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Animals Do Too! How They Behave Just Like You–Parents and Teachers, take note of this one!

Animals Do Too! How They Behave Just Like You

by Etta Kaner

Animals Do TooAnimals Do Too! How They Behave Just Like You is a wonderful picture book that can be read on so many different levels and in many different ways. Preschoolers would enjoy the basic predictable story pattern that compares their action to that of an animal (e.g. “Do you like to dance? Honeybees do too!). The young elementary student will enjoy the scientific description of what the animal does that is like what the child does and why. The slightly older student would enjoy reading the book independently.  At the end of the book is an illustrated glossary of all the animals in the book with a short description of each. No review of this book would be complete without kudos to the illustrator, Marilyn Faucher. Her illustrations of both people and animals are colorful, engaging, and fun. They will make you smile!

I would like to extend my thanks to netgalley.com and to Kids Can Press for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 5/5

Category: Children’s Nonfiction

Publication:  May 2, 2017—Kids Can Press

Argyle Fox–what can the little fox play on a windy day?

Argyle Fox

by Marie Letourneau

Argyle FoxArgyle Fox is a cute children’s book about a little fox who wants to go outside to play on a windy day. He has fun, creative ideas for things to play, but other animals warn him that each activity can’t be done in the wind. Argyle Fox takes on various roles, such as spider and pirate, in his efforts at make believe, and the dialogue reflects these characters.

This story would make a good early childhood read aloud with lots of discussion opportunities. Argyle Fox has a simple, predictable story line that is reassuring to children, It encourages vocabulary development and creativity. The illustrations are fun and appropriate to the story. This picture book could be enjoyed in the classroom or at home.

I would like to extend my thanks to netgalley.com and to Tanglewood Publishing for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 4/5

Category: Children’s Fiction

Notes: recommended for ages 3-7

Publication: March 14, 2017—Tanglewood Publishing

Suggested Discussion Questions (Things to talk about while reading this book):
1. What fun things did Argyle Fox want to play? Have you ever pretended or played those things?
2. What animal friends gave Argyle Fox advice about the wind? Can you find them in the book?
3. What do these words mean: burrow, castle duel, pirate, plank?
4. Can you act out the story with me?
5. What other things can you play in the wind?
6. What nice thing did Argyle Fox do for his friends?
7. What is argyle? (Search the Internet for “argyle pattern” to share some great examples and for younger children contrast argyle with dots, stripes, plaid, etc.)

Malala: Activist for Girls’ Education

Malala: Activist for Girls’ Education

by Raphaële Friermalala

illustrated by Aurélia Fronty

The youngest recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize earned this award and world-wide acclaim through her activism in support of girls’ rights to education. Starting at age eleven, she began a courageous public battle against the Taliban and their destruction of girls’ schools in Pakistan. Malala: Activist for Girls’ Education, depicts Malala’s background and family support, her bravery in the face of Taliban violence, and her continuing efforts to bring light on rights’ issues for girls and women in particular, but  including all downtrodden people.

The artwork is an essential part of this book, providing colorful symbolic images.  At the end of the book there is a helpful timeline of events in Malala’s life as well as photographs of her.  There is an added useful feature for parents and teachers who want to extend the study with information on Pakistan, education in Pakistan and the world, and Malala’s religion and inspiration.  There are also brief discussions of other peacemakers: Gandhi, Mandela, and King.  This section includes quotes from Malala as well as a listing of other sources of information about Malala including links to various important speeches she has made.

Teachers will find Malala: Activist for Girls’ Education a valuable teaching resource. It empowers both children and women to stand up for what is right and summarizes the religious and historical context in a way that is understandable and appropriate for children.  This book could be used as an integral tool in many curricular units as well as to provoke thoughtful discussion by itself.

I would like to extend my thanks to netgalley.com and to Charlesbridge Publishing for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 5/5

Category: Younger Readers, Biography

Notes:  recommended for ages 6-9

10 inches X 10 inches

48 pages

originally published in French

Publication:   Charlesbridge Publishing–February 7, 2017

Memorable Lines:

One child, one teacher, one pen, and one book can change the world.

“Dear sisters and brothers, we realize the importance of light when we see darkness. We realize the importance of our voice when we are silenced. In the same way, when we were in Swat, the north of Pakistan, we realized the importance of pens and books when we saw the guns.”–Malala

“The extremists are afraid of books and pens. With guns you can kill terrorists; with education you can kill terrorism.”–Malala

An Open Apology To Dolly Parton 

Dolly Parton has helped make readers one book at a time. Read this reblogged post if you do not know the story of Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, her importance to the economy of Tennessee, or her generosity in the wake of the terrible fires.

Rawe-struck

Dear Dolly,

10040291_300x300I’ll be honest. I used to think you were a bimbo. I used to think you flaunted your big boobs, teased hair, tiny waist, and your syrupy-sweet southern accent to sell yourself and your brand as a country singer. Granted, I was raised in the Midwest and lived as an adult for many years in the Northeast. I didn’t get you, much less the South.

For example, I’d heard about your origins as a poor girl from the hills of East Tennessee, and when I learned you’d created a theme park in your native Sevier County I rolled my eyes. “Really, a theme park?” I thought. “As if rollercoasters will really help the people of rural Appalachia. Why not create something truly useful to give back to your community, like a library.”

Oh.

You have created a library, actually, and possibly in a bigger and more magical…

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The Bringer of Books and Smiles

Featured Image -- 931Part teacher, part book lover, part entertainer–a true friend to homeless children!

Kindness Blog

For the last eight years, Colbert Nembhard has been bringing books (and smiles) to homeless children in The Bronx, New York.

Mr Nembhard, a librarian who’s been the manager of the Morrisania branch of the New York Public Library for 25 years, has been on a mission to making literacy a constant in their wandering and ever changing lives.

The New York Times reports:

“It’s a pleasure to come in here,” Mr. Nembhard began on that Wednesday, never removing his jacket during a presentation that was just short of a Mr. Rogers routine.

He began to sing, “Good morning to you,” and followed with “Wheels on the Bus.” The children joined in with a chorus of “round and round, round and round.”

Toddlers, fidgeting in their chairs or in their mothers’ arms, suddenly became fixated. They could not wait to flip open “Dear Zoo,” by Rod Campbell, a lift-a-flap book…

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Another Way to Help Teachers

Here’s a thoughtful way for book lovers to help teachers and their students.

Ritter Ames--USA TODAY Bestselling Author of the Bodies of Art Mysteries & Organized Mysteries

We know teachers are the lifeblood of our education system. However, each year theyHelping Teachers must spend more out of their own pockets for classroom supplies they cannot get from schools’ depleting budgets. In the past, I’ve given teachers gift cards to office supply stores to help, but last week I found another way I’d never thought of before. Our small town has a wonderful and thoughtful used bookstore. I turned in a bunch of books and received an $80 credit for my efforts–but I’m not going to buy any books. Instead, I’ve turned over my credit to any of the county’s teachers who’ve signed up to receive children’s fiction books for their classrooms.

So, rather than refilling my bookshelves, my credit will help fill classroom libraries for students instead. I can’t think of a better way to promote reading for young people. Yes, I could have bought books and donated…

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Little Chickies/Los Pollitos–a great bilingual book for preschoolers

Little Chickies/Los Pollitos

by Susie Jaramillo

little-chickiesSusie Jaramillo is a bilingual mother and artist who grew up in Venezuela and in the United States. In working with her own young children, she found a need for bilingual books to share traditional Latin American nursery rhymes in Spanish with a translation into English which maintains the original meaning without sacrificing the beauty of language.  To this end she founded Canticos and has published the first book, Little Chickies/Los Pollitos. She has written and illustrated two more bilingual books which are available for preorder.

The art work in Little Chickies/Los Pollitos is very appealing. The simple storyline is that of a mother hen taking care of her babies. It is the kind of book children would love to read and sing over and over again.

One thing that makes Little Chickies/Los Pollitos valuable in working with preschoolers, in presenting an alternate language, is the accordion fold format.  You read the story all the way through in one language and then from the back you can go forward again reading in the other language with no disruption of the story or words that don’t match up with the voice.  Jaramillo added other features that make it special as well.  The rhymes are put to music so children can sing the book. They are interactive with spinning wheels and flaps that lift. An app can be purchased as an extension of the book.  There are free videos of it on Vimeo and more information is available at canticosworld.com.

I would like to extend my thanks to netgalley.com and to the publisher Encantos for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Escaping the Nazis on the Kindertransport–introduction to the Holocaust for younger students

Escaping the Nazis on the Kindertransport

by Emma Carlson Berne

escaping-the-nazisMany books have been written for middle school students about the Jews in Nazi Germany. In Escaping the Nazis on the Kindertransport, Emma Carlson Berne shares a piece of their story with children aged 8-12.  As a teacher I could certainly see this book also being used as a resource for older students who are reading below grade level as it has an interest level appropriate to them as well.

The physical book is designed with the look and feel of an aging family picture album.  There are seven chapters that focus on individual children who were part of the 10,000 children rescued from Nazi controlled areas and relocated to the United Kingdom prior to the beginning of World War II.  Their story is told in the third person but from the child’s perspective.

The first chapter begins with a poem “The Leather Suitcase” written by Tom Berman who was saved as a 5 year old child by a Kindertransport.  Some background is given as it describes what it must have been like for such a young boy to be separated from his parents for a long trip to an unfamiliar country with a different language, not knowing if he would ever see them again. This chapter captures the reader’s interest immediately.

The next chapter, “From Kristallnacht to Kindertransport,”  gives more historical details about the increasing persecution of the Jews and their limited options for survival.  Then the book returns to the stories of individual children, ending with a chapter that briefly recounts what happened to each child after the Kindertransport.  It might be specifics of their time living with another family, further emigration, or an ultimate career, depending on their circumstances and the source documents available.  There is also general statistical information about the 10,000 children of the Kindertransport.

There are study resources at the end of the book.  The “Timeline” integrates important historical dates of the war with major events related to the Kindertransport and the seven children whose rescues are detailed in the book.  The “Glossary,” of course, defines unfamiliar terms such as “haftarah” and “pogrom” which are used in the book.  Next is a page which explains The Kindertransport Association (KTA), whose president was a consultant for the book.  The KTA is comprised of the rescued Kinders, as they call themselves, and their descendants. “Read More” lists three more books on the topic for young readers. There is a page of discussion questions to evoke higher level thinking and several pages devoted to bibliography, source notes, and an index.

Escaping the Nazis on the Kindertransport is a valuable teaching resource, drawing from original sources. The length of the chapters is appropriate for this age level as well as for typical time periods in the school day. It could be used for independent reading or group study, but because of the difficult nature of the subject matter and the age of the intended reader, I definitely suggest adult support. The author handles the ugly reality of Nazi Germany with restraint without hiding the brutal truths of beatings, interments, and death.  Being drawn into their stories will be troubling for some youngsters, especially those for whom this is their introduction to Holocaust studies.

I highly recommend Escaping the Nazis on the Kindertransport as an integrative teaching tool combining reading with social studies, especially history and geography. It abounds with possibilities for discussions to stretch young thinkers to make make new connections and offers opportunities for deep enrichment of vocabulary. Even as an adult, I found the book well written, interesting, and a source of new learning.

This book is scheduled for publication on February 1, 2017.

I would like to extend my thanks to netgalley.com and to Capstone Press for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Perilous Judgment–can a federal judge stay within the law and still save those closest to him?

Perilous JudgmentPerilous Judgement

A Real Justice Thriller Series, Book 1

by Dennis Ricci

Perilous Judgment is the first book in Dennis Ricci’s Real Justice Thriller Series. I don’t know what Mr. Ricci’s  plans for future books in this series are. I can envision his successfully either creating more tales revolving around his main character, Judge Edward Lamport, or departing from the characters in his first book to write more thrillers continuing to focus on the theme of real justice.  Is justice achieved only through the law or can individuals define it as something found in a higher good, a morality above and beyond human created systems of rules?

Perilous Judgment is a story of federal laws, political struggles for power and money, and international narcotics cartels. The main characters have made mistakes in their pasts for which there are consequences.  They have decisions to make which affect others and through prayer they try to decipher the will of God in their unique situations. Following the “real justice” theme, many tough but ethical people have to decide at what point there is a higher law to follow.

As a current resident of Mexico, I find reading about the violence of drug cartels difficult because their actions are at such odds with the individuals I have met in the general population.  They are kind, friendly and eager to help others.  They too dislike corruption in the government and fear the kidnapping and cruelty of gangs.  Then as I look back to my home country, I wonder if we are so very different.  The political corruption north of the border is more sophisticated and subtle, but is widespread. Large cities are racked  with high violent crime rates. I look forward to Mr. Ricci’s next thriller and wonder if his search for real justice will have its focal point solely in the U.S. or if he will once again cross international borders.

I would like to extend my thanks to netgalley.com and to the publisher Waterfall Press  for allowing me to read Perilous Judgment in exchange for an unbiased review.

Ghost of Africa– don’t miss this medical action suspense

The Ghost of AfricaGhost of Africa

by Don Brobst

Don Brobst has created a fast paced adventure set in Africa.  Although The Ghost of Africa is fiction, Don Brobst’s background lends a definite authenticity to the story.  Like his protagonist, Dr. Paul Branson, the author is a medical doctor who travels to Africa frequently to provide medical assistance.  The reader can assume the comparison ends there as the fictional doctor becomes entangled in a deadly struggle over oil between local forces in North Sudan and South Sudan.

Although Waterfall Press publishes Christian fiction, this novel does not fall anywhere near the category of historical romantic fiction that can be so typical of fictional works from a Christian publishing house.  The author has obviously thoroughly researched special forces and military equipment.  The result is a very detailed and physical fight for survival with a ruthless antagonist. There is a Christian theme as Dr. Branson is viewed by the natives as The Chosen One, a label he struggles with and tries to put into perspective for the native population.

I strongly recommend The Ghost of Africa. It does have a strong element of violence, but it is not gratuitous.  This book stands up well with other action adventures.  It also provides a realistic look at life in Africa for the innocents who are caught up in others’ struggles for wealth and power.

I want to extend thanks to netgalley.com and Waterfall Press for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an unbiased review.

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