March 25, 2017

Module 9 Mystery

Book Cover

Book Summary:
In the land of nursery rhymes Little Boy Blue becomes a detective. One of his jobs is to find Little Miss Muffet. So he searches all over town meeting different nursery rhymes until he finds Miss Muffit who doesn't like curds and whey but wants to try the woods!

APA Reference of Book:

Metzger, S., & Arnold, T. (2011). Detective Blue [several different titles found for this book but used this since found on copyright page listed like this]. New York: Orchard Books.


This was a cute easy mystery for young readers who like Fly Guy (same illustrator). The bulgy eyes and bean shaped people are funny looking like in Fly Guy but still not too over the top. It is set up like a graphic novel or comic which is also a format kids love, but they don't tend to read mysteries. I think the graphic novel format will draw them in to reading a mystery. It gives you the basics to a mystery: someone missing or has something missing,  clues, and the solution. Since this story is so simple I would recommend it for kinder through third grade. I also liked the additional I spy aspect in the front to try and find all the different nursery rhymes in the book.

Professional Review:

PreS-Gr 2-- Nursery-rhyme characters take on new, but somewhat familiar, roles in this comic-book-style mystery featuring the dedicated flatfoot formerly known as Little Boy Blue. After a typical day starting with cleaning the dish and spoon and making sure Mary's lamb doesn't get into school, Detective Blue is approached by a panicked Jack Sprat reporting that Miss Muffet is missing. In panels full of funny details and spoken asides, the gumshoe interviews various denizens of the rhyme scene to track down his quarry. The mystery is solved when a spider reports that Miss Muffet hates curds and whey and went looking for some tasty porridge. Blue finds Miss Goldilocks Muffet fleeing the three bears' cottage, resulting in a celebratory and satisfying conclusion. Referencing more than 20 nursery rhymes, the madcap mystery will keep children--and adults--intrigued with tiny tips that point the detective and readers in the right direction. The bright, full-color art was created using pencil sketches and Photoshop. Arnold's typical scribbly and big-eyed characters are a perfect match for the "film joie de vivre" atmosphere (the book is rightly dedicated to Stan Freberg) and even older kids will be unable to resist revisiting favorite rhymes from their childhood. A good bet for most collections.
Loch-Wouters, M. (2011). Detective Blue. School Library Journal, 57(7), 72.

Library Uses:

I would definitely use this to start a genre introduction to mysteries. I would talk about what a mystery is and the parts that make it a mystery with small posters or graphic posted on board/chart while reading the book. After the book discuss the different parts of what makes a mystery and identify or match it to the story. You could also do a sequencing activity with having them arrange the different pictures or parts of the story.

My Rating:
My students loved this book and another by a different author called Who Pushed Humpty Dumpty? and other Notorius Nurse Tale Mysteries by David Levinthal. Both are good small introductions to mysteries without a lot of words or chapters. I liked it too despite it being so simple.

March 19, 2017

Module 8: Science Fiction and Fantasy

The Rise of Renegade X (Renegade X, Book 1) by [Campbell, Chelsea M.]

Book Cover

Book Summary:

APA Reference of Book:
Campbell, C. M. (2013). The rise of renegade X. [Place of publication not identified]: Golden City Publishing.

Professional Review:

Gr 9 Up-Damien Locke lives in an alternate universe inhabited by superheroes, supervillains, and regular people. If you are a hero, a letter H appears on your thumb when you turn 16. If you are a villain, you get a V. On his 16th birthday, Damien gets an X. He is half hero, half villain, the product of a one-night stand between his mad-scientist supervillain mother and superhero father Crimson Flash, otherwise known as Gordon Tines. Gordon is certain that his son will become a full-fledged hero, but the teen is equally certain that he is going to end up a villain, and is counting on admission to Vilmore, the villain academy. While he tries to make life for his father and stepfamily unbearable, Damien's mom is hooking up with the head of Vilmore romantically as well as using her hypno-device to take over the city, and Damien is forced to choose sides. This scenario certainly works as a metaphor for the shades of gray teens have to deal with as they struggle to find their identity. The book is definitely for older teens, as there is a significant semi-explicit focus on Damien's messed-up love life as he tries to reconcile with his villain ex-girlfriend, Kat, while stringing along his new hero love interest, Sarah. This is the YA equivalent of a B movie.

Wadham, T. (2010). The Rise of Renegade X. School Library Journal, 56(7), 82.

Library Uses:

My Rating:

March 04, 2017

Children's Lit books I read before class

Here are some books that I had read before my Children's Lit class that I just could miss talking about again!!!

Module 2 Classic Picture and Chapter Books (only chapter here)

  • Little Women and Little Men by Louisa May Alcott-I read these growing up and I loved them!!
  • The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis- The whole series is a classic! My third or fourth grade teacher read the Magician's Apprentice to us and I read LWW to my third grade classes.

Module 3 Caldecott Medal

There are so many I am only going to mention my favorites!

  • Smoky Night by Eve Bunting- Good story that some kids may have background knowledge about and the pictures are great
  • Grandfather's Journey by Allen Say- Love this author's work about Asian American characters
  • Tuesday by David Wiesner- Awesome wordless picture book!
  • Hey Al by Arthur Yorinks- Loved the twist in this book and the parrot!
  • Why Mosquitos Buzz in Peoples Ear retold by Verna Aardema- While the pictures may seem a little out dated they match the African story good. I read this growing up and I read it to my students still!

Module 4 Newbury Award

Again only my favorites!
  • Holes by Louis Sachar- Read this after the movie but it was still great! Good book for boys.
  • The Giver by Lois Lowry-One of my all time favorite fantasy reads.
  • The Hero and the Crown by Robin Mckinley-Loved this author growing up. There are more in this series and she wrote THE best Beauty and the Beast retelling!
  • The Grey King by Susan Cooper-This whole series was awesome!
  • A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L'Engle-Loved this whole series and did a play for school growing up using one of the first video recorders and I was Meg. Sure wish I could get my hands on the video today!
  • Island of the Blue Dolphin by Scott O'dell- Another of my all time favorites!

Module 5 Other Awards

Texas Bluebonnet
  • Ten Rules You Absolutely Must Not Break to Survive the School Bus by John Grandits- This was soooo funny! A great book for writing.
  • The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywait-Good book on point of view and to use with writing.
  • Help Me, Mr. Mutt by Janet Stevens- This and the other one are both hysterical due to the back and forth between the dog and cat as well as the letters from other dogs.
  • Cook-A-Doodle-Do by Janet Stevens-I use this book for reading and multiple meaning words. Sooo funny and the kids think so too!!

Module 6 Picture Books
  • Click, Clack, Moo, Cows that Type; Duck for President; Diary of a Spider/Worm/Fly by Doreen Cronin- All are sooo good and can be use for multiple things!
  • Julius, Baby of the World; Lillie's Purple Plastic Purse by Kevin Henkes-Any with his mice in it are great for character traits and feelings. Love them!
  • Hooway for Wodney Wat; Tacky the Penguin by Helen Lester- Both good for talking about being different and both are funny.
  • Pete the Cat by Eric Litwin- I love only the first two then they aren't as good. School Shoes best!
  • Scaredy Squirrel (any) by Melanie Watt-OMG one of my favorite all time book characters heehee I even dressed up as him for Book Character day.
  • Pigeon (any) and Knufflebunny by Mo Willems- Really any by him they are simple but cute!
  • The True Story of the Three Little Pigs by Jon Scieszka- Good story for point of view and fairy tales being retold.
  • A Bad Case of the Stripes by David Shannon- Love this story!
  • Dear Mrs LaRue: Letters from Dog Obediance School (plus sequels) by Mark Teague- Funny story about an imprisoned pooch.
  • Chester by Melanie Watt- Great book for writing and editing

Module 7 Realistic Fiction    I don't read a lot of this!
  • Hatchet by Gary Paulsen- Thriller about being lost in wilderness. Even though he is by himself most of the book it was still not boring.
Module 8 Fantasy   I read a TON of this so lots of good ones!
  • The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate De Camillo-Sooo love this book and almost cried when reading it.
  • Graceling by Kristin Cashore (all in series)- This book is one of my favorites! I didn't care for the last one as much and the first I think is the best. So groundbreaking during a time when Twilight like books were everywhere! It was a breath of fresh air.
  • Eragon by Chris  Paolini- I loved the first but I never got around to the rest. Could be due to the size of the book. And while I liked it I did feel it was too drawn out.
  • Shiver; Linger by Maggie Steifvater- I liked them but similar to other books that were published at that time.
  • Enclave by Ann Aguirre-This author publishes adult fantasy and her first for young adults I thought was better than her adult books. It is series.
  • The House of Scorpion by Nancy Farmer- This book was awesome about cloning and the drug trade. I think there was sequel written not too long ago.
  • Among the Hidden by Margaret Peterson Haddix- This is a series and I read them when they first came out. I stopped about book 5 because they weren't as good. I liked the first one best.
  • The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness-This book blew my mind about how the whole society worked. I never read the next ones because I think I read a blog and didn't like where it was going. But the first one is great.
  • Maximum Ride the Angel Experiment by James Patterson- This author is primarily an adult author but wrote these for young adults. The first ones are the best and the later ones start focusing on environmental stuff. They just made a movie about the first one and for the most part it was good (the acting could have been better but it wasn't bad for a low budget movie).
  • Life as We Knew It; The Dead and Gone by Susan Beth Pffeffer-Both really good apocalyptic/end of world books before the big trend. The books are set in same world but from different parts of country and timeline. I think there is at least one more in this series.
  • Divergent by Veronica Roth-It was good but nothing groundbreaking.
  • Bones of Faerie by Janni Lee Simner- Really good with a different spin on the fairy tale. She just put out a sequel.

Module 4 Newbery Award

Book Cover:

Last Stop on Market Street by [de la Peña, Matt]

Book Summary:

A boy and his mom get on a bus to go to a soup kitchen on Sunday. As they ride the bus the boy listens to music that the people on the bus make.

APA Reference of Book:

Peña, M. D., & Robinson, C. (2015). Last stop on Market Street. New York, NY: G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers.


The pictures are very simple and use primary colors to show the bus as it takes the boy and his mom to Market Street. I found the story cute with simple sentences and you don't know until the end why they are taking the bus. As you get to the soup kitchen you realize that the boy and his mom volunteer their time. I liked that this showed how ordinary people can help others in small ways.

Professional Review:

CJ and his nana depart church and make it to the bus stop just in time to avoid an oncoming rain shower. They board the bus, and while CJ is full of questions and complaints (why don't they have a car? why must they make this trip every week? and so forth), Nana's resolute responses articulate the glories of their rich, vibrant life in the city, as presented by the bus' passengers and passages. A tattooed man checks his cell phone. An older woman keeps butterflies in a jar. A musician tunes and plays his guitar. At last the pair arrive at the titular destination and proceed to the soup kitchen where, upon recognizing friendly faces, CJ is glad they came to help. Robinson's bright, simple, multicultural figures, with their rounded heads, boxy bodies, and friendly expressions, contrast nicely with de la Peñas lyrical language, establishing a unique tone that reflects both CJ's wonder and his nanas wisdom. The celebratory warmth is irresistible, offering a picture of community that resonates with harmony and diversity. -Thom Barthelmess

Barthelmess, T. (2015). Last stop on market street. The Booklist, 111(11), 46. Retrieved from

Library Uses:
Like CJ does in the book have the students listen to music with their eyes closed. Then listen again and have them draw or color a picture while the music plays. Discuss how the music helped you draw.

My Rating: ***

March Book Madness 2017

Every year for the past 5 years (I think) I have done this at my school. I post the middle grade and picture books on the wall with the brackets and I have my students pick who they think they will win. I invite the rest of the school to participate but most never do, oh well at least I am exposing them to some great book choices!  This years theme is new classics and I see a lot of last years books on here.

We spent the morning watching read alouds on YouTube or reading the books of all but 4 of them for picture book category, I am not posting middle grade due to being so busy and don't have time to post or read most of these (college and my hectic work schedule). Some I had never heard of but I really liked! Below is the link if you would like to participate.

March Book Madness

 Here are some of the books and my reactions. Last Stop on Market Street and Journey were also ones but see my reviews for my Childrens' Lit class.

The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend by [Santat, Dan]
The Adventures of Beekle an Unimaginary Friend by Dan Santat
Loved the pictures and the story of being different and being lonely until you find someone that likes you for who you are.

Rosie Revere, Engineer by [Beaty, Andrea]
Rosie Revere, Engineer by Andrea Brody
Rosie loved to build things but everyone laughed at her inventions so she stopped making things. Her Great Aunt Rose wanted to fly so she built a contraption but it failed. Her Great Aunt showed her not to give up because of mistakes or problems. Love the rhyming text and the cheese whiz machines were funny. My students loved this book!

Snappsy the Alligator (Did Not Ask to Be in This Book) by [Falatko, Julie]
Snappsy the Alligator by Julia Falatko
This I had never read before but it reminded me of Piggie and Elephant with the simple drawings and the word captions. The alligator is talking to the narrator who keeps trying to say that he wants to eat everyone but he doesn't. At the end the narrator (who is a chicken) shows up at the party. My students loved this book and so did I!!

Product Details
Wolfie the Bunny by Amy Dykman
Wolfie is born into a rabbit family and the little rabbit sister keeps saying that he will eat them. But instead she saves herself and him from a bear that tries to eat them. Simple text and pictures it was cute. 

Product Details
Gaston by Kelly DiPuccio
Gaston is born to a family of poodles with three poodle sisters and is taught how to be a poodle. He can't do it right and one day they go to park and meet a family of bulldog brothers with a sister poodle. They switch but realize even though they are the right dog breed that they don't belong with that family so they switch back. Cute story about being different. The kids thought is was cute and I laughed a lot.

Product Details
My Teacher is a Monster by Peter Brown
This was very funny because sometimes I hear that I am a mean teacher at my school but my students after having me realize that I am just strict. The teacher is mean to the boy but when they meet at the park his view of the teacher changes and so does she! I laughed and the students liked it.

Trombone Shorty by [Andrews, Troy]
Trombone Shorty by Troy Trombone Shorty Andrews
I had never heard of this book before but the pictures were stunning and the story was easy to follow and not boring as some biographies can be. The pictures at the end of what Shorty really looked like during this story were great! The students liked this book a lot. 

Product Details
Pink is for Blobfish: Discovering the World's Perfectly Pink Animals
This was an upper grade read probably for fourth or fifth grade. The kids thought the pictures were gross or cool. I had not heard of most of these animals.

March 03, 2017

Module 7 Realistic Fiction

Book Cover:


Book Summary:
Melinda is ostracized at school when she calls the cops at a party. But we really don't know why the cops are called until later in the books. Melinda starts to not speak and we come to find out that Melinda was raped and her behavior was her way of trying to deal with it.

APA Reference of Book:

Anderson, L. H. (1999). Speak (1st ed.). New York, NY: Farrar, Straus and Giroux.


I really identified with Melinda in this book. I pretty much loved school but sat in class and didn't participate or speak up and I just didn't get the whole hoopla about high school. I was bullied a lot in high school because I was quiet, always reading,  not good looking, wore funky clothes, and I wore glasses. Now as an adult I ask myself why didn't I ever say anything or do something about it. But I realize I was too scared and we didn't talk about things like that then.  So I totally got why Melinda was afraid even though I was not ever raped or even put into a situation close to this. The writing was authentic to me and I could see teens acting or speaking this way (or at least when I was a teen lol). One of the best realistic fiction books I have read (I don't tend to read a lot of this genre for teens I read more fantasy). I would recommend that all teens read this and discuss the issues in this book even though it is a tough topic and the tone in the book at times was dark or depressing.

Professional Review:

Gr. 8-12. Having broken up an end-of summer party by calling the police, high school freshman Melinda Sordino begins the school year as a social outcast. She's the only person who knows the real reason behind her call she was raped at the party by Andy Evans, a popular senior at her school. Slowly, with the help of an eccentric and understanding art teacher. she begins to recover from the trauma, only to find Andy threatening her again. Melinda's voice is distinct unusual, and very real as she recounts her past and present experiences in bitterly ironic, occasionally even amusing vignettes. In her YA fiction debut, Anderson perfectly captures the harsh conformity of high-school cliques and one teen's struggle to find acceptance from her peers. Melinda's sarcastic wit, honesty, and courage make her a memorable character whose ultimate triumph will inspire and empower readers.

Carton, D. (1999). Speak. The Booklist, 96(2), 247. Retrieved from

Library Uses:
This would be after the class has read the book. Read poems “Alone,” “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings,” and “Still I Rise.” by Maya Angelou who Melinda refers to in the story. Discuss why would Anderson use Maya Angelou as someone who Melinda finds comfort or strength in. Find parts in the poems that may have spoken to Melinda or that Melinda may have liked and discuss why.

My Rating: *****