Saturday, September 29, 2018

Book Review: Vincent and Theo

VINCENT AND THEO: THE VAN GOGH BROTHERS by Deborah Heiligman is an engaging nonfiction narrative exploring the life of artist Vincent Van Gogh and his brother Theo.
The story is told through a series of galleries that contain very short chapters. Works of art introduce these galleries. Each section explores a different time period in the lives of the Van Gogh brothers. Much of the story is told through the letters written among family members.
The book contains a timeline, author’s note, biography, thank you, endnotes, and an index. In addition, the book contains a series of full-color plates.
Librarians will find that Heiligman’s conversational writing style will immerse readers in the world of the Van Gogh brothers. Use this title as part of a nonfiction narrative literature circle or nonfiction young adult book club.
Published by Henry Holt on April 18, 2017. ARC courtesy of the publisher.

Book: Captain Superlative

CAPTAIN SUPERLATIVE by J.S. Puller tells the story of a seventh grader who becomes a superhero’s sidekick.
Janey’s goal is to avoid conflict and fly under the radar. However when Captain Superlative arrives bearing acts of kindness, Janey decides to team up with this superhero and take action. This fast-paced and endearing middle school drama explores social themes such as bullying and childhood illness. Elements of humor and authentic characters add to the appeal of the story.
Librarians will find youth drawn to this story of courage and kindness. Feature it along with other positive school stories with a message.
Published by Disney Book Group on May 8, 2018. ARC courtesy of the publisher.

Friday, September 28, 2018

Website: ReadTheory

ReadTheory is a free reading comprehension website for students of all ages and ability levels.
The program’s adaptive approach helps students learn at their own pace as they work their way through thousands of skill building exercises. The quizzes span reading levels from elementary through college levels and are aligned with standards. Teachers can use the program to track individual student progress.
Youth begin with a short quiz that involves reading a passage, answering a question, and receiving feedback. After a longer pre-test, students are assigned exercises matched to their reading comprehension needs.
Librarians will find this to be a useful resource for students, teachers, and parents.
The program is available for both desktop and mobile devices.
To visit the website, go to

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Website: Virtual Urchin

VIRTUAL URCHIN is a science website from Stanford University containing interactive tutorials and teacher resources.
The website features interactive tutorials in the areas of microscope basics, development and embryology, ecology and environment, and basic biology. The web-based tutorials include step-by-step instructions, key concepts, practice, and hands-on activities.
The teacher resources section provides suggested activities, additional learning materials, and links to other resources.
Librarians will find that students enjoy these hands-on, online interactive tutorials covering a dozen key concepts.

Monday, September 24, 2018

Website: Population Education

POPULATION EDUCATION takes an interdisciplinary approach to population studies.
The website contains lesson plans and sets of activities associated with the topic of population. Users can browse resources or search by grade level, subject area, or topic. In addition to the lesson plans and readings, an Earth Day Lesson Pack is available.
Of particular interest is the World Population Website containing an annotated map, historic timelines, and data visualizations. Students can also explore a world map video and participate in a student video contest. Supplemental resources include standards connections, infographics, population information, articles, and demonstration videos.
Librarians will find this resource useful across grade levels and subject areas. Collaborate with teachers to develop a cross-discipline curriculum.
To visit the website, go to

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Book: Alpha - Abidjan to Paris

ALPHA: ABIDJAN TO PARIS by Bessora is a heart-wrenching graphic novel tracing a migrant’s experience from Africa to Europe.
The stark, simple illustrations and informal typography reflect the painful plight of a West African refugee struggling to reach Paris. In hopes of connecting with his wife and child, this poor cabinetmaker sells everything and navigates the underworld of fake passports, refugee camps, and smugglers in hopes of a better life. The author’s first-person perspective places readers at the center of this troubling, yet realistic story.
Librarians will find young adults drawn to this powerful graphic novel. Use the book as an opportunity to talk with youth about the work of Amnesty International. Connect readers to works of nonfiction and websites focusing on the challenges of the migrant crisis.
Published by Bellevue Literary Press. ARC courtesy of the publisher.

Friday, September 21, 2018

Website: New Jersey Center for Teaching & Learning

The NEW JERSEY CENTER FOR TEACHING & LEARNING is a nonprofit website providing STEM learning materials along with other educational resources.
The website contains classroom teaching materials in the areas of mathematics, math intervention, science, English and Language Arts, and computer science. A section on teaching methods includes specific areas such as assessment and technology resources. The website also contains self-guided open courses for students and teachers.
Librarians will find a wealth of lesson and classroom ideas to weave across the curriculum. Of particular note are the many English Language Arts lessons that can be integrated into information literacy activities.
To visit the website, go to

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Website: Bozeman Science

BOZEMAN SCIENCE is a website created by Paul Andersen featuring science videos.
This website contains hundreds of science videos on topics including AP Biology, AP Chemistry, AP Environmental Science, and AP Physics. In addition, it includes videos on other science and math related topics. 
The website also includes videos and lessons associated with Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). 
Follow Andersen’s blog for news and other interesting science information.
Librarians will find these short, focused videos integrate seamlessly into the science curriculum.
To visit the website, go to

Monday, September 17, 2018

Website: American Experience

AMERICAN EXPERIENCE from PBS is a television series exploring the people and events that shaped American history.
With nearly thirty years of episodes, this long-running program contains a wide range of useful topics for students and teachers.
The film section features full-length episodes. Users can search by key word or topic. Searchers can also locate those currently available for viewing. Most of the episodes include links to additional information, video clips, image galleries, behind-the-scenes footage, and digital shorts.
The videos selection includes short (1-5 minute) video clips and digital shorts that are perfect for focused classroom activities.
The articles area features articles, collections, maps, and other resources that can be accessed by topic or media type.
Librarians will want to mine this website for programs that connect with specific curricular topics. Beyond history, many of the episodes can also be woven into lessons across the curriculum.
To visit the website, go to

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Book: Absolute Expert

ABSOLUTE EXPERT is a new, high interest series from National Geographic Kids.
From animals to sports, each title in the ABSOLUTE EXPERT series explores tips, tricks, and fascinating facts straight from experts in the field.
ABSOLUTE EXPERT SOCCER focuses on playing the game, origins of soccer, soccer around the world, and soccer in North America. Each colorful and highly illustrated chapter features expert information, suggestions, terminology, and quizzes to engage readers. Filled with photos, maps, charts, diagrams, and other visuals along with short text passages, this book is sure to connect with young soccer fans.
ABSOLUTE EXPERT DOLPHINS examines the world of dolphins, their habitat, and their connection with humans. Featuring expert advise from a marine biologist, the book uses short text passages, photographs, maps, diagrams, and infographics to convey facts about these popular sea creatures.
Librarians will find a high demand for this new series. National Geographic Kids knows what topics will be popular with young readers. Feature this series in a display promoting career exploration. Each book contains four chapters that would work well for a nonfiction book discussion.
Published by National Geographic Kids in May 2018. ARC courtesy of the publisher.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Website: The Amboyna Conspiracy Trial

THE AMBOYNA CONSPIRACY TRIAL explores topics related to a famous legal case from the early modern period.
Using exhibits, a timeline, and archives, students become jurors in a trial set in Indonesia in 1623. Students must explore both sides, evaluate evidence, and deliver a verdict. Along the way, students learn about European expansion in Asia, the race for spices, and the politics of torture.
A teaching section provides background information, a guide, and further resources.
Librarians will find this website to be useful for students exploring topics related to European expansion in the 17th century. Students will particularly enjoy the “What’s your verdict” activity.
To visit the website, go to

Monday, September 10, 2018

Website: Data Nuggets

DATA NUGGETS is a science project that provides free classroom activities that combine contemporary research and authentic data.
Available for all grade levels, users can search for a data nugget, make a data nugget, or explore educator and scientist resources.
Users can search for topics by keyword, title, level, or location. Each topic includes a teacher’s guide, student activities, and a grading rubric. Many of the science projects include videos, images, and resources for further reading.
Librarians will find this to be a useful website in promoting citizen science. Think about how data nugget projects could be woven into an activity center or whole-school thematic unit.
To visit the website, go to

Saturday, September 08, 2018

Book: Ghost Boys

GHOST BOYS by Jewell Parker Rhodes tells the powerful and timely story of a black boy killed by a white police officer.
The story begins with the death of twelve-year-old African American boy. Jerome shares his experiences with bullying and poverty leading up to his death while playing in a park with a toy gun. In alternating chapters, Jerome’s ghost meets the daughter of the police officer who shot him. He also learns about the history of other ghost boys who met a fate similar to his.
Librarians will find this compelling story is effective in tackling tough issues including gun violence, racial bias, and class differences. The easy-to-read, fast paced story would work well in reading groups or as part of class discussions connected with current events.
Look for this title on the “best of intermediate level books” for 2018.
Published by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Hachette Book Group on April 17, 2018. ARC courtesy of the publisher.

Friday, September 07, 2018

Website: American Masters

AMERICAN MASTERS from PBS is a biography series celebrating arts and culture.
This video series features writers, musicians, visual and performing artists, dramatists, filmmakers, and others who have made an impression on the cultural landscape of America. More than 30 years of programming is currently available from this acclaimed series.
Users can watch full episodes and short video clips, view images, and read articles. Podcasts featuring interviews are also available to download. All the resources can be accessed through a keyword search or by name or by topic.
A special section features powerful, creative and innovate women. Users are invited to share stories about women in their lives.
A news blog highlights events and upcoming programs.
Finally, the classroom section provides resources for using the video programs in the classroom. These resources are connected to PBS LearningMedia.
Librarians will find biographies that can be integrated into classroom activities across the curriculum. These resources are particularly useful for video and auditory learners seeking resources for research projects.
To visit the website, go to

Monday, September 03, 2018

Website: BBC iReporter

The BBC IREPORTER is an interactive game designed to help students explore the importance of fact checking.
In this online interactive educational game, users become journalists while learning about the benefits and pitfalls of using social media to collect information.
A teacher’s guide provides a series of lessons, exercises, and other learning materials to guide and extend the interactive experience.
Librarians will find this interactive to be an engaging tool in teaching media literacy skills. Youth will particularly enjoy the fast-paced, video and audio enhanced format of the interactive.
To visit the interactive, go to
To visit the teacher’s guide, go to

Saturday, September 01, 2018

Book: Hello Lighthouse

HELLO LIGHTHOUSE by Sophie Blackall tells the story of life in a lighthouse.
Told through full page illustrations, this fascinating picture book tells the story of a dedicated lighthouse keeper and his growing family. The precise text and repeated Hello phase make the book effective as a quick read-aloud to introduce children to this unusual lifestyle.
Caldecott Medalist Sophie Blackall brings the history of lighthouses to life through her detailed illustrations. Of particular note are Blackall’s use of cross-sections and interesting viewpoints. The book concludes with a discussion of lighthouse history.
Librarians will find many uses for this beautifully illustrated picture book. Connect it with the many websites featuring primary sources such as lighthouse postcards, photographs, and log books. Use this fictional story to jumpstart an investigation of true stories connected with lighthouses. Involve youth in tracing the history of a specific lighthouse.
Look for this title on “best picture books” lists for 2018.
Published by Little, Brown, an imprint of Hachette on April 10, 2018. ARC courtesy of the publisher.