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Posts from September 2017

Book or Bell: Chris Barton and Ashley Spires

Book: Book or Bell
Author: Chris Barton
Illustrator: Ashley Spires
Pages: 40
Age Range: 4-8

BookOrBellBook or Bell has a premise that teachers and librarian will be unable to resist. Written by Chris Barton (The Amazing Age of John Roy Lynch) and illustrated by Ashley Spires (The Most Magnificent Thing), Book or Bell is about a boy named Henry who finds "the most awesome book about a bike." Henry is so enthralled in his new book that he starts ignoring the bell at school, staying put at his desk reading instead of going to recess, lunch, etc. This rebellion causes much consternation for his teacher, the school principal, the mayor, the governor, and a visiting senator. The authority figures propose a succession of bigger, louder bells. But in the end, it's Henry's teacher who finds a compromise solution. 

I of course appreciated the premise of this book. Who doesn't like a kid who can't put his book down, and doesn't particularly care what's happening around him? With bonus points for the kid being a brown-skinned boy. Chris Barton's text is over-the-top and read-aloud-friendly. Like this:

"The school was not prepared for anyone to just stay put.
By not springing up with the ringing of the bell, Henry set of a 
chain reaction unlike anything they'd ever seen.

There was an empty space where Henry's tray would have been.

The food that would have gone on Henry's tray went--
SPLOT! -- onto the floor.

The shoe that stepped on Henry's
food went SCHWOOP!"

The various bells also have loud sound effects, and dramatic impacts on the other students, and are sure to make kids laugh. 

I have to confess, though, that I didn't really understand the ending. The teacher basically lures Henry out of his house on Saturday with the gentle "DING! DING!" of a bicycle bell, and the kids and adults all end up playing outside, with Henry reading under a tree. My seven-year-old took the ending in stride, but I didn't quite get the point. But maybe this is just a deficiency of understanding on my part.

It's a cheerful ending, with kids and grownups engaged in a mix of reading and more active pastimes. I certainly like that the book celebrates both a child reading and a child sticking to his guns to do what he wants to do. I like that his teacher seemed to have sympathy for him, even as the other adults were striving for control. I also like the cheerfulness of Spires' illustrations, particularly a madcap scene in which basketballs bounce all over the street, making "a little extra work for the crossing guard." 

Book or Bell is an over-the-top portrayal of the way that a book can make a person want to escape from the rest of the world, and they way that the rest of the world may object, loudly. It's fun to read aloud, with humorous names and plenty of sound effects, and has joyful, multicultural illustrations. I think that librarians and teachers will find it impossible to resist. 

Publisher: Bloomsbury (@BloomsburyKids)
Publication Date: October 17, 2017
Source of Book: Advance review copy from the publisher

© 2017 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: September 8: Learning Styles, School Start Times + #Cybils Judges

TwitterLinksHere are highlights from the links that I shared on Twitter this week @JensBookPage. Topics this week include: #BookLists, #Cybils, #DiverseBooks, #EdTech, #LibraryCardMonth, #ReadAloud, #STEM, devices, empathy, learning styles, libraries, reading logs, schools, teaching, and testing. Happy reading!

Book Lists

Women-in-science-book Like : 20 Books and Toys About Programming

Newish Books That Have Fun With Words, from

Children's Books w/ Latino + Hispanic Characters, from  

Making & Keeping Friends: 50 Mighty Girl Books About for various ages from  https://t.co/pEggVQfxWl

Ghosts100 Best Middle Grade Fantasy Books of the Last 10 Years, according to

Events + Programs

Note : September is National Card Sign-Up Month  

Book Relief: + Partners Respond to - | + Barbara Bush Houston Fdn

+ Community Joins in Relief Efforts, roundup by

On 9/14, Australians will celebrate , setting aside one hour for | has the scoop https://t.co/A51llFikqV

Growing Bookworms

This post is delightful: You Realize You're Raising a Book-Lover |  https://t.co/C8wUHuEDib

How one teacher let go of logs, talked about book, + learned to trust students  https://t.co/3Drjwb7fKI 

Kidlitosphere / #Cybils

Cybils-Logo-2017-Web-SmChildren's + book bloggers / reviewers, have you considered applying to be a judge? It's very cool!  

Apply to Be a Judge, says | bloggers, vloggers, Goodreads reviews, all who love/review

The Only Constant is Change… | announces new category organizers +

On Reading, Writing, Blogging, and Publishing

CorduroyAn Ode to Reading Kids' Books Out Loud, w/ of great , from Sarah Ullery via  

Animals or People — Which Make Kids More Giving? | skeptical on recent study re: moral lessons in  https://t.co/pbzGTscrPG

Who knew? Gunning for Your Children: When Classics Pack Heat —

After a Member’s Ouster from Newbery Medal Committee, a Closer Look at Social Media Rules | recaps issue

Parenting 

Yes, Are Destroying a Generation, But Not of Kids | via  

STEM

Be-an-engineer-smallFree "Read Question Think" Posters for Kids featuring + friends from  https://t.co/t719axHRDE

Our Favorite Simple for Kids from | | Chemical reactions + more

BBC series: 9 things you didn't know were invented by women (kevlar!) via

Schools and Libraries

How many people believe theories are right? And why?  

SiliconValley Companies Court Brand-Name, High-Profile , Raising Ethics Issues

Letting teens sleep in would save the country roughly $9 billion a year -

Interesting post from | once you know something, it's hard to think like someone who doesn't, + to teach it

A reminder from that an Encouraging Word Can Last a Lifetime, particularly coming from an  

5 Ways to Step Up your Adovcacy Game from | harness social media, send newsletter + more 

Food for thought: Have Accommodations Gone Too Far? asks Miriam Kurtzig Freedman in

© 2017 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


Charlie & Mouse & Grumpy: Laurel Snyder + Emily Hughes

Book: Charlie & Mouse & Grumpy
Author: Laurel Snyder
Illustrator: Emily Hughes
Pages: 48
Age Range: 4-8 

CharlieMouseGrumpyCharlie & Mouse & Grumpy is the sequel to Charlie & Mouse, written by Laurel Snyder and illustrated by Emily Hughes. Both books are full-color illustrated early readers consisting of four chapters. There is a fair bit of text on each page, but the text is wide-spaced and dialog-heavy, keeping it accessible to younger readers. 

Charlie & Mouse & Grumpy is a fun, kid-friendly read. In this installment, brothers Charlie and Mouse are excited to welcome houseguest Grumpy (apparently their grandfather). Their adventures with Grumpy are quite ordinary. He checks in on how they are, and how they are growing. They "pounce" on him when he's napping. He babysits one evening, and they eat pizza and build a blanket fort together. And when he leaves at the end of his visit, there are sad goodbyes (though lightened with humor). 

When Grumpy first arrives, he pronounces older brother Charlie "big", to which Charlie agrees. Younger brother Mouse, however, declares himself to be getting "medium." I especially liked this bit:

"When you are medium," said Mouse,
"you can read some books. But also, people
read books to you."
"What else?" asked Grumpy.
Mouse thought again.
"When you are medium, you can swim.
But your mom sits on the steps and watches.
Just in case."
"Ahh," said Grumpy. "It sounds very nice
to be medium."
"It is," said Mouse. 

There's a little picture of Mouse swimming, with Mom in the background, feet in the water, book on her lap, waving. There's also a picture of Dad reading to Mouse, while Charlie looks over Mouse's shoulder. Which pleased me, because I would have thought that people would still read to Charlie, even if he can read on his own. The blanket fort scenes also feature delightful illustrations. Charlie and Mouse have spiky hair and big eyes and happy smiles in the presence of Grumpy. 

Charlie & Mouse & Grumpy captures the affection between grandparent and grandchildren, and the excitement of having a houseguest. The differences between bigger and smaller brother are there (with Mouse falling asleep in the fort), as is everyone's sadness on saying goodbye. I think that this book hits perfectly on the interests of five year olds. Highly recommended, and a lovely addition to any early reader collection. 

Publisher:  Chronicle Kids (@ChronicleKids)
Publication Date: October 3, 2017
Source of Book: Review copy from the publisher

© 2017 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: September 6: Picture Books, Grit, and Graphic Novels

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 contains content from my blog focused on growing joyful learners, mainly bookworms, but also mathematicians and learners of all types. The newsletter is sent out every two to three weeks.

Newsletter Update:  In this brief issue I have four picture book reviews. I also have two posts with links that I shared recently on Twitter and one post with more detail about four joy of learning-related articles that I came across recently concerning academic pressure on kids, reading aloud, and grit. 

Reading Update: In the last two weeks I finished two middle grade, one young adult, and two adult novels. I read/listened to: 

  • Ellen Oh: Spirit Hunters. HarperCollins. Middle Grade Fantasy. Completed August 25, 2017, library copy. This is an extremely well-done ghost story, with a nice mix of supernatural elements, diversity, and family drama. Recommended, especially for fans of Mary Downing Hahn. 
  • Holly Black and Cassandra Clare: The Silver Mask (Magisterium, Book 4). Scholastic. Middle Grade Fantasy. Completed September 1, 2017, review copy. Review to come. 
  • Craig Falconer: Not Alone. Amazon. Adult Science Fiction. Completed August 26, 2017, on MP3. This near-future science fiction novel contemplates the exposure of a long-term conspiracy to hide the fact of a visit from aliens. I liked the story, which focuses extensively on the power and manipulations of the media, but found the plotting to be a bit slow-paced for an audiobook. It might have benefitted from tighter editing. But I did enjoy it. 
  • Eileen Cook: The Hanging Girl. HMH Books for Young Readers. YA Fiction. Completed September 4, 2017. Review to come. 
  • Sue Grafton: Y is for Yesterday. Marion Wood Books/Putnam. Adult Mystery. Completed September 4, 2017, on MP3. Hard to believe that this is the penultimate book in the Kinsey Milhone series. It marries an extortion attempt connected to a ten-year-old murder with the stalking of Kinsey by a serial killer from a previous case. The storyline is a bit complex, with scenes shared from the viewpoint of other characters, including scenes depicting the 10 year old murder. But I thought that Grafton juggled these aspects well, and I had no difficulty following it. I was sorry when the book ended. 

InOtherLandsI'm currently reading In Other Lands by Sarah Rees Brennan and listening to Glass Houses by Louise Penny. My daughter and I are still nominally reading Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire together, but we've been interrupting that for more picture books in our breakfast table reading. For her own reading, she's now read Ghosts by Raina Telgemeier twice since we checked it out of the library a couple of weeks ago, and is on her second reading of Drama. She asked for her own copies of both as part of this month's Scholastic order. Given her propensity for re-reading, and her deep attachment to Raina Telgemeier's work, I think this will be a worthwhile investment. You can find my daughter's 2017 reading list here

Thanks for reading, and for growing bookworms. 

© 2017 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


Pigeon P.I.: Meg McLaren

Book: Pigeon P.I.
Author: Meg McLaren
Pages: 40
Age Range: 4-7

PigeonPIPigeon P.I. by Meg McLaren is a hardboiled picture book mystery in which the characters are all birds. Private Investigator Murray MacMurray, a pigeon, is taking things easy following the departure of his partner. But then a little yellow canary shows up, trying to get Murray interested in the disappearance of a number of birds (and the canary's own near-capture). The jaded Murray rebuffs "the kid", but when he later learns that the canary is missing, he is on the case. 

Pigeon P.I. is filled with old time P.I. novel tropes, from Murray's fedora to his gruff attitude to the thief's hideout being "the Red Herring Bar and Grill." There are phrases like "it looked like my wings were clipped for good" and "sticking your beak where it doesn't belong" that extend the noir style to the bird community. All of this offers tremendous fun for me, a long-time fan of P.I. stories.

But I think that the Pigeon P.I. will work for young kids, too, even if they are less versed in noir. The end pages feature a handy "Beginner's Guide to Private Investigation", from different types of detecting hats to a ranking of different snacks for stakeouts to a series of general tips. These are illustrated with humorous images of the little canary asking things like "Am I a clue?" The interior illustrations are also full of detail to reward close reading, from old newspaper articles on the wall of Murray's hideout to descriptions of missing birds on milk cartons. There's a fun bit in which the police are on a big case that seems to involve nothing more than eating donuts (which are quite large relative to the birds, adding to the visual humor). 

There are little jokes. Like this:

"Have you seen this canary? We suspect she has been bird-napped by a cream ring." (says an officious police bird)

"A crime ring, Sarge." (adds a smaller assistant police bird)

In short, Pigeon P.I. is total kid-friendly (and adult-friendly) fun, and a perfect introduction to the old-style private eye genre. This would be a great book for kids to read prior to launching into the various chapter book mystery series (A to Z Mysteries, etc.). Highly recommended, and sure to become a family favorite in my house. 

Publisher: Clarion Books (@HMHKids)
Publication Date: October 3, 2017
Source of Book: Review copy from the publisher

© 2017 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: Labor Day Weekend Edition: #Cybils, #KidLitCon, #ReadingLevels, #KidLitCares

TwitterLinksHere are highlights from the links that I shared on Twitter this week @JensBookPage. There is a ton of great stuff this week. I think people are back from the summer and focusing on books and literacy (plus the #Cybils Awards and #KidLitCon are moving forward). Other topics this week include #BookLists, #ComputerScience, #GrowingBookworms, #KidLitCares, #nonfiction, #STEM, #SummerReading, friendship, parenting, reading levels, rewards, and schools.

Book Lists + Awards

Cybils-Logo-2017-Web-SmHey there, + book reviewers / bloggers, the 2017 Call for Judges is Now Open | Apply by 9/11

25 of the Most Exciting of Fall 2017 | + more

Events

How to celebrate , coming 9/13/17, ideas from website like dressing as your fave character

Growing Bookworms

PassionateReadersWhen we make a child into a level we aren't helping the child in the long run says  https://t.co/ydJzLKDVlE

How to get kids to look away from their screens + take pleasure in books |  https://t.co/41xYWKTop5 

Why labeling books by disempowers young

Beyond : Choosing for Developing Readers | + in  https://t.co/GIphsA1Dpz

Kidlitosphere

KidlitconLogo2017-SquareWithHeaderBig news for bloggers, authors, publishers + fans: Announcing the Program for '17

Conf that's even fun for introverts shares why, w/ testimonials from +  #KidLitCon 

Kicking off : Hurricane Harvey Relief Effort, | peeps can donate visits, books etc 

In today's Fusenews we find bookish leggings, Elisha Cooper, book banning + more tidbits

On Reading, Writing, Blogging, and Publishing

StillLifeKeep the serendipitous choices of Alive All Year says in | "Instant summer, year round" 

Parenting 

Having a stronger, closer friendship as a teenager predicts less depression as a young adult via  https://t.co/OWKRjLkjlE 

Tips to Help Kids w/ Anxiety | | listen, be specific, do dry run + more

Schools and Libraries

Nice piece about focusing on students' strengths: What Are Your Superpowers?  

How Ending Behavior Helped School Focus on Student Motivation and Character

In wars, both sides are wrong says | She argues for "good homework" + time 4 learning

STEM

Girls set AP record…skyrocketing growth outpaces boys | Minorities also up 

Ideas and ways to engage young kids in play from around the blogosphere

© 2017 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