Wednesday, February 21, 2018

The Prince and the Dressmaker *Blog Tour & Giveaway*

February, 2018

At nearly 300 pages long, there is a lot to love within these pages. Dressmaker Frances is all we want to be. She is independent, driven, and talented. She is also loyal, trustworthy, and kind. Prince Sebastian could not have found a better dressmaker, or friend, than he found in Frances. Their complicated relationship somehow seems uncomplicated because it is sweet and gentle at its core.

For this tour bloggers are asked to share their favorite panel or page from the book. Here is my choice:
Why I love this panel: This is the first time Sebastian puts on one of Frances' designs. Frances looks so surprised. Is it because her dress is so beautiful? Because Sebastian is so beautiful in her dress? Because Sebastian is wearing a dress in front of her? You'll need to read the next page for more insight.
I also love how happy Sebastian looks. You can feel it radiating off the page. The confidence he gains from Frances' designs and friendship change his life, and this is just the beginning.

The final section of the book is a glimpse into Jen Wang's process of creating The Prince and the Dressmaker. When I got to this section I had already thoroughly enjoyed the story, and then I was given pause to really let the process of creating it sink in. I think you're going to enjoy every bit of this one.

Thanks for stopping by! For other stops in the tour visit: Fierce Reads

Monday, February 5, 2018

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 2-5-18

Thanks to our dynamic hosts: Jen at Teach Mentor Texts and Kelle at Unleashing Readers. Head to either blog to find reviews as well as dozens of links to other blogs filled with reviews and recommendations!

Books I Read this Week:

They Didn't Teach this in Worm School: One Worm's Tale of Survival
by Simone Lia
Candlewick Press, 2018 (Feb. 13th)
192 pages
Recommended for grades 3-5

Marcus the worm is almost eaten for breakfast by Laurence the bird (that looks like a chicken but thinks he is a flamingo)...Marcus uses quick wit and smooth talking to convince Laurence that they should travel to Africa so Laurence can be with his true kind.

The book is super silly, not the kind that I particularly enjoy...but I was wrong about how popular Fortunately, the Milk turned out to be...soooo, who knows.

Wishtree by Katherine Applegate, illustrated by Charles Santoso
Feiwel & Friends, 2017
215 pages
Recommended for: Everyone! Grades 3+

What a beautiful story, from start to finish. Narrated by the tree, we are taken on a short journey of great importance. The theme of tolerance ripples in and out of the tree's story, sometimes highlighting the humans living around her throughout the years, sometimes highlighting nature's creatures and processes. This is the kind of book entire units can be created around. The kind of book that brings people together and broadens perspectives.

Whose Moon is That? by Kim Krans
Random House, 2017
36 pages

Whose moon is that? The cat, bear, and bird all think it belongs to them, and they are not the only ones. The simple text is brought to life with stunning illustrations. I shared this with my students and each page was a delight.

Alfie by Thyra Heder
Abrams Books for Young Readers, 2017
48 pages

My third graders loved this one! Adorable illustrations, and a fun dual perspective story. The fact that it is based loosely on the author's real pet turtle made it that much more fun!

I'm Currently Reading:

Candlewick Press, Feb 13th

On Deck:

First Second, Feb. 13th

Thanks for stopping by!
Have a great reading week :)

Monday, January 22, 2018

*Love Sugar Magic* Review & Giveaway!!

Love Sugar Magic: A Dash of Trouble
by Anna Meriano
320 pages
Recommended for grades 4-7

Leonora (Leo) is a: pre-teen, Mexican-American, Texan, and 5th daughter. Oh, but that's not nearly all...she's also a bruja! Leo begins getting suspicious and grumpy at all the secret keeping going on between her sisters and mother. In preparation for Dia de los Muertos, Leo's sisters and mother are making big plans for working at the family bakery. Big plans that don't include Leo. And she's getting tired of it. The book kicks into action when Leo sneaks away from school to uncover the family secret.
Leo is the kind of character you want young girls to connect with. She is brave and loyal and ambitious. She is also nervous and sneaky and unprepared. She is genuine, and reminds us all that being a great person doesn't mean being great every step of the way.
I loved the mix of characters, and especially felt drawn to Leo's friend, Caroline, who had lost her mother to cancer before the book opened. 
So, grab a copy, and grab a cookie. 

Find the teacher's guide here.

Read more about the book at two other spots in this mini blog tour!

Author Anna Meriano herself wrote the Nerdy Book Club post which I just read before completing my post. She opens up to the vulnerability she felt over releasing her book at a time when other books and a blockbuster movie (Coco) are seemingly already "covering" the Mexican-American or Dia de los Muertos angle. Luckily she seemed to come around on her own. Which a good because I'd hate to call her out as being so, so, so wrong. 

Coco is an awesome movie. See it if you haven't! With a movie like that out I know it is bringing new understandings and wonders to people all over. When one kid sees that movie he will want to learn more of, not be tired of, the setting, people, and customs. Another kid will see it and see some of themself in the story, also craving more of that reflection. So wipe away any last crumb of doubt, Anna, because there is room, plenty of room, for all the stories.

Enter for your chance to win a copy, courtesy of Walden Pond Press!
Please share the book love via facebook, twitter, etc.!
Contest Closes Sunday, January 28th at 8PM EST

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Christmas Picture Books!

What a delight to open a box full of Christmas books! I was truly zipped right back to childhood as I poured through the pages of these books. I look forward to sharing these books with my students, my own children, and anyone else looking for new holiday titles!
Do you have a special way of displaying your holiday books? As a child my mother had wrapped the top and bottom of a large sturdy box and it held our Christmas books. I remember being so excited to see that box each year. The magic never faded. I was gifted a lovely painted wooden crate for my family's holiday books. I hold such fondness to my childhood memory that I also plan to recreate it for my own children. Luckily I have a book collection habit, so we will more than fill both book storage options! 

If you're looking to keep building your holiday book collection, check out these new offerings from Candlewick Press. Then, enter below for a chance to win one!

My 3 year old is obsessed with the original edition of this story. He is going to flip when he sees this special edition! 

Matt Tavares is from Maine, which means that from time to time our paths cross...when I hunt him down for book signings. Tavares' artwork is stunning, always, so I couldn't have been more exited to find out that he was working on a Christmas book!
Red and Lulu, a pair of cardinals, live happily in a large pine tree in the suburbs, until their tree is eyed for a special purpose. Problems arise when Red and Lulu become separated. 

I first thought this was an Elf on the Shelf story, but it is not. This one I'd recommend for the crowd under 7. A young girl wakes up on Christmas Eve, hears noises downstairs, and creeps down to investigate.

Adorable board book with moving parts. I had fun sharing this one with my 3 year old!

Follows the story of a fairy learning to be a Christmas fairy. Things don't go so smoothly for this little fairy.

Perhaps my new favorite of the year! From picking the tree to decorating the tree, what's not to love? One of the most exciting parts of preparing for Christmas is depicted in vintage inspired illustrations that I just love!

If you are a fan of this series I know you'll be excited to get your hands on this one! Bear has agreed to have a Christmas party but he's never had one before. His idea of what happens at the party might just differ from Mouse's ideas.

I'm Currently Reading:

Thanks for stopping by!
And stay tuned for more holiday books!

Monday, November 13, 2017

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 11-13-17

Thanks to our dynamic hosts: Jen at Teach Mentor Texts and Kelle at Unleashing Readers. Head to either blog to find reviews as well as dozens of links to other blogs filled with reviews and recommendations!

Today I'm sharing a few picture books I've recently read and enjoyed, as well as a novel I've been meaning to share out on. 

Peachtree, 2017

A sweet story about a class saying goodbye to a retiring teacher. The book takes readers through the end of the year pack-up, with less excitement of summer vacation, and more permanence, as the children work through the idea of not seeing Mrs. McBee at school next year.

Tundra Books, 2017

When I read this little story about a puzzle piece looking to find a place to fit, someplace wild and exciting, I liked it. When I read it out loud to my students, I loved it. A book that all us can relate to, because at one point or another, we have not fit in the way we wanted.

Boyds Mills Press, 2017

Such fun! It was fun to read this one aloud, watching and listening to the children's reactions. What is imagined and what is real dance together on the page for an exciting and joy-inducing experience!

Inspired by Carrie at There's a Book for That, I have been displaying our book-a-day choices and giving the students some voice in their favorites. I love how Carrie is extending her choices into weekly themes with lessons/take-aways and student reflection.
Here are our choices from last week:

Candlewick Press, 2017
464 pages
Recommended for grades 4-7

My thoughts: I couldn't wait to open this book and dive into its pages. The cover and write-up certainly intrigued me. Then the setting pulled me in deeper. There's something I can't resist about a dark and depressing orphanage. I am interested to see where this book goes as it transforms into a film because the book felt a little wild to me once the characters escaped the home. The twists and turns and layers of characters, many of which come and go just when you need them, didn't flow as I expected.

I would love to hear your thoughts. And to help me hear your thoughts I'm opening up a drawing for my advanced reader copy.

Drawing will close Sunday evening.

I'm Currently Reading:

Thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, October 26, 2017

*Dragonfly Song* Blog Tour Review & Giveaway!

Dragonfly Song by Wendy Orr
Pajama Press, 2017
Release date: 10-27-17

Weeks ago I was contacted out of the blue to be a part of this blog tour. I didn't know anything about Dragonfly Song, aside from the author's name, which is one of the reasons I didn't hesitate at all to tke part. Wendy Orr brought Nim's Island to us, which has been loved by many of my students. Knowing how much I enjoyed Nim's story, I was excited to read Wendy's newest title. 

It was nothing I expected.

That's not entirely true...I did expect to enjoy it.

But I didn't expect how tightly it would hold me throughout the entire story. Small and fragile Aissa, cast about at the will of so many adults, tormented and bullied by the people surrounding her, and yet, she never hardened. She strengthened, but never hardened. Which makes you root for her with every single turn of the page.

The bull dancers, what frightening and beautiful art is this? Children being sacrificed for the safety of the island...until one can out-dance the bull and free their people from this annual ritual. Obviously Aissa gets called to be a bull dancer, the cover depicts as much. But when? I waited and waited for this turn, and continued to be surprised by the direction of the story.

I love the gentleness and the vulnerability in this story. I also love the hope, the knowing that there is more in store for Aissa. And I love Aissa's sense of good and her perseverance. My goodness, she certainly perseveres.

This is a book to give readers that love being absorbed in another world. Readers that don't need flashy events on every page, readers that can wait. It is so worth the wait.

Summary from Publisher:

The whispers say it’s not true that the Lady’s firstborn died at birth. They say it’s worse—the baby was born with an extra thumb dangling from each wrist. If she’s not perfect, she can never follow in her mother’s footsteps.

Nobody but the old wise-woman knows what truly happened to Aissa, the firstborn daughter of the priestess. If they saw the half-moon scars on the servant girl’s wrists they would find it out, but who would look twice at lowly, mute No-Name? Then the soldiers of Crete come to the island, demanding children as tribute for their god-king’s bull dances as they do every year. Aissa is determined to seize this chance to fight for her own worth and change her destiny once and for all.

Lyrically written and refreshingly unpredictable, Dragonfly Song is a compelling Bronze Age fantasy that suggests a fascinating origin for the legend of the Minotaur and his dark tribute.

Tour Stops:

Unleashing Readers, Activity Guide and Discussion Questions, 10/22
YA and Kids Book Central, Book Playlist, 10/23
Log Cabin Library, Guest Post, 10/24
The Children’s Book Review, Character Interview, 10/25
Bluestocking Thinking, Review, 10/26
Charlotte’s Library, Interview, 10/27
A Foodie Bibliophile in Wanderlust, Interview, 10/28
Writers’ Rumpus, Guest Post, 10/29

More information about Dragonfly Song:
More information about Wendy Orr:

YA and Kids Book Central posted a playlist for the novel (loved that post!), and it was fun to explore. If you only click two links, check out the first one, the song Wendy Orr heard and knew she had to write a book for. And the last one, what Wendy imagines the beauty of the snake song would sound like.
If you don't have time to head there now, here are those two, my favorites:
Sigur Ros

Loreena McKennitt

Ok, I lied, here is one more favorite from that playlist!

I will be playing this as my students enter the classroom tomorrow! 
Listening to this song, while imagining and remembering scenes of bull dancing, is at once a beautiful and thrilling and also a sad and terrifying experience.

****Update!!! The winner of the giveaway will have an enamel dragonfly pin included in their book prize! How fun!!****

Contest closes Friday, November 3rd, before I go to bed!
Thanks for visiting!

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Science Comics Blog Tour!

Welcome to the 2nd stop on the Science Comics Worldwide Blog Tour! Sounds impressive, right?!
Well it should, because this book series is one of a kind! High interest science topics written in an engaging and accessible format, coupled with exciting and captivating artwork, it's a sure win. Check out all the titles in this series, published by the go-to for graphic novels of all types, First Second.

I am excited to be the 2nd stop on the tour, and even more excited to bring you an author interview with MK Reed, author of Dinosaurs: Fossils and Feathers.

I first reviewed this book here on Monday, April 18, 2016.

For more stops on the tour, visit: