January 11, 2020

Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge

Alyson Beecher at Kid Lit Frenzy is hosting at nonfiction picture book challenge for 2020. She will post new nonfiction picture book reviews every Wednesday on her blog!
My goal is to read and review one nonfiction picture book a month! Since I'm reviewing so many other books, I'm hoping this goal will make it more manageable for me, especially since I am pretty new to blogging and book reviewing.
Want to participate, but don't have a blog? You can post your review on twitter using the hashtag #nfpb2020!

Welcome to my brand new blog!

Welcome to my new blog! My name is Alicia and I am a fourth grade English language arts and social studies teacher in Ohio. I have a Master's of Education in Literacy, and I LOVE to read. This blog is going to be where I post my reviews for children's books that I think children will enjoy. Advanced reader's copies of books are provided by Kid Lit Exchange, NetGalley, and Edelweiss.

I originally started blogging using Wix, but I have decided to move my blog to Blogger. At Wix, I wasn't getting much interaction with my posts, and through my research, I discovered that most teachers seem to use Blogger instead. Since teachers are my target audience, I decided to go where my audience is! I transferred all of my old blog posts from my Wix website onto this blog, so all of my posts will be in one place. 

I am excited to connect with educators and book lovers through Blogger. Comment below if you know of any great book review or teacher blogs that I should follow!

Pause Power

Thanks to NetGalley, Boys Town Press and Smith Publicity for the review copy of Pause Power by Jennifer Law and illustrated by Brian Martin. All opinions are my own. This book is scheduled to be released on February 4, 2020.
This picture book focuses on Gabe who becomes easily frustrated and angry with his classmates because they are always pushing his buttons. However, when he reacts out of anger, he usually gets into trouble. This book is about Gabe learning to pause and think before reacting out of anger or frustration.
I have been looking for more books to use during our morning meetings that focus on social/emotional development, and this book seems perfect! It’s not uncommon for fourth graders to still react out of anger or frustration, and this book helps them see how they can change that and learn to control it. This book would be great to use with a whole class or as a social story for an individual student. I love that this book focuses on how reacting out of anger can impact friendships! This book also includes practical tips for parents and teachers at the end and would be a great conversation starter for students in grades K - 5. Amazon affiliate link below.

January 7, 2020

Diana: Princess of the Amazons


Thanks to NetGalley and DC Comics for the review copy of Diana: Princess of the Amazons by Shannon Hale & Dean Hale and illustrated by Victoria Ying. All opinions are my own. This book is releasing today, January 7, 2020.
This graphic novel is about Diana, daughter of the queen of the Amazons. Diana hates that she is the only kid among the Amazons. She builds a friend out of clay and wishes for her to come to life. She is shocked when it works and is delighted to finally have a friend! However, things may not be as they seem. Instead of relieving her boredom, her new friend may just lead her into trouble.
The illustrations in this book are wonderful! If you pay close attention, there are some subtle clues in a few of the illustrations that help the reader figure out the ending. This story has a great lesson about friendship and choosing your friends wisely. I think many kids will be able to relate to feeling torn about a friend the way that Diana does in this story. This book would be ideal for grades 3 -6. Amazon affiliate link below.

January 2, 2020

Harvey Comes Home


Thanks to the Kid Lit Exchange network and Pajama Press for the review copy of Harvey Comes Home by Colleen Nelson and illustrated by Tara Anderson. All opinions are my own. This book was released on September 19, 2019.
Harvey, a West Highland Terrier, escapes his yard to chase a squirrel but becomes hopelessly lost. He wanders around town and eventually comes to rest outside Brayside Retirement Villa where Austin finds him. Austin is a young boy that helps his grandpa clean Brayside as a punishment for bringing firecrackers to school. Austin’s mom and grandpa agree to let Austin keep Harvey while they search for the owner. However, when it comes time to take Harvey to check for a microchip, Austin chickens out. He lies to his mom and grandpa and tells them that they couldn’t find Harvey’s owner. Meanwhile, Maggie, Harvey’s owner, misses her dog dearly and searches for him. Across town, Austin and Harvey become close, and Austin tries to convince himself that he is doing the right thing by keeping Harvey. Then Austin realizes that Harvey is the key to getting cranky, old Mr. Pickering to open up about his past and his trusty dog named General. Will Mr. Pickering’s stories be enough to convince Austin to do the right thing?
I absolutely adored this sweet tale of a dog bringing people together. Colleen Nelson does a beautiful job of weaving a tale that includes tough choices, heartbreak, and hope. This book would be fantastic for teaching or reviewing point of view since the chapters alternate between three different perspectives: Harvey, Austin, and Maggie. As a social studies teacher, I also enjoyed that this book included some information about the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl. This book would be ideal for grades 3 – 6. Amazon affiliate link below.

December 26, 2019

Girl Under a Red Moon: Growing Up During China's Cultural Revolution


Thanks to The Kid Lit Exchange Network and Scholastic Inc. for the review copy of Girl Under a Red Moon: Growing Up During China’s Cultural Revolution by Da Chen. All opinions are my own. This book was released on September 3, 2019.
This book is a memoir about the injustices faced by many innocent people during the Cultural Revolution in China during the 1960s and 1970s. The main characters are eight-year-old, Da and his thirteen-year-old sister, Sisi. Da and Sisi’s grandfather had his land taken from him and he was sentenced to grueling labor in a work camp. His crime was being a landowner, and there is no room for that in the new communist order in China. Once their grandfather becomes too weak for manual labor, Da and Sisi’s father is ordered to take his place. Sisi and Da must learn to navigate the world around them when it seems like everyone is out to get them.
This book gives a heart wrenching first-hand account of what life was like for some during the Cultural Revolution. Some chapters are difficult to read because they are so heartbreaking, but this is an important story that needed to be told. Scholastic recommends this book for mature readers grades 6 and up, but I would recommend this book for grades 9+. There are some mature topics in this book including rape and graphic descriptions of violence that a middle schooler is just not mature enough to handle. I learned so much from this book, and I highly recommend it. Amazon affiliate link below.

December 24, 2019

All Your Twisted Secrets


Thanks to The Kid Lit Exchange Network and Epic Reads for the review copy of All Your Twisted Secrets by Diana Urban. All opinions are my own. This book is scheduled to be released on March 17, 2020.
This book is Breakfast Club meets thriller! Six students are invited to a special scholarship dinner with the mayor. However, once all six students arrive the door slams and locks. While trying to find a way out, they discover a bomb, a syringe, and a note. The note tells them that they must use the poison in the syringe to kill one of them, or the bomb will go off, and they will all die.
This book is simply amazing for any novel, let alone a debut novel! There are many twists and turns, and it is thrilling! The style of writing kept me flipping through pages quickly as most chapters ended on a cliffhanger. Each chapter also alternated between the present situation locked in the room and the past year of high school for the six teens. I was worried I would get bored by the flashback chapters, but I actually found them exciting, and I enjoyed learning more about the characters. I love thriller/mystery books and read them frequently, so I tend to figure out the ending before it is revealed. In this book, I was only able to figure out the ending about 25 pages before it was revealed, but there were still some surprises that I didn’t see coming! I would recommend this book for ages 16+. Amazon affiliate link below.

December 18, 2019

I'll Never Get All of That Done!


Thanks to NetGalley, Boys Town Press and Smith Publicity for the review copy of I’ll Never Get All of That Done! by Bryan Smith and illustrated by Lisa M. Griffin. All opinions are my own. This book is scheduled to be released on February 11, 2020.
This picture book focuses on a boy named Blake. Blake keeps getting overwhelmed with all of the tasks that he needs to complete. All he can think is, “I’ll never get all of that done!” Then his mom teaches him a strategy called P’s. The three P’s are prioritize, plan, and post. Blake’s mom teaches him that strategy to help him manage things such as preparing for a bake sale, completing homework, and catching up on school assignments. The book also discusses that prioritizing means doing the things that need to get done before the things you want to do.
This is another great book in the Executive FUNction series. Many kids need to be explicitly taught time management skills and this book is a great resource for doing that! I liked that the P’s were explained a few times throughout the book because children need to see information multiple times to really let it sink in. I also liked the discussion about doing need to’s before want to’s since this is a discussion that I often have with the students in my classroom when they tell me they would prefer to do something else. Recommended for students in grades 2 - 5. Amazon affiliate link below.

December 15, 2019

What Were You Thinking?


What Were You Thinking? By Bryan Smith and illustrated by Lisa M. Griffin is a MUST have for any elementary classroom. This book was originally published in 2016 by Boys Town Press.
This picture book focuses on Braden, a third-grade boy that loves to make jokes and be the center of attention. Braden struggles to control his impulses and will often act without thinking. Braden’s teacher guides him to make appropriate choices by teaching him a simple technique. Before he does or says something, Braden’s teacher wants him to ask himself, “Will this make the situation better or worse?”
My partner teacher and I used this book as part of our morning meeting a couple of weeks ago in our fourth-grade classrooms. Since then, we have noticed several students recognizing that their actions made the situation worse. Some students have even begun to catch themselves before they act impulsively! I can’t thank this book enough for providing the language kids need in order to take control of their actions. Amazon affiliate link below.

December 8, 2019

Weird Little Robots


Thanks to the Kid Lit Exchange network and Candlewick Press for the review copy of Weird Little Robots by Carolyn Crimi and illustrated by Corinna Luyken. All opinions are my own. This book was released on October 1, 2019.
Penny Rose is nine years old and has just moved to a new town. She has struggled to make friends and spends most of her time building robots in the shed in her backyard. After spending her birthday alone, she makes a wish for a friend. The next day things begin to change. Her robots come to life and start moving on their own. She also befriends a girl named Lark, and they begin to work together on the robots. Then one day Penny Rose finds an invitation in her locker to join a secret science club. Penny Rose must choose between her only friend and joining the club.
This is a heartwarming story about friendship, loyalty, and promises that I feel many kids will be able to relate to. I also love that this book focuses on girls interested in science and STEM. With a few beautiful hand-drawn illustrations sprinkled throughout, this would be a good book for readers that love graphic novels. This book would be ideal for grades 3 – 6. Amazon affiliate link below.

December 1, 2019



Thanks to the Kid Lit Exchange network and Scholastic Inc. for the review copy of Wildfire by Rodman Philbrick. All opinions are my own. This book was released on September 3, 2019.
From the author of Freak the Mighty, comes this new book about 12-year old Sam that gets separated from his campmates just as a wildfire rages through the area. The next few days are filled with action as Sam tries to remember what his late father taught him about surviving. Along the way, Sam meets a 14-year old girl named Delphy, and they work together to try and survive and make it back to civilization.
At less than 200 pages, and packed with action, this book would be great for reluctant readers! I didn’t want to put the book down, and there was a lot of action to keep the plot moving quickly. I liked that the end of the novel included more information about wildfires as well as safety tips. This book would be ideal for grades 4 – 7.
I liked this book so much, that I purchased a copy for my fourth-grade classroom, and this book hasn’t been on my bookshelf since I first placed it there! Students are lining up to be the next one to read it! Amazon affiliate link below if you are interested in purchasing your own copy!

October 9, 2019

Beginners Welcome


Thanks to the Kid Lit Exchange network and Harper Books for the review copy of this book by Cindy Baldwin. All opinions are my own. This book is scheduled to be released on February 20, 2020.
Cindy Baldwin has done it again! Fans of Where the Watermelons Grow will LOVE this book! Cindy Baldwin has a gift for writing in a way that is both emotional and realistic.
Annie Lee has a lot on her shoulders. Eighty-three days ago, her father suddenly dropped dead while playing a game of basketball at church. The grief alone feels like it may crush her, and the sudden life changes are not helping. Annie Lee and her mom had to move into a tiny, cramped apartment across town. Annie Lee is also starting a new school, and her best friends from her old school have drifted away from her. To make matters worse, Annie Lee’s mother had to make her part-time job cleaning houses into a full-time job, leaving Annie Lee alone for several hours after school.
With the struggles of life overwhelming her, Annie Lee has decided her new goal is to try and be invisible. She avoids talking to others or making connections to them because she’s learned that letting others in makes it hurt so much more when they leave. Despite her best efforts to remain invisible, Annie Lee befriends a skater girl at school named Mitch and an elderly pianist named Ray. However, when Ray goes missing, Annie Lee may have to risk losing her new friendship with Mitch to find him.
I absolutely loved this book for its beauty and raw emotion. Cindy Baldwin has such a gift for getting to the real and often ugly thoughts that accompany strong grief. At one point, Annie Lee wishes that it had been her mother that died instead of her father. This part felt so raw to me, and I could see a kid having this thought, and feeling so much guilt over it, just as Annie Lee does. I think some children may be able to find comfort in these raw and emotional parts of the book because it can show them that they are not alone. This book is a MUST read for anybody in grade 4 and up. Affiliate link below.

August 27, 2019

Everything Awesome About Dinosaurs

Thanks to the Kid Lit Exchange network and Orchard Books for the review copy of this book by Mike Lowery. All opinions are my own. This book will be released on October 15, 2019.
My favorite thing about this nonfiction text is that it looks and reads like a graphic novel. The facts are paired with jokes and cartoon-like drawings that will keep kids interested. There is even a section at the end that explains how to draw various dinosaurs. I also love that this book gives a brief history of life on Earth leading up to the dinosaurs. Then the dinosaurs themselves are presented in an award show style format with “awards” for the fastest dinosaur, largest dinosaur, etc. This text even explores a few extinction theories and discusses other prehistoric creatures. There are a lot of facts and information packed into this book, but it is presented in a way that does not feel overwhelming or boring.
This would be a great book for children that are reluctant to read nonfiction books. The graphic novel feel will help to hold their attention, and they’ll learn some pretty amazing facts! This book would be ideal for grades 2 – 5. Affiliate link below.