Monday, August 18, 2014

Pumpkins

Pumpkins by Mary Lyn Ray is indeed about pumpkins, but even more
 about human ecology and conservation. Ray is a proven master at tackling
 subjects about humans and their relationship to nature, and developing a
 narrative to ignite such conversations about economics, ecology, and solving
 problems. This mentor text is loaded with teachable moments from sensory
 imagery to problem and solution text structure. The lead sentence, 
"Once upon a time there was a field" invites the reader to a setting and alerts
 them to a possible lesson ahead with the fairy tale phrase, followed by the first
 opportunity to infer when you turn the page. A clear problem is introduced and 
tension is offered. An extension to this book might be to have students think of 
a natural place, setting, or view that they would like to protect, and how they
 might present possible ways to save the visual treasure!  Many communities have 
current issues around land conservation and keeping access to  woods, water, and
 mountains, for everyone to love and enjoy. Think of all the guest speakers 
(real estate broker, hunter, ecologist, land owner, farmer, town manager, 
conservation committee member, park ranger) and field experiences
 (land with conservation easement, public access to water spots, parks, private 
land with owner permission) you could connect with this!  The realistic and 
emotional illustrations by Barry Root are watercolor and gouache full-bleed double 
page spreads that look like landscapes you have seen on living room walls at a home 
with framed art.  This picture book has wide grade appeal with a variety of ways to 
connect with common core or social studies curriculum, making it the perfect Autumn 
read for classrooms K-8.                                                                                                                                                                           



Friday, August 8, 2014

iF...


iF...A Mind-Bending New Way of Looking at Big Ideas and Numbers Written by David J. Smith * Illustrated by Steve Adams

The illustration on the cover swallowed my full attention, as an interesting painting on a gallery wall would. The book shares big ideas, big numbers, and even bigger concepts of scale- in a way that makes incredible sense. The information is engaging and relevant, and the collaboration between visual and text will capture the attention of a variety of audiences.

"If all the water on Earth were represented in a 100 glasses...97 of the glasses would be filled with salt water from the oceans and some lakes. 3 of the glasses would be fresh water."  Facts such as that are supplemented with additional insight..."One of the glasses would represent all the fresh water available to us. The rest of the fresh water is locked up in glaciers, frozen in the atmosphere or inaccessible deep underground."

This is the type of book that you need to revisit, because you have to think about the concepts, and each time you read the same page, you have something else to question. This book is fun to read and gives the reader much to ponder. A clearer understanding of the world will be a welcomed aftermath with each and every iF.

A bonus additional text feature is the side bars with deeper information. The topics of life spans, food supplies, and distance to space are some of the challenging concepts presented in manageable scales to grapple with. Teachers will find 101 ways to integrate this into their STEAM (Science,Technology, Engineering, Art, Math) curriculum, and I predict their students will give this mentor text 5 stars!

Friday, August 1, 2014

Raina Tegemeier

Fans of Smile and Drama will be thrilled for Raina's new release Sisters, on August 26th!  Raina's graphic illustrations and text invite readers to be by Raina's (the main character) side, as she navigates through the tangles of sibling-hood. In true Tegemeier's style, there is an abundance of humor woven between life as many of us know or have known it. I appreciate how the voice of the characters holds strong in both their visual expressions and throughout the discourse between family members. Tegemeier is a master at taking life how it is, without fussing for forced relevancy, rather she just looks a lot closer at the lives we are already living. Sisters, told in narrative form, includes both flashbacks and small moments, and will expose you to them all on a road trip from San Francisco to Colorado.