Sweet Beginning Reader About Chocolate

At Wrapped in Foil today, we are reviewing The Sweet Story of Hot Chocolate! by Stephen Krensky and illustrated by Rob McClurkan.


Written with a breezy conversational style so appropriate for a fun topic like this, the book follows the history of chocolate from the Olmec people of Central America to how it is consumed around the world today. You will recognize many of the famous people named, including Founding Fathers George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, as well as industry names such as Hershey and Cadbury. Did you know cacao beans were once so valuable that they were used as money? Fascinating!

The back matter is includes a significant amount of information on the rainforests where cacao trees grow, other foods that came from the New World, and other unusual items used as money. The final page is a quiz to help reinforce learning.

Although it is a Level 3 Ready-to-Read, the text is interesting enough and complex enough that it would be appropriate for older reluctant and struggling readers, too. In fact, adults looking for a quick summary of the history of chocolate are likely to find it useful.

Highly recommended!

The Long, Long Journey: The Godwit’s Amazing Migration

The Long, Long Journey

The Long, Long Journey: The Godwit’s Amazing Migration
by Sandra Markle (Author) and Mia Posada (Illustrator)

Booktalk: Crackle! Crackle! Crunch! What’s hatching from that egg? It’s a young bar-tailed godwit. She will spend the summer in Alaska learning to fly, find her own food, and escape from scary predators. Her long, long journey begins in October when she flies to New Zealand. This 7,000-mile flight is the longest nonstop bird migration ever recorded. Follow along on her amazing voyage!

Snippet: The little female bar-tailed godwit at last breaks free of her egg. She steps into the world on long, wobbly legs. It’s nearly midnight, but it’s June in Alaska and still light. A cool wind blows the chick’s downy coat. She shivers, lifts her beak and squeaks, “Peep! Peep!”

STEM + the Arts = STEAM

10 Myths About Teaching STEM Books and How You Can Teach STEM in Your Classroom Now


Mark your calendars! STEM Friday is participating in the 2015 Summer of Learning professional development series brought to you by Share My Lesson. This free AFT webinar offers one hour of professional development credit.


Title: Teach STEM Now

Date: Thursday, July 09, 2015

Time: 01:00 PM Eastern Daylight Time

Duration: 1 hour

Nonfiction Monday

It’s Nonfiction Monday!

Copyright © 2015 Anastasia Suen All Rights Reserved.
Site Meter

Ode to Imagination

Featured image

MY PEN by Christopher Myers shows how his pen takes him on journeys. Christopher illustrates books and uses his imagination.

Sample: “My pen rides dinosaurs and hides an elephant in a teacup.”

Christopher wants you to use your pen and see what worlds will come out.

Activity:  Using crayons picture an imaginary world. It could be anywhere. On another planet. A country you just made up. Draw what people or animals might look like. Does it have lakes or oceans?

Nonfiction Monday

It’s Nonfiction Monday!

Copyright © 2014 Deborah Amadei All Rights Reserved. Site Meter

The Amazing Age of John Roy Lynch


The Amazing Age of John Roy Lynch
by Chris Barton (Author) and Don Tate (Illustrator)

Booktalk: Look at the Reconstruction period through the life of one of the first African-American congressmen.

Snippet: Searching for more satisfying work, he went from waiter to cook –ah, the freedom to make such a move!– then from cook to better-paid pantryman on board the Altamont a Union transport steamer.

Don is one of my former students.

See the book trailer.

STEM + the Arts = STEAM

STEAM DIY Activity

John Roy Lynch worked on a steam boat. Make a simple steam boat for yourself.


Find more booktalks and STEAM DIY Activities on the Booktalking #kidlit blog.

Nonfiction Monday

It’s Nonfiction Monday!

Copyright © 2015 Anastasia Suen All Rights Reserved.
Site Meter


A Bird is a Bird

A Bird is a Bird-1A Bird is a Bird
by Lizzy Rockwell
32 pages; ages 3-7
Holiday House, 2015

One bird is fancy. Another is plain.
But a bird is a bird.

Because, as Lizzy Rockwell shows us, there are some things all birds have in common. They all have beaks – even though some beaks are huge and fat, designed for eating fruit and others are thin and sharp, designed for spearing frogs.

All birds have wings. While some flap and glide high in the sky, others swim and dive in the ocean. And all birds begin life as an egg.

But wait! Insects have wings and they aren’t birds. Snakes lay eggs, and they aren’t birds. So what is it about birds that makes them different from all the other animals?

Feathers! And those feathers help birds survive. Using detailed illustrations and text that is poetic and simple enough for a beginning reader, Rockwell shows us what makes birds “birds”.

Nonfiction Monday

It’s Nonfiction Monday!

Copyright © 2015 Sue Heavenrich All Rights Reserved. Site Meter

Simply Enthralled by Mesmerized

This week at Wrapped in Foil blog we are simply enthralled, charmed and captivated by a children’s picture book.



Mesmerized: How Ben Franklin Solved a Mystery that Baffled All of France by Mara Rockliff and illustrated by Iacopo Bruno has everything going for it:  history, a mystery, science, art, language, and the remarkable Benjamin Franklin. It has complexity like the layered torte that is described in the book. Let’s look at each in turn.

History:  The book is set in the time of the American Revolution. Ben Franklin has gone to France to ask King Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette for support for the war.

A mystery:  While in France, King Louis XVI asks Franklin to look into the mystifying Dr. Mesmer who supposedly can wave a wand and cure people using “animal magnetism.” Can it be true?

Science:  Ben Franklin (with a team of renowned scientists) use the scientific method to test the claims.

Art:  Iacopo Bruno’s illustrations perfectly capture the Rococo art that was popular in Paris, France at the time. The illustrations are also clever, with just the right amount of light humor.

Language: Besides learning the vocabulary of the scientific methods (observation, hypothesis, test, support, placebo effect), readers also learn the roots of the word mesmerized. Even better, common French words are also sprinkled about.

Ben Franklin:  The man had a simple appearance compared to the fancy French and Dr. Mesmer, but he also had many layers. He was a successful diplomat, prolific inventor and keen scientist, among other things.

The bottom line is that Mesmerized is an outstanding children’s book and every elementary educator is going to want to have a copy.

Look for accompanying resources at Wrapped In Foil and all about the scientific method at Growing With Science.


Cliff Dwellings: A Hidden World

Cliff Dwellings

Cliff Dwellings: A Hidden World (Abandoned! Towns Without People series)
by Kevin Blake (Author)

Booktalk: Hear the amazing story of the cliff dwellings of Mesa Verde, which were suddenly and mysteriously abandoned more than 700 years ago.

An Amazing Discovery:
On a snowy day in December 1888, two cowboys, Richard Wetherill and his brother-in-law Charlie Mason, stopped at the edge of a deep canyon in southwestern Colorado. Richard peered through the falling snow, hoping to find some cattle that had wandered off. Instead, he spotted something strange inthe cliffs below. His heart begin to race.

There, built into the side of the red-yellow cliffs was a hidden village of buildings and towers.

See this page inside the book.

STEM + the Arts = STEAM

STEAM DIY Activity

See How To Build An Adobe Dwellings Diorama.

Find more booktalks and STEAM DIY Activities on the Booktalking #kidlit blog.

Nonfiction Monday

It’s Nonfiction Monday!

Copyright © 2015 Anastasia Suen All Rights Reserved.
Site Meter