He Laughed With His Other Mouths by M.T. Anderson

He Laughed With His Other MouthsM. T. Anderson has a talent few other authors can boast: he can suck in a reader like nothing else. Hilarious YA novel about competing burger chains? Yep. Picture book biography of Handel? Check. Middle grade fantasy about (among other things) mechanical goblins? No problem. Historical fiction written in next-to-perfect 18th century diction? Of course! An increasingly long series of books written as a pastiche of historical series books, with perfect understanding of the series tropes, characters that appeal to modern readers, and extremely affecting (and hilarious) stories? Why do you even ask?

He Laughed with His Other Mouths is the latest in Anderson’s Pals in Peril series. This one focuses on my favorite of the three main characters — Jasper Dash: Boy Technonaut! In the 1930s and 40s, Jasper starred in his own series of sci-fi adventure novels (and movies, and t.v. serials and advertisements, etc), but now he lives in Pelt with his single mother (Jasper was created by a highly concentrated beam of information projected from the region of the Horsehead Nebula), and tries, with the help of his friends Lily and Katie, to fit in the modern world.

After a disastrous science fair project (it didn’t even try to take over the world! AND people laughed at him!), Jasper feels so low that he decides, over the objections of his mother, to transport himself to the Horsehead Nebula to see just who it was that originally sent that concentrated beam of information. Was it his . . . father? Or was it Something Else? This rash decision will have drastic consequences not just for Jasper, not just for his mother, Lily, and Katie, but FOR THE ENTIRE WORLD!

CAN YOU STAND to find out what Jasper discovers in the Horsehead Nebula?!
THRILL to outer-space hijinks!
SHIVER at the desperate danger!
DON’T WAIT to read this fabulous book, filled with, I’m sure you’ll be glad to hear: “Even more death rays! No, really! Way, way too many death rays”!

Posted by: Sarah

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Common Core Review: Eye to Eye: How Animals See the World by Steve Jenkins

Eye to Eye: How Animals See the WorldHave you ever thought much about the different kinds of eyes that exist in the animal world? What about the evolution of the eye? Did you know that some animals use their eyes for more than just vision? In his book Eye to Eye, author and illustrator Steve Jenkins takes a closer look at the eyes of a variety of animals. Beginning with an overview of the four basic kinds of eyes (eyespot, pinhole, compound and camera), Jenkins provides specific examples of different animal eyes and what makes them unique. For instance, the bullfrog uses its eyes to push food down its throat and the stalk-eyed fly relies on the length of its eye stalks to attract a mate. Some creatures, like the blue mountain swallowtail butterfly, can see high-frequency colors that are invisible to the human eye; while others, like the sea slug, have only eyespots which can detect the presence of light, but cannot perceive solid images or colors. Using his trademark cut paper illustrations, Jenkins has put together yet another concise, informative, and visually engaging exploration of the animal world. Full of interesting facts and bright, colorful illustrations, Eye to Eye is sure to entertain and inform readers of all ages.

Virtually any Steve Jenkins book lends itself nicely to fulfilling the informational text requirements of the Common Core Standards. His work is well researched, focused, and engaging and his artistic style provides the opportunity for cross-curricular collaboration with the arts. Here are some possible connections to make using Eye to Eye:

• Once students have a better idea of how various types of eyes work and look, they can choose an animal and recreate a cut or torn paper collage image of that animal’s eye along with a brief description of what kind of eye it is and any special functions or features.
o CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.R.7
Integrate and evaluate content presented in diverse media and formats, including visually and quantitatively, as well as in words.

• Common Core Standards for writing can be met by asking students to compare and contrast the different features of two animals’ eyes and write up two scenarios – one in which each animal would thrive while the other might struggle.
o CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.W.7
Conduct short as well as more sustained research projects based on focused questions, demonstrating understanding of the subject under investigation.

• Try pairing Eye to Eye with Beth Fielding’s Animal Eyes (2011) for some more information about other animal eyes and ask students to compare and contrast the information and authors’ styles.
o CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.R.9
Analyze how two or more texts address similar themes or topics in order to build knowledge or to compare the approaches the authors take.
o CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.W.8
Gather relevant information from multiple print and digital sources, assess the credibility and accuracy of each source, and integrate the information while avoiding plagiarism.
o CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.W.9
Draw evidence from literary or informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research.

All standards are from the Common Core State Standards Initiative website

Posted by: Staci

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Get Real! A Non-Fiction Video Book Review

This month, Sarah shares the book Feathers: Not Just for Flying, by Melissa Stewart.

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Mr. Tanen’s Ties by Maryann Cocca-Leffler

Mr. Tanen's TiesThe beloved principal of Lynnhurst Elementary School, Mr. Tanen, is known for his tie collection. Every morning when the children enter school they check to see what tie Mr. Tanen is wearing. He keeps a closet of ties in his office and changes his tie many times throughout the day. He might wear a tie to match his mood, or the weather, or for his official duties. His tie collection is endless!

One day during an important meeting with Mr. Apple at the School Department he is told that education is serious business and that wearing silly ties simply isn’t proper. Mr. Apple hands Mr. Tanen a blue tie and tells him he must only wear blue ties. Plain blue ties.

The students miss Mr. Tanen’s special ties, and soon it becomes clear that a plain blue ties make everyone feel “blue”. When Mr. Tanen calls in sick for a week, it’s Mr. Apple who fills in as principal. He has lots of rules and, of course, a plain tie. During recess, the students notice Mr. Apple bird watching and the next day someone gives him a tie with birds on it. At the end of the school day, Mr. Apple finds himself admiring his new tie and he decides to put it on. While at the grocery store, he gets compliments on his lovely bird tie. What a nice feeling! All the rest of the week, Mr. Apple chooses a special tie to wear from Mr. Tanen’s closet of ties. Mr. Apple finds himself smiling often.

When Mr. Tanen returns to work on Monday he finds Mr. Apple waiting with a tie box for him. Inside is another blue tie, but this one isn’t plain at all – it has #1 blue ribbon all over it. Ties most definitely make a difference at Lynnhurst Elementary School where no one is feeling “blue” anymore.

There is yet another happy ending to Mr. Tanen’s Ties, so you might just want to check this book out!

Posted by: Wendy

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Pete the Cat – Too Cool for School by Kimberly and James Dean

Pete the Cat - Too Cool for SchoolIt’s time to go back to school, and just like a lot of kids, Pete is trying to figure out what to wear. He is asking EVERYONE! He asks his mom, and she tells him the yellow shirt, because it is her favorite, so he puts it on. Then his friend Marty tells him that the red shirt is his favorite, and Pete puts that one on too. Pete’s brother Bob likes the blue shirt, and Pete puts that one on too. Pretty soon EVERYONE is giving their opinion of what Pete should wear, and he is following EVERYONE’s advice and putting EVERYTHING on!! Of course Pete looks just plain silly, and he is also very hot with all those clothes on. He decides to go home to change his clothes, and this time he decides what he’s going to wear. In the end, Pete also decides that what really matters is being yourself . . . so if you want to be cool, just be you! I like the message of this book, and I think kids who love Pete the Cat will love this one too.

Posted by: Mary

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Ollie’s School Day: a Yes-and-No Book by Stephanie Calmenson

Ollie’s School Day: a Yes-and-No BookStarting school can be stressful for some children. If you are looking for a fun introduction to the school day and to lighten the mood, check out Ollie’s School Day. It is a question and answer book that follows Ollie through a day of school. Each set of questions includes three silly suggestions followed by the correct one. Will Ollie wear a bathing suit, a space suit, a police officer’s uniform or a pair of pants and a shirt to school? It’s sure to have kids laughing at the crazy suggestions of what Ollie will do throughout the day. While listening and laughing, young readers won’t realize they are learning how to behave at school. If you are looking for other silly school stories with a similar format, pair it with Saltzberg’s Cornelius P. Mud, Are You Ready for School? Or Milgrim’s Eddie Gets Ready for School.

Posted by: Liz

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You’re Wearing That to School!?! by Lynne Plourde

You’re Wearing That to School!?!Penelope couldn’t be more excited to start school! She’s even chosen an extraordinary colorful outfit to wear for her first day. Her best friend Tiny started school last year and he instructs Penelope to choose a plainer outfit in order to fit in. Tiny then explains what Penelope should bring for lunch and what to choose for show-and-tell. Penelope and Tiny have entirely different opinions and in the end she must decide whether to take Tiny’s advice or be true to herself.

This is a perfect story to share with children who are just starting school. The repetition of text encourages participation with young readers and Sue Cornelison’s bright, exuberant illustrations will delight readers of all ages.

Posted by: Katie

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