Displaying 11 - 20 of 1025 entries.

Quick note on Book not to Miss

  • Posted on January 24, 2014 at 9:03 AM

As I am waiting for my plane to ALA Midwinter, I realized I had not shared one of those special titles that should be in all upper elementary and middle school collections. Author John P. Stanley released Mickey Price Journey to Oblivion this September. The publisher is Tanglewood. I noticed that many reviewers miss titles from Tanglewood and this one is an excellent science fiction  title that realistically shares a space Cover of Mickey Pricemission that COULD have happened in history.

While reading this title, I was reminded of the Princess Bride and the first time I saw it as a movie. A grandfather is sitting and reading a story to his cranky grandson. He has to sell this book because the grandson is rather skeptical. In Mickey Price Journey to Oblivion we have the point of view of a father sharing a “true” story of his past with his equally skeptical children. The story alternates between a scientific fantasy tale of children who saved the space program with their fantastical journey to the moon, and the father’s discussion with his children years later. Some reviewers thought it was confusing, but this is an excellent way to introduce point of view. I’d love to see it made into a movie.

The space exploration aspects from the early days of travel are well-written. Students at my STEM school love the title because it opens dreams to them of possible futures. It is an exciting story that manages to weave some true facts of space exploration and may trigger historical research. Making the journey to the moon and astronauts traveling in space exciting is a worthy endeavor. I had to purchase three copies to satisfy the demand. Imagine what will happen when just one teacher reads it aloud!

The characters reminded me of those in The Mysterious Benedict Society, but were more realistically depicted. Orphans, geniuses, students with unusual abilities and learning styles being celebrated and learning how to work together. Every gifted and talented teacher should add this to their class collection, also.

Here is the publisher’s description:

The moon is under threat of a nuclear meltdown due to a space station malfunction. Complicating things is the presence of pleurinium, a magnetic material that makes humans instantly, seriously ill – well, all humans who are 14 years old and up.

Mickey Price is an orphan in Orlando; Trace Daniels is a go-kart champion in Nevada; Jonah Jones is a budding scientist in Illinois. They don’t know each other, but they are all being watched and studied by men in white shirts, thin black ties, and distinctive gold-colored sunglasses. The three kids are invited to a NASA camp, but this camp isn’t for summer fun. It’s a training camp for a mission full of dangers that will test each of them to the maximum, but it’s also an adventure full of thrills, fun, and some unexpected companions, not all of whom are human.

Seeking test banks of Information Literacy & library focused question

  • Posted on January 11, 2014 at 4:37 PM

While assisting teachers with instructional design and putting together my pacing guides for this semester, I realized that I spend far too much time reinventing the wheel. There are many school librarians out there who have developed test banks of questions for use with programs like Examview, Smartboards, Promethean boards, CPS clickers, Promethean clickers, etc. Where are these and why are they so difficult to find?

If the nation has a “common core” of state standards, there should be some consistency in the items we assess. Rather than just waiting around anxiously for the PARCC assessment, we should be actively defining and pinpointing the most important areas. Why should it only be businesses that generate test questions? I’m currently waiting for the ability to input reading textbook questions into our teacher’s libraries. Why should I have to wait to assess this using a narrow focus of text?

Librarians can help teachers by creating banks of questions to integrate into basic information literacy instruction. I’m not advocating for any more paper tests, but I am looking for quick questions that other librarians use to do on-the-fly or formative assessment. If I want to be sure students know the difference between primary and secondary sources, wouldn’t five well-developed questions be helpful?

The Library of Congress Summer Institutes have been announced so I spent time today writing my application and minimizing my answers to 500 characters. I’d like to know if anyone has already developed a tool like this to make my instruction easier. I can go to PrometheanPlanet.org to download flipcharts created by teachers and librarians,  but they aren’t specific enough to directly correlate with what I teach in the library. The TRAILS test is essentially a test bank of questions that can be used, but the level of assessment is higher than my beginning learners are prepared. I need something easier, broader, and for younger learners. Any ideas?

Junie B. Jones Stupid Smelly Bus Tour Coming to Nashville

  • Posted on June 11, 2013 at 6:11 AM



DON’T MISS IT! I Can’t WAIT!!!! 

 Celebrate the TENTH ANNIVERSARY of the tour,

which brings literary favorite Junie B. Jones to 15 cities across the country!

Come Along for the Ride!

WHAT:                                  Live performance and “Bookstamping”

The Junie B. Jones® Stupid Smelly Bus is bringing the star of the bestselling Junie B. Jones® book series to meet her fans JBJ_BusTour_Logo_2013_round (2)in 15 cities across the country.  Book retailers will host events at which Junie B. will share her hilarious antics through a live, theatrical performance based on Barbara Park’s bestselling Junie B. Jones®series.  Events also include free Junie B. souvenirs for kids and an official “book stamping.”  This event is recommended for children ages 5 and up.

Launched in the summer of 2004, Junie B. Jones and Mr. Woo have spent almost every summer traveling the country in their hot pink bus bringing everyone’s favorite first grader Junie B. Jones to life. With an original script written by award-winning author Barbara Park, Junie B. Jones and her bus driver, Mr. Woo will be entertaining new readers and established fans alike.  The Junie B. Jones® series is one of the most popular among kids, and has sold over 55 million print, audio books, and eBooks to date.

JBJ Symbols copyright Marcia CirielloWHO:                                    Featuring Nicole Acevedo, as Junie B. Jones, Karlo Ceria, as Mr. Woo and produced by G. Wayne Hoffman, this event brings the bestselling Junie B. Jones® series to life!

WHEN/WHERE:          Sunday, June 23rd at 2:00 PM

Nashville Children’s Theater (Co-sponsored by Parnassus Books)

25 Middleton Street, Nashville, TN 37210

For more information, call the store at (615) 953-2243

Monday, June 24th at 11:00 AM    Barnes & Noble 1701 Mallory Lane, Brentwood TN, 37207

Learn more at JunieBJones.com.           

Admission information:  The Junie B. Jones® Stupid Smelly Bus Tour events are free and open to the general public unless otherwise noted.

The Junie B. Jones® Stupid Smelly Bus Tour is sponsored by Random House Children’s Books

Nonfiction Monday is here in PracticallyParadise

  • Posted on June 9, 2013 at 11:34 PM

nonfiction.mondayIt’s back! Practically Paradise is happy to host Nonfiction Monday June 10, 2013, after a long break from blogging. I had a backlog of books to read and will be sharing those titles with you frequently from now through the summer. Today we have links to posts written by bloggers around the kidlitosphere. If you’d like to add a post, you can submit information on the google docs form or simply post it in the comments below.

Here’s a title that I am excitedly planning for purchasing in the fall with a publication date of  Nov. 1st:Hey charleston!

Hey, Charleston! The True Story of the Jenkins Orphanage Band by Anne Rockwell (Author) and Colin Bootman (Illustrator). Lerner books, 2013. $16.95 Hardcover, Jacketed. $12.95 eBook. Ages 7–11 HC: 978-0-7613-5565-6 EB: 978-0-7613-8843-2. 32 Pages

I couldn’t wait for this title so reviewed it from NetGalley after reading this description:

What happened when a former slave took beat-up old instruments and gave them to a bunch of orphans? Thousands of futures got a little brighter and a great American art form was born.

In 1891, Reverend Daniel Joseph Jenkins opened his orphanage in Charleston, South Carolina. He soon had hundreds of children and needed a way to support them. Jenkins asked townspeople to donate old band instruments—some of which had last played in the hands of Confederate soldiers in the Civil War. He found teachers to show the kids how to play. Soon the orphanage had a band. And what a band it was.

The Jenkins Orphanage Band caused a sensation on the streets of Charleston. People called the band’s style of music “rag”—a rhythm inspired by the African-American people who lived on the South Carolina and Georgia coast. The children performed as far away as Paris and London, and they earned enough money to support the orphanage that still exists today. They also helped launch the music we now know as jazz.

Hey, Charleston! is the story of the kind man who gave America “some rag” and so much more. If you visit the Lernerbooks.com website, you can download and fold a two-sided bookmark to accompany this book.

Since I live in Nashville, Tennessee, which is the home of the Fisk Jubilee Singers, stories about the effect music has on children’s lives means a great deal to me. This historical description of the beginning of jazz is interesting musically, but the perseverance of Reverend Daniel Joseph Jenkins is what cries out the most. The illustrations are filled with energy and movement. The dancers inspire movement. Be prepared to play some rag and dance the Charleston to fully engage with your story time listeners. This is a great pick and I cannot wait to share the print version with my students.

Howie’s first post for his summer reading

  • Posted on June 9, 2013 at 9:14 PM

TheLabHowie shares with us his post about The Lab by by Jack Heath giving it 4 out of 5 stars.

The Lab is a book about a super human spy that was born in a tube.  The main character of this story is Agent Six of Hearts. Six has the biggest secret on the planet, he is a test subject in an experiment to create the ultimate assassins. He has to stop the lab from creating an army while also keeping  his giant secret.  Along the way he finds help in a physical copy of himself.  Some of Six’s enhancements are bat hearing, hawk sight and bones, sharks skin, and cheetah speed.




What are you wearing to the Newbery/Caldecott banquet?

  • Posted on June 9, 2013 at 4:49 PM

Have you seen the video by Jim Averbeck and Betsy Bird for the 75th Caldecott Anniversary: Byrd & Averbeck Plan

The anniversary committee is encouraging folks to wear elegant attire that gives a nod to the wearer’s favorite Caldecott winner or honoree, past or present. There will be a station set up for photographs, encouragement to share them on social media, and a red carpet.

I’m waiting for my summer workshop paycheck to purchase my ticket to the banquet, but already I’m considering what to wear. Elegant yet with a nod to a past title. Hmmm?

Here’s the link to the list of Newbery past winners: http://www.ala.org/alsc/awardsgrants/bookmedia/newberymedal/newberywinners/medalwinners

The list of Caldecott winners and honor books is: http://www.ala.org/alsc/awardsgrants/bookmedia/caldecottmedal/caldecotthonors/caldecottmedal

Exploring other blogs while leaving comments

  • Posted on January 15, 2013 at 12:13 AM

As part of the 2013 Comment Challenge I continue to visit other blogs and leave comments. Today I checked out

  • Carrie @ Storypatch’s post for Perfect Picture Book Friday – Bringing Down the Moon includes a link toA science lesson on how distance affects perception of size: http://www.eyeonthesky.org/lessonplans/12sun_littlemoon.html
  • Maria@ Once Upon A Story shares a post about why or more exactly how she does not Read to her baby. While I appreciate her acknowledging that language is acquired through more than the 20-minute lap sit, I see far more avid readers who recall a loving family member who read to them while they were little. I loved reading to my sons as they were growing up, but it seems they don’t recall the many storytimes as much as I do. If I could change anything, I’d go back in time and read even more.
  • When I popped into Donna L Martin‘s website, I found some unique resources for writer’s. As I stumbled around the site, I discovered the blog http://www.donasdays.blogspot.com/ and was soon lost in exploring various links and experiencing “being a writer” again. This blog inspired me to suddenly journal again. Hmm! Dangerous. And I love it.
  • Sarah Albee blogs every Monday, Wednesday and Friday about the intersection of history and science. Her  favorite topics are the history of sanitation, funky fashions, and insects. I love the quirkiness of truth in history. After reading about diethylene glycol, I had to go check all my hair and cosmetic products.
  • Miss Marple’s Musings shared another excellent puppy book from Candlewick Press – Charley’s First Night. Written by Amy Hest and Illustrated by Helen Oxenbury this looks like a lovely title to share.

2013 Comment Challenge

  • Posted on January 13, 2013 at 8:07 PM

Who have I visited and commented on lately during the 2013 Comment Challenge?

  1. Madigan @ Madigan Reads
  2. Lori Norman @ StoryQuill: A Writer’s Blog
  3. EMU’s Debuts which really helped me appreciate how long it takes to get published
  4. Redpeffer‘s blog on everything parent from craft to nature to education and anything else that takes her fancy.
  5. Pragmatic Mom with Education matters covering parenting, children’s literature, and education. Loved the post on Girls Who Dare to Fly.
  6. Storied Cities reviews of decidedly urban illustrated and chapter books for children. Loved Laundry Day and noticed it was on several bloggers “best” lists.
  7. Green Bean TeenQueen A Teen and Tween Librarian’s thoughts on books, reading and adventures in the library.
  8. Cathy Mealey reviewed A Sailor’s Life for Me! by Richard Platt. Illustrated by Stephen Biesty. USS Constitution Museum, 2012. Suitable for: Ages 7-12 with the Themes/Topics: Nautical history, shipboard life, USS Constitution, War of 1812. Hmmm! It’s hard to locate good titles for the War of 1812.
  9. Visiting Myra, Fats, Iphigene @ Gathering Books was dangerous since I couldn’t resist signing up for the The Award-Winning-Books Reading Challenge.
  10. Perogies & Gyoza continues their adventures in books & bilingualism with their picturebook top 10 list. I am embarrassed whenever I see how many books I haven’t read yet. How about you?

What is the 2013 Comment Challenge?  For the next 21 days visit and leave comments on five different kid lit blogs daily. The kidlitosphere lists gives lots of blogs to check out. Thanks to Lee Wind, M. Ed. the Official Blogger For the Society of Children’s Books Writers and Illustrators http://scbwi.blogspot.com/ and the Mother Reader blog http://www.motherreader.com/ for sponsoring this challenge.

Maybe I Will

  • Posted on January 13, 2013 at 3:51 PM

MaybeIWillMAYBE I WILL by Laurie Gray. Luminis Books (www.luminisbooks.com), March 2013.  Ages 13+ ($14.95 Paperback – ISBN 978-1-935462-70-5, $26.95 Hardcover – ISBN 978-1-935462-71-2, $9.95 eBook – ISBN 978-1-935462-72-9)

Publisher’s Description:  It’s not about sex. It’s about how one secret act of violence changes everything—how best friends can desert you when you need them most, how nobody understands. It’s about the drinking and stealing and lying and wondering who you can trust. It’s about parents and teachers, police officers and counselors—all the people who are supposed to help you, but who may not even believe you. It’s about how suddenly all of your hopes and dreams can vanish, and you can find yourself all alone, with nothing and no one. Your only choice is to end it all or to start over…and all you can think is Maybe I Will. 

Reviews: Mike Mullin, award-winning author of ASHFALL and ASHEN WINTER wrote about Maybe I will: “In MAYBE I WILL, author Laurie Gray deals with a difficult topic in a thoughtful, nuanced, and realistic way. A pinch of humor and dash of Shakespeare add flavor to what otherwise might be an overly heavy stew. MAYBE I WILL belongs on teens’ reading lists and bookshelves alongside classics of its type such as Laurie Halse Anderson’s SPEAK and Cheryl Rainfield’s SCARS.”

About the Author: Laurie Gray presents a compelling picture of the realities of sexual assault in MAYBE I WILL, drawing on her years of experience as a Deputy Prosecuting Attorney, dealing with crimes against children. The twist in the story is that we never know for sure if the victim is a boy or a girl, and we realize that it doesn’t matter, because it’s not about sex.

Round to it

Diane’s Notes: I was scared to read this book and kept putting off getting a round-to-it. I received a request to review Maybe I Will during a time when my world was crashing down. I have been a victim of sexual assault and abuse. I have been in the situation of keeping my worries to myself and wondering if I could handle the depression while trying to hold myself together and pretend to be “good” – just so my family and friends wouldn’t worry. I didn’t want to be seen as just a victim, nor did I want to be seen as a problem that other people would have to deal with. I was even afraid that if I read Maybe I Will, that I might consider giving up. 

I should have trusted the author Laurie Gray and publicist Rebecca Grose. While there is a sexual assault, it is not  graphically over-described. Suicide is not the entire focus of the story. Alcoholism is not the ending of one’s life.  Friends not being there for you is simply another obstacle to survive. The character has to learn to cope, survive, and adjust.

Readers will learn new techniques for surviving the teen years and life’s unfair, unjust events. Maybe I Will is an essential purchase for libraries with young adults requesting books like 13 Reasons Why by Jay Asher, The Rules of Survival by Nancy Werlin, A Child Called It, Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson, and Stop Pretending: What Happened When My Big Sister Went Crazy by Sonya Sones . 

The hardest part of reading Maybe I Will was that I had read the twist – that we never know for sure if the victim is a boy or a girl – and that I spent the entire first reading looking for clues to prove the character was one or the other. Pulling that perspective off was a dramatic success. By having the character almost gender neutral, this title will be easier to put in both male and female reader’s hands. While some said they were convinced it was a girl because they were female readers, if someone found themselves relating too closely, they could pretend the character was a member of the opposite sex and build in distance.

Perhaps the best parts of Maybe I Will were the poems and the literary references interwoven. How many teen titles link Shakespeare, Peter Pan, and Amazing Grace? The main character uses a journal to write  through the process of discovering the answer to the question “What is character?” The poems are full of angst and speak to teens – particularly to 8th and 9th graders with stanzas like:

Such a bitter seed I swallowed.

No one saw, and no one knew.

I buried it inside myself

Where it took root and grew.

or –

I feel like I have swallowed a black hole.

The cold and empty darkness never ends.

Emotions trample down my weary soul,

No longer trusting any of my friends.

Maybe I Will leaves the reader with hope. There is hope, there are ways to survive the bad, and there are people out there to help. The reality is that the bad is not always sufficiently punished in our legal system. But Maybe I Will may be the title that helps a teen open up and tell someone, rather than continue to suffer in silence. 


Diane’s blog on Cinder by Marissa Meyer

  • Posted on January 13, 2013 at 1:31 PM

Marissa Meyer should be thrilled. Cinder was chosen one of the top ten books of 2012 on these lists:cinder-117x162

Check out a trailer for  Cinder here. I have to admit that I kept setting the book Cinder down intending to get around to it. When Shela wrote her blog post January 8th, I realized that I needed to seize the time to read Cinder. Now that I have read Cinder, Marissa Meyer is on my short list of  authors writing YA fairy tale versions (including Margaret Peterson Haddix, Shannon Hale, Gail Carson Levine, Vivian VandeVelde, Robin McKinley, and Alex Flinn). Marissa Meyer’s biographical information shares how much she enjoyed fairy tales growing up and how this translated into her writing fanfiction for SailorMoon.

Growing up I loved Beauty and the Beast because it seemed more realistic for Beauty to gradually realize the Beast had changed to something beautiful underneath. Maybe I didn’t like Cinderella because the Disney version had a blonde star. I couldn’t relate because I wasn’t blonde and I thought she relied on others too much to make her dreams come true. In fact I have always preferred the Kukla, Fran, and Ollie show Three Nuts for Cinderella better than the original versions.

Three Nuts for Cinderella (Tri oríšky pro popelku) is from Czechoslovakia, 1973. You can click here to watch highlights of this updated version of the classic tale, with the fairy godmother replaced by three magic hazelnuts that help Cinderella’s dreams come true. You can learn more about that version here. When I first read Anita Lobel’s Princess Furball, I related it to Three Nuts for Cinderella.

Marissa Meyer’s version has helped me rediscover Cinderella. Adults, young adults, and middle grade students will appreciate this 387 page futuristic sci-fi version. I could relate to the strengths of  Linh Cinder and her work ethic. With the setting in New Beijing 126 years after WWIV, there were Chinese aspects of the story providing flavor yet the story was universal and global. While racial differences weren’t emphasized, the new discriminations revolved around the status of 100% humans, androids, cyborgs, and Lunars. Old enemies like the plague still exist.

Cinder was able to accomplish unusual tasks because she seemed almost invisible due to her status. She was a strong character who refused to continue to let bad things happen to her by others. The growth in her character as she learns more about her past, her body, and her capabilities makes this a wonderful title for coming-of-age stories.

The presence of good vs evil characters was more distinct than in some modern versions so the reader knew who to cheer for throughout. This is a safe YA story that tells a fascinating first tale of four about the Lunar Chronicles. The author did not have to resort to sex, violence, or swearing to tell a good story and I appreciate that.

When I first handed the book to Shela, I wasn’t sure if the title would be appropriate as a read-aloud. I was glad she took it with her in audio format to test it out. When Shela wrote her blog, I was hooked. Having read it myself, I know exactly whose hands I want to place this in next. The hard part will be prying it out of my fingers as I wait for the second book in the series – Scarlet. Scarlet_final_USA-Today-117x162

For boys and girls who like technology, problem-solving, mysteries, and strong characters, Cinder is an excellent choice. Now I’m off to see how quickly I can get my hands on Scarlet. I was able to download the first five chapters as a preview, but I’ll be checking for the Macmillan’s Feiwel and Friends booth at ALA Midwinter.

One more aspect of Cinder that endears me to the author and series is that it was originally written as part of NaMoWriMo.