Murray, Julie. Sweden. Minnesota: Abdo Publishing, 2015. 978-1-62403-347-6. 40p. $20.00. Gr 2-4.
This book is one of many that are a part of the “Explore the Countries” Series. The book has a user friendly lay out, vivid illustrations, glossary and index. Each page has pictures of the country along with captions and fun facts for readers to read throughout. In the middle of the book, there is a timeline with the history of the country and a “Tour Book” which gives examples of things you could do while visiting the country. The text is leveled nicely and bold for all readers to enjoy.
Non Fiction (394.26) Jenn Roth, Lincoln Elementary (Gettysburg Area School District)
I use this book for our 3rd grade country projects. Students use the books with ease for the information is spaced out nicely and they don’t get over whelmed with too much information on the page. I would recommend this book to any library doing country projects in 2nd or 3rd grade.
Pets Up Close (Series). North Mankato: Capstone, 2014. $18.49ea. Gr. K-1.
Olson, Gillia. Pet Cats Up Close.978-1-4914-0582-6.
Shores, Erika. Pet Dogs Up Close. 978-1-4914-0583-3.
Dubke, Karon. Pet Parrots Up Close. 978-1-4914-0581-9.
Wittrock, Jeni. Pet Rabbits Up Close. 978-1-4914-0584-0.
Young readers love animals. These books take a CLOSE look at their closest animal friends from retractable claws to whiskers. Readers learn about all the fascinating body parts of these pets and their functions. Photographs are absolutely stunning! Perfect “go to” book for almost any Kindergarten or first grade student.
636; Pets Robin Bartley, Davis Elementary School
The Checkerboard Animal Series. Minneapolis, MN: ABDO, 2014. 24p. $17.95/ea. Gr. 6-8.
Cat Set (6 Titles) ISBN 9781616133962, 9781617872839
Individual Reinforced Library Bound Hardcovers: $17.95
Set of 6: $107.70
Abdo Digital Hosted e-book with unlimited access: $27.95
If you plan any investment in series books, The Checkerboard Animal Series from Abdo is the one. I was lucky enough to receive a couple of these books in my box to review. I am very familiar with the dog and cat series and they are tried and true and the students love them. The only time I see a full set of these is during the summer when the students are gone. Teaching in a rural school, many students will never see the more exotic breeds up close and personal, so this is the next best thing!
Abdo publishes sets of 6 new titles every year. The books can be purchased as a set or individually. The format is the same for the books which makes it nice if you are teaching research skills.
Please check this series out at: http://abdopublishing.com/
Lourie Stewart Dunbar and Connellsville Township Elementary Schools
McCarney, Rosemary. Dear Malala, We Stand with You. 978-0-553-521207. New York: Crown/Random House, 2014. $16.99. 32p. Gr . PK – 3.
What a breatakingly beautiful book! And perfect timing: Malala was named winner of the Nobel Peace Prize the week I received this book. Author McCarney heads Plan, one of the oldest and largest international charities whose mission is to end global poverty. This nonfiction picture book begins with a 2-page “Who is Malala?” and proceeds with a powerful per page thereafter, of girls around the world each proclaiming the ways they stand with Malala, for example: “In many countries, bullets are not the only way to silence girls. Early marriage…poverty…discrimination…violence…all play a part. The images are haunting but yet suitable for young audiences.The book ends with the text of Malala’s 2013 speech to the UN Youth Assembly.
This book is the perfect read aloud for any number of social studies lessons. I will be using it to culminate a 3rd and 4th grade biography genre study. I plan to read the book and follow it with a clip of Malala giving the UN speech. Very moving book; highly recommended for the collection as well as for teachers’ classroom use.
Nonfiction Picture Book Kathie Jackson, Plymouth Meeting Friends School
Pham, Le Uyen. The Twelve Days of Christmas. New York: Doubleday Books for Young Readers, 2014. 978-0-385-37413-2. 34 p. $17.99. Gr. K-2.
Le Uyen Pham’s illustrations are the highlight of this version of The Twelve Days of Christmas. The text is straightforward and provides the words to the classic holiday song. The illustrations show a young boy and girl who take turns giving each other gifts of four calling birds, three French hens, two turtle doves, and so on.
The illustrations are gorgeous. Pham’s style is reminiscent of olden days; children are dressed in holiday finery, the gifts are richly colored, and the early pages have lots of white space which highlights the pictures’ beauty. The animals of early gift numbers, such as the six geese a-laying, try to wander on to the pages before they are meant to the children must shoo them back to the pages where they belong. The people of higher numbers, such as the eight maids a-milking, are multi-cultural and appear to represent countries as far and wide as northern Europe and Asia. End material provides the sheet music for the song along with a history on the twelve days of Christmas. This is a book that will be enjoyed by young and old.
782.42, Folk songs Lindsey Long, Nye & Conewago Elementary Schools
Laidlaw, Rob. Cat Champions: Caring for our Feline Friends. Ontario Canada: Pajama Press, 2014. 978-1-927485-31-6. 63 p. $19.95 Gr. 3-7.
Numerous full color photos of cats and children with inspirational stories about their help for foster cats can be viewed in the book. Unique cats such as the descendants of Hemingway’s cat Snowball at his Kew West, Florida house, alley cats and shelter cats all have sections. Special information boxes titles “The Cat’s Meow” and “The Cat’s out of the bag” add additional facts and curiosity to the book. Further information about adoption and ways to raise funds for cat welfare is found throughout the book. Additional resources, glossary and index can be found at the end. In your library you could make a display of favorite books such as the Warrior Cats series with cats as main characters and display this book with other non-fiction cat and cat care titles.
Nonfiction/Cats 636.8 Beth McGuire, Wendover Middle School
Travel with the Great Explorers (series). St. Catharines, ON: Crabtree 2014. 32 p. $20.75 each. Gr. 3-6 Cooke, Tim. Explore with Henry Hudson. 978-0-7787-1246-6.
O’Brien, Cynthia. Explore with Christopher Columbus. 978-0-7787-1245-9.
—.Explore with Samuel de Champlain. 978-0-7787-1256-5.
Stuckey, Rachel. Explore with Lewis and Clark. 978-0-7787-1247-3.
Chances are that your library has a book regarding these famous explorers, but do the books that you have for your students have a welcoming and fresh feel of a learning scrapbook combined with full color primary sources and maps? This set provides information in a very engaging way for students with clever headings. “Solve it with Science” looking at the latest forms of technology available and providing experiments for you such as using a ruler and string to map a room in the house. “This Isn’t What it Said in the Brochure” highlights difficulties that the explorers faced during their travels. Each book also has sections to encourage writing with explorer journal areas allowing students to reflect upon perspective and persuasive writing skills. A glossary, timeline, suggested websites, additional books and index is included in each book.
Biographies/ 970.01 Columbus/ 970 (de Champlain) 917.804 (Lewis) 910(Hudson)
Beth McGuire, Wendover Middle School
Zappa, Marcia. The NFL’s Greatest Teams: Chicago Bears. ABDO Publishing. 2015. 9781624033599. 32 pages. Ages 7-10.
This non-fiction picture books provides the highlights and history of this famous football team. Students will be able to use this as a reference book to provide team milestones and the players that helped make the team successful. Key vocabulary words are provided and then defined in the glossary in the back of the book.
Non-Fiction/Football/796.3 ZAP Krista Goodzinski, Mars Area Centennial School\
Zappa, Marcia. The NFL’s Greatest Teams: New England Patriots. ABDO Publishing. 2015. 9781624033636. 32 pages. Ages 7-10.
This non-fiction picture book provides the highlights and history of this famous football team. Students will be able to use this as a reference book to provide facts about the team and the history of how they started and where they got their name. Key vocabulary words are provided then defined in the glossary in the back of the book.
Non-Fiction/Football 796.3 ZAP Krista Goodzinski, Mars Area Centennial School
Larson, M.A.. Pennyroyal Academy. New York: G.P Putnam’s Sons, 2014. 978-0-399-16324-1. 314p. $16.99. Gr. 4-8.
A fantastic leap for readers who enjoy fairytales, magic and adventure. The author has created a fantastic world that combines a variety of fairytales and a school for princesses and knights where they must learn to fight witches and slay dragons. The princess to be must complete their training and must conquer their own fears and dilemmas on the way. It is an entertaining read for leisure reading and will delight those readers that still love princess stories and the classic fairy tales with a new twist. The dialogue flows and there is adventure and action. The princess characters are depicted as strong warriors to be, not the typical princess character which is a dynamic difference for readers.
Fiction: Fantasy Denise Naumann, Eisenhower Elementary
Nordling, Lee. Bird Cat Dog. Minneapolis: Graphic Universe, 2014. 978-1-4677-4522-2. 32p. $125.99. Gr. K-3.
Told in panels, three separate stories develop depending on the perspective of the bird, the cat or the dog. All three of the characters interact with each other in their own panels and create a bridge between stories. The bright colors and engaging graphics encourage readers to move forward. Wordless, it is an excellent creative writing experiment to allow students to develop their own characterization and dialogue. Each character gets to ne the “hero” of their story in their own way. A dynamic and fun book that has potential to be used in unlimited ways.
Fiction: Graphic Novel Denise Naumann, Eisenhower Elementary
Van Draanen, Wendelin. Sammy Keyes and the Kiss Goodbye. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2014. 978-0-3758-87055-2. 236p. $16.99. Gr.5. In this powerful final chapter of the 18 book series, Sammy lies in the hospital after being pushed from a third story fire escape. Wendelin answers many long pondered questions…who is the Nightie Napper? What is the real story with her absentee mom and newly discovered dad? What happens to her friends, her enemies? And most importantly: Who would try to kill Sammy? As Officer Borsch and Sammy’s friends try to figure it out, we find out what an impact this spirited gumshoe has had on the entire community.
Mystery Robin Bartley, Davis Elementary
Hills, Tad. Drop It, Rocket! New York: Schwartz and Wade Books, 2014. 978-0-385-37248-0. $12.99. Gr. PK-1.
For every parent, teacher and child who loved How Rocket Learned to Read and Rocket Writes a Story, get ready to shout “Hooray!” Rocket returns in this beginning reader that will have early readers building their confidence with the great repetition and of course the adorable Rocket and his friends. This time, Rocket is finding items for the new word tree. As he brings them to the yellow bird, she tells him to “Drop it, Rocket!” Until he finds an item that is just too good to let go… This adorable addition to the Rocket books will delight young readers. Here’s hoping that there are lots more to come!
Beginning Reader/Animals Donna Fernandez, Calvary Christian Academy
Blakemore, Megan Frazer. The Spy Catchers of Maple Hill. New York: Bloomsbury, 2014. 978-1-61963-348-3. 310p, Gr. 3-6.
Twelve year old Hazel Kaplansky isn’t fitting in. Her best friend Becky has moved away, her music teacher continues to give her the triangle instead of the glamorous glockenspiel, and now a new boy has joined their class and he is smarter than her! Maple Hill is a quiet town, but mysteries are everywhere. Hazel spends lots of time alone and has a great imagination. As a result, she observes some events that she feels are just not right. Senator McCarthy is questioning union members at the local factory who are suspected to be Communists. She suspects the new gravedigger of being a communist spy as well. As Hazel watches and takes notes in her journal strange things begin to happen. When she befriends the new boy, Samuel, he tries to get her to see that some of these strange events may just be innocent after all. But Samuel himself is a bit of a mystery .
Hazel and Samuel’s quirky personalities will resonate with any child who has ever felt as though they don’t fit in. She worries about world events, as well as the Russians bombing their town (a real fear in that time period). Readers will learn about the Cold War era and the time after the war, when people tried to get back to living their lives in the midst of the losses of the war, fear and suspicion.
Mystery Donna Fernandez, Calvary Christian Academy
Macauley, Jo. Inferno (Secrets and Spies Book #3), North Mankato, 2014. 978-1-4342-9595-8. 220 p. Gr 4+.
In this third book of the series, young Beth Johnson, a rising star in the London theater continues to spy for the infamous Alan Strange. The young spy and her friends are to report any suspicious behavior and protect the king at all costs. When a friend’s sister is kidnapped, the evil Groby returns and tells John, a fellow spy, that he will not see his sister again unless he helps to kill the king. Beth, John and their friend Ralph must find the young girl, trick the villains into believing that they are going along with the plot against the king, and avoid a fire that is now raging through London.
These books are well written, action packed and very believable. Readers will love the action, suspense and quick thinking of this cast of characters, all while learning about London during that time. A great series to hook those reluctant readers!
Mystery/Historical Fiction Donna Fernandez, Calvary Christian Academy
Klimo, Kate. Dog Diaries: Dash (Dog Diaries series). 978-0385373388. New York: Random House, 2014. $6.99. 150p. Gr. 2+.
Klimo brings us another delightful story, told by the dog in the title of actual events in history. Dash was aboard the Mayflower and brings the experience home to young readers. Klimo’s stories fill the reader with the story with the sounds, smells, senses and emotions of the period in history the book describes, while building empathy for the animal, reminiscent of Black Beauty. In the back of each volume is an appendix with actual photographs pertaining to the story, in this case more in depth information about the English Springer Spaniel. As soon as new Dog Diaries and Horse Diaries volumes are released I buy them and my eager readers snap them up.
Historical Fiction, Dogs Kathie Jackson, Plymouth Meeting Friends School
Palacio, RJ. 365 Days of Wonder: Mr. Browne’s Book of Precepts. 978-0553499049. New York: Random House, 2014. $14.99. 432p. Gr. 5+.
For all your readers who loved Wonder, RJ Palacio has assembled this wonderful book of precepts – words to live by. Ostensibly by Mr. Browne, Auggie’s favorite teacher, this book has a nugget a day – from everyone from the Dalai Lama to John Lennon and over 100 fans of the book who sent in their own inspiring words, some with illustrations. We hear from Mr. Browne and other favorite Wonder characters in brief passages that precede each month. This would be a fun companion book for a literature circle and discussion group. Recommended for all those who treasured Wonder and want that feeling to linger.
Realistic Fiction Kathie Jackson, Plymouth Meeting Friends School
Lloyd, Natalie. A Snicker of Magic. Scholastic, Inc. 2014. 9780545552707. 320 pages. $16.99. Ages 8-12.
Felicity is able to see words! And she sees them everywhere, especially around the people she knows. She writes these words down in a journal so that she always has them. When her ‘wandering’ mother finally decides to head back to her hometown of Midnight Gulch, Felicity’s words begin to provide the hope that she has longed for, a home of her own. She finds out that Midnight Gulch use to have a magical history and is hoping that with her new friends, she is able to bring that magic back to life and that her mother will find the happiness she once had.
Fiction Krista Goodzinski, Mars Area Centennial School
Holub, Joan, and James Dean. Mighty Dads. New York: Scholastic, 2014. 978-0-545-6098-5. 34p. $16.99. Gr PK-1.
A cute picture book for young boys who want to grow up and be just like their dad. The illustrations and colorful images bring out the fun playfulness of the book. Each page introduces a big and small truck. The big truck (Dad) is in the front doing its job while the small truck (son) is behind imitating. The Dad and son work together side by side in a construction site. The end is heartwarming as the Dads tell their sons how proud of them they are and the sons respond with, “I Love You Dad.”
Picture Book Jenn Roth, Lincoln Elementary (Gettysburg Area School District)
This book would be a great read of Father’s Day or for those reader who can’t get enough of trucks. I read this to my Kindergarten students and they loved it. This would be helpful when teaching Kindergarten about vehicles around the community.
Richards, Dan. The Problem With Not Being Scared of Monsters. Honesdale, Pennsylvania: Boyds Mill Press, 2014. 978-1-62091-024-5. $15.95. Gr. K-3.
While many books about monsters deal with the fear of them, this charming story takes readers on a different sort of journey. Instead of being unable to sleep at night because of shadows, noises, and of course, the possibility of finding a horrific monster under the bed, a young boy cannot sleep because the monsters in his life just won’t leave him alone! Because he is NOT afraid of monsters, they think he is one of them. Throughout a normal day, the boy has trouble getting anything accomplished because the monsters always want to play. At the end of the story, the boy’s younger brother seeks help because he fears there might be something scary hiding in his room. Lucky for him, his older brother is there to help him see that while there are monsters hiding in his room, they aren’t in the least bit scary!
This story give readers a fun and unique perspective on the theme of monsters and children. Instead of seeing a sinister relationship between the two, we see a sense of playfulness and lightheartedness. Kids will love to imagine a world in which they can have food fights and play games with giant, colorful, and gleeful monsters.
Picture Book Lisa Naylor, Concord Elementary
Wilson, N.D. Ninja Boy Goes to School. New York: Random House, 2014. 978-0-375-86584-8. $16.99. Gr. K-3.
Being a ninja is not easy. One must be strong, nimble, fast, patient, and tenacious. The young boy in this story understands what it takes to be a ninja. He dresses like one and practices the ways of the ninja throughout his day at school. While he understands what it takes, many others just don’t seem to get it. Including his teacher, who is not pleased when she finds the boy outside playing when he should be in the classroom. But then again, part of being a ninja is having the ability to disappear when the time is right, such as, in the middle of a tedious math lesson. Needless to say, the little ninja gets into trouble at school and at home with his parents for his sneaky behaviors. His parents put his ninja clothes in a box and we are led to assume that he will not be able to dress the part anymore, at least not for awhile. Luckily though, the young boy knows that part of being a ninja is pretending to be a normal old kid every once in awhile.
This story will be a hit with young readers, especially those with big imaginations and maybe even a slight knack for troublemaking.
Picture Book Lisa Naylor, Concord Elementary
Willems, Mo. The Pigeon Needs a Bath! New York: Hyperion Books for Children, 2014. 978-142319087-5. 34 p. $16.99. Gr. K-2.My favorite pigeon book to date! Mo Willems’ pigeon is back in a tale about why he definitely doesn’t need a bath. After all, he just took one last month and “Y’know, in some places it is impolite to bathe.” When he’s finally convinced that he needs a bath, there are tons of excuses given in a multi-panel scene showing the pigeon changing the temperature, the water level, and so on, only for the pigeon to discover that taking a bath can be quite a good time.
This is a wonderful additional to Willems’ Pigeon series. He’s as charming and convincing as ever and Willems’ trademark illustrations only add to the fun. It’s a must-buy for your pigeon fans!
Picture book Lindsey Long, Nye & Conewago Elementary Schools
Krull, Kathleen. What’s New? The Zoo!. New York: Arthur A. Levine Books, 2014. 978-0-545-13571-9. 40p. $17.99. Gr. K- 3.
Fun filled facts about the history of zoos around the world. The book includes short facts about the zoos and artists renderings of the facts in watercolor. Good 5 minute filler at the end of class.
Picture Book, Nonfiction Lourie Stewart, Dunbar and Connellsville Township Elementary Schools
Verburg, Bonnie and Teague, Mark. The Tree House that Jack Built. New York: Orchard Books, 2014. 978-0-439-85338-5. Unpaged. $17.99. Grades K – 2.
Following the familiar rhythm and cadence of the original House that Jack Built, this wonder-full twist takes a boy named Jack to a tropical treehouse that can’t be beat. Jack built the place, but the ever-growing animal menagerie that inhabits the house make the story buzz. Mark Teague’s superb illustrations also bring life to the rhyming text, with plenty of extra action to explore in repeated readings. Jack spends his day moving among the animals and his inventions with a sense of calm wonder and developed routine. Robinson Crusoe and Tarzan would both approve of his lifestyle, and there is also a sense of Goodnight Moon to the script. Students will love to explore Jack’s place, and likely dream of their own tree house after this enjoyable story.
Fiction; Picture Book Dustin Brackbill State College Area School District
Joyce, William and Ellis, Christina. The Numberlys. New York: Simon & Shuster, 2014. 978-1-4424-7343-0. Unpaged. $17.99. Grades K-2.
In a world of order and systems and manufacturing, is there room for imagination and creativity? This is the question at the heart of The Numberlys, when 5 friends sneak through a factory to turn parts of numbers into a brand new alphabet. The new creations break the mold and invite a culture of fun foods, new names, colors and emotions. William Joyce works this Numberly world playfully with clever wording, unique formatting and design, including neutral color tones and a factory setting paying homage to Fritz Lang’s Metropolis. This book was inspired by the Moonbot app of the same name, but there are interesting differences between the book and app. While personally the book was not as satisfactory as the app’s interactions and humor, those familiar with both will appreciate the comparisons and the book’s colorful ending.
Fiction; Picture Book Dustin Brackbill State College Area School District