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Posts from November 2016

Planet Kindergarten: 100 Days in Orbit: Sue Ganz-Schmitt + Shane Prigmore

Book: Planet Kindergarten: 100 Days in Orbit
Author: Sue Ganz-Schmitt
Illustrator: Shane Prigmore
Pages: 36
Age Range: 5-8

PlanetKindergarten100DaysPlanet Kindergarten: 100 Days in Orbit is a sequel to Planet Kindergarten (reviewed here). Both books were written by Sue Ganz-Schmitt and illustrated by Shane Prigmore, and feature a boy's imagined (?) reality that his kindergarten is actually a base camp on another planet (with fellow students as crewmates, teacher as commander, etc.). This second book addresses the trend that has arisen (recently?) for classes to celebrate "100 Days of School" by having kids bring in 100 of something. My daughter did this in pre-k and kindergarten. 

In Planet Kindergarten: 100 Days in Orbit, the crewmates arrive burdened by things like "100 ounces of goo", "100 globules" and more conventions bricks (legos) and cookies. The boy shares some highlights from his learning during his first 100 days of school, and then the crewmates "report to the rug with galactic pride, because today is a new milestone." Then they take some time out for "anti-gravity exercises", making medals, and building rockets. Artifacts from traditional kindergartens can be glimpsed in the illustrations (blocks and popsicle sticks, a nurse's office, etc.), but the text remains true to the spaceship premise. 

Then the kids, I mean crewmates, present their 100 items. A near disaster occurs for our hero, but, with help from his colleagues, a crisis is averted, and the recruits survive to meet day 101. 

The moral of the story is a bit overt for my personal taste:

"I am weightless, because know that no matter what new challenge lies ahead for the bold voyagers of Planet Kindergarten, we can count on each other... day 101 and beyond."

However the intergalactic and alien trappings should provide sufficient distraction for kids, and keep Planet Kindergarten: 100 Days in Orbit on the right side of entertaining. 

I do love Prigmore's digitally created bright, stylized illustrations, which perfectly match the tone and subject of the book. The alien kids have a wide range of shapes and colors (including pinks and greens), and they're all engaging. I particularly like a pink-faced girl with huge glasses and a long, skinny neck. 

The bottom line is that fans of Planet Kindergarten, of which there are many, will certain enjoy Planet Kindergarten: 100 Days in Orbit. The two books together would make a great first day of school gift for four or five year olds, particularly any who are obsessed with outer space. I also haven't seen a lot of 100th day of school books. This would be a fun read-aloud in any classroom celebrating that. Planet Kindergarten: 100 Days in Orbit is quirky, fun, and kid-friendly. 

Publisher: Chronicle Kids (@ChronicleKids
Publication Date: October 4, 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).


Sneaky Older Parent Tip for Getting Your Child to Practice Reading

I don't like to push my six-year-old daughter to practice her reading. She has a bit of reading homework to do, and as far as I'm concerned that is more than enough in terms of obligation. My primary goal at home is to keep reading fun and enjoyable for her. However, I do understand that the only way we get better at things is to practice them, and if I can sneak her in a little extra reading time at home, without it feeling like work to her, I'm ok with that. 

ThisIsMyDollhouseSo the other evening we were in her room, and she asked me to read her a book (This Is My Dollhouse by Giselle Potter). It wasn't bedtime yet, but it was getting dark. And as I'm sure other 40-something adults can understand, I can't read in dim light (or hardly at all, really) without my reading glasses. So I said something like: "I can't. My reading glasses are all the way downstairs. How about you read it?" And she did.

So, fellow parents who need reading glasses, feel free to borrow this tip. Simply don't keep your reading glasses handy when your child is likely to desire a particular book, and she will likely be sufficiently motivated to read it on her own.

I have also started using a similar approach when I am cooking dinner, and she asks me to read to her. My response: "I'm busy cooking now. How about if you read it to me."

It is fun having an emerging reader in the house! 

© 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


Links I Shared on Twitter this Week: November 11: #PictureBooks, #Diversity, #GrowthMindset + #EdTech

TwitterLinks Here are highlights from the links that I shared on Twitter this week @JensBookPage. Topics this week include: #BookLists, #DiverseBooks, #EdTech, #GrowthMindset, #PictureBookMonth, books for boys, ESL, growing bookworms, homework, imagination, literacy, play, reading, and self-reliance.

Book Lists

Gallery: The New York Times Best Illustrated Children’s Books of 2016 — @100scopenotes  http://ow.ly/djyC305RBx  #PictureBooks #kidlit

NotAPictureBookThe Year’s Best #PictureBooks for Kids Who Love Books | A #BookList from @Kateywrites https://t.co/XwIGrfmpTd

Great #PictureBooks to Teach Plot | A #BookList from @pernilleripp https://t.co/cEbaWxZBls

10 Best #PictureBooks on Kindness – #BookList from @tashrow https://t.co/He2w8aAale

Favorite Books for 5 Year-Olds | A @growingbbb #BookList  #PictureBooks https://t.co/a7WzcwzwnT

10 Early Chapter Books for Boys | @denabooks @ReadBrightly  http://ow.ly/N2SV305ZaWT  #BookList #kidlit

Top Ten Books to Give to Adolescent Boys Who Say They “Hate" #Reading by @oonziela @nerdybookclub http://ow.ly/m3Y2305X4yM  #kidlit

Diversity

Children's Books About #Diversity and #Multiculturalism, a @momandkiddo #BookList http://ow.ly/MlLd305X5w3  #DiverseBooks #Parenting 

Events + Programs

PirasaursToday's "Why #PictureBooks Are Important" post for #PictureBookMonth features my twitter friend @joshfunkbooks http://ow.ly/nfNW305YWIB 

Growing Bookworms

Correcting #Reading Mistakes (or not, depending on the type) by @thisreadingmama   http://ow.ly/m3gE305RBUt  #literacy

On Reading, Writing, Blogging, and Publishing

Here’s my secret weapon: I read, says @Jonwestenberg  http://ow.ly/piSR305RBdP  via @tashrow

Parenting, Self-Reliance, and  Growth Mindset

MindsetForget the #GrowthMindset (for a Moment): Time to Unravel the Fixed Mindset - @stefanieffrank @BAMRadioNetwork https://t.co/gCqdvvbjFc

Actions for Raising Literate, Informed, Engaged, Participatory Citizens (a starter list) from @donalynbooks https://t.co/LIMV6VV4EG

What Happens When We Shield Kids from Boredom | Do we stifle imagination? @MindfulOnline via @drdouggreen https://t.co/kUG8t2IErl

"attempting to impose adult best-laid plans on every minute of children's lives is both evil and foolish" @palan57 https://t.co/JAbxpG3B3D  #Play

Schools and Libraries

HackingHomeworkHelping Parents Support Students with #Homework at the Kitchen Table by @mssackstein  http://ow.ly/ksbg305X4VS  #GrowthMindset

Notes on the Examination of #EmergingTechnologies for Their Potential Impact on #Schools « @drdouggreen  http://ow.ly/yOiO305YYHv  #EdTech

Food for thought from @sxwiley on Wielding Our Power Carefully in how we interact with young kids re: #JoyOfLearning http://ow.ly/nDSy305YZUL 

An Increasing Number of Kids Need to Learn ESL. Here's an idea: Let Them learn English through #Play http://ow.ly/3FD03060Vyz  @jp_de_pedro

© 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


Edward Gets Messy: Rita Meade + Olga Stern

Book: Edward Gets Messy
Author: Rita Meade
Illustrator: Olga Stern
Pages: 32
Age Range: 3-7

EdwardGetsMessyEdward Gets Messy, written by Rita Meade and illustrated by Olga Stern, is about a little pig who is determined to stay clean. When his friends do things like jump in leaf piles, eat spaghetti, and play baseball in the mud, Edward passes. He stays safely, neatly, in the background. He eats steamed broccoli instead of the spaghetti. As all of these activities take place, the discerning reader will note Edward becoming more and more wistful. So it's a bit of a relief, when, through no fault of his own, Edward gets messy. And once Edward discovers that getting some paint spilled on himself is not the end of the world, well, joyful, messy play follows. 

The plotline of Edward Gets Messy is a bit simplistic. Kid hates getting messy, and has a dull life. Kid accidentally does get messy. Presto, kid learns that it's ok to get messy, and has a more fulfilling life. I might have preferred to see Edward freak out a little or have a period of adjustment or something. Though he is redeemed, to me, by being shown, in the final scene, cleaning himself off in a bubble bath. But the fact of the matter is that I liked this book very much anyway. 

Rita Mead's text is lively and enthusiastic, with strong vocabulary words.There are lots of short sentences and dramatic moments, making this a book that calls out to be read aloud. Here's the beginning (over a couple of pages):

"This is Edward.

Edward is a very particular pig.

He detests dirt.

He FEARS filth.

He likes things to be just so.

Edward never gets messy."

Olga Stern's colored pencil illustrations are simply a delight of color. It would be impossible to look at them (see the cover image above) and not feel cheerful. The scene in which paint spills all over Edward is both joyous and funny, even though Edward is initially "distraught" and "devastated". Here "devastated" is in a gigantic green font that matches the green paint. In other places there are sound effects shown in multiple, hand-drawn colors, each suitable to the occasion. New readers will be unable to resist the urge to read the callouts aloud themselves.

Edward is simply adorable, whether he is nervously standing back from the leaf pile or (later) diving right in. One's heart aches for him as he watches three other kids slurping up spaghetti (with spaghetti everywhere), even as he eats his broccoli with a fork. Other times, though, you can see that even though he's holding back, he's not unhappy. He's made a particular choice and is living with it. 

Because of the quick resolution of the plot, I think that Edward Gets Messy, despite some challenging vocabulary words, is more suited to preschoolers than to elementary school kids. It would be simply perfect for a child who, like Edward, shies away from participating in school. It would also make a very fun read-aloud to a pre-k classroom or storytime. Edward Gets Messy is a book that kind of sneaks up on the reader, and is hard to resist. Recommended, especially for younger listeners and classroom settings. 

Publisher: Simon & Schuster (@SimonKids) 
Publication Date: September 13, 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).


#JoyOfLearning Articles from @MsSackstein + @NaomiSRiley + @C_E_Platt

JoyOFLearningLogo Today I have three fairly diverse articles, all of which inspired me to want to blurb and comment. The first is a call from a teacher and parent encouraging other teachers to replace traditional reading logs with something more conducive to nurturing the joy of reading. The second is about screen time, and ways that kids' joy of learning can be enhanced through more time spent playing offline. The third is about using fictional role models to help math and science-loving girls to overcome negative messages from society. All three articles are worth your time. 

HackingAssessment#ReadingLogs Suck! says teacher @mssackstein | They make it about compliance and not about a love of reading http://ow.ly/pn9F305YXjh 

Starr Sackstein: "The mere act of assigning accountability logs to the experience has made it about compliance and not about a love of reading...

We must be mindful in what we ask students to do on their free time and really make sure it's something worth doing. Do we want them to love reading and spend time doing it because the enjoy it or do we want to monitor their every move and determine how they will interact with text?"

Me: My daughter does not have a reading log this year (for first grade). I am tracking what books she reads or (mostly) has read to her, using a simple list format that first picked up from her kindergarten teacher. But I don't strive to read a certain number of books per day, or for a certain time, or anything like that. I still feel like everything I do at home around reading should be centered on what maintains and increases her joy of reading. I'll fight back on school reading logs when and if I have to, but so far so good. I am glad to see Starr Sackstein encouraging teachers to stop using reading logs, and hope that this article gets widely read. 

#Screentime: the menace parents just won’t face (b/c it would cut into our alone time) | @NaomiSRiley @nypost https://t.co/HNqhkdQYrg

Naomi Shaefer Riley: "There is no doubt that for many kids screen time has cut into the hours that were previously devoted to physical activity, reading for pleasure and even sleep — all of which have fallen precipitously in recent years. But despite the best advice of doctors, not to mention our own sinking sense that screen time is changing our kids for the worse, parents won’t do much to limit kids’ access to these devices. Cutting back isn’t the same as buying more expensive groceries or the right sippy cups or attaching GPS devices to our kids’ backpacks.

At least initially, changing our kids’ screen habits would not only cause them significant discomfort and annoyance, it would also cut into our own ability to be left alone. Obsessing about plastic containers of soup is so much easier."

Me: This article isn't directly about the joy of learning for kids, but it strikes me as related in that when we get our kids away from screens, they are going to spend more time reading for pleasure (as noted above), building structures out of blocks, and playing physical games. I've certainly noticed this with my own daughter. If I would let her, she would be on her device all day long. When I tear her away she complains for a bit, but then she moves on to activities that I think are better for her, physically, mentally, and in terms of sparking her creativity. 

IvyBeanFossilOn Raising a Scientist (Who Happens to Be a Girl) + how fictional role models can help http://ow.ly/SQSd30615BN  @C_E_Platt @HornBook #STEM

Cynthia Platt: "Because these days, the commentary on her interests isn’t aimed predominantly at my husband and me anymore — it’s aimed squarely at her. Grownups expressing surprise that she likes science and math — or telling her that girls don’t really like these subjects. Her peers teasing her about doing math for fun...

Let’s face it: girls are as interested in these STEM areas of study as boys are. Everyone is interested in them, right? It’s cool and fascinating stuff! Just the most cursory research will tell you, though, that while girls do just as well in science and math classes as boys, by the time they’re out of school they only make up about 29% of the workforce in STEM fields.

This strikes me as a failure on our part as a society. We educate our girls in STEM, but then remind them — in ways both subtle and anything but — that they don’t belong there."

Me: This piece really resonated with me. My daughter currently loves math and science (and reading), and the idea of random adults questioning her choices, or kids teasing her at school, makes me sad. But I was reassured by Cynthia Platt's explanation for how her daughter has remained unbowed by such negative feedback. She has fictional role models showing her the coolness of girls doing science, kids making things, and kids staying true to themselves. I hope and intend that books (and carefully selected shows) will help my daughter to stay true to her own interests, too. 

© 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 post may contain affiliate links. 


Cleonardo: The Little Inventor: Mary GrandPre

Book: Cleonardo: The Little Inventor
Author: Mary GrandPre
Pages: 48
Age Range: 5-9

CleonardoCleonardo: The Little Inventor is a lavishly illustrated celebration of both creativity and family. Little Cleonardo is the daughter of Geonardo and granddaughter of Leonardo. She is the youngest in a long line of inventors. But while Geonardo works hammering and welding metals, Cleonardo prefers to work with natural materials like vines and dragonfly wings. Her father, though caring, is a bit dismissive of her efforts, but with Grandpa Leo's support, Cleonardo sets out to make her own invention for a local invention contest. Eventually, Gleonardo and Cleonardo learn that both of their approaches have merit.

Grandpa Leo's name is, of course, a nod to Leonardo da Vinci, but there is no overt discussion of the famed artist and inventor. Rather, Cleonardo focuses primarily on the relationship between inventor father and inventor daughter, as well as their respective projects. My six-year-old was charmed by Cleonardo's efforts, as well as her persistence. We both enjoyed GrandPre's detailed, old-fashioned illustrations, most celebrating Cleonardo's love of the outdoors. 

The text in Cleonardo is dense for a picture book, but the story certainly held my daughter's interest. I would recommend it for elementary schoolers, but would expect it to be a bit challenging (in both words and pictures) for preschoolers. Here's a snippet of the text:

"So Cleo Wren decided to make something of her own for the festival. The forest was full of treasures, from golden goo bamboo and tacky termite twine to poofy cloud feathers and glitter-winged butterflies. 

With Grandpa Leo's help, she cleaned off a large fallen tree for her worktable. Her grandpa then gave her one of his favorite tools: a twisty, wooden-handled awl."

Lush text, a capable heroine, a mix of science and nature, and strong family relationships. Cleonardo covers a lot of ground, and would make a great addition to an elementary school library. One could pair it with some nonfiction about the real Leonardo, or with other books that celebrate female inventors (like Rosie Revere, Engineer). Safe to say that my science and invention-loving daughter will be reading this one again. Recommended for ages 5 and up. 

Publisher: Arthur A. Levine Books (@Scholastic) 
Publication Date: August 30, 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).


Life Imitating Art: The "No, Pigeon!" Bus Loop

DontLetThePigeonMy daughter's elementary school had a raffle associated with the annual PTO Pledge Drive. Our family won the right to name the bus loop at the school for this year. Since there were buses involved, it struck me that we should in some way incorporate Mo Willems' Pigeon. I mentioned this to my daughter, and she immediately seized on the idea, deciding that we should call it the "No Pigeon!" Bus Loop. I was a bit concerned that people wouldn't get it, but I'm happy to report that everyone we have mentioned this to immediately got the reference. My daughter attends a book-appreciating elementary school, it would appear. 

So, if you happen to be in my neck of the woods in San Jose, keep your eye out for the "No Pigeon!" Bus Loop. Life does sometimes imitate art sometimes. 

© 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


Links I Shared on Twitter this Week: November 4: Boys and Reading, #GrowthMindset + #PictureBookMonth

TwitterLinksHere are highlights from the links that I shared on Twitter this week @JensBookPage. Topics this week include #GrowthMindset, book clubs, boys and reading, early readers, gifted education, parenting, Picture Book Month, Picture Books, and screen time.

Book Lists

6 Slick Presidential Election #PictureBooks | A #BookList from @momsradius  http://ow.ly/x10w305KuQI  | I would add BUDDY FOR PRESIDENT

BlizzardTop Ten Books To Celebrate Snow by @lauragmullen @nerdybookclub  http://ow.ly/N6mH305F634  #BookList #PictureBooks

Not to be Missed Rhyming Books for Preschoolers http://ow.ly/9ATT305PhiC  | A @growingbbb #BookList of #PictureBooks

Perfect for today. A #BookList of #CUBS -themed #PictureBooks from  @fuseeight http://ow.ly/XL8e305Phya 

Diversity + Gender

How to get your boy #reading | Male bookworm role models + designated time http://ow.ly/hQbd305KwM4  @SusanElkinJourn @GdnChildrensBks 

Events + Programs

Kicking off #PictureBookMonth w/ "Why #PictureBooks Are Important" by @carmenoliver  http://ow.ly/7dIy305KsA9  | Opening possibilities

Read about how @susankusel offers Book or Treat! for #Halloween  http://ow.ly/b6BL305IwqN  @HornBook #RaisingReaders

Growing Bookworms

RaisingKidsWhoReadHow to Help Students Develop a Love of #Reading | @HKorbey @MindShiftKQED   | w/ advice from @DTWillingham

How Mother-Daughter Book Clubs Can Help Girls Find Their Voice | @maupinschmid  @ReadBrightly http://ow.ly/gjzi305NcRO  #literacy

#Review Round-Up: Books for Beginning Readers (#ChapterBooks #EasyReaders), October 2016 from @mrskatiefitz http://ow.ly/ixbu305IvCS 

Much truth here: The Tough But Important Task of Raising Free-Range Readers @olugbemisola @ReadBrightly http://ow.ly/txzG305PccI  #ReadWidely

Growth Mindset

How #ArtsEducation Teaches Kids to Learn From Failure @MindShiftKQED  http://ow.ly/86jR305Kxao  #GrowthMindset

MindsetLetting Children Always Win Is a Losing Strategy says recent research @AmherstCollege http://ow.ly/BO3F305Ncj8  @annlukits @WSJ #GrowthMindset

Nudges (including #GrowthMindset ) That Help Struggling Students Succeed by @DavidKirp @nytimes http://ow.ly/B6EX305Ivlo  #learning

Why #GrowthMindset Isn’t Working in Schools…Yet | @rupa_c_g @EdSurge  http://ow.ly/bHIm305FZyR  via @drdouggreen #Teachers need strategies

On Reading, Writing, Blogging, and Publishing

CuriousGeorgeMedalChaos Unleashed: What #PictureBooks Tell Us When They Go Completely Bonkers — @fuseeight http://ow.ly/UVd3305NaPb 

Parenting / Screen Time

Impact of #Devices on Children's Sleep A 'Major Concern' for Researchers @BenjaminBHerold @EdWeekEdTech http://ow.ly/SNph305Kxqz 

Why Parents Aren’t Always the Best Role Models for Their Kids + how fiction can help @AdamMGrant @ReadBrightly http://ow.ly/1QWy305Pfsp 

Schools and Libraries

When They're Not Beside Us | @CathyMere asks: How do we set students up for #learning when they are on their own? http://ow.ly/60Wb305PgOT 

This is Us ... Too: The Need for #Gifted #Education | guest post by @AngelaAbend  http://ow.ly/4fzi305Ktin  @educationweek #GrowthMindset

This is an encouraging story: Growing number of elementary schools now #homework-free http://ow.ly/dp7R305IvWs  @CBSNews via @drdouggreen

© 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


Pond: Jim LaMarche

Book: Pond
Author: Jim LaMarche
Pages: 40
Age Range: 5-8

PondPond by Jim LaMarche is a gentle celebration of nature and friendship. A boy discovers water bubbling up from the ground in the woods, in an area that he has always called "the Pit." He gets the idea that the Pit was once a pond, and enlists his sister Katie and his best friend Pablo to help him nurse the pond back to health. They clean up trash, build a dam, and are rewarded by a gradually expanding body of water. Their dad, who recalls an earlier version of the pond, helps out, too.

Eventually the pond becomes a resource for animals and the community. A sub-plot involves a heart-shaped quartz that Pablo discovers, which becomes something of a talisman for the kids, and involves a hint of magical realism at the end.

LaMarche sprinkles in a few facts about nature, like the fact that barn swallows eat mosquitos, but keeps everything closely tied to the story. (e.g. The kids are excited about the barn swallows because they've been pestered by mosquitos.) When geese start coming to the pond the boy wants to feed them bread, but "Miss Know-it-all Katie" says not to, because of what she read in a book.   

Pond is fairly text dense. I actually felt like the text could have been pruned back a little, particularly LaMarche's occasional use of adverbs. Here's an example: 

"All right, let's get to work!" said Dad.

The day before, we had dragged the old wooden boat into the pond. It had started leaking immediately. At dinner we had told Dad about the boat.

"I can't believe it's still there," he had said quietly. "Let's see what we can do in the morning."

As Dad patched and puttied the holes and cracks, Pablo sanded out the slivers and I nailed down all the loose boards. Katie painted a dragonfly on the bow. "We'll call it the Dragonfly," she said.

The "quietly" might not have bothered me, but then Katie says something "quietly" later in the book, and I was faintly irritated. But that's all ok, because it's LaMarche's nature-toned acrylic, colored pencil and opaque ink illustrations that dominate every page. Everything is textured, from the kids' skin and hair to the grasses and rowboat. Sunset colors make many of the pages glow.

My favorite page spread is one in the middle of the book where there is no text, and we see Katie rowing the boat, Matt floating on an inflatable mattress, and Pablo standing in the water with a bucket. There are birds and other animals, lily pads, and just a strong feeling of summer. We don't even see the sky - the pond is the backdrop for the entire page. For me, these illustrations brought back childhood visits to ponds and the woods, both real and imagined through books. The ending of Pond is sure to leave readers with a warm glow. 

Pond is a gorgeous ode to the natural world, as well as a subtle love song to family and community. While a bit text dense for group storytime, itcertainly belongs in libraries and would make a nice addition to a nature-themed display. I look forward to reading it with my daughter. I think it will make her want to get outside with her friends. Recommended.  

Publisher: Simon & Schuster (@SimonKids)
Publication Date: September 13, 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: November 2: #Literacy Milestones, #Kidlit Reviews + #JoyOfLearning Links

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 (picture book through YA) and two posts about my daughter's latest literacy milestones (making lists and writing essays). I also have two posts with links that I shared recently on Twitter and one more in-depth post on recent joy of learning-related articles. My blogging was a bit light because I was on vacation for a week or so. 

Reading Update: In the past two weeks I read two middle grade, two young adult, and two adult novels (thank you vacation time). I read: 

  • Paul Tobin: How to Outsmart A Million Robot Bees. Bloomsbury USA Children's Books. Middle Grade Fantasy. Completed October 29, 2016, print ARC. Review to come, closer to publication.
  • Greg Pincus: The Homework Strike. Scholastic. Middle Grade Fiction. Completed October 30, 2016, print ARC. Review to come, closer to publication.
  • Mary Hooper: Poppy. Bloomsbury. Young Adult. Completed October 25, 2016, on Kindle. I did not review historical YA novel, because I read it while on vacation, but I did enjoy it, and have already purchased the sequel. 
  • Rebecca Podos: The Mystery of Hollow Places. Balzer + Bray. Young Adult. Completed October 29, 2016, on Kindle. 
  • Mette Ivie Harrison: His Right Hand (Linda Wallheim). Soho Crime. Adult Mystery. Completed October 23, 2016, on Kindle.
  • Jan Moran: The Winemakers: A Novel of Love and Secrets. St. Martins Griffin. Adult Fiction. Completed October 26, 2016, on Kindle.

BeautifulBlueWorldI'm reading Beautiful Blue World by Suzanne LaFleur and still listening to the latest in Tana French's Dublin Murder Squad mysteries, The TrespasserThe books my husband and I have been reading to our daughter in 2016 can be found here. We didn't get much reading done with her while we were on vacation (too tired every night), but we are back to our regular reading routine now. Her own reading seems to improve every day. Last night she read me a Berenstain Bears book, and I only had to help her with perhaps a dozen words over the course of the book. Her most recent favorite picture book is probably still Buddy for President by Hans Wilhelm. I think reading it makes her feel plugged in to election season. She told me that she's reading some sort of Star Wars chapter book in school, and that she likes it because there are lots of illustrations. 

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. 

© 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 Kid in the Red Jacket: Barbara Park

Book: The Kid in the Red Jacket
Author: Barbara Park
Pages: 144
Age Range: 8-12

The Kid in the Red Jacket is a reissue of a 1988 early middle grade title by Barbara Park. The Kid in the Red Jacket is a quick read that does not feel dated, despite the absence of cell phones and computers. What keeps this book feeling fresh, I think, is Park's keen sense of what kids really think. The Kid in the Red Jacket is a book that brought childhood back into focus for me as an adult reader. It's about a boy named Howard Jeeter who has to move from Arizona to small-town Massachusetts at age 10. To say that Howard is unhappy about leaving his home, school, and friends would be a huge understatement. The Kid in the Red Jacket is the story of Howard's adjustment to his new life. It's both funny and true. 

Howard could be any 10-year-old boy. He wants to make his parents feel badly about ruining his life. He misses his friends. He kind of likes his baby brother, Gaylord, though he won't admit this to anyone. And he desperately wants to fit in at his new school. When the lonely six-year-old girl across that street interjects herself into his life, Howard worries that people will find out, and that friendship with her will cause him to become an outcast. But the irrepressible Molly, recovering from an unfortunate family situation, is hard to avoid. 

I could have highlighted dozens of passages. Funny, true, and occasionally profound. Here are a couple of examples:

"My mother just sighed. She probably would have yelled, but I had been making her yell so much lately, I think she was getting sort of sick of it. Normally, parents really enjoy yelling. But I guess it's like anything else--too much of a good thing, and it's not as fun anymore." (Page 2)

"A lot of mean stuff had been been done to me--by my parents, by the moving men, and by my father's stupid company. And even though sometimes you can control your anger, you can't control your sadness And that's what I mostly was, I guess--sad. Sad about leaving my friends and my school and my room and my soccer team and a million other things." (Page 13)

"She (his new teacher) seemed nice, but I knew that didn't mean much. Teachers are always nice when you first meet them. Their true personalities don't come out until something goes wrong in the classroom, like when a fight breaks out during a spelling bee." (Page 46)

The Kid in the Red Jacket belongs in elementary school libraries everywhere, and is a must-purchase by any parent who is moving an elementary-age child to a new school. This is a book that can be enjoyed by readers of all ages. I may well read this one aloud to my almost-six-year old. I think that she, like me, will empathize with Howard. Recommended. 

Publisher: Yearling (@RandomHouseKids)  
Publication Date: August 12, 1988 (new reissue edition)
Source of Book: Review copy from the publisher

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