Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Blog Tour: On Bird Hill by Jane Yolen, illustrated by Bob Marstall

Welcome to Day #3 of the On Bird Hill Blog Tour!
To celebrate the release of On Bird Hill by Jane Yolen and illustrated by Bob Marstall (5/10/16), blogs across the web are featuring exclusive content from Jane, Bob, and Brian Sockin (CEO and Publisher of Cornell Lab Publishing Group), plus 10 chances to win a copy of On Bird Hill and a window bird feeder!

The Road to Publication by Brian Scott Sockin
On Bird Hill, by bestselling children’s author Jane Yolen, illustrated by award-winning artist Bob Marstall, was the very first book signed to the new Cornell Lab Publishing Group. The imprint was founded during the Cornell Lab’s centennial celebration in 2015, with the goal of sharing its knowledge and passion for birds in order to inspire people everywhere to appreciate and care for birds, and their environments.

More than 50 million people in the U.S. observe and care for birds each year. And it’s no wonder: birds are a portal to the natural world and conservation, readily accessible everywhere, beautiful and wondrous. When we first read On Bird Hill, it inspired us in two ways. First, On Bird Hill is a story of what’s possible to discover in everyday life, if we stop and take notice of our natural surroundings. And second, the story is about the miraculous spark of new life and that new life’s own experience of discovery, conveying a subtle but deeply emotional link with the very essence of nature, even in the simplest of things we take for granted. It is for this reason that On Bird Hill is fantastical in its beautifully -constructed and stunning illustrations by Bob Marstall, called “Seussian” by several reviewers (oh yes, we took that as a big compliment!). Bob’s flowing scenes lead us through the story so effortlessly, like the simple saunter on Bird Hill itself.

What’s next? Lots. On Bird Hill is the first in a planned series that takes us from this imaginary world to real ones, but using the same tone and manner of the first. On Duck Pond, which releases next Spring, will take readers to a serene and misty pond, calmly filled with creatures large and small in that habitat. Suddenly, humans happen on their path to the pond and it comes alive in a cascading cacophony of sound and frenetic movement...until they pass and all simmers back to stasis. In this, and future series titles, we will bridge the world of real creatures in real habitats, but still convey the same sense of wonderment that was established with On Bird Hill.

The third title, debuting Spring 2018, is On Gull Beach. Here, readers are taken to the shoreline, which abounds with land, air and sea creatures alike. Future titles will cover the other habitats such as mountains, marshlands, urban, and other landscapes, covering all the major habitats in the U.S. where birds live and thrive.

So how does a children’s picture book support the mission of a science organization? Just like our live bird cams, our allaboutbirds.org website (the #1 birding website), or our YouTube videos, all of which engage tens of millions; it’s about engagement. When we create an emotional connection between a reader and a bird, something magical happens. Whether it leads to simple appreciation or a strong desire to be a conservationist, every connection matters. It is our goal with our picture books to inspire children at a young age, to help raise a new generation of bird lovers and future caretakers of our environment.

About the CEO and Publisher: Brian Scott Sockin has authored 7 books, including the children’s title C.A.R.E. Treasury of Children’s Folklore. Brian has a B.A. in Psychology from Binghamton University and M.B.A. from the Wharton School of Business. Brian is CEO and Publisher of the Cornell Lab Publishing Group, which has afforded him the rare opportunity to pair his passion for nature and writing, with his business career. Brian is a native of upstate NY and now lives in Cary, NC with his family.
*****
Stop by MamaPapaBarn tomorrow for Day #4 of the tour!
Blog Tour Schedule:
June 20th – The O.W.L.
June 21st — The Book Monsters
June 23rd  — MamaPapaBarn
June 24th — Rockin' Book Reviews June 27th — Kristi's Book Nook
June 28th — Books My Kids Read
June 29th — Word Spelunking
June 30th — Cracking the Cover
July 1st — Can You Read Me a Story?

Loosely based on the old cumulative nursery rhyme/song “The Green Grass Grew All Around,” a nursery rhyme first published as a song in 1912. But in this version, it’s a boy and his dog who find the bird in a nest on a hill in a strange valley. Following in the footsteps of Jane’s highly acclaimed Owl Moon, winner of the prestigious Caldecott Award, On Bird Hill is a beautiful picture book with an enchanting story, fancifully illustrated by renowned artist Bob Marstall. On Bird Hill is sure to attract interest from millions of readers and fans of Jane’s popular classics.
About the Author: Jane Yolen has authored more than 350 books, including the Caldecott-winning Owl Moon, which every budding young ornithologist owns, You Nest Here With Me, which is a popular new favorite, and the New York Times bestselling series How Do Dinosaurs. Jane Yolen’s books have been translated into over 20 languages and are popular around the world. Janes husband, David Stemple, was both a well known bird recordist and a professor of computer science and he taught the entire family how to identify birds. Many of Jane’s books are about wildlife subjects, especially the winged kind. Jane lives in Easthampton, MA. Visit her online at janeyolen.com.


About the Illustrator: Bob Marstall is the illustrator of nine nonfiction children’s books, including the The Lady and the Spider, which sold over a quarter-of-a-million copies and was a Reading Rainbow selection. Bob has also been honored with an ALA Notable; an IRA Teachers’ Choice; a Smithsonian Magazine Notable Book for Children; and three John Burroughs selections.
In addition, two of Bob’s books are included in the New York Times Parent’s Guide’s “1001 Best Books of the Twentieth Century.” Bob Lives in Easthamton, MA. Visit him online at bobmartsall.com.


About the Cornell Lab: The Cornell Lab of Ornithology is a world leader in the study, appreciation, and conservation of birds. Our hallmarks are scientific excellence and technological innovation to advance the understanding of nature and to engage people of all ages in learning about birds and protecting the planet. birds.cornell.edu

GIVEAWAY
  • One (1) winner will receive a copy of On Bird Hill and a Window Bird Feeder ($28.99) to get up close and personal with the birds in your backyard! Great for blends, peanuts and safflower, this durable feeder attaches right to your window pane with suction cups, allowing you to see every bird detail. It's easy to fill and easy to clean.
  • US only

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, June 20, 2016

It's Monday! What are you reading? 6-20-16


It's Monday! What are you reading? Is a wonderful community of readers, teachers, and librarians. Hosted by Jen over at Teach Mentor Texts along with Kellee and Ricki at Unleashing Readers, participants share their reading adventures from the past week along with their reading plans for the week ahead.


Last week I posted:

Ms. Bixby's Last Day blog tour


I didn't finish any books last week, but I seemed to have started a whole slew of them, so here's what I've been reading with my eyes and ears this past week:

Hamilton: The Revolution by Lin-Manuel Miranda and Jeremy McCarter
Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow
Because like many of you, I have recently been stricken with #hamilaria


Jimi and Me by Jaime Adoff
Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige 

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Ms. Bixby's Last Day blog tour

I am honored to be part of the blog tour for this wonderful book by John David Anderson. This is the story about three young sixth graders skip school and go on a madcap hero's journey to visit their teacher in the hospital who is going through cancer treatment. It is a heartfelt, but not overly sentimental or treacly story about the impact great teachers can have on our lives.

Which of course, has led me to think about all the great teachers in my life. I wouldn't say that one particular teacher in my K-12 education stands out from all the others because there was such a sense of love and community at the school I attended (which is where I now currently teach) and as a result, I feel like all of my teachers helped shape who I am today. 

But the teachers who stand out the most to me, most likely due to recency and proximity, are my grad school professors. For my entire life I have always been a good student and motivated to do well in school. But truth be told, like so many kids, I took education for granted. I didn't understand just how important it was. Through middle school, high school, and my undergrad, I looked forward to the day when I didn't have to go to school anymore. 

But then I went to grad school and I started studying the things that I wanted to learn about, and suddenly a fire had been ignited inside me. I realized that education and learning mean so much more when we can choose our own destiny. And because of that, I think of how I can use my students' interests and passions to fuel their own learning desires. So I'd have to say that all my professors in the English department at Eastern Michigan University were my Ms. Bixby, but in particular, my adviser, Dr. Cathy Fleischer (pictured with me above) who not only helped guide me on my educational path, but in my career as well.

 
Watch this Walden TV Video inspired by Ms. Bixby's Last Day


Read an excerpt from the book.


Visit the other stops on the Ms. Bixby's Last Day blog tour:


6/2/2016
6/3/2016
6/6/2016
6/7/2016
6/8/2016
6/9/2016
6/10/2016
6/13/2016
6/14/2016
6/15/2016
6/16/2016
6/16/2016
6/17/2016
6/20/2016
6/21/2016
6/22/2016
6/23/2016
6/24/2016
6/27/2016
6/28/2016
6/29/2016
6/30/2016
7/1/2016
 

Monday, June 13, 2016

It's Monday! What are you reading? 6-13-16


It's Monday! What are you reading? Is a wonderful community of readers, teachers, and librarians. Hosted by Jen over at Teach Mentor Texts along with Kellee and Ricki at Unleashing Readers, participants share their reading adventures from the past week along with their reading plans for the week ahead.

My Monday posts are generally just a highlight of what I've been reading during the week so if you'd like to see all that I've been reading, follow my Goodreads page.

It's summer vacation! Woo hoo! On Wednesday, I received some exciting news about what I'll be doing next school year.

Last week I finished reading:

Ms. Bixby's Last Day by John David Anderson
My blog tour post for this book is scheduled for tomorrow. 


I finished reading with my ears:

100 Sideways Miles by Andrew Smith
Grateful to Audiobook Sync for such great selections this summer.


Currently reading:

Jimi and Me by Jaime Adoff
This is a little known YA novel in verse. I just started this one yesterday so I'm not that far into the story yet. 


Currently reading with my ears:

Shallow Graves by Kali Wallace

Monday, June 6, 2016

It's Monday! What are you reading? 6-6-16


It's Monday! What are you reading? Is a wonderful community of readers, teachers, and librarians. Hosted by Jen over at Teach Mentor Texts along with Kellee and Ricki at Unleashing Readers, participants share their reading adventures from the past week along with their reading plans for the week ahead.

My Monday posts are generally just a highlight of what I've been reading during the week so if you'd like to see all that I've been reading, follow my Goodreads page.

Last week I finished reading:

As Brave As You by Jason Reynolds  

While I didn't connect with this book as much as Reynolds' YA novels, I'm also thrilled to see that the sweet, gentle stories that Reynolds is known for have made their way to the hearts and minds of middle grade readers. It's also one of those books that I have discovered is growing on me in fondness the more that time passes. 
  
 
I also finished reading with my ears:

Vivian Apple at the End of the World by Katie Coyle  
I really enjoyed the audio of this book. Thanks to the summer Audiobook Sync program for all the great free YA listening experiences. I definitely need to read the sequel now!  


Picture books that stood out in the pile: 

A Pig Parade is a Terrible Idea by Michael Ian Black, illustrated by Kevin Hawkes
Who knew being a killjoy could be so much fun? I love Michael Ian Black's dry, deadpan humor. It definitely makes his picture books stand out. 

 
What Do You Do with a Problem? by Kobi Yamada, illustrated by Mae Besom
Definitely a text I will be using for classroom community building in the future. 

 
Finding Wild by Megan Lloyd Wagner, illustrated by Abigail Halpin
Equally stunning writing and illustrations. 


This is Not a Picture Book! by Sergio Ruzzier
A lovely, simple story about the power of words. A book I will undoubtedly be using next year with my students. 


If You Ever Want to Bring a Piano to the Beach, Don't! by Elise Parsley
Don't bring a piano to the beach. You'll probably lose it. Absolute delightful absurdity. If you're in a bad mood, read this book. It's sure to put a smile on your face. 

 
The Thank You Book by Mo Willems 
The perfect ending to the Elephant and Piggie series, though I'm sad there will be no more books. 


Currently Reading:

Ms. Bixby's Last Day by John David Anderson
I'm looking forward to being one of the blog tour stops for this book next week. 


Currently reading with my ears:

100 Sideways Miles by Andrew Smith
Another Audiobook Sync selection. I'm really enjoying this one so far. 

Monday, May 30, 2016

It's Monday! What are you reading? 5-30-16


It's Monday! What are you reading? Is a wonderful community of readers, teachers, and librarians. Hosted by Jen over at Teach Mentor Texts along with Kellee and Ricki at Unleashing Readers, participants share their reading adventures from the past week along with their reading plans for the week ahead.

My Monday posts are generally just a highlight of what I've been reading during the week so if you'd like to see all that I've been reading, follow my Goodreads page.

Last week I reviewed:
  
Symptoms of Being Human by Jeff Garvin


I finished reading:

Something New: Tales from a Makeshift Bride by Lucy Knisley
I am a big time Lucy Knisley fan. Her new memoir did not disappoint. She always manages to get me out of my reading slumps. My only gripe about it is that the lettering is way too small and I felt like I was squinting for most of the book. But Knisley's art puts me in mind of a grown-up version of Raina Telgemeier's -- what Raina's readers will grow up to read and love when they're older. I especially love when Knisley combines real photographs with her drawings. It helps give a different perspective and makes the narrative unique.


I finished reading with my ears:

George by Alex Gino
An important book to add to the canon of LGBT literature for kids.


Picture books that stood out in the pile:

Life and I: A Story about Death by Elisabeth Helland Larsen, illustrated by Marine Schneider 
A surprisingly gentle and poignant book about death as personified by a young girl. It is a beautiful metaphor for how death and life are not at odds with one another, but instead hold hands with each other. 


Mr. Particular: The World's Choosiest Champion by Jason Kirschner
Fans of Babymouse and Squish, the perpetual comic book underdogs, will enjoy this story of a young superhero who might be a little too finicky to be part of his friends' superhero squad.  

 
Poor Little Guy by  Elanna Allen
Don't mess with David, Goliath. You just might get your comeuppance.  


Giant Steps to Change the World by Spike Lee and Tanya Lewis Lee, illustrated by Sean Qualls\
This book would have benefited from an author's note at the end with some back matter about the people that were alluded to throughout the book, but there are quotes by the people in the end papers so I guess that will have to suffice. However, the writing was beautiful and inspiring and definitely worth sharing with students. It had the air if a commencement address to it. 


Still reading:

As Brave As You by Jason Reynolds  

My plans to finish this book last week were thwarted by Something New coming in at the library. This book has been slower going for me than Reynolds' other books and I'm not sure why. I think part of it is the third person narration doesn't feel right for this story. I tend to connect much better to first person narrators. 


Currently reading with my ears:

Vivian Apple at the End of the World by Katie Coyle
I downloaded this as part of the free summer Audiobook Sync program and am enjoying it so far. If you haven't heard of Audiobook Sync and you love listening to audiobooks, definitely check it out. 

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Symptoms of Being Human by Jeff Garvin

Goodreads summary:
Riley Cavanaugh is many things: Punk rock. Snarky. Rebellious. And gender fluid. Some days Riley identifies as a boy, and others as a girl. But Riley isn't exactly out yet. And between starting a new school and having a congressman father running for reelection in ├╝ber-conservative Orange County, the pressure—media and otherwise—is building up in Riley's life.

On the advice of a therapist, Riley starts an anonymous blog to vent those pent-up feelings and tell the truth of what it's really like to be a gender fluid teenager. But just as Riley's starting to settle in at school—even developing feelings for a mysterious outcast—the blog goes viral, and an unnamed commenter discovers Riley's real identity, threatening exposure. And Riley must make a choice: walk away from what the blog has created—a lifeline, new friends, a cause to believe in—or stand up, come out, and risk everything.



I've been having a really hard time figuring out how to write this review because every time I try to talk about the main character, I don't know which gender binary pronoun to use. But I think that's the point -- to feel this sense of cognitive dissonance at having to move beyond established paradigms. And the author does an amazing job at keeping you wondering through the entire book as to the gender that society would assign to Riley Cavanaugh. 

I thoroughly enjoyed Symptoms of Being Human. Jeff Garvin does a wonderful job of helping the reader get behind Riley's plight as many young readers are likely to have never heard of the concept of gender fluidity. But because the author surely knows so many people haven't heard of this issue before, there were places in the story that felt more like it was trying to be an educational pamphlet than a young adult novel. I certainly don't fault Jeff Garvin for that, but at the same time, it made the story feel a bit like an after school special in places. That doesn't make the book any less compelling; it just made the narrative a little bit more noticeable at the seams. Even so, the writing in Symptoms of Being Human is both precise and poetic. Riley doesn't mince words, but still manages to write with a sense of wonder and appreciation at the power they hold. 

If you're looking to add to your collection of YA novels with compelling LGBTQ characters, I highly recommend Jeff Garvin's debut novel. 


Symptoms of Being Human by Jeff Garvin
Published: February 2, 2016
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Pages: 352
Genre: Realistic Fiction
Audience: Young Adult
Disclosure: Audiobook download provided by publisher

If you buy this book or any book through Amazon, it is my hope that you also regularly patronize independent bookstores, which are important centerpieces of thriving communities. While I am an Amazon Affiliate, that by no means implies that I only buy my books through their website. Please make sure you are still helping small, independent bookstores thrive in your community. To locate an independent bookstore near you, visit IndieBound.