Posted in Middle Grade, Non-fiction

Survival nonfiction: Lost in the Antarctic (and a giveaway!)

Lost in the Antarctic: The Doomed Voyage of the Endurance, by Tod Olson, (Jan. 2019, Scholastic), $7.99, ISBN: 978-1-338-20734-7

The latest entry into Tod Olson’s Lost series takes a deeper look into Ernest Shackleton’s 1914 voyage to the Antarctic aboard the fated ship, the Endurance. Shackleton and a full complement of 28 men and a few dozen sled dogs boarded the ship, ready to attempt the first crossing of the Antarctic continent; nature had different ideas as the ship and crew endured oceans of ice that trapped and eventually crushed the ship, leaving the men to fend for themselves on the ice.

This is not a gentle story. Tod Olson writes of desperate men trapped in horrific conditions, fighting to survive; the story has riveting, gritty moments that will make the brutal world of the Antarctic come alive. Photos and details from primary sources, including Shackleton’s own journal, make the story come alive for readers. Have readers who love Lauren Tarshis’ I Survived series (seriously, who doesn’t)? This is the next step. Want to make fiction readers love nonfiction just as much? This is the series for you and them.

I don’t know how I wasn’t aware of this series before: there are four books so far, and each book comes with incredible resources, including free, downloadable discussion guides and supplemental information – including multimedia resources – on Tod Olson’s author site. You can go directly to the Lost in the Antarctic resources here.

Get this series on your shelves now! You’ll be happy you did, and so will your readers.

Tod Olson is the author of the historical fiction series How to Get Rich and the four books in the Lost series–Lost in the Pacific, 1942; Lost in Outer Space;  Lost in the Amazon; and Lost in the Antarctic. He has written for national magazines on the Columbine school shooting, homeless teens, the murder of Matthew Shepard, and many other stories of interest to children and young adults. Tod holds an MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts and lives in Vermont with his family, his mountain bike, and his electric reclining chair. To learn more, and to download free teaching resources, visit his website: todolson.com.
 
Praise for previous titles in the Lost series
 
★”A riveting, completely engrossing true survival story.” —Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
 
“Engaging… A great choice for collections.” —School Library Journal
 
One lucky winner will receive Lost in the Antarctic, courtesy of Scholastic, Inc. (U.S. addresses). Enter this Rafflecopter giveaway for your chance!
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Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

I give you… STEVE, TERROR OF THE SEAS!

Steve, Terror of the Seas, by Megan Brewis, (March 2109, Kane Miller), $14.99, ISBN: 978-1-61067-825-4

Ages 3-7

Steve is the cutest, friendliest little fish in the sea, so why is everyone so afraid of him? Steve swims around the sea, explaining to readers that it’s not easy being Steve as creatures large and small swim away in terror. Could it be the company he keeps?

Steve, Terror of the Seas, is straight-up hilarious, relying on the end reveal to bring home the joke. Sharp-eyed readers may be able to guess beforehand, but make that reveal dramatic: get out hand puppets or felt boards for this one. The writing keeps the joke running, with Steve baring his little teeth, wondering if they’re “too bad”, or puckering up to a group of retreating fish as he utters possibly the best phrase in the book, “Finding love has been a challenge”.

The book presents fun facts about pilot fish (like Steve), and some other scary denizes of the deep, including pufferfish, viperfish, toadfish, anglerfish, and my favorite, the not-very-threatening blobfish. Being that Steve is a pilot fish, we get some facts about them, too… including their relationships with sharks, like Steve’s best friend, George.

The artwork is adorable and works hand-in-hand with the text to provide a reading experience with a great punchline. Make sure to sing Baby Shark and Slippery Fish for this storytime!

Posted in Middle Grade, Non-Fiction, Non-fiction, Tween Reads

Makers… Get Tinkering!

Forgive the stretch between updates, all; I’m home this week, with my little guy, who’s on Midwinter Recess. He’s currently got a Lego stronghold of army men fighting across two rooms, so I used the break to get some writing in.

Did you know that this week is National Engineers Week? It is, and with many of us facing looming Science Fair deadlines, I’ve got a book for you. NatGeo, lifesaving publisher of all the things my own kids and library kids have needed for reports and projects, now has a book called Make This! Building, Thinking, and Tinkering Projects for the Amazing Maker in You

Make This! Building, Thinking, and Tinkering Projects for the Amazing Maker in You,
by Ella Schwartz/Photos by Matthew Rakola,
(Feb. 2019, National Geographic Kids), $16.99, ISBN: 9781426333248
Ages 8-12

This is a perfect book to start off a basic maker program, or a book to add to an already robust program. Most of the materials needed are already in your home: I did three projects today with my first grader! (Pencil Pusher, Silly Noisemaker, and Kazoo, if you’re curious.) The basics of tinkering are here; you can take all of these projects to different levels with questions about the process of making and considering results (we talked briefly about the scientific method as we made predictions about using pencils as wheels, for instance, to propel a pile of books across a table).

Projects are broken down into 8 areas: Simple Machines; Materials; Systes; Optics; Energy; Acoustics; Forces; and Motion. Each area has a spread explaining the concept, followed by several projects further exploring each area. There are questions to consider, fast facts, a list of materials, and a step-by-step of what to do to complete your project. Each project also has a difficulty level and maximum number of people to work on each project.

A foreword explains the nature of making, and sections on makers and makerspaces assure every kid that there is no “maker profile”: you make something, you’re a maker! There are some handy suggestions on materials to keep handy if you want making to be a regular activity in your home, library, or classroom, and there are some spreads dedicated on using the book and starting with a toy challenge. Safety is always paramount, so there’s cautionary messages about having an adult nearby to help out; really, we’re just window dressing, though: kids can easily make these great projects. Afterwords have some info on more complex, advanced making (3-d printers and robotics), and introduce readers to real-life makers: scientists, conservationists, and photographers are makers, too!

This one is yet another win for my Science Projects section and a guaranteed “program in a book” add to my STEM shelf.

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Cover Reveal: A Crazy Much Love by Joy Jordan Lake

Author Joy Jordan-Lake has her very first picture book debuting in September: A Crazy-Much Love is all about adoption, and the crazy-much love that just grows and grows. And I’ve got a cover reveal, right here!

A Crazy-Much Love, by Joy Jordan-Lake/Illustrated by Sonia Sanchez, (Sept. 2019, Two Lions),
$17.99, ISBN: 9781542043267
Ages 3-8

From Goodreads: “How MUCH is the crazy-much love?” This simple question is answered as a parent recounts the journey of adopting her daughter and the many milestone moments that follow. From the child’s first bath and first time riding a tricycle, all the way to her boarding that big yellow bus, the crazy-much love grows SO MUCH that it spills out the windows and busts down the doors. A warm, lyrical celebration of the deep love parents hold for their children, and a comforting message for kids about how there can be only one special YOU.

I can’t wait for this one. Get this on your Fall radar!

Posted in Fantasy, Fiction, Middle Grade, Science Fiction, Steampunk, Tween Reads

The Adventure Begins with Cogheart – plus, a giveaway!

Can you believe the buzz on this book? Could this finally be the book that gets the kids in my library asking me for steampunk recommendations?

Cogheart, by Peter Bunzl/Illustrated by Becca Stadtlander (Cover design by Kath Millichope),
(Feb. 2019, Jolly Fish Press), $12.99, ISBN: 9781631632877
Ages 8-12

 

Cogheart has been the topic of almost every book roundup email I’ve been getting over the last few weeks, and it sounds like there’s a bunch of good reasons. Originally published in the UK in 2016, the book has been winning a slew of awards, including the Awesome Book Award (2018) and Waterstones Children’s Book of the Month (2016). This is one instance where I’m crowing about the book but haven’t read it yet, but as a steampunk fan, I’m excited. Here’s a peek at the plot, straight from author Peter Bunzl’s website:

“Lily’s life is in mortal peril. Her father is missing and now silver-eyed men stalk her through the shadows. What could they want from her?

With her friends – Robert, the clockmaker’s son, and Malkin, her mechanical fox – Lily is plunged into a murky and menacing world. Too soon Lily realizes that those she holds dear may be the very ones to break her heart…

Murder, mayhem and mystery meet in this gripping Victorian steampunk adventure story, featuring two friends, murder and mayhem, airships and automata, and an over-opinionated mechanical fox!”

So we have automatons, airships, clockwork, and Victorian England. The gears of my steampunk heart are chugging with joy! I’ve also done a bit of digging and discovered that Cogheart is the first in a trilogy, so, yay!! Author Peter Bunzl and Jolly Fish have made this a book club gold pick by coming up with free, downloadable activities and discussion prompts, and Cogheart Puppets. Check them out, print them out, and get kids talking.

And just maybe, my kids won’t wonder what the heck is fascinator is anymore, or why I wear one.

 

Want a shot at winning your own copy of Cogheart? Check out this Rafflecopter giveaway!

 

Peter Bunzl grew up in London and lives there with his partner Michael. He is a BAFTA-award-winning animator, as well as a writer and filmmaker. To learn more, visit his website, peterbunzl.com.

Twitter: @peterbunzl

Instagram: @peter_bunzl

Praise for COGHEART:

“With great style and panache, the novel deftly winds through the intricacies of friendship and moral choice while maintaining a fun edge.” —Publishers Weekly

“An exciting, fast-paced adventure.”  —Booklist

“Introduces dastardly villains, friendly mechanicals, and thrilling airship action. . . . with hair-raising and cinematic charm.” —Kirkus Reviews

Download activities and see the book trailer at jollyfishpress.com/cogheart!

 

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Valentine’s Day Readaloud: Love, by Stacy McAnulty

Love, by Stacy McAnulty/Illustrated by Joanne Lew-Vriethoff, (Dec. 2018, Running Press), $17.99, ISBN: 978-0-7624-6212-4

Ages 3-8

Stacy McAnulty and illustrator Joanne Lew-Vriethoff team up again for Love, a sweet companion to Brave and Beautiful. Here, Ms. McAnulty and Ms. Lew-Vriethoff explore the sweet side of love, illustrated by children undertaking the kindest, most gentle tasks. Stacy McAnulty’s words take on even greater significance when paired with Joanne Lew-Vriethoff’s illustrations. “Love at first sight” features a spread of kids hugging shelter pets and new siblings; greeting a new friend in nature or a new, adopted sibling at the airport; “Love needs special presents and designer greeting cards” sees friends visiting and giving gifts and making cards for others, be it a sick friend, a grandmother, or someone who just needs a pick-me-up.

Love speaks to the value of time spent with friends and family, doing good things for the purpose of seeing one another smile. As Stacy McAnulty concludes, “Because nothing else matters without love”. The colorful illustrations and multicultural group of characters will keep readers interested. It’s a comfort to read stories that remind kids (and adults!) that the simplest things are the most important, and most remembered: time spent with family, friends, and community.

Love has a starred review from Kirkus, which also notes that this is a perfect read “for balancing the commercialism of Valentine’s Day”. Have your storytime group make their own “designer greeting cards” to give to someone they love. Maybe create a list of good deeds, based on the ones here, for readers to take home, reminding them of the power of kindness. This one is a good add to your storytime and empathy collections. Stacy McAnulty has valentines and worksheets based on Love available for free download at her website!

 

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

I loved Under My Hijab!

Under My Hijab, by Hena Khan/Illustrated by Aaliya Jaleel, (Feb. 2019, Lee & Low), $17.95, ISBN: 9781620147924

Ages 4-8

This rhyming tale stars a young girl who observes members of her family and her scout leader, when they wear hijab, and when they don’t. Grandma wears it to work at the bakery, but at home in her kitchen, her hair is up in a bun. When Mama, a doctor, is seeing patients, she wears a pretty, bright hijab tucked into her coat, and at home, her hair is down as she plants her flowers. Auntie, an artist, has a funky hijab with a jewel, and when she’s home helping our narrator hang her own paintings, she’s got an equally funky hairstyle, complete with pink and purple streaks! Each woman in our main character’s life wears a hijab as individual as they are, and as our little friend tries on her own hijab at home, she plays with accessories and dreams of the bright future in front of her.

What a wonderful way to explain hijab to young readers! The colorful, bright Photoshop artwork speaks of individuality and fun, giving realistic, playful life to the upbeat, lively, and informative rhyme. Back matter explains the meaning of hijab and how some women choose to wear it, while others may not, noting that “it can be a beautiful expression of the Islamic faith”.

An absolutely must-add to your collections and storytimes.  Display and booktalk with Saadia Faruqi’s fabulous second grader, Yasmin, author Hena Khan’s award-winning middle grade novel, Amina’s Voice, and Aisha Saeed’s Amal Unbound. There are great Muslim middle grade and YA resources out there, too: here’s a list of picture books from No Time for Flash Cards; list of books from Diversity in YA; here’s a list from Goodreads, and a great list from Teaching While Muslim. There’s a great interview with author Hena Khan on kidlit ambassador extraordinaire John Schu’s blog, too!