New Year, New Website!

Happy almost 2017! I have exciting news: Miss Magee’s Reads is moving to its own website! Check out our fancy new logo:

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Review: Some Writer!: The Story of E.B. White

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Some Writer!: The Story of E.B. White
by Melissa Sweet

My Rating:
★★★★★

Note: Some Writer! will be released on October 4th, 2016 by HMH Books for Young Readers. A link to pre-order is included at the bottom of this review.

 

Earlier this year, I shared how excited I was to hear that Melissa Sweet would be publishing an E.B. White biography. When I received an advanced review copy, the book took my expectations and completely blew them out of the park. Some Writer! is one of the most well-written biographies for children that I have ever read. I have no doubt in my mind that this book deserves and will receive a place on classroom bookshelves everywhere.

Melissa Sweet digs deep into the life of the beloved children’s author, starting with his early life and carrying the reader through his final days. Along the way, Sweet masterfully weaves in remarkable artifacts and quotations from E.B. White’s own writing. The book is a celebration of the genius found in White and his work. Although I didn’t think it was possible, Sweet’s writing made me love White’s work even more than I already did.

While Sweet celebrates White’s incredible writing, Sweet’s writing deserves similar recognition. It is rare that a biography for children carries so much emotion and weight. Sweet paints a picture of White’s life in a way that is easy for children to understand, but still draws them in. Sweet enables readers to feel as if they were a character in White’s life story, walking alongside him through all his adventures.

With truly unbelievable illustrations and graphic design, Sweet makes White’s story accessible for readers of all levels. This book is bound to be enjoyed by kids and parents for generations to come, just as White’s book’s are.

This is a don’t-miss book that tells the beautiful backstory of the children’s stories we all know and love.

Memorable Quotes

The most memorable quotes from the text don’t come from Sweet’s writing, but from White’s. Sweet seamlessly incorporates quotations from White’s books and essays in order to support her comments about White’s life. Here are a few favorites:

On writing for children:
“I would rather wait a year than publish a bad children’s book, as I have too much respect for children.”

“Anyone who writes down to children is simply wasting his time. You have to write up to children, not down. Children are demanding. They are the most attentive, curious, eager, observant, sensitive, quick, and general congenial readers on earth… Children are game for anything. I throw them hard words, and they backhand them over the net.”

On being human:

“Man’s curiosity, his relentlessness, his ingenuity have led him into deep trouble. We can only hope that these same traits will enable him to claw his way out.”

“Hang on to your hat. Hang on to your hope. And wind the clock, for tomorrow is another day.”

Classroom Connections

This book is a great fit for the fourth to sixth grade classroom, although it could be used across many grade levels.

  • Sweet uses fantastic vocabulary throughout the book. Many different terms can be introduced using the text, such as footloose and sound advice. Sweet does a great job of providing context for these words, so readers can be challenged to infer the meaning of words that are new to them.
  • The book includes absolutely amazing advice on writing from E.B. White and other children’s authors who loved his work. Chapters on style and substance in children’s writing could inspire students to demonstrate some of the strategies in their own writing. Middle school students could use White’s advice on writing in conjunction with E.B.’s children’s books to find exemplars for the writing strategies White championed.

Book Information
Title: Some Writer!: The Story of E.B. White
Author: Melissa Sweet
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Release Date: October 2016
Price: US $18.99
Source: Edelweiss – Advanced Review Copy

Find this book on:
Goodreads
Amazon
HMH

Disclaimer: I received an Advanced Review Copy of this book from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in exchange for an honest review. All opinions in this review are my own. Thanks for reading!

Review: Max at Night

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Max at Night
by Ed Vere

My Rating:
★★★★★

Note: Max at Night will be released on September 3rd by Sourcebooks. A link to preorder is included at the bottom of this review.

 

Last September, Ed Vere’s Max the Brave hit bookstores and became a favorite of many kids (and reviewers!). Having absolutely loved the first book, I was so excited to read Vere’s sequel, Max at Night. Those of us that fell in love with Max in his debut will love the sequel!

While Max the Brave reminded readers of Are You My Mother?Max at Night is reminiscent of Goodnight, Moon in that the little black kitten is literally trying to say goodnight to the moon. We follow on his journey as he seeks to find the moon in the sky. A super sweet, playful tale is accompanied by beautiful illustrations. With this book, Vere has definitely established Max as a beloved picture book character. This book is a great fit for Pre-K to 2 classrooms, or children’s bedroom bookshelves.

Book Information
Title: Max at Night
Author and Illustrator: Ed Vere
Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky
Release Date: September 2016
Price: US $16.99
Source: NetGalley – Advanced Review Copy

Find this book on:
Goodreads
Sourcebooks.com

Note: I received an Advanced Review Copy of this text from Sourcebooks Jabberwocky in exchange for an honest review. Thank you for reading!

Review: The Great Shelby Holmes

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The Great Shelby Holmes
by Elizabeth Eulberg

My Rating:
★★★★☆

Note: The Great Shelby Homes will be released on September 6th by Bloomsbury Children’s. A link to pre-order is included at the bottom of this review.

 

When I was a kid, I absolutely loved mystery books. I loved finding the clues along with the detectives and making my own predictions about how the book would end. As a teacher, I see that so many of my students love mysteries, but tend to lean towards other genres after they grow out of Cam Jansen and A-Z Mysteries. I was so excited to find The Great Shelby Holmes, because it fills a gap for middle grade mystery readers. With fantastic character development and lots of humor, I know Shelby Holmes will be a perfect next read for the mystery lovers in my class.

The Great Shelby Holmes tells the story of a spunky, awkward, and brilliant kid detective. The story is narrated by Shelby’s new neighbor, Watson, a former army brat who finds himself reluctantly tagging along on Shelby’s adventures.  Shelby and Watson work to solve the mystery of a missing pet, and they meet many neighborhood characters along the way.

There are many things I loved about this book, one of them being that it explicitly addresses race through the text and illustrations. Given the diverse cast of characters, many of my students will be able to find someone who looks like them in the book, which is such an important thing to many readers.

With witty dialogue, a fast-paced plot, and strong narration, The Great Shelby Holmes establishes a well-deserved place for itself on middle grade mystery shelves. Fans of the book will be thrilled to know that this isn’t Shelby’s last adventure; according to the author’s website, The Great Shelby Holmes is the first in a three-part series. I can’t wait to read more!

Book Information
Title: The Great Shelby Holmes
Author: Elizabeth Eulburg
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Release Date: September 2016
Price: US $16.99
Source: Twitter Contest

Find this book on:
Goodreads
Amazon
ElizabethEulberg.com

Review: Piper Green and the Fairy Tree: The Sea Pony

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Piper Green and the Fairy Tree: The Sea Pony
by Ellen Potter

My Rating:
★★★★★

Note: Piper Green and the Fairy Tree: The Sea Pony will be released on Tuesday, August 16th, 2016.

Last year, I totally fell in love with Ellen Potter’s Piper Green series. A spunky heroine, a charming New England setting, and laugh-out-loud humor? I just knew that these books would become a favorite for my third grade kiddos.

After we read the first book in the series as a read-aloud, my students were begging to read book two. The boys and girls in my class couldn’t wait to read more about Piper’s adventures! I absolutely love when kids find books they can’t put down, and Piper Green has that type of draw.

Piper Green and the Fairy Tree: The Sea Pony, the third book in the series, has the same charm as the first two books. Piper’s spunky personality shines, as does her empathy and willingness for hard work. Her mistake-making helps students to learn valuable lessons within the fun and light-hearted story line. Potter includes many humorous lines that will have students laughing during read-alouds. I can’t wait for Book 4 in 2017!

Classroom Connections

  • When it comes to chapter endings, Ellen Potter is an expert at the cliffhanger. This is a great mentor text for students as they learn about cliffhanger endings, especially since the story is told as a personal narrative. The Piper Green books can be great mentor texts for students who are ready to add cliffhangers in their storytelling.
  • Having read Piper Green as a read aloud in my third grade class this year, I can say that the books include many opportunities for making connections, asking questions, and visualizing for reading comprehension. Reading this book aloud is a great way to practice those skills as a class.

Book Information
Title: Piper Green and the Fairy Tree: The Sea Pony
Author: Ellen Potter
Illustrator: Qin Leng
Publisher: Random House Children’s
Release Date: August 16th, 2016
Price: US $5.99
Source: NetGalley – Advanced Review Copy

Find this book on:
Goodreads
Random House

Disclaimer: I received an Advanced Review Copy of this text from Random House Children’s in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own. Thanks for reading!

Review: Judy Moody and the Bucket List

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Judy Moody and the Bucket List
by Megan McDonald
Illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds

My Rating:
★★★½

 

Happy book birthday to Megan McDonald! Judy Moody and the Bucket List comes out today, August 2nd. I just know that the Judy Moody fans in my classroom will be begging for this book as soon as school starts.

Surprisingly, this book was my first Judy Moody read. Even though I have multiple bins of Megan McDonald books in my classroom, I hadn’t gotten around to reading any of them. I was so excited to check out Judy Moody and the Bucket List to see why my students adore McDonald’s work. It’s very clear that her books captivate young readers!

One of the things that struck me in Judy Moody and the Bucket List was McDonald’s great use of humor. The book was so funny, and used many different types of humor to make the reader laugh. While the book addresses some serious topics such as friendship, family and even death, McDonald’s humorous style keeps the book light-hearted.

Another strength of this book is how relatable the main characters are. Kids can truly empathize with Judy Moody and Stink. When we make connections in my third grade class, many readers share Megan McDonald books when talking about books they related to. Judy Moody and the Bucket List will be a connection book for many students.

Fans of Judy Moody and Stink will love this latest Megan McDonald read. I can’t wait to chat with my third-grade readers about it!

Classroom Connections

 

McDonald makes great use of euphemisms and idioms in this book. When these linguistic elements are being taught in class, this can be a great book for a “phrase hunt” in which students try to spot idioms in the text.

McDonald also uses many contractions in this book, as Judy and Stink are learning about contractions in class. They sing an adorable song in the book that I can’t wait to use in class!

Above all, the Judy Moody books are awesome for engaged independent reading. Suggesting this book to a reluctant reader may be the most powerful way you use it in your classroom!

Book Information
Title: Judy Moody and the Bucket List
Author: Megan McDonald
Illustrator: Peter H. Reynolds
Publisher: Candlewick
Release Date: August 2016
Price: US $15.99
Source: NetGalley – Advanced Review Copy

Find this book on:
Goodreads
Amazon

Disclaimer: I received an Advanced Review Copy of this book from Candlewick in exchange for an honest review. All opinions in this review are my own. Thanks for reading!

Review: Where Are You Going, Baby Lincoln?

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Where Are You Going, Baby Lincoln?
by Kate DiCamillo
Illustrated by Chris Van Dusen

WhereAreYouGoingBook

My Rating:
★★★★☆

Note: Where Are You Going, Baby Lincoln? will be released on Tuesday, August 2, 2016 by Capstone Young Readers. A link to pre-order is included at the bottom of this review.

 

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that the students in my class absolutely love Kate DiCamillo. As a kid, I loved Because of Winn-Dixie because the story completely captivated me. As a teacher, I love that Kate DiCamillo is an author kids can stick with as they become more experienced readers. Since she has so many books at different levels, kids can start reading her books in first grade and discover some of her more challenging texts in middle school and beyond. While I’ve read many of DiCamillo’s novels, I was so excited to read Where Are You Going, Baby Lincoln? so that I could take a look at her books for younger audiences.

Fans of DiCamillo will love how the Tales from Deckawoo Drive books dig deep into the backstories of some minor characters from the Mercy Watson series. In this case, DiCamillo explores the adventures of Baby Lincoln and her protective older sister, Eugenia. DiCamillo’s use of humor and her distinct voice as a narrator make this book a fun read. The book is very readable, and will be a great bridge from simple chapter books to more complex novels. While the book is listed for ages 6-9, some of the big words in the book will require context clues for readers at that age bracket.

In addition to being an endearing and well-written book for children, this book will speak to adults who share it with the children in their lives. At is roots, this book is a coming-of-age story, even though the main character isn’t at the start of her adulthood. With strong messages about being yourself and finding your own path in life, this sweet read will be great for family read-alouds and shared reading experiences. It will also find its place on the shelves of many classrooms, next to other Kate DiCamillo masterpieces.

Classroom Connections

DiCamillo’s writing is filled with rich language and fantastic internal punctuation. Many passages in the book lend themselves to visualization. This would be a great book to use when practicing visualization in small groups or as a class.

Book Information
Title: Where Are You Going, Baby Lincoln?
Author: Kate DiCamillo
Illustrator: Chris Van Dusen
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Release Date: August 2016
Price: US $14.99
Source: NetGalley – Advanced Review Copy

Find this book on:
Goodreads
Amazon

Disclaimer: I received an Advanced Review Copy of this book from Candlewick Press in exchange for an honest review. All opinions in this review are my own. Thanks for reading!

Review: Do Not Bring Your Dragon to the Library!

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Do Not Bring Your Dragon to the Library
by Julie Gassman
Illustrated by Andy Elkerton

DragonBook

My Rating:
★★★½

Note: Do Not Bring Your Dragon to the Library will be released on August 1, 2016 by Capstone Young Readers. A link to pre-order is included at the bottom of this review.

 

My mom is a librarian, so I absolutely love stories of all kinds that take place in libraries. I was so excited to read the latest title from Julie Gassman: Do Not Bring Your Dragon to the Library!  This adorable story shares the most important rule for going to the library: be sure to leave your dragon at home.

Gassman does a great job establishing the tone of the text. While some of the rhymes are a little clunky and would require some re-reads for true fluency, young readers can understand the point of view of the librarian and the child. However, at times the book changes speakers without warning. For example, at one point in the book the child begins speaking, but the image does not show the child speaking. No changes in font, punctuation, or text placement indicate that the speaker has changed, so children will have to pay close attention to determine that the child has become the speaker.

One of the great strengths of this book is its commitment to diversity in the images and text. In the pictures, we see children and adults of color, people with physical disabilities, and people with many different body types. As a big supporter of We Need Diverse Books, I was thrilled to see that many children will be able to see themselves in the pages of Do Not Bring Your Dragon to the Library. 

The author also used the pronouns “he” and “she” for different dragons in the book, which reminded me off this great article from the Washington Post: Why are there so few girls in childrens’ books? This unbelievable statistic from the article seems relevant: “No more than 33 percent of children’s books in any given year featured an adult woman or female animal, but adult men and male animals appeared in 100 percent of the books.” While the book has an adult female librarian, it’s also so important that there are both male and female readers and dragons portrayed in the book. This is just another way that all children can identify with this book.

While the rhymes aren’t perfect and the speakers can be unclear, I can see this book being loved by many kiddos who are fans of dragons and/or libraries.

Classroom Connections

This book would be great for introducing rules for a school library or classroom library at the beginning of the year. It would activate interest for students and allow them to reflect on why we have certain guidelines in place during library time.

Another way this book could be used would be to talk about cause and effect. The librarian makes many arguments using cause and effect. Students could identify these examples, then make their own cause and effect examples using the scenario of a dragon in a library.

Book Information
Title: Do Not Bring Your Dragon to the Library
Author: Julie Gassman
Illustrator: Belle Wuthrich
Publisher: Andy Elkerton
Release Date: August 2016
Price: US $14.95
Source: NetGalley – Advanced Review Copy

Find this book on:
Goodreads
Amazon

Disclaimer: I received an Advanced Review Copy of this book from Capstone Young Readers in exchange for an honest review. All opinions in this review are my own. Thanks for reading!

Review: When Penny Met POTUS

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When Penny Met POTUS
by Rachel Ruiz

My Rating:
★★★★☆

Happy Independence Day! I thought I’d celebrate by sharing a new book that explores one of our government’s most powerful acronyms. When Penny Met POTUS is a new book by Rachel Ruiz. Ruiz was inspired to write it after working for President Barack Obama and fielding questions from her daughter about “POTUS.”

The charming illustrations and sweet text tell the story of a little girl who tags along at her mom’s workplace. Penny is so excited to meet POTUS, and has some great ideas about who or what POTUS might be. The book includes references to Air Force One, the Secret Service, the Oval Office, and more. It’s a great introduction to what the job of POTUS is.

When Penny Met POTUS is a really cute read, and it will definitely earn a place on the shelves of primary classrooms. Happy reading!

Classroom Connections

  • When Penny Met POTUS is a great way to introduce the job of President to primary classrooms. Teachers can use sections of the book to address different responsibilities that the President has.
  • Looking for a read aloud for President’s Day or Inauguration Day? When Penny Met POTUS is a great fit!
  • Introducing acronyms to students? The term “POTUS” is a great example of how acronyms can be used to make communication easier. Think about how the term “POTUS” might be used every day by people who work in the White House.

Book Information
Title: When Penny Met POTUS
Author: Rachel Ruiz
Illustrator: Melissa Manwill
Publisher: Capstone
Release Date: July 2016
Price: US $15.95
Source: NetGalley – Advanced Review Copy

Find this book on:
Goodreads
Amazon
Capstone

Disclaimer: I received an Advanced Review Copy of this book from Capstone in exchange for an honest review. All opinions in this review are my own. Thanks for reading!

Review: She Stood For Freedom

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She Stood for Freedom: The Untold Story of a Civil Rights Hero, Joan Trumpauer Mulholland
by Loki Mulholland and Angela Fairwell
Art by Charlotta Janssen

My Rating:
★★★★☆

Note: She Stood For Freedom will be released on August 2nd, 2016 by Shadow Mountain Publishing. A link to pre-order is included at the bottom of this review.

 

“Remember, you don’t have to change the world… just change your world.” She Stood For Freedom tells the story of Joan Trumpauer Mulholland, an ordinary girl from Virginia who did extraordinary things during the Civil Rights Movement.

In college, I took a class with the late Julian Bond called Oral History of the Civil Rights Movement. It was all about hearing the stories of ordinary people who contributed in some way to the Civil Rights Movement during the 1960s. Our one assignment was to document the stories of an activist from the time. I was lucky enough to interview Virginia Ali, who taught me that every single person on this earth has a story to tell.

Joan Trumpauer Mulholland’s story is particularly remarkable. She abandoned her life at Duke University to put her life on the line for her values. She traveled to the Deep South during a time of tumult and and fear. She participated in sit-ins, spoke up about her beliefs, and fiercely protected her fellow activists.

Her son, Loki Mulholland, tells her story in She Stood For Freedom. A fantastically written biography, the book takes you to the time period and immerses you in the events by using vivid language and dialogue. Accompanied by incredible artwork from Charlotta Janssen, She Stood for Freedom is a great biography for middle grade or young adult readers. Through inclusion of artifacts and dialogue, She Stood for Freedom will tell Joan Mulholland’s story for years to come.

Favorite Passages

On an important lesson:
“You can never go wrong by doing what is right. It might not be easy, but it is always right.”

On changing things:
“Anyone can make a difference. You don’t need to be a Dr. King or a Rosa Parks. It doesn’t matter how old or young you are. Find a problem, get some friends together, and go fix it. Remember, you don’t have to change the world… just change your world.”

Classroom Connections

This text is bound to find its home in many language arts and history classes!

  • This book can serve as a mentor text for biography or nonfiction writing units at the middle school level. Students can learn from the author’s use of dialogue, imagery, and questioning within nonfiction writing.
  • Students can examine the pictures and infer about the character’s emotions based on evidence from the text. The pictures are so well created through collage that students will have a lot to say about them!
  • Artifacts pictured throughout the book can be used during a unit on the Civil Rights Movement.

Book Information
Title: She Stood For Freedom
Authors: Loki Mulholland Loki Mulholland and Angela Fairwell
Illustrator: Charlotta Janssen
Publisher: Shadow Mountain Publishing
Release Date: August 2016
Price: US $17.99
Source: Edelweiss – Advanced Review Copy

Find this book on:
Goodreads
Amazon

Disclaimer: I received an Advanced Review Copy of this book from Shadow Mountain Publishing in exchange for an honest review. All opinions in this review are my own. Thanks for reading!