Thursday, August 18, 2016

Our Dav Pilkey Yarn

In honor of one of my favorite writers, Maggie Stiefvater, I borrow her brilliant line from The Raven King: "Depending on where you began the story, it was about ____."


Depending on where you began the story, it was about The Yarn's 25th episode with Dav Pilkey.

An eight-year-old boy and his stepmom listen to the podcast in the car, grinning at each other in the rear view mirror.


Depending on where you began the story, it was about a school visit. 

An eight-year-old boy and his stepmom meet Daddy and Little Brother at a middle school in Naperville, Illinois, to see Dav Pilkey. The eight-year-old brings some of his artwork to share. He gets an advanced reader copy of Dog Man signed by his hero.


Depending on where you began the story, it was about being picked up from school. 

An advanced reader copy of Dog Man awaits an eight-year-old at the curb, produced from his stepmom's bag. They are on their way to an author visit at a middle school.


Depending on where you began the story, it was about a chance run-in. 

A #nerdybookclub follower bumps into Colby Sharp and Travis Jonker at Book Expo America, a copy of Dog Man in her bag, an eight-year-old about to be dismissed from school.


Depending on where you began the story, it was about Book Expo America. 

A stepmom is determined to find a copy of Dog Man for Dav Pilkey's #1 eight-year-old fan. She stops by the Scholastic booth first, to no avail. 

A second visit to the booth sees a man walking away from the table, the last copy of Dog Man in his hands. 

The angel behind the Scholastic booth table sees it all happen, and without a word, walks behind the magic curtain and produces a single copy of Dog Man to present to a stepmom. 


Depending on where you began the story, it was about a budding storyteller. 

An eight-year-old is drawing scenes on a napkin, copies of Captain Underpants lined up on his bookshelf at home.


Depending on where you began the story, it was about a speech. 

The stepmom of an eight-year-old listens, cries, and laughs as an author tells teachers and librarians the story of a boy who grew into a man who wrote stories that matter. She tells him this at the book signing after the speech and brings home autographed copies of Captain Underpants books.


Depending on where you began the story, it was about a boy.

Thank you, Dav. Thank you, Colby and Travis. 

This stepmom and an eight-year-old boy

Sunday, July 17, 2016

The Storyteller by Evan Turk
"There's nothing else like it!" This is exactly what I wrote on a sticky note after reading Evan Turks's The Storyteller. This book is a gift in more than one way. First, the artwork (yes, I would gladly frame each page and hang them in my home library) is stunning.
On one page, I left a sticky note that said, "I can barely follow the story; mesmerized by the illustrations/artwork!" At that point, I truly did lose track of the story because I was swimming in the art. It's a trip all in itself. One of the final pages is below. You could study it for days and find new intricacies to admire.

In addition to the beautiful artwork, the story itself is one book lovers, writers, and teachers will appreciate: the magic of storytelling and its power to transform.  This is one to share with your students!

Friday, July 15, 2016

Defender by Graham McNamee

Defender by Graham McNamee is just what I'm looking for to hook my seventh-graders! It takes less than 15 pages (of quick-paced writing) to get to the DISCOVERY OF THE DEAD BODY IN THE BASEMENT! I mean, what more can a girl ask for? 

Tyne (aka "Tiny") lives in a Toronto apartment building where her father is the super. As the oldest, Tiny does odd jobs around the building to help out. After the discovery of a dead body in the basement, Tiny runs to her dad, who goes to check it out alone, only to return to tell Tiny that there was no body to be found. However, when Tiny's dad starts acting suspiciously, she and her boyfriend Ricky (aka "Stick") start tracking clues, including going back to the scene to discover A FINGER!! 

It's so great. This would have been on the shelf of my tween bookcase next to R.L. Stine's Fear Street Saga and my Christopher Pike books. So thankful to have discovered this at my public library! Buying a copy to book talk when school starts!

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Teachers Write Tuesday Quick-Write

Today's Prompt led me to notice an ant carrying around a dead comrade. I had so many questions! Where was he taking him? How did he die? Are they going back to the colony or away? Here is what I wrote in my notebook:

I looked this up (arrow to my note: "Ant carrying another ant (dead)") to see if this was a common
ant "thing". It turns out scientists have discovered that ant colonies that don't remove their dead have higher mortality rates than those that do. I'm curious how the ants themselves discovered this. Is it a natural instinct? Where do they take their dead? Just "away"? Or do they have a "spot"? Is there an ant cemetery?

::looking up more info::

::found an NPR interview from 2006::
(By the way, the opening to this story is fantastic)

One woman's name keeps popping up: Deborah Gordon (Stanford Professor of Biology). She is often interviewed by NPR, does TED talks about ants and so forth.

Apparently there is an ant cemetery. It's underground and there are ants that pile up dead ant bodies just to take the pile down again, move it, pile it up, take it down, and move it back again.

This could be because successful ant colonies have a surplus of ants and they just need something to do to fill the time! Fascinating.

Read more here about lazy ants:

Monday, June 6, 2016

Two White Rabbits by Jairo Buitrago

Two White Rabbits by Jairo Buitrago

Two White Rabbits by Jairo Buitrago, illustrated by Rafael Yockteng, reads, at first, as a simple children's book about a young girl and her father and their time spent on the road as migrants. The text is spare since it is told from the young girl's perspective, but as this review from Smithsonian's Asian Pacific American Center's BookDragon blog points out, the details emerge in the illustrations. 

I read this book three times in a row and I am itching to reread it to pull out whatever details I couldn't catch in the first three readings. You will want to read it over and over as well, because there is more than one story going on here. On their journey, they encounter other travelers, soldiers, and symbolic figures that add depth and layers. I can't wait to analyze this with my students next year to discuss the symbols and perspectives shown.

Some other resources I incorporate into my 7th-grade World Geography class when we discuss migrants and refugees include:

Turning Refugee Crises Into Country Music

The devastating cost of closed borders, in one map

Where the Streets Have No Children

Border Challenges: Responding to the Global Migration Crisis

Tracking Four Decades of Refugee Migration [Interactive Map]

The World’s Congested Human Migration Routes in 5 Maps

And, of course, there are many excellent articles from Newsela.

I borrowed this from my public library's *New Books* display, but I will be purchasing it to pair with my copy of Migrant for my Social Studies collection.