Beneath the Sun by Melissa Stewart

I am so excited to be on the blog tour for Melissa Stewart’s latest seasonal/habitat book in the series that includes When Rain Falls and Under the Snow. Somehow I’ve never gotten around to reviewing either of those titles, although I use them regularly in storytime and they are everything I want in a nonfiction picture book. Happily, Beneath the Sun is equally delightful. For the full review, visit my blog http://jeanlittlelibrary.blogspot.com/2014/04/nonfiction-monday-beneath-sun-by.html


Sorting Through Spring

Sorting Through Spring (Math in Nature)
by Lizann Flatt (Author) and Ashley Barron (Illustrator)

Booktalk: Numbers, patterns, shapes — and much more! — can be found by observing everyday plants and animals.

Would prairie chickens practice their moves so they match?
Woo-woo flap, stampity stomp-stamp.

Can you perform this pattern?

Nonfiction Monday

It’s Nonfiction Monday!

See more booktalks at the Booktalking #kidlit blog.

Copyright © 2014 Anastasia Suen All Rights Reserved.
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Build It

What keeps a bridge from falling down? Help K-5 students answer this essential question (and meet the Common Core State Standards) with the Teaching STEM lesson plans for this mentor text: Build It! by Tammy Enz (GRL Q / G740L)

Build it : invent new structures and contraptions

Unit Summary: Students will examine the essential question, “What keeps a bridge from falling down?” In groups, students will search for and locate information related to the four major kinds of bridge supports— beams, arches, trusses, and suspension. They will complete a graphic organizer to explain how each of the four supports work to hold up bridges. Then they will use toothpicks or Popsicle sticks to practice forming arches or trusses and use that knowledge to plan and draw a design for a bridge of their own for their group.

See more of this lesson plan on the Teaching STEM blog.

Copyright © 2014 Anastasia Suen All Rights Reserved. Site Meter


Is This Panama?: A Migration Story

Is This Panama?
written by Jan Thornhill; illustrated by Soyeon Kim
2013 (Owlkids Books)
Source: Mebane Public Library

Sammy is a Wilson’s Warbler that lives near the Arctic Circle. He notices frost on the leaves early one August morning. Sammy thinks to himself that it’s time to migrate. He doesn’t know exactly when to do this since he’s never migrated before. Looking for other warblers, Sammy notices that they are all gone. (Reviewer’s note: Apparently Sammy missed the morning memo about finding a migration buddy for the trip to Panama.) Having to do the Lindy and go solo, Sammy asks a caribou if he is heading the right way. The caribou concurs, but also mentions that he has no clue where Panama is located. He’s simply going south to his winter forest home where he can more easily scoop off lichens with his hooves. As the book progresses, Sammy meets a succession of animals that help him find his way. Sandhill cranes give him a lift on their way to Texas. After narrowly avoiding becoming an early bird special for a garter snake (I write this blog to crack myself up. Sometimes I’m the only one who reads it. Cue Eleanor Rigby and her face in a jar.), Sammy keeps company with dragonflies. Later he meets up with a flock of warbler cousins who follow the stars and migrate at night. Other migrating animals to meet his acquaintance include monarch butterflies, a Hudsonian godwit ( A real bird, but I would have guessed it came from the Harry Potter series), humpback whales, and other migrating birds. Eventually, Sammy finds himself in Panama as a happy but exhausted bird.

Is This Panama? would be a good companion piece to a nonfiction text about migration. With a K-1 audience, I would read it over two days since there is a lot of story to be told. It will be important to explicitly tell students that this is a piece of fiction so they don’t confuse fictional elements with informational text. The story and illustrations are engaging so you may have better luck teaching about migration by adding this book than by solely relying on an informational text. I really liked the back matter with extra information about the migrating animals, a great piece on how animals migrate, and a map showing the migration pattern of the Wilson’s Warbler. I would think about reading the “How Animals Migrate” back matter piece before reading the fictional narrative. I write this blog to share info about good books. Is This Panama? certainly fits the bill (lame bird pun) of an entertaining and informative book.

PURE GRIT by Mary Cronk Farrell

(I hope no one will mind… I posted this on my own blog last Monday, but I wasn’t able to post it here until this week. Enjoy!)

Normally I read every book before I post about it, but–just this once–I was going to cheat. As much as I’ve been dying to read PURE GRIT by Mary Cronk Farrell, my to-do list is huge right now: writing new books, promoting BE A CHANGEMAKER, volunteer projects, critiques, family, pets, home… and let’s not forget, TAXES! To top it off, I’ve been sick way too much this winter. So, I sat down planning to just skim the book for the time being, write the post, and come back later when I had time to settle in, read it in more detail, and take it all in.

PURE GRIT book cover

PURE GRIT book cover

Several hours later, I was surprised to notice the time! I hadn’t checked Twitter or Facebook or even email all day, despite the “helpful” little alerts coming from my phone. I hadn’t even eaten lunch. Instead, I’d spent the better part of the day reading PURE GRIT, in detail, from cover to cover. I simply could. not. put. it. down. An engrossing blend of fact and storytelling, PURE GRIT tells the harrowing tale of U.S. Army and Navy nurses who endured first battle, then internment in the Philippines during WWII. Despite increasingly deplorable conditions, these female POWs continued to help others during their years in the prison camps. Amazingly, every single one of them eventually made it home alive.

I urge you all to devote an afternoon to reading this beautifully done book ASAP, but first, I’m delighted to introduce you to the author, Mary Cronk Farrell, who graciously agreed to answer a few questions for me.

Author Mary Cronk Farrell

PURE GRIT author, Mary Cronk Farrell

LT: Welcome, Mary! Wow, what a powerful book. I learned some valuable lessons and insights from reading it. Other than the facts involved, what did you learn from the process of writing this book?

Sorry, but if you want to read Mary’s answer to this and many other questions about writing PURE GRIT, you’ll have to read the rest on my blog!

Vernal Pools


ages 7-10; Tillbury House, 2013

If you don’t know what you’re looking for you might walk right by a vernal pool, thinking it’s nothing more than a puddle. Vernal pools are small, but they’re an important part of the spring landscape. These tiny wetlands provide homes for frogs, salamanders and other creatures. They provide water and food for larger animals. They teem with tiny zooplankton and are filled with plants of all sorts.

Author Kimberly Ridley and illustrator Rebekay Reye have teamed up to present the life and times of a vernal pool in Maine, told from the point of view of the vernal pool itself. You’ll find great language, informational sidebars, and a glossary at the back. Head over to Archimedes Notebook for some “Beyond the Book” activities.

Nonfiction Monday

It’s Nonfiction Monday!

Copyright © 2014 Sue Heavenrich All Rights Reserved. Site Meter