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Links I Shared on Twitter this Week: July 29:

TwitterLinks Here are highlights from the links that I shared on Twitter for the past two weeks @JensBookPage. There's quite a bit to share, because I was sick last week, and didn't do a roundup last Friday. Topics in this issue include #BookLists, #GrowthMindset, #KidLitCon, #PictureBooks, #STEM, audiobooks, authors, beginning readers, brain exercises, introverts, parenting, reading, teaching, and #SummerReading. 

Book Lists

SchoolsFirstDayA Few (Or More) Great New #PictureBooks | #BookList from @pernilleripp  http://ow.ly/gbtw302t6du  #kidlit

An important #BookList from @growingbbb | Easy But Not Boring #BeginningReader Books http://ow.ly/Wtoz302B0ZG  #kidlit

#PictureBooks + the Middle-Grade Reader w/ #BookList, titles to spark deeper learning by @mhoutswrites @MixedUpFiles http://ow.ly/8Yti302D9vS 

#STEM Girls – Ten Books Featuring Girls Rocking Science by @NCastaldoAuthor @nerdybookclub http://ow.ly/X76p302AYve  #BookList

40 Girl-Empowering Beach Reads For Tweens | #BookList from @amightygirl http://ow.ly/N6m4302wwh5  #kidlit

20 Great #Nonfiction Books for Reluctant Readers from @TrevorHCairney  http://ow.ly/xqDt302Fs9u  #kidlit #BookList

Family #ReadAloud Books for Every Season from @momandkiddo  http://ow.ly/HLSI302mNwn  #BookList

25 #SummerReads from #PictureBooks to #YA Novels from @literacious  http://ow.ly/jYJw302t5ZH  #kidlit #BookList

Spotlight on South Asian #Kidlit published in 2016 by @darshanakhiani  http://ow.ly/WHBh302HSF7  #BookList

Kids' Comics + #GraphicNovel Recommendations from @melissawiley  http://ow.ly/P8Qg302pe67  #BookList 

Diversity

Breakdown of #diversity (or lack thereof) in #PictureBooks received by @CCBCwisc in 2016 http://ow.ly/we7w302HOeq  #Kidlit

Growing Bookworms

A Classroom Culture’s Impact on Students’ #Reading Success by @bookishadvocate @nerdybookclub https://t.co/cOxyLLRccJ

Why #Reading With Kids Matters, At Home + In The Classroom by @msathoms @nerdybookclub https://t.co/nLQOOJqpyT

Kidlitosphere

KidLitCon2016LogoSquareFor #Kidliton 2016 we are looking for panelists! Program chair @charlotteslibhas lots of great ideas for YOU http://ow.ly/cvFi302AYQo  #kidlit

On Reading, Writing, Blogging, and Publishing

How to support #PictureBook authors + illustrators beyond buying the book by @joshfunkbooks http://ow.ly/VhBL302wu5l  #kidlit

I loved this post by @donalynbooks on the value of reading as an escape, a place to "disappear into the quiet" https://t.co/1eXsm5nI3g

Is Listening to an #Audiobook "Cheating?" @DTWillingham thinks not, for multiple reasons http://ow.ly/eYGo302B0hd  #reading

I am sure reading a lot of them: The Fastest-Growing Format in #Publishing: #Audiobooks  @maloneyfiles @WSJ https://t.co/3l0PRi2Bsj 

Parenting

This is fun: Resources for Teaching Kids About Castles: Activities, Books, and Toys from @mamasmiles https://t.co/vbdXhcGtl8

Oh I could relate to this article about how hard it is to let kids do things for themselves:   @hbombmom @ScaryMommy http://ow.ly/lIPk302puCd  

Love this post from @momsradius about using Walkie Talkies to give freedom to her son + peace of mind for her http://ow.ly/sD1H302HOY1  #Play

Research

This is pretty cool. Study suggests that "speed training" brain exercises can reduce later risk of dementia http://ow.ly/WJxn302D1Ag  @rddysum

New Study Finds #GrowthMindset Could Buffer Kids From Negative Academic Effects of Poverty @Kschwart @MindShiftKQED https://t.co/Cq9nftSrYS

Schools and Libraries

Ways to Make Your Classrooms #Introvert -Friendly by @julnilsmith  http://ow.ly/3krc302B2uL  via @drdouggreen #teaching

This short post by @sxwiley on connecting with kids by paying attention to what excites them resonated w/ me http://ow.ly/jaLs302B1DH 

How the Australian #education system is making kids stressed and sick  http://ow.ly/K0mj302mOPT  @Hayley_Gleeson ABC News Melbourne

Some good ideas: 9 Ideas for Combatting Boredom in #School (+ Why Being Bored May Not Be All Bad) @belathram http://ow.ly/UUE1302HPG1  #play

Actionable Steps to Bring #GrowthMindset into the Classroom by @PaulineZd  http://ow.ly/fKjF302Ft4G  @MIND_Research

How Can #Teaching and Using Questions Improve Learning? Tips for fostering curiosity by @mssackstein @educationweek https://t.co/HlZLL9D9AG

© 2016 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook


The Storyteller: Evan Turk

Book: The Storyteller
Author: Evan Turk
Pages: 48
Age Range: 5-10

TheStoryteller

When The Storyteller turned up at my house I nearly set it aside for when my daughter is older. It's long and text dense, and I wasn't sure if she would appreciate it. But I figured I'd wait and see, and left it on the kitchen table for her. A couple of days later she asked me to read it to her, because her babysitter had already read it to her, and it was "A really good book." Long, yes. Mythic, vs. tied to ordinary suburban existence, yes. But The Storyteller is also "really good" and well able to hold a six-year-old's attention. I agree with her assessment.

The Storyteller is a nested tale of stories within stories about Morocco, magic, and the desert. It begins:

"Long, long ago, like a pearl around a grain of sand, the fertile Kingdom of Morocco formed near the edge of the great, dry Sahara. It had fountains of cool, delicious water to quench the dangerous third of the desert, and storytellers to bring the people together."

What right-minder lover of stories would not want to continue reading after that? What follows is a tale of a thirsty young boy looking for water during a drought. He finds an old man who tells him a story, the hearing of which fills the boy's bowl with water. But the story contains the seeds of previous stories, and the boy returns day after day, as the old man fills in the details, and magically fills his bowl with water. Then, when a danger approaches, the boy uses the power of story to help his people. 

Different colored fonts are used to distinguish visually between the different stories within stories. This is nice, but I didn't find it necessary - the book was not difficult to follow. There is certainly an old-fashioned, epic sort of tone. Like this:

"Many years ago, my great-great-grandmother's great-great-grandmother was a carpet weaver. Our village again had a terrible drought, and people had to travel far to find water.

One day, a very old woman walked into the weaver's home with a bundle wrapped in cloth."

Just as young readers will be swept away by the story, they'll also delight in Turk's lush illustrations, "rendered in water-soluble crayon, colored drawing pencils, inks, indigo, sugared green tea, a heat gun, and fire." They look like old parchments, with a mix of bold inks and more muted colors to help visually convey the layers of the stories. A page in which a carpet is woven looks like a carpet itself, complete with a collection of different geometric borders. Other pages have carpet-like borders, too. The Storyteller seems ancient, and yet timeless.

The Storyteller is a gorgeous and compelling picture book that would be welcome in any library serving elementary school children. While it's a bit dense for preschoolers, it is sure to captivate older kids, and their parents. Highly recommended. 

Publisher:  Atheneum Books for Young Readers (@SimonKids) 
Publication Date: June 28, 2016
Source of Book: Review copy from the publisher

© 2016 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook. This site is an Amazon affiliate, and purchases made through affiliate links (including linked book covers) may result in my receiving a small commission (at no additional cost to you).


Growing Bookworms Newsletter: July 27: Back-to-School #PictureBooks and Stories with Dedication Pages

JRBPlogo-smallToday, I will be sending out a new issue of the Growing Bookworms email newsletter. (If you would like to subscribe, you can find a sign-up form here.) The Growing Bookworms newsletter has refocused recently, and now contains content from my blog focused on growing joyful learners, including bookworms, mathematicians, and learners of all types. The newsletter is sent out every two to three weeks.

Newsletter Update:  In this relatively brief issue I have four book reviews (picture book through middle grade) as well as a post with mini reviews of some new back-to-school picture books. I also have one post about my daughter's latest literacy milestone, adding dedication pages to her stories. I close with one post with links that I shared recently on Twitter

Reading Update: In the past two weeks I read/listened to one middle grade title, and five adult titles. I read:

  • BridgetWilderJonathan Bernstein: Bridget Wilder: Spy-in-Training. Katherine Tegen Books. Middle Grade. Completed July 15, 2016, on Kindle. Review to come. 
  • Paul Doiron: Widowmaker (Mike Bowditch #7). Minotaur Books. Adult Mystery. Completed July 14, 2016, on MP3. I'm sad to be caught up now on this series, awaiting any future books... 
  • C. J. Box: Breaking Point (Joe Pickett, Book 13). Berkley. Adult Mystery. Completed July 18, 2016, on MP3.
  • Elly Griffiths: The Outcast Dead (Ruth Galloway #6). Mariner Books. Adult Mystery. Completed July 20, 2016, on Kindle. This series remains addictive for me. I was under the weather last week, and pretty much read these two Ruth Galloway books back-to-back. But now I'm going a bit more slowly on the final (so far) book in the series. 
  • Elly Griffiths: The Ghost Fields (Ruth Galloway #7). Mariner Books. Adult Mystery. Completed July 22, 2016, on Kindle.
  • Sara Paretsky: Bitter Medicine (V. I. Warshawski #4). Dell Books. Adult Mystery. Completed July 24, 2016, on MP3. Lots more of these books to go before I finish this series, thank goodness. I remain fascinated with the changes in both technology and social norms since these books were published 30 years ago.

I'm currently reading The Woman in Blue (Ruth Galloway) by Elly Griffiths and listening to Stone Cold (Joe Pickett) by C. J. BoxThe books my husband and I and our babysitter have been reading to our daughter in 2016 can be found here. We've slacked off a bit on our reading with my daughter, because of various activities and guests, but the remaining weeks of the summer should be quieter, and give us more free time for reading. Or so I can hope, anyway... 

HarryPotterIllustratedWe did give reading the first Harry Potter book as a family another try. My daughter had asked about it, but was hoping for more pictures, so I splurged on the new illustrated edition of book 1. This was our third try, and it was the first time that I felt like my daughter's listening comprehension was up to the task. However, we had to stop before the end of chapter one (after 2 nights of reading together) because she was having nightmares. It might not have been the book, but our sleep is too important for us to be willing to take the chance. Maybe when she turns seven... The book is beautiful. 

I'm continuing to share all of my longer reads, as well as highlights from my picture book reads with my daughter, via the #BookADay hashtag on Twitter. Thanks for reading the newsletter, and for growing bookworms. Wishing you all plenty of time for summer reading.

© 2016 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook


The Scourge: Jennifer Nielsen

Book: The Scourge
Author: Jennifer Nielsen
Pages: 368
Age Range: 9-12

TheScourgeThe Scourge is an upcoming middle grade novel by Jennifer Nielsen, author of The Ascendance Trilogy (reviews here, here, and here) and the Mark of the Thief series (book 1 review here). Although Nielsen does a fair bit of world-building in The Scourge, she wraps up the story quite thoroughly, and this seems to be a standalone novel (which I find refreshing). To me, The Scourge seemed aimed at a slightly younger audience than the previous books, more elementary than middle school. The Scourge is a fast-paced, suspenseful read with an engaging main character, and is sure to be well-received by kids.

The Scourge is set in a country, Keldan, that is suffering from a dangerous pandemic called the Scourge. People found to be ill from or carriers of the Scourge are sent to an island called the Colony, housed in a former prison. No one ever returns. The Scourge is always fatal. Things start to change, however, when young Ani Mells is sent to the Colony. Ani and her best friend Weevil belong to the River People, an ostracized segment of the population also know as "grubs". Grubs have few rights compared to the townspeople (called "pinchworms"), but they do know how to fight, and take care of themselves. What follows is an exploration of friendship, government oppression, and manipulation, set against a variety of dangers and cruelties.

Ani is a delightful character, stubborn and belligerent, and pretty much incapable of following the rules. She blossoms into a leader over the course of the book, even as her antagonists attempt to break her. Her friendship with Weevil is strong enough to withstand various tests, too. [Slight spoiler: A turn from friendship to love interest later in the book didn't seem necessary to me, but is certainly G rated enough to keep the book elementary schooler-friendly.] And, in another refreshing change for any children's fantasy novel, Ani actually has two loving and living parents (though she's separated from them starting early in the book, of course).

Here are a couple of quotes, to give you a feel for Ani's voice:

"The River People knew every plant and its uses. Pinchworms thought we were less educated than them because we didn't have their expensive medicines or tests like the governor would probably try to administer on us. I figured we were just differently educated. They knew the world that came out of books, but we knew the world that went into them. I'd have loved to see a hungry pinchworm challenge a water cobra for its fish. Mostly because no River Person I knew would ever try such a foolish thing. In river country, we all learned early to respect things that could swallow us whole." (Chapter Three, ARC)

"Sometimes I hated the way my brain worked, like a magnet to thoughts I should not have and actions I should not take. My mother said I was born backward and that probably explained how I'd gotten this way. Maybe she was right--I didn't know." (Chapter Twenty-Five, ARC)

Fans of Nielsen's other fantasy books are going to love The Scourge. For those who haven't read her work, The Scourge is a great introduction, particularly given that it's a standalone novel. The Scourge is one that libraries serving elementary and middle school kids should have on their "must purchase" list. Highly recommended, for kids and adults.  

Publisher: Scholastic (@Scholastic)
Publication Date: August 30, 2016
Source of Book: Advance review copy from the publisher

© 2016 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook. This site is an Amazon affiliate, and purchases made through affiliate links (including linked book covers) may result in my receiving a small commission (at no additional cost to you).


Snoop Troop: It Came from Beneath the Playground: Kirk Scroggs

Book: Snoop Troop: It Came from Beneath the Playground
Author: Kirk Scroggs
Pages: 176
Age Range: 7-10

SnoopTroop1It Came from Beneath the Playground is the first book in the Snoop Troop series of mysteries for early elementary school kids. I found it to be highly entertaining, with kid-friendly humor and a non-obvious mystery. When sources of fun (including a local merry-go-round and the school playground) start disappearing, a mystery-obsessed girl named Logan Lang races to help. In the face of inept adult investigators, Logan reluctantly joins forces with a police-obsessed boy named Gustavo Muchomacho (previously her "arch-nuisance"). The two each bring complementary mystery-solving skills to the table, and their differences lend humor along the way. 

It Came from Beneath the Playground is a heavily illustrated  chapter book, with multiple pictures on every page, much of the information conveyed in text bubbles, and seek-and-find type activities throughout. There are also bonus puzzles and visual games included at the end of the book. It reads like a graphic novel, but does include some narrative text, too. The narrator talks directly to Logan from time to time, and readers are directly encouraged to find clues along the way.

Despite the many illustrations, I would place It Came from Beneath the Playground as more a book for second graders and up than for first graders. It's relatively long, and many of the illustrations are small and detailed. Readers hoping to solve the mystery will need to keep track of hints from different parts of the book. There are also some strong vocabulary words, as well as puns that I don't think the newest readers will get. (e.g. an amusement park owner named "Izzy Hurling"). And there are ransom notes in the form of word jumbles. 

But for kids who are ready for it, It Came from Beneath the Playground is a lot of fun. I laughed out loud several times while reading it. Like this:

Narrator: "That's fourth-grader Logan Lang sitting in the dark, dank library, just like she does every day after school, surrounded by her friends...

And when I say "friends," I mean mystery books, crime novels, and twisted tales of suspense...

They're all she has in this cold, lonely world." 

Logan (via text bubble): "Okay, I think they get it. I'm a little too into mystery books."

and:

Police detective (via text bubble, at the amusement park crime scene): "You again? I've warned you about trespassing on crime scenes. This place is crawling with stuffed animals, candy, and arcade games--it's no place for a kid!" 

and:

Narrator: "Gustavo jumps onto one end of the seesaw to save Bobby Bing, but for some reason, Bobby goes sailing into the air without even saying good-bye."

Gustavo (via text bubble): "Wait! Don't go. I'm trying to rescue you!"

Gustavo is not too bright, but he does mean well. He has a bunch of gadget-enhanced mustaches, which are pretty funny. Logan has a combination police scanner/lunchbox. Her office is a retired ice cream truck. 

Snoop Scoop: It Came from Beneath the Playground is perfect for kids who enjoy the Lunch Lady series and are ready for something a little bit more challenging. It's highly interactive and dynamic, and a great introduction to how to solve mysteries. Recommended for library or home purchase, with a slight plus for home purchase because kids may want to write in the puzzle and game section at the end. 

Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers (@LBKids)
Publication Date: September 9, 2014
Source of Book: Review copy from the author (via my friend Miles)

© 2016 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook. This site is an Amazon affiliate, and purchases made through affiliate links (including linked book covers) may result in my receiving a small commission (at no additional cost to you).


Literacy Milestone: Adding A Dedication Page to Stories

LiteracyMilestoneAThe other day my daughter decided that she would make my husband a book for his birthday. The book is called "The Case of Pirititis" (pirate-itis). It's about a girl named Olive who finds herself transformed into a pirate, though it's not finished. This is not my daughter's first book, but what struck me about her work this time was that she added a dedication page. The book was dedicated to my husband and me, with our full names listed. 

She's been noticing dedication pages for a while now, though I haven't always made a point of reading them to her. I do always read the name of the author and illustrator, and we'll frequently talk about what other books the same person has written and/or illustrated. If I've met the author I'll tell her that, too. And if we received the book as a gift I'll mention that, of course.

Anyway, the book for which she started noticing dedications was a book that included her own name along with the name of a family friend. Even though she understood that the book wasn't really dedicated to her, she got a kick out of this, and it has added to her enjoyment of a favorite title. Now we often look at the dedication page as part of our reading, and we sometimes speculate on who the person might be.

And now, apparently, her own work will also have dedication pages. I think this is great, and I wish that I had always highlighted the dedication pages in our read-alouds. I think that seeing the dedications helps her to see authors and illustrators as real people with loved ones. It also shows her, example after example, in a non-pushy way, authors and illustrators demonstrating appreciation for the people in their lives. Can't go wrong with that!

A small related story that some of you will perhaps appreciate: yesterday she was negotiating with me to receive a prize for a particular behavior. I'm not a big fan of using extrinsic rewards, and I was pushing back. She said to me, with a gleam of triumph in her eyes: "But don't you want to know what the prize I want is? It's a new notebook for writing more stories." She does know me pretty well, and that I'll be much more likely to okay a notebook than, say, a toy. I'm proud to report that I still refused to give the reward. However, a new pack of exam books may have landed in my shopping cart at Costco yesterday, to be given at a later date. 

For those of you who wrote your own stories/books as a kid, did they have dedications? I can't remember doing that myself, though my memory isn't what it might be... 

© 2016 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook


The Truth About My Unbelievable Summer: Davide Cali and Benjamin Chaud

Book: The Truth About My Unbelievable Summer ...
Author: Davide Cali
Illustrator: Benjamin Chaud
Pages: 44
Age Range: 6-9

A couple of years ago I reviewed I Didn't Do My Homework Because ... by Davide Cali and Benjamin Chaud, saying that I thought that it was fun, but wasn't sure if it would hold up to repeat reads. I didn't review the second book in the series, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to School.... But I have to say that my six-year-old daughter and I both really enjoyed the newest book in this series: The Truth About My Unbelievable Summer... It is a perfect book for elementary school kids to dig into over summer vacation. 

In The Truth About My Unbelievable Summer..., a teacher asks a suit-clad boy "what did you do this summer?" The boy launches into a lengthy story  about how he found a message in a bottle containing a treasure map, which was stolen out of his hand by a magpie, launching him on a world-wide quest to find the magpie, and follow the map to the treasure. There are pirates, sea serpents, balloons, and bookstores, among other scenes. The boy visits countries like India and China, and travels via everything from skis to jetpacks, always accompanied by his dog. 

Cali's text is minimal, but descriptive and fun to read aloud. Like this (across three pages):

"At just the right moment, my uncle passed by in his latest invention.

Since it was still experimental, there were some surprises.

My uncle dropped me off on a deserted island, where the magpie stole my map again." 

But it's the illustrations that really bring the boy's story to life. We see that the "invention" is a kind of spaceship, and that the uncle picks up boy and dog using hooks on ropes. We see the boy, led along a rooftop by a costumed actress. We see him fall from a bookstore ladder, with books flying. It's all just pure, kid-friendly fun. 

This book is aimed at six to nine year olds. It's sort of a cross between a picture book and an early reader. It's shaped like a hardcover early reader, but features full-page illustrations with a single sentence (usually at the bottom) on each page, like a picture book. The Truth About My Unbelievable Summer... would work as a read-aloud to a six-year-old, or as a book for a slightly more advanced reader to enjoy on her own. 

There was only one part that my daughter had trouble following, when the boy says that he traveled back in time, but it was really just some people making a movie. Both of us loved a twist at the end. 

In short, I think that The Truth About My Unbelievable Summer... is the best installment so far of this quirky series. Recommended for any six to eight year old kid who likes reading about travel and pirates and adventure in general. This would, of course, make a fun summer read. 

Publisher: Chronicle Kids (@ChronicleKids)
Publication Date: July 5, 2016
Source of Book: Review copy from the publisher

© 2016 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook. This site is an Amazon affiliate, and purchases made through affiliate links (including linked book covers) may result in my receiving a small commission (at no additional cost to you).


Small Talk Books: Star Bright Books

Star Bright Books sent me two upcoming books from their Small Talk Books collection. These are picture books written by Ellen Mayer, an early literacy home visitor. They are unusual in that they seem to be written more for adults than for kids. They are sort of manuals (complete with instruction sections at the end of the books) for talking with preschoolers in a way that will enhance their vocabularies. 

RosasVeryBigJobThe first book is Rosa's Very Big Job, illustrated by Sarah Vonthron-Laver, about a little girl who decides to help her mother by putting away the laundry, and in the process engages in some fantasy play with Grandpa. There's definitely some preschool-friendly humor here, as Rosa is able to put away the (previously folded by Mama) clothes neatly, while the lazier Grandpa struggles. Rosa has to teach Grandpa how to keep a jacket from slipping off the hanger ("Zip it up").

The transition into fantasy mode (when the laundry basket becomes a boat) is seamless, though reality remains in the details (as when they fish for a striped sock, using a hangar for a fishing rod). Rosa is very cute, and demonstrates the classic drive of a preschooler to help Mama. It's a nice bonus that the family is brown-skinned, though no other multicultural details are included. It's also nice, in both books, to see grandparents included as day-to-day caregivers.  

CakeDayThe second book is Cake Day, illustrated by Estelle Corke, about a little boy who helps his grandmother make a cake, which turns out to be for his own birthday. There's a recipe at the end. The tasks undertaken by Grandma, vs. the ones delegated to the boy, are realistic (she measures, he pours, etc.). His sentences are quite short - I suspect that he's younger than Rosa, but Grandma expands on his statements, and explains things to him step-by-step.

The note for parents, grandparents, and caregivers at the end of the book, written by Dr. Betty Bardige, explains Grandma's efforts to build the boy's vocabulary and encourages caregivers to do the same thing. In a nice touch, Bardige notes that it doesn't matter what language you speak when you are talking with your child, just that you keep talking interactively. 

I'm not generally a fan of books that are written for some overt purpose like this. But I do think that there's a place for these particular books. I think that they would be a good fit for doctors' office waiting rooms, and for giveaways by early literacy programs like Reach Out and Read. They would make good new baby gifts for parents not aware of the importance of reading and talking with kids, particularly if handed to those parents by a pediatrician or other trusted adult. 

I did read these two Small Talk Books aloud to my six-year-old, and she liked them reasonably well. I don't think that we'll be re-reading them on a regular basis - they skew a bit young for her interest - but they do have a certain cozy charm. They also show an understanding of things that preschoolers are interested in. Rosa's Very Big Job and Cake Day are worth a look from libraries and literacy organizations. These two books will be published on July 31, 2016. There are two other books in the series that are already available in both English and Spanish board book editions. 

© 2016 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook. This site is an Amazon affiliate, and purchases made through affiliate links (including linked book covers) may result in my receiving a small commission (at no additional cost to you).


Links I Shared on Twitter this Week: July 15: #ReadersAdvisory, #BookLists, and #BingeReading

TwitterLinksHere are highlights from the links that I shared on Twitter this week @JensBookPage. Topics for this super-light week include #BookLists, #Cybils, #KidLitCon, #ReadersAdvisory, binge reading, growing bookworms, Little Free Library, nonfiction, and reading. 

Book Lists

I could use this today: 15 Smile-Inducing Children's Books about Happiness + Joy http://ow.ly/FX0s30296SI  A @momandkiddo #BookList #kidlit

Get Kids to Read More with These Binge-Worthy Series by Stephanie Cohen @ReadBrightly  http://ow.ly/SZRI302bnUv  #kidlit #SummerReading

8 Kids' Books That Celebrate Diverse Historical Figures by @ClaySwartz @ReadBrightly http://ow.ly/VP2a302geTV  #kidlit #BookList

15 Books to Keep You Cool This Summer, from Tacky the Penguin to Julie of the Wolves http://ow.ly/nNph302hU4B  @literacious #BookList

Growing Bookworms

The Influence of Books in Early Childhood | Guest post by @mrskatiefitz @pagesandmargins  #RaisingReaders https://t.co/Myq8gmkL6y

#RaisingReaders and Rainstorms | Using books to help teach kids responsibility by @Kateywrites https://t.co/slPl0TjnB5

Well of course: Kids Books Use More Rare Words Than Adult TV, reports @bustle http://ow.ly/9sx7302geHA  via @PWKidsBookshelf

Kidlitosphere

This week's round-up of #kidlit fantasy + sci fi from around the blogs  w/ #Cybils + #KidLitCon plugs http://ow.ly/ZEXT302974e  @charlotteslib

Lots of interesting stuff in today's Fusenews, including a very cool clock — @FuseEight  http://ow.ly/gIPM302dhon  #kidlit

On Reading, Writing, Blogging, and Publishing

Adventures in the real world, on kids #reading #nonfiction for pleasure by @annerooney http://ow.ly/2lGg30297sJ  @AwfullyBigBlog

Humorous but sad: My #LittleFreeLibrary war: How our suburban lending box made me hate books and fear my neighbors https://t.co/u8NW32DdEy

The Satisfaction of #BingeReading http://ow.ly/TPFB30296OM  @5M4B @5minutesformom #reading

Schools and Libraries

Why Kids Need to Read What They Want and how @himissjulie created suggested #SummerReading lists http://ow.ly/XN6x302gegw  #kidlit

Doing #Readers' Advisory for “Early Able, Eager Readers” ages 4-10,  http://ow.ly/GQQz302boiR  New resource reviewed at @sljournal

A proposal for organizing #library collections for kids w/ as few labels as possible http://ow.ly/5BEm302dQhw  @himissjulie #ReadingChoice

Sounds right to me: How self-proclaimed Lazy Teacher @sxwiley helps kids learn to be competent + self-sufficient http://ow.ly/NXJK302hUj8 

© 2016 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook


6 Back-to-School #PictureBooks from @HarperChildrens

HarperCollins sent me a big box of back-to-school picture books, several of them featuring characters that we already enjoy. Here are some highlights:

Otter Goes to School by Sam Garton. When he learns from Otter Keeper what school is for, Otter decides to set up a school for his stuffed animal friends, who "weren't as clever as they could be." He dresses up as the teacher, and offers math, music, storytime, and lunch, Otter-style. Here's a bit that made me smile: 

"First it was time for math.
I wrote down all the numbers I knew.
No one could work out what to do after that.
So everyone just took turns holding the calculator." 

People who demonstrate proficiency in something (including the teacher himself) are awarded "lots of gold stars". But when one sad student is found not to be much good at anything, Otter needs help from Otter Keeper to figure out what to do. I thought this was the best of the Otter series so far, with a nice mix of humor and warmth. 

Pete the Cat's Got Class by James Dean.  In this new Pete the Cat book, Pete, who likes math, decides to help his friend Tom. Tom is rather math-phobic. Pete's idea for making math fun for Tom is to use cars (which Tom loves) for counting, addition, and subtraction practice.

Though a bit lesson-y, I do think that the idea of making math relevant to someone's particular interests is a good one. This book also features removable math flashcards, stickers, and a fold-out poster. My six year old is in heaven. And Dean's bright illustrations are enough to make any kid have a positive attitude about math. 

Frank and Lucky Get Schooled by Lynne Rae Perkins. This is a detailed picture book about a boy and his dog, and the learning that they do together. Basically, Lucky (the dog) wonders about things out in nature, observing and asking himself questions. He's then able to help Frank learn about things, too. Perkins uses this format to fill the book with interesting tidbits of and about knowledge. For instance, after Lucky wonders about skunks, the two use an experiment to learn what kind of bath will work to change the smell molecules. The reader learns about science, botany, astronomy, entymology, and more. 

Frank and Lucky Get Schooled is a picture book for older (six and up, I would say) and/or more patient kids. It is dense and sprinkled liberally with technical terms. But it's wonderful, a celebration of both friendship and scientific inquiry, full of outdoor adventures. This is a book that belongs in libraries and homes everywhere.

Rappy Goes to School by Dan Gutman and Tim Bowers is the sequel to Rappy the Raptor, about a young raptor who, after a bump on the head as an infant, only speaks in rap. In this installment, Rappy goes to school for the first time. His parents warn him not create a disruption with his rapping. However, when a big kid in his class makes fun of a boy who is clearly shy, Rappy steps in, offering rap as a distraction. Then, when rappy has trouble with spelling, the shy boy is able to help him. The bully gets his comeuppance, and Rappy concludes:

"Tomorrow I'll go back to school.
Learning stuff is really cool.
Now I know that in the end
all you need is one good friend."

So, ok, a bit lesson-y at the end. I think to some extent that's the nature of back to school books - they exist to show kids how to behave and not to be scared.  But I also think that kids about to start school will appreciate Rappy's joyous songs. Like the first book, Rappy Goes to School is not a book that can be appreciated when read silently to oneself. It's necessary to read it aloud, applying plenty of rhythm to the rapping.  I challenge you not to get this part stuck in your head (in a good way):

"I'm Rappy the Raptor
and I'd like to say
I may not talk in the usual way
I'm rappin' and snappin' all of the time.
I just can't help but talk in rhyme."

Ruby Rose: Off to School She Goes by Rob Sanders and Debbie Ridpath Ohi is about a little girl who lives to dance and her transition to a kindergarten class in which there is no time for dancing. Throughout the first day of school, Ruby Rose hip-hops and hula dances between activities. When her classmates line up after lunch, she gets them all line dancing. Her inability to sit still is frowned upon with increasing firmness throughout the day. But then an accident finds even the teacher dancing about. 

I always love Debbie Ridpath Ohi's illustrations, and this book is no exception. I suspect that Ohi is going to be the next illustrator whose pictures my daughter recognizes on sight. Ruby Rose's joyful movement comes across on every page. Her classmates are realistically multicultural and delightfully cheerful. And her wide-eyed mom, after receiving a surprise on the last page, is priceless.  

Ruby Rose: Off to School She Goes will please any kid who likes to dance. Kids who have difficulty sitting still, or fitting into the routines of school in general, will also relate to Ruby Rose's plight, and smile at her irrepressible spirit.

Winne & Waldorf: Disobedience School by Kati Hites is the sequel to Winnie & Waldorf, a book about a girl and the awkward dog who is her best friend. In this installment, Winnie decides that Waldorf has been behaving particularly poorly, and needs to go to school. She sets up Winnie's Disobedience School in her home, putting Waldorf through subjects like reading, addition, naptime, and art. But when the pair go outside for gym class, Waldorf's disobedience takes over and then (as in the first book) ends up saving the day. 

Hites' gentle illustrations lend humor to the book, and reinforce the strong bond between Winnie and Waldorf. During reading time, books scattered on the floor include: How To Tie Your Shoes by A. Shumaker. During art class, Waldorf wears a beret and a taped-on mustache, and works simultaneously with paint, crayons, and pencil (using mouth and paws). 

Like Winnie, kids about to start Kindergarten will enjoy this warm and quirky introduction to school activities. 

© 2016 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook

 


Growing Bookworms Newsletter: July 13: #GrowthMindset, #KidLit Reviews + #Playing #Library

JRBPlogo-smallToday, I will be sending out a new issue of the Growing Bookworms email newsletter. (If you would like to subscribe, you can find a sign-up form here.) The Growing Bookworms newsletter has refocused recently, and now contains content from my blog focused on growing joyful learners, including bookworms, mathematicians, and learners of all types. The newsletter is sent out every two to three weeks.

Newsletter Update:  In this issue I have four book reviews (two picture books, one illustrated early chapter book, and one middle grade) and one post about a small parenting win (my daughter turning to a book after being cut off from screen-time). I also have a post about my unwillingness to let my daughter win at Connect 4, and how I hope this contributes to nurturing growth mindset in her. I close with two posts with links that I shared on Twitter and one more with quotes from and responses to articles about to the joy of learning

Reading Update: In the past two weeks I read/listened to one middle grade title, and four adult titles. I read:

  • Jennifer Nielsen: The Scourge. Scholastic. Middle Grade/Middle School. Completed July 11, 2016, print ARC. Review to come closer to publication. 
  • Sara Paretsky: Deadlock (V. I. Warshawski #2). Dell Books. Adult Mystery. Completed July 1, 2016, on MP3. I'm really enjoying the early 80's time period of these early Warshawski novels. 
  • C. J. Box: Force of Nature (Joe Pickett, Book 12). Berkley. Adult Mystery. Completed July 6, 2016, on MP3. I'm sad to realize that I'll be finishing this series soon... Glad that there are plenty of the V.I. Warshawski books left. 
  • Elly Griffiths: A Dying Fall (Ruth Galloway #5). Mariner Books. Adult Mystery. Completed July 6, 2016, on Kindle. It took me a while to get through this one, but I continue to love Ruth and her assorted friends and family members, as well as Griffiths' writing. 
  • Sara Paretsky: Killing Orders (V. I. Warshawski #3). Dell Books. Adult Mystery. Completed July 9, 2016, on MP3.

ThisIsMyDollhouseI'm currently reading Bridget Wilder: Spy-in-Training by Jonathan Bernstein and listening to Widowmaker by Paul Doiron (the latest Mike Bowditch mystery). The books my husband and I and our babysitter have been reading to our daughter in 2016 can be found here. My daughter has been dabbling in reading on her own a bit more, without fuss. I'll just find a book open on her bed, or she'll bring one down for me to add to the list that I keep on the kitchen table. She's been visiting the library more this summer, too, and I thought that she made some excellent choices on her last visit, including a couple that I had on her wish list: This Is My Dollhouse by Giselle Potter and Maple and Willow Apart by Lori Nichols. This Is My Dollhouse actually inspired her to want to make her own dollhouse out of a cardboard box. She's also been playing library in my office quite a bit - there are plenty of books to play with!

I'm continuing to share all of my longer reads, as well as highlights from my picture book reads with my daughter, via the #BookADay hashtag on Twitter. Thanks for reading the newsletter, and for growing bookworms. Wishing you all plenty of time for summer reading.

© 2016 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook


First Grade, Here I Come!: D.J. Steinberg + Tracy Bishop

Book: First Grade, Here I Come!
Author: D. J. Steinberg
Illustrator: Tracy Bishop
Pages: 32
Age Range: 5-7

FirstGradeHereIComeFirst Grade, Here I Come! by D. J. Steinberg is a book of poems dedicated to experiences that kids are likely to have as they begin first grade, like visiting the library, waiting for snack time, going on a field trip, having pajama day, etc. I found the details early in the book to be fairly accurate regarding the difference that we're expecting as my daughter goes from kindergarten to first grade, like:

"Big-time backpacks on our backs,
skinny pencils, books in stacks,
desks to call our very own,
recess in the big-kid zone..."

Some of the other ideas could have been equally applicable to kindergarten or to higher grades, but of course there's going to be a range of experiences in every classroom. 

Steinberg includes nice touches of realistic humor throughout the book. For instance, the solution to a math problem of adding up different color candies is "ZERO, 'cause I ate all EIGHT!". A girl wears pajamas to school a week early for pajama day, to much embarrassment. The kids have their best field trip ever when the bus breaks down, and they end up hanging around and then getting ice cream at a mall. There's a poem about a kid who makes armpit noises. It's all quite kid-friendly. 

I thought that Tracy Bishop's illustrations, full of multi-cultural kids with huge, cartoonish smiles, were a bit cute for my own taste. But they certainly serve the book's purpose of making first grade activities seem accessible and non-threatening to younger kids. My favorite set of illustrations are the vignettes that illustrate the poem BFF (one picture per couplet):

"Monday, Kim's my BFF.
Tuesday, I'm through with her.

Wednesday, we'll never be friends again ever,
and sorry we ever were!

Thursday, we kind of forget why we're mad
and how we started this war.

Friday, Kim's my BFF--
my best friend forever once more."

The girls' varying moods are conveyed through posture and facial expressions, and they aren't (for once) smiling in every image. 

First Grade, Here I Come! is a solid addition to the ranks of books about starting school. I like that it covers activities throughout the year, rather than being only about overcoming fears on the first day (as are many in this niche). I also like the use of poetry to explore first grade events and activities, the kid-friendly humor, and the range of racial backgrounds conveyed by the illustrations. Libraries serving rising first graders will want to give this one a look. 

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap (@PenguinKids) 
Publication Date: June 28, 2016
Source of Book: Review copy from the publisher

© 2016 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook. This site is an Amazon affiliate, and purchases made through affiliate links (including linked book covers) may result in my receiving a small commission (at no additional cost to you).