Monday, September 30, 2013

Nonfiction Monday

Nonfiction Monday is hosted today at Stacking Books.

For Nonfiction Monday  --  "Team Moon How 400,000 People Landed Apollo 11 OnThe Moon" by Catherine Thimmesh.

Everyone knows about the Apollo 11 mission and the names Armstrong, Aldrin, and Collins.  But it took a team of four hundred thousand people to make that historic flight a success.  From flight directors, rocket designers, software experts, engineers, geologists, doctors and aerospace technicians to builders, programmers, electricians, painters, welders, and seamstresses (who put together twenty-two layers of fabric for each space suit) -- each contribution was essential in landing the first human on the moon.

Thimmesh creates a compelling narrative woven throughout with direct quotes and vintage photographs that bring the story to life with the drama that captured the attention of the world.  Beginning with "The Dream . . .  And the Challenge" she takes readers from  imagination, through development, creation, and testing of the command module, lunar module and rockets.

She shares little known facts: the top-secret "Fate Has Ordained" speech written for President Nixon in the event that the astronauts died in the moon landing, the emergencies that the astronauts and the mission control staff on earth faced and solved and the extraordinary focus that went into every phase of the project.  

The book's rich detail is supported with an appendix with sections titled: Sources, Chapter Notes, Additional Sources, Photo Credits, For Further Exploration and Index.

Common Core recommended.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Poetry Friday

Poetry Friday is hosted today by The Poem Farm.

Just for fun, today's selection is "Shrinking Days, Frosty Nights: poems about fall" from the very talented Laura Purdie Salas.
Children in grades K-3 will enjoy the variety of poetry styles and delight in the boldly colored photographs that celebrate the beauty and joy of this special season.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Common Core: A School Library Perspective

As a library media specialist, it is my responsibility to purchase materials to build and maintain a library collection.

My mission is to make age-appropriate materials available that meet the individual educational and recreational reading needs of the students.  That mission includes developing a collection supportive of the state curriculum for grades K-6 that also reflects the diversity of humanity both globally and within the local community.

With Common Core now on the horizon, I have another component to consider as I'm evaluating materials, both fiction and nonfiction for the collection.

My conversations with other library staff both locally and nationally indicate that we are all struggling with the issue of interpreting and incorporating Common Core Standards into our collection development strategy.

My selection criteria focuses equally on: 1. Age-appropriate and relevant materials to support the teaching of the curriculum (which will now include common core) and 2. The varied personal interests of the students. 

The following are also considered and are no less important:

              collection depth and breadth

              accuracy of information and balanced presentation of issues

              importance (educational, literary, cultural, topical, popular)

              prior selection (i.e. series continuation or authors previous works)

              attractive presentation and varied reading levels

              cost and durability


I'll be posting on this topic periodically and invite your comments and discussion.

In addition, my reviews will now indicate books that fit the Common Core Standards.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Nonfiction Monday is hosted today at Sally's Bookshelf.

My selection is  "The Elephant Scientist" by Caitlin O'Connell and Donna M. Jackson with photographs by Caitlin O'Connell and Timothy Rodwell.

O'Connell and Jackson provide readers with an opportunity to view scientific inquiry first hand as they follow researcher O'Connell in the field.  Her observations of African elephant behavior lead her to hypothesize that elephants have the ability to listen to and communicate via vibrations they "hear" through their feet in much the same way as the insects she studied for her master thesis. 

An overview of elephant behaviors ground students in the basics and set the stage for a deeper examination of elephant communication that includes experiments in the lab and studies in the field.
The science is balanced by information about O'Connell's life, her early fascination with animal behavioral studies and the support from  family and educators.

The photography does a beautiful job of providing readers with insight into the lives of these remarkable animals and bringing the experience of working in the field to life.

A section titled "Explorations" provides additional  reading, DVDs, web links and opportunities to view O'Connell's experiments.  Pachyderm Terms, Selected Source Notes, and an Index conclude the book.

Future scientists in upper grades will find a wealth of experience and encouragement here.  Although the book is written at an 8th grade level, my 4th-6th graders  were fascinated.
Common Core recommended.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Poetry Friday is hosted today by Tabatha Yeatts: The Opposite of Indifference.

For Poetry Friday -- "The Place My Words Are Looking For: what poets say about and through their work" selected by Paul B. Janeczko.
Janeczko has assembled an impressive collection of work by thirty-nine poets: Myra Cohn Livingston, Bobbi Katz, Cynthia Rylant, Gary Soto, John Updike and the anthologist, Paul B. Janeczko to name a few.
Complimenting the verse are comments from each poet on topics such as how they find inspiration, write, share their interests, and express their points of view in their poetry.   
Readers will learn about Patrick Lewis' fascination with animal Points of view as expressed in "Mosquito. " As a writer I was drawn to Naomi Shihab Nye's thoughtful remarks about how the paper will always listen and sometimes speak back when no one else will and how the boundary between "real" and "imagined" can be blurred.  Russell Hoban's very real depiction of "Esme on Her Brother's Bicycle is inspired.  I'll let you discover Jack Prelutsky's inspiration for "The Underwater Wibbles. "

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Writers Wednesday

Just a quick note.

Here's an article from Brain Pickings September 11th post worth sharing --

Neil Gaiman's Advice to Aspiring Writers by Maria Popova.

Gailman's website can be found HERE.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Nonfiction Monday


Nonfiction Monday is hosted today at Booktalking.
My selection is  "Adventure beneath the sea: living in an underwater science station" written by Kenneth Mallory with photographs by Brian Skerry.

Readers in grades 5-8 follow the adventures of Mallory and Skerry as they train to become aquanauts living 60 feet below the surface for a week in the Aquarius, the world's only underwater science lab.  Mallory and Skerry detail the experience of working with scientists for a week as they study a coral reef near the Florida Keys.
Sidebars address questions about the day-to-day life of an aquanaut, describe important concepts such as underwater pressure, provide information about life on a coral reef, and offer details about the Aquarius and its history.
Books and websites for additional reading and a glossary complete the book.
Skerry's color photos are a beautiful addition to the text and provide readers with an immediate sense of place.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Nonfriction Monday

Nonfiction Monday is hosted today at Wendie's Wanderings.

From the incomparable Russell Freedman -- the vividly written story of the relationship between these two historical figures and how their friendship informed both their lives.  Freedman provides background on both Douglas and Lincoln leading up to their first meeting, then follows these two self-educated men with differing points of view as they struggled to find common ground.

Period illustrations, documents and photographs, primary sources with notes and a selected bibliography provide additional background and enrichment for students in grades five to eight.

Freedman at his best.


Friday, September 6, 2013

Poetry Friday is hosted today by Author Amok.

For Poetry Friday -- "Come to my party and other shape poems" written by Heidi B. Roemer and illustrated by Hideko Takahashi.


The sinuous curve of a flag in the breeze, the sharp angles of a bird house and the arc of an umbrella opened in the rain -- these are just a few of the shapes that Roemer's verses take as she explores the four seasons through the eyes of a child.

These poems are a delightful way to introduce very young readers and listeners to the joys of poetry.  Simple language and easy to follow rhythms will have children chanting these verses in delight.


Big Fat Caterpillar
Which end is his head?
Which end is his bottom?
Good grief!
A hungry robin


Takahashi's illustrations complete the shapes suggested by the movement and structure of the words and add colorful depth to each page while highlighting the verses.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Nonfiction Monday

Nonfiction Monday is hosted today by A Mom's Spare Time.

My selection is "How Astronauts Use Math"  by Mary Hense.

As students in grades 4-8 return to their math lessons, they will once again be asking that familiar question: "Why do I have to learn this?"

This title and the others in the "Math in the Real World" series help answer that question by providing examples of how math is utilized in a variety of careers from fighter pilots to fashion designers, and baseball managers to chefs. 

Each book explores a variety of math concepts and includes typical problems and their solutions.   A glossary, maps, photographs, and diagrams engage young readers while supporting their math curriculum.  


The Gingerbread Cowboy Book Trailer