February 14, 2019

Snails Are Just My Speed by Kevin McCloskey

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , at 9:50 pm by suebe2

Snails Are Just My Speed

by Kevin McCloskey
Toon Books

Looking for simple books for your early reader?  I hope you’ve explored the Toon Books catalogue.  Snails Are Just My Speed is a level 1 reader, written for children in Kindergarten and first grade.  That means that they’ll find sight words and short sentences.  And don’t be put off, as an adult, by the cartoon illustrations.  Fun and engaging, these picture will help pull your young reader into the story where they will not only refine their reading skills but also learn all about snails.

Did you know that:

  • Because of the mucus is produces, a snail can crawl over the sharpened edge of a knife blade?
  • That a snail’s mucus trail acts as an actual pathway, guiding other snails to follow along?
  • A snail’s mucus can actually act like glue and hold a damaged shell together?

Types of snails.  Sizes of snails. Warnings about not to eat raw snails.  All of this and more is in McCloskey’s book. While adults may be less than thrilled about the gooey snotty snail facts, these gross tid bits will draw many young readers in and all the while they are learning both reading and science.

This book could easily be used to launch a discussion on invertebrates, wildlife, gardening, and even bodily fluids.  Want to discuss the different ways that animals eat?  This book can be used in that discussion as well.

Don’t let the speech bubbles turn you off.  Yes, even the snails talk which is going to feel odd for some adults.  Isn’t this a nonfiction title?  But young readers will appreciate the snarky, snotty comments that the snails make.  This is, after all, a book in Toon Books’ Giggle and Learn series.

Pick up a copy today and share it with your young readers at home or at school.  They might not realize until it’s too late that they’ve been learning from the book the whole time.


February 8, 2019

Property of the Rebel Librarian by Allison Varnes

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , at 10:04 pm by suebe2

Property of the Rebel Librarian
by Allison Varnes
Random House Books for Young Readers

When twelve-year-old June Harper’s parents discover she is reading an inappropriate library book, it is simply too scary, they take helicopter parenting to a new extreme.  Not only do they go in to complain, the librarian ends up on suspension and the vast majority of the books are removed from the school library.  As if that wasn’t bad enough, they take June’s own books away.

June is an avid reader and, as any book-mad kid will understand, the idea of doing without books is unacceptable.  June is trying to figure out what to do when she spots the solution – a Little Free Library.

When another student spots June with a book, she realizes she isn’t the only book lover that’s been affected.  Soon she is stopping every day at the Little Free Library and bringing in books to share with her fellow students.  Before long, other students are bringing books in as well as bringing new readers to June for help.

But signs have gone up around campus.  Anyone caught reading a banned book will be in big trouble.  All books must be approved.  Scared, June is considering backing down when she gets her own books back from her parents.  June sits down to revisit an old favorite only to discover that pages are missing.  In some places an index card has been glued over a paragraph, removing old text and adding new.  Her parents won’t give up until every book young readers have access to is sweet, syrupy and inoffensive in every way.  June, to put it mildly, is offended.  This is censorship!

When June’s library is busted, her parents realize who the Rebel Librarian is – no one has messier hand writing than June. They demand a public apology and June realizes that it’s now or never.  She can stand up for what she knows is right or she can be the meek person who parents want her to be.  Whichever decision she makes, will mark a turning point in her life.

Maybe it’s because I’m a writer, but June’s parents made my skin crawl.  It also appalled me just how onboard this Fahrenheit 451 program the school administration was.  That said, it is far too easy to believe that a couple of people can steer a community into territory no one saw coming.  And they can do it with the best intentions.

One of the things that I loved about this book was the emphasis on just how ordinary many banned books are.  They aren’t extreme. They aren’t terrifying.  They are simply stories that someone doesn’t entire agree with.  Included in the list in this book are Old Yeller, Brown Girl Dreaming, Roll of Thunder Hear My Cry, and Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.

The right young reader will love picking up a book where the tweens have what it takes to stand up for what is right both in an underground movement but also in public.  Pick up this book to spearhead a discussion on banning, censorship and activism.


February 1, 2019

Unicorn on a Roll by Dana Simpson

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , , at 3:55 pm by suebe2

Unicorn on a Roll
by Dana Simpson
Andrews McNeal Publishing

A unicorn is magical but even more magical is a friendship between a girl and a unicorn.  Phoebe and Marigold Heavenly Nostrils are best friends.  Not that they get to spend all day together.  Phoebe still has to go to school after all she is a typical nine-year-old.

But that’s the great part of this graphic novel.  It shows that it is okay to be a typical girl AND that amazing things can happen to ordinary people.

This is the second book in the series.  In book 1, Phoebe and Her Unicorn, Phoebe skips a stone across the pond and manages to hit Marigold Heavenly Nostrils in the process.  The unicorn has to grant her one wish and Phoebe wishes that they are best friends.

In book 2, Phoebe competes with her frenemy, Dakota, for the lead in the play.  She competes against her crush, equally nerdy Max, in the spelling be, and much more.  But the book appeals to slightly older readers as well with Dad’s video game obsession and the intervention staged by Marigold’s fellow unicorns.

I picked up this book because I saw an interview with Dana Simpson.  Still I wasn’t sure what to expect and was surprised by how funny it is.  I laughed out loud repeatedly, earning many a funny look since I was reading in public.  I also loved the fact that Marigold is not an imaginary friend.  I discovered this in a panel where Dad and Marigold discuss Phoebe’s fashion sense, or lack thereof.  I also loved the fact that gender roles are not 100% traditional.  Yes, Dad loves video games but he is also the one that sews Phoebe’s costume for the school play.

It might have helped if I had started with book #1 but I had no story picking up book #2.   In addition to the strips published in graphic novel format, you can read them at Go Comics’ Phoebe and her Unicorn page. This series is definitely worth your time.


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