Thursday, August 10, 2017

#pb10for10: Must-Reads of 2017*

Hooray! Today is August 10th, which means it is time for the annual Picture Books 10 for 10 event (#pb10for10). Teachers and educators are challenged to choose and share their 10 favorite picture books, and the posts will be aggregated by Cathy of Reflect and Refine and Mandy of Enjoy and Embrace Learning.

Previous #pb10for10

10 Must-Reads of 2017*

I had the awesome opportunity at nErDcampMI last month to peruse a wide range of brand new (and upcoming) picture books. Below are some of my newest favorites for books published this year (*ok, and one for next year). Enjoy!

(In order of publication date)

Jan. 31: Lost and Found Cat: The True Story of Kunkush's Incredible Journey by Doug Kuntz and illustrated by Amy Shrodes. This is a lovely addition to the canon of refugee literature, as an Iraqi family flees their home heading for Europe via Greece. Endnotes explain how the author discovered this story and worked with the family to share it with the world.

April 1: Flowers for Sarajevo by John McCutcheon and illustrated by Kristy Caldwell. Another inspired by a true story, this picture book shares a powerful moment in the Bosnian War through the eyes of a young boy who witnessed both the destructive power of war and the transformative power of music.

June 13: Blue Sky, White Stars by Sarvinder Naberhaus and illustrated by Kadir Nelson. A must-read. I could take nearly any page in this book, frame it, and hang it proudly on my wall. This nearly-wordless book is a testament to a positive vision of America, its flag, and the true meanings of patriotism.

June 13: Owl Bat Bat Owl by Marie-Louise Fitzpatrick. This charming little wordless picture book is a story about distrust becoming acceptance, as the owl family's branch is suddenly invaded by a group of bats! (A review copy of the book was provided by Candlewick. All thoughts are my own.)

June 20: Claymates by Dev Petty and illustrated by Lauren Eldridge. This is a book that will make you want to create! Claymates provides a behind-the-scenes look at what two balls of clay can come up with while their artist is away ...

Aug. 15: Creepy Pair of Underwear! by Aaron Reynolds and illustrated by Peter Brown. Fans of Creepy Carrots! will be waiting with baited breath for this sequel. Personally, I actually found this one far funnier, perhaps because I was already willing to suspend disbelief based on the first book. Some very laugh-out-loud moments.

Sep. 19: It's Not Jack and the Beanstalk by Josh Funk and Edwardian Taylor. And speaking of laughing out loud, I had the chance to help perform a read aloud of this book with author Josh Funk at Nerd Camp last month. This will be a great one for Readers' Theater or reading aloud in small groups, as Jack and his fellow characters try to take control of their story back from a demanding narrator!

Oct 3: After the Fall (How Humpty Dumpty Got Back Up Again) by Dan Santat. What if things didn't turn out quite so glum for Humpty Dumpty? How do you get yourself back up after a bad experience (or a bad fall) and start again? A great lesson in resilience.

Oct. 24: A Boy, A Mouse, and A Spider: the story of E. B. White by Barbara Herkert and illustrated by Lauren Castillo. I only got a peek at the F&G of this one, but it's sure to be a charmer. Some Writer! by Melissa Sweet is still one of my favorites from last year, but I love the idea of being able to pair it with this book for younger readers or those looking for something more read-aloud length.

Feb. 6: Be Kind by Pat Zietlow Miller and illustrated by Jen Hill. This one is a must-have for any classroom or library. It addresses issues of bullying and bystanders but in a much more complex and meaningful way than many books for kids. Truly we need the power of this book's message about how individual actions (even if they may seem small) can have a big impact.

Looking for more #pb10for10? Check out #pb10for10 on Twitter or click the #pb10for10 tag to see my previous years' posts.


Shared with #DiverseKidLit

Saturday, August 5, 2017

#DiverseKidLit for August!

Our theme for this #DiverseKidLit is socioeconomic diversity. Kids from all economic brackets should be able to find themselves in books - as well as to learn about the lives of others in different economic situations. (As always, the theme is only a suggestion. Diverse posts on alternate topics are always welcome.)

What Is #DiverseKidLit?

Diverse Children's Books is a book-sharing meme designed to promote the reading and writing of children's books that feature diverse characters. This community embraces all kinds of diversity including (and certainly not limited to) diverse, inclusive, multicultural, and global books for children of all backgrounds.

We encourage everyone who shares to support this blogging community by visiting and leaving comments for at least three others. Please also consider following the hosts on at least one of their social media outlets. Spread the word using #diversekidlit and/or adding our button to your site and your diverse posts.


We hope this community serves as a resource for parents, teachers, librarians, publishers, and authors! Our next linkup will be Saturday, September 2nd and the first Saturday of each month.

Most Clicked Post from Last Time

The most-clicked post from the previous #diversekidlit was What is Family? 18 Picture Books about Loving Families in All Forms from Barefoot Mommy. This post includes new books as well as old favorites including multigenerational, multiracial, LGBTQ, foster, adoptive, and divorced families.

#DiverseKidLit is Hosted by:

Katie @ The Logonauts
Blog / Twitter / Facebook / Pinterest

Becky @ Franticmommmy
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Carolina @ La Clase de Sra. DuFault
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Gauri @ Kitaab World
an online bookstore for South Asian children's books, toys and games
Blog / Twitter / Facebook / PinterestInstagram

Gayle Swift, Author of ABC, Adoption & Me
Blog / Twitter / Facebook / Google+

Jane @ Rain City Librarian
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Marjorie @ Mirrors Windows Doors
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Mia @ Pragmatic Mom
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Myra @ Gathering Books
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Shoumi Sen, Author of Toddler Diaries
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Want to be notified when the next #diversekidlit linkup goes live?

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Friday, August 4, 2017

MKB Read Around the World: The Only Road

The Only Road (2016) by Alexandra Diaz, p. 300 [a Pura Belpré Honor Book]. 12-year old Jaime and his 15-year old cousin, Angela, are forced to flee north after the gang in their Guatemalan village kills their cousin/brother, Miguel. A scary but middle grade or middle school-appropriate version of the trip to illegally immigrate to the US. Definitely one I will be adding to my Latin American immigration book list.

See also Teaching Family History and Immigration for lesson plan ideas and additional books and resources.

Find more great, diverse book recommendations by visiting the rest of the Multicultural Kids Blogs Read Around the World Series! #ReadtheWorldMKB

Monday, July 24, 2017

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? #IMWAYR 07/17/17

It's Monday! What are you reading? was started by Sheila at Book Journey and was adapted for children's books from picture books through YA by Jen of Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee of Unleashing Readers. You can visit either site for a round up of blogs sharing their weekly readings and thoughts or search Twitter for #IMWAYR.

Last Week's Posts

Middle School

The Great Greene Heist (2014) by Varian Johnson. Tag line: saving the school, one con at a time. In this Oceans 11 meets eighth grade mashup, con-man Jackson Greene is under suspicion at his school after his previous con made him a bit notorious (which makes for a bit of a confusing beginning, because I kept feeling like I had accidentally started on book two of the series, but this is book one). I appreciated the fast-moving plotting and diverse cast of characters but wasn't quite able to suspend disbelief enough to enjoy this one as much as others might.

Professional Development

Disrupting Thinking: why how we read matters (2017) by Kylene Beers and Robert Probst. I am reading this book as part of the Book Love Summer Reading Book Club, and even though I haven't commented on any of the discussion posts, I did finish up the book this past week. Disrupting Thinking does a great job of laying out what reading and talking about books should really look like and how to foster a deeper level of engagement between an individual kid and the books they read. I will definitely be digesting this for awhile and trying to figure out how best to incorporate some of the their suggested questions and frameworks.

Happy Reading!

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Bravo! Poetry Friday Roundup

Welcome to this week's Poetry Friday roundup!

Quick intro: My name is Katie, and I am a language arts and social studies teacher in Wisconsin. I teach seventh grade language arts and previous taught both third and fourth grades. I have been holding weekly Poetry Friday time with my students for several years now, and it is one of my favorite things about teaching.


Today I wanted to share about this fabulous new book of poetry: Bravo! Poems about Amazing Hispanics (2017) by Margarita Engle and illustrated by Rafael López. Each biographical poem gives insights into the life, desires, and dreams of a different person, paired with a full-page illustration. The backmatter includes a list of "more and more amazing Latinos" as well as short biographical sketches about the individuals featured. [You can hear a podcast about the book here, All the Wonders. Thanks Laura for the heads up!]

There are so many things to love about this book! To begin, it's a great way to introduce readers to a wide variety of Hispanic people, including both well-known and lesser-known names from the past 300 years. The poems themselves are powerful and insightful, as you would expect from Margarita Engle. Finally, this would be an excellent mentor text for having students research and write their own biographical (or autobiographical) poems.

Final Stanza from "The Magic of Words" about Cuban poet José Martí

I say that each day is a poem.
Some hours are green and peaceful.
Others are red, like festivals or storms.
I love teaching children how to tell
their own stories.

Please leave your link and a description in the comments, and I will continue to update the post throughout the day. (If you have any trouble, drop me a line at katie at I look forward to reading all your amazing poems and posts; happy Poetry Friday!

Poetry Friday Roundup

Original Poems

Laura Purdie Salas shares a new/old poem, How to Make a Dog Live Forever, in honor of her beagle, Jack.

Linda Mitchell shares an original poem about mid-summer stress, along with some new picture books in her TBR stack.

Linda at Teacher Dance shares an original poem (and photographs) inspired by the end of her summer beach vacation with family.

Kiesha at Whispers from the Ridge shares an original poem inspired by the life of a dear friend, and she issues an invitation to all to use poetry as a way to soothe overwhelming emotions.

Author Kathryn Apel shares an original sollage and a collection of amazing family photographs. Great fodder for more poems!

Sharing, Reviewing, and Otherwise Celebrating Poems

Jan at the Book Seed Studio is hosting a Q&A with author / illustrator Lisa Desimini about her newest book, The Fleatastics. You can also win a copy (giveaway ends Mon. July 24th).

Linda Mitchell highlights an upcoming book by Pakistani-American poem Adeeba Shahid Talukder along with a link to one of her poems.

Laura Shovan shares about a new book, Into the Deep, Deep Brave, by three-year old poet Arthur. Laura's post also provides some background about Arthur's hyperlexia and the story behind his book's creation.

Brenda shares an original poem by Tabatha Yeatts that she received as part of the summer postcard swap. Part Narnia, part politics, pure pleasure.

Monday, July 10, 2017

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? #IMWAYR 07/10/17

It's Monday! What are you reading? was started by Sheila at Book Journey and was adapted for children's books from picture books through YA by Jen of Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee of Unleashing Readers. You can visit either site for a round up of blogs sharing their weekly readings and thoughts or search Twitter for #IMWAYR.

Last Week's Posts

Middle School

The Shadow Cipher (York, book 1) (2017) by Laura Ruby. Steampunk meets magical realism in this new series set in a technologically advanced-ish modern day New York City. In the early 1800s the Morningstarr twins transformed the city through their buildings and inventions before mysteriously disappearing and leaving behind clues to the "Old York Cipher." 150 years later, only scattered elements of the cipher have been deciphered until Tess, Theo, and neighbor Jaime receive a new clue, purportedly addressed to their cipher-addicted grandfather.

Like The Gauntlet (reviewed here), this new series is an action-packed adventure featuring a trio of problem-solving teens. But also like The Gauntlet, I didn't feel that the world-building behind the clues held up well under scrutiny. (It's a bit like watching an exciting action movie where, in the moment, everything is thrilling and exciting, and then as you walk out of the theater and start thinking critically for a moment, you are left with a lot of questions.) Perhaps the rest of the series will help tighten up some of those issues.

Finally, I put this book in my "middle school" category, because even though it was filed under Teen in my public library, there was nothing particularly YA about the book (other than maybe it's length, but it shares that with similar series like The Mysterious Benedict Society, which I would also put on the older end of middle grade). It's an interesting world and an engaging read, but I hope the later books have a little more logic to them.


I used some of my plane time on my recent trip to Scotland and Ireland to step outside my normal kidlit reading and brought along a couple of adult books too.

The Circle (2013) by Dave Eggers. Mae is thrilled to receive an invitation via her old roommate to apply for a job at The Circle (the Google and/or Facebook of her day). The reader, along with Mae, is lead on a rapidly spiraling journey through the impact that small decisions about transparency, popularity, and social media can have on our daily lives. In true Eggers style, the situation builds towards an expected absurdity fairly quickly, but I felt like it didn't quite deliver the "knock-out punch" of social commentary it was aiming for. (Honestly, Scythe, reviewed last week, had more interesting things to say about technology-driven futures.)

The Circle has also just been adapted as a movie, which I find a bit odd, and I do have to steal this line from David Sims's Atlantic review: "It’s all like an episode of Black Mirror, if Black Mirror made no effort whatsoever to be subtle."

American Gods (2001) by Neil Gaiman. I have read some of Gaiman's children's books, but this was the first of his novels for adults. American Gods is a grown-up version of Rick Riordan's series (and predates them), sharing the same central premise: the gods of the past are never truly gone, as long as someone, somewhere still remembers them. But what happens to those gods as their popularity and worship fade? This is a fascinating and engaging story with a wild range of characters, personalities, and road-side attractions (Wisconsin shout-outs!). Not sure I'd want to watch the new Starz TV series based on the book, but the book itself I highly recommend.

Happy Reading!

PS Hi from Nerd Camp, Michigan! I may need to catch up on comments later in the week ...

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

New Book Alert: Lights, Camera, Middle School! (Babymouse)

Yesterday marked Babymouse's independence from elementary school as the first book in her new series debuted! The Tales from the Locker series follows Babymouse up to middle school, replacing the full graphic novel format with a mixture of both text and graphic pages.

Book one, Lights, Camera, Middle School!, opens with Babymouse stressing about the stereotypical middle school worries: right clothes, right friends, right ... whiskers? When faced with a decision about what after school activity to join, Babymouse realizes this is an opportunity for her to stand out and get noticed, so she joins the film club. As fans of Babymouse might suspect, not everything goes according to plan ... Typical.

My third graders were HUGE fans of the original Babymouse series, and these were among the most-checked out books in my classroom library. Babymouse ranked #2 in their all-time favorites list, and you can read a review of Babymouse: Beach Babe by one of my third graders here. I am excited to share this new series with them and think that they will highly enjoy Babymouse's new adventures.

I will say, as a teacher of actual middle schoolers, that The Tales from the Locker series is pretty firmly in middle grade territory and might not grab the attention of actual middle schoolers who are starting to gravitate into more YA-heavy material. But I think Babymouse will find plenty of new fans in the fourth, fifth, and sixth grade range.

Definitely a must-have book for any teachers or librarians in that age range!