Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Book Review: Lilliput

LILLIPUT by Sam Gayton is a sequel to the classic Gulliver’s Travels fantasy adventure.
Young Lily is kidnapped from the beach near her home by a giant named Gulliver. They return to London where Lily is kept prisoner in a birdcage. Gulliver plans to show the world that his adventures were real and that tiny people actual exist. However with the assistance of a friend, Lily escapes and enlists the cooperation of others to help her return to Lilliput.
Written for the middle grades, children will enjoy this fast-paced story. Even those not familiar with Gulliver’s Travels will easily understand the premise. The beautiful pencil illustrations add to the appeal.
Librarians will find lots of fans among children who enjoy “tiny people” stories.
Published by Peachtree Publishers on September 1, 2015. ARC courtesy of the publisher.

Book Review: Lizard Radio

LIZARD RADIO by Pat Schmatz is a thought-provoking dystopian novel exploring issues of identity, diversity, socialization, and the power of free will.
Set in an alternative universe, foster-child Kavali is sent to an agricultural camp for teens. Encouraged to conform and become part of the cooperative society, Kavali struggles to find her place. Is Kavali a human or lizard, a samer or bender, a he or a she? Her journey of self-discovery will have readers asking questions about the nature of reality and one’s place in the universe.
The fast-paced story and fascinating use of vocabulary will quickly immerse young adult readers in Kavali’s world. By weaving in elements of mysticism and the paranormal, Schmatz keeps readers wondering about the nature of reality in this parallel world.
Librarians tired of the same-old dystopian adventures will find Schmatz’s character-driven story refreshing. The gender-questioning protagonist will appeal to many coming-of-age youth who struggle with issues of identity.
To learn more about the author, go to http://www.patschmatz.com/.
Published by Candlewick on September 8, 2015.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Website Review: Be An Engineer

The BE AN ENGINEER website explores the profession of engineering.
Sponsored by ExxonMobil, the website is focused on the interests of secondary students and contains three sections.
The Why Engineering section provides information about engineering as a profession, types of careers including aerospace, agricultural, biomedical, chemical, civil, computer hardware, computer software, electrical and electronics, environmental, geological, industrial, materials, mechanical, nuclear, and petroleum, related disciplines, and the importance of diversity. Along the way, users can read about notable engineers like Thomas Edison and Nikola Tesla.
The Engineering in Action area explores stories of innovative thinkers in the area of engineering, amazing feats of engineering, news and events, and engineering champions.
The Become an Engineer section explores the education needed to become an engineer and tools and resources to learn more about this career path.
The colorful photos, interesting videos, and short paragraphs of content will appeal to teen readers.
Librarians will find this website to be a useful addition to STEM resources. Feature the website along with books about engineering careers and nonfiction books focusing on engineering topics.
To explore the website, go to http://www.beanengineer.com/.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Book Review: The Secret Mission of William Tuck

THE SECRET MISSION OF WILLIAM TUCK by Eric Pierpoint is an action-packed historical fiction novel aimed at the middle grades.
Set during the American Revolution in 1781, twelve-year-old William Tuck volunteers as a drummer boy. However, a chance encounter with a dying soldier plunges him into the world of couriers and spies. Along with a teenaged girl named Rebecca, they travel hundreds of miles to deliver a secret message that could turn the tide of the war.
Filled with familiar historical figures, battles, and locations, this engaging story focuses on the brutality of war and the courage of one young boy. Although the main characters are fictional, the author does an amazing job weaving in historical facts and immersing readers into the time period.
Librarians will be impressed by how the book deals with issues related to slavery, spies, prison ships, and the medical aspects of war in addition to the classic battle scenes. Use this book as an opportunity to share nonfiction works related to the Revolutionary War. This title would also be an excellent addition to a literature circle focusing on historical fiction of the American Revolution.
While many of the popular works about the American Revolution are aimed at the young adult reader, this book is perfect for middle grade readers who are just beginning to learn about this important period in American history. Use it as an entry to the wealth of books designed for older readers.
To learn more about the author, go to http://www.ericpierpoint.net/.
Published by Sourcebook Jabberwocky on September 1, 2015.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

App Review: NOVA Elements

The NOVA ELEMENTS app is a fun way to learn about the periodic table.
Based on the PBS NOVA series, the app provides users three options: explore, play, and watch.
The Explore option includes an interactive periodic table users can explore that provides definitions, images, and background information.
The Play option involves users in playing a game related to the periodic table.
The Watch option shows the two-house NOVA program, “Hunting the Elements”.
Librarians will find this to be a useful app to supplement classroom instruction on the topic of the periodic table.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Book Review: I'm New Here

I’M NEW HERE by Anne Sibley O’Brien is a touching picture book following three immigrant children adapting to their new American school.
When Maria, Jin, and Fatimah first arrive in their new school, they’re shy, apprehensive, and confused. However as they observe their peers and begin to participate in classroom activities, they slowing gain confidence.
The colorful, realistic illustrations along with the simple sentences and speech bubbles are perfect for the primary grades.
Librarians will find this book to be an excellent addition to their nonfiction collection focusing on diversity, multicultural issues, and the immigrant experience. Connect this book with social studies in the primary grades.
The author recommends a website called I’m Your Neighbor that promotes children’s literature featuring new arrivals. Go to http://www.imyourneighborbooks.org/.
To learn more about the author, go to http://www.annesibleyobrien.com/.
Publish by Charlesbridge on August 4, 2015.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Website Review: Curious

CURIOUS: GROW YOUR SKILLS is a website that provides short instructional videos on dozens of topics.
Although not specifically designed for K-12 students, the website contains many videos appropriate for secondary students. The videos are divided into ten sections including Biz, Brainy, Code, Craft, Food, Health, Life, Music, Photo, and Tech.
The Brainy section focuses on traditional school subjects such as biology, college prep, history, math, psychology, and science. In many cases, only the first lesson in a series is available for free. However for K-12 students this overview may meet classroom needs.
Many of the step-by-step lessons contain attachments and assignments to help with learning.
Live discussions are held with experts around the world. These are recorded, so students can go back and watch past events.
The website contains both a free and membership option. However, the free version includes over 1000 lessons, so it’s a great place to start.
Librarians will find this website to be a good alternative when seeking out videos on specific topics. Use the search tool to look for videos on specific topics.
To visit the website, go to https://curious.com/.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Book Review: Iron Rails, Iron Men and the Race to Link the Nation

IRON RAILS, IRON MEN AND THE RACE TO LINK THE NATION by Martin W. Sandler tells the story of the transcontinental railroad.
Aimed children 10-14, the easy-to-read narrative combined with compelling historical photographs brings this amazing story to life. By weaving in quotes by individuals who observed and participated in construction of the railroad, Sandler highlights the determination and personal sacrifice necessary to create this marvel of engineering.
Historical photos, posters, maps, timeline, source notes, and a bibliography add to the appeal of this well-written work of nonfiction for youth. Of particular note is the epilogue that shares what happened to each of the individuals featured in the narrative.
Librarians will particularly enjoy the extensive use of primary source documents. Create a display that includes this book along with other books about trains and railroads from the past to the present.
Published by Candlewick Press on September 8, 2015.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Website Review: Stinks, Bangs & Booms: The Rise & Fall of the American Chemistry Set

STINKS, BANGS & BOOMS: THE RISE & FALL OF THE AMERICAN CHEMISTRY SET is a website that provides a fascinating look at the history of this beloved resource.
Sponsored by the Chemical Heritage Foundation, this award winning website uses an interactive timeline to explore the inception, heyday, decline, and resurgence of the American Chemistry Set.
The amazing story is told through the use of historical drawings, photographs, text, narration, and music. Interactive elements and mini-games keep readers interested. Users have the opportunity to learn more or move on to the next section.
A particularly interesting activity involves exploring chemistry sets from different time periods.
Users can listen to the stories of people who grew up with a chemistry set and participants can even record their own stories.
Librarians will find lots of uses for this amazing website. It’s an exciting way to discuss timelines and the idea of change over time. Involve youth in analyzing their favorite toy such as the history of LEGO. It’s also a fun way to bring historical photos and other primary sources to life. Consider creating a display that shows a chemistry set and labels the variety parts. Also include books of science experiments that youth can try at home.
To explore the website, go to http://chemistryset.chemheritage.org.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Book Review: One Bear Extraordinaire

ONE BEAR EXTRAORDINAIRE by Jayme McGowan is a beautifully illustrated picture book about a bear and his growing band of musician friends.
One morning a musical bear wakes up with a song in his head. As he explores the forest, other animal musicians join his growing band and contribute to his song. However, the bear still feels like something is missing until an unlikely young talent discovers the missing sound.
Librarians will find lots of ways to connect this colorful picture book with the music curriculum.
Consider creating a display of books by illustrations that use collage techniques including Marianne Berkes, Eric Carle, Lois Ehlert, Steve Jenkins, Leo Lionni, Faith Ringgold, and Melissa Sweet.
Learn more about the author/illustrator at http://roadsideprojects.com/.
Published by Abrams Books for Young Readers on September 8, 2015.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Technology Review: The Smithsonian Channel

The SMITHSONIAN CHANNEL app and website provides access to full-episodes of original series and documentaries as well as a large video library.
The app connects to over a thousand short videos as well as full programs. Users can select from favorite topics or browse the possibilities. The attractive interface is easy to use. Users can create their own channels of content based on favorite topics. Or, let the system select videos based on interests. Favorite videos can be identified.
The website features links to video clips as well as full episodes. Playlists are provided on popular topics such as bees, history, baby animals, and the civil rights movements.
Librarians will find videos across the curriculum including science and social science topics.
To visit the website, go to http://www.smithsonianchannel.com/.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Book Review: Hilo: The Boy Who Crashed to Earth

HILO: THE BOY WHO CRASHED TO EARTH by Judd Winick is the first book in the new Hilo graphic novel, science fiction series for middle grade readers.
Readers will be enthralled with this exciting story featuring an ordinary boy named D.J. that meets a mysterious boy who falls from the sky. D.J., along with his friend Gina, help the strange other-worldly boy save the world. While children will be drawn to the robots and non-stop action, the story also features important themes related to friendship, acceptance, loyalty, and bravery.
The bright, colorful illustrations combined with the action-packed plot will have readers cheering for our latest graphic novel heroes. Librarians will find a huge audience among middle grade children who are thirsty for age-appropriate graphic novel titles. Librarians will appreciate the diverse cast of characters.
To learn more about the author, go to his website at http://www.juddspillowfort.com/.
Published by Random House Books for Young Readers on September 1, 2015.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Website Review: Wonderville

The WONDERVILLE website is an engaging science destination for youth.
This award winning website is divided into five sections.
The Living Things area provides access to dozens of videos, games, readings such as comics, and experiments associated with life science. Topics include cells, body systems, nutrition, plants, genetics, and biodiversity.
The How Things Work section includes topics such as nanotechnology, chemistry, computer science, earth science, energy, electricity, forces, habitats, physics, and machines.
The Our World area explores a wide range of themes like the diversity of life, ecosystems, habitats, space exploration, and weather.
The Blog features fascinating stories about innovative advancements in science, engineering, technology, and mathematics.
The Careers section focuses on scientists, engineers, and specialists who work in a wide range of settings. The emphasis in on activities associated with real-world problem-solving and authentic situations.
When exploring the videos, games, readings, and experiments, youth are provided with links to related resources and activities. The entry page contains links to the most popular content.
Librarians will find this website to be an excellent resource for addressing Standards for the 21st Century Learner. An emphasis is placed on curiosity, exploration, and inquiry. Use the resources to connect information literacy activities with STEM (Science Technology Engineering Math).
To visit the website, go to http://www.wonderville.ca/.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Book Review: The Dogs

THE DOGS by Allan Stratton is a fast-paced psychological thriller that blurs reality and the paranormal world.
Cameron and his mother are constantly moving because of fears that Cameron’s abusive dad might find them. When they rent a spooky farmhouse, Cameron is haunted by a mysterious boy with secrets. Soon readers begin to wonder what’s part of Cameron’s growing imagination and what’s reality. Is Cameron sinking into madness or are his worse fears true?
Readers will be mesmerized by Stratton’s engaging writing style. This spine-chilling, young adult thriller will keep readers guessing until the very last page.
Librarians will find this murder mystery to be particularly appealing to teens who enjoy secrets, ghosts, and creepy settings. Consider a display that includes paranormal books alongside nonfiction works exploring paranormal activity. A discussion guide is available at the author’s website.
Learn about the author at http://www.allanstratton.com/.
Published by Sourcebooks Fire September 1 2015.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Technology Review: Mathigon

The MATHIGON website and ebook app is intended to bring mathematics alive for youth.
The Library contains an amazing open and interactive eBook that is available online and as a mobile app. It presents mathematical ideas using animations, slideshows, games, and computations. This colorful, highly illustrated eBook will bring mathematics alive for readers. Links on the website’s entry page image go directly to sections of the eBook for topics such as Dimensions and Distortions, Graph Theory, and Fractals.
The Teachers area includes engaging math activities including a mathematical treasure hunt for the primary or secondary grades. The lessons and activities are available as downloadable PDF files. Some areas of the website are still in development.
The Developers area provide open source JavaScript libraries that power the Mathigon website. These resources could be used by high school students to build their own engaging online materials.
To visit the website, go to http://mathigon.org/.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Book Review: The Copper Gauntlet

THE COPPER GAUNTLET by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare is the exciting second book is the popular Magisterium series.
When Callum discovers his father’s secret room, he feels like he must leave home forever. However when a copper gauntlet known as the Alkahest is stolen, Call realizes that he must find his father to prevent an evil foe from unleashing the ultimate enemy. Filled with mystery and deepening friendships, youth will enjoy this sequel to The Iron Trial.
Black and Clare make a superb writing team. By combining their skills, they’re able to bridge the children’s and young adult audiences and create a world perfect for their tween audience.
Librarians will find a growing fan base for this fantasy series. Equally popular with girls and boys, this coming-of-age adventure addresses themes of loyalty, honesty, and heroism perfect for the target audience. Consider a Magisterium event featuring magical events focusing on air, fire, earth, water.. and a little chaos thrown in for fun.
To learn more about Holly Black, go to http://blackholly.com/.
To learn more about Cassandra Clare, go to http://www.cassandraclare.com/.
Published by Scholastic on September 1, 2015.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Website Review: Jon Scieska

JON SCIESZKA’s author website is a wacky, wonderful place for youth to explore his life and his works.
Kick off your exploration by reading “A Welcome Message from the President”. Youth will enjoy his “annual report” too.
Jon’s Bio page contains a biographical sketch with hyperlinks to more information. Be sure to check out his interesting infographics.
The Books page provides book covers and descriptions of his works. In addition, it links to his series books including Time Warp Trio, Trucktown, and Spaceheadz.
The Guys Read website provides fun activities and information about books of interest to boys.
The Gallery features images including Scieszka’s family and information about the author’s writing process.
The News and FAQs pages provide lots of other interesting insights. There’s even an “Official Online How-to-Say-Jon-Scieszka Pronunciation Guide”.
Librarians will find endless ideas for an author display featuring Scieskza. Consider printing some of his infographics and pairing them with examples of his books. This is a great website to get reluctant readers interested in this amazing author.
To learn more, visit the website at http://jsworldwide.com/.
To visit the Time Warp Trio website, go to http://www.timewarptrio.com/.
To visit the Spaceheadz in Action website, go to http://spaceheadz.com/.
To visit the Guys Read website, go to http://guysread.com/.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Book Review: Welcome to Mars

WELCOME TO MARS: MAKING A HOME ON THE RED PLANET by Buzz Aldrin and Marianne Dyson takes an amazing look at the near-future reality of a human colony on Mars.
Readers are invited to become Martian pioneers as they work their way the information they’ll need to journey to Mars and build a permanent home.
This visually-rich, well-organized book includes short chapters dealing with key issues related to space travel and the colonization of Mars. Numerous fun activities, author side-bars, interesting fact boxes, stunning photographs, detailed illustrations, intriguing diagrams and primary source documents add to the appeal. A timelines and map of Mars are particularly interesting. The book concludes with book and website lists, a glossary, credits, and an index.
Librarians will find an eager audience for this timely work of nonfiction. With movie The Martian coming out in October, the book is sure to be a hit. Plan an event around this interest in Mars. Pair the book with the many NASA websites featuring information about Mars.
To learn more about Buzz Aldrin, go to http://buzzaldrin.com/.
To learn more about co-author Marianne Dyson, go to http://www.mariannedyson.com/.
Published by National Geographic Children’s Books on September 1, 2015.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Special Event: National Hispanic Heritage Month

NATIONAL HISPANIC HERITAGE MONTH is held each year from September 15 through October 15.
The National Hispanic Heritage Month website housed at the Library of Congress provides a history of the event, a wealth of content pages, as well as links to other resources.
The website features carefully selected Exhibits & Collections, Images, and Audio/Video resources. A Teacher section provides specific ideas for connecting primary sources to hispanic heritage-related lessons.
Sections on Hispanic Americans in Congress, The Latino Experience, and Hispanic American Veterans provide in-depth exploration of these areas.
Librarians will find lots of useful resources and activities at the Library of Congress website. In addition, the National Endowment for the Humanities, National Park Service, and Smithsonian Education - Hispanic Heritage Month websites contain specific pages focus on this event.
Be sure to check out the new Library of Congress, National Archives, and Smithsonian Institution Pinterest Boards associated with this important month.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Book Review: I Am A Bear

I AM A BEAR by Jean-Francois Dumont is a heart-breaking picture book about homelessness, compassion, and acceptance.
Dumont tells the story of a homeless bear living in a city on the edge of society. Even a little kindness brings happiness into his otherwise lonely life.
Dumont is a magnificent storyteller blending simple text with amazing illustrations. His authentic examination of homelessness is powerful and will strike a cord for those who have spent time in urban areas.
Librarians will find this picture book can be experienced on two levels. Young children will empathize with the sad bear without understand the connection to societal issues of homeless. Older children will experience a slightly different story with roots in the loneliness that comes from isolation and a sense of invisibility connected with homelessness. Regardless of the target audience, this book will generate lots of discussion and has the potential to change young lives for the better.
Published by Eerdmans Books for Young Readers September 8, 2015.

Friday, September 11, 2015

App Review: Explore 9/11

The EXPLORE 9/11 app from the National September 11 Memorial and Museum is a guide to understanding the history of the World Trade Center and the 9/11 tragedy.
The app contains three features including a map mode, story mode, and tribute mode. Rotate your device to switch between the map and story modes.
The Map Mode allows users to explore the map of the Memorial plaza and museum. Tapping on hotspots provide access to videos, photographs, and other images. Audio recordings from first responders and survivors are also included.
The Story Mode lets users explore chapters with background information about the history of 9/11 and the artifacts housed in the museum.
The Tribute Mode provides a place were users can leave a message.
Librarians will find this to be a powerful virtual field trip for students and their teachers. Consider designing pre- and post- app experiences that encourage youth to ask questions, explore content, then debrief the experience.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Book Review: Hunter

HUNTER by Mercedes Lackey is a riveting dystopian fantasy for young adults.
Growing up in a remote mountain monastery, Joyeaux has been trained as a Hunter. Using a combination of magic, combat skills, and her own wits, she’s fought an array of monsters alongside her Hounds who appear from the Otherworld. When she’s summoned to protect Apex City, she’s immersed in a world where Hunters are treated like superstars and people may be as dangerous as the monsters she hunts.
From Drakken to Goblins, Lackey has created a fascinating world filled with amazing creatures. The well-developed characters are engaged in a thrilling story of sabotage and conspiracy that adds a layer of interest that goes beyond monster chasing.
Fans of The Hunger Games and other dystopian works will be attracted to the action-adventure elements along with the “hunter as action star” theme. The addition of mythological creatures and paranormal elements will increase the popularity. Librarians will quickly find a following for this fast-paced science fiction fantasy series. Lots of open questions will have readers looking for the next book.
Published by Hyperion, Disney Book Group on September 1, 2015.

Wednesday, September 09, 2015

Website Review: American Foundation for Suicide Prevention

The AMERICAN FOUNDATION FOR SUICIDE PREVENTION (AFSP) website provides resources to help youth and educators deal with suicide prevention and loss.
It’s National Suicide Prevention Week. The AFSP website provides a wealth of resources for educators working with youth. The resource is divided into sections.
The Understanding Suicide area provides quality information about suicide as a serious public health problem. The easy-to-read informational pages would be excellent resources for student projects as well as background information for educators. Topics include facts and figures, suicide warning signs, suicide risk factors, key research findings, engaging people with lived experience, and FAQs. Librarians will find these materials useful in displays along with books on the topic.
The Preventing Suicide section discusses suicide warning signs, finding help, treatment, and an interactive screening program. Specific educational materials and programs are aimed at teens and young adults.
The Coping with Suicide Loss area is specifically designed to help those who have lost loved ones to suicide.
The Research area is useful for those seeking more depth into the causes, treatments, and interventions associated with suicide and prevention.
The Advocacy and Public Policy section discusses ways that individuals and schools can get involved with becoming suicide prevention advocates.
For more information about National Suicide Prevention Week, go to http://www.afsp.org/…/in-t…/national-suicide-prevention-week. Consider using their sharable graphics at your school website or social media presence.
To visit the general website, go to http://www.afsp.org.

Tuesday, September 08, 2015

Book Review: Snow White and the 77 Dwarfs

SNOW WHITE AND THE 77 DWARFS by Davide Cali and Raphaelle Barbanegre is a silly retelling of the classic fairy tale.
On the run from an evil witch, Snow White moves in with 77 dwarfs in the woods. She’s grateful for the safe harbor, but she quickly becomes overwhelmed by the task of supervising a large household filled with dwarfs.
Young readers will enjoy the illustrator’s bright colors and the increasingly harried look on Snow White’s face as she becomes more and more stressed-out.
Librarians will find a readership for this picture book among children who enjoy adaptations of popular fairy tales. Consider an activity where children compare the original version of a book with alternatives.
Published by Tundra Books an imprint of Random House on April 15, 2015.

Website Review: The World Under Water

The WORLD UNDER WATER website provides visualizations of what coastal regions will look like with rising sea levels.
The premise is simple. What’s the impact of rising sea levels? The website provides 360 views of a dozen well-known locations that may be impacted by rising sea levels at some point in the future. Viewers are invited to examine a preview of things to come.
Users are invited to enter an address or city to see what the area will look like in the future.
The Take Action area provides tools for calculating your emissions, offsetting your carbon footprint, and supporting a green project.
Librarians can use this website to jumpstart a discussion of climate change. Ask them to select a city and research the time it will take for sea levels to rise enough to impact the city shown in the visualization based on current estimates. Involve teams in comparing the projections from various websites they identify.
To learn more, go to http://www.worldunderwater.org.

Monday, September 07, 2015

Website Review: Beyond Penguins and Polar Bears

BEYOND PENGUINS AND POLAR BEARS is an online science resource for educators.
Produced by The Ohio State University, the resource focuses on preparing elementary educators to teach polar science concepts in an inquiry-based learning environment. Twenty thematic topics explore both the Arctic and Antarctica.
Each theme includes professional learning resources, science and literacy materials, stories from researchers and connections across the curriculum. These resources are aligned with the National Science Education Standards.
The Stories of Students section links to feature stories for specific grade levels including K-1, 2-3, and 4-5. These resources are excellent for informational reading activities.
A dozen podcasts tackle common misconceptions related to the poles. These would be excellent for listening activities.
Web seminars and print-on-demand resources are also available to extend the experience.
The Polar Pinterest social media site is used to share interesting visuals related to the polar regions including plants, animals, icebergs, and more.
Librarians will find a wealth of resources to connect children with information about the polar regions. Connect these informational and instructional resources with the science curriculum and extend the experience with your nonfiction collection. The website’s emphasis on inquiry-based learning fits well with the AASL Standards for the 21st Century Learner.
Although it appears that the website is not being expanded, the resources are all functional. A companion website called Beyond Weather focuses on weather and the water cycle.
To visit the website, go to http://beyondpenguins.ehe.osu.edu/.
To visit the companion website, go to http://beyondweather.ehe.osu.edu/.

Sunday, September 06, 2015

Book Review: Sunny Side Up

SUNNY SIDE UP by Jennifer Holm and Matthew Holm is a poignant, yet humorous middle grade graphic novel focusing on family and friendship.
Set in August 1976, Sunny Lewin arrives in Florida to spend a few weeks with her grandfather who lives in a retirement community on a golf course. From searching for lost golf balls and cats to reading comics with a new friend, Sunny has some fun despite being surrounded by “old people”. Flashbacks provide insights into Sunny’s home life back in Pennsylvania revealing family secrets and the real reason she’s staying with her gramps.
Whether referencing the bicentennial celebration or reflecting on the smell of a Polaroid photograph, the authors are effective at immersing readers in the culture of the 1970s. The illustrator’s eye for period details make the story even more endearing.
A note from the authors encourages readers to reach out to family, teachers, and counselors if they find themselves dealing with someone experiencing substance abuse.
Librarians will find that the authentic story will appeal to youth. The authors seamlessly weave important social messages into the heartwarming summer story.
Published by GRAPHIX from Scholastic on August 25, 2015.

Saturday, September 05, 2015

Technology Review: National Gallery of Art

The NATIONAL GALLERY OF ART’s a website and apps that provide a wealth of resources and activities for youth of all ages.
The website Education area provides access to areas including Teachers, NGAkids, Families, and Teens.
The Teachers area is a place where educators can connect to useful educational resources including lesson plans, teaching packets, and videos. Teachers can also download posters and artwork. The NGA Images link provides access to 45,000 open access digital images for use in teaching and learning.
The NGAkids Art Zone includes over a dozen engaging art interactives for children including Sea-Saws, Brushster, Faces & Places, Jungle, Still Life, Dutch House, Photo Op, Collage Machine, Flow, Paintbox, Swatchbox, Wallovers, 3-D Twirler, Mobile, and Pixelface. These easy-to-use online learning activities focus on art and art history.
Eight of these interactives are also available through the NGAkids Art Zone mobile app. There’s also an app focusing on the Hobby Horse exhibit.
The Adventures in Art area of NGAkids Art Zone features highlights of the collection presented in a kid-friendly, interactive style.
The Families area contains resources of interest to youth of all ages. An Eye for Art is an online resource that explores 50 artists in the collection and Family Guides online booklets share insights into the collection.
The Teens area provides links to current exhibitions and installations. It also connects with audio and video programs associated with art and art history. Many of the interactives from the kids section would be of interest to teens too. The Your Art app provides information about over 130 popular artists and their works.
Librarians will find a wealth of resources for use in the art curriculum. Also, consider this resource when designing STEAM activities that connect art with science, technology, engineering, and math. Weave artwork into social studies and history classes through the use of the NGA Images collection.
To learn more, go to http://www.nga.gov.

Friday, September 04, 2015

Book Review: Becoming Maria

BECOMING MARIA: LOVE AND CHAOS IN THE SOUTH BRONX by Sonia Manzano is a touching memoir about a Puerto Rican-American girl growing up in New York City during the 1950s and 1960s.
Many readers will recognize Sonia Manzano as Maria from the children’s television program Sesame Street. This poignant story follows Sonia from her earliest memories through her college experiences. It concludes with her job interview for Sesame Street that made her famous with generations of children.
Manzano provides an authentic look at the daily life of a Latino family living in the Bronx during the 1950s-1960s. Readers experience the racial and social issues of the times through the eyes of a child trying to make sense of the world.
Librarians will enjoy reading this book themselves as well as sharing it with young adults. The fast-paced story will keep readers interested. This book would be a wonderful addition to your WeNeedDiverseBooks campaign.
For amazing photos and primary source documents from her life, visit the author’s website at http://soniamanzano.com/.
Published August 25, 2015 by Scholastic Press.

Thursday, September 03, 2015

Book Review: The Small World of Paper Toys

THE SMALL WORLD OF PAPER TOYS by GĂ©rard Lo Monaco is a wonderful work of paper engineering.
The ten meticulously produced scenes take readers through a toy room adventure. Each page features the title of the toy, an active exclamation, and a short scenario. Young readers will enjoy seeing each of the paper toys reappear at the end of the book.
Although the story is designed for young children, the book is likely to appeal to older youth who enjoy well-constructed pop-up books. The precision required to produce a high-quality movable book is immense making this book more durable than most.
Librarians will find this charming movable book to be a wonderful addition to their pop-up collections. Like other fragile works, it’s likely that pieces may need to be repaired over time, particularly the see-saw page. However, it’s well worth the hassle given the value of the experience for young readers. For older youth, consider creating a display that incorporates this book along with works that demonstrate paper engineering techniques to encourage students to create their own books.
Published by Little Gestalten on October 25, 2015.

Wednesday, September 02, 2015

Book Review: George

GEORGE by Alex Gino is the heartwarming story of a transgender girl finding her place in the world.
George is a boy on the outside, but inside he’s a girl who wants to try out for a girl’s role in the class play, Charlotte’s Web. When best friend Kelly gets the role of Charlotte, they hatch a plan that will change how George is viewed by classmates, friends, and family.
Written for the middle grades, Gino does a stellar job introducing young readers to the battle facing transgender youth. However from the rainbow poster in the school office to sympathetic educators, the author also shows glimmers of hope and understanding.
Librarians will find a strong demand for this candid examination of a transgender girl seeking acceptance. Add this title to your “We Need Diverse Books” collection. For slightly older readers, suggest Gracefully Grayson by Ami Polonsky.
Learn more about the author at http://www.alexgino.com/.
Published by Scholastic on August 25, 2015.

Tuesday, September 01, 2015

Website Review: Edheads

The EDHEADS website provides a wealth of interactive educational resources for all ages.
The website contains a wide range of STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) activities.
Resources for elementary and middle school youth include Simple Machines, The Compound Machine, Weather, and Design a Cell Phone.
Resources for middle and high school youth include Trauma, Deep Brain Stimulation, Virtual Knee Surgery, Choose the Prosthetic, Virtual Hip Replacement, Virtual Hip Resurfacing, and Aortic Aneurysm Surgery.
Resources for high school students include Sickle Cell DNA, Crash Scene, Stem Cell Transplant, Stem Cell Heart Repair, and Nanoparticles and Brain Tumors.
The Teacher Resources section encourages educators to participate by exploring materials teachers have created to go with the interactives as well as the opportunity to share ideas.
Librarians will find these high-quality interactives to be popular with both students and teachers. The online activities are attractive, engaging, and educational.
To learn more, go to the website at http://edheads.org.