Monday, December 26, 2011

Booktalk: The Orange Houses (Virginia Readers' Choice for 2011-2012)


There are 7 things I want you to know about Mik, also known as Tamika.

1). When Mik was five, she got meningitis and lost a lot of her hearing. She’s 15 now, and she’s not completely deaf, but deaf enough that she really needs hearing aids.

2). She turns off her hearing aids, which she hates, an awful lot. Especially in school.

3). Mik lives in public housing for the poor, called ‘the orange houses.’ They are jail-like towers. It goes without saying that you have to be tough to live in the orange houses.

4). Mik’s sworn enemy, Shanelle, is a vicious gang leader who’d like to beat the living daylights out of Mik. Shanelle can do it, too, no problem. She’s crazy bad and hates Mik’s guts.

5). Mik has no close friends.

6). Until one day Mik sees a girl wearing a headscarf signing to Mik in sign language. The girl signs, “Hello. Goodbye. I love you.” She hands Mik a paper angel which she has made. Mik is stunned.

7). This girl is just as unique as Mik as.

I’ve given you a little character study on Mik, but there are some other surprising things about her and the other characters which I’ve had to leave out. The Orange Houses by Paul Griffin.

The Orange Houses by Paul Griffin. 147 p. Dial Books, 2009. Booktalk to high school. Virginia Readers’ Choice (h.s.) for 2011-2012.


Thursday, November 24, 2011

Booktalk: After by Amy Efaw (Virginia Readers' Choice)


Some teens manage to get straight A’s and perform at a consistently high level playing varsity sports: they’re perfect, right? If you knew her before, Devon, a 15-year-old girl, would fit that category. She’s a good kid who works hard both at school and at soccer, where she has the potential to be Division I someday. That’s Devon before.

Devon after gave birth to a baby girl and left that baby in a trash can to die. It’s horrible and cruel, obviously. But here’s the mystery. When the police got to her, she did not seem to understand that she had been pregnant or given birth. How could a girl not know that she’s pregnant? Devon is facing a bunch of criminal charges, including attempted murder.

What in her physical, daily world actually happened to Devon? And what happened inside her mind? How did she get from a fairly normal “before” to a deeply deluded “after”? After by Amy Efaw.

After by Amy Efaw. 350 p. Viking: 2009. Because of the controversial subject matter, booktalk with discretion. Virginia Readers' Choice (high school) for 2011-2012.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Booktalk: Inside Out & Back Again (2011 National Book Award for Young People's Literature winner)


The winner of the 2011 National Book Award for Young People’s Literature is Thanhha Lai’s Inside Out & Back Again. I’m going to interrupt my “Virginia Readers’ Choice” titles to booktalk it instead. I really liked it and it would work well for intermediate grades and middle school.

Ha is a young girl from Vietnam whose father is missing and whose family needs to flee their country in order to escape the wartime violence. She’s a normal girl who will miss the country she loves so much: the papaya trees, the food, her friends, the open market, and the beautiful flowers. Vietnam has been her only home for ten years, and now she and her mother and older brothers have to get on a crowded ship to sail to America on short notice, probably never to return.

Imagine leaving behind everything you ever owned. Ha’s brother loves his baby chick and tries to bring it along, even though he wasn’t supposed to.  You can’t keep a baby chick alive on a crowded ship. It’s just one more loss on top of the many others they’ve suffered.

Once they arrive in the U.S., everything is strange and confusing, like the man with the cowboy hat who takes them in but whose wife hates them and makes them stay in the basement. Ha’s family made it to America, but they don’t feel welcome here.

Ha is a smart girl, and she’s especially good at math, but the children at her school are mean to her. One boy in particular hates her and calls her “Pancake Face.” Believe it or not, there are times when Ha wishes she were back in war-torn Vietnam. No one was cruel to her there. But there are things – and people – who keep Ha going in Inside Out & Back Again.

Inside Out & Back Again by Thanhha Lai. 262 p. Harper: 2001. Booktalk to intermediate grades and to middle school.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Booktalk: Boot Camp by Todd Strasser (Virginia Readers' Choice)


In our increasingly overweight country, boot camps are very popular: you join one to lose a few pounds and get in shape. Garrett, a teenager, is in a boot camp, but his is far different and has more in common with a prisoner-of-war camp. 

Like a prisoner of war, Garrett is there against his will: his parents enrolled him in it, he’s kept there under force, and the conditions are inhumane. Ironically, it’s called Lake Harmony: what a joke. Garrett’s been subjected to solitary confinement, grueling physical labor, and brainwashing techniques, most of which seem absolutely ineffective. Garrett’s parents felt his personal behavior was unacceptable, but does he deserve this hellish treatment? 

Garrett’s case doesn’t seem half as bad as that of Sarah: she’s been there for almost three years, and the camp has taken a real physical toll on her. When Garrett first meets her, she’s forced to wear a cardboard sign around her next which reads, “Two years and still pulling the same crap.” And then there’s Pauly, with his frail physical frame and his fanatical desire for escape. Boot Camp by Todd Strasser.

Boot Camp by Todd Strasser. 238 p.  Simon and Schuster, 2007. Booktalk to high school. Virginia Readers’ Choice, 2011-2012.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Booktalk: Yummy, The Last Days of a Southside Shorty (Virginia Readers' Choice)


Yummy is a young boy, only four feet tall and eleven years old. He lives with his grandma, loves candy and sweets, and even has a teddy bear. His real name is Robert Sandifer but everyone knows him as “Yummy.” He sounds pretty sweet, doesn’t he? Unfortunately, Yummy is mixed up with a gang, is from a broken home, lives in a tough part of town in Chicago, and wants to prove himself. Those are four factors which are going to work hard against him.

One way to move up in a gang’s hierarchy is to beat up or kill an enemy of the gang. Yummy tried to do this, but he shot and killed an innocent young girl instead. She died near her house with her parents inside: a complete tragedy. Yummy immediately went on the run, followed by a manhunt. When you’re 11, and you’re running from the cops, where do you go? What goes through your mind?

Before you feel too angry at Yummy, consider this. From the age of 3, Yummy had a bunch of scars and burns on his body: a sign that he was abused. One of the burns came from when he was whipped with an electrical cord. As much as he was a killer, Yummy was also a victim. Just like the girl he killed, his situation was also a tragedy. Yummy: The Last Days of a Southside Shorty by G. Neri.

Yummy: The Last Days of a Southside Shorty by G. Neri. Graphic novel: 94 p. 2010: Lee & Low Books. Booktalk to high school. Virginia Readers’ Choice 2011-2012. Yummy: The Last Days of a Southside Shorty by G. Neri.


Sunday, October 2, 2011

Booktalk: Because I Am Furniture (Virginia Readers' Choice)


Anke is a normal 9th grade girl who plays volleyball, writes poetry, resents the popular kids, and has a crush on a senior boy. But her home life is far from normal. Her father is verbally abusive, physically abusive, and sexually abusive. Anke has an older brother and an older sister, both of whom seem to bear the brunt of her father’s abuse. Anke’s mother is mostly silent and powerless. The children never have people over to the house: it’s almost unthinkable. So Anke does what she can in order to stay emotionally and physically alive in a house which feels like a prison. Even the title – Because I Am Furniture – gives you a view into her mental state. Anke doesn’t feel human at home: she feels like an object, taken for granted, hardly noticed, like furniture. Yet Anke dares to be hopeful. She made a list of things she could live without, and here are some of the things she listed: cars, cell phones, whitening toothpaste, Polo cologne, choosing sides … a father. Because I am Furniture by Thalia Chaltas.

Because I am Furniture by Thalia Chaltas. 352 p. Viking: 2009. Virginia Readers’ Choice for 2011-2012: high school. Due to subject matter, know both the text and your audience when booktalking this title.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Booktalk: The Strange Case of Origami Yoda; Darth Paper Strikes Back

I wrote a booktalk for Origami Yoda a while ago. It's a Virginia Readers' Choice for 2011-2012, and the link is here: http://booktalkthree.blogspot.com/2010/12/misfits-booktalk-2.html













The sequel, Darth Paper Strike Back, is just as good. Here's the booktalk:

Whenever there’s a force for good – Dwight and Origami Yoda – there’s also a force for evil. In this case, it’s Harvey. Seventh grade has barely started, and Harvey has already unleashed the power of the Dark Side, in the form of his own origami finger puppet: Darth Paper. Harvey’s made it his mission to bring Dwight down, and he’s quite obvious about it. His minion Darth Paper looks like Darth Vader, and even has own little pink lightsaber. In order to stop Harvey and to prevent Dwight from being sent to a school for really bad kids, Tommy and the others start a case file. But it may not be enough. Origami Yoda seems to be losing it. A popular girl named Jen (who believes in Origami Yoda) asked him for advice, and all Origami Yoda could tell her was, “Zero Hour comes. Prepare to meet your doom!” You could get kicked out of school for saying such things! Is Origami Yoda actually helping Harvey and Darth bring about his own downfall? Dwight’s friends are starting to wonder. Darth Paper Strikes Back: An Origami Yoda Book by Tom Angleberger.



Darth Paper Strikes Back: An Origami Yoda Book by Tom Angleberger. 159 p. 2011: Amulet Books. Booktalk to intermediate grades, middle school.
 


Saturday, September 10, 2011

Booktalk: When the Whistle Blows (Virginia Readers' Choice)


If you live in a small rural town in West Virginia where many of the men work for or on the railroad, you get used to risk and danger. Trains are dangerous: it’s a simple fact. Jimmy, a young teenager, knows people who have been hit and killed by trains. Boilers can explode, killing the fireman and the engineer. But Jimmy’s dad, the railroad foreman, is more afraid about a new kind of technology. He says that the steam engines are all going to be replaced by diesels, and that a lot of men will lose their jobs. The diesel engines are faster, more powerful, and require fewer workers. Much of their small town, Rowlesburg, could be unemployed. And they are already poor enough.

But Jimmy’s really tough, both physically and emotionally. He survived a brutal football game in which a member of the opposing team intentionally tore up Jimmy’s already badly damaged knee. The kid was an animal. Jimmy’s worked in a shop where he had to go after criminals with a club. And it turns out that his dad is sick and getting sicker, threatening the security of Jimmy’s whole family. To survive in this type of town, you have no choice but to be tough. When the Whistle Blows by Fran Cannon Slayton.

When the Whistle Blows by Fran Cannon Slayton. 162 p. 2009: Philomel Books. Virginia Readers' Choice, 2011-2012, middle school. Booktalk to middle school, high school.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Booktalk: Ways to Live Forever (Virginia Readers' Choice)


How many times have you said, “When I grow up… ?” Probably lots of times. When I grow up. It’s a normal childhood phrase. Sam is 11 and doesn’t say it. He says, “if I grow up.” He has leukemia, and he’s been through chemotherapy several times. The leukemia also comes back, unfortunately. Pretty sad, huh? So you’re thinking, why would I want to read a sad book? There are a bunch of reasons, but the best one I can think of is that Sam is a really cool and brave person. He met his best friend, Felix, in the hospital, and they’d do crazy stuff like stealing a trolley and riding around in it, or asking their tutor to help them make things which explode. Sam is also a fact collector and an expert list maker. He really likes wolves, and he wants to break some silly world records. He’s a normal kid with a normal family who has to think about death and dying, because it could be around the corner for him. Just getting to know him was one of the coolest things about his story. Ways to Live Forever by Sally Nicholls.

Ways to Live Forever by Sally Nicholls. Arthur A. Levine Books, 2008. 212 p. Booktalk to middle school. Virginia Readers’ Choice 2011-2012 for middle school.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Booktalk: The Rock and the River (Virginia Readers' Choice)


It is really, really tough to be an African-American teenager in 1968. Sam’s father is a personal friend of Martin Luther King, Jr., and Sam is used to life as a Civil Rights Movement child. He’s marched in civil rights marches, listened to passionate speeches, and protested for equal treatment of blacks and whites. Sam’s older brother, Stick, has joined an organization called the Black Panthers, and Sam’s father is not happy about this. You know, it’s awful when people in your family are fighting about something. Ironically, Sam’s father and Sam’s brother are both firm believers in equal civil rights for blacks and whites, but they disagree on how this equality should be achieved. Guess who’s caught in the middle of this family dispute? Right, Sam. But what do you do when, like Sam, you repeatedly witness white police officers unfairly beating and charging blacks with crimes they didn’t commit? Do you side with your dad, who says deal with it nonviolently? Or do you side with your brother’s Black Panther friends, who say to fight back? In this case, the wrong choice could cost you your life. The Rock and the River by Kekla Magoon.

The Rock and the River by Kekla Magoon. 290 p. Aladdin: 2009. Booktalk to middle school, high school. Personal recommendation: while I enjoyed this book, it does have some traumatic scenes, especially the ending. I would not recommend this to middle schoolers whom I felt were not emotionally read for it.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Booktalk: Pop by Gordon Korman (Virginia Readers' Choice)

Marcus Jordan, high school football player, has a new football practice friend named Charlie. Here are five facts about Charlie.
1). Charlie appears to be an expert football player.
2). Even though he's in his 50s.
3). Charlie likes playing pranks on people: well, mostly one person
4). Charlie's son is the quarterback on Marcus' team
5). Charlie's family is extremely protective of him. Now, Charlie is a useful friend to have if you want to get really, really tough at tackling, being tackled, blocking, catching hard passes, and generally being a tough, indestructible football machine. But in other ways, Charlie is sort of like a kid: an innocent, forgetful one. What fact about Charlie is Marcus failing to see? Pop by Gordon Korman.

Pop by Gordon Korman. 260 p. Balzer and Bray, 2009. Booktalk to middle school, high school. Virginia Readers' Choice for middle school, 2011-2012.





Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Booktalk: Out of My Mind (Virginia Readers' Choice)

Melody has been forced to be silent her entire life. She's 11 years and in 5th grade, but she has never spoken a single word ever. She's got a condition called cerebral palsy, and this means she can't control her body, can't walk, and can't talk. Her brain is fine, though, and she's very smart. Melody is a cool, witty, and normal kid in so many ways. She laughs when she reads Garfield, loves animals, and craves McDonalds milkshakes.
   Finally, her parents agree to buy her a high-tech machine that "talks" for her as she types. It's incredibly expensive and complicated, but as she gets better at "talking" via the computer, her classmates and teachers realize how very smart she really is. For example, she knows all the U.S. presidents and vice presidents inside out. She has a massive vocabulary and a brilliant memory for facts.
   Melody is so smart and starts doing so well in her classes that she wins a place on her school's competitive academic travel team. The team is going to travel to Washington, D.C. for a big competition. Melody is studying so hard at home: she's spending hours and hours memorizing more facts, learning newer and harder subjects, and even inventing her own games so that she'll be able to compete better. For the competition, though, Melody will be out of her element, and travel is really hard on you when you have cerebral palsy. There's also the question of how well her team mates will treat her. Will Melody have both the academic skills and the social skills to endure this competition? Out of My Mind by Sharon Draper.

Out of My Mind by Sharon Draper. 295 p. New York: Atheneum Books, 2010. Booktalk to intermediate grades, middle school, lower high school. Virginia Readers' Choice for 2011-2012.



Monday, July 25, 2011

Booktalk: Bystander (Virginia Readers' Choice)


When a friend like Griffin turns on you, he really turns on you. Some of your stuff goes missing, you get beat up by his sidekick, and you’re worried he might plant a weapon in your locker. Scary, isn’t it? So why would a nice, low-key 7th grader like Eric even be friends with Griffin in the first place? To start with, Eric is new in town and needs a group. Plus, Griffin isn’t all bad: he’s got some good qualities -- he’s charming, sociable, intelligent, and a group leader. And he and Eric have something really important in common: their fathers. Let’s just say that both boys are not doing well in the father department, sadly, and both of them know it. But remember how I told you that Griffin can turn on a person? Eric is going to have to decide whether he will be a friend to Griffin, an enemy who doesn’t tolerate Griffin’s cruelties, or a casual “bystander” who does nothing. Bystander by James Preller.

Bystander by James Preller. 226 p. 2009: Feiwel and Friends. Virginia Readers’ Choice: 2011-2012. Booktalk to middle school and to high school.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Booktalk: The Leanin' Dog (Virginia Readers' Choice)


Desssa Dean has an unusual life. She lives in a cabin in the deep woods with her father, who must hunt or find all their food. Their neighbors are coyotes, birds, and squirrels. Her mother died, and Dessa Dean is pretty lonely. She also has daymares, which are sort of like nightmares, only she’s wide awake, and re-living the time in which her mom died. If anyone needs a friend, it’s Dessa Dean. It’s pretty normal for her to be completely by herself in the cabin while her dad goes hunting. There are no people nearby, either. If a bear comes along, Dessa Dean has got to fend for herself. But there’s a dog who shows up scratching at her door one day. It wants to make friends with her, but it’s too frightened to stay. She chases after the dog but can’t get him to come back. Dessa Dean can’t forget this dog, but she hatches a plan, which involves a delicious meat stew offered as bait. That looked like one hungry, lonely dog. The Leanin’ Dog by K. A. Nuzum.

The Leanin’ Dog by K. A. Nuzum. 250 p. Joanna Cotler Books, 2008. Booktalk to middle school. Virginia Readers’ Choice 2011-2012.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Booktalk: Chasing Lincoln's Killer (Virginia Readers' Choice)


If you’re going to murder someone as famous as a U.S. president, you need to PLAN and plan well. You need to plan how you’re going to murder the person, how you’re going to get away successfully from the crime scene, and how you’re going to stay hidden or safe for the rest of your life. So basically, your planning involves three parts, right? If any of those parts go wrong, you’re in big trouble.

John Wilkes Booth hated President Abraham Lincoln. He hated him with a passion. John Wilkes Booth believed in slavery, was a racist, and wanted to see President Lincoln dead. Booth was a really good-looking, self-confident actor who was quite skilled at getting people to do what he wanted them to do. Along with some other like-minded Confederates, Booth set up a plan to kill Lincoln while Lincoln was watching a play with his wife and some friends. Unfortunately, Booth was successful. The day he shot President Lincoln was one of the saddest days in American history.

Booth’s getaway plan had a lot of holes, but it also had a lot of successes and plain old good luck, both in the immediate getaway and in the manhunt that followed. For example, when Booth made his way onto the stage right after he murdered Lincoln, the actor on stage was just too stunned to grab Booth, even though he physically could have. The guard who should have stopped him from crossing a bridge to leave Washington, D.C. on horseback after dark actually did let him cross … even though he wasn’t supposed to! And in the thrilling, crazy national manhunt which followed, John Wilkes Booth did crazy, desparate things. He really had not planned for an extended campout under the stars with a badly broken leg, for one thing. And he really hadn’t anticipated the extent to which people would see him as an evil assassin to be hunted down, and not a hero to be lauded. Chasing Lincoln’s Killer by James L. Swanson.

Chasing Lincoln’s Killer by James L. Swanson. 194 p. Scholastic Press, 2009. Booktalk to middle school, high school. Virginia Readers’ Choice 2011-2012.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Booktalk: Mockingbird by Kathryn Erskine (Virginia Readers' Choice)


Why would a girl hate recess? Why would she need one-on-one lessons from a teacher on how to be a friend?  Why would she hide in an unfinished wooden chest? Let’s start with the first two questions. Caitlin has Asperger’s syndrome. She’s a smart girl and a gifted artist, but she needs more work than most of us on her people skills. She has to learn them and study them almost like you’d study a school subject. Caitlin has to work on which facial expressions on people match up with their corresponding emotions. Because she really doesn’t like making eye contact with people, she has to work hard on that, too. She doesn’t like loud noises, chaos, and people running around and shouting, and that’s recess in a nutshell. Recess freaks her out: she’d rather be alone, drawing.

But it’s so important that Caitlin learn how to make friends and how to be a friend. This connects us to the question of why she was hiding in an unfinished wooden chest. The chest reminds her of the closest friend she has ever had, the person who understood her the most and loved her dearly. Caitlin’s not done with that chest, and luckily, she’s not done with making friends or learning how to be a friend. Get inside the mind of a truly cool and unique girl. Mockingbird by Kathryn Erskine.

Mockingbird by Kathryn Erskine. 2010: Philomel Books. 235 p. Virginia Readers’ Choice 2011-2012. Booktalk to middle school.


Monday, June 20, 2011

Booktalk: Wild Girl (Virginia Readers' Choice)

Lidie is a young girl from Brazil who is moving to America to be with her father and brother. They moved here years ago to start a new life after Lidie's mom died. Lidie doesn't speak much English; although she's really smart, she is having trouble in school. What is troubling her? A lot of things. First of all, she's lonely. She feels her teacher and her new classmates don't get her. She may be right. Also, she loves horses: riding them, watching them, being with them. She's a lot like her father and her brother in this respect: her father owns a stable and her brother is a jockey. Some people just have good intuition about horses, and Lidie is one of them. There's another character in this story, one who shares a lot in common with Lidie. That character is actually a filly who has been separated from her mother. This young horse is wild, super fast, and very lonely. When she meets Lidie, the two really like each other. The filly's name is Wild Girl, she trusts Lidie instinctively. Can you have a best friend who's a horse? Wild Girl by Patricia Reilly Giff.

Wild Girl by Patricia Reilly Giff. 145 p. 2009: Wendy Lamb Books. Booktalk to intermediate grades and to middle school. Virginia Readers' Choice for 2011-2012.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Booktalk: Drita, My Homegirl (Virginia Readers' Choice)

[Show cover] I want you to take a look at the cover of Drita, My Homegirl. We see two girls' backpacks: one says, "I love Kosova," and the other says, "I love New York." This is an interesting cover, because it didn't happen anywhere in the book, but it easily could have. Drita [point to girl with "I love Kosova" backpack] came to America from war-torn Kosovo. She's a refugee. Her mom is so depressed that she cries all day. Drita goes to public school in New York City and is really struggling both to make friends and to learn English. Maxie [point to girl on cover with "I love New York" backpack] is the same age as Drita, and has a really wicked temper. Maxie's a good kid, but she's impulsive and she gets into trouble. If you yell at Maxie, she'll yell back. Loudly. Maxie isn't super nice to Drita when she first meets her: in fact, she comes up with a really mean name for Drita. But when a girl named Brandee smacks Drita in the face during a basketball game, Maxie comes to Drita's defense. These two girls are very, very different, but they're starting to get each other. They actually have something in common (which Maxie keeps to herself) that could make them life-long friends. Drita, My Homegirl by Jenny Lombard.

Drita, My Homegirl by Jenny Lombard. 135 p. G. P. Putnam's Sons, 2006. Booktalk to intermediate grades and possibly to middle school.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Booktalk: How Oliver Olson Changed the World (Virginia Readers' Choice)


There are five facts you should know about Oliver Olson’s parents:

1). They worry about him constantly.
2). They hover over him when he does his homework.
3). They would never let him walk on the moon.
4). They only let him eat super healthy snacks. No junk food.
5). They will not let him go to a class sleepover that he really wants to go to.

There are many facts you should know about Oliver himself, but I’m only to give you 3.

1). Oliver was very sick when he was a little kid.
2). Oliver is a really nice and very smart third grader.
3). Oliver has to make a diaroma of the solar system at home, and his parents are doing it for him, against his will.

The last fact I’m going to tell you is the title of this book: How Oliver Olson Changed the World. Wait a minute? He changed the world? With parents micro-managing him? Yep, you’re just going to have to read it.

How Oliver Olson Changed the World by Claudia Mills; pictures by Heather Maione. 104 p. New York: Farrar, Straus, Giroux. Booktalk to elementary, intermediate grades. Virginia Readers’ Choice for 2011-2012.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Booktalk: All the Lovely Bad Ones [Virginia Readers' Choice]


If you’re a 13-year-old boy with a love of playing pranks on people, and you are visiting your grandmother’s old house for the summer, it’s fairly normal to think about freaking other people out by imitating ghostly noises in the night. Travis and his sister Corey love pranks: they’re natural pranksters. Their grandmother’s old house is actually an inn which takes guests, including some guests who are ghost-hunters. So obviously, we have a no-brainer here. Travis and Corey strategize: Corey will wear a white nightgown, ghostly makeup and walk around a grove of trees; the ghostly noises they make will spook the inn’s guests. It works beautifully. To keep up the illusion, Corey and Travis need to keep doing their nightly ghost pranks. But when Travis returns to the grove, he sees a dark shape near him, ducking out of sight. It’s not his sister. Turns out it’s a real ghost, and there are more than one. One of them, Miss Ada, is seriously evil and would love to bring Corey and Travis down with her. Sadly, Corey and Travis woke these ghosts from their slumber. Now who's been pranked? All the Lovely Bad Ones: A Ghost Story by Mary Downing Hahn.

All the Lovely Bad Ones: A Ghost Story by Mary Downing Hahn. 182 p. 2008: Clarion. Virginia Readers’ Choice for 2011-2012. Because this has some frightening/tragic content, I personally would booktalk it starting at 6th and 7th grade and not younger.


Sunday, May 22, 2011

Booktalk: The Dog Days of Charlotte Hayes [Virginia Readers' Choice]


If you buy a pet, you must take good care of the pet. What does this include? [Gather responses: fresh food, fresh water, love, exercise, etc.]. Charlotte Hayes’s father brought home a beautiful dog: a Saint Bernard he named “Killer.” {Show cover.} Now, Killer was just not an apt name for this dog: he’s a completely gentle sweetheart who wouldn’t hurt a fly. And even though Charlotte’s dad brought this Saint Bernard home, he really wasn’t prepared to give the dog all the time and attention which the dog deserves. I’m still mad at the dad for doing this. You know a book has you hooked when you’re mad at a fictional character.

So, by default, Charlotte has been taking care of Beauregard, which is her name for the dog. She gives him water, food, and as much attention as she can – which is still not enough. It’s just not fair to Beauregard. And Charlotte is a really cool girl: she wants Beauregard to have the best possible home, with a family who is 100% committed to him. So she takes him to the animal shelter and tells them she found a lost dog, hoping a really nice family will adopt him and give him tons of love. But when she gets home from school the next day, she hears a bark. Beauregard is back. How on earth did he get there? The Dog Days of Charlotte Hayes by Marlane Kennedy.

The Dog Days of Charlotte Hayes by Marlane Kennedy. 233 p. Greenwillow Books, 2009. Virginia Readers’ Choice 2011-2012. Booktalk to intermediate grades and to younger middle schoolers.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Booktalk: Captain Nobody by Dean Pitchford [Virginia Readers' Choice]


It can be tough being a nobody, but Newt Newman has survived it so far. His older brother, Chris, is a popular football star: so cool, that everyone’s heard of Chris, but nobody’s heard of Newt. Newt is 10, freckled, skinny, and short. Newt has always felt as if people look right through him, as if he’s not there at all. Don’t get me wrong: Newt does have friends – two of them – and they’re very close. He also likes drawing sketches of superheroes, and he’s pretty good at it. Newt’s just a normal kid who doesn’t call attention to himself, ever.

But then the unthinkable happens. During one of Chris’s football games, Chris gets hit in the head – really, really hard. So hard that Chris goes into a coma. What’s worse, a kid gets blamed for collision, and only Newt knows that the kid isn’t responsible. And one other very weird fact: Newt starts dressing up as Captain Nobody. Yeah, it sounds like a joke, and it sort of is, but he also starts doing some pretty heroic stuff. Is this just because his older brother is in a coma, or is the real Newt capable of amazing feats? Captain Nobody by Dean Pitchford.

Captain Nobody by Dean Pitchford. 2009: G. P. Putnam/Penguin Young Readers Group. 195 p. Virginia Readers’ Choice 2011-2012. Booktalk to intermediate grades.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Booktalk: Colonial Voices: Hear Them Speak [Virginia Readers' Choice]


Let’s say that tonight your dad wants to send a message to a friend who lives across town. What are his options? [Wait for responses: call on the phone, email, etc.] What would your dad do if it were colonial America, 1773? [Wait for responses.] He’d send an errand boy to deliver the message. An errand boy was 11 or 12 years old, and he ran errands and usually lived in someone else’s household. In this case, it’s Ethan [point to cover]. Ethan is the paperboy for the printer, and he’s the errand boy. Ethan has no living parents: his mom died giving birth to him, and his dad drowned at sea. Ethan works for a living, and he works hard. It might take him all day to do his work and deliver messages. He keeps his mouth shut, his eyes open, and his feet in motion. Boston in 1773 is a very tense place. The Sons of Liberty are counting on Ethan to share the notice about the secret meeting at Old South. They have a midnight deadline: should the tea be taxed or should they fight back? Ethan’s day starts at dark: 5:30 in the morning, and goes til at least 9 at night. Can you keep up with him? Would you have been as tough and smart as he had to be? Colonial Voices: Hear Them Speak by Kay Winters.

Colonial Voices: Hear Them Speak by Kay Winters, illustrated by Larry Day. 2008: Dutton’s Children’s Books. Unpaged. Booktalk to intermediate grades [3rd-5th] and 6th. Virginia Readers’ Choice for 2011-2012.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Booktalk: Annie Glover Is Not a Tree Lover [Virginia Readers' Choice]


Of all the things in life that can embarrass you, your grandmother is not supposed to be one of them. Grandmas are all about hugs, presents, baking cookies with you, telling you funny stories about your parents – all that good stuff. But Annie Glover’s grandma has chained herself – with a padlock – to a tree named Elmer. And when Annie Glover’s classmates saw Annie’s grandma chained to a tree, they thought it was a man wearing pink shoes. How totally embarrassing! [Show picture on p. 6]. Now, Grandma has very good reasons for wanting to save this beautiful tree named Elmer. But the city council wants to cut Elmer down in order to put up a swimming pool. And who doesn’t want a swimming pool? Swimming pools are awesome, but there’s a secret reason why Elmer is awesome, too. I just hope everyone finds out the secret reason before the chainsaw guy gets to Elmer. Annie Glover Is Not A Tree Lover by Darleen Bailey Beard.

Annie Glover Is Not A Tree Lover by Darleen Bailey Beard. Pictures by Heather Maione. 120 p. New York: Farrar Straus Giroux. Booktalk to elementary (2nd) and intermediate grades (3rd-5th). Virginia Readers’ Choice 2011-2012.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Booktalk: 11 Birthdays [Virginia Readers' Choice]


You know the acronym BFF? Remind me what it stands for. Right: best friends forever. Amanda and Leo were pretty much destined to be BFFs. They were born at the same time in the same hospital, and a mysterious old woman prophesied to their mothers that Amanda and Leo would be the best of friends. The same old woman asked their mothers to celebrate their birthdays together each year, and the two moms half-heartedly agreed to. It sort of sounds like something out of a fairy tale, right? The plan mostly worked, for a while. Amanda and Leo had great birthday parties together and they were really good friends. However, at their 10th birthday party together, Amanda heard Leo talking about her to a friend of his. He basically said that Amanda didn’t have many friends and that his mom made him share parties with her. That really hurt her feelings. So naturally, the two are no longer friends. Amanda’s 11 birthday party is coming up, and for the first time, she and Leo will be celebrating separately. But remember how these two are destined since birth to be BFFs? Fate has a funny way of bring former best friends together again. 11 Birthdays by Wendy Mass.

11 Birthdays by Wendy Mass. 267 p. Scholastic: 2009. Virginia Readers’ Choice for 2011-2012. Booktalk to intermediate grades (3rd-5th) and 6th grade.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Booktalk: The 100-Year-Old Secret [Virginia Readers' Choice]

Many of us have cool family legacies: a grandfather who fought in a war, relatives who came here from other countries -- it's pretty common. But Xena and Xander Holmes have an incredibly cool family legacy: they are the great-great-great-grandchildren of Sherlock Holmes. As you can remember, Sherlock Holmes was one of the smartest detectives of all time. He lived in London in the late 1800s/early 1900s and he could figure a ton of stuff out about you just by looking at you. He could deduce facts about you which other people simply could not. And he was always right! Even cooler, Xena and Xander have inherited similar talents from Sherlock Holmes, since they're his direct descendants. And there are people who have been watching Xena and Xander ... even from abroad. It may be hard to believe, but even the greatest detectives leave some cases unsolved, and that's what happened with Sherlock Holmes. Xena and Xander inherit Sherlock Holmes' casebook of unsolved mysteries, and there's one in particular they really, really want to solve. But some trails grow cold over the course of time, and this makes their case involving a 100-year-old secret even more challenging. The 100-Year-Old Secret [The Sherlock Files] by Tracy Barrett.

The 100-Year-Old Secret [The Sherlock Files] by Tracy Barrett. 157 p. Henry Holt and Company: 2008. Virginia Readers' Choice for 2011-2012. Booktalk to 3rd-5th.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Booktalk: Frankenstein [graphic novel]; [Monsters; 3]


Victor Frankenstein discovered the key to creating life. When he decided to create a human, he got way more than he bargained for. He crafted one together using parts of dead bodies: he even disgusted himself in the process, yet he made a creature. But Frankenstein’s creature was not truly human. After all, is it human to turn against your maker, killing off his friends and loved ones? No wonder Victor Frankenstein sees his creation as a monster. But the monster is going to fight back. He wants a companion, and he’ll stop at nothing to get one. Can Victor Frankenstein actually make a second creature? This is a graphic novel adaption of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, adapted by Lloyd S. Wagner.

Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein [Campfire graphic novels], adapted by Lloyd S. Wagner. 2010: Kalyani Navyug Media. 68 p. Due to some gory content, I would hesitate to booktalk this to elementary school [5th and under], but I do think it’s acceptable for middle school and high school.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Booktalk: Curse of the Bizarro Beetle [Monsters; 2]


The teachers at Splurch Academy for Disruptive Boys are monsters. No, I’m not just saying that to be mean. They really are true monsters, both in form and in behavior. The headmaster is a psychotic vampire. There’s a dungeon in the basement. Nurse Bilgewater, acting Headmistress, caught Cody and his friends investigating the kitchen, which has some pretty gross food … does insta-gruel and dehydrated cabbage nuggets even count as food? Yuck! And they didn’t even steal any. Anyhow, they’re quarantined in the school infirmary as punishment with cuffs and tormented by Bilgewater herself, that nightmare. What kind of school is this, anyhow? When she does finally force the boys to eat, there are dead bugs swimming in their cabbage soup. Don’t say I didn’t warn you. Curse of the Bizarro Beetle is the second book in the Splurch Academy for Disruptive Boys series by Julie Gardner Berry and Sally Faye Gardner.

Curse of the Bizarro Beetle [Splurch Academy; 2] by Julie Gardner Berry and Sally Faye Gardner. Booktalk to intermediate (elementary) grades and middle school. It is not necessary to have read the first in the series before this one.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Booktalk: Frankenstein Makes a Sandwich [Monsters; 1]


Every person out there has a favorite monster. You may not want to admit it, but it’s true. Frankenstein Makes a Sandwich is actually a book of monster poems featuring really well-known monsters like Frankenstein, the Creature from the Black Lagoon, Dracula, Godzilla, and all the rest. Each poem gives you some really embarrassingly hilarious and bizarre information on the monster. For example, there’s actually a poem called, ‘Godzilla Pooped on My Honda.’ It will give you all the gross-out details which I cannot. In another poem, Count Dracula was with a bunch of other monsters at night, trying to be Mr. Cool and all that, but the whole time he had spinach stuck on his teeth! And no one told him, but they all knew! How totally embarrassing. And did you know that the Invisible Man got a haircut? I can’t tell you how it turned it, but things got ugly. Frankenstein Makes a Sandwich by Adam Rex.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Booktalk: O, Say Can You See? [Cool America; 3]


We have such a cool country, and we also have some pretty cool symbols to highlight our values: freedom, liberty, and democracy. As you know, a symbol is something that stands for something else. Symbols can be places, objects, or words. Which bird is our national symbol? [Wait for response.] Right, the bald eagle. But did you know that Ben Franklin actually wanted our national bird to be a wild turkey? It may be hard to believe, but he thought bald eagles were lazy thieves. Luckily, he lost the battle, and we got the bald eagle instead. The bald eagle symbolizes power and strength. Another cool American symbol is the Statue of Liberty. Did you know that she used to be light brown? She’s green now. She was made in France, and her inner skeleton was built in Paris [show p. 24]. To get her to America, they had to carefully take apart every single piece of her, label it, and ship it to this country, where it was an important gift to us. Can you imagine re-assembling the Statue of Liberty, piece by piece? That is tough work, but it was worth it. Another symbol you might not know as much about it is Uncle Sam [show pp. 36-37]. You know those “I Want You” pictures with his face? Those were used to recruit men to fight in World War I and II. But the original Uncle Sam was based on a man named Sam Wilson who fought in the American Revolution and worked as a meatpacker. There’s more to that story, which you can read about it O, Say Can You See? America’s Symbols, Landmarks, and Inspiring Words by Sheila Keenan.

O, Say Can You See? America’s Symbols, Landmarks, and Inspiring Words by Sheila Keenan. Scholastic, 2004. 64 p. Booktalk to elementary, intermediate grades.


Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Booktalk: The Scrambled States of America [Cool America; 2]


Have you ever gotten really tired of where you live, or even of where you sit in class? [Show page {3}]. Kansas woke up one morning in a really bad mood. Some of the states were still sleeping [point to the west coast states on that same page], some were yawning and rubbing their eyes [point to the Midwestern states], and some were eating their cereal and reading the newspaper [point to the east coast states]. Not Kansas, though. “I never get to go anywhere!” he moaned to his best friend, Nebraska. But suddenly, Kansas had a great idea: why not have a party and invite all the other states? Every state could bring his/her favorite food, and there could be music and dancing! So they planned the party. At last, the big day came, and the states started to meet each other. They laughed, and ate, and danced, and partied. Idaho and Virginia even decided to switch places. Yes, you heard me correctly. Switch places. I mean, both of them could now see a new part of the country. Pretty soon the idea caught on and all the states decided to switch places. Now, I can’t give away what happened. I can only give you one juicy detail: Florida had switched spots with Minnesota and was freezing in his new, cold northern climate. And poor Minnesota forgot to take sunblock to Florida’s place down south and got really, really sunburned. Alaska got into a really bad mood, but I can’t tell you why. I don’t want Alaska getting mad at me. You don’t mess with Alaska. To find out what happened in the big experiment, read The Scrambled States of America by Laurie Heller.

The Scrambled States of America by Laurie Heller. Henry Holt and Company, 1998. Unpaged. Booktalk to elementary school, intermediate grades.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Booktalk: The United Tweets of America [Cool America; 1]


Each bird has a personality, just like a dog or cat. You may not believe me, but it’s true. Some birds are kind of show-offy, like the mockingbird. [Show Missippi, found on p. {29}]. Now, every state has a state bird. The mockingbird is the state bird of Mississippi, and he’s one of the greatest singers of all the state birds. As you can see here, he’s dressed up as Elvis Presley, singing for the lovely ladies, nestled among the state flower, the magnolia. He thinks he’s hot stuff, clearly. A bird with a more down-to-earth personality is the robin [Show Wisconsin, found on p.{54}. In this picture, the robin has a huge cheese wedge on his head and is riding a motorcycle. Why is that? Well, Wisconsin is known for its cheese, and Milwaukee is the home of Harley-Davidson motorcyles. If you actually see a robin doing this in public, please let me know. Some of the other state birds featured in this book are equally crazy. This hilarious book has great trivia about the states, the rundown on the state birds, and some really funny jokes and drawings. The United Tweets of America: 50 State Birds by Hudson Talbott.

The United Tweets of America: 50 State Birds, Their Stories, Their Glories by Hudson Talbott. Unpaged [64 p.]. Putnam Juvenile, 2008. Booktalk to K-6.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Booktalk: Lunch Lady and the League of Librarians [All things library; 3]


Here’s a term you don’t often hear: “evil librarians.” Evil librarians?! Are you serious? In this graphic novel, Lunch Lady and her sidekick Betty discover a plot by the League of Librarians. They are four librarians who want to blow up a shipment of the brand new, ultra-cool video game consoles, the X-Station 5000. What a waste, right? These librarians are so opposed to video games that they’re willing to deal with high-powered weapons, like dictionaries! But don’t worry. Lunch Lady, as much as she loves reading, is not going to stand for that. And she has tools she’s going to use: taco-vision night goggles; the spork phone; hover pizzas; a sense of humor; a linguini lasso; and a huge celery stick. Can a world with both books and video games co-exist in peace and harmony? Lunch Lady and the League of Librarians by Jarrett J. Krosoczka.

Lunch Lady and the League of Librarians by Jarrett J. Krosoczka. Unpaged. 2009: Alfred A. Knopf. Booktalk to intermediate grades [grades 2-5].

Monday, March 21, 2011

Booktalk: Library Lion [All things library; 2]


Imagine you’re in a library, minding your own business, and you see a lion walking around, sniffing snuff, rubbing his head against the new books [show pp. {5-6}], and taking a nap in the children’s story corner. You’d be freaked out, right? I’d be! A librarian spotted him and ran to tell Miss Merriweather, the head librarian [show picture on p. {4}]. She said the lion could stay as long as he wasn’t breaking any rules. The lion actually behaved himself when Miss Merriweather put on storytime for the children! He liked the stories so much that he gave a tremendous roar when storytime was over. Okay, now he broke the rules. Miss Merriweather told him if he did that again, he couldn’t stay in the library. Poor lion actually looked sad. Clearly, he loves the library, and he loves storytime. Who doesn’t? Miss Merriweather even gives him little jobs to do, like licking envelopes and helping children get the books on the higher shelves by sitting on his back. But lions are capable of great strength and courage, and library lion has not yet passed the true test of his abilities. Library Lion by Michelle Knudsen.

Library Lion by Michelle Knudsen. Candlewick Press, 2006. Unpaged. Booktalk to K-3.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Booktalk: Dewey the Library Cat [All things library; 1]


People who work in libraries are used to finding all sorts of stuff in the library drop box: you know what that is, right? You’re outside the library, and you open up the slot and put your books in and you hear them drop into a bin. People mostly put their returned books in the bin, but sometimes people use it as a trash receptacle … or worse. A librarian named Vicki Myron and her colleague were extremely surprised one day to find a tiny, semi-frozen, frightened little kitten in their bin. Someone had put this tiny, neglected, half-starved kitten in the drop box. They found out the kitten was 8 weeks old, but it looked 8 days old. You could see the poor kitten’s every rib: it was that thin. Vicki gave the kitten food, a warm bath, lots of care, and love. The kitten survived, and lived in her library! They named the kitten Dewey, after the Dewey decimal system which libraries use. The patrons who came into the library loved Dewey. Often, he’d find someone in a bad mood. He’d plop himself right down on that person’s lap and take a nap. How can you be in a bad mood with a beautiful cat snoozing on your lap? It’s impossible. Dewey considered every part of the library to belong to him, and children and their parents would come in just to see him. Dewey the Library Cat: A True Story by Vicki Myron.

Dewey the Library Cat: A True Story by Vicki Myron with Bret Witter. 214 p. Little, Brown, 2010. Booktalk to intermediate grades, middle school.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Booktalk: Don't Forget Your Etiquette! [Manners; 3]


You know how dangerous bad advice can be? Well, this is a book of manners – also called etiquette – written in poems. No, the poems are not dangerous in and of themselves. It’s what’s in the poems: advice about how to misbehave, written by this really wild girl with glasses, Miss Information. Get it? Misinformation, also known as bad information. If you follow Miss Information’s etiquette, this is how you behave in the family bathroom when people are waiting to use it [show pages titled, “Bathroom Etiquette]:

1). Lock the bathroom door and ignore the pleading of your brothers and sisters.
2). Take a couple of hours to practice your trombone in the bathroom.
3). Bring a lot of reading material for when you sit on the throne.
4). Order in a pizza.
5). Pedicure your dog.
6). Let your siblings in in a few weeks.
7). Take your time, really.

Yep, there’s some really good bathroom etiquette there for ya. I don’t even want to show the etiquette about behaving around the babysitter, dressing yourself, or eating. So, if you want a great guide on how not to behave, check out Don’t Forget Your Etiquette! by David Greenberg.

Don’t Forget Your Etiquette! The Essential Guide to Misbehavior by David Greenberg. Unpaged. Farrar, Straus and Giroux: 2006. Booktalk to K-6th grades.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Booktalk: Manners Can Be Fun [Manners; 2]


If I lived on a desert island with no other people, I would not need to have manners. I could do whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted. However, I do not live on a desert island, and neither do you. We need manners to function. A lot of our manners are automatic. For example, when your friend says hi to you, you say hi back. Other manners are not so automatic: you have to work on them. For example, if your friend is talking, you shouldn’t interrupt him or her, even if you just thought of the coolest thing ever. Wait until your friend is done talking! This one can take work and patience. [Show pp. 40-41]. Another one: when you visit someone else’s house, you don’t want to be like the Noiseys, the Pigs, Me First, the Whineys, Smash-Rip-Ruin, or the Snoopers. That’s a fast way of never being asked back to that person’s house. Remember to thank them and say goodbye when you leave. Manners Can Be Fun by Munro Leaf.

Manners Can Be Fun by Munro Leaf. 50 p. Universe: Copyright 1936, rep. 2004. Booktalk to younger elementary [pre-K through 2nd].

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Booktalk: Dude, That's Rude! [Manners; 1]


[Hold up prop, like a holiday-themed sweater you don’t like or an ugly vase.] I love my grandmother, but every year for the holidays I get a sweater that is way too big. What’s worse, I have to unwrap it right in front of her. Now, I’m going to tell you a secret. I don’t like this sweater at all. What should I say to her when I open it? [Wait for responses.] Okay, who said, “Grandma, you have awful taste?” Dude, that’s rude! [Hold up book cover.] You guessed the title of my book: Dude, That’s Rude. It’s a manners guide, but it’s hilarious. Guess what it told me. It told me that some sincere “thank you” is the only acceptable response. Your family deserves your best manners, no matter what. I don’t have to love the sweater or even keep it. I do have to show grandma that I appreciate her kindness.

Now, that was the tame part of the book. Part of this I can’t read you: it deals with passing gas, cellphone manners, IM manners, use of bad words, and …. toilet etiquette. It’s stuff you need to know but other people might be too afraid to tell you. It’s all funny but true, and it teaches you how to get out of some tricky situations. Dude, That’s Rude! Get Some Manners by Pamela Espeland and Elizabeth Verdick.

Dude, That’s Rude! Get Some Manners by Pamela Espeland and Elizabeth Verdick. 117 p. Free Spirit Publishing, 2007. Booktalk to 3rd through middle school.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Booktalk: How to Heal a Broken Wing [Birds; 3]

Cities are full of tall, glass buildings, and sometimes poor birds fly into the glass and hurt themselves [show pp. {1-2}]. No one saw this poor bird fall [show pp. {3-4}], but little Will spotted him lying on the sidewalk, his wing broken. A bird with a broken wing cannot survive for long in the wild. Will and his parents took the bird home. They gave the bird food, water, a safe place, and time. It takes a long time to heal a broken wing. Read about this bird's recovery in How to Heal a Broken Wing by Bob Graham.

How to Heal a Broken Wing by Bob Graham. Unpaged. Candlewick: 2008. Booktalk to pre-k, younger elementary.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Booktalk: What Bluebirds Do [Birds; 2]


[Bookmark the following pages: pp. 6-7, pp. 14-15].

[Start by showing off the cover.] Have you ever seen a bluebird? They are not bluejays: bluejays don’t have any orange, and they’re a lot bigger. Bluebirds are much harder to spot, plus they’re very shy. The author of this book is a photographer who has a bluebird nest in her yard. She watched as a male bluebird and female bluebird chose a nest and raised a family [show pp. 6-7]. The eggs might look big in this photo, but in real life they are so tiny [show pp. 14-15]. Like other bird parents, these two bluebirds eventually had to teach their fledglings how to fly and how to fend for themselves. The photographs are amazing, and you get to see how the babies grow up. What Bluebirds Do by Pamela F. Kirby.

What Bluebirds Do by Pamela F. Kirby. 48 p. 2009 Boyds Mill Press. Booktalk to elementary school [K-3].


Monday, February 28, 2011

Booktalk: Birds by Kevin Henkes [Birds;1]


Booktalker’s note: bring some stuffed birds for this one. Pre-bookmark the page, ‘Once I saw seven birds on the telephone wire…’

Did you ever think about all the birds in your world? Some are big, some are little. Some are colorful, and some blend right in to trees. Some make a lot of noise, and some are very quiet. You have to have very sharp eyes to catch everything that birds do. [Open to page, ‘Once I saw seven birds on the telephone wire…’ and read it aloud to the children. Pause, and turn to and read next page, …they were gone.’] Think about that, in less than the blink of an eye, those birds vanished. There is something magical about birds. If you want to learn more about the beauty of the birds around you, check out Birds by Kevin Henkes.

Birds by Kevin Henkes. Unpaged. Greenwillow Books: 2009. Booktalk to pre-k, kindergarten, 1st.