Tricky Vic by Greg Pizzoli

9780670016525Lynn:  What IS it that intrigues us about crooks? People seem to have a fascination with their sneaky ways even while we shake our heads at their exploits. Kids are just as interested and I can attest to the instant appeal of Greg Pizzoli’s entry into the field, Tricky Vic: the Impossibly True Story of the Man Who Sold the Eiffel Tower (2015)….(more)

Cindy: (more)…This would make a great classroom read aloud as a springboard to research on Robert Miller or the many topics in the sidebars. You could also pair it with the Eiffel Tower chapter in There Goes the Neighborhood: Ten Buildings People Love to Hate (2001) by Susan Goldman Rubin. I’m definitely adding it to my Fun Nonfiction booktalk bibliography.

There’s more! Check out our whole post about this book at our Bookends Blog post for Tricky Vic over at the Booklist Reader.


Could an Octopus Climb a Skyscraper?

Have you ever wondered whether an octopus could climb a skyscraper? At Wrapped in Foil blog we are featuring a book that will answer that question about octopuses, plus many more.


Could an Octopus Climb a Skyscraper?: …and other questions by Camilla de la Bedoyere and illustrated by Aleksei Bitskoff is a factual book dances on the edge of fiction with cartoon illustrations of funny situations. An octopus that can turn yellow and look like a banana? An octopus that washes a car? Hysterical! At its nonfiction core, however, the child will also learn many current facts about octopuses, such as they have three hearts and blue blood. The facts are repeated to reinforce learning in a “fact file” in the back.

Could an Octopus Climb a Skyscraper? is a perfect choice for reluctant readers, who will be able to relate to the comparisons between octopuses and humans. It will also be a good choice for budding marine biologists, and to accompany a trip to an aquarium.

Check our full review for suggestions for related activities.



Chocolate: Sweet Science: Dark Secrets of the World’s Favorite Treat

22749726Frydenborg, Kay. Chocolate: Sweet Science & Dark Secrets of the World’s Favorite Treat April 7th 2015 by HMH Books for Young Readers

E ARC from

At 272 pages, this has more information about chocolate than anyone could ever want! I liked that this started out with an event with which I was unfamiliar– a campaign by children to keep chocolate bars from rising in price from 5 to 8 cents back in the 1940s. From there, the entire sociopolitical, economic and philosophical history of chocolate is delineated. This makes it great for reference for a report, and since National History Day projects need this kind of complete background, I am considering buying a copy.

This book has a good amount of pictures, plenty of science facts about chocolate, and is clearly well-researched. Even little known facts, like Hershey’s town in Cuba, are covered.

One of the state standards for writing for my students is that they learn to narrow down their topic. While I enjoyed this, I couldn’t help but think that it would have been a better book for the target demographic if the author had decided on a more focused bit of information to present.

See more middle grade reviews at Ms. Yingling Reads.

One Plastic Bag: Isatou Ceesay and the Recycling Women of the Gambia

One Plastic Bag: Isatou Ceesay and the Recycling Women of the Gambia
by Miranda Paul (Author) and Elizabeth Zunon (Illustrator)

Booktalk: Plastic bags are cheap and easy to use. But what happens when a bag breaks or is no longer needed? In Njau, Gambia, people simply dropped the bags and went on their way. One plastic bag became two. Then ten. Then a hundred. The bags accumulated in ugly heaps alongside roads. Water pooled in them, bringing mosquitoes and disease. Some bags were burned, leaving behind a terrible smell. Some were buried, but they strangled gardens. They killed livestock that tried to eat them. Something had to change.

Snippet: Isatou pauses. She and Peggy have an idea. But will their friends this it is crazy? Will the idea even work?
Nervously, she explains her plan.
One friend agrees to help.
Then two.
Then five!
The women cut the bags into strips and roll them into spools of plastic thread. Before long, they teach themselves how to crochet with this thread.

Nonfiction Monday

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Copyright © 2015 Anastasia Suen All Rights Reserved.
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Insects Who Eat Poop

 Behold the Beautiful Dung Beetle by Cheryl Bardoe is a science picture book that will delight kids and gross out their parents. These beetles live on the poop of animals (but not their own.)

Sample: “For these beetles, dung is a precious pile of food and drink.”

Readers will learn that there are three types of dung beetles, each with a special way of eating feces: dwellers, rollers and tunnelers.

This book  has a fascinating facts section, glossary, and selected bibliography.


Locate dung beetles by looking under cow patties or deer droppings but as the author warns, wear gloves, so you don’t get sick from the bacteria that live in dung and wash your hands afterwards.

Nonfiction Monday

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Into the New World

In the New World: A Family in Two Centuries
written by Gerda Raidt; illustrated by Christa Holtei
2015 (Charlesbridge)
Source: Review copy provided by the publisher

The Peters family lives on a German farm in 1869. They plant flax and weave it into a thread that can be sold for use in clothing and bedding. Unfortunately, times are tough so that they are not making enough money to stay in their current position. Robert, the father, is reading in the newspaper about the availability of land in America. It’s not an easy decision. Leaving Germany means leaving behind their family forever, but the opportunity proves too great to pass up. The Peters save enough money to book passage on a steamship headed for America. The trip is not always comfortable but the family lands safely in New Orleans. From there they take a steamship to St. Louis where members of the German society guide them toward the new railway that will take them to Nebraska. Finally, a ten day wagon trip will take them from Omaha to their plot of over 150 acres in New Steinberg, a community founded by German families. There they cut sod blocks to build a starter home until they can afford to build a wooden home. The Peters settle in and begin working the land. Spin forward to present day New Steinberg where Tom Peters owns his own farm and keeps a picture of his ancestors above the mantle. His daughter Olivia sparks an investigation into their ancestry that leads to a trip back to Germany to find the original Peters home.

If you teach about immigration, this book will be a terrific resource. It’s a straight forward account that will teach readers about the pros (acquisition of land) and cons (leaving behind family forever) of immigrating in the 19th century. I really like the focus on transportation as the Peters family encounters several modes as they move from Germany to Nebraska. In the New World will also allow students to contrast the past with the present. This will lead to rich discussions about the hardships families faced in the 19th century.

In the New World connects the past and present in a way that will intrigue readers of today.

Winnie: the true story of the bear who inspired Winnie-the-Pooh by Sally M. Walker


Winnie: the true story of the bear who inspired Winnie-the-Pooh by Sally M. Walker. Illustrated by Jonathan Voss. unpgd. Henry Holt and Company, January, 2015. 97800805097. (Purchased)

As a student of children’s literature, I probably should have known this beguiling story. While I did know that the stories were built around Christopher Robin Milne’s stuffed animals and I vaguely recall Winnie having another name, I am thrilled to learn the entire story. Read the review at Proseandkahn.

The Chicago Blackhawks

The Chicago Blackhawks
by Mark Stewart (Author)

Booktalk: It’s that time again! Who will win this year’s Stanley Cup? Read about your favorite hockey team in the Team Spirit series. Here is a snippet from The Chicago Blackhawks.

Snippet: There are many ways to win a championship in the National Hockey League (NHL). Some teams depend on superstars to carry them to victory. Others overwhelm opponents with wave after wave of hardworking skaters. Then there are the unexpected champions–the teams that make fans scratch their heads and wonder: How did they do that?

See more booktalks at the Booktalking #kidlit blog.

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An Ambush of Tigers

Ambush of TigersCindy: I know a stack of librarians who will love An Ambush of Tigers: A Wild Gathering of Collective Nouns (2015), by Betsy R. Rosenthal. We’ve read a few collective noun books before and Lynn and I are fans of them all. There’s something about the tidy organizing that must appeal to the librarians in us. If you follow the link above you will see Carolyn Phelan’s great review of this title, but don’t miss the list of several other collective noun books that appears off to the right. (Using the “Booklist Editors Recommend” feature on Booklist Online is a great way to help readers find books similar to the ones they just read and loved. Try it!)

If a group of teachers is a quiz of teachers, would
a group of English teachers be a correction?

Rosenthal presents a pair of collective nouns in rhyme, many interacting creatively with each other. For instance:

Does a tower of giraffes
way up high
spy a raft of otters
floating by?

For that rhyme, Jago’s gorgeous digital art displays giraffes stacked on top of each other, the one on top wearing binoculars, while the otters wearing bandanas, eye patches, and sabers float by on a raft of branches. This will make a great classroom read aloud and will lead to discussion and creative play with words.

Teachers and librarians should team up with a palette of art teachers and create their own collective noun rhymes and illustrations. It’s a perfect activity for April’s Poetry Month. Leave it to Wiktionary to have a Glossary of Collective Nouns by Subject. A flight of aircraft? A belt of asteroids? An aroma of bakers? The possibilities are endless. And if the list doesn’t have what you want? Make up your own! I looked up books, and one of the suggestions is “a pile of books.” Have they been peeking in my living room?

Lynn: Cindy is right—we LOVE collective nouns and I’m equally in love with this fabulous book. There is so much to enjoy here: the silly rhymes that frolic with the collective noun, the illustrations that carry the joke forward, and the wonderful small details in each of the illustrations that extend the fun. Be sure to take your time with this lovely book so you don’t miss a thing.

Just ONE question—if a group of teachers is a quiz of teachers, would a group of English teachers be a correction?  And then there are  book bloggers….

Cindy: A blather of book bloggers? A babble? But when we get a highly-prized ARC…a squeal of book bloggers! HA.

For more youth book blog posts with two voices, visit Bookends Blog at the Booklist Reader.
Or follow us on Twitter @bookendsblog.



Children’s Books for National Library Week

National Library Week is this week (from April 12 – 18, 2015), with a special celebration of Teen Literature Day on Thursday April 16, 2015.


At Wrapped in Foil blog we have eight great children’s books to get children excited about libraries. We have a mix of nonfiction and historical fiction based on true stories. For example:


Miss Moore Thought Otherwise: How Anne Carroll Moore Created Libraries for Children by Jan Pinborough and illustrated by Debby Atwell, recently reviewed here at Nonfiction Monday by Deborah.


Hands Around the Library: Protecting Egypt’s Treasured Books by Susan L. Roth, Karen Leggett Abouraya and illustrated with collages by Susan L. Roth is based on based on events that occurred in January 2011 during the nationwide protests in Egypt.


Let’s Go to the Library (Wonderful World of Reading) by Martha E. H. Rustad is a beginning reader that shows youngsters what libraries have to offer.


Thomas Jefferson Builds a Library by Barb Rosenstock was also reviewed previously here at Nonfiction Monday by Amy.

Do you have any suggestions for children’s book that could be used for National Library Week? Please feel free to share your suggestions in the comments.