Kid Lit Book Review – I May Fly by Brandon Baxter

My latest book review is a story called I May Fly by Brandon Baxter.  In the words of the author, it is a story about “teaching children the importance of being patient while you grow, letting life and its lessons take their due course.” Brandon was kind enough to do an author interview with me to share along with my review of his book, so keep reading after the review to hear what he has to say about the inspiration behind the story and some of the process of taking an idea and turning it into a published work.

Overview

This story is by far the shortest story that I’ve featured on the blog as of yet.  However, that does not diminish it at all, it’s simply written for a very young audience. I really enjoyed reading it and loved the illustrations.  The story is about a mayfly named May Fly who is very young and, as of yet, unable to fly.  As the book goes on, May Fly talks about having confidence in who she is and where she is in life right now and accepting that.  The story is based on a sort of play on words that is very clever.  The main character says, “I’m a fly” then “I May Fly.” So as you read it, the two sentences sound exactly the same.  The entire book is somewhat a clever play on words as it is a rhyming book.  As I read it, I pictured reading it to my own young children right before naps or bedtime.  It has a lullaby feel to it and the illustrations reinforce that aura.

Outstanding Points

The first thing that stuck out to me in this book is how consistent it is genre wise and thematically.  As I said, the book feels like a lullaby to read to a very young child as they go to sleep.  It is rhyming and whimsical.  Shannon Lloyd, the illustrator, did an outstanding job of keeping the illustrations consistent with the overall feel of the book.  They are done in a kind of hazy pastel style that is somewhat fantastical and dreamlike.  The colors are soft and soothing to create an entire ambience that is warm and relaxing.  I also really did enjoy the whole play on words that creates the book.  As a parent who is constantly forced to read the same 100-700 word books over and over and over again, it caught my interest and engaged me in the book right away.  I also like that the book was only 110 words.  I feel like it is the perfect length for what it is.  It’s not a huge story with a lot of plot twists.  It is a simple story for young children.  I think if the author had made it any longer, it would have been too much of the same thing in an effort to simply extend it.  However, as I said, I feel that the length of the book is perfect.

Discussion and Teaching Points for Parents/Guardians and Teachers

The themes in this book are great for discussion points with young children, especially those with siblings.  One of the things that May Fly says is, “I may fly tomorrow, or today.”  I think it’s probably a great thing to discuss with children that some things may come more quickly to some kind than to others.  Just because you can do something or do it better than another child doesn’t mean that you are better and just because another child can do something or do it better doesn’t mean that you are worse.  Talking about how everyone has innate and inherent value simply based on being a living creature and not based on any kind of merit is a very important discussion.

May Fly also says “Some believe I won’t fly at all.  Perhaps it’s because they think I’m too small.”  This too is a very important discussion point for children.  I believe that many times, children don’t reach their full potential because of the limits that they allow other people to place on them.  Talking to them about overcoming obstacles in life despite what others may say is critical.

Overall, I very much enjoyed this book.  It was also great to be able to work with an author from my own home town of Medina, Oh.  If this book piques your interest, click on this link to check it out on Amazon.  Now on to the author interview.

ES – Is I May Fly your first book?

BB – I May Fly is indeed my first book. I’ve had previous writing experience in the past, mainly writing news copy as a sports producer and contributing as a sports writer for a couple of blogs. But, writing a children’s book has been my first foray into actual published literature.

ES – What would you say the message or theme of the book is?

BB – Patience and perseverance. It’s geared toward teaching children the importance of being patient while you grow, letting life and its lessons take their due course.

ES – How long ago did you get the idea and how long from there to actually publishing your book?

BB – The idea came to me in June of 2018, shortly after uprooting and moving to a new city. As I left for work one morning, a wall of mayflies covered the door of my apartment building. After brushing them off of me and sliding into my car, the word mayfly began running through my mind. My entire drive into work that day was in complete silence as I played around with words in my head. It would be another month before finally putting pen to paper, then another three months before meeting my illustrator (Shannon Lloyd). The first publishing didn’t occur until late January 2019, when I decided to self-publish using Kindle.

ES – How/where did you find your illustrator? Was it a process finding someone whose style fit that of your manuscript?

BB – Honestly, I give credit to connections I‘ve made. I met Shannon through a former co-worker, someone who I was simply talking with about my book. This co-worker, Rebecca, mentioned to me that a friend of hers had illustrated a children’s book before. I asked if she’d be willing to introduce us. After having my initial conversation with Shannon, I asked her to look over my manuscript and create a character that children would find to be cute and endearing. To this day I still feel Shannon nailed it on the first try!

ES – What does it feel like to have an actual published book and to officially be an author?

BB – It’s kind of surreal, it’s something I never would have thought about or expected out of myself. Had you asked 30 year-old Brandon, it would have never crossed my mind. But age and life experiences can change a person, and sometimes you have to pay close attention to those changes and what information they bring. I can guarantee you that if certain instances had not occurred in my life, I would not be a published author at this specific point in time.

ES – Would you like to have a career exclusively as an author?

BB – I would love that! I feel I might possess quite a few unique stories to share with and tell the world.

ES – Do you have any more books/writing in the works?

BB – I haven’t yet begun writing in earnest, not another story at least. I do have some ideas of continuing May Fly tales, so we’ll see where her next adventure takes us.

ES – How and where can people get ahold of your book and/or follow you on Twitter and/or Instagram?

BB – “I May Fly” can currently be purchased as paperback on Amazon and digitally on Kindle. I encourage readers to like and share my Facebook page for all kind of information about my writings, it’s called Stories by: Brandon Baxter. You can also find me on Twitter, my handle is @bbaxter8

 

Thanks everyone for reading and following the blog.  If you don’t follow and would like to, please click on the link in the lower right hand corner of your screen and enter your email.  I’d really appreciate it.  Thanks and happy reading.

Kid Lit Book Review and Author Interview – Berkley: A Nose Tail by David Hillman

“It’s ok to be different, and to be able to take what some might see as a disadvantage, and turn it into an asset.”

In the words of David Hillman, author of Berkley: A Nose Tail, that is the message of his first book.  David was kind enough to conduct an author interview with me along with allowing me to review his book on the blog.  Enjoy.

In reading your mini author bio in Berkley, it seems that you were an artist first and then wrote a children’s book. Is that pretty accurate? What are some things you’ve done artistically before Berkley?

Yes. I’ve been a commercial illustrator for some time, and became a writer out of necessity. I have a lot of stories inside me that I want to tell through my illustrations, but in order to do that I knew I had to learn how to write as well.

Do you enjoy writing in general aside from children’s books? Could you ever picture yourself writing a novel?

As I continue to write I’m starting to enjoy the process more than I used to. While I don’t think I have a novel in me, I do have an idea for an ongoing series of chapter books for middle grade readers, but that’s still far down the road.

Can you take us through your journey a little bit on your way to becoming an author/illustrator? What were some important steps and moments throughout that process?

Illustrating children’s books has been something I’ve wanted to do for some time. I’ve spent the better part of my career drawing comic books and storyboards, as well as general illustration and I’ve enjoyed doing that. Now I’ve reached a point in my career where I want to leave behind something, something that readers will enjoy for years to come.

The most important step in the process is asking myself if the idea I have is a fun one, will it make me smile? If it’s fun and funny then I’m on the right track.

Berkley is your first book. Do you have any more in the works right now?

I’m currently working on the next Berkley story and I also have a few ideas for other stories. I’m also working on offering my skills to illustrate books for other authors.

Who/what was the inspiration for Berkley?

Berkley has been sniffing around in my head for some years. Just the image of a dog with a HUGE nose seemed pretty funny to me. It’s been only recently I started to wrap a story around him.

Has everyone in your family always supported you being an artist/author as a vocation?

Absolutely! My entire family has been very supportive throughout my career, but most especially my wife. She’s been incredibly supportive, and tolerant of my insanity, how she’s been able to put up with it is beyond me.

Who in your life has been your biggest mentor?

I’d have to say it’s been my father, a writer of children’s books himself, He used to give me some of his yellow writing pads for me to draw on, and I’ve been doodling ever since.

Sadly, he’s no longer with us, but when I’m having a problem with a story I’m working on I look at his picture and think to myself, “What would dad do?”

If you could summarize the message of Berkley into one statement for children, what is it?

That it’s ok to be different, and to be able to take what some might see as a disadvantage, and turn it into an asset.

What is one piece of advice you would give to an aspiring children’s book author like me?

Practice your craft because you love it, not because someone tells you should do it. Also, do the kind of work you feel inspired to, be true to your own style. Early in my career I had someone suggest that I should create illustrations of a certain type, and it just didn’t work for me. The work was stiff, flat, and I got bored with it very soon. Find what you really are interested in, and practice it every chance you get. Make the next story, or the next project better than the last, and the next, and the next…

My thanks to David for taking the time to do the interview with me and for allowing me to review his book, which I loved.

Overview

Berkley: A Nose Tail is a story about a dog who is born with a HUGE nose.  His nose is constantly getting him into trouble as he loves to stick it in places where it doesn’t necessarily belong.  However, when his owner’s friend is unable to find her cat, Berkley’s nose is the only thing that is able to help.

Outstanding Points

As I’ve done more and more book reviews, the diversity of illustrations and the obvious talent behind all of them irregardless of style is amazing.  The Illustrations in Berkley are fantastic.  The detail and intricacy of them are truly remarkable.  As you can see even from the front cover, just very excellent overall.  Mr Hillman, as you can read in the interview, began his career in visual arts and illustrating, and that fact is very apparent.

I love the message behind the book.  I enjoy books with messages but also enjoy that this one isn’t blatantly stated either.  I also love this particular message as it deals with an actual physical characteristic.  In the social media driven society that over-analyzes and scrutinizes every photo, a message of self-acceptance and self-appreciation is very appropriate and relevant.

There is another message, although much more subtle, that I also love.  Warning, I’m about to preach a bit.  One of the main characters is an African-American girl.  In the book, her father is a police officer.  I love that, although it is subtly ingrained, a person of color is painted (literally) in such a positive light.

The story itself is compelling and engaging.  I enjoyed reading it.  Although for an adult, the outcome is predictable, a child would definitely be locked in waiting to see how it will turn out.

From start to finish, the story and setup of the book is consistent.  There are about the same amount of words on each page appropriate to the age level the book targets.  The storyline is coherent and complete.

Discussion Points and Teaching Ideas

Becky, one of the characters in the story, automatically assumes the worst in the story.  I think it would be good a discussion about negative self-talk and imagining the worst possible scenario.  Talk about how many times we think the worst possible thing has happened when really it wasn’t anything like that at all.  Allow students to share stories from their lives.

Jeremy, Berkley’s owner, knew about how amazing Berkley’s nose was, even when most other people viewed it as a detriment.  So, when Becky needed his help, Jeremy jumped at the chance for Berkley to prove himself.  How can we be that way as friends, classmates, or siblings?

Is it easier to see the potential in others or in ourselves?  How do you think that this should affect how we treat each other?

Allow students to create an animal that has something crazy like Berkley’s huge nose?  Have them brainstorm how that animal might use whatever it has.

What should Berkley’s next story be?  How else might he be able to use his nose to help people?

Well, that’s all.  Overall, I really liked this book and was really impressed with the art in it.  You can find Berkley: A Nose Tail in several places.

You can go to Amazon at this link Here

It is also available from Barnes and Noble Here

Or you can go to the official Berkley web page Here

You can also follow David Hillman on Instagram at @dnahillman

I really do hope you will go check it out for yourself.  You will certainly  not be disappointed.  As always, thank you for reading.  I hope you enjoyed it.  If you want to follow the blog to receive email updated whenever I post something new, simply click on the link in the lower right hand corner of your screen.  Thanks again.

Baking on a Saturday – No Sugar Added Apple Butter Banana Bread

One thing that annoys me with many food/recipe blogs is that there is usually at least a 5,000 word story to scroll through before you get to the actual recipe you were looking for in the first place.  That being said, the idea for this recipe kind of does have a story behind it but I’ll keep it quick.

Through a series of events, we came into possession of about a hundred apples and only used about thirty-five of them.  Never the one to throw extra food away, I decided to try my hand at home made apple butter.  The apple butter actually turned out really really good.  However, after about two weeks, we still had a good bit left and I was sick of seeing it in our fridge.  It was also a Saturday when I was home alone with the kids.  I love passing on my passion for cooking and baking to my kids, so we went into the lab together and created apple butter banana bread.

If you’ve read my recipe blogs before, you know that I am a huge fan of not loading foods, especially ones with fruits (i.e. sugar) already in them.  It’s not necessarily that I’m an insanely healthy eater.  I’m not.  I just don’t like that some recipes have as much sugar as flour.  In essence, I would rather my banana bread taste more like bananas than sugar.  So you’ll notice that this recipe has absolutely no extra sugar added.  When I made the original apple butter, I added about a quarter cup of brown sugar but this recipe only uses a small amount of the total apple butter.  So all in all, there is probably about a tablespoon of brown sugar from the apple butter actually in the bread.

So, after complaining about blogs that take forever to get to the actual recipe, I used three hundred to introduce this one.  I apologize. Here’s the recipe.

Ingredients

2 ripe bananas

1 cup apple butter

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1 tsp vanilla extract

2 eggs (if you want a vegan recipe, substitute 1/4 cup applesauce)

2 cups flour

1 1/2 tsp baking soda

1 tbsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp salt

Step One

Preheat the oven to 350*

Step Two

Mash the bananas in a medium bowl.  I find that it is easiest to just use a fork for this.  Then add the apple butter, vegetable oil, vanilla, and eggs/applesauce.  Mix it all together until it is relatively smooth.  Set the wet mix aside. 20190112_085846.jpg

Step Three

In a separate bowl, add the dry ingredients; the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt.  Mix them together until they are well blended.20190112_085357.jpg

Step Four

Add the wet mix into the dry mix.  Mix it together until the entire mixture is relatively smooth.  Use a rubber spatula to make sure that all the dry mix is off the edges of the bowl or when you go to pour the batter, you’ll all of a sudden have a spot of dry flour in your bread that never got mixed in.20190112_124550.jpg

Step Five

Spray a loaf pan with cooking spray and pour/spoon the batter into the pan.  Bake for 50 minutes or until you can insert a fork into the middle of the loaf and it comes out clean.  Try your best to eat it while it is still warm out the oven.  If not, this bread should hold pretty well for a couple of days.  It pairs really well with coffee but what doesn’t? Am I right?  Also, don’t judge me that the kids are all still in their pajamas, it’s a Saturday ok.

 

Well, as always, thanks for taking time to read the blog.  I hope you enjoyed it and that you try this recipe and love it too.  Our family liked it a lot even though it’s not super sweet.  If you want to follow the blog to receive email updates whenever I post something new, please click on the link in the lower right hand corner of your screen.  Thanks again.

 

Kid Lit Book Review – The Little Labradoodle: Puppy Pickup Day

I know it has been a while since my last post and I apologize.  It has been a very eventful but rewarding holiday season so far but one that left very little time for writing.  I am excited to share with you all a review of another children’s book and one that is top notch.  The Little Labradoodle: Puppy Pickup Day is a delightful story and it was a pleasure to read and review.

Overview

The book follows the story of Brady, the smallest labradoodle puppy in the litter, on the day that families are coming to get the puppies to take them home.  The puppies are all washed and primped and ready for pickup.  As the puppies wait for their families to arrive, they play games.  For Brady, he is too small to be able to compete with his brothers and sisters.  So he wanders off to find other ways to entertain himself.  He is a curious and somewhat mischievous little fellow and soon gets himself lost as the other doodles are picked up.  However, with some help from his friends, he is able to make it back to the house just as his family arrives.  At this point, he is beset with fear and anxiety as he worries that his family will not be able to love him since he is so small and clumsy and is now covered in dirt.  However, his fears are soon put to rest as his new family accepts him exactly how he is and gladly takes him home with them.

Outstanding Points

  • The illustrations are some of the best available.  Len Smith, the illustrator, has a resume that is simply filled with high profile work in children’s literature and entertainment.  The Little Labradoodle follows suite and does not disappoint.  Both the characters and landscapes are bright, colorful, and engaging.
  • I like rhyming books.  As a former teacher, I like that you can use them to teach word families, rhyming and vowel patterns, and phonemic awareness in general.  They rhyming in this book is good and would make teaching from it very easy.
  • The book is complete with an activity and coloring book for children and also an adult coloring book as well.  The activities are fun and engaging as are the coloring pages.
  • The plot of the book is easy to follow and unified in its style and rhythm.
  • The book has a good message.  At the end, it is not physical characteristics or capabilities that matter to the people who love you.  They love you for who you are.  That’s what matters.

Teaching Points

This book lends itself very well to several teaching points.

  • As the labradoodle puppies are picked up, the book counts down.  This would be a good way to teach subtraction and counting back while incorporating a cross curricular engaging story in math.
  • There are several characters that Brady meets along the way.  Putting them in order would be a good way to teaching sequencing using the key words like “first,” “next,” “then,” and “last” or “finally.” The teacher could even use student coloring pages from the activity book to create a large version of a sequencing chart on the wall so that the students are invested in the visual aide.
  • The labradoodle puppy doesn’t have a name until the very end when his family gets him and give him a name.  Look at the illustration of the puppy then.  Compare that to the picture of him just before.  How does the puppy feel about getting a name?  Why is it important that his family gave him a name?
  • Make a prediction.  What do you think will happen when the family gets home.  List three things they might do.  (Remember, Brady is still dirty from his adventure).

Discussion Points

  • Feeling significant/ self-worth – The labradoodle is just one of eight puppies and is the smallest and clumsiest one.  Talk about how those things don’t matter.  Discuss how the puppy still had many people in his life who loved and cared for him.  Have students list people in their lives; friends, family, teachers, etc. who love and care for them no matter what.  Use this time to help develop students’ self-worth and self-esteem.
  • Perserverance – The labradoodle had a long journey to get back to his house and meet his family.  Talk about how he had a goal of getting back and how he kept that goal in mind.
  • Cooperation/helping – The labradoodle had friends help him on the way.  List all the friends who help him in his goal of getting back to the house.  Talk about goals that a class as a whole might have and how they will have to work together to achieve those goals.

Conclusion

Overall, I found The Little Labradoodle: Puppy Pickup Day to be a very easy and enjoyable read.  As I said, the illustrations are about the best you can get, the plot is unified and engaging, and the message is positive and relevant for young people.  I highly recommend this book and the activity book and coloring pages with it.  I hope that the author meant it when she said to stay tuned for more adventures with Brady coming soon.

Where to get it

The easiest way to get the book is directly from the website, thelittlelabradoodle.com.  If you buy the book there, you get not only the book itself, but a downloadable pdf of the book, and audiobook version, and the coloring and activity book.  They have a couple of different bundles to purchase that come with a plush little labradoodle toy that would be great for a Christmas or birthday present for a child.  If you already have an Amazon account though, you can find the book there as well. Again, the author is April M. Cox.

 

Well, I hope you enjoyed reading this and I hope you enjoy the book.  As always, please subscribe to the blog by clicking on the link in the right hand corner to receive an email anytime I post something new.  Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoy the rest of your weekend.

Kid Lit Book Review – The Hungry Fox

Overview

One of the things that I really like in a children’s book is that it teaches a lesson.  The Hungry Fox by Cole Adams does that and much more.  The story chronicles a fox’s journey to find food after waking up.  Along the way, he makes many mistakes and learns a lesson each time.  Each chapter is set up as an interaction with a different animal in the story and a different lesson.

Outstanding Points

The book itself is visually striking.  I love the illustrations.  They are mostly in the style of a mosaic pieced together using different geometric shapes. It is a very unique style for illustrating a book.  The colors are bright and engaging with a slightly fanciful air.

The layout of the Table of Contents is as unique as the illustrations.  It is set up as a map with the chapters laid out as way-points in a journey.  Again, in place of what could be a droll portion of the book, the Table of Contents is creative and visually engaging.

The Hungry Fox is written in the style of a fable.  Talking animals that are used to teach a moral.  In this case, each chapter teaches its own separate moral.  In Chapter 1, the fox learns about greed.  In Chapter 2, he learns about pride.  Chapter 3 is a lesson on honesty.  All in all, I counted seven different character traits/lessons in the book.

There is some very high level vocabulary in the book.  For example, in the chapter about greed, Adams uses the word avaricious to describe the fox.  This is a word that many children would not be familiar with at all.  However, being that the entire chapter is about greed, they can use context clues to determine its meaning.

Overall, the story reads well with a continuous and consistent plot structure.  The theme is evident throughout.

Teaching Points

If I had to label The Hungry Fox as any one genre, I would label it a fable.  It has all the classic characteristics of a fable and reads like one as well.  This lends itself very nicely to using it in a unit on fables and comparing it to the classic fables such as Anansi the Spider.  Doing a comparison/contrast activity with a classic fable would be a very good way to use this book.

Talk about the various character traits/morals that the fox learns along its journey and list them.  Have students try to think of other stories/movies that they have read or seen that would teach that same lesson.

I love using reading to spur writing.  Once the students have read and compared several different fables, have them write one of their own.  Assign the students one of the morals that The Hungry Fox teaches and let them create their story.  If some students are more drawn towards visual arts, encourage them to write theirs in a graphic novel type genre.

Select 5-10 of the high level vocabulary words from the book and have the students look them up and write the definition in their own words.  Being able to summarize and rewrite things is a huge skill necessary for most standardized tests.

Discussion Points

This book simply lends itself very well to discussion. The obvious morals taught in the book are great for prompting discussion with  your kids or students.  “What did the fox learn about greed?” and “Do you think that this is true in your own lives?”  are good examples of possible discussion questions.

Conclusion

Overall, I enjoyed reading The Hungry Fox a lot.  Again, I really liked that it was a more modernized version of the classic fable genre.  I would definitely recommend using it for a unit on fables.  I also really liked that the illustrations were done in a geometric/mosaic style.  It would be a fun book for an art teacher to use as a cross curricular aid to incorporate literacy into an art unit as well.

Where to Find It

The Hungry Fox is, I believe, a self-published book.  As of now, it is not likely to be on many book shelves at your local Barnes and Noble.  However, it is not at all difficult to find on Amazon.  Simply search for “The Hungry Fox Cole Adams.”  The book is very affordable.  The print version is available for 9.99 and the digital price is even less at 2.99. Even better, the author will sometimes put it on Amazon Kindle Unlimited for free at times.  Definitely worth a read.

As always, thanks for reading.  If you enjoyed the blog and want to follow it and receive an email anytime there is a new post, click on the link in the lower right hand corner of your screen.

Kid Lit Book Review – Nellie Nutgraf: The Double-Best Reporter in History: A Hot Story

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Overview

Nellie Nutgraf: The Double-Best Reporter in History: A Hot Story, is a fun filled and whimsical journey of the beginning of Nellie Nutgraf, a newspaper reporter.  The story is spread over three different books, available exclusively on a website called getepic.com.  They are written by Tom Angleberger, who is best known for his Origami Yoda series.

The opening lines of the story are “Welcome to the least educational series of all time. Nellie Nutgraf is a newspaper reporter who covers the biggest stories in history.  But it’s not like the history that they teach in school.  It’s a wacky version where everything happens at once, including a lot of things that didn’t happen.”

That opening line gives great foreshadowing into what the rest of the books will be.  It features appearances by Paul Bunyon, Bigfoot, Congresswoman Shirley Chisolm, Albert Einstein, and Benjamin Franklin.  Although the story itself does seem scattered and random, as I read through it, I found that the plot was still continuous and unified.  These first three books followed Nellie from her birth through her first big story.  The book itself is loosely (very loosely) based on the life of Nellie Bly, one of the first investigative journalists in history.

Outstanding

There were several things about the story that stood out to me as being outstanding.

  1. The overall fun and goofy nature of the story grabbed my attention and kept me engaged in the plot the entire time.  Even as an adult, I still enjoyed reading it.
  2. The story features real characters from history.  Although Angleberger is very upfront and honest about the inaccuracy of their part in the story, the end of the books have sections that guide the reader to actual biographies about those people.
  3. Many of the characters are minorities and female. (Congresswoman Shirley Chisolm was the first African American female in Congress) I love seeing prominent roles for these demographics in children’s literature.
  4. Nellie suffers a failure in the middle of the story.  However, she responds to it very well and is more determined than ever to succeed afterwards.
  5. I really enjoyed the illustrations and how they were laid out in the story
  6. These specific books on getepic.com are read-aloud books.  The words are highlighted as the performer reads them.  It is easy to follow along and professionally performed.

Teaching Points

As a former teacher, I always seem to see the teaching points in a book when I read it.

  1. The story itself is written as a tall tale with things like Nellie getting blasted four miles into the air.  Even her birth is similar to those of Paul Bunyon, or Pecos Bill, or Calamity Jane.  This book would work well when teaching through a unit on tall tales or myths.  It would be fun to compare a modern tall tale to a classic one.
  2. As a tall tale based on a real historical figure, this book could also be used in conjunction with a true biography on Nellie Bly to compare her in the book to her in real life.  Based on that comparison, have the students try to write an accurate biography for someone like Paul Bunyan, Hercules, or John Henry.
  3. Have the students try to write a tall tale about themselves or a friend.  Have them illustrate how they would look in a tall tale.
  4. Have the students read Chapter One of the first book.  Have them list three things in that chapter that tell them that this is a tall tale and not historically accurate.

Parenting/ Teaching Discussion Points

Another thing I like to do when I read is to find things that I can use as discussion points for my own children.  These can also be used as classroom discussion questions for students as well.

  1. Nellie fails at her first try to write a story.  How does she respond to that?  What does this tell you about your own life?
  2. Nellie doesn’t seem to let anything in life hold her down, i.e. age, gender, etc.  What would you do with your life if you didn’t consider anything in your life too big to overcome?
  3. The first story that Nellie was assigned was seemingly very unimportant and boring.  How did Nellie approach that?  Was it useful later in her story?

 

Overall, I must say that I truly enjoyed the entire Nellie Nutgraf series.  I was entertained throughout and came away with several teaching ideas and parenting discussion questions.  I hope that Tom Angleberger is not done writing this series and I look forward to reading more from him.

As always, I appreciate you taking the time to read the blog.  I hope that you enjoyed it and came away with something meaningful.  You can follow the blog by clicking on the link in the lower right hand corner of your screen.

25 Signs Your Child is not a Toddler Anymore

I get to spend a lot more time with my kids over the summer.  It hit me the other day that the boys are really not toddlers anymore.  It was kind of a sad and surreal moment for me.  Like how did this happen without me realizing it?

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It’s something that I want and yet don’t want at the same time.  I mean, things are a lot easier with them being less dependent on me for everything but at the same time… I don’t know, it’s just weird.  I don’t think that it was any one thing that led me to the conclusion that they are out of that phase.  It was more of a mix of different things.  So here are 25 signs that your child is not a toddler anymore.

  1. When you let them help you with the dishes or other chores, it actually saves you time instead of adding more time to the task.
  2. When they run up to you crying and you ask them what happened, the story that they tell you is intelligible and coherent.
  3. When they brush their teeth on their own, you walk away believing that their teeth are in fact cleaner than when they began.
  4. Their drawings actually resemble what they say they drew.
  5. They can buckle themselves into their own car seat.
  6. They stop constantly eating things that are not food
    (i.e. crayons, rocks, spiders, socks, etc.)
  7. The people they mention in their prayers at night include people outside their immediate family.
  8. They don’t cry for haircuts anymore.
  9. They stop growling at strangers in Wal-Mart/Aldi, etc.
  10. They stop caring as much about what color plate they get at lunch.
  11. They don’t use their spoon to drink water out of their cup anymore.
  12. They can actually sit through an entire 30 min episode of a show.
  13. You can let them eat their lunch on the couch.
  14. They realize that it doesn’t make sense that the characters in Veggietales pick things up when they don’t have hands.
  15. When they can sit still enough that cutting their fingernails doesn’t feel like you’re going to dismember them.
  16. There are several activities you can no longer do indoors because too much stuff gets broken. i.e. soccer, kickball, wrestling, coloring, eating anything spherical, etc.
  17. They understand your sarcasm and respond in kind.
  18. Having them clean up their own spills, messes, toys, etc. does not take significantly longer than just doing it yourself.
  19. You can trust them to get dressed and remember all the essentials.
  20. If they’re in a different room and you don’t hear them for 15 seconds you don’t automatically assume something has been destroyed (Again, with Izaiah, this doesn’t actually apply…we always assume something has been destroyed).
  21. They can actually chew gum without just swallowing it after 10 seconds.
  22. When you pitch the wiffleball and then flinch because that sucker might be coming back at you pretty fast.
  23. When they just climb over the baby gate so you leave it open.
  24. When naps become an “if” not a “when.”
  25. When they remember medications that they need better than you do.

Like I said, it kind of a bittersweet feeling that at least two of my kiddos are no longer toddlers.  I’d like to here some of the things that your kids did or signs that you saw to show you when you knew yours weren’t toddlers any longer.  Please leave any stories in the comments section.  As always, if you enjoyed this post, please follow the blog by clicking in the lower right corner.