Thursday, March 8, 2018

The Escapades of Clint McCool - Octo-Man and the Headless Monster

Octo-Man and the Headless Monster
Author Jane Kelley
Illustrator Jessika von Innerbner
Penguin Random House, 2017

My last trip to the Book Loft was a successful trip for picking up new to me and first in a series books.  Last week I shared Super Turbo and this week I'm share The Escapades of Clint McCool - Octo-Man and the Headless Monster.  Clint McCool is a funny character.  He is active.  He has lots of ideas that are always bubbling out of his head and sometimes into action.  ML and Marco are coming home with Clint McCool for a play date after school.  On their way home from school there is a monster in the street.  Yes, it's a human dressed as a monster on a movie set.  Clint McCool is so excited he runs right to the monster on the movie set and touches him.  Oops, the monster's arm falls off.  He and his friends are banned from the set but Clint wants to fix what went wrong.  Fixing this escapade turns into a full time job for Clint and his friends try to be a bit more cautious.  They do return to the movie set.  Things do get fixed but I think all readers will be surprised how that happens.  

Wednesday, March 7, 2018


author and illustrator Antoinette Portis
Roaring Book Press, 2017

now embraces the favorites of a young girl.  The text shares three favorites and the third one has a reason why it's the favorite.  It's interesting because the favorite is often a current reason.  For example, "This is my favorite tooth - because it's the one that is missing."  If the reader carefully pays attention to this pattern the ending won't be so much of a surprise.  The ending will also tug at any reader's heart.  This book brings hope to the reader through mindfulness, quiet, and patience.  It also embraces the potential for change.  I hope you spend a few minutes with this book.

Friday, March 2, 2018

Out of Wonder - Poems Celebrating Poets

Out of Wonder
Kwame Alexander, Chris Colderley, Marjory Wentworth
Illustrator Ekua Holmes
Candlewick Press, 2017
review copy from the publisher

Out of Wonder is beautiful.  enlightening. and informative.  I've had this book for a while and I know people talked about it right when it came out but maybe highlighting here now will remind you to go back and revisit it.  Immediately I felt like I was spending time with Google as I read each poem.   I was learning so much about each poet being celebrated.  It felt like Google for a second and then as I reread and enjoyed the illustrations it felt like a visit to my local art museum.  Stunning colors with patterns and textures bring the poems to life.  This collection of poems is organized in three sections; Got Style?, In Your Shoes, and Thank You.  Knowing about the sections helped me understand more about the message/knowledge in each poem.  The book ends with information about each poet in paragraph form which then sent me back to rereading each  poem.  Make sure you block out some time to savor this beautiful text.

Thank you Renee at No Water River for hosting Poetry Friday this week.

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Super Turbo Saves the Day!

Super Turbo Saves the Day!
Author Lee Kirby
Illustrator George O'Connor
Simon and Schuster, 2016
purchased The Book Loft

The front cover of Super Turbo Saves the Day peaked my interest; a super hero rodent?  Then when I realized it was a story about classroom pets at night when the students have gone home I knew I had to get it.  I have a few pets in the classroom and I think my students would find it funny to think about they do at night.  Turbo is a hamster in second grade.  The story begins with it a no school day for the students and Turbo is all alone.  He hears a sound that sends him exploring.  He discovers Leo a green lizard and together they find Angelina a guinea pig and the adventure continues until they have quite a group of classroom pet superheroes.  The class goldfish wants to escape and they come up with a clever plan.  They hear an awful sound and soon realize there is an invasion of something, not a class pet.  Super Turbo to the rescue!

I think this book is light hearted and easy for students to follow.  I think they will find it funny and giggle.  I think they will cheer for Super Turbo.  I like the layout for the readers in my room; larger font, picture support, and some graphic novel structures.  I'm interested in what's next for this gang of class pets. 


Wednesday, February 28, 2018

The Secret Kingdom Nek Chand, A Changing India and a Hidden World of Art

The Secret Kingdom
Author Barb Rosenstock
Illustrator Claire A Nivola
Candlewick Press, 2018
review copy from publisher

The Secret Kingdom is a beautiful story about Nek Chand a boy growing up in the village Berian Kalan near the Himalayas.  His family life is filled with family, stories, and love.  He was a creator and loved to play on the stream bank.  He went to school.  He became a farmer and continued to tell his stories.  Until his country Punjab was split into two countries; Pakistan and India after the men with guns came.  He was able to walk with his family to India for twenty-four days.  They settled in a new city Chandigarh where Nek didn't feel like he belonged.  The story continues to tell you the journey Nek took trying to belong again.  He found that belonging feeling again by creating a space in the wilderness to live.  His work was a secret.  Once it was discovered and people visited they were able to help him from having it destroyed and identified as a piece of art.  The four page spread of photographs is breath taking of this space.  Nek's secret work tells stories of coming home and this work is still carried on today in the Rock Garden.  I wish I had this book last year when I had a few families from India.  I think I might drop this book off to one my old students from India tomorrow morning.

Monday, February 26, 2018

Joining #2018MBM and Thinking About Compelling Characters

My friends Tony Keefer and Scott Jones co-host March Book Madness and I have a confession, I've never really looked into it.  They teach older grades and it seemed like one more thing to do and I think I've felt late to the party in previous years but not this year.  I started to see some buzz on Twitter and tried to ignore it.  You can predict what happened next.  I took a look and got very excited about this project.  

Today I launched March Book Madness with my students and they are excited!  The video Tony and Scott created sharing the book pairings is fun and informative.  We then learned how to show we were participating by placing our school location on a their Google Map.  They were so cute following the directions from the how to video Tony and Scott made.

We did some interactive writing for our bracket board to name our project and I started thinking about the theme for the book collection; compelling characters.  I kept wrestling with this today and visited to think more about the word compelling.

compelling - having a powerful and irresistible effect; requiring acute admiration, attention, or respect

My day shifted to home life and I stopped at our local library to pick up my reserves of March Book Madness books.  My favorite head librarian Mr. George was there and I asked him if he knew about March Book Madness.  He had a moment and he hopped on his computer and we began looking at the brackets and he was sharing his thoughts on different books but overall he really loved the ones pulled for picture books.  He was really excited about the project overall.

So, I asked him for advice.  How would you explain compelling characters to second graders.  I shared I was worried how to help to my students think beyond liking the book.  He gave me brilliant advice and I thought I would pass it along.

Ask your students to pretend they are the character.  
How do you feel about what happened?

I can't wait to have great discussions with my students and participate in March Book Madness.  My kids love the slogan - Books Always Win!  Game on, friends.

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Nonfiction Poetry is My #nf10for10 for 2018!

The idea of nonfiction information in a poetic form that keeps showing up in my shopping cart or library stacks.  I think it's intriguing to see how factual information is shared through poetry.  Sometimes the information is observational and sometimes it's filled with scientific vocabulary in small bursts that makes the reader stop and think.  Creating room to ponder and wonder more.  Thank you for joining us today by sharing or reading posts related to nonfiction literature.  

Earth Verse Haiku from the Ground Up
author Sally M Walker
illustrator William Grill

I feel blessed to have this preview copy and shared a lot about it yesterday in detail for Poetry Friday.

What in the Wild?  Mysteries of Nature Concealed...and Revealed
author David M Schwartz and Yael Schy
photographs by Dwight Kuhn

poems written as clues
three page spread with the middle being a full page photo confirms your guess
traditional nonfiction text on the third page

lizards, frogs, and polliwogs
author Douglas Florian
paintings by Douglas Florian

poems that describe physical characteristics
tells about actions and movements
fun with word layout

I'm going to sneak in some more by Douglas Florian.  He was my first nonfiction poet years and I always found his books a way to connect animal lovers and boys to poetry.

Now You See Them Now You Don't Poems About Creatures that Hide
Author David Harrison
Illustrated by Giles Laroche

poems about animals that hide
you have to find them in illustrations
how they can be hidden shared via poetry

comets, stars, the moon, and mars
Author Douglas Florian
paintings by Douglas Florian

the art in this text is beautiful
lots of factual information 
planet features beautifully shared

Woodpecker Wham!
Author April Pulley Sayre
Illustrations Steve Jenkins

various woodpeckers are illustrated
all the poems teach about woodpeckers
poems are short, good for early readers

A Place to Start a Family Poems About Creatures That Build
Author David L Harrison
Illustrated by Giles Laroche

love the collage illustrations
learn about the importance of nest building
why nests are built