Monday, October 31, 2016

Technology Review: Ask Smithsonian

ASK SMITHSONIAN is a weekly video series exploring a wide range of topics.
From ancient history to contemporary science topics, this video series answers questions through very short videos. Around a minute in length, each video addresses a different question. Viewers can extend the experience by reading interesting articles.
Librarians will find that these question and answer videos will inspire young people to create their own inquiry-based projects. Rather than a traditional written assignment, ask students to explore a question of interest and create their own video project.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Digital Collections: NINES

NINES: Nineteenth-Century Scholarship Online
Contents: This collection contains nearly 900,000 digital objects from 139 federated sites. It includes well-known materials by Jane Austen along with books, letters, diaries, and other fascinating primary sources. Tags are used to explore areas of interest.
Classroom Connections: The NINES Classroom area allows teachers to set up accounts for classes to create exhibits and discuss objects. Although it’s used primarily by colleges, any educator can set up an account.
Featured Digital Objects:
Costume resources -
Frankenstein resources -
American Civil War resources -
To visit the collection, go to

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Book Review: Be Light Like a Bird

BE LIGHT LIKE A BIRD by Monika Schroder tells the authentic story of a twelve-year-old girl dealing with the death of her father.
When her dad dies, Wren and her mother must move to Michigan and start a new life. Along the way, Wren deals with a wide range of issues from bullying and peer pressure to environmental issues and themes of lies, forgiveness, and hope.
This poignant story realistically describes Wrens’ struggles with the death of her father. The author skillfully weaves age-appropriate experiences and actions into the storyline.
Librarians will find middle-grade, realistic fiction readers drawn to the wide range of topics and themes. From birding and anthropology to bullying, encourage youth to select an issue of interest and learn more about it.
To learn more about the author, go to
Published by Stone Arch, and imprint of Capstone on August 1, 2016. Courtesy of the author.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Technology Review: PBS Digital Studios

PBS DIGITAL STUDIOS is a YouTube Channel containing educational programming on a wide range of topics.
This video channel features short-form videos showcasing the best of Internet and PBS. From philosophy and technology to history and science, the programming incorporates topics across the curriculum. The project features content housed at a number of YouTube channels including Deep Look, PHS Idea Channel, The Art Assignment, It’s Okay to be Smart, CrashCourse, Space Time, Physics Girl, BrainCraft, Cross Science, and more.
Librarians will find this website to be a useful starting point for locating educational videos. Spend some time aligning videos across the curriculum. Or, feature selected videos in a showcase along with selected books and other resources.
To visit the website, go to

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Digital Collection: Bass Field Notes

Bass Field Notes Collection
University of Tennessee Knoxville Special Collection
Contents: This collection focuses on forensic anthropology and how it’s used to resolve medical and criminal cases. It specifically contains field notes and other artifacts from investigations involving body decomposition.
Classroom Connections: Students love “real world” applications of science such as CSI (Crime Scene Investigation). Although some students might find the topic “gross”, others will love diving into the primary sources materials related to science. Use the information at this website to create your own library CSI project.
Featured Digital Objects:
Arrows Used in a Study
Sketch of Cliff

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Digital Collection: Pioneers in Your Attic

Mountain West Digital Library
Pioneers in Your Attic
Contents: Launched in 2013, this collections explores a wide range of topics related to the 19th century overland migration including transportation, trail and camp life, encounters with Native American tribes, diseases, medicine and surgery, politics and government, gold rush, religion, and perspectives from multiple viewpoints.
Classroom Connections: Involve youth in tracking the the westward movement from various perspectives. Ask each student to explore a different aspect such as transportation, camp life, or encounters with Native Americans. Or, explore resources by primary source type such as diaries, letters, and photographs.
Featured Digital Objects:
Drawing of Wagon Master
Crow, Black Lodge Camp
To visit the collection, go to

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Technology Review: Full Time with Mya

FULL TIME KID WITH MYA is a series of videos from PBS.
This adorable YouTube Channel features videos on topics such as crafts, songs, and learning experiences. From science experiments and math tricks to how-to videos, young Mya shares ideas for children, parents, and teachers. The short, focused videos are quick to watch.
Librarians will find these videos to be a fun way to introduce youth to video production. Get children involved with creating their own short videos on topics of their choice.
To watch the videos, go to

Monday, October 24, 2016

Book Review: Tokens and Omens

TOKENS AND OMENS by Jeri Baird is the first book in an exciting new adventure fantasy series filled with secrets, challenges, and a quest for survival.
The sixteen-year-olds in a rural village spend months preparing for a dangerous “rite-of-passage” known as “The Quest”. During this time, they receive tokens and omens based on their behavior. Although the quest is intended to test individuals, the teens soon discover that Fate may have something else in mind that has implications for the entire village.
Told in alternating chapters through the eyes of two teens, the story addresses thought-provoking questions about fate, friendship, and choices making the novel much more than your typical fantasy fare.
Librarians will find this fast-paced fantasy popular with teens who enjoy Hunger Games along with the many other recent titles that incorporate quest and game components. With well-developed characters, refreshing magic elements, and believable world-building features, this book can stand-alone. However, most readers will be looking forward to the next installment of this engaging young adult series.
To learn more about the author, go to
Published by Jolly Fish Press on July 19, 2016. ARC courtesy of the publisher.

Digital Spotlights

Along with book, app, and website reviews, we’re going to begin sharing digital collections with fascinating primary sources and other types of objects. While many of these collections were developed by academic and public libraries, they’re useful for school libraries and classroom teachers seeking out interesting primary sources to share with youth. You’re probably familiar with the Library of Congress, National Archives, and other large collections, so we’ll explore some smaller, more focused collections.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Website Review: Mawah

MAWAH: WHEN EBOLA CAME TO OUR VILLAGE is an amazing, interactive storytelling experience.
This true story is told in ten engaging chapters. The experience begins in the summer of 2014 with a prologue explaining the beginnings of the Ebola outbreak in West Africa. Then, readers work their way through ten, interactive chapters featuring a narrative along with background information, videos, photographs, infographics, and links to additional information.
The subdued watercolor illustrations weave the narrative together in this ground-breaking approach to nonfiction storytelling.
Librarians will find this online experience to be an excellent way to introduce high school students to both the science and social issues associated with Ebola. The mixture of the compelling narrative with the informational segments will attract many students to this important and timely topic.
To visit the website, go to

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Book Review: Towers Falling

TOWERS FALLING by Jewell Parker Rhodes tells the powerful story of a young girl learning about the history of 9/11.
Set in New York City, Deja is a homeless child enrolled in a new school. Along with her new friends Ben and Sabeen, the fifth-grader learns about the history of the 9/11 attacks as part of the school’s curriculum. As she dives into an exploration of this historical event, Deja soon discovers a personal connection she never imagined.
This thought-provoking story explores a wide range of important historical and socio-political connections to this event that occurred before the birth of today’s elementary children. Rhodes skillfully teaches children about the historical event within a story about friendship and family.
Librarians will find this to be an important addition to their library collection. Consider purchasing a class set and working with teachers to weave the novel into the curriculum.
To learn more about the author, go to
Published by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Hachette Books on July 12, 2016. ARC courtesy of the publisher.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Book Review: This Savage Song

THIS SAVAGE SONG by Victoria Schwab is the first book in a new monster fantasy series.
Kate Harker is the daughter of a ruthless leader and August Flynn is a monster trying to find his place in a divided city. When their lives intersect, they must decide whether they’re enemies or friends.
Librarians will find a large audience for this young adult fantasy. From the world-building elements to the sympathetic characters, teens will easily immerse themselves in Schwab’s dystopian world. Fans will be lining up for the next book in the Monsters of Verity series.
To learn more about the author, go to
Published by Greenwillow Books, an imprint of HarperCollins on July 5, 2016. ARC courtesy of the publisher.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Website Review: The Last Mission to the Moon

THE LAST MISSION TO THE MOON immerses young people in a real-time journey through the Apollo 17 mission to the moon.
This comprehensive website includes over 300 hours of audio, 22 hours of video, and 4,200 photos related to the mission. Users can either start the experience at T-minus one minute or join the mission in progress.
Users are presented with a screen that includes a control panel including video, audio, images, a transcript, a guided tour, commentary, and more. Along the way, the experience can be paused, photos can be selected, or other choices can be made. The mission can be tracked, fast-forwarded, and rewound using the interactive timeline.
Librarians will find this website popular with fans of the space program. Use this real-time experience as an example of the value of primary sources in information inquiry. Weave the website into a display featuring books about the history of moon exploration.
To use the website, go to

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Book Review: A Moon of my Own

A MOON OF MY OWN by Jennifer Rustgi tells the charming story of a young girl exploring the world with the moon as a companion.
This imaginative adventure follows a child as she visits the seven continents and experiences the phases of the moon. The book includes information about each area of the world featured in the story along with facts about the phases of the moon. The text concludes with activities for further learning.
Through shades of blue along with black silhouettes, the simple illustrations bring the moon and night sky to life.
Librarians will find this book to be a wonderful way to connect the science of the moon with an engaging narrative.
To learn more about the author, go to
Published by Dawn Publications on September 1, 2016. ARC courtesy of the publisher.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Book Review: Around America to Win the Vote

AROUND AMERICA TO WIN THE VOTE by Mara Rockliff tells the true story of two women and a kitten who set out on a 10,000 journey to promote a women’s right to vote.
In 1916, Nell Richardson and Alice Burke departed New York City on a journey across America. Their cross country crusade was intended to show that women could do anything and should have the right to vote.
The book concludes with background information, source notes, and a bibliography.
Librarians will find this compelling story useful for teachers introducing the idea of the women’s movement to young history students.
To learn more about the author, go to
Published by Candlewick on August 2, 2016. ARC courtesy of the publisher.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Website Review: A Visual Introduction to Machine Learning

A VISUAL INTRODUCTION TO MACHINE LEARNING is a web-based, interactive infographic explaining how data sets are used to create machine learning models.
As users scroll down the web page, they are taken step-by-step through the process of understanding machine learning using the example of distinguishing homes in New York from homes in San Francisco. Using visually rich charts, diagrams, and other illustrations, users explore the fundamentals of machine learning.
Librarians will find this easy-to-use website provides an excellent introduction to a complex topic associated with the mathematics and computer science curriculum. Pair it will books associated with statistical thinking and computer science. Also, weave it into the data literacy curriculum.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Book Review: Lucy

LUCY by Randy Cecil tells three overlapping stories that come together for a heart-warming finale.
Told in four acts through through different perspectives, this sweet story explores the lives of a lonely dog, a young girl, and an aspiring juggler.
The clever storytelling approach, sparse text, and grayscale illustrations all come together for an unusual reading experience.
Librarians will find this highly-illustrated book popular with dog lovers. Both beginning readers and older children will enjoy the repetition and compelling conclusion.
To learn more about the author, go to
Published by Candlewick on August 2, 2016. ARC courtesy of the publisher.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Book Review: Tony Baloney Yo Ho Ho, Halloween

TONY BALONEY YO HO HO, HALLOWEEN! by Pam Munoz Ryan tells the story of a young penguin who looks forward to the Halloween parade.
Tony Baloney is so excited about his Halloween costume that he wants to show it off in the days leading up to the parade. However when Halloween arrives, Tony has a problem. The humorous story is balanced with a useful lesson.
Edwin Fotheringham’s large characters and bright colors will appeal to young readers.
Librarians know that holiday books are popular year-around. Feature all the Tony Baloney books in a display to promote this new series or include it in a Halloween display. With four, short chapters, beginning chapter book readers will enjoy the length.
Published by Scholastic on June 28, 2016. ARC courtesy of the publisher.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Book Review: Octopus Escapes Again!

OCTOPUS ESCAPES AGAIN! by Laurie Ellen Angus is an informational adventure following an octopus seeking dinner.
This fascinating story features an octopus on a quest for food. Along the way, readers learn about the habitat and behaviors of this amazing sea creature including how it uses clouds of ink, jet propulsion, and camouflage as defense. Woven into the narrative are interesting facts about the octopus. The book concludes with additional information and learning activities.
The author/illustrator’s use of large, easy-to-read text along with colorful, collage techniques will be appealing for many young readers.
Librarians will find this nonfiction narrative to be popular with students and teachers seeking high-quality information along with an engaging story. With both alliteration and repetition, the author’s lyrical approach makes this a good read-aloud choice.
Published by Dawn Publications on September 1, 2016. ARC courtesy of the publisher.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Book Review: Pirate's Perfect Pet

PIRATE’S PERFECT PET by Beth Ferry tells the tale of a ship captain seeking the perfect pet.
According to the Perfect Pirate Captain checklist, a ship should have a pet so the captain and his crew set off on a quest for animals. The captain considers a wide range of farm and zoo animals before making a selection at the pet emporium.
Librarians will find this picture book to be useful for read-aloud activities. The colorful illustrations and diverse cast will attract the attention of young readers. The active dialog will keep listeners interested in the story. Teachers may find the book to be a fun way to kick off a unit on pets.
To learn more about the author, go to
To learn more about the illustration, go to
Published Candlewick on August 2, 2016. ARC courtesy of the publisher.

Sunday, October 09, 2016

Website Review: Histography

HISTOGRAPHY is a website visualization of world history that can be explored many different ways.
After opening the website, users are presented with a timeline containing dots representing historical events from the last four hundred years. Clicking a dot presents an event, date, and image along with a link to a Wikipedia article. Clicking related events, show users historical points that are connected to the original article.
By clicking on the timeline, users can select from eras covering decades or millions of years such as Middle Ages or Age of Reptiles . Users can also explore the resources by choosing selected events from categories such as art, disasters, and discoveries. Resources can also be accessed by selecting from editorial stories.
Librarians will find that students are fascinated by this interactive visualization. Use it to motivate young historians and help them explore history. Incorporate the website into a lesson focusing on timelines and categories of history.
To visit the website, go to

Saturday, October 08, 2016

Book Review: Rise of the Lioness

RISE OF THE LIONESS by Bradley Hague tells the true story of the decline of predators, the last lioness, and hopes for ecosystem renewal in West Zambia.
This work of nonfiction is organized into five chapters exploring the collapse and rebuilding of lions in Liuwa Plain National Park. The book begins with an exploration of life in the African plains. Next, readers explore the decline of the predator population as a result of animal conflict, human war, and other causes. Next, the book describes the plans for restoration and the rebuilding process. The lioness known as the Lady of Liuwa serves as an example of the struggles experienced by the lion population during this process. The book concludes with an afterword, glossary, and index.
Librarians will find this book popular among middle grade students who enjoy animals particularly lions, along with those interested in wildlife conservation. This book would be an excellent way to introduce students to the ecosystems and the interconnected lives of plants, animals, and humans in a healthy environment.
Published by National Geographic on September 13, 2016. ARC courtesy of the publisher.

Friday, October 07, 2016

Website Review: The Truth

TRUTH is a website designed for young adults focusing on the issue of teen smoking.
The website kicks off with anti-smoking public service announcements and connections to social media.
The Facts section provides text, visuals, charts, graphs, infographics, interactives, videos, and other information connecting specific topics and issues with smoking. Users are invited to react to the information to extend the experience.
The Truth Events section features activities around the world related to anti-smoking efforts. It also include interactive elements such as a quiz related to pets and tobacco.
The About section provides an overview of the website and cause. The Take Action section section encourages users to sign up for more information. Social media links extend the experience.
Librarians will find this website to be an effective resource for anti-smoking campaigns and lessons. Create a display that features the public service announcements along with health information, and books related to the anti-tobacco theme. Collaborate with the health, science, and social studies teachers for a school-wide campaign.
The Truth Initiative website is available for additional educational materials and health information.
To visit the website, go to
To visit the supplemental website, go to

Thursday, October 06, 2016

Book Review: This is the House that Monsters Built

THIS IS THE HOUSE THAT MONSTERS BUILT by Steve Metzler is a silly and slightly spooky adaptation of the popular “House that Jack Built” story.
This fun picture book shares the story of the creepy creatures that build a spooky house on a hill. When kids show up for “trick or treat,” they scare a vampire and set off a final round in this Halloween story.
Librarians will find this book to be a hit around the Halloween holiday. The predictable story would work well for read-aloud experiences. The whimsical illustrations have just the right balance of silly and scary for younger readers.
To learn more about the author, go to
Published by Scholastic on June 28, 2016. ARC courtesy of the publisher.

Wednesday, October 05, 2016

Website Review: The Chauvet-Pont D-Arc Cave

THE CHAUVET-PONT D’ARC CAVE website explores a 36,000 year old archaeological site in France.
Users begin with a virtual tour of the original cave. The 360 degree exploration includes clickable areas for further investigation of each hall. The information boxes include photographs, diagrams, maps, and other information. The video section provides access to a series of short chips taken inside the cave.
After the introduction, the website is organized into four chapters. The Discover the Cave section allows users to zoom-in on cave drawings, learn about the location, explore the human presence, examine research, and learn about the history of the cave. The Cave Replica explores the cavern, the grand project, and the scientific and artistic restitution elements. The Other Perspectives section features people associated with the cave. The Resources section includes a media library, links, bibliography, and a glossary. The website also includes a map.
Librarians will find this website to be a fascinating way to help youth learn about early world history and archaeology.
To visit the website, go to

Tuesday, October 04, 2016

Book Review: The Worst Breakfast

THE WORST BREAKFAST by China MiƩville and Zak Smith is an unconventional picture book designed for ages 3-7.
The engaging story features two siblings discussing their memories of bad breakfast experiences. The book’s colorful illustrations explode onto the page as a simple discussion turns into a fantasy food adventure.
Librarians will find this book a unique addition to their collection. The lyrical text is filled with descriptive words that will easily slide off the tongue of enthusiastic readers. The use of dialog boxes featuring a different text color for each character makes this adorable book perfect for peer reading experiences.
Although designed for young children, older youth will enjoy the story and illustrations too. The familiar situation is perfect for jumpstarting class discussions and writing activities.
Published by Akashic Books on October 4, 2016. ARC courtesy of the publisher.

Monday, October 03, 2016

Website Review: That's Not Cool

THAT’S NOT COOL is a teen website designed to increase awareness of digital dating abuse.
This interactive website provides suggestions for what teens should do if they’re being pressured, controlled, or disrespected in digital spaces. With lots of connections to social media and personal stories, the website is intended to support teens in need.
A Cool Not Cool game is intended to help young adults make good decisions in relationship situations.
The Speak Up area encourages users to ask questions and explore answers.
The Adult Allies section provides resources to help educators working with teens.
The TNC Channel provides call-out cards, retro videos, and arcade-style games related to the topic.
Librarians will find that this website is an effective way to draw attention to issues related to digital dating abuse. Connect the resource to units related to digital citizenship.
To visit the website, go to

Sunday, October 02, 2016

Book Review: Rocks, Minerals & Gems

ROCKS MINERALS & GEMS by Sean Callery and Miranda Smith contains over 1,000 examples of amazing geologic features to explore.
Designed for the middle grades, this photo-rich informational book features major sections on minerals, rocks, and gems. After a gallery to kickoff the section, each two-page spread explores a particular item such as copper or limestone. In some cases, the pages provide in-depth scientific information along with popular examples. Throughout the book, the author has woven in fascinating stories set in locations around the world. The book concludes with a glossary and index.
Librarians will find that young people enjoy browsing this book as well as using it as a reference work.
Published by Scholastic on July 26, 2016. ARC courtesy of the publisher.

Saturday, October 01, 2016

Website Review: Cancer

CANCER: THE EMPEROR OF ALL MALADIES is a three-part PBS series and website with lots of online content.
The About the Film section explores the information about the film and it’s producers.
The Our Story Wall section shares stories from people’s whose lives have been impacted by cancer.
The Media Gallery section provides access to digital shorts, full episodes, and film clips.
The History of Cancer Timeline section visualizes key events before 1940, 1940-1970, 1970-today, and tomorrow.
The Producers’ Blog shares information about updates related to the program and the second screen option provides supplemental information to go with the film.
The Classroom section features video, trivia, infographics, discussions, and other resources to supplement the films.
Librarians will find that this amazing three-part series provides high-quality information useful for health, science, and social studies classrooms.
To visit the website, go to