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)

Book Review: Clueless McGee and the Inflatable Pants

Clueless McGee and The Inflatable Pants: Book 2

Clueless McGee and the Inflatable Pants by Jeff Mack

Readers may worry that they will be clueless with this second book in the Clueless McGee series, but have no fear, it can be a stand alone read.

I have to admit, I was leery at first glance: the letter-writing style and illustrations scream Wimpy Kid fan book. But I quickly became a fan of this book and will recommend it to all my students looking for a humorous read (Wimpy Kid fans and all).

In this story, PJ is encouraged by Principal Prince to lessen his ninja obsession and expand his mind by joining the Rocket Science Club. That doesn't sound exciting to PJ until he learns he can win the official Rocket Science trophy for creating an exceptional invention. PJ's new obsession then becomes winning the science trophy (and also still ninjas) until the trophy is stolen. He then puts his detective skills to work to find his (er, the school's) missing Rocket Science trophy.

Release date:  June 13, 2013

Recommended for:  2nd-5th graders (8-11 year olds) who like humor and wonder what else is there to read besides Wimpy Kid books

Beginning a Blog

For years I have put my foot down and refused to start a blog. Why? Well, I had seen too many blogs in years past that in my opinion looked like online diaries. I did not like the idea of sharing things going on in my personal life for all to see. But blogs are now used in a variety of different ways, and I like what I am seeing. Librarians along with other professionals are blogging in order to share resources and ideas for the purpose of helping others. Isn't that what being a librarian is all about?

Now that I have seen this recent trend with blogging, I have decided to take the plunge and start a blog with the purpose of helping others. I plan on sharing my ideas that I have found and/or tried for library lessons, station or center ideas, and books I have read. Hopefully, through the sharing of my successes and failures with these ideas I can help you with your library or classroom. Thanks for stopping by and contact me if you have any questions!