Saturday, April 21, 2018

Book Review; The Hazel Wood

THE HAZEL WOOD by Melissa Albert is a dark fantasy suspense for young adults.
Alice and her mother are unlucky in life and move frequently. When her mother disappears, Alice must immerse herself in the dark world of her recently dead grandmother’s supernatural world. Filled with strong and sometimes abrasive female characters and lots of twists, Alice along with her acquaintance Ellery must visit the creepy Hazel Wood estate in search of answers.
Librarians will find a following for this book among teens who enjoy fairy tale fantasy, contemporary mysteries, and dark thrillers. Fans of Alice in Wonderful and teens who enjoy literature will enjoy discussing the many literary connections.
Published by Flatiron, an imprint of Macmillan on January 30, 2018. ARC courtesy of the publisher.

Friday, April 20, 2018

Website Review: Kevin Henkes

KEVIN HENKES’ website contains information and resources about this popular children’s author and illustrator.
The website includes author and book information, along with resources for adults and short videos. Children will enjoy the questions and answers section along with the book pages featuring his popular characters including Chrysanthemum and Lilly.
Librarians will find dozens of downloadable teaching guides and student activities to accompany many of Henkes’ books. Of particular note are four videos featuring the author discussing his books.
To visit the website, go to

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Website Review: Journey North

JOURNEY NORTH is a collaborative project website involving youth in tracking migrations and seasons.
This citizen science project is celebrating its 25th year. The program provides an easy way to involve children in real-world, real-time science projects. Teachers can choose from 20 different projects each year. While some projects run during a particular season, others are year-round. The website provides teaching and learning materials for educators along with news, maps, and an opportunity to report sightings.
Librarians will find this online project to be a wonderful way to get the entire school involved with citizen science. Set up a science learning station in the library to serve as the headquarters for the project. Include a map, books, and other materials to engage learners in science.
To visit the website, go to

Monday, April 16, 2018

Website Review: Laurie Halse Anderson

LAURIE HALSE ANDERSON’s website contains resources for students and educators.
Anderson’s website contains a biography, book list, blog, and educator materials. To extend the experience, explore her social media feeds including Instagram, Facebook, Tumbler, and Twitter.
Librarians will find her writing advice of interest to young adults. Weave it into an English lesson connecting books, authors, and writing. Be sure to check out her resources connecting the Hamilton musical with her books. Finally, Anderson’s page on censorship contains useful resources and links to weave into the curriculum.
To visit the website, go to

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Book Review: This is Not a Love Letter

THIS IS NOT A LOVE LETTER by Kim Purcell tells the heart-wrenching story of a teen dealing with the disappearance of her boyfriend.
When her boyfriend disappears, Jessie immediately suspects foul play. As the story unfolds, readers explore issues from their interracial relationship to mental illness and addiction. Told as a letter to her missing boyfriend, readers become immersed in the local community and are challenged to look beyond racism for answers.
Librarians will find this interracial love story to be popular with a youth who enjoy contemporary, realistic fiction. The compelling mystery and authentic characters make this an engaging young adult thriller.
Published by Disney-Hyperion on January 30, 2018. ARC courtesy of the publisher.

Friday, April 13, 2018

Website Review: Web Smarts

WEB SMARTS is an interactive learning experience focusing on digital literacy.
This online tutorial helps youth learn when to trust a website and when it avoid it. Students work their way through a series of screens exploring video-based examples and answering engaging questions. The experience ends with a quiz. A teacher page discusses how the website might be used with students.
Librarians will find this short, online tutorial to be an effective way to help students become more web literate.
To visit the website, go to

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Website Review: Mouse Circus

MOUSE CIRCUS is author Neil Gaiman’s website for younger readers.
Gaiman’s website is organized into the categories of books, author information, artists, extras, and videos. Of particular note is his biography and question/answers page. Children will enjoy playing online games connected with two of his books. Downloadable activities are also available.
Librarians will find useful information for introducing children to the works of Neil Gaiman. For teens, be sure to explore Gaiman’s main author website including his blog.
To visit his children’s site, go to
To visit his adult site, go to

Monday, April 09, 2018

Website Review: Teaching with Primary Sources

TEACHING WITH PRIMARY SOURCES from Thinkport Education contains a collection of inquiry kits.
This project contains almost a dozen social studies and history units using materials from the Library of Congress. The topics range from early American colonies to modern times. Each theme focuses on a question and includes a series of lessons and primary source documents.
Librarians will find this resource to be useful in teaching both inquiry and the use of primary source materials. In addition to the kits, be sure to check out the research learning modules and the additional resources.
To visit the website, go to

Saturday, April 07, 2018

Book Review: A Place to Start a Family

A PLACE TO START A FAMILY by David Harrison is a picture book focusing on animal shelters.
This informational poetry book begins with an introduction to animal shelters. Each two-page spread features a different creature including birds, sea creatures, and land animals. From nests and webs to tunnel systems, mixed media illustrations feature a wide range of animal homes. The book concludes with a review of underground, land, water, and air builders.
Librarians will find this picture book to be a useful addition to the nonfiction collection. The poems are perfect for a read-aloud activity combining science and poetry. Create a display featuring books that feature animal homes and habitats.
Published by Charlesbridge on January 16, 2018. ARC courtesy of the publisher.

Friday, April 06, 2018

Website Review: Roald Dahl

THE OFFICIAL ROALD DAHL website contains endless resources for teachers, adults, and children.
This attractive website contains sections about the author, activities, book and character information, and a link to a blog with up-to-date information. The author section includes stories, characters, a timeline, and archive. The “create and learn” section provides lesson plans connected with reading, writing, creating, and playing.
Librarians will be particularly interested in the author timeline and information about how and why each book was written. Use this section to inspire young authors. Explore the blog categories and tags for activity ideas based on books. Also, consider their many “Dahl Day” activities.
To visit the website, go to

Wednesday, April 04, 2018

Website Review: Fred Rogers Center

THE FRED ROGERS CENTER is a website dedicated to enriching the lives of children.
The website includes the Fred Rogers archives, initiatives, and more. The website contains a few examples from the archives. The initiatives section explores projects of the organization. The blog contains resources and ideas that connect with the project mission.
Librarians will find resources connected to the role of digital media and technology in the lives of children and families. Use the resources at the site to celebrate 50 years of Mister Rogers Neighborhood.
To visit the website, go to

Monday, April 02, 2018

Website Review: Joan Aiken

JOAN AIKEN’s author website provides children’s with information about this popular writer.
The Wonderful World of Joan Aiken is a website celebrating the author’s fifty years as a child’s book author. The resource contains information about the the author, her books, engaging activities, resources, and a bibliography. A link to the author’s blog provides up-to-date news and information.
Librarians will find the “What Do You Like?” page to be useful in helping children select interesting books to read. Students will enjoy reading the many letters the author has received from her fans. Use it to jumpstart a “letter to authors” activity.
To visit the website, go to

Saturday, March 31, 2018

Book Review: Write to Me

WRITE TO ME by Cynthia Grady tells the true story of letters written by Japanese American Children during World War II.
As children leave San Diego for internment camps, librarian Miss Breed gives the children books and postcards. She asks her young patrons to write her about their experiences. The short picture book concludes with an author’s note, timelines, historical information, and further reading. The front and end-pages include historical photos.
Librarians will find this new addition to the well-known story of Miss Breed to fill an important niche in their collection. This picture book would be useful as a read-aloud as well as part of a display including other informational books connected with Japanese American Internment Camps.
Published by Charlesbridge on January 9, 2018. ARC courtesy of the publisher.

Friday, March 30, 2018

Digital Spotlight: Children's Historical Lit Collection

CHILDREN’S HISTORICAL LITERATURE COLLECTION from the University of Washington contains thousands of digital objects related to the history of children’s books.
Contents: This comprehensive collection includes books from the 18th through the 20th century. A wide range of book types include alphabet books, chapbooks, dictionaries, hornbooks, and spelling books. From manners and etiquette to natural sciences and health, the collection explores all subject areas.
Classroom Connections: Students will enjoy exploring the books that children their age read in the 18th through the 20th century. Looks for ways to connect these historical primary sources with topics throughout the curriculum including science, math, and health. Ask students to compare and contrast life and learning in two different time periods.
Featured Digital Objects:
Health and Hygiene -
Manners and Social Etiquette -
Natural Sciences -

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Website Review: Scholastic: Librarians

LIBRARIANS from Scholastic is a website specifically designed for school and public librarians.
The librarians section of Scholastic’s website features specific resources of interest to those working with children. In addition to featuring new books, the website provides direct links to major services such as Go!, TrueFlix, ScienceFlix, FreedomFlix, and BookFlix. Dozens of videos feature author interviews. Of particular note is the Idea Share section featuring resources and discussions related to holding book fairs. Be sure to download the “Scholastic Supports Librarians” PDF containing research about the importance of libraries and librarians.
Librarians will find this website to be useful in collection development, lesson planning, and book fair planning. Although it’s focused on works by Scholastic, it contains useful ideas connected all types of materials. Their research on libraries is also useful in preparing to meet with school boards.
To visit the website, go to

Monday, March 26, 2018

Website Review: MapStory

MAPSTORY is an online tool for creating local, regional, and global scale maps.
The MapStories website contains hundreds of maps to explore. Conduct a search or explore categories such as geopolitics and human settlement. Users can become part of the online community and contribute data and stories to existing projects. Students can also combine narrative elements that include images, text, and video to explain how and why changes happen in specific locations in their own projects. The maps can be connected with social media including Twitter and Facebook.
Librarians will find that students enjoy exploring existing maps along with creating their own. Use this tool in geography lessons along with map-related activities in science and social studies.
To visit the website, go to

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Book Review: Black Panther The Young Prince

BLACK PANTHER THE YOUNG PRINCE by Ronald L. Smith tells the origin story of this popular superhero.
Twelve-year old T’Challa is a young prince living in the hidden African nation of Wakanda. When he and his friend M’Baku are sent to a private academy in Chicago, T’Challa soon learns that his experiences have not prepared him for life in America. To protect his friends, he must face evil and become a hero.
Of particular interest is how the author deals with T’Challa’s conflicting emotions related to America’s history of racial inequality and African heritage.
Librarians will find this book to be a popular extension of the Black Panther universe. Feature this engaging fantasy adventure along with other recently released Marvel superhero origin stories.
Published by Disney-Hyperion on January 2, 2018. ARC courtesy of the publisher.

Friday, March 23, 2018

Website Review: TimelinesJS

TIMELINEJS is an easy-to-use tool for building timelines.
TimelineJS is an open-source resource for creating professional-quality, interactive timelines. Users create a Google spreadsheet including short narratives and visuals. The images and videos from social media sites can be incorporated into the timelines. Users then provide the URL of the spreadsheet at the Timeline website. It’s then transformed into a timeline.
Librarians will find this an excellent way to teach both Google spreadsheets and the basics of building timelines. This tool can be applied to content across the curriculum.
To visit the website, go to

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Website Review: Library of Congress: Free Sets

FREE TO USE AND REUSE SETS from the Library of Congress provide dozens of useful teaching and learning resources.
The Library of Congress contains millions of digital objects. Their free sets of materials makes it easy to locate useful content based on themes. Because the materials have no known copyright or are copyright cleared, they can be used by students in products such as web-based reports and presentations.
This section of the Library of Congress website currently contains over a dozen collections on themes such as dogs, classic children’s books, travel posters, and holidays.
Librarians will find this theme-based resource to be useful in introducing primary source documents. Of particularly note is the set called “Your Favorites” from Flickr.
To visit the website, go to

Monday, March 19, 2018

Website Review: TED-Ed Series

TED-ED Series are connected videos exploring educational topic across the curriculum.
The TED-Ed Series provides a quick way to locate nearly 50 educational video collections. For instance, Periodic Videos contains 118 videos focusing on topics relating to science and the periodic table. Users click on an element for a lesson and video. The series titled The Way We Think explores nearly 100 topics related to psychology, sociology, thinking, and learning. The Mysteries of Vernacular explores dozens of odd and interesting words.
Librarians will find this website to be an excellent way to seek out useful videos for the K-12 curriculum. Browse through the sets of videos and connect them with the communications, STEM, and social science curriculum.
To visit the website, go to

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Book Review: Silent Days, Silent Dreams

SILENT DAYS, SILENT DREAMS by Allen Say tells the compelling true story of a talented and unusual artist.
James Castle was born deaf and never learned to read, write, or speak. Despite his challenges, Castle found peace in drawing. Say tells the extraordinary story of this artist’s life through vivid drawings and concise text.
Librarians will find this amazing story to be an excellent addition to the biography collection. Weave the title into discussions about the challenges people overcome to follow their passion.
Published by Scholastic. ARC courtesy of the publisher.

Friday, March 16, 2018

Digital Spotlight: National Baseball Hall of Fame

The NATIONAL BASEBALL HALL OF FAME website contains a growing digital collection of photos, audio, video, and text.
Contents: Users can browse thousands of items related to the history of baseball. In addition to using the search tool, users can also browse collections including 3-D artifacts, cartoons, oral histories, scrapbooks, photo archives, World Series materials, and more.
Classroom Connections: Librarians will find this website to be a fun way to introduce digital collections. Share the website as part of a display that includes both fiction and nonfiction books about baseball.
Featured Digital Objects:
Jackie Robinson
Oral Histories
To visit the collection, go to

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Technology Review: Yiddish Book Center

The YIDDISH BOOK CENTER is a comprehensive website providing information about language, literature, and culture.
The website contains access to collections, information sources, educational programs, and more.
The Digital Library and Collections area provides over 11,000 titles including oral histories, lectures, audiobooks, and other materials in Yiddish. Of particular interest are 800 children’s literature titles.
The Language, Literature, and Culture section provides articles, podcast interviews, and short films.
Librarians will find this to be a useful resource for students interested in exploring Yiddish and modern Jewish literature and culture.
To visit the website, go to

Monday, March 12, 2018

Technology Review: Endangered Archives Programme

The ENDANGERED ARCHIVES PROGRAMME from the British Library is a global project focusing on preservation of archival material.
Dozens of countries have participated in this project that helps preserve endangered historical materials. Grants are used to provide financial assistance. Users can access ten years of projects by year or by country. The collections include a wide variety of primary source documents including wills, contracts, correspondence, diaries, maps, and other materials.
Librarians will find this website to be a unique way to talk with students about the importance of preserving cultural heritage. Connect this website with a social studies project focusing on the culture of a particular country. Ask students to explore the digitized items from one of the dozens of countries represented in the project. Then, connect the primary source materials with the country’s history.
To visit the website, go to

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Book Review: From Here to There

FROM HERE TO THERE: A BOOK OF MAZES TO WANDER AND EXPLORE by Sean C. Jackson is a stunning book that combines beautiful art with engaging puzzles.
This engaging book provides an excellent introduction to art, architecture, and 3-D puzzles along with dozens of engaging mazes to complete. The author's introduction includes background information about mazes in general and also the 3-dimensional approach taken by the author/illustrator. The variety of mazes and the illustrator's use of color add to the book's appeal.
Each maze contains a starting point, ending point, and name. While most of the mazes are single pages, a few are two-page spreads. The combination of rural and urban settings along with natural and human-made landscapes make the book particularly appealing.
Librarians will find this book to be a popular addition to the nonfiction collection. Young people will enjoy how the mazes seem to define gravity. When sharing the book with children show images of M.C. Escher and discuss this technique.
ARC courtesy of the publisher.

Friday, March 09, 2018

Digital Spotlight: Qatar Digital Library

QATAR DIGITAL LIBRARY is a free digital collection exploring the modern history and culture of the Gulf region.
Contents: Users can choose to explore the archives or read articles from experts. Exploring the archive provides access to over a million items. The expert articles can be filtered by topic, location, and time period. The See, Watch, Listen option provides a quick look at interesting topics. A list of popular topics is provided along with a search tool with filters.
Classroom Connections: Use this website as a starting point for an exploration of the Gulf region. Ask students to choose a topic, place, or time period of interest from the expert section to jumpstart their exploration.
Featured Digital Objects:
Introductory Articles
History of the English East India Company
Science and Medicine
To visit the collection, go to

Wednesday, March 07, 2018

Technology Review: Pixabay

PIXABAY provides access to over a million free images and videos available online.
Providing access to images and videos labeled with the Creative Commons CC0 license, this resource makes it easy to locate and use a wide range of resources.
Users can locate photos, vector graphics, illustrations, and videos. An advanced search option provides more detailed searching. Although the search results display sponsored images in addition to free materials, the sponsored images don’t distract from the free materials. Images can also be accessed by category such as animals or sports.
Students can access the visual resources through the website or download the app through the App Store or Google Play.
Librarians will find this to be an effective tool for students working on class projects. Although Google offers a similar search for free images, this resource provides different and additional results.
To explore the website, go to

Monday, March 05, 2018

Technology Review: 101 Videos

101 VIDEOS from National Geographic on YouTube explore natural and historical phenomena from around the world.
Containing nearly 60 short videos, this National Geographic series focuses on fascinating topics from around the world.
Each three to seven minute segment explores a different topic. Recent programs include Ancient Rome, Ancient Egypt and The Protestant Reformation. Science topics include Climate, Lunar Eclipse, the Sun, and the Human Body.
Librarians will find this series provides an excellent introduction to key topics from the curriculum. Mine the resource for history and science topics. Suggest that teachers use the videos as springboards to classroom activities. Or, use each video at a library learning station to draw attention to nonfiction books connected with the theme.
To visit the website, go to

Saturday, March 03, 2018

Book Review: Hey, Baby!

HEY, BABY! by Stephanie Warren Drimmer introduces children to a collection of pictures, poems, and stories exploring animal babies.
From mountains and plains to oceans and seas, each of the eight chapters explores animal babies from a different region of the world. Anecdotes and short stories are told through poems, folktales, short narratives, and descriptive passages along with fact boxes and high-quality photographs. The book concludes with a map, additional resources, and an index.
Librarians will find this adorable collection to be popular with children of all ages. Parents would find this coffee-table sized book useful for short, bedtime reading, while teachers could use excerpts for information reading activities. The index provides easy access to particular animals for students doing reports on animal babies.
Published by National Geographic Children’s Books, an imprint of Random House on November 14, 2017. ARC courtesy of the publisher.

Friday, March 02, 2018

Website Review: SolveMe Mobiles

SOLVEME MOBILES provide a fun and engaging way to explore math and problem-solving.
Designed to support algebraic reasoning, this interactive experience presents users with colorful puzzles that help algebra and pre-algebra students strengthen their skills at solving equations for unknown values.
The project contains two sections: play and build.
The Play section asks users to imagine a hanging sculpture. Participants can explore three levels of built-in puzzles, share their own puzzles, list saved puzzles, and like favorites. A variety of tools are available including an electronic hand, pencil, and eraser.
The Build section provides tools so users can create their own mobiles by selecting and placing shapes of specific colors. These puzzles can be saved and shared. The website also provides information for parents and teachers.
Librarians will find this appealing website to be a fun addition to the library along with the math classroom. Consider building the interactive activity into a learning station or maker space featuring books and manipulatives to explore math puzzles.
To learn more, go to

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

App Review: Truss Me!

TRUSS ME! from Scientific Monkey is an inexpensive app that teaches students to design structures.
Available at both the App Store and Google Play, this physics-based simulation experience helps users learn how truss structures work through fun interactive experiences. The program applies state-of-the-art techniques used by aerospace, mechanically and civil engineers to simulate real-world designs.
Librarians will find that this fun app provides an excellent introduction to the physics of truss structures. Combine the app with a maker space area that provides hands-on materials for trying out designs. Also, incorporate it into the STEAM program in the engineering area.
To learn more, go to

Monday, February 26, 2018

Technology Review: Anchor

ANCHOR is an app and website for creating podcasts.
This free resource allows users to record high-quality audio programs, then easily share their work. Available in both the App Store and at Google Play, this podcasting tool is also available in a web-based format. Although a sign-in is required, the resource is free for both short and long form audios.
Librarians will find this to be a useful tool for teachers and students wishing to create their own podcasts. Use it across content areas for engaging audio projects.
To learn more about the app, go to

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Book Review: The Witch Boy

THE WITCH BOY by Molly Ostertag is a middle-grade graphic fantasy about magic and individual differences.
Aster has grown up in a world where girls learn magic and boys become shape-shifters. As he reaches maturity, Aster realizes that he wants to learn magic even though it’s forbidden in his society. Encouragement from an outsider, helps him gain the courage to trust himself and face his fears.
Librarians will be drawn to messages of inclusion and courage. Middle-grade children will enjoy the high-quality color illustrations and fast-paced story. Use the absorbing story, world-building, and well-developed characters to draw in new graphic novel readers.
Published by Graphix, an imprint of Scholastic on October 31, 2017. ARC courtesy of the publisher.

Friday, February 23, 2018

Website Review: Making North America

MAKING NORTH AMERICA is an interactive map from NOVA that explores geological sites across the continent.
Designed for grades 6-12, this interactive tool involves students in geology and history through an interactive experience.
The project begins with an introduction video, then users can choose the explore, expedition, or water options.
The Explore section asks users to click on a map to explore geological sites or experience a video sky tour. Within each area, users follow geologists as they explore geological features.
The Expedition section contain three treks that ask users to search for clues about how North American was formed. The treks begin with a video, then involve students in engaging activities that involve clicking, dragging, and making choices.
The Watch section provides complete videos of three NOVA episodes: origins, life, and humans.
Librarians will find this to be an excellent addition to the earth science program. The visual and interactive features will keep students actively engaged in learning. Divide a class into three teams each exploring a different trek. Then, ask them to come together and share their experience.