Exploring 50 Cities

50 Cities of the U.S.A.: Explore America’s Cities With 50 Fact-Filled Maps by Gabrielle Balkan and illustrated by Sol Linero is a fun new book coming out in September. Let’s take a look at what’s inside and focus on one of the featured cities, Tucson, Arizona.


This book gives information-packed tours of fifty prominent cities from throughout the United States. Each city is presented in huge two-page spread (the book is an extra-large 11 inch x 13.4 inch format).

50 Cities full_Page_52

For each spread, the location of the city is given on a map in the upper right hand corner. Interesting historical information, places to see, and famous citizens of that city are scattered over the pages. If that wasn’t enough, the illustrator has included fun visual searches to some spreads, plus the author gives recommendations for children’s books set in each city.


From airplane museums to majestic saguaros, there’s a lot to see and do in Tucson. Want to learn more? Check out the full review at Wrapped in Foil blog.

50 Cities is a great book to have on hand if you’re planning a trip, moving to a new place, or studying the geography and history of the United States. It’s the kind of reference book kids will return to again and again.


The Football Fanbook

The Football Fanbook
written by Gary Gramling
2017 (Liberty Street)
Source: Review copy provided by the publisher

Don’t let anybody tell you that the only numbers that matter are the ones on the scoreboard. These are the stats and figures that every NFL should know by heart. 

In the foreword to The Football Fanbook, Peter King writes “It’s the kind of book I wish I had when I was your age.” I couldn’t agree more. 10 year old me would have loved this book. The thing is, over 50 year old me loves it too. This is like a delicious seafood platter of football knowledge. It’s all good and with a lot of variety. Chapter 1, Know These Numbers, gives you historical background knowledge as you review the most important records in the game. Ask a die-hard fan what 17-0 means, and they will tell you about the 1972 Miami Dolphins. Only team to go undefeated in a season. On the flip side, 0-26 hearkens back to the hapless 1976-77 Tampa Bay Buccaneers. 208 touchdowns shows the greatness of receiver Jerry Rice and his San Francisco 49er teams. Chapter 1 would be a good place for a student to practice referring back to the text for details. You can continue that practice in Chapter 2, Obscure Facts. Did you know that there are less than 11 minutes of action in an average NFL game? Or that most stadiums are built facing north and south to minimize interference from the sun? These are the kind of “Wow!” facts that hook readers. Want a reader to work on reading procedural text in addition to their throwing motion? Chapter 3, Skills to Master, is the place for you. Full of sequence, this section covers practice routines for aspiring players and for aspiring fans. As a Seahawks fan, I needed the Lose With Dignity procedural text after Marshawn Lynch didn’t touch the ball on the one yard line in Super Bowl 49. Chapter 4, Think Like a Coach, teaches readers about strategies for offense and defense. Learn these and you will be the star of your football conversations. It’s also a great place to work on finding the main idea and supporting details. The paragraph on Man Blocking talks about how the idea is simple (main idea) and why it’s simple (supporting details) for blockers. Sports fans love to argue about the present vs. the past. Chapter 5, He Reminds Me Of…, will give them that opportunity. Each spread compares a current player and a past player who played the same or a similar position. The fan in me loves that young readers will be introduced to great players from the past and the teacher in me sees an opportunity to work on comparing two historical figures. Let the arguing begin! Want to know more about the two teams before watching the game? Check out Chapter 6, Team Tidbits. You can bask in the glow of when your team was once relevant. The final chapter, Talk the Talk, may be the MVP of chapters if you’re seeking to better understand the game. It focuses on vocabulary that you will hear before, during, and after a game. A football term encyclopedia from A-Z, this is a NFL owners-like wealth of knowledge and a good place for students to work on how to learn new terms. You’ll want to view this fun video featuring some of the vocabulary.

This is the book that I would hand to someone, child or adult, who wanted to learn more about football. I appreciate how author Gary Gramling covers several aspects of the game. These short nonfiction pieces of text will be a valuable resource in your classroom and in your living room as football season approaches.

Find more stuff from Jeff @ NC Teacher Stuff.

Animal Journeys

Animal Journeys
by Patricia Hegarty (Author) and Jessica Courtney-Tickle (Illustrator)

Booktalk: Animals are simply amazing! Many of them migrate for various reasons, often enduring harsh, unforgiving environments. Learn about which animal has the longest migration of any creature; the creative way that one island assists with its crab migration; and much more in this beautifully illustrated journal of journeys.

Snippet: Humpback whales can be found in every ocean.

They take part in one of the longest mammal migrations, traveling an average of 3,100 (5,000 km) to warmer waters near the equator in order to breed and give birth to their young.

Nonfiction Monday

It’s Nonfiction Monday!

Copyright © 2017 Anastasia Suen All Rights Reserved.


Noah Webster’s Fighting Words

Noah Webster’s Fighting Words
by Tracy Nelson Maurer (Author) and Mircea Catusanu (Illustrator)

Booktalk: Noah Webster, famous for writing the first dictionary of the English language as spoken in the United States, was known in his day for his bold ideas and strong opinions about, well, everything. Spelling, politics, laws, you name it–he had something to say about it. He even commented on his own opinions! With a red pencil in hand, Noah often marked up work that he had already published. So who edited this book? It certainly looks like the ghost of the great American author and patriot picked up a pencil once again to comment on his own biography!

Snippet: So, Noah worked harder than ever to make spelling easier. He argued for spelling each word the way it sounded.

Nonfiction Monday

It’s Nonfiction Monday!

Copyright © 2017 Anastasia Suen All Rights Reserved.

Two Truths and a Lie

Two Truths and a Lie: It’s Alive!
by Ammi-Joan Paquette (Author), Laurie Ann Thompson (Author), and Lisa K. Weber (Illustrator)

Booktalk: Every story in this book is strange and astounding. But not all of them are real. Just like the old game in this book’s title, two out of every three stories are completely true and one is an outright lie. Can you guess which? It’s not going to be easy. Some false stories are based on truth, and some of the true stories are just plain unbelievable. And they’re all accompanied by dozens of photos, maps, and illustrations. Amaze yourself and trick your friends as you sort out the fakes from the facts!

Snippet: And speaking of 911, some plants can even rally an animal army to come to their defense! When caterpillars attack plants like corn or lima beans, for example, the plants send out a chemical distress signal. The scent then gets picked up by wasps, which race in to attack the caterpillars. The plants are saved, and the wasps get a tasty caterpillar dinner. It’s nice to have friends you can call on in a pinch.

Nonfiction Monday

It’s Nonfiction Monday!

Copyright © 2017 Anastasia Suen All Rights Reserved.