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Nonfiction Monday

  • Posted on December 28, 2009 at 8:01 AM

Nonfiction Monday Nonfiction Mondayis a celebration of nonfiction children’s books. Kidlitosphere Bloggers with nonfiction posts will be featured here today as we host. Keep checking back & clicking Read More throughout the day as the links grow. As you make your lists for the New Year, be sure to include these nonfiction books and the blogs. 

"This is a stunning book which makes a historical event accessible to younger readers. It just might inspire some to become astronauts." What book is blogger MsMac talking about today? Check out Moonshot: The Flight of Apollo 11 on the blog Check It Out by Jone Rush MacCulloch.

The Wild About Nature blog has a review of Flying Eagle, a picture book written by Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen. "Set at dusk in Africa’s beautiful Serengeti National Park, Bardhan-Quallen’s rhythmic terse verse text follows him on his long tireless flight." If you haven’t visited publisher Charlesbridge’s site yet, you are missing their extra material which is very helpful for school librarians. I particularly like their simple info: This book is good for your brain because:  Nature, Poetry, Survival, Predator/Prey Relationships.

Abby (the) Librarian has written about The Frog Scientist today and suggests this may be a possible Sibert recipient. She writes "The symbiosis between the text and the photos is really well done, drawing the reader in from the first page. It’s the first thing I noticed when I opened the book and I knew I was in for a treat." Be sure to check out her blog and the book trailer link. 

Blast off into space the 3-D way at Lori Calabrese Writes! with a review of 3-D Explorer Solar System by Silver Dolphin Books. Lori writes "Our solar system consists of the sun and everything that travels through space around it, including eight planets, several smaller dwarf planets, and over a hundred moons. It’s all covered in this spectacular 3-D tour– Solar System: A Journey to the Planets and Beyond (3-D Explorer)"

Kate Coombs (Book Aunt) post spotlights Don Brown’s picture book biographies. I appreciate her insights into buying  books for "literal-minded sorts [who] prefer nonfiction." While reviewing Odd Boy Out: Young Albert Einstein and other Don Brown biographies, Kate writes: 

…"the author’s choice of subjects and the way he tells these true stories will make his books an asset to your school or home library. Relatively speaking, there just aren’t enough picture books out there for young nonfiction aficionados, although the science side of things has improved markedly in the last decade or so. For the budding student of history and history makers, Don Brown’s biographies further fill that gap."

To end the year with a spot of fun, Wendie’s Wanderings is featuring Spot the Plot, a Riddle Book of Book Riddles by J. Patrick Lewis. Very fun, Wendie, and I’m sure librarians everywhere will be riddling these with students and each other. 

Cindy Dobrez and Lynn Rutan at Bookends Blog are writing about The Story of Snow: The Science of Winter’s Wonder by Mark Cassino with Jon Nelson. I was intrigued by their conversation:

"When snow comes in down in large amounts as it often does where we live, it is easy to forget how amazing each snowflakes it. Cassino and Nelson help us remember and they do an unusual thing with this book. They take a rather technical subject and make it “crystal” clear for really young readers and still retain a tangible sense of wonder."

Snow is on the mind of Dr. Patricia M. Stohr-Hunt, too. On her blog The Miss Rumphius Effect, she is sharing two titles today, Snowflake Bentley and The Story of Snow. In Nashville all I could do was dream of Christmas’ past with snow. Then I called my parents to check how many feet and feet of snow they had in Northwest Iowa and I was reminded why I like the south again.

Ami Segna of Three Turtles and Their Pet Librarian reviews one of the Sleeping Bear Press alphabet titles K is for Kabuki by Gloria Whelan and Jenny Nolan. Freaky enjoyed the "combination of "old" Japan (emperors and origami), things we Westerners think are new (manga), and the fairly modern (bullet trains and hybrid cars)."

Roberta Gibson at Wrapped In Foil examines the use of torn paper collage illustrations in children’s nonfiction books. Are torn paper collage illustrations useful or are they confusing and lacking scientific details? Read and form your opinion.

Readers know I welcome a little controversy because it keeps my mind stimulated. I’m still learning, gathering facts, forming opinions, gathering more facts, changing my opinion, seeking more facts, discussing facts with others, … Aren’t you? When I opened a recent box of review books from Marshall Cavendish Benchmark, I was delighted to see they’d sent group 2 of the Global Hot Spots series including Burma (Myanmar), Colombia, Cuba, North Korea, Tibet, and Zimbabwe.

The first title I had to read was Cuba by Paul Mason. I recall the controversy other titles on Cuba caused particularly in Florida schools and those populated by Cuban-refugee descendants. Would this series walk the tightrope between providing information and opinions in only 32 pages? The publisher suggests the series is interesting to grades 4 and up. I’d place these in middle schools due to the more sophisticated design and large amount of information that is presented but not synthesized or analyzed. 

The titles do not tell you what opinion to form. They attempt to provide information about the "story behind the headlines" and focus questions in the back matter section Find Out More.  Despite the name of that section, it does not provide a bibliography of additional reading titles. There are no lists of websites with information which would have to include disclaimers. 

Speaking of disclaimers, there is an interesting note on the verso of the title page: "This publication represents the opinions and views of the author based on Paul Mason’s personal experience, knowledge, and research. The information in this book serves as a general guide only. The author and publisher have used their best efforts in preparing this book and disclaim liability rising directly and indirectly from the use and application of this book."

I’ll have to write follow-up posts with more information about each country though because balancing a tightrope walk of political correctness does not give you room to share personal interpretations. This is where the connection between fiction and nonfiction can be tightened. I have students from these countries and they deserve more resouces. 

I need to order the group 1 titles I missed last fall: Afghanistan, The Indian Subcontinent, Iran, Iraq, Israel and Palestine, and Sudan.  The MC website shows a discount for group 1 titles for only $9.65 each and group 2 titles for only $12.99 instead of the list price $18.56. There are so few titles that address these controversial countries that I consider this series a vital part of a middle school collection. Bring on the discussion. I’m off to read all the rest of this group and see if I change my mind.

If you have written a nonfiction post today to include, you can email me (best option) or you can leave the URL in the comments section. Just remember to leave off the http:// because the comments machinery rejects it.

Gifts and Blessings Thank You

  • Posted on December 25, 2009 at 9:49 PM

Thank you, readers, for being participants in our little version of paradise this year. While many around the world are unwrapping gifts, my family is focusing on being thankful for non-traditional gifts this year.

Thank you to my two oldest sons for serving with the US Army in Afghanistan. We’ve discussed your role in protecting the United States and the Constitution. I love you and miss you. Knowing you were safe on Christmas Eve was a wonderful gift. 

Thank you to all the soldiers with them and your creativity in doing video shout-outs on YouTube to help us while we miss our loved ones. I appreciate your sacrifices.

Thank you to Facebook for being there. I was able to chat via messaging with one son who had no phone access and could post photos on the other’s page. 

Thank you to the cell phone companies so I’m always connected and don’t miss any calls from family- even those calls at midnight and 4 a.m. You’ve given me the freedom to continue living life and going places instead of sitting at home watching a silent phone. 

Thank you to my two youngest sons for giving me Christmas hugs and wrestling collars onto two of the cats. Now we’ll have new stories to tell for years. 

Thank you to my mom and dad for making the goodies and sending them. Without my baking a thing, we became the biggest hit among teenagers as my sons’ friends kept sneaking treats. 

Thank you to the authors, publishers, and illustrators who have sent me books to review throughout the year. Even when I couldn’t make it to the bookstore and public library this week, the mail carrier made it through with 3 new boxes of books from Enslow, Marshall Cavendish, and Facts on File. Yippee! Anticipation.

Thank you to everyone who writes, reads, and comments on blogs. Our interconnectivity has created such a vital Personal Learning Network that I’d be lost without you. 

Thank you to my friends who understand when my eyes drift to the right and you know I’m thinking about how to include our activity in the blog. You are wonderful sports. 

Thank you to my employers. Imagine, you actually pay me "a little something" to do what I love. 

Thank you to my cats (Milia, Maxie and Mama Kitty) and dog Lucy. I love how you listen without critiquing and still provide unconditional love. I hope this next year I can be as nurturing as you.

Do librarians ever really take vacations?

  • Posted on December 23, 2009 at 10:18 AM

I think I change my physical location, but I don’t stop being a librarian ever. I’m still reading, seeking new ideas, connecting with my professional colleagues, writing, preparing new projects and lessons. In this age of interconnectivity I am responding to requests for books and information daily. My phone rings. The IM pops up. My facebook inbox flashes new mail.

Students email me through the school website with new books they’ve discovered and that we simply MUST purchase the entire series of the very day we return. Teachers share their brilliant ideas. Parents email and send IM’s on facebook asking whether their child would like The Dark Is Rising (one of my favorites and you must seeNina’s post) or The Lightning Thief. 

When I get out of the house for a moment, I visit the local public library or the bookstore just to see what’s new, checkout 30-40 titles, and help those poor people standing in the aisles wondering where to start. Don’t you help others in bookstores? 

I don’t even go to the bookstore with my children anymore because they get tired of me volunteering help for those aunts and uncles that are muttering under their breath. #3 son will insist that’s why they pay workers there. #4 son gives up and leaves the store for Best Buy. #2 son is so busy looking at Manga they have to pry him out at closing time. #1 son knows every person in the store and soon is hosting an event in the coffeehouse. But I, I am the ever-vigilant librarian knowing that somewhere someone is trying to connect with a book and they need my help. 

I’m off to curl up with a few dozen middle grade nonfiction titles and a plate of sugar cookies (thanks, Mom!) What are you doing on your vacation?

Giving Capstone early chapter books

  • Posted on December 15, 2009 at 12:00 AM

Among the books I’m sorting for River Valley Elementary are these titles from Capstone Publishing. 

Norton Saves the Day (Pony Tales) by Bernadette Kelly. Illustrated by Liz Alger. Picture Window Books. ©2010 ISBN 9781404855052 $14.99 

Second graders will enjoy this Pony Tales series. Those of you who have visited my library know I inherited about 7 sets of horse and pony books for girls that never seem to have been checked out. My middle schoolers living in the multi-cultural suburbs of Nashville are not exactly dreaming of owning a pony. Therefore, it takes a unique title to catch my interest and enable me to send it on to elementary schools. Here’s the publishers description:

Norton is a naughty pony. Everyone thinks so. Well, everyone except his owner, Molly. She thinks Norton is the most perfect pony in the whole world, no matter what kind of trouble he causes!

In Norton Saves the Day Molly takes her mother’s advice to enroll Norton in riding school. I love the illustrations in this title as they tell an essential part of the story. Readers can gasp at the audacious naughtiness of this horse throughout and the blind love Molly has for Norton. I also appreciate the illustrator drawing a very real woman for Molly’s mother rather than the model types that often appear. Readers will be able to identify that the author and the illustrator both wanted horses when they were growing up, but I’m sure no one wants a horse like Norton.

Norton Saves the Day was first published in Australia by Black Dog Books in 2008. Other titles in this series include Naughty Norton, Norton’s First Show, and Who Stole Norton.

 Monster and Me, a graphic novel by Robert Marsh and illustrated by Tom Percival, is part of the new Monster and Me series from Stone Arch books Graphic Sparks. Another title in the series is Monster in the Outfield. ©2010 ISBN 9781434215895 $16.99 

I like this crazy Monster Dwight who tries to eat everyone whenever Gabby’s head is turned. There are many lines and illustrations in this that older readers (grades 2-5) will appreciate. A quick read that is fun. I especially enjoyed the author and the illustrator’s bios in the back. Here’s the author’s (you’ll have to get the book to read the illustrator’s): 

Robert Marsh grew up in Omaha, Nebraska, but longed to live somewhere else. He pretended not to live in Omaha by reading lots of books. Every week, Marsha checked out twenty books from the library. Since he didn’t have time to read all of those books, he would read the first chapter of each and make up the rest of the story. Marsh now makes up stories for a living and doesn’t live in Omaha. Dreams do come true.

Sugar Hero in the Princess Candy series.  A graphic novel by Michael Dahl and illustrated by Jeff Crowther. A fast reading silly tale to appeal to girls. With names like Doozy Hiss, Halo Nightly, and Mr. Slink, you know this is a comedic take on superheroes. 

I did wonder if Mr. Nussbaum, the man riding in Mary Jane (the cab), was named after Greg Nussbaum and his educational website. Michael?  Also in this series is The Marshmallow Mermaid. I wonder what powers Princess Candy will use in that title.

For elementary collections needing beginning adventure science fiction here’s the series Captain Cal. I reviewed Captain Cal and the Garbage Planet by Jan Dallimore and illustrated by Richard Morden. I noticed this was originally published in Australia by Black Dog Books with the title Captain Cal and the Grotts. I’m still trying to figure out what a grott is. Does it have anything to do with the black metal band from Finland that developed the concept of the Troll Syndicate where trolls wipe out and control humanity? 

In Captain Cal and the Garbage Planet Cal and his friends help the Grotts or inhabitants of another planet learn how to recycle, reuse and reduce their trash. Science purists will roll their eyes over some aspects, but 2-3rd graders will enjoy Captain Cal’s adventures. Additonal Captain Cal titles include:

Captain Cal and the Robot Army
Captain Cal and the Giant Straw
Captain Cal and the Great Space Race

Balancing access to the library – how do you do it?

  • Posted on December 14, 2009 at 12:00 AM

Have you ever dealt with everyone wanting access to the library resources at the same time? How do you handle it? Sometimes teachers don’t want to share a large room that will hold 3 classes. Reasons vary

  1. it would be distracting to their students 
  2. their students will be disruptive to others 
  3. they want the library to be totally quiet 
  4. they want the librarian’s total undivided attention 
  5. they don’t want others seeing what or how they teach 
  6. they "know" the other teachers involved won’t control their students and they don’t want to feel stressed by the other class
  7. they don’t want to share the resources but enable their students to have exclusive use during their time

How do you handle discipline when there are several classes in the room at one time and one teacher refuses to quiet his or her students, leave the room when you ask them to do so, or be considerate of the other class? 

How do you handle it when certain teachers want to schedule their classes all the time? 

The extra stuff in books and Stone Arch's My 1st Graphic Novel

  • Posted on December 13, 2009 at 2:08 PM

Monica Edinger and Wendy Burton posted on similar subjects Sunday regarding flap copy, acknowledgments, back matter, foreword, afterword, and author’s notes. A discussion of this continued on the Child Lit’s listserv.  

The impact of these extras to the text struck me while I was reading Secret Scooter written by Christianne C. Jones and illustrated by Mary Sullivan. Secret Scooter is part of the My 1st Graphic Novel: Transportation series  from Stone Arch Books. ©2010 ISBN: 9781434216199 released in Fall 2009. This series joins the My First Graphic Novel: Sports set released in Spring 2009 which was highly recommended by SLJ (School Library Journal; Vol. 55, No. 9; Page 188, September 2009) Other titles in this series include:

Airplane Adventure
Bella’s Boat Surprise
Bree’s Bike Jump
Dump Truck Day
Train Trip

The beginning of Secret Scooter contains two pages on "How to Read a Graphic Novel." Using the American form of graphic novels the instructions tell readers to read from left to right and from the top to the bottom. There are numbers indicating the order to read the dialogue on this sample page. 

The end of this book includes sections About the Author, About the Illustrator, Glossary, Discussion Questions, Writing Prompts, a colorful two page introduction to the series with other titles available in the series, and finally a colorful page directing readers to the Facthound / CapstoneKids website for more information. 

My first thought when I got to the end was "What?! You want to give me homework on this fun book? I don’t want any discussion questions and writing prompts. If this is for teachers, put it on the webpage. Don’t take up my kid space with work." 

I enjoyed reading Secret Scooter and highly recommend the My First Graphic Novel series to elementary schools. I do want to tell the author that I didn’t like the ending’s surprise. Give me a break! If I were viewing this secret scooter everyday and wondering where it went, I wouldn’t buy the ending at all. Give me (the me pretending to be the main character) more credit for observation and intelligence. 

While we watch this tendency to put more and more in books, I’d have to agree with both bloggers today. I don’t want to see teacher work at the back of my fiction title. I would like more nonfiction information for fiction titles that is relevant to the topic. I’d rather see the photos of scooter or some fun facts like how many miles per gallon a scooter gets or why it is friendlier to the earth than some forms of transportation. Facts like the cost of a scooter, rules for riding scooters, and their history are interesting to me. Writing prompts are not. 

How do you feel about the extras or as Ebony Thomas pointed out "the turn towards intertextuality"?

Giving Stone Arch Readers

  • Posted on December 13, 2009 at 11:55 AM

I finally placed a large order for Stone Arch books this week. I say "finally" because I have been intending to get these ordered since last February, but ran out of funds. My order included many Vortex, Shade, and Pathways titles plus additional titles in many of the series where we had only individual titles. The graphic novels we own are always checked out so I knew any new graphic titles would be avidly received. 

While I was ordering, I had members of the Library Club checking and rechecking my lists against books received, books ordered, books owned, books lost, and books being previewed. They loved debating every title on the list and making sure enough people intended to read it as soon as it was ready. I kept stating, "I’m not going to buy a book that just sits on the shelf unread." They worked so hard on this list that you would have thought they were spending their own funds. Our last recheck involved removing the multiple copies that they kept slipping in. "I know you love Claudia," I’d say, "but we can’t purchase 8 copies of the same book right now. Let’s get 8 different titles instead." 

Now that the order is finished, I can go back to reviewing and previewing the elementary titles I’ve received from Capstone Publishing. Have you seen the new Stone Arch Readers? The publisher’s series summary states:

Stone Arch Readers take a well-known concept and revived it. This three-level reader series combines fresh story concepts and enticing art. Each level will have it’s own look and feel. Sight words and basic sentence structures will keep every level true to its purpose, and a parent letter will keep everyone on track. Stone Arch Readers bring the excitement back to learning to read.

One aspect of these that I liked better than some of their competitors was the information on the back of the book showing what makes a title a Level 1, 2, or 3 reader. For example, Level 1 titles have

  • simple sentences
  • easy vocabulary
  • word repetition
  • red banding

Level 2 titles have

  • longer sentences
  • higher vocabulary
  • easy dialogue
  • turquoise banding

Level 3 titles have

  • full paragraphs
  • higher word count
  • high-interest topics
  • purple banding

So many different publishers have brands, levels, and unique terms that I get confused. As a parent and a librarian who taught in elementary for 19 years, I appreciate this simple information on the back of a book. Of course there is information on the reading level (RL) and the Guided Reading Level and each book in the series is color-coded to match the level as I indicated in the bullets above. 

For level 1 I read Mud Mess by Melinda Melton Crow. Illustrated by Ronnie Rooney. ©2010 ISBN: 9781434216229 $15.99 Total word count: 106

Mud Mess is part of a four-book set on level 1 with the same three truck characters. Other titles include Road Race, Snow Trouble, and Truck Buddies. Simple reading with  trucks. Sounds good to me. I do question why it was the dump truck that got stuck in the mud instead of the generic blue truck or green truck. In my experience the dump trucks get stuck LESS often than generic pickup trucks, but I did research and find photos of dump trucks that were stuck and needed bull dozers to push them out. I would buy this level for elementary schools. The illustrations are important to the story and the illustrator has hidden a little bunny on each page for the reader to locate.

The level 2 title I received for preview is The Big Catch: A Robot and Rico Story by Anastasia Suen. ©2010 ISBN: 9781434216267 $15.99 Total word count: 318

Robot and Rico have 3 additional titles in their level 2 adventures: Skate Trick, A Prize Inside, and the Scary Night. The dialogue contained in this title sets it apart from level 1. There are more words and usually two sentences on each page. Anastasia Suen has included a variety of punctuation which will help reinforce first grade concepts. I could see two students reading this aloud and learning how to take turns reading dialogue. Another good choice for elementary students with male characters. 

The level 3 title in my hand is Three Claws, the Mountain Monster by Carol Meister. ©2010 ISBN: 9781434216335 $15.99 Total word count: 362

The three additional titles in their level 3 adventures include Ora, the Sea Monster; Moopy, the Underground Monster; and Snorp, the City Monster. I wish I’d received all of these because I have a concern about how the characters in Three Claws solve their problem. You see, Three Claws has bad breath and chooses to only eat smelly rotten fish. When his monster friends are unable to convince him to try other foods, instead of telling him that his breath smells bad, they trick him into moving to the top of a mountain where his stinky breath will be far away from them. He is a good sport and bows to his friends for the honor of protecting them from the top of the mountain.

So, I warned you that I’m feeling picky today. Most readers will enjoy the story and pick up the next title in this set. My concern is that ostracizing people with bad habits is not how I suggest solving problems. Still, I could use this title to teach problem solving and friendships. I’ll have to call up Stone Arch and ask them if the other monsters have been banished to unique habitats due to bad personal hygiene or not. Readers, if you have these other titles, let me know.

One improvement I would make in these series is for the note to Parents and Caregivers by Gail Saunders Smith, Ph.D. to change for each level. Since there are unique features for each level, parents and caregivers could utilize tips for incorporating these into the listening experience without it becoming a lesson. The note by Gail Saunders Smith does remind parents that "reading with your child should be fun, not forced. Each moment spent reading with your child is a priceless investmant in his or her literary life."

Giving MC Benchmark emerging to fluent reader titles

  • Posted on December 13, 2009 at 10:00 AM

Marshall Cavendish Benchmark publishes BookWorms – series intended for the beginning readers. There are three levels: emergent, early and fluent. Today I’m packing up 3 series to send River Valley Elementary. We Go! is the set for Emergent readers. Safe Kids is for Early readers. Nature’s Cycles is for Fluent readers.

We Go! for emerging readers has an individual title for Buses, Cars, Trucks, Trains, Planes, and Boats. There are two pages at the back of the book with unique words of these titles and their corresponding pictures. The list is in alphabetical order but contains a thumbnail of the same picture that is on the corresponding page in the book. I expected the words to know would have had an arrow identifying what part of the picture contains the noun indicated. For example in the title Trains, one word specified in rail cars. The sentence is "Trains have rail cars." The photograph contains a beautiful scenic picture of a train including the engine. There is no arrow showing which are the rail cars, so a child could mistakenly believe the engine is also a rail car. In the words at the back, we see the same picture and the word Rail cars. I don’t see any purpose of putting the words in the back with nothing distinguishing them from the main text except the fact that they are alphabetical. Since this series is for emergent readers, an adult with have to point out the part of the picture that corresponds to the text as they read. 

While I expect kindergartners will read this series, an adult needs to read with them. The photograph for Cars with the text "Cars have hoods." shows an engine. Yes, there is a hood raised to the left, but it is cropped and not fully visible. There is nothing to indicate that it is the hood and the young children I tried this title with pointed to the engine when I asked where the hood was. 

I’m sure that I am being very picky today, but I am bothered when statements are made that are misleading to the youngest readers. It seems the publishers want to keep the word count low and simple, so they reduce sentences to the barest concept. Sometimes this leads to false ideas. In the book Planes, there is a picture of a seaplane landing on water. The sentence says "Planes go on water." The sentence should say "Some planes go on water" or "Seaplanes go on water." Any child who watches television knows that MOST planes do NOT go on water. Remember watching passengers in NYC standing on the wing of a plane that landed in the water? 
Safe Kids by Dana Meachen Rau
Safety on the Go
Water Safety
Fire Safety 
Food Safety 
School Safety
Safety at Home

These books are targeted for grades K-2 and are listed as early readers. I’m much happier with this series for young readers. There are more content specific words. The reader will be challenged more. Most pages give a safety rule and a simple explanation as to what could happen if the rule isn’t followed. For example Safety on the Go includes these two sentences "Always wear a helmet. Helmets protect your head if you fall." 

The series for fluent readers is Nature’s Cycles including: 

Food Chains
Day And Night

Intended for grades 1-2, these topics match typical first grade topics while providing enough of a reading challenge to appeal to early second grade readers. This is my favorite of the three series do to the depth of writing and correlation to the curriculum.

The sample chains in the book Food Chains are not very in-depth. For example, here is the text for two pages in Food Chains: "Look at a food chain in a pond. A fish eats plants. An alligator eats the fish. When the alligator dies, it falls to the bottom. When it decays, it helps new plants to grow." 

The explanation for the water cycle is much better in the book Water. The first few pages give an overall view of the water cycle. Then the remaining pages expand upon this. The Plants title contained a surprisingly large amount of information for a fluent reader title and would be good for second graders also. The Day And Night title would make a good read-aloud for small groups in kindergarten in addition to fluent readers self-choice. The Seasons title contains a large amount of information and would make a good K title, too. 

The title Animals is very well-written for young readers and a good choice for the K-3 curriculum on Living Things. I particularly like the photograph of the male and female peacocks on the page on mating. Here is the text:

A male and female greet each other. They might do a dance. They might show off. Then they mate. Mating is making more babies.

One aspect of Marshall Cavendish Benchmark’s series that I like is that they have printable Teacher’s Guides available from the website. While these 3 series’ guides are not yet online (they are 2010 copyrights), the indexing shows me that they will soon have them. Current teacher’s guides are available here.

A Banquet of Hungry Ghosts

  • Posted on December 12, 2009 at 12:00 AM

I received my copy. Now I can share.

I finished this short story collection by Compestine (Revolution is
not a Dinner Party) today and feel incredibly enthusiastic about this
title.  Often when I get requests for horror stories, I scramble to
find titles that will definitely scare the readers because many
writers of children’s ghost stories don’t quite create stories
disturbing enough for the Serious thrill-fright seekers.  This volume
definitely deserves some serious attention.

My reading note on it is posted in goodreads and

It’s due out late October and I wonder if anyone else has read it and
if so, would you share your thoughts? – fairrosa cyber library of children’s literature

Need help with horror

  • Posted on December 11, 2009 at 12:00 AM

Please send me horror titles you would add to a middle school library. We are using this blog at to teach authentic writing and we asked students to comment on this post:

Here are some suggestions of great books to read. Check out our comments for real information on what kids read.

Many students asked for more horror books and scary books. I have asked them to give me specifics including titles, authors, and series that they think their classmates would like to read, also. 

This is what they have told me they want:

really scary books.
really bloody and nasty books.
books like Saw.
books with ghost tales, or something demonic and bloody.
books that make you shudder and look over your shoulder.

I’ve tried to discuss issues on appropriateness for middle schoolers and parent objections, but they insist that "they" get to watch TV and movies plus buy any scary books they want, so the library should supply the books they are interested in, not just what is safe.

I am really interested in your opinion of this. How would you handle these requests? Which titles would you add? I need LOTS of suggestions. I’ll share some of the additional titles I’ve recently ordered in case you miss any, but I’d like to hear from you first.