Pink is for Blobfish

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Author: Jess Keating

Illustrator: David DeGrand

Genre: Nonfiction/Informational

Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf: New York, NY

Awards: (new series)

Themes: Animals, Facts, Pink

Summary: What can you think of that’s pink? I can name a few, but I bet you can’t name all of the creatures mentioned in this book! There is so much to know and this book has a lot to offer from its location to its predators and more.

Response: What factual information did you learn? Did anything surprise you? How do you know if this information is accurate? 

I learned that there are more pink animals other than a flamingo! The book was full of fun and interesting facts. The book overall surprised me with the variety of facts and ways of displaying them across the page. There is a realistic image, cartoon image, a side bar with the Latin name, its size, diet, etc. I did know some of the facts in the book, so I would assume that the rest of it is accurate as well. There are associations mentioned and references to check the facts as well.


The Seventh Wish

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Author: Kate Messner

Jacket Illustrator: Nicole Gastonguay

Genre: Fiction

Publisher: Bloomsbury Children’s Books 2016

Awards: Given great reviews

Themes: Addiction, Support, Wishes

Summary: Charlie is out ice fishing with the neighbors and secretly catches a wishful fish. She makes a wish and it works! Typically a genie grants you three wishes, but this fish gives more. She wants the best for her family and friends, but difficult times are ahead of her. A family crisis hits and Charlie is unsure what to do and how to feel. Torn between the real world and her wishing world, she learns that a wish is not always the answer.

Response: Describe one of the main characters. How did the author make this character unique and believable?

Charlie is the main character, Abby’s little sister. Although a fictional story, Charlie’s sister becomes addicted to heroine. Charlie is a very believable character because she starts off with complete admiration of her sister. She idolizes her. When Abby goes off to college and stops responding to her texts Charlie starts the stages of grief. The process in which the author makes Charlie go through separation and grief when the addiction is known is very accurate with what a younger sister would experience.

Fish in a Tree

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Author: Lynda Mullaly Hunt

Illustrator: N/A

Genre: Fiction

Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group: New York, NY

Awards: Schneider Family Book Award 2016

Themes: Disabilities, Bullying, Friendship, Investment

Summary: Ally has a secret. A BIG secret. She doesn’t want anyone to know. She makes a bad mistake and has to go to the principals office, but she doesn’t understand why. Ally is in a class with a new teacher and she tries to keep her secret, but he seems to understand her. He’s always nice and makes her feel good about herself. Through her good times and through her struggles, Ally learns a lot about herself and her peers. She realizes that everyone has a secret and wants them to overcome like she does.

Response: What was the main problem that the main character faces? How is this problem similar to a problem that most children have faced before? In what way could elementary children relate to this character?

Ally, the main character, faces the problem of having a severe reading disability called dyslexia. This problem is similar to many children who have a disability, whether that is in reading, math, or another area. This story is great for elementary children to explore the theme of bullying and friendship. The diverse group of students in the story are similar to that of a real classroom, so children will be able to relate to similar situations. Children will also be able to reflect on their own story and ‘secrets’.


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Author: Katherine Applegate

Illustrator: N/A

Genre: Fiction

Publisher: Feiwel and Friends: New York, NY

Awards: Capitol Choices 2016
Goodreads Choice Awards 2015, Middle Grades & Children’s
2016 NCTE Charlotte Huck Award Recommended Book Best Books of the Year 2015, Ages 9–12
100 Notable Titles for Reading and Sharing 2015, Children’s Books
2016 Notable Social Studies Trade Books for Young People, 6–8
2015 Cybils Awards Nomination, Elementary / Middle Grade Speculative Fiction
2016 E. B. White Read-Aloud Award, Middle Reader

Themes: Poverty, Imagination, Family, Effort, Truth, Friendship

Summary: Crenshaw, a cat who likes taking baths and purple jelly beans, appears when least expected. How did this imaginary friend come about? Why has he been reappearing? Can anyone else see him? Jackson is trying to make sense of his family, moving houses, and sleeping in a car. He is also trying to make sense of Crenshaw. Read to find out how they all correlate with each other.

Response: Describe one of the main characters. How did the author make this character unique and believable?

Jackson is a fifth grade boy who had an imaginary friend in the past who reappears at seemingly random times. He is having to mature rather quickly and is grasping the struggles happening in his family, meanwhile trying to protect his younger sister from really finding out. The boy has a trusting best friend and a deep sense about him. The author makes this character believable because his family situation in the midst of poverty and having difficulty paying monthly rent is realistic. Having that lack of stability does require an elementary aged boy to mature faster and be aware of life happenings. At the same time, the boy wants to have a childlike perspective and talks to his old imaginary friend, Crenshaw.

Ada’s Violin – The Story of the Recycled Orchestra of Paraguay

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Author: Susan Hood

Illustrator: Sally Wern Comport

Genre: Nonfiction, Informational

Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers: New York, NY

Awards: NCTE Orbis Pictus Award 2017, Recommended Book
New York Public Library 2016 Best Books for Kids, Nonfiction
2017 Flora Stieglitz Straus Award, Younger Readers

Themes: Poverty, Resourceful, Creativity, Musical, Change

Summary: Imagine living on a pile of trash. Everything is dirty, broken, and ugly. A man given direction and a girl with a dream changed the way a village looked at their homes. Instead of a pile of trash, something beautiful comes from the midst of it. A sound so delightful that it goes even beyond the landfill.

Response: How did this book make you feel? How does it relate to your own experiences? Did you make any connections to other books you have read?

This book made me feel hopeful because in the midst of what does not look like an ideal situation can be created something beautiful. In life everyone has choices to make daily. We are handed situations and decide how we respond to them. This book shows the silver lining and how the choice to make change can affect one person or even an entire community. This story gives hope to people in poverty and perspective in other situations.

Turning 15 on the Road to Freedom

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Author: Lynda Blackmon Lowery

Illustrator: PJ Loughran

Genre: Informational/ Nonfiction

Publisher: Penguin Random House LLC

Awards: Robert F. Sibert Honor Award 2016

Themes: Justice, Segregation, Marching, Overcoming, Strength, Community, Hardship

Summary: A young child is yet to turn fifteen, but has been jailed many times because of her strength and determination to march against segregation. Her will power and grandmother’s voice keep her pressing forward for the fight to freedom. This story will inspire you to be determined in a way to overcome your fears, in order to change the world.

Response: What elements of the author’s style and language drew you into the book? Explain and give examples.

This nonfiction-informational text had multiple layers to it. The first is that it incorporates music sung that united people together to form a stronger community and spirit to fight for freedom. The book includes images that are sketched as well as real life pictures taken from that time and event. There are true stories of characters listed at the end of the book. The way that the author weaves together the various elements is beautiful and allows the reader to have a well rounded understanding of that time period and event. I very quickly was drawn into the story because of the layers of text, heartwarming, and inspiring story.

Mr. Wuffles

Author & Illustrator: David Wiesner

Genre: Nonfiction

Publisher: Clarion Books, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt: Boston, NY

Awards: Caldecott Honor Award 2013

Themes: Favorites, games, escaping, fixing

Summary: Mr. Wuffles has a favorite toy to play with. He chases it around when he realizes there is something special about this toy. It is more than just ordinary. This wordless picture book shows why Mr. Wuffles had a favorite item to play with over all others.

Response: Respond to the design and layout of the book. What do you think of the design of the cover design, size of the book, font, spacing, and visual elements?

I love the options of all the toys the cat had to play with in the images. The way the person had bought a new one, when the cat had a favorite. I can picture that in my mind of pets I know who have a favorite toy even though the owners buy so many. I like the wordless book with only shapes as voices for the aliens from the spaceship. The visuals give context and detail to the story in order to follow along section by section. The book is colorful and creative.

A Boy and A Jaguar

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Author: Alan Rabinowitz

Illustrator: Catia Chien

Genre: Nonfiction

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Boston, NY

Awards: PW’s Best Books of 2014, Picture Books; Notable Social Studies Trade Books for Young People – 2015, Kindergarten to Second Grade; 2015 Schneider Family Book Award Winner, Children’s; ALA Notable Books for Children 2015, Younger Readers: 2015 Green Earth Book Award Shortlist, Picture Book; 2015 Schneider Family Book Award Winner, Children’s; 2015 Ezra Jack Keats Award, New Writer Honor

Themes: Overcoming, resilient, brave, dreams, promises, disabilities

Summary: A little boy goes to the zoo and becomes sad when he sees the animals locked up in small cages. This boy stutters, but when talking with animals he is fluent. He makes a promise to the jaguar that when he finds his voice he will speak for the animals. Read the book to follow the boys travels to speak on behalf of jaguars.

Response: Describe one of the main characters. How did the author make this character unique and believable?

This book is based off of a true story, which of course makes the character real. When looking at the author’s writing, however, the character is believable because of his stuttering and how it is less when singing or talking to animals-which is common. The boys inspiration and passion are believable because of his conviction at the zoo. The main character struggles with his disability and what others view him as. He has a dream and wants to make a difference and so he does.

The Right Word-Roget and His Thesaurus

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Author: Jen Bryant

Illustrator: Melissa Sweet

Genre: Historical Nonfiction

Publisher: Eerdmans Books for Young Readers, Grand Rapids, MI & Cambridge, U.K.

Awards: Caldecott Honor Medal 2015, Robert F. Sibert Award 2016

Themes: Words, Lists, Consistency, Time

Summary: Have you ever had a word on the tip of your tongue and you can’t remember it? Or you are writing something and you can’t find the right word to express what you are trying to say? Well, this story is about a man who makes that a lot easier for you! Dr. Roget developed the first Thesaurus after years of making many lists of words that are similar. His journey was not simple, but over time and being persistent it all came together.

Response: What factual information did you learn? Did anything surprise you? How do you know if this information is accurate? 

Everything in this story was new information to me. I have never thought about nor who created the Thesaurus. I am sure today that it has been added onto by other writers; however, I did not know the story and life of the original thesaurus. I think that it is interesting how these lists accumulated since Roget was a child. I wonder where he kept these lists as to not lose them? I also loved how the images had him in various locations such as a garden, doctor’s office, other countries, his home, etc. because it shows the variety of words and extent that he covered.

Without doing further research this book is very accurate. There is a timeline at the beginning of the story giving detail events in history through the span of Roget’s life. In addition to that, there is through author notes, illustrator notes, a selected bibliography references, other sources, and other reads along the same topic. This story is very factual and reliable!

Funny Bones – Posada and His Day of the Dead Calaveras

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Author & Illustrator: Duncan Tonatiuh

Genre: Historical Nonfiction

Publisher: Abrams Books for Young Readers, New York, NY

Awards: Pura Belpre Award 2015

Themes: Calaveras, Value of life and death, Politics, History, Creating, Art

Summary: Every year in November there is a holiday to celebrate the lives of loved ones who have passed away. To contribute more into this day, Don Lupe Posada, crafted calaveras characters out of various art forms like lithography or engraving. A terrible flood made Don Lupe Posada and his wife move from the village into a city. His artwork became more popular and had a large influence politically, especially during the Mexican Revolution. This story tells the life and history during Don Lupe Posada’s life as expressed through words and powerful images.

Response: How might you use this book in the social studies, science or mathematics curriculum? Write about a specific activity you might do that relates to the content of this book.

This book could easily be incorporated during a social studies lesson at any age because of the historical information provided. The students could learn more about the life of Don Lupe, research more about the Mexican Revolution, discuss more about Spanish culture, interpret and discuss the political drawings, etc. This story can be used as a lighter read and get basic knowledge from it or dive deeper into the topics to truly gain insight and understanding.

With middle school or high school students, I think that it would be a great lesson to have read this book aloud and make sure everyone can see the political drawings created on the board. Then after researching more about the Mexican Revolution (or other current political events), having the students create their own political cartoon.