Finding picture books that are non-fiction and as beautiful as fiction books is sort of one of my joyful librarian wins. Twenty-One Steps promised to be thoughtful, beautiful, informational, and emotional – and it fulfilled those things.
The history of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier isn’t known by children, unless they perhaps have a military family member or have visited it. This little-known history is both sad and beautiful. The story behind it haunting, yet necessary to our country’s history. This book was so well written and captured these feelings perfectly. The illustrations were gorgeous and I took my time flipping through this book to really soak up these thoughts.
I gave this book 5/5 stars for its uniqueness and for the beautiful writing accompanied by equally beautiful illustrations. The powerful message, fantastic vocabulary, and stunning verse will keep kids engaged with this text more than once. A perfect read aloud for teachers, librarians and parents. Recommended by me for grades 3 to 7.
Picture book biographies are always on my radar because I think they make good read-alouds for all grade levels and they are such a great way for me to learn nuggets of information about people I have never heard of. I have read other picture book biographies by Laurie Wallmark and really enjoyed them so I was really glad to get this one and be able to read it.
Elizabeth Friedman was a code cracker during WWI and WWII when women really weren’t present in the organizations that used code breakers. I didn’t know her story until I read this lovely picture book. The art is so much fun with codes woven into the illustrations throughout the story. This story was just another reminder that women can do anything, even when its something that is suppose to be for boys.
I gave this book 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for grades 3 to 7. This is a perfect read aloud for Classroom Book a Day for educators and a great bedtime story for parents. This will grab the attention of kids who love history.
This beautiful immigration story told in prose is one for every middle grade bookshelf, whether at home, in the library or in the classroom. Nurah, the main character, is just trying to blend in and find her place in her new school in Georgia after moving from Pakistan.
The characters weave this story together in ways that everyone reading it can relate to someone along the way, whether or not they have experienced moving across the world. I related to Nurah so much, because I had moved across the US at her age and felt so different in my new school in Texas. I loved reading Nurah’s story as she found her voice, and found a place to fit in , in her new world.
I highly recommend this to readers who love novels in verse, quick, beautiful reads, and realistic fiction. Recommended for grades 4-6 specifically. Nothing stood out to me as content to be aware of, but this is a good book to read about tackling bullying as well.
When I picked this up on May 31, I was already most of the way through this collection as I had started it in February and had slowly been making my way through it.
Jasmin Kaur has a beautiful way with words and art to make this amazing collection of poems and prose. There were a lot of poems I bookmarked because they had such a deep meaning to me and I understood them so well because of things I had personally experienced.
Throughout this book Jasmin explores what it means to be a young woman in today’s society and what it means to be a minority woman in today’s society. Her points of view are powerful and meaningful. I think there is something in this collection that will speak to every young woman who reads this.
I gave this book 5/5 stars because I know I will pick this up again and find something new to love about it. This is definitely a collection for adults, anyone who has enjoyed collections such as The Princess Will Save Herself in This One, and The Sun and Her Flowers.
You can order this collection from Amazon in Paperback for $9.99 or from Bookshop.org for $10.11 (10% goes back to support Indie bookstores). Both links give me a little kickback which I use to add books to our school library!
The Hate U Give is a timely and necessary novel that follows the story of Starr, a Black teen girl living in a rough neighborhood, but attending a private, and mostly white populated school. She often feels like she is split between two worlds. When her best friend is shot in front of her and killed by a cop, her entire world turns upside down – and the two parts of her collide in a poetic way.
Angie Thomas is a master of emotion. She writes her characters with such depth that you feel as if you know them. You will be immersed in Starr’s world, and gain a deeper understanding about Black Lives Matter is so important, why our culture is so divided, and how frustrating it must be to be Black in America in this day and age. This should be a must read for all high school students.
Recommended ages 14+
Trigger Warnings for violence, police brutality, under age drinking, drug use, gangs, sexual consent
Welcome to Superhero School! Join Oliver, Jess, and all their friends on a mission to destroy the power-hungry, evil villains of Vork. From subterranean sewers to lush jungle, from dinosaurs to dragons, our heroes will be pushed to their limits in ways they’d never imagined. Will their collective Powers—Flight, Morphing, Invisibility, Mind Reading, and more—be enough for them to overcome the malevolence of Vork? Or will they stumble over their own doubts and painful histories?
This action-packed journey of friendship, hardship, and humor will take our heroes to thrilling new heights and a deeper understanding of their own place in the world. But will that be enough—or will Vork always be one step ahead?
A Superhero School Playlist
Add these songs to a Spotify Playlist or Youtube Playlist to listen to while reading Welcome to Superhero School:
Bang by AJR
Superman (It’s Not Easy) by Five for Fighting
My Hero by Foo Fighters
Kryptonite by 3 Doors down
Blitzkrieg Bop by the Ramones
Come and Get Your Love by Redbone
O-o-h Child by The Five Stairsteps
I Want You Back by The Jackson 5
Iron Man by Black Sabbath
Immigrant Song by Led Zeppelin
About Gracie Dix:
Graceanne “Gracie” Dix is a high school author.
She has been writing since she could hold a pencil.
When Gracie isn’t writing, she can be found singing, creating art, in the theatre, volunteering, or playing tennis. She loves to travel and is a loyal friend. Gracie lives in Dallas, Texas with her parents, Richard and Jennifer, her brother, Nate, whenever he is home from college, and her beloved dogs, Snowball and Sandcastle “Sandy.”
Spend a day in the life of a livestock guardian dog! Jax the Great Pyrenees has a big job. After the Texas sun goes down, it’s up to him and two other LGDs to protect their ranch from predators. But when the lead dog gets hurt, Jax and a
young pup are the only ones left to protect the flock through the night. Told from the dog’s perspective, this story also includes back matter about the breed and role of the working dog.
Spend a day in the life of an avalanche rescue dog! Ava is a chocolate Labrador retriever with a big job. She and her handler have trained for years to be ready to help people at their ski resort if an unexpected avalanche hits. But Ava quickly finds out there’s much more to being an avy dog than daring rescues. Told from the dog’s perspective, this riveting story also includes back matter about the breed and the role of the working dog.
I Am Ava is a short and sweet beginner Chapter Book that is both entertaining and informative. I spent 2 years of college working with the Aggie Service Dogs program that raises puppies, like Ava, to go and be service animals. Almost all of our service dogs went on to be companions to those with special needs. I knew there were other “jobs” for dogs, including search and rescue, but I didn’t know – and in Texas, never really thought about – that there are dogs specifically trained to help find people in the snow. Learning about Avalanche Search and Rescue dogs through the eyes of Ava was so fun! Since this small chapter book is less than 100 pages, this will appeal to kids who both love reading, and those that are a little more hesitant. I love that this book is fiction through the eyes of a dog, because this will appeal to all the fiction loving kids, but at the same time this book is heavy on the information as well, which will appeal to the non-fiction loving kids. There is just a little something for everyone. I gave this book a 4 out of 5 stars because I was intrigued enough to finish it in just one sitting! Something that doesn’t happen very often, even with the shortest of books. I would recommend this to my 2nd and 3rd graders who love animals, especially dog lovers, and anyone who loves to know more about dog workers and helpers!
Catherine Stier, a former Midwesterner, now lives deep in the heart of Southwest Texas, on the edge of the beautiful Hill Country. Her children’s books have received honors and awards from the Society of School Librarians International, the International Reading Association, and the Bank Street College of Education.
Stier has served as a frequent contributor to Woman’s Day Magazine and as a newspaper columnist. Her work has also appeared in Highlights for Children, My Friend, Child Life, and several newspapers, including the Chicago Sun-Times and the San Antonio Express-News.
Stier’s lively and interactive Author’s Visit programs have entertained, educated, and inspired thousands of children. Visit Catherine Stier’s website at www.catherinestier.com for more information, activities, and free curriculum guides.
ONE WINNER: Hardcover copy of I Am Jax, Protector of the Ranch (Book 1), hardcover copy of I Am Ava, Seeker in the Snow (Book 2), $15 gift card to The Twig Book Shop, stuffed animal – adorable “Ava” Lab dog toy, dog stickers, dog socks.
Thank you to Netgalley for providing me with this e-ARC
Scritch Scratch had me on the edge of my seat for the entirety of this story! I couldn’t put this down. I was asked to be on Lindsay’s street team for this novel and I have enjoyed getting to know her while helping her get the word out about this story. when I finally sat down to read it I couldn’t have been more impressed. Horror is not an easy genre to write for kids. You can’t make it too scary or it becomes too much, but you don’t want it to come off as too silly either. Kids like to be thrilled and scared sometimes! I know this will be recommended in my library to my students who love a good thrill!
The characters in Scritch Scratch are so relatable so I know students in grades 4-8 will be able to relate to them as well. There is a good blend of frightening scenes with realistic friendships, sibling relationships, and relationships with parents.
I would recommend this to fans of Goosebumps and Mary Downing Hahn books.
Thank you to Netgalley for providing me with an E-Arc of this book.
Maurice and His Dictionary is a wonderful true story of a boy who worked around so many roadblocks to get his education. Maurice fled Europe during WWII and ended up in an internment camp where he couldn’t finish high school. He managed to get tutors from all over the camp and studied to get into a local school and take a test to finally get his diploma. He then pursued University in Canada at the age of 16.
I really liked the perseverance of Maurice and his family as well as the fact that this was a true story. I do wish the ending was a little more resolved so that it was just a bit longer and we could find out what happened to Maurice in the later years of his life. The author’s note provides a little of this and the real history behind this story, but it still doesn’t feel totally wrapped up like it should.
Would recommend to lovers of history, fans of graphic novels and students in grades 3-6.
I have two words: MOST NEEDED. This should be the book put into every single classroom curriculum this year from 4th through 8th grade. Seriously, the discussions that could be had because of this book would change the way we discuss race with our students completely.
Let me back up, Zoe Washington is the story of a girl who loves baking, her best friend, her parents, and writing letters with her two besties. Then she discovers a letter from her dad, her biological dad who has been in prison her entire life. When she hides the letter and writes back the discussion about race and wrongful imprisonment come to light and shine throughout this book which is a great conversation starter for younger kids and definitely should not be the end of that discussion with them. Thankfully Zoe has a happy ending but I won’t reveal what it is or how we got there.
Though the material presented in this book is heavy, the way it is presented is easily relatable and understandable for our middle grade kiddos. I am so glad I had an opportunity to read this book, and I know most readers will. I recommend this book to everyone, young and old, of all races, religions, etc. Everyone needs to know Zoe’s story because it is the story of thousands of Black girls throughout our country. Thank you Janae Marks for writing this story.