Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Book Review: The Pet War


The Pet War by Helen Docherty

At my school library, dog and cat books are always flying off of the shelves. Here is another that I believe will join that group...

Otto desperately wants a dog, but his annoying older sister Lexi wants a cat. Mom tries to tone down the siblings' spat by issuing a challenge: whoever raises $500 by the end of the month can get the pet of their choice. But instead of quieting the two, the challenge causes an all-out pet war!

Many will get a laugh from Otto's quirky attempts to earn money. Some will squirm at Otto's rebellious thought processes and lack of smarts. This book however is not written for that audience in mind. Rather (in my opinion), this book was written with boys in mind who love humorous realistic fiction tales like Big Nate and Diary of a Wimpy Kid.

Thank you Scholastic for giving me the opportunity to preview this galley before its release via NetGalley!

Release date:  October 29, 2013

Recommended for:  2nd-6th graders who love humorous tales

Book Review: The Snatchabook


 The Snatchabook by Helen Docherty

In the evening, the animals enjoy reading or being read to until a Snatchabook sneaks all their books away. A little rabbit named Eliza Brown is determined to get to the bottom of this mystery and return everyone's books.

The illustrations and rhyme make this book such a delight! Of course, I am in love with the hedgehogs in the illustrations too because I own a pet hedgehog!

Release date:  October 1, 2013

Recommended for:  PreK-2nd graders as a bedtime read aloud story

Book Review: Treasure Hunters

Treasure Hunters

Treasure Hunters by James Patterson

The Kidd family sails the seven seas in search of treasure with their well-known and respected father. However, a terrible storm washes him overboard and leaves the Kidds orphans. For risk of going into foster care, the family continues the treasure hunting business hoping to not raise suspicion, raise money, and even to see if there is any chance their father or mother are still alive.

Set sail with this story that is not only told in a popular graphic novel format, but that contains bits of humor mixed with high-seas adventure.

Release date:  September 16 2013

Recommended for:  4th-7th graders that are fans of graphic novels and treasure-hunting adventure

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Library Lesson: Being Knowledgeable about Reading

Being Knowledgeable About Reading

It saddened me to see many of our library books checked out and then sit in our students' backpacks, never to be cracked open and read. That concern sparked the idea for this lesson. Plus, I just love the envelope page corner bookmarks I have seen on Pinterest; I had to think of a way I could fit them into a lesson!

Recommended grade:  2nd grade

·   Book Petunia by Roger Duviosin
·   Corners cut off of envelopes to make bookmarks
·   Pencils and markers


I was surprised that just about all of my second graders did not know what the word "wise" or "knowledgeable" meant. But after this lesson they did, and they started enjoying their library books versus letting them sit in their backpacks. Hooray!
  1. Discuss with the students how checking out books and carrying them around in their backpacks will not help them become more knowledgeable. Even silly fiction stories can teach them a valuable lesson that will help them become more wise or knowledgeable. Discuss the meaning of both words.
  2. Read story Petunia by Roger Duviosin.
  3. Have students use the corner of envelopes to create a Petunia bookmark (need to first lick and stick them closed before cutting into triangle shapes). On the back of their bookmark, the students will write a sentence or more sharing what they learned from the story.
I love what this student wrote she learned from our lesson:
"I lernd (learned) that you have to read to get smart."

Monday, September 2, 2013

Library Lesson: The Library's Shelf Elf

Library Orientation: The Library's Shelf Elf

By third grade, my students pretty much know how to care for their books and how to act in the library. However, I still review these skills so that each class knows ways they can earn the coveted Golden Shelf Elf Award. I will discuss more about my special trophy in a little bit. Here is the lesson I start out with before I discuss how to earn the trophy...

Recommended grade:  3rd grade

·   pictures of your family and things you like
·   video clip "The Elves and the Shoemaker" from VHS "Muppet Classic Theater" (we own the video, and I show the clip from You Tube since it is faster to access- I wish this video was sold in DVD format!)
·   book The Shelf Elf by Jackie Mims Hopkins
·   "magic scrolls" with Shelf Elf rules on them
·   Golden Shelf Elf award
The Shelf Elf

This school year I am going to use more technology tools! If I take this initiative, hopefully the teachers at my campus who are intimidated by new technologies will try after seeing their students' excitement...
  1. As the students come into the library and sit down, I am going to have them use a SMART Response remote to answer yes or no to following question: "Have you heard of the story The Elves and the Shoemaker?” We will then discuss the results.
  2. Briefly introduce myself and show the few things I mention about me on our SMART Board.
  3. Show the movie clip “The Elves and the Shoemaker” for students to understand the story (My favorite version is from The Muppets found on You Tube: “The Muppets- The Elves and the Shoemaker”).
  4. Tell students I am going to share a story of what happened next to the elves in the story. But first, I need 7 volunteers to read a magic scroll when the time is right. Pass out parts to volunteers. Read The Shelf Elf by Jackie Mims Hopkins. Call on volunteers to read their magic scroll throughout the story when prompted.
  5. Explain how students can win the Golden Shelf Elf Award to display in their classroom. Discuss how they can start right now as they go in search for a book.
    My coveted Golden Shelf Elf Award
Fun freebie:
Here are the bookmarks that I created to hand out to the students at the end of this lesson. If you would like a copy, click on the picture below. Enjoy!
Elf graphic from Scrappin Doodles

Library Lesson: Wild about Books!

Library Orientation: Wild about Books!

I've tweaked this lesson from last year to include lots of movement and teamwork. Since our elementary school only goes up to fourth grade, I wanted my "big kids on campus" to show me what they remember or know about book care rules while having fun in the library at the same time.

Recommended grade:  4th grade

·   SMART Response system with remotes
·   Stuffed animals (1 per table)
·   animal books (set out at table in front of room)
·   “Wild about the Library!” handouts (1 per table) and pencils
·   Safari hat, vest, & binoculars (to wear)
·   Scavenger hunt items and photos of each one: toilet paper, stuffed animal dog, baby  pacifier, clean and empty bag of Cheetos, box of crayons, and book return adhesive  pocket with card
·   Book Wild About Books by Judy Sierra


Here is how I teach this lesson and what works best for me. Also, I hope to post pictures once I have taught it this upcoming week...
  1. As the students come in, they will use our SMART Response remotes and answer the following question displayed on our SMART Board: “Are you WILD about books (Do you like to read?)?” We will then discuss the results.
  2.  Next, sharing the following joke (on the SMART Board):
    Why does an elephant use his trunk as a bookmark?
    That way he always nose where he stopped reading.
    (Found via Pinterest on this library's website)
  3. Briefly introduce myself (wear safari hat, vest, and binoculars) and play up that I am not only their librarian, but I am also their safari guide. Show the few things I mention about me on SMART Board.
  4. Warn students about the wild animals at their tables (stuffed animals)! Working together with their table mates, students will determine which book from the ones displayed at the front of the room their wild animal would most likely enjoy if it could read. They will go select one of those books and bring it back to their table. Then, they will fill out the top portion of their table’s handout “Wild about the Library!” in which they write their table’s animal, what book they think the animal would like, and why they believe their animal would like that book.       
    Stuffed animals and their book matches I had on hand and will use
    giraffe (Basketball for Fun by Brian Eule)
    zebra (A Bad Case of Stripes by David Shannon)
    raccoon (Where Does the Garbage Go? by Paul Showers)
    panda (China by Sandy Asher)
    brown bear (The Honey Hunters by Francesca Martin)
    eagle (The Best Nest by P. D. Eastman) 
  5. For our next activity, students will look at the photo placed at their table of an item. They will then have a “Safari Search” for this item that is hidden somewhere in the library. When they find their item, they will bring it back to their table, and fill out the next portion of their table’s “Wild about the Library!” handout. They will answer questions about what their item was and what library rule they think may go along with that item. Share results and discuss real answers:Toilet paper: To use if they cannot find a bookmark
    Stuffed animal dog: Keep books away from pets
    Empty & clean bag of Cheetos: Keep hands clean when looking at our     books
    Pacifier: Keep an eye on babies around our books
    Box of crayons: Never draw in our books
    Old fashioned card catalog book return pocket: Return books on time
  6. I will then show a preview of the book Wild about Books by Judy Sierra. Tell students that they will find out next week which books the author/illustrator paired with the animals and that we will compare them to the students’ guesses on their handouts.
  7. Have students then demonstrate the proper use of these rules as they go and select a book to check out. Reward students for not being “wild” in the library.

Fun freebies:
Here are the bookmarks that I created to hand out to the students at the end of this lesson. If you would like a copy, click on the picture below. Enjoy!
Wild lettering and animal graphics from Scrappin Doodles
About Reading lettering from Lettering Delights

Another freebie I have to offer is my Wild about the Library handout. The link is posted above, but you can also get it by clicking the image below.
Wild lettering and animal graphics from Scrappin Doodles
About Reading lettering from Lettering Delights
Other font used from DaFont

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Library Lesson: Choosing a Just Right Book

Library Orientation: Choosing a Just Right Book

My second grade son last school year participated in this library lesson. He said it cracked him up and I had to do it again for this next bunch of second graders for their library orientation. His favorite part was me preparing to read the story in the chairs that were too big and too small and putting on socks that were also too big and too small. If you are going to do this lesson, be sure and have fun with it by over dramatizing and making your students smile!

Recommended grade:  2nd grade

·   pictures of your family and things you like
·   chairs of various sizes (too small, too soft, and just right)
·   2 books: one that is too difficult for this age group and one that is too easy to read
·   socks of various sizes (too small, too big, and just right)
·   book Goldisocks and the Three Libearians by Jackie Mims Hopkins

Goldie Socks: And the Three Libearians

Here is how I teach this lesson and what works best for me. Also, I hope to post pictures once I have taught it again this school year...
  1. I start by introducing myself and showing pictures of my family and the things I like.
  2. Next, I tell the students I have a book I want to read to them, but I first have to find a cozy spot to read it. I sit in a chair that is too small, too soft, and then “just right.” 
  3. Then, I tell the students I am now ready to read. I start by reading the first paragraph of a book that is too hard (I use my husband's huge book The Caribbean by James A. Michener). Then, I read a few pages of a book that is too easy (I use the board book Hug by Jez Alborough). Finally, I tell them I am now going to get serious and read a book that is “just right” for them.
  4. But before I read the book, I tell the students I need to put on some cozy socks because my feet are too cold. By now the students are cracking up laughing or groaning because they know what will probably happen next. I put on socks that are too little (the kids get a kick out of me trying on baby socks). Then, I put on socks that are too big (my husband''s soccer socks are massively big). Finally, I put on socks that fit “just right” (I use socks I received from Junior Library Guild that say "Librarians Rock!"). 
  5. Now I really have their attention and I am ready to ask if the phrases I have used remind them of a story they have heard before (Goldilocks and the Three Bears). I share with them that I have a different version I am going to read to them called Golidsocks (hold up my feet) and the Three Libearians by Jackie Mims Hopkins. 
  6. I then proceed to finally read the story. Every time I get to the main character Goldisocks, I drag out the word "Goldi..." and hold up my socked feet so the students will chime in the word "socks."
  7. There is a part in the book where Goldisocks discusses using the "5 Finger Rule" to find a book that is "just right." I pause my reading of the story to discuss how to do the "5 Finger Rule." Then, I teach the students a song to reinforce the idea. I wish I knew where I found this song to give credit to whomever came up with it- give a shout out if you know where!
    The Five Finger Book Song
    (tune: “Yankee Doodle”)
    Here’s the way I choose a book-
    I count upon my fingers.
    See a word I cannot read,
    My fingers keep a record.

    Miss a word, that counts for one,
    Skip it and keep reading.
    Miss the next word, finger up,
    At five, I’ll choose another!
  8. I finish reading the book and then tell students it is time for them to be a BEAR! I hold up a sign that is an acronym showing the word BEAR stands for "Be Excited About Reading!" They then get to practice using the "5 Finger Rule" to find a book for them that is just right.
  9. As they leave, I hand out bookmarks to remind them to be BEARs, to use the "5 Finger Rule" when finding a book, and to help them remember when their weekly library time is.
Fun freebie:
Here is the bookmark that I created to hand out to the students at the end of this lesson. If you would like a copy, click on the picture below. Enjoy!
Bear graphics from Scrappin Doodles
Hand graphic from My Cute Graphics

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Book Review: I Survived the Japanese Tsunami, 2011

I Survived #8: I Survived the Japanese Tsunami, 2011

I Survived the Japanese Tsunami, 2011 by Lauren Tarshis

After the death of his father, Ben and his mom and brother visit their uncle in Shogahama, Japan. Ben is consumed with grief and tries shutting his remaining family out of his life. However, a terrifying and devastating earthquake and then tsunami “shake things up” and brings Ben back to focusing on what matters most.

Tarshis has written another great installment for the I Survived series. For readers new to this series, they do not have to be read in order. The chapters are short, yet very meaty, which should appeal to a large range of readers from early to advanced. Ben has such a sad story, and young readers may experience a “flood” of emotions with him. I will definitely be adding this one to my school library’s collection!

Release date:  August 27, 2013

Recommended for:  2nd-7th graders and fans of historical fition

Book Review: Lockwood & Co.: The Screaming Staircase

The Screaming Staircase (Lockwood & Co, #1)

Lockwood & Co.: The Screaming Staircase by Jonathan Stroud

This book is hard to describe: I think of a tween/teen steampunk Ghostbusters thriller. That description in no way does this book justice. I liked it and anticipate it being a big hit.

In London, ghosts are appearing everywhere and people want them gone. However, kids are the only ones who can see and rid the city of these poltergeists. Lucy, George, and Anthony have teamed together to form Lockwood & Co. and have had a hard financial hit from a case that went bad. The only way they see their business continuing and to get them out of financial ruin, is to take on one of the most legendary, dangerous, and unsolved cases of the Red Room and The Screaming Staircase in Combe Corey Hall.

Release date:  August 29, 2013

Recommended for:  3rd-8th graders who like thrills and chills

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Book Review: Star Wars Jedi Academy

Star Wars: Jedi Academy

Star Wars: Jedi Academy by Jeffrey Brown

Roan has finished primary school, and can’t wait for his acceptance letter to the Pilot Academy Middle School. After all, his dad and big brother went through the academy. But to his horror, he gets a rejection letter along with recommendations to go to the Tatoonie Agricultural Academy. Roan doesn't like the idea of being a plant farmer on his desert planet when he gets older. Things look a little less bleak when he gets a letter of acceptance to the Jedi Academy. He is just not sure if he is Jedi material, but decides to give it a try instead of going off to plant school.

I loved this book! It is definitely one for not only Star Wars fans, but those who love the Wimpy Kid journal-style graphic novels. This is a must purchase for not only my school library (it will never stay on the shelves), but for my home. Thank you Scholastic for giving me the opportunity to preview this egalley before its release!

Release date:  August 27, 2013

Recommended for:  3rd-7th graders who love Star Wars and/or the Wimpy Kid's style of books

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Book Review: A Big Guy Took My Ball!

A Big Guy Took My Ball!

A Big Guy Took My Ball! by Mo Willems

Piggie is heartbroken because the big ball she found and was playing with was taken by a big guy. Will Gerald be her hero and solve her little problem?

This book is great for beginning readers. Not only that, it would be a great read aloud to preschoolers before a math lesson about the concept of size.

Release date:  May 1, 2013

Recommended for:  PreK-1st graders & beginning readers

Book Review: The Greatest Dinosaur Ever

The Greatest Dinosaur Ever

The Greatest Dinosaur Ever by Brenda Z. Guiberson

Which dinosaur is the greatest? You get to decide after learning unique facts about each one.

This book would be great for young dinosaur fans. In the classroom, it could be used to demonstrate adjectives (this book is filled with them!). Or, students can write a paragraph of facts on any topic they are researching (such as animals, people, places, etc.) and those facts could be combined into a class book with the same format as this one and titled "Which is the Greatest?"!

Release date:  October 1, 2013

Recommended for:  PreK-3rd graders who love dinosaurs or absorbing books filled with interesting facts

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Book Review: Cowboy Boyd and Mighty Calliope

Cowboy Boyd and Mighty Calliope

Cowboy Boyd and Mighty Calliope by Lisa Moser

Cowboy Boyd and his trusty steed (err, I mean rhino) Calliope ride to the Double H Ranch looking for work. Rancher Rose is not too sure after seeing Calliope but decides to give them a try.

This picture book would make a great read aloud for a cowboy/cowgirl or rodeo unit. Since I live in Texas, this is a must for our school library!

Release date:  August 27, 2013

Recommended for:  Great read aloud for a PreK-1st grade audience for a rodeo or cowboy/cowgirl unit

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Book Review: The Black Rabbit

The Black Rabbit

The Black Rabbit by Philippa Leathers

Rabbit tries to flee the big Black Rabbit that is always following him.

This is a great story that can be read aloud to a younger audience and then for them to make inferences. For example, why was Black Rabbit always following Rabbit? If your audience was listening and seeing Leathers' great picture clues, they will "without a SHADOW of a doubt" know the answer! :) 

Release date:  January 22, 2013

Recommended for:  Great read aloud for a PreK-1st grade audience

Friday, July 5, 2013

Library Lesson: Monkeying Around

Library Orientation: Monkeying Around

This is one of the first lessons I wrote as a teacher-librarian. The students had a blast and couldn't wait for their next visit to the library! This lesson is designed to stress the importance of book care while having fun learning in the library at the same time. It is based off of Pat Miller's Library Monkeys cards. Be sure and visit her website at:

Recommended grades:  PreK and Kindergarten

·   pictures of my family and things I love
·   monkey puppet (hidden in bag)
·   Damaged books/pages examples

Lesson: (see the link to this lesson posted on author Pat Miller's site by clicking here)
  1. Introduce myself by showing pictures of my family and things I like.
  2. Tell students I have a special library guest, so they have to show him how to behave in the library because sometimes he makes poor choices. Introduce monkey puppet (hidden in bag).
  3. Ask students to raise their hand if they have heard the song “5 Little Monkeys.” Have students get up and sing and dance to the song “Five Little Monkeys” by Go Fish from their CD “Party like a Preschooler.”    
    CD or digital album
  4. Talk about how the monkeys made some poor choices in the song. Show picture cards about some monkeys who didn't take care of their library books using Pat Miller’s Library Monkeys. Read and discuss cards.   
  5. Show examples of book pages with problems like the ones from Pat Miller’s Library Monkeys. Before each example, say the following chant:   
    Five Little Monkeys
    by Mandy Watson (adapted from idea by Pat Miller)
    Five little monkeys reading in bed
    One jumped up and showed what he read
    Mama took the book and this is what she said,
             “I’m so sad you ruined what you read!”
  6. Tell the students they are going to go looking for a special book to take home today. As they look, they are going to echo each line of my poem as they march around a table of pre-selected and age appropriate books:
    Library Monkeys
    by Mandy Watson
    We are little monkeys. (Children echo)
    We’re looking for a book.
    When we find a good one,
    First we’ll take a look.
    If we like what we picked,
    We go and check it out.
    We read and take care of it;
    Reading’s fun!” we shout.
Fun freebies: 
I created these bookmarks to hand out at the end of the lesson in order for my students and their families to not forget their library day. If you would like a copy, click on the image below. Enjoy!
Monkey graphics from Scrappin Doodles

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Book Review: Platypus Police Squad: The Frog Who Croaked

Platypus Police Squad: The Frog Who Croaked

Platypus Police Squad: The Frog Who Croaked by Jarrett Krosoczka

Wanting to follow in his grandfather's footsteps, Rick Zengo joins the Platypus Police Squad and is paired with seasoned detective Corey O'Malley. For their first case together, something is fishy when a high school teacher goes missing and is blamed for dealing illegal fish in the city of Kalamazoo.

Author and illustrator Jarrett Krosoczka of the Lunch Lady series has created a new series that I anticipate being another big hit. In fact, my 11 year old commented that this so far has been his favorite summer read. Krosoczka has created a likable hero in Ricky that readers should relate to who seeks justice and wants to keep his city safe. It was a fast-paced mystery coupled with illustrations that should attract a large variety of readers (especially Krosocka's current fans). I will definitely be purchasing this one for my school library!

Release date:  May 7, 2013

Recommended for:  3rd-7th graders who enjoy mysteries and humor

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Book Review: The Flying Beaver Brothers and the Mud-Slinging Moles

The Flying Beaver Brothers and the Mud-Slinging Moles

The Flying Beaver Brothers and the Mud-Slinging Moles by Maxwell Eaton III

The beaver brothers Ace and Bub both want to put a stop to the moles' plan of trading their island's sand for mud.

I got a few short chuckles out of this graphic novel. Although it lacked a little substance in plot, it is perfect for the intended audience. This series would be great to introduce to reluctant readers too! 

Release date:  July 9, 2013

Recommended for:  1st-4th graders who enjoy humor and graphic novels (graphic novel illustrations are similar to the Babymouse and Lunch Lady series with one color tones)

Book Review: Seven Wonders: The Colossus Rises

The Colossus Rises (Seven Wonders, #1)

Seven Wonders: The Colossus Rises by Peter Lerangis

Full of fantasy and adventure, this fast-paced book has me eager to read the next in the seven book series. But, that will have to wait until the Fall of 2013.

Thirteen year old Jack McKinley collapses at school and wakes up in a strange place called the KI, or Karai Institute. There he learns he is one of the Select, destined to find the lost city of Atlantis using a strange superpower that he hasn't yet discovered what it is.

Readers who are a fan of Lerangis' 39 Clues books will find this series has a similar action and adventure type of quest that the characters find themselves mysteriously engulfed in. The fantasy mixed into the story has a Rick Riordan feel to it, which is no coincidence since he also endorses the book.

Release date:  February 5, 2013

Recommended for:  4th-9th graders who enjoy fantasy and adventure (similar to the Percy Jackson series)