During your child’s next library class I will be talking up a national writing contest sponsored by the Library of Congress. I hope your child will consider writing a letter to a favorite author (dead or alive) about how a book has changed their thinking and/or positively impacted them in some way. The details of the contest are here. I will also provide a paper copy for any students who are interested. We have some very thoughtful readers at our school and it would be great to get lots of entries!
This first featured book of the week is from the RI Children’s Book Award nominee list. It is an amazing picture book biography that we actually had on our HMS Mock Caldecott nominee list last year.
Whoosh!: Lonnie Johnson’s Super-Soaking Stream of Inventions, (2016)
words by Chris Barton and pictures by Don Tate
Goodreads summary: A cool idea with a big splash.
You know the Super Soaker. It’s one of top twenty toys of all time. And it was invented entirely by accident. Trying to create a new cooling system for refrigerators and air conditioners, impressive inventor Lonnie Johnson instead created the mechanics for the iconic toy.
A love for rockets, robots, inventions, and a mind for creativity began early in Lonnie Johnson’s life. Growing up in a house full of brothers and sisters, persistence and a passion for problem solving became the cornerstone for a career as an engineer and his work with NASA. But it is his invention of the Super Soaker water gun that has made his most memorable splash with kids and adults.
Watch a Whoosh! book trailer.
If anyone has read Counting by 7s by Holly Goldberg Sloan, you know it’s one of those books that is just so good it will stay with you for a very long time. Well, she has done it again with this next book. I love how Holly Goldberg Sloan captures real life – you do a lot of laughing but you also do some crying. You will become smitten with Julia who truly is a character. This title is on our Mock Newbery list.
by Holly Goldberg Sloan
Goodreads summary: Julia is very short for her age, but by the end of the summer run of The Wizard of Oz, she’ll realize how big she is inside, where it counts. She hasn’t ever thought of herself as a performer, but when the wonderful director of Oz casts her as a Munchkin, she begins to see herself in a new way. As Julia becomes friendly with the poised and wise Olive – one of the adults with dwarfism who’ve joined the production’s motley crew of Munchkins – and with her deeply artistic neighbor, Mrs. Chang, Julia’s own sense of self as an artist grows. Soon, she doesn’t want to fade into the background and it’s a good thing, because her director has more big plans for Julia!
Watch a Short book trailer.
This next book is so beautiful it may just become the book you buy for every future baby shower. You’ll recognize the gorgeous illustration style of Caldecott-winner Brendan Wenzel. This book is one of our HMS Mock Caldecott nominees.
words by Cynthia Rylant and pictures by Brendan Wenzel
Goodreads summary: Cynthia Rylant and Brendan Wenzel explore the beauty and tenacity of life.
Life begins small, then grows…
There are so many wonderful things about life, both in good times and in times of struggle. Through the eyes of the world’s animals—including elephants, monkeys, whales, and more—Cynthia Rylant offers a moving meditation on finding beauty around us every day and finding strength in adversity. Brendan Wenzel’s stunning landscapes and engaging creatures make this an inspiring and intriguing gift for readers of all ages.
Speaking of gorgeous books, here is a nonfiction picture book I wish I could gift every teacher who has his/her students research national parks. Beautiful and informative, Jason Chin’s book is on our “Sibert Smackdown” list! See this post for details.
Grand Canyon, (2017)
by Jason Chin
Goodreads summary: Rivers wind through earth, cutting down and eroding the soil for millions of years, creating a cavity in the ground 277 miles long, 18 miles wide, and more than a mile deep known as the Grand Canyon.
Home to an astonishing variety of plants and animals that have lived and evolved within its walls for millennia, the Grand Canyon is much more than just a hole in the ground. Follow a father and daughter as they make their way through the cavernous wonder, discovering life both present and past.
Weave in and out of time as perfectly placed die cuts show you that a fossil today was a creature much long ago, perhaps in a completely different environment. Complete with a spectacular double gatefold, an intricate map and extensive back matter.
There is no book trailer but you can check out Jason Chin’s website.
I’d like to end by featuring an incredible series that is not getting enough love and attention. For students who love fantasy and humor this could be the next series for them!
A Hero’s Guide to Saving Your Kingdom (The League of Princes #1), (2012)
words by Christopher Healey and pictures by Todd Harris
Goodreads summary: Prince Liam. Prince Frederic. Prince Duncan. Prince Gustav. You’ve never heard of them, have you? These are the princes who saved Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, Snow White, and Rapunzel, respectively, and yet, thanks to those lousy bards who wrote the tales, you likely know them only as Prince Charming. But all of this is about to change.
Rejected by their princesses and cast out of their castles, the princes stumble upon an evil plot that could endanger each of their kingdoms. Now it’s up to them to triumph over their various shortcomings, take on trolls, bandits, dragons, witches, and other assorted terrors, and become the heroes no one ever thought they could be.
Christopher Healy’s Hero’s Guide to Saving Your Kingdom is a completely original take on the world of fairy tales, the truth about what happens after “happily ever after.” It’s a must-have for middle grade readers who enjoy their fantasy adventures mixed with the humor of the Diary of a Wimpy Kid books. Witty black-and-white drawings by Todd Harris add to the fun.
Watch the book trailer for A Hero’s Guide to Saving Your Kingdom.