STEM

How to Code a Sandcastle by Josh Funk

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Back of Book:
All summer, Pearl has been trying to build the perfect sandcastle, but out-of-control Frisbees and mischievous puppies keep getting in the way! Pearl and her robot friend Pascal have one last chance, and this time, they’re going to use code to get the job done. Using fundamental computer coding concepts like sequences and loops, Pearl and Pascal are able to break down their sandcastle problem into small, manageable steps. If they can create working code, this could turn out to be the best beach day ever!
With renowned computer science nonprofit Girls Who Code, Josh Funk and Sara Palacios use humor, relatable situations, and bright artwork to introduce kids to the fun of coding.
My Review:
I was so excited to win a copy of this picture book from Here We Read I love sharing STEM ideas in my classroom and love the concepts that Josh introduces in this book. I love that he focuses on teaching readers to break problems down into smaller chunks and solving one thing at a time. The text also teaches readers several definitions of programming and coding. The illustrations are bright and full of color. Readers will love seeing the robot build the perfect sand castle. The back of the book has a list of terms and definitions. This book is a creative and a great addition to any STEM or programming unit.
Ages 5 and up

Christmas

The Tooth Fairy’s Christmas by Peter Bently

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Back of Book:
Tim Tucker has just lost a tooth but the Tooth Fairy is blown off-course in the snow. Luckily, a sleigh comes her way and Santa rescues her. Together, and with the help of a little magic, they deliver their gifts to Tim.
My Review:
This is a light and fun story that is a joy to read aloud to children. I have never seen the Tooth Fairy in a Christmas story before and was thrilled to come across this book. It follows the Tooth Fairy on Christmas as she journeys out on a cold Christmas Eve to collect Timmy’s tooth. When she gets lost in the wind, she runs into a welcome sight Santa. Together they go on a fun adventure to complete both their tasks. The text is written in a fun and upbeat rhyming scheme that will keep readers engaged. The illustrations are detailed and bright. This is a wonderful book to read during the Christmas Season.
Ages 5 and up
32 Pages

Friendship, Skills Children Learn

Goat’s Coat By Tom Percival

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Back of Book:
Alfonzo couldn’t be happier. He just got an amazing new coat, and he feels like a million dollars. But when he discovers some creatures in need of help, will Alfonzo be able to give up his treasured possession to save the day?
This great big hug of a book shows that kindness is definitely the best recipe.
My Review:
I received a copy of this book from Bloomsbury Children’s books in exchange for an honest review. This is a touching story about Alfonzo the goat and his kindness to his friends. As Alfonzo wants through the woods he encounters many of his friends with troubles in the woods. He gives each of his friends a piece of the coat to help them. At the end of the story, his friends come together and repay his kindness. The book is told with a fun and upbeat rhyming scheme that will keep readers engaged throughout the book. The themes of kindness and friendship are perfectly tied into the story. The illustrations are bright and full of color. This is a fantastic book to share in the classroom about the importance of always being kind to others.
Ages 5 and up
32 Pages

Biography, Uncategorized

Lights! Camera! Alice!: The Thrilling True Adventures of the First Woman Filmmaker By Mara Rockliff

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Back of Book:
Meet Alice Guy-Blaché. She made movies—some of the very first movies, and some of the most exciting! Blow up a pirate ship? Why not? Crawl into a tiger’s cage? Of course! Leap off a bridge onto a real speeding train? It will be easy! Driven by her passion for storytelling, Alice saw a potential for film that others had not seen before, allowing her to develop new narratives, new camera angles, new techniques, and to surprise her audiences again and again. With daring and vision, Alice Guy-Blaché introduced the world to a thrilling frontier of imagination and adventure and became one of filmmaking’s first and greatest innovators. Mara Rockliff tells the story of a girl who grew up loving stories and became an acclaimed storyteller and an inspiration in her own right.
My Review:
This is a truly beautiful nonfiction narrative about the first woman filmmaker. The story follows Alice from her childhood to her life in America as a prominent woman in the movie industry. I had never heard about Alice Guy Blanche and was excited to find that Maria had written such a well-researched story. I love that the book was broken down into sections. It allows readers to follow along with the different parts of Alice’s journey. I was fascinated with all the amazing ways that Alice changed the film industry. The illustrations are whimsical and detailed. The back of the book has an authors note that shares more information about the incredible life that Alice lived. This is a great book that is perfect for Women’s history month or anytime. It should be in every elementary classroom.
60 Pages
Ages 5 and up

 

Christmas

A Pirate’s Night Before Christmas Philip Yates

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Back of Book:
Come aboard, young mateys, for a humorous, colorful, and thoroughly piratical retelling of “The Night Before Christmas!” On a ship of mischievous brigands—who have visions of treasure chests, not sugar plums, dancing in their heads—you wouldn’t expect a visit from jolly St. Nick. Instead, here comes Sir Peggedy, with his peg leg and hook arm, cracking his whip and driving eight giant seahorses: Salty, Scurvy, Sinbad, Mollie, Cutthroat, Cross-Eyes, Roger, and Jolly. But even buccaneers can catch the holiday spirit …
My Review:
My students are always in love with any kind pirate story and this book is no exception. The text is written in the same rhyme and tone as the traditional Night Before Christmas by Clement Moore. My students loved all the fun pirate verses that were in the story. The illustrations are full of color and details. The back of the book has a pirate glossary with the pirate definitions. This is a fantastic Christmas read aloud that readers are sure to enjoy over and over.
32 Pages
Ages 6 and up

Christmas

Turkey Claus By Wendi Silvano

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Back of Book:
Turkey needs Santa’s help so he won’t be eaten for Christmas dinner.
Turkey is in trouble. Again. He made it through Thanksgiving without becoming a turkey dinner, but now it’s almost Christmas, and guess what’s on the menu? Turkey decides the only thing to do is to ask Santa for help. He sets off for the North Pole, but getting in to see Santa at Christmastime isn’t as easy as Turkey expected. It’s going to take all his ideas—and his clever disguises—to find a way into Santa’s house. After many hilarious attempts, Turkey comes up with the perfect disguise, and Santa has the perfect solution! In this holiday treat
My Review:
My students loved Turkey Trouble! When I saw that Wendi Silvano wrote a companion story, I knew I had to share it with my class. This story does not disappoint! My students loved trying to guess what the turkey would try to disguise himself as next. The illustrations are fun and will make readers laugh out loud! A great story to share during the holidays.
Ages 5 and up
32 Pages

Cyblis Awards 2018, Growth Mindset

Grandma Gatewood Hikes the Appalachian Trail By Jennifer Thermes

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Back of Book:
Emma Gatewood’s life was far from easy. In rural Ohio, she managed a household of 11 kids alongside a less-than-supportive husband. One day, at age 67, she decided to go for a nice long walk . . . and ended up completing the Appalachian Trail. With just the clothes on her back and a pair of thin canvas sneakers on her feet, Grandma Gatewood hiked up ridges and down ravines. She braved angry storms and witnessed breathtaking sunrises. When things got particularly tough, she relied on the kindness of strangers or sheer luck to get her through the night. When the newspapers got wind of her amazing adventure, the whole country cheered her on to the end of her trek, which came just a few months after she set out.

My Review:

This is an inspiring story of one woman who decided to do the unimaginable and hike The Application Trail. Emma Gatewood was not going to let anything stop her from reaching her goal. The text does a beautiful job of describing the different types of environment that Grandma Gatewood went through. I love that maps are included in the illustrations so readers can see examples of what she hiked through. The colors are bright and detailed. The back of the book has a detailed section of notes and a timeline. This book is a strong look at the power of never giving up. A great nonfiction story that can be used to teach growth mindset in the classroom.
Ages 6 and up
48 Pages

Thanksgiving

Over the River and Through the Wood illustrared by Emma Randall

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Back of Book:
In this stunning paper-over-board picture book, a blustering wind stings the toes and bites the nose, but hearts are warm and there’s lots to eat–for ’tis Thanksgiving Day! Bundle up as you navigate a winter wonderland of sparkling snow-covered trees and adorable woodland creatures in this cherished holiday tale. Coupled with Emma Randall’s delightful illustrations, the familiar poem-turned-song is the perfect way to celebrate the season. Just remember to leave room for pumpkin pie!
My Review:
I have always loved this song and share it with my students every Thanksgiving. I was thrilled to see that Emma Randall was illustrating a new version of the classic this year. The story follows two children as they ride in their sleigh to reach their Grandmothers house for a much anticipated Thanksgiving meal. The illustrations truly capture the essence of the song and bring the lyrics to life! I love the detail on every page. Even the animals are excited for Thanksgiving Day. My students loved hearing this version of the song. The bright colors kept their attention throughout the story. A fantastic book to share with children during the Thanksgiving season.
Ages 5 and up
32 Pages

Animals, Cyblis Awards 2018

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Back of Book:
Timely and inspiring, The Hyena Scientist sets the record straight about one of history’s most hated and misunderstood mammals, while featuring the groundbreaking, pioneering research of a female scientist in a predominately male field in this offering by Sibert-winning duo Sy Montgomery and Nic Bishop.

As a scientist studying one of the only mammalian societies led entirely by females, zoologist Kay Holecamp has made it her life’s work to understand hyenas, the fascinating, complex creatures that are playful, social, and highly intelligent—almost nothing like the mangy monsters of pop culture lore.
My Review:
I have never studied much about hyenas and found this book to be a fantastic nonfiction text that teaches readers all about this slightly unknown animal. The book follows zoologist Kay Holecamp as she studies the resistance and intelligence of hyenas. I love that the text is broken down into chapters with easy to understand titles. Readers know what they will be reading before they read it. The color photos are beautiful and show hyenas in their natural habitats. This is an excellent book to share in classrooms and gives readers a new perspective on hyenas.
80 Pages
Ages 10 and up

Animals

A Frog’s Life by Irene Kelly

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Back of Book:
Frogs, frogs, and more frogs! This exciting survey of the world’s frog species will introduce children to varieties as diverse as the golden poison frog (the planet’s most toxic animal), the Amau frog (so tiny it’s no bigger than a housefly), and the Chinese gliding frog (which can “fly” up to 17 feet)! Their different hunting techniques, preferred foods, body types, and methods of defense are covered, as are the universal basics of the frog life cycle.
One of the science standards in Kindergarten is to teach my students the frog life cycle. I am always on the lookout for well written and researched books that I can use as an introduction to my life cycle unit.
A Frogs Life by Irene Kelly is a fantastic story that teaches readers facts and details about frogs. It begins by discussing that frogs are amphibians and giving readers that definition. The book then goes on to discuss how frogs breath underwater, catch their food and lay eggs. The text is written in an easy to read format that allows readers to clearly comprehend what is being taught to them. The illustrations are scientifically accurate and match the text beautifully. The back of the book has a helpful index, as well as ways that people can help protect frogs. This is a great nonfiction story because it teaches readers so many facts, while still keeping them engaged. A great addition to any classroom or elementary library.
Ages 5 and up
40 Pages