The Boys Who Challenged Hitler



The Boys Who Challenged Hitler: Knud Pedersen and the Churchill Club by Phillip Hoose. Grades 7+ Farrar, Strauss, & Giroux, May 2015. 208 pages.

This is a gripping true adventure story that will have wide appeal with kids. Much of the story is told in Knud Petersen’s own words, collected through hours of interview and hundreds of emails, which gives the book an authentic voice and brings the reader right into the action. And the action is nonstop. These brave kids had a fire in their hearts and they would stop at nothing to save their country from the Nazi invasion.

You can find a booktalk, readalikes, and my full review on my blog!

Aerospace Engineer Aprille Ericsson


Aerospace Engineer Aprille Ericsson (STEM Trailblazer Bios)
by Laura Hamilton Waxman (Author)

Booktalk: Have you ever built a cool science project? In middle school, Aprille Ericsson won second place in a science fair. She knew she wanted to keep creating amazing science projects. As an adult, she became an engineer and works at NASA building spacecraft.

Ericsson was one of the few girls in her middle school who loved math and science. Years later, she became the first woman to receive a PhD in mechanical engineering from Howard University. At NASA, she’s helped build spacecraft that can map the moon, monitor climate change, or even bring soil and rocks back from Mars. Learn how Ericsson’s passion for science has helped her pave the way for future engineers.

Snippet: One of Ericsson’s most recent projects will help scientists study the Earth’s polar caps. Greenhouse gasses are warming the North and South poles. The warmer temperatures are causing the ice caps to melt slowly. Scientists will soon be able to find out more with the new Ice, Cloud, and Land Elevation Satellite (ICESat-2). Ericsson was one of the managers in charge of creating a large instrument for ICESat-2 called ATLAS (Advanced Topographic Laser Altimeter System). The device wil be attached to ICESat-2 and will use lasers to measure the size of the ice caps. ICESat-2 is scheduled to launch in 2016.


See how the lasers will measure the size of the ice caps for ICESat-2 at Goddard Space Flight Center’s ICESat-2 page Goddard Space Flight Center page.

See more photos at @NASA_ICESat2

Nonfiction Monday

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

Copyright © 2015 Anastasia Suen All Rights Reserved.
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The Right Word: Roget and His Thesaurus


The Right Word: Roget and His Thesaurus
by Jen Bryant (Author) and Melissa Sweet (Illustrator)

Booktalk: For shy young Peter Mark Roget, books were the best companions — and it wasn’t long before Peter began writing his own book. But he didn’t write stories; he wrote lists. Peter took his love for words and turned it to organizing ideas and finding exactly the right word to express just what he thought. His lists grew and grew, eventually turning into one of the most important reference books of all time.

Peter’s family moved often, so making friends was difficult.

But books, Peter discovered, were also good friends. There were always plenty around, and he never had to leave them behind.

When he was eight, he started to write his own book. On the cover, he wrote Peter, Mark, Roget. His Book.

But instead of writing stories, he wrote lists.

See the book trailer.

Six Traits Mini Lesson

Trait: Ideas Writing a picture book biography can be tricky. How can you talk about an entire life with so few pages? You have to leave room for the art, too.

After you do your research and are ready to write, begin with the most important idea. Why was the person famous? Focusing on this idea as you write your draft will help you decide what to include in the story–and what to leave out.

Roget was famous because of his book.

When he was eight, he started to write his own book. On the cover, he wrote Peter, Mark, Roget. His Book.

And what kind of book was it?

But instead of writing stories, he wrote lists.

Find more booktalks with writing mini lessons on the Writing Lessons blog.

Nonfiction Monday

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Copyright © 2015 Anastasia Suen All Rights Reserved.Site Meter

Small Wonders: Jean-Henri Fabre & his world of insects by Matthew Clark Smith


Small Wonders: Jean-Henri Fabre & his world of insects by Matthew Clark Smith. Illustrated by Giuliano Ferri. unpgd. Two Lions/ Amazon Children’s Publishing, May, 2015. 9781477826324. (Copy borrowed from public library)

This lovely picture book biography is perfect for the budding entomologists in your personal or professional lives. Both the text and narrative work well to tell the story of one of the few scientists to ever win the Nobel Prize for Literature. Check out the full review at Proseandkahn.

Why Black Girls Should Become Ballerinas

Ballet is a form of dance that attracts few African Americans. Two African American ballerinas would like to change that and both of them wrote books.

FIREBIRD by Misty Copeland is really an essay in picture book form. The subtitle is Ballerina Misty Copeland shows a young girl how to dance like the firebird, character in a famous ballet.

Misty tells a potential ballerina of color what ballet means to her.

Sample: “you will soar become a swan, a beauty, a firebird for sure.”

One illustration in this book demonstrates the five positions of ballet.

Today Misty is a principal dancer for the American Ballet Theatre.

Ballerina Dreams: From Orphan to Dancer (Step Into Reading, Step 4)

BALLERINA DREAMS by Michaela and Elaine DePrince is a biography reader in the STEP INTO READING series.

Michaela DePrince is an orphan from Sierra Leone who was adopted by an American couple.

She told her new mother that she wanted to study ballet. Her mother bought her a video of the ballet The Nutcracker.

Michaela began her dance lessons. When she was eight years old she was able to audition for The Nutcracker. She won two roles in the ballet. Eventually she danced the role of The Sugar Plum Fairy, an important roll. She is now a professional ballerina.

Sample: “The music begins, and my heart beats fast with excitement. I fly on to the stage.”

This book gives definitions of ballet terms such as combinations: putting ballet steps together.


Write definitions for these ballet terms:


The Nutcracker

Sugar Plum Fairy

Ballet barre

Port de bras


Five positions



Grand jete

Pas de cat

En pointe


Nonfiction Monday

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Copyright © 2014 Deborah Amadei All Rights Reserved. Site Meter

The Fangirl’s Guide to the Galaxy

The Fangirl’s Guide to the Galaxy: A handbook for girl geeks by Sam Maggs, 2015
Read by Holly Conrad, Jessica Almasy
5 hrs.

Although it is essentially a book about fandoms of all types (Trekkers, Potterheads, cosplayers, and the like), The Fangirl’s Guide to the Galaxy it is also a motivational book that entreats young women to embrace their fangirl passions without apology.

Here’s a link to the audiobook review that I wrote recently for AudioFile Magazine.

See all of my news and reviews at Shelf-employed.

Twitter: @shelfemployed

Copyright © 2015 L. Taylor [Shelf-employed]. All Rights Reserved.

How Do You Burp in Space?


How Do You Burp in Space?: And Other Tips Every Space Tourist Needs to Know
by Susan E. Goodman (Author) and Michael Slack (Illustrator)

Booktalk: Want to blast into orbit? Walk on the moon? Snag a personal photo of a shooting star? Well your time is coming! And when it does, you’re going to need a guide filled with information. Grounded in the history of space travel and the planned future of space tourism, this guide book will tell you what to pack (hint: no bubble bath or juggling balls!); what to expect from your accomodations (a sleeping bag attached to the wall), and what to do for fun (leapfrog on the moon!). Get ready to rock your rocketship!

Snippet: Eventually, you’ll be able to orbit Earth or vacation on Mars. It’s too early to make reservations, but it’s never too soon to start thinking about it. This guidebook will help you enjoy your space adventure long before you board the ship. After all, how can you daydream about it without knowing what you’ll eat and where you’ll sleep? Or what it’s like doing all of this while floating upside down?

STEM + the Arts = STEAM

STEAM DIY Activity

Remember this day in history and explore the story of the first moonwalk on July 20, 1969.
Watch the Footage from the Apollo 11 moonwalk.

Nonfiction Monday

It’s Nonfiction Monday!

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

Copyright © 2015 Anastasia Suen All Rights Reserved.
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