Tag Archives: parents

STEM Tuesday Wild and Wacky Science — In the Classroom

This month’s STEM Tuesday Theme: Wild and Wacky Science has the potential to lead readers in all directions! What a fun Book List the STEM Tuesday Team found for us this month.

Here are a few ways to use this month’s books in the classroom, extending learning beyond simply reading. Enjoy these suggestions, and as always, we welcome your additional suggestions in the comments below!

Follow a Friend on Facebook! 

After reading Unstoppable: True Stories of Amazing Bionic Animals by Nancy Furstinger, you’ll want to adopt one of these furry heroes! Since convincing parents to get new pets of any kind can be a monumental task, it might be easier for your class to befriend a furrrball on Facebook. Here are links to the Facebook pages of several of Furstinger’s friends.

Chris P Bacon, Pig on Wheels @CPBaconWheels

Brutus the Rottweiler @betterpawsforbrutus

Molly the Three-Legged Pony @mollythe3leggedpony

Vincent the Cat @walkingvincentcat

Albie, Felix, and Fawn, Woodstock Farm Sanctuary @woodstockfarm

 Chart Your Allergies! 

First, read Itch! Everything You Didn’t Want to Know About What Makes You Scratch by Anita Sanchez.

Then, practice data-collecting, chart-making, graphing, and data analysis skills by doing a classroom allergy assessment.  Start by asking students to create their own survey. What questions will you need to ask to find out who is allergic to what? Create the survey together, complete the surveys, and gather the data. Next, chart or graph (or both!) the results for a visual and numeric display of what gets under your skin. Who’s is inclined to itch when the cat comes in? Do menacing mosquitoes munch on many or just a few of the members of your class?

Dig Deeper!  Get the DNA 411!

In Forgotten Bones, Uncovering of a Slave Cemetery, Lois Miner Huey takes readers on a fascinating journey that begins with the discovery of and leads to an amazing amount of information about the thirteen slaves buried on what was once the Schuyler Family Farm near Albany, New York.

Much of what the scientists on the scene and in the lab near Albany were able to determine about the slaves was came the DNA samples from seven of the adult skeletons.  But what do you really know about DNA? Plan ahead for National DNA Day, April 25th, by checking out this website for several great DNA-related activities to do with kids. 

Make a Book Trailer.  Some of this month’s book picks have cool book trailers available on You Tube.  Watch these one-minute advertisements for wild and wacky nonfiction and make your own book trailer. There’s a lot to be said about getting the most out of just sixty seconds of screen time! Can you make a trailer that is certain to send readers running to the library to check out the book you’ve read? Here’s a link to a helpful tutorial to show How to Make a Book Trailer in iMovie.

   

This week’s STEM Tuesday post was prepared by

Michelle Houts delights in the wild and wacky side of finding fun facts for young readers. She writes both fiction and nonfiction and often finds the nonfiction harder to believe than the fiction. Find her on Instagram and Twitter @mhoutswrites and on the web at www.michellehouts.com.

Adam Shaughnessy and THE UNBELIEVABLE FIB: BK II Over The Underworld

I couldn’t be more excited to share this  middle grade book with you because, as most of you already know, I love mythology! And today we get to chat with an author who knows quite a lot about that subject. But . . . let me share his book with you first.

The Norse gods have returned to Middleton—and they’ve brought bad news. Loki’s misdeeds have grown from mischief to murder. He has killed Baldur, favorite of the gods. By doing so, he has set in motion events that will lead to Ragnarok, a war between the gods and giants that will destroy their world and ours. Now Odin wants ABE and Pru to help find Loki and imprison him before the giants can rally to his side. But the gods aren’t the only ones back in town. An old friend has also returned and he’s brought new questions about Baldur’s death.

To answer those questions, ABE and Pru will travel to Niflheim, the Norse underworld and confront the Queen of the Dead herself. Unfortunately, they quickly find that getting into the world of the dead is easy. It’s getting out again—alive—that proves difficult. And, in the end, can anyone really escape Death?

Hi Adam! It’s great having you here. Let’s start with when you realized you wanted to be a writer.

The impulse has struck me at various points in my life. I wrote my first manuscript, The Knight’s Quest, in third grade.

Third grade? Very cool…

I remember thinking at that point that I’d like to be a writer. I also thought I’d like to be an illustrator, too. And, to be fair, the glowing sword I drew for the cover was pretty sweet. But I went away from the idea of being a writer for a while—a long while, in fact. I think being an English major in college helped to push me away. Writing began to seem like something that other (far more clever) people did. But even as my desire to be a writer ebbed and flowed, my love for stories remained true, as did my desire to share stories with people—and young people, in particular. I did some storytelling in and after college, and over my two decades in education I developed a brand of enrichment programming that shared stories with children through interactive tales that blended storytelling and cooperative games. It wasn’t really until my mother passed away that I began to revisit what I really cared about and what I really wanted to accomplish in life. That’s when I circled back to the idea of being a writer, around 2009, and started on the path that led to my first book.

I love how you mentioned that, at one point, you felt that writing was what other, more clever people did, not you. I’m sure many of our writing readers can relate.

This series uses lots of mythological elements, so obviously you enjoy mythology. What is it about mythology that intrigues you the most?

I think I’d have to say it’s the familiarity of mythology that draws me to it. That might sound strange to some people. But anyone who loves to read and who loves to read fantasy, in particular, will understand the sentiment. I grew up reading myths. So the landscapes and characters, fictional and fantastic though they are, are also familiar and welcoming. I feel like I’ve been a tag-along on many a hero’s journey. When it came time to write my own book it was impossible to resist the draw to revisit the mythological realms I loved as a child.

How did you approach writing this second book in the series? Did you find you used craft and technique differently from developing the first book?

The biggest different between my approach to the first book and the second book was in the degree to which I listened to my inner editor. I wrote about eleven drafts of the first book. Many of those drafts were complete rewrites, start to finish. That’s because in the early drafts, in particular, I shut off my inner editor completely. I went down any and every narrative path that struck my fancy. Naturally, I made a lot of wrong turns and ran up against plenty of dead ends. But I learned something from each digression and I had a ton of fun along the way. I think there’s a tremendous value to just letting your imagination go and not worrying about how the content you’re producing will be received.

That definitely takes the pressure off a little.

Writing is all about revision and trusting that you can make the bad stuff good, in time. When it came time to write the second book, though, I had to approach things a little differently. I had a contract and deadlines. Fortunately, I also had the experience I’d gained from writing my first book. I’d learned to trust my instincts a little. I’d learned to recognize which narrative paths were most likely to get me where I needed to go. I didn’t have to wander so much (which was great, because time was much more of a factor!)

Ooh… ‘Writing is all about revision and trusting that you can make the bad stuff good…’ Very wise. 

What is a question you’ve never been asked during an interview that you’ve always wanted to answer?

I’ve always wondered that nobody has asked me about ABE’s name and why it’s capitalized. To be fair, I do explain in the book that the nickname ABE comes from the character’s initials. But nobody’s asked why I chose to use initials and capitals in the first place. For the record it’s because I read once that our eyes and brains have to work a little harder on capital letters. We have a greater visual fluency with lower case letters. When we come across a capital letter we slow down a bit. We have to look more closely. That’s ABE’s thing. He looks closely. He sees things that other people miss. So I liked the idea of his name reflecting that. It’s a small detail, and ultimately an unimportant one, but it’s one of those details that floats just beneath the surface that writers like to fit into their works.

In today’s ever-changing publishing landscape, what have you found is the hardest part of being a published author?

I have to preface this answer by saying I’ve been very fortunate. Very. Every single person I’ve encountered through the process of bringing my two books to life has been a pleasure to work with. My agent, my editors, my copyeditors, my publicists—I’ve learned from and been treated well and kindly by all of them. Now, having said that, I have to confess that the hardest part of being a published author is having had to face the reality that this is a business. As I said, I’ve had excellent individuals around me who have served as a buffer against what lurks beyond—the publishing industry. And it is that, an industry. There are times I miss my days as a educator. I had the good luck to enter education at a time and in a place where the work was driven wholly by a passion to improve the circumstances of the children and families with whom we worked. There was no other metric. We weren’t selling anything. And I worked at a community school where with ramparts still held against the onslaught of standardization and testing. As an author, things are a little different. I still have the great pleasure of working with people who care about creating good works for young people. But as an author I have to sell myself. I have to sell my books. That element of self promotion was absent in my first career.

I really love this answer. Thank you for sharing it with us and for dropping by! It’s been a pleasure having you here, again. One last question: Please tell our readers what’s up next for you.

There are many projects I’m eager to advance. I’d love to write a third Unbelievable FIB book someday.

Yes, please!

I’m also currently working on a new middle grade science fiction book involving cryptids and secret organizations with monstrous origins. And I have an idea for a graphic novel that really excites the adolescent comic book lover that’s still kicking around inside me. I have to confess, though, that the past year has been dominated by the birth and growth of my daughter. Now that I’m settling into fatherhood I’m hoping to have more time to get back to writing!

Adam Shaugnessy likes to tell people that he is a superhero, a space explorer, and a pirate. None of those things are true, but Adam likes to say them anyway.
In fact, Adam is the author of The Entirely True Story of the Unbelievable FIB and is currently at work on the second book in the Unbelievable FIB series. He began his career in education first as an elementary-school teacher and then as a director of school-aged programs, but gradually realized that his passion was for sharing stories. Adam also owns and runs Red Dragon Adventures, which brings story-based education enrichment programs to young people throughout New England.
Adam is currently working on his master’s degree in children’s literature at Hollins University. He lives in Connecticut with his wife, Jane, their cat, Sydney, and an unnamed mouse that Sydney has yet to catch, but Adam is sure she will.

For more on Adam: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Publisher

Do you enjoy mythology? What about it intrigues you?

January New Releases!

It’s always fun to discover what books are being released next, but especially at the beginning of a brand new year. So let’s welcome 2018 in with these new middle grade releases:

Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.orgSHADOW WEAVER by MaryKate Connolly

Fans of Serafina and the Black Cloak and The Night Gardener will devour Shadow Weaver, the first in a dark middle-grade fantasy duology that’s filled with shadows, danger, magic, and has the feel of a new classic.

Emmeline’s gift of controlling shadows has isolated her from the rest of the world, but she’s grown to be content, hidden away in her mansion with Dar, her own shadow, as her only company.

Disaster strikes when a noble family visits their home and offers to take Emmeline away and cure her of magic. Desperate not to lose her shadows, she turns to Dar who proposes a deal: Dar will change the noble’s mind, if Emmeline will help her become flesh as she once was. Emmeline agrees but the next morning the man in charge is in a coma and all that the witness saw was a long shadow with no one nearby to cast it. Scared to face punishment, Emmeline and Dar run away.

With the noble’s guards on her trail, Emmeline’s only hope of clearing her name is to escape capture and perform the ritual that will set Dar free. But Emmeline’s not sure she can trust Dar anymore, and it’s hard to keep secrets from someone who can never leave your side.

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Betty Before X by Ilyasah Shabazz, Renee Watson

In Detroit, 1945, eleven-year-old Betty’s house doesn’t quite feel like home. She believes her mother loves her, but she can’t shake the feeling that her mother doesn’t want her. Church helps those worries fade, if only for a little while. The singing, the preaching, the speeches from guest activists like Paul Robeson and Thurgood Marshall stir African Americans in her community to stand up for their rights. Betty quickly finds confidence and purpose in volunteering for the Housewives League, an organization that supports black-owned businesses. Soon, the American civil rights icon we now know as Dr. Betty Shabazz is born.

Inspired by Betty’s real life–but expanded upon and fictionalized through collaboration with novelist Renée Watson–Ilyasah Shabazz illuminates four poignant years in her mother’s childhood with this book, painting an inspiring portrait of a girl overcoming the challenges of self-acceptance and belonging that will resonate with young readers today.

Backmatter included.

Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.orgSPY ON HISTORY: Victor Dowd and the World War II Ghost Army by Enigma Alberti

Your mission: Find Victor Dowd’s missing sketchbook. And discover one of the most unusual stories of World War II.

Meet the 603rd Camouflage Engineers, better known as the Ghost Army. This group of artists and sound engineers were trained to deceive the Germans in World War II with everything from fake tanks to loudspeakers broadcasting the sound of marching troops. And meet Victor Dowd, a real-life sergeant who with his fellow Ghost Army troops fought his way from Normandy, through France, and eventually across the Rhine.

Second in the Spy on History series, it’s a compelling story of a little-known chapter from the war—and a mystery to solve. Using spycraft materials included in a sealed envelope, readers will discover and unravel the clues embedded in the book’s text and illustrations, and uncover the mystery of Victor Dowd’s missing sketchbook.

Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.orgMARTIN RISING: Requiem For A King by Andrea Davis Pinkney, Brian Pinkney

In a rich embroidery of visions, musical cadence, and deep emotion, Andrea and Brian Pinkney convey the final months of Martin Luther King’s life — and of his assassination — through metaphor, spirituality, and multilayers of meaning.

Andrea’s stunning poetic requiem, illustrated with Brian’s lyrical and colorful artwork, brings a fresh perspective to Martin Luther King, the Gandhi-like, peace-loving activist whose dream of equality — and whose courage to make it happen — changed the course of American history. And even in his death, he continues to transform and inspire all of us who share his dream.

Wonderful classroom plays of Martin Rising can be performed by using the “Now Is the Time” history and the 1968 timeline at the back of the book as narration — and adding selected poems to tell the story!

Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.orgTHE TRUTH AS TOLD by Mason Buttle
Nothing but the truth

From the critically acclaimed author of Waiting for Normal and All Rise for the Honorable Perry T. Cook, Leslie Connor, comes a deeply poignant and beautifully crafted story about self-reliance, redemption, and hope.

Mason Buttle is the biggest, sweatiest kid in his grade, and everyone knows he can barely read or write. Mason’s learning disabilities are compounded by grief. Fifteen months ago, Mason’s best friend, Benny Kilmartin, turned up dead in the Buttle family’s orchard. An investigation drags on, and Mason, honest as the day is long, can’t understand why Lieutenant Baird won’t believe the story Mason has told about that day.

Both Mason and his new friend, tiny Calvin Chumsky, are relentlessly bullied by the other boys in their neighborhood, so they create an underground club space for themselves. When Calvin goes missing, Mason finds himself in trouble again. He’s desperate to figure out what happened to Calvin, and eventually, Benny.

But will anyone believe him?

Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.orgJUST LIKE JACKIE by Lindsey Stoddard
Family is family, no matter what it looks like. Readers will cheer for this pitch-perfect story, just right for fans of such books as The Great Gilly Hopkins and Fish in a Tree.

For as long as Robinson Hart can remember, it’s just been her and Grandpa. He taught her about cars, baseball, and everything else worth knowing. But Grandpa’s memory has been getting bad—so bad that he sometimes can’t even remember Robbie’s name.

She’s sure that she’s making things worse by getting in trouble at school, but she can’t resist using her fists when bullies like Alex Carter make fun of her for not having a mom.

Now she’s stuck in group guidance—and to make things even worse, Alex Carter is there too. There’s no way Robbie’s going to open up about her life to some therapy group, especially not with Alex in the room. Besides, if she told anyone how forgetful Grandpa’s been getting lately, they’d take her away from him. He’s the only family she has—and it’s up to her to keep them together, no matter what.

Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.orgLOVE by Matt de la Peña, Loren Long
From Newbery Medal-winning author Matt de la Peña and bestselling illustrator Loren Long comes a story about the strongest bond there is and the diverse and powerful ways it connects us all.

“In the beginning there is light and two wide-eyed figures standing near the foot of your bed and the sound of their voices is love.

A cab driver plays love softly on his radio while you bounce in back with the bumps of the city and everything smells new, and it smells like life.”

In this heartfelt celebration of love, Newbery Medal-winning author Matt de la Peña and bestselling illustrator Loren Long depict the many ways we experience this universal bond, which carries us from the day we are born throughout the years of our childhood and beyond. With a lyrical text that’s soothing and inspiring, this tender tale is a needed comfort and a new classic that will resonate with readers of every age.

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THE JOURNEY OF LITTLE CHARLIE by Christopher Paul Curtis

Twelve-year-old Charlie is down on his luck: His sharecropper father just died and Cap’n Buck — the most fearsome man in Possum Moan, South Carolina — has come to collect a debt. Fearing for his life, Charlie strikes a deal with Cap’n Buck and agrees to track down some folks accused of stealing from the cap’n and his boss. It’s not too bad of a bargain for Charlie… until he comes face-to-face with the fugitives and discovers their true identities. Torn between his guilty conscience and his survival instinct, Charlie needs to figure out his next move — and soon. It’s only a matter of time before Cap’n Buck catches on.

Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.orgA GRAPHIX BOOK: Wings of Fire Graphic Novel #1: The Dragonet Prophecy 
by Tui T. Sutherland

Not every dragonet wants a destiny …

Clay has grown up under the mountain, chosen along with four other dragonets to fulfill a mysterious prophecy and end the war between the dragon tribes of Pyrrhia. He’s not so sure about the prophecy part, but Clay can’t imagine not living with the other dragonets; they’re his best friends.

So when one of the dragonets is threatened, all five spring into action. Together, they will choose freedom over fate, leave the mountain, and fulfill their destiny — on their own terms.

The New York Times bestselling Wings of Fire series takes flight in this first graphic novel edition, adapted by the author with art by Mike Holmes.

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THE TERRIBLE TWO GO WILD by Mac Barnett ,‎ Jory John

Everyone’s favorite pranksters are at it again! School’s out, and Miles and Niles are running wild in the woods outside town: climbing trees, exploring caves, and, yes, pranking. But these leafy, lazy days of mischief darken when bully Josh Barkin and his cadets from a nearby kids’ boot camp discover the merrymakers—and vow to destroy them. Are our heroes’ sharp minds any match for these hooligans’ hard fists? The latest installment of the witty, on-target illustrated series is another “fast paced, laugh-out-loud novel” (School Library Journal) that proves once again that, in the hands of the powerless, pranks can be tools of justice—plus, they’re funny.

Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.orgTREASURE HUNTERS: Quest for the City of Gold by James Patterson

When Bick and Beck Kidd find a hidden trove of pirate treasure, it includes a map with clues to an even bigger score: the lost Incan city of Paititi. But treasure hunting is never easy–and when the map is stolen, the Kidds must rely on Storm’s picture-perfect memory to navigate the dangerous Amazon jungle. Watch out for that nest of poisonous snakes!

To save the Amazon rainforest and stop a Peruvian tribe from losing their home, the Kidds must unlock the secrets to the missing map and find the fabled city of Paititi…before the bad guys find it first. The race is on!

Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.orgHILO Book 4: Waking the Monsters by Judd Winick

Calvin and Hobbes meets Big Nate meets Bone in HILO-the hilarious, action-packed New York Times BESTSELLING GRAPHIC NOVEL SERIES that kids, critics (and robots!) love! “A Total BLAST,” says the Miami Herald! Chock full of MORE MONSTERS! MORE ACTION! MORE LAUGHS! MORE FUN!

DJ and Gina are TOTALLY ordinary kids. But Hilo isn’t! Has Hilo finally met his match? Not if D.J. and Gina can help it! ALERT! ALERT! ALERT! Mega Robot Monsters are suddenly waking up all over and they’re TOO BIG and TOO STRONG for Hilo to fight on his own! Luckily, he doesn’t have to! He has GINA and some brand new SUPER POWERS on his side! Being heroes can be super fun-but it can also be SUPER dangerous! And the closer Hilo and Gina get to saving their world from the monsters–the closer Hilo gets to the dark secret of his past. Does he really want to know? Do WE?!

Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.orgTHE LEGEND OF KORRA TURF WARS Part Two by Michael Dante DiMartino

Threats member Tokuga solidifies his ties with the duplicitous Wonyong. Meanwhile, when Republic City’s housing crisis reaches its peak, Zhu Li sets her sights on the biggest public figure in the city—President Raiko—in a bid for the presidency! With her friend’s success, the future of the spirit portal, and the wellbeing of Republic City’s citizens at stake, can Korra remain neutral and fulfill her duties as the Avatar?

Written by series co-creator Michael Dante DiMartino and drawn by Irene Koh (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Afrina and the Glass Coffin), with consultation by Bryan Konietzko, this is the official continuation of The Legend of Korra!

Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.orgDRAGON OVERNIGHT (Upside-Down Magic) by Sarah Mlynowski,‎ Lauren Myracle

Nory Horace can turn herself into a kitten. But sometimes she adds in a bit of dragon and, well, accidentally turns into a dritten. Oops? Her friend Andres Padillo can fly high . . . but then he can’t fly back down again.

Nory and Andres are in an Upside-Down Magic class with other kids who have unusual magic. Now they’re off on their first-ever overnight field trip! At Dragon Haven, Nory, Andres, and their UDM classmates get to swim with dragons, fly with dragons, and feed dragons. There’s even a Hatchery, where they might get to see a newborn dragon.

There’s only one downer. The UDM kids aren’t the only ones visiting Dragon Haven. There are other students there, too. Students from another school. Students with “normal” magic. Dragon rescue, bonfires, and pajama breakfasts won’t be nearly as fun with a bunch of snooty strangers.

Unless . . . maybe everything isn’t as bad as it first seems. Thrown together with kids who are probably enemies, but might be friends, the UDM kids dive into their topsy-turviest adventure yet.

And there you have just a few of the new middle grade releases coming this month! Have a wonderful January reading all sorts of amazing middle grade books…