest review.  

“This is the House That Jack Built” is a classic and well-known rhyme Melanie Heuiser Hill has created a beautiful story of tradition, and culture. The text is cumulative and sharing with readers all the objects that go around Grandads table. I loved how each page discussed something added to the table that was important to the family. The text also includes a variety of different and diverse foods that the family shares. 

The illustrations by Jamie Kim are done in colorful acrylics and showcase a diverse group of family coming together to celebrate a meal together. The colors are bright and draw readers to the details on each page. 

This is a beautiful story and would make a fantastic addition to any unit on family and different traditions. It would also make a great read-aloud for the Thanksgiving season. 

Ages 5 and up

32 Pages 

Autumn, Earth Day, English Language Arts, spring, Summer, Weather, Winter

A Year with Mama Earth by Rebecca Grabill

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Back of Book:
In September, Mama Earth sighs out the first autumn frost, which crunches under children’s feet. Mama Earth looks after nature’s plants and animals throughout the year—singing lullabies to fat bears in the fall, dressing evergreens in icicles in winter, and waking up the crocuses in spring. And in the summer, Mama Earth sends warm sunbeams to her beloved children, so they can play outside and enjoy the amazing world around them.
My Review:
I received a copy of this picture book from Eerdmans Books For Young Readers in exchange for an honest review.
“A Year with Mama Earth” is a stunning lyrical story that allows readers to see the different beauty and changes throughout one calendar year. The book begins in September and flows through each month describing the differences in the earth as the season’s change. The text flows smoothly and effortlessly. I loved how the use of figurative language allows readers to make positive connections between the similarities and differences of each passing month.
I live and teach in Southern California, our environment is filled with dessert terrain and wildlife. I loved using this story to teach my students that seasons look different in different parts of the United States. I can also see myself using this book as a focus on the different figurate language and how to properly use it in a text. The illustrations by Rebecca Green are nothing short of breathtaking! Each illustration is perfectly crafted to match what the text is describing. The details truly bring the story to life and allow readers to visualize how seasons look in other areas.
The notes in the back of the book from the author and illustrator give the story a very well-rounded and personal feeling. I could tell as a reader that this book was a true labor of love for both of them.
“A Year With Mama Earth” is a true gem and a book that should definitely be a part of elementary and elementary libraries. It is a story that not only teaches us to appreciate the earth but to also love it as well.
Ages 5 and up
40 Pages

Christmas, Santa Stories

The Great Santa Stakeout By Betsy Bird

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Back of Book:
Oh, is it risky! It’s awfully hard to sneak anything by someone who can see you when you’re sleeping and knows when you’re awake. That’s why Freddy has been extra good this year . . . at hiding his plans.
Will Freddy get away with his delightfully devious scheme to outwit Santa Claus himself and capture the ultimate selfie?
My Review:
I received a copy of this picture book from Arthur A. Levine Books in exchange for an honest review
Christmas is around the corner, and I love finding fun picture books to share with my students. The Great Santa Stakeout is a perfect book to share as a read-aloud or tie into a writing unit. Children of all ages can relate to the excitement of possibly catching a glimpse of catching Santa. Freddy is the ultimate Santa fan. His goal is to find a way to catch  Santa and get a selfie. To accomplish this he needs a detailed step by step plan. The text is expressive, fun, and will keep readers laughing throughout the story. Betsy did a fantastic job of showcasing Freddy’s dedication to finding Santa.
The illustrations by Dan Santat are corky, creative and fit the text beautifully.
I plan to incorporate this book with a writing assignment on the steps my students would take to catch Santa. I also think this would make a great STEM project where we would create our own Santa trap.
I think this is a fantastic book for the holiday season.
32 Pages
Ages 5 and up

Back of Book:
Oh, is it risky! It’s awfully hard to sneak anything by someone who can see you when you’re sleeping and knows when you’re awake. That’s why Freddy has been extra good this year . . . at hiding his plans.
Will Freddy get away with his delightfully devious scheme to outwit Santa Claus himself and capture the ultimate selfie?
My Review:
I received a copy of this picture book from Arthur A. Levine Books in exchange for an honest review
Christmas is around the corner, and I love finding fun picture books to share with my students. The Great Santa Stakeout is a perfect book to share as a read-aloud or tie into a writing unit. Children of all ages can relate to the excitement of possibly catching a glimpse of catching Santa. Freddy is the ultimate Santa fan. His goal is to find a way to catch  Santa and get a selfie. To accomplish this he needs a detailed step by step plan. The text is expressive, fun, and will keep readers laughing throughout the story. Betsy did a fantastic job of showcasing Freddy’s dedication to finding Santa.
The illustrations by Dan Santat are corky, creative and fit the text beautifully.
I plan to incorporate this book with a writing assignment on the steps my students would take to catch Santa. I also think this would make a great STEM project where we would create our own Santa trap.
I think this is a fantastic book for the holiday season. 
40 Pages
Ages 5 and up
Family, Read Your World

Between Us and Abuela: A Family Story from the Border By Mitali Perkins

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Back of Book:
It’s almost time for Christmas, and Maria is traveling with her mother and younger brother, Juan, to visit their grandmother on the border of California and Mexico.
For the few minutes they can share together with along the fence, Maria and her brother plan to exchange stories and Christmas gifts with the grandmother they haven’t seen in years. But when Juan’s gift is too big to fit through the slats in the fence, Maria has a brilliant idea.
Here is a heartwarming tale of families and the miracle of love.
My Review:
I was sent a copy of this picture book from Farrar, Straus, and Giroux in exchange for an honest review.
Mitali Perkins has written an emotional heartwarming fictional tale of two grandchildren who meet their Abuela at the border.  Maria and her brother Juan are eager to see their beloved Abuela and exchange Christmas gifts.  When Juan’s gift won’t make it to Abuela, Maria has an idea to send the gift over the border.
This is a beautiful story of family, culture, and tradition. I have never heard of the  La Posada Sin Fronteras and was excited to learn about this beautiful tradition. I loved the overall message of being respectful of all people no matter where they live. The illustrations by Sara Palacios are beautifully drawn and filled with promise. The back of the book has more information about the Las Posadas festival. This is a book that should be in every elementary library.
Ages 5 and up
32 Pages

Skills Children Learn

Alpaca Pati’s Fancy Fleece by Tracey Kyle

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Back of Book:
Little alpaca Pati has a beautiful coat of fur that is the envy of the other alpacas. Pati loves to adorn her fur with velvet bows, sparkly hair clips, and flower headbands. When she learns that she will have to lose her coat in the spring, she is heartbroken. She doesn’t want to give up what makes her beautiful, so she runs away to the city. Upon arriving, Pati is amazed by the many vibrant goods for sale at the market. She realizes that her alpaca fur is used to make everything and decides that she must give up her coat to keep the villagers warm.
My Review:
I received a copy of this picture book from Running Press Kids in exchange for an honest review.
The story follows a young alpaca from Peru named Pati who loves to adorn herself with ribbons and bows. She often would look at her reflection and think about how beautiful she was. One day she realizes that her beautiful fleece will be sheered and given to the villagers. At first, Pati is devastated with the news. It isn’t until she realizes how much her fleece will help the people that Pati has a true change of heart. Tracey Kyle has beautifully woven a story with the theme that is being better to give than to receive. She also shows readers that true beauty comes from the insides and not the outsides. The Spanish words sprinkled within the text are a nice addition to the story. The rhyming scheme allows readers to follow along easily with the story. The illustrations by Yoss Sanchez are filled with warm and bright colors. The details on each page draw the readers into the culture and tradition of Peru. The back of the book has a glossary page, as well as a list of facts about alpacas. This is a terrific story to tie in any social and emotional theme of generosity and sharing.
Ages 5 and up
32 Pages

History, National Womens Month

Ruby’s Hope: A Story of How the Famous “Migrant Mother” Photograph Became the Face of of the Great Depression By Monica Kulling

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Back of Book:
Dorothea Lange’s Depression-era “Migrant Mother” photograph is an icon of American history. Behind this renowned portrait is the story of a family struggling against all odds to survive.
Dust storms and dismal farming conditions force young Ruby’s family to leave their home in Oklahoma and travel to California to find work. As they move from camp to camp, Ruby sometimes finds it hard to hold on to hope. But on one fateful day, Dorothea Lange arrives with her camera and takes six photographs of the young family. When one of the photographs appears in the newspaper, it opens the country’s eyes to the reality of the migrant workers’ plight and inspires an outpouring of much-needed support.
My Review:
I received a copy of this picture book from Page Street Publishing in exchange for an honest review.
The Dust Bowl was a difficult time in the history of our nation. Rubys Hope is a realistic and beautiful glimpse into the lives of the migrant workers who were deeply affected by the Great Depression. The story follows a young named Ruby as she and her family navigate the difficulties of finding work after the Dust Bowl wiped out the crops. Everything changes when a photographer named Dorothea Lange comes to capture the realities of how these families are surviving. The illustrations by Sarah Dvojack are a stunning blend of muted and bright colors. Readers are able to visualize how people during this time period lived. The back of the book has more on “The Migrant Mother” and the impact she had on the world. This is a fantastic picture book that can be used for a Great Depression unit or for National Women’s studies.
Ages 6 and up
40 Pages

Grandparents, Read Your World

My Grandma and Me by Mina Javaherbin

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Back of Book:
While Mina is growing up in Iran, the center of her world is her grandmother. Whether visiting friends next door, going to the mosque for midnight prayers during Ramadan, or taking an imaginary trip around the planets, Mina and her grandma are never far apart. At once deeply personal and utterly universal, Mina Javaherbin’s words make up a love letter of the rarest sort: the kind that shares a bit of its warmth with every reader. Soft, colorful, and full of intricate patterns, Lindsey Yankey’s illustrations feel like a personal invitation into the coziest home, and the adoration between Mina and her grandma is evident on every page.
My Review:
I was so excited to get the opportunity to hear Mina read her fantastic book this weekend. I completely fell in love with this story and illustrations.
This book beautifully showcases the strong relationship between a grandmother and her granddaughter.  The whimsical text allows readers a glimpse into a world rich with culture and identity.
Mina shares her fondest memories of praying, eating, and learning lessons with her beloved grandmother. The story shows readers the value of respecting and listening to a wiser generation. It also allows readers to draw parallels between their own life, and that of Mina.    The illustrations by Lindsey Yankey are gorgeous! The soft muted colors enhance the story and allow readers to feel like they are there. There are short notes from the author and illustrator about the connection that they still feel to their grandmothers. A must-have for classroom and elementary libraries.
Ages 5 and up
32 Pages