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Newbery Buzz: Drowned City by Don Brown

Continuing our series of discussions about “buzz” books, this time Janie and Betsy look at a nonfiction work in graphic novel format. Betsy: Drowned City: Hurricane Katrina and New Orleans is getting buzz on several Mock lists. Because it is a nonfiction graphic novel, I’ve heard it thrown about as a possible Caldecott, Newbery, and/or Sibert candidate. […]

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Newbery Buzz: Most Dangerous by Steve Sheinkin

It’s that time again!  Less than a month before the American Library Association announces their Youth Media Awards, and chief among them is the coveted Newbery medal.  The speculation has begun, and for the next few weeks, Betsy and Janie are going to be talking about some of the leading contenders.  Please note: our discussion […]

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Happy 100th Birthday, Jean Fritz!

Prolific author Jean Fritz turns 100 today! During her long life, she has written numerous books–mostly biographies–for children. Before picture book biographies were so prevalent, elementary school children had few solid sources for biographies…except for Fritz’s works. Even with the advent of such young reader-friendly series as the “Who Was…?” series by Scholastic, Fritz’s works […]

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Reading Outside Your Preferred Genre

As a teacher, I’ve had various conversations with parents about how to get their children engaged in reading.  The flip side of that conversation comes when a student is interested in reading, but won’t venture outside a specific genre. Now, at first, this might not seem like a concern. If the student is reading, isn’t […]

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Brick Flicks by Sarah Herman

Brick Flicks: A comprehensive guide to making your own stop-motion Lego movies by Sarah Herman. Skyhorse Publishing, 2014. 206 pages. Reading Level: Young Adult, Ages 12-15 Recommended For: Middle Grades, Young Adult, Ages 10-up (for experienced Lego builders; may require parental assistance) Moviemaking with Legos has been going on long before the popular feature film […]

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The Boys Who Challenged Hitler by Phillip Hoose

The Boys Who Challenged Hitler: Knud Pedersen and the Churchill Club by Phillip Hoose. Farrar Straus Giroux, 2015. 198 pages including appendices Reading Level: Middle Grades, ages 10-12 Recommended for: ages 10-14 Bottom Line: The story of how a handful of schoolboys sparked the Danish Resistance makes thrilling reading for middle-graders interested in WWII history. […]

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*Water is Water by Miranda Paul and illustrated by Jason Chin

*Water is Water: A Book About the Water Cycle by Miranda Paul and illustrated by Jason Chin. Roaring Brook Press, 2015. 40 pages. Reading Level: Picture books, ages 4-8 Recommended For: Ages 0-10 Most books about the water cycle show the classic diagram of ocean/lake, clouds, and land, using technical terms such as evaporation, condensation, and precipitation. In […]

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20 Ways to Draw a…: A Sketchbook for Artists, Designers and Doodlers [series] by various authors

20 Ways to Draw a…: A Sketchbook for Artists, Designers and Doodlers by various authors. Quarry Books. 95 pages. Reading Level: Ages 4-8 and up Recommended For: Ages 4-8 and up If you want ideas for drawing a jellyfish (or a bicycle or any number of things related to nature, animals, oceans, transportation, facial features, everyday things, […]

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The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind by William Kamkwamba

The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind (Young Reader edition) by William Kamkwamba and Bryan Mealer. Dial, 2015. 292 pages Reading Level: Middle Grades, ages 10-12 Recommended for: ages 10-up, especially boys Bottom Line: William Kamkwamba’s own story of his efforts to bring reliable electrical power to his impoverished African village makes fascinating reading, especially for […]

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The Founding Fathers! by Jonah Winter

The Founding Fathers! Those Horse-Ridin’, Fiddle-Playin’, Book-Readin’, Gun Totin’ Gentlemen Who Started America, by Jonah Winter, Illustration by Barry Blitt. Atheneum, 2015. 40 pages Reading Level: Picture Books, ages 8-10 Recommended for: ages 7-12 Bottom Line: The Founding Fathers! profiles fourteen men who featured prominently in our country’s birth, using a generally fair but perhaps too […]

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*Gingerbread for Liberty! by Mara Rockliff and illustrated by Vincent X. Kirsch

*Gingerbread for Liberty! How a German Baker Helped Win the American Revolution by Mara Rockliff and illustrated by Vincent X. Kirsch. HMH Books, 2015. 32 pages Reading Level: Picture Books, ages 4-8 Recommended For: Ages 4-8 While there’s more to it than simple cooking finesse, one German baker put his baking talents to heroic use during […]

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