Monday, August 31, 2009

Non-Fiction Monday: Remembering Hurricane Katrina

After hitting the southern Florida coast on August 25, Hurricane Katrina moved into the Gulf of Mexico and grew into one of the most devastating hurricanes in US history. On August 29, 2005, as a Category 3 storm, it stuck Burus, LA and surrounding areas, destroying communitites up and down the Gulf Coast. Levees in New Orleans were breached, and within two day (August 31), more than 80 percent of the city lay under water, trapping tens of thousands of people. The death toll in Louisiana , Mississippi, Alabama and Florida was more than 1,800, with more than 1,500 of those fatalities in Louisiana. The estimated 1 million people evacuated before and after the storm accounted for the largest movement of people in the US since the Great Depression and the Civil War. And with $80 to $100 billion in damage over 90,000 square miles, Hurricane Katrina was the most expensive natural disaster in US history.
-The Teacher's Calendar, 2008-2009

It is very likely that from now through Labor Day, television stations will be featuring stories that look back on the four years since Hurricane Katrina. Many children lived though this - watched the coverage on tv then or will be watching it in the days to come... As parents (and teachers) we need to be prepared to handle the questions that may surface as children express their curiosity around this natural disaster. Today, I've got a couple of books to share that might help children in understanding. I hope you find them helpful!

Larson, Kirby.
Nethery, Mary.
Two Bobbies: A True Story of Hurricane Katrina, Friendship, and Survival.
Walker & Company.

Summary from Barnes & Noble:

Bobbi and Bob Cat are the best of friends. When their hometown of New Orleans was struck by Hurricane Katrina, many lost everything. But not Bobbi and Bob Cat—they still had each other. Only by staying together could they survive. This is the story of their remarkable friendship.

This book would be perfect for younger children looking to understand why adults quiet at the mention of Hurricane Katrina - why their eyes are drawn to the television when coverage switches the the 4 years past storm. Being described through the eyes of animals, the attention of children will be captured immediately. The authors do a wonderful job in describing the basics that children should understand about Hurricane Katrina, without going into too much depth that would upset and scare children. Definitely a great story - very inspirational!

McGrath, Barbara Barbieri.
The Storm: Students of Biloxi, Mississippi, Remember Hurricane Katrina.

Summary from Amazon:

A compilation of stories and artwork by 91 children in grades K-12. Their submissions range from single-sentence descriptions, short paragraphs, and poems to black-and-white pencil sketches and paintings/drawings in other media. The book is divided into four sections that parallel the disaster's time line and effects–Evacuation, Storm, Aftermath, and Hope. Stark white pages serve as a crisp backdrop for the text and the variously sized art, which attracts the eye. Readers will be moved by images and descriptions that students share: My house drowned; Shingles were falling like pancakes; Everything in life is a privilege, not a right….I never believed that until I lost it all. The impact of the storm on the families of Biloxi and their struggles to rebuild their lives are vividly portrayed. Ultimately, the book emphasizes the resilience of children and the healing powers of art. It is also a practical means to helping the recovery efforts since a portion of the proceeds from the sales are being donated to Biloxi Public Schools.

Wow... that's all I can say after reading this book....
After not being able to take showers for a while, I began to get sores in my hair. My head itched and hurt. And having heat rashes made it uncomfortable to do anything. Once we were able to shower, we used a hose. And even then, it was only every other day. So I had to try to wash off the stench and sores with the ice-cold water. Going to the bathroom in a plastic bag made our life before seem like a luxury. Everything in life is a privilege, not a right. And I never believed that until I lost it all.
Melissa Woodruff, grade 11
How do you react to something of these proportions? It certainly makes me realize that taking a cold shower (broken water heater) isn't all that bad! This book is very moving. I don't however, think it is the type of book that you hand to a child and let them explore on their own. The quotes from students - the artwork - when looked at alone through a child's eyes will likely allow them to harbor great fear and scare of natural disasters. I don't think I would recommend this book for children younger than 10. And even those older than 10, I would suggest sharing it with the child as a family, discussing the emotions they feel as they read these quotes - admire the art within. It's definitely worth sharing, but should be shared tenderly.

If you're interested in finding out more information about any of the books reviewed or if you'd like to purchase the books, click the cover image for a link to

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Storybook Saturday

I've had a couple of books (well, a lot of books actually) that have been laying around, awaiting review, so I figured I'd better do something about that! This week has been prime time for blogging - the misery of cold showers (broken hot water heater, awaiting replacement parts) left me trapped inside, so I've been posting away! So, here's a couple for you!

Bloom, Suzanne.
A Splendid Friend, Indeed.
August 1, 2009 (Paperback).
Boyds Mills Press.
Guided Reading Level: F

Summary from Scholastic:

Duck and Bear are unlikely companions with little in common - but here they open their hearts to each other to become splendid friends... indeed! This story says volumes about friendship with a few select words and beautiful, bold illustrations.

This book would be a perfect gift for a set of friends, different as night and day... or even for siblings who look up (or down) to one another! It's simply written, but the message is no less present! The book is ideal for the younger sibling, as the text is very simple and perfect for beginning readers!

Bunting, Eve.
My Special Day at Third Street School.
August 1, 2009 (Paperback).
Boyds Mills Press.

Summary from Scholastic:

A clever children's story about a classroom preparing for an author's visit. The reader is drawn into the children's excitement as they discuss what questions to ask the author, and how to decorate the classroom. The playful illustrations include detailed portrayals of the teacher's desk and capture the children's concentration on the wonderful and inspiring author who eventually decides to write a children's book about her visit.

This is a great story to introduce the youngest children to the concept of writing stories! Perhaps if you use this book as a read-aloud, you could leave off the last sentence,
and then encourage children to write their own version of My Special Day at Third Street School! Of course, if they're very young writers, you'd probably have to steer them away from just rewriting the story that's been read! But, rest assured, it can be done!

Happy Reading!
If you're interested in finding out more information about any of the books reviewed or if you'd like to purchase the books, click the cover image for a link to

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Weekly Blog Plan, August 31-September 4

Here's the weekly blog plan! Again, please remember this is subject to change and is dependent upon whether or not my materials come in from the library as planned. I realize that this may fall too late for you to use in your classroom this year, but the activities will definitely swing from year-t0-year! If you see something you really want to incorporate into your classroom, leave me a comment on this post or send me an e-mail, I'd be glad to provide you with the links I have, if nothing more!

Monday, August 31 - Hurricane Katrina - 4th Anniversary
  • Two Bobbies - Kirby Larson
  • The Storm: Students of Biloxi, Mississippi Remember Hurricane Katrina
Tuesday, September 1 - Jim Arnosky's Birthday
  • Every Autumn Comes the Bear
  • Crinkleroot's Guide to Knowing Animal Habitats
  • I See Animals Hiding
Wednesday, September 2 - National Piano Month
  • The Piano, William Miller
  • Gus and Grandpa and the Piano Lesson, Claudia Mills
Thursday, September 3 - Aliki's Birthday
  • My Five Senses
  • My Visit to the Zoo
  • Manners
Friday, September 4 - Library Card Sign-Up Month
  • Richard Wright and the Library Card, William Miller
  • The Library Card, Jerry Spinelli
If you're interested in finding out more information about any of the books reviewed or if you'd like to purchase the books, click the cover image for a link to

Friday, August 28, 2009

Allen Say's Birthday

Allen Say, Asian American author, was born James Allen Koichi Moriwaki Seii, in Yokohama, Japan on August 28, 1937, to a Japanese American mother and a Korean father. His first children's book, The Boy of the Three-Year Nap, was published in 1972. Since then, he has authored nearly a dozen more books! I hope you enjoy these historical-fiction picture books as much as I do!

Say, Allen.
Home of the Brave.
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

Summary from Barnes & Noble:

In dreamlike sequences, a man symbolically confronts the trauma of his family’s incarceration in the Japanese internment camps during World War II. This infamous event is made emotionally clear through his meeting a group of children all with strange name tags pinned to their coats. The man feels the helplessness of the children. Finally, desperately he releases the name tags like birds into the air to find their way home with the hope for a time when Americans will be seen as one people—not judged, mistrusted, or segregated because of their individual heritage.

I know this book is supposed to be symbolic of the feelings of the children incarcerated during World War II, but aside from that, I just wasn't able to make a connection... if any of you have read and are familiar with this book, please share your thoughts with me... reason with me! Help me to understand - I think it has the potential of being a quality piece of literature to share with children, but I need help in making sense of it myself before being able to successfully share it with children.

Say, Allen.
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

Summary from Barnes & Noble:

In her grandmother’s house there is one Japanese print of a small house with lighted windows. Even as a small girl, Erika loved that picture. It will pull her through childhood, across vast oceans and modern cities, then into towns—older, quieter places—she has only ever dreamed about. But Erika cannot truly know what she will find there, among the rocky seacoasts, the rice paddies, the circle of mountains, and the class of children. For Erika-san, can Japan be all that she has imagined?

Allen Say is really starting to grow on me as an author. At first, I didn't really understand his work, but now, I'm slowly discovering the deeper meaning to be found within each book. This particular piece does a wonderful job sharing different aspects of the Japanese culture - in particular, the quieter Japan, opposite of the busy Tokyo. While I'm not sure that young children will understand the message conveyed here - there is great satisfaction to be found if you pursue your dreams, as it is conveyed by means of a "love story" of sorts. I think girls will be most apt to enjoy this particular Say work, but that's not say that boys won't find it equally interesting, especially if they're interested in learning about Japan.

Say, Allen.
Kamishibai Man.
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
Guided Reading Level: N

Summary from Barnes & Noble:

The Kamishibai man used to ride his bicycle into town where he would tell stories to the children and sell them candy, but gradually, fewer and fewer children came running at the sound of his clappers. They were all watching their new televisions instead. Finally, only one boy remained, and he had no money for candy. Years later, the Kamishibai man and his wife made another batch of candy, and he pedaled into town to tell one more story—his own. When he comes out of the reverie of his memories, he looks around to see he is surrounded by familiar faces—the children he used to entertain have returned, all grown up and more eager than ever to listen to his delightful tales.

Now this is one Allen Say story that I would certainly want to add to my bookshelf! Not only does the story depict old-Japan vs. new-Japan, it shares with children a bit of their culture that should never have been forgotten - the Kamishibai, or picture storytelling. I could almost picture myself using this with say a 4th or 5th grade classroom - presenting each children with a different picture and assigning them to write a story about the picture. Using the writing process - drafting, editing, publishing, I would then create the wooden box theater that holds the picture and ask each child to be the Kamishibai Boy or Girl and share their story with the class. I think this would make for a really neat writing activity!

If you're interested in finding out more information about any of the books reviewed or if you'd like to purchase the books, click the cover image for a link to

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Blog Readers... I Need Your Help!!!

Over the course of the past year, you have seen daily themed reviews, all of which center around one piece of information from that day in history.

After much consideration, I’ve decided that next year’s (2010) highlight will be “52 Weeks of Themes.” I want to have you, my readers, actively involved – telling me what you want to see, so that my blog becomes of essence and help when you are planning your own curriculums.

I have come up with a list of 82 possible themes to feature and now, I’m asking my readers to take a look over the list and then drop me an e-mail, or comment on this post telling me which themes you’d like to see… they don’t need to be the ones I’ve listed – if you’ve got something else in mind, please, please, please let me know!

  1. Hats
  2. Snowmen
  3. Penguins
  4. Pumpkins
  5. Leaves
  6. Apples
  7. Scarecrow
  8. Baseball
  9. Football
  10. Farms
  11. Zoo
  12. Snow
  13. Animals in Winter
  14. Mittens
  15. Valentine’s Day
  16. Flowers and Plants
  17. Rain
  18. Teddy Bears
  19. Beach
  20. Ice Cream
  21. Flip-Flops
  22. Camping
  23. Picnic
  24. There Was an Old Lady
  25. Animal Habitats
  26. Days of the Week
  27. Native Americans
  28. Thanksgiving
  29. Pilgrims
  30. Halloween
  31. Ghosts
  32. Weather
  33. Our Bodies
  34. Jan Brett
  35. 5 Senses
  36. Gingerbread
  37. Family
  38. Months of the Year
  39. Alphabet
  40. Ladybugs
  41. Life Cycles
  42. Space
  43. Shadows
  44. Geometry
  45. Patterns
  46. Money
  47. Time
  48. Punctuation
  49. Writing Letters
  50. Tangrams
  51. Christmas Around the World
  52. Counting
  53. Babies
  54. Animal Babies
  55. Authors (you tell me who)
  56. Mapping
  57. Colonial Times
  58. American Girl
  59. Nursery Rhymes
  60. Rainbows
  61. Colors
  62. Poetry
  63. Homophones
  64. Insects
  65. Literary Devices
  66. Ants
  67. Butterflies
  68. Pasta and Pizza
  69. Quilts
  70. Amish
  71. Clothes
  72. Water
  73. Food
  74. Dr. Seuss
  75. Watermelon
  76. Fossils
  77. Pirates
  78. Polar Bears
  79. Pond Life
  80. Seashells
  81. Fairy Tales
  82. States (you tell me which)
I want to make the blog as reader-friendly as possible and in order to do that, I need your input! It might be easiest to download this file, open it in word, and highlight the themes you want to see. List any others that I might not have suggested that you’re interested in and then e-mail me ( the file… whatever works for you, works for me! Remember, I'm trying to do this for your benefit, so please get involved!

Sarah Stewart's Birthday

Previous to starting up this blog, Sarah Stewart was an author I had never heard of before... and if I had heard any of her stories, well, the name didn't stick with me (that's a possibility)! However, she's got some great children's books out there that are definitely worth sharing!

Stewart, Sarah.
The Friend.
Farrar, Strauss and Giroux.
Guided Reading Level: N

Summary from Barnes & Noble:

Lucky for Belle, she has a friend at home, a caregiver named Beatrice Smith -- Bea -- who keeps a close eye on her so she doesn't get into too much mischief. Through the week Belle helps Bea as she does chores or shops or bakes, and at the end of most days they head to the beach -- Belle and Bea, hand in hand, by the sea. But one afternoon Belle sneaks outside to play all alone, and something happens that changes her life forever.

I love that each book written by Sarah Stewart holds such deep personal meaning and message. Not only will children love this cute story, but it would be a more than appropriate gift for the family babysitter or Nanny to express just how much you (and your children) appreciate the things that they do for your children out of the kindness of their own heart - welcoming your children as they'd welcome their own! Definitely should add this to a gift list!

Stewart, Sarah.
The Library.
Farrar, Strauss and Giroux
Guided Reading Level: K

Summary from Barnes & Noble:

Elizabeth Brown loves to read more than anything else, but when her collection of books grows and grows, she must make a change in her life.

Oh this is an amazing story! It will definitely appeal to children who love reading! I think the part that they will connect with the most is the dedication page...
To the memory of the real
Mary Elizabeth Brown
Librarian, Reader, Friend
If children are able to see that there are other people in the world (who have made a difference) and are just like them, they're more apt to be accepting of their love of reading. Personally, I think it's terrible that kids are teased because they love reading (yes, I was one of them, so I am speaking from experience). I've always believed reading=knowledge... and if this book will help further instill that hobby in children, all the more power to it!

If you're interested in finding out more information about any of the books reviewed or if you'd like to purchase the books, click the cover image for a link to

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

National Dog Day

More people have dogs for pets than any other animal in the country. Why? Because they are loving and loyal companions. They treat us better than we treat each other. Here is one day to recognize and honor them for their love, loyalty and lifesaving skills. National Dog Day is held annually on August 26.
-The Teacher's Calendar, 2008-2009

Beaumont, Karen.
Doggone Dogs!
October 2008.
Penguin Group (USA).

Summary from Barnes & Noble:

No sooner are these ten doggone dogs out the front door than they're into a hilarious antic misadventure: disrupting the prim pups at the Perfect Pooch Obedience School, raining chaos on the playground, and—oops!—making one, two, three, four, ten stinky doggie poops. But when our loveable pups get nabbed by the Super Duper Pooper Scooper Pet Patrol?

Oh, will kids ever love this one! The rhyming text makes it super fun... along with the storyline of ten dogs who escape and get in to heaps of trouble trying to take care of business! The book is great because while kids are chuckling about the dogs, they're likely not to realize that they're learning basic counting principles, counting up to ten and then back down! This should definitely find a home in your library... and if not a home, how about fostering a library copy for a bit?!

Johnston, Lynn.
Farley Follows His Nose.
April 2009.
HarperCollins Publishers.

Summary from Barnes & Noble:

Good-natured and ever-hungry, Farley goes wherever his nose leads him. But as one delicious smell follows another, soon Farley is meeting new friends and exploring parts of town he's never seen before. Just how far has he wandered? Will he find a familiar smell to lead him back home?

This book would make for a funny read-aloud - kids will love watching as Farley takes off sprinting at all the different things he smells. I also think this book would be great to use when teaching children about their sense of smell... so many of the things Farley smelled were things that we'd enjoy the scent of too!

Baek, Matthew.
Be Gentle with the Dog, Dear!
May 2008.
Penguin Group (USA).

Summary from Barnes & Noble:

Baby Elisa loves Tag, the family dog. She loves to squeeze him, and pull his tail, and tackle him. Tag loves Elisa too—especially when she's sleeping. Elisa's parents tell her, "You must be gentle with the dog, dear." But this is easier said than done. What's a good dog to do?

This simple story would be perfect for teaching very young children about the importance of being gentle with the dog and respecting the dog for who he is. The text is very simple, making it appropriate for young children as far as their ability to understand the story. If you've got a child at home who's having a hard time respecting the dog, this book is for you!

Dodd, Emma.
I Don't Want a Posh Dog.
June 2009.
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers.

Summary from Barnes & Noble:

While posh puppies may be all the rage, there's nothing better than a silly, sweet dog that you can call your very own. In this charming picture book, one little girl sets off in search of her perfect pup. Along the way she meets dogs of every shape and size, but ultimately, she knows when she's found the one that's just right for her. This heartwarming story celebrates in a playful and humorous way the special bond we share with our beloved canine companions.

This is a cute book that I think kids will find funny. It'd make for a fun read-aloud while at the same time be very appropriate for practicing rhyming words with children! It might make for a great introduction to different types of dogs if you're planning on adding to the family anytime soon... talk with the kids about what they want a dog for... To play? To walk? To show-off? Just what kind of dog is your family looking for?

If you're interested in finding out more information about any of the books reviewed or if you'd like to purchase the books, click the cover image for a link to

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Virginia Euwer Wolff's Birthday

-The Teacher's Calendar, 2008-2009

Wolff, Viginia Euwer.
Make Lemonade.
Henry Holt & Co.

Guided Reading Level: Z

Summary from Barnes & Noble:

LaVaughn needed a part-time job. What she got was a baby-sitting gig with Jolly, an unwed teen mother. With two kids hanging in the balance, they need to make the best out of life -- and they can only do it for themselves and each other.

Wolff, Virginia Euwer.
True Believer.
Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing.

Summary from Barnes & Noble:

LaVaughn is fifteen now, and she's still fiercely determined to go to college. But that's the only thing she's sure about. Loyalty to her father bubbles up as her mother grows closer to a new man. The two girls she used to do everything with have chosen a path LaVaughn wants no part of. And then there's Jody. LaVaughn can't believe how gorgeous he is...or how confusing. He acts like he's in love with her, but is he?

Wolff, Viginia Euwer.
This Full House.
HarperCollins Publishers.

Summary from Barnes & Noble:

Each discovery disturbs the arrangements of the known world, and it is our job to stay alert to all possibilities.

LaVaughn believes she is keeping alert to all possibilities. She has made it through the projects, she's gotten over heartbreak, she's grown up, and now she's been admitted to the Women in Science program that might finally be her ticket to COLLEGE. But the discoveries she makes during her senior year in high school—two girls pregnant, with very few options—disturb everything in her known world. And in an effort to bring together people who should love each other, she jeopardizes the one prize she has sought her whole life long.

When do you know whether you're doing the right thing? What happens when you can't find a way to make lemonade out of lemons? Virginia Euwer Wolff takes on the biggest questions—about life and love, certainly, but also about girls and women, sacrifice and compassion—and has something quite rev-elatory to say about them in this full house.

I can't even really tell you how I happened to stumble upon this series, but I'm definitely glad that I did! I read all three books back in the winter, never expecting to recommend them someday, but rather just to read for pleasure. These books, all three in the series would be most beneficial to teenage mothers (if you can convince them to read)! A single teen mom and her struggles raising two children are the central focus of these books... any teen mom would feel a since of hope at watching as Jolly works her way through all the hardships and troubles she's facing to overcome all that she has working against her. The hard work and determination pays off, and this is just what teen moms should be seeing in literature - an equal balance of difficulty but also the ability to make something of your life to benefit your children.

If you're interested in finding out more information about any of the books reviewed or if you'd like to purchase the books, click the cover image for a link to

Monday, August 24, 2009

National Vision and Learning Month

August 1-31 marks a monthlong campaign reminding Americans of the important role that good vision plays in a child's ability to read and learn.
-The Teacher's Calendar, 2008-2009

Today's book focus on vision and eyeglasses... hopefully you'll find them useful!

Silverstein, Dr. Alvin.
Can You See the Chalkboard (My Health Series).
Franklin Watts.

Summary from Barnes & Noble:

Describes the human eye and how it functions, various visual problems and how they are corrected, and how to take care of one's eyes.

This book is very educational about eye sight and keeping your eyes healthy. I think it would be most appropriate for older children who are interested in non-fiction, science-related books.

Day, Shirley.
Luna and the Big Blur: A Story for Children Who Wear Glasses.
Magination Press.

Summary from Barnes & Noble:

Do you remember the first time you had to wear glasses as a child? For the thousands of children today who experience this unsettling change in their lifestyle, Luna and the Big Blur helps them feel good about their glasses and themselves. Luna is a young girl who hates her glasses and decides she won't wear them. This delightful story describes the many mishaps that occur when Luna leaves her glasses at home. She eventually learns to accept her nearsightedness after a supportive talk with her father, who is able to show her that she can feel good about all of her own special qualities. All children will be able to relate to Luna's feelings of being different, and will turn to her story again and again to lightheartedly resolve the many issues that plague them when they feel that they don't fit in. Also included is an introduction for parents.

This book is perfect for children who are now wearing glasses for the first time - trying to get used to the different appearance, the teasing that other children usually begin... When a child can see that others can relate and feel the same way that they do, I think they're more apt to accept the new changes in their life! Keep this in mind if you have a little one does or might someday have the need to wear glasses.

If you're interested in finding out more information about any of the books reviewed or if you'd like to purchase the books, click the cover image for a link to

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Weekly Blog Plan, August 24-28

Here's the weekly blog plan! Again, please remember this is subject to change and is dependent upon whether or not my materials come in from the library as planned. I realize that this may fall too late for you to use in your classroom this year, but the activities will definitely swing from year-t0-year! If you see something you really want to incorporate into your classroom, leave me a comment on this post or send me an e-mail, I'd be glad to provide you with the links I have, if nothing more!

Monday, August 24 - Children's Vision Month
  • Luna and the Big Blur, Shirley Day
  • Can You See the Chalkboard?, Alvin Silverstein
Tuesday, August 25 - Virginia Euwer Wolff's Birthday
  • Make Lemonade
  • True Believer
  • This Full House
Wednesday, August 26 - National Dog Day
  • I Don't Want a Posh Dog, Emma Dodd
  • Be Gentle with the Dog, Dear, Matthew Baek
  • Doggone Dogs, Karen Beaumont
  • Frankie the Walk 'n Roll Dog, Barbara Gail Techel
  • Farley Follows His Nose, Lynn Johnston
Thursday, August 27 - Sarah Stewart's Birthday
  • The Library
  • The Money Tree
  • The Friend
Friday, August 28 - Allen Say's Birthday
  • Erika-San
  • Kamishibai Man
  • Home of the Brave
  • Tree of Cranes
If you're interested in finding out more information about any of the books reviewed or if you'd like to purchase the books, click the cover image for a link to

Friday, August 21, 2009

Monarch Butterfly Fall Migration

August 21-November 7 (approximate). The monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus) of North America begins an amazing migration of up to 3,000 miles in late August to escape the northern winter. Some 140 million insects travel to small forests in southern California (west of the Rocky Mountains) and Mexico (east of the Rockies, via central and coastal Texas) from as far as Minnesota and New England. In late spring, they will journey north again. Given that their lifespan is 4-6 weeks, the butterflies making the same annual migration are the grandchildren of the grandchildren of the butterflies that overwintered 10 months previously. For more information: and
-The Teacher's Calendar, 2008-2009

Frost, Helen.
Gore, Leonid.
Monarch and Milkweed.
Atheneum Books for Young Readers.

Summary from Barnes & Noble:

Every spring the monarch butterfly migrates thousands of miles in search of the ideal milkweed plant. When she finds it, she lays her eggs on the plant, so when each egg hatches, the baby caterpillar can feed on the milkweed leaves. The milkweed plant then provides the perfect protection as the caterpillar turns into one of nature's wonders, a chrysalis, before transforming into an even greater wonder: a monarch butterfly. And once the newborn butterfly soars away, the milkweed seeds fly away on the wind and start this cycle over again.

I loved this story for several reasons:
  1. The illustrations immediately caught my eye... there was something about them that I'm not even sure how to describe - splatter paint maybe... or some kind of texture printing? Whatever the medium used, it worked! Definitely an eye catcher!
  2. The book is a wonderful resource in any plant or butterfly unit because together, we see how the plants (milkweed) and the butterflies (monarchs) rely on each other to complete the "circle of life."
  3. The author's note at the end of the book describes in kid-friendly terminology (while not entirely kid-friendly as far as reading comprehension goes)the monarch migration that takes place each fall and spring. I think kids will be amazed to learn that the butterflies that migrate south in the fall are the great, great grandparents of the ones that make the return journey north come spring!
Definitely worth reading and sharing - if not for educational purposes, for pleasure!

Johnston, Tony.
Isabel's House of Butterflies.
Sierra Club Books for Children.

Summary from Barnes & Noble:

Outside her home in Michoacan, Mexico, grows eight-year-old Isabel's greatest treasure: an oyamel tree. Here, every autumn, a miracle happens-for Isabel's tree is the wintering place for thousands upon thousands of monarch butterflies that migrate from the north. When they flutter down to roost, they transform Isabel's tree into La casa de las mariposas-The House of Butterflies. But this wonder is in danger of disappearing forever. Isabel's family is poor, and it is a cruel, dry year for Papa's meager crop of corn and beans. Soon, chopping down the tree to sell its wood may be the family's only hope for survival. What will happen to the butterflies then?

I really enjoyed reading this and was intrigued by the different way of life that is depicted throughout the entire story. We (and children) will see just how different like if for different people throughout the world and their ways of handling the hardships that they're up against versus how we do. Isabel takes pleasure in knowing that the butterflies will return year after year... But, just as the summary states, "What will happen to the butterflies then?" Readers never really find out what happens... does the family have to cut down the precious oyamel tree? Or does Isabel's plan help the family survive without having to chop down their precious butterfly tree? I was a bit disappointed that we didn't see an ending... perhaps the story was meant to end like this to allow readers the opportunity to dream up their own ending...

O'Flatharta, Antoine.
Hurry and the Monarch.
Alfred A. Knopf.
Guided Reading Level: N

Summary from Barnes & Noble:

When the beautiful orange Monarch on her fall migration route from Canada to Mexico stops to rest at Wichita Falls, Texas, she makes friends with an old tortoise called Hurry. She tells him, "Maybe one day you'll break out of that shell, grow wings, and fly away," and then she is off again with millions of other Monarchs. In the spring, she stops again at Hurry's garden just long enough to lay her eggs and head north to Canada. Embedded in this lyrical and tender fictional presentation are the fascinating facts about the amazing 2,000-mile migration and the life cycle of butterflies.

I loved the message (I found to be) portrayed in the book - the world is full of places waiting to be seen! I think that one phrase in particular makes this book appropriate for not only young children learning about the life cycle and migration of the monarch butterfly, but also appropriate for graduating seniors (high school or college).
"What's your hurry?" asks Hurry.
"I'm off to see the world. What do you think it's like?" asks the butterfly.
"I imagine - " says Hurry slowly,
"I imagine that it's like my garden.
A place full of astonishing things."
"I can't wait," says the young
monarch, flying away.
The message here shows that it's okay to be comfortable in your own "shell," so to speak... that as long as you're content with the life your living, that's what really matters - but if you do wish to set off into the world and see other ways of life, that's okay, too!

Either way - however you choose to look at this book, educationally or as a motivational gift, it's definitely worth adding to your TBR pile!

Lesson Plans/Learning Activities:
If you're interested in finding out more information about any of the books reviewed or if you'd like to purchase the books, click the cover image for a link to

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Jeff Brown's Birth Anniversary - 1926

Born Richard Chester Brown at New York, NY, this author worked as writer and editor in Hollywood and New York before becoming known for his book for beginning readers, Flat Stanley, published in 1964. Many sequels followed, including Stanley in Space, Invisible Stanley and Stanley and the Magic Lamp. His books have sold nearly a million copies. He died at New York, NY, on December 1, 2003.

Brown, Jeff.
Flat Stanley.
2006 (1964).
HarperCollins Publishers.
Guided Reading Level: M

Summary from Barnes & Noble:

Meet Stanley Lambchop. He's an ordinary boy with an extraordinary problem. He's four feet tall, about a foot wide... oh, and half an inch thick. At first, being flat is fine. It's fun going in and out of rooms simply by sliding under the door. And it's exciting being mailed to your friends in California for a visit. But it's not always easy being different, and soon Stanley wishes he could be just like everybody else. Will he ever be normal again?

This book has been around for years... but my first experience with Flat Stanley did not actually come in reading this very first book in series, but rather the two newest books in the lastest series, Flat Stanley's Worldwide Adventures, written in Jeff Brown fashion! You can check out my raving posts here! In the mean time, you and your kids should definitely check out these books... they may just rank up there as some of my favorite books for kids (especially after discovering the activity below on another blogger's blog)!

Complete Flat Stanley book list:
Flat Stanley
Stanley and the Magic Lamp
Stanley, Flat Again
Stanley in Space
Stanley's Christmas Adventure
Invisible Stanley
Flat Stanley Magic
Flat Stanley's Worldwide Adventures #1: The Mount Rushmore Calamity
Flat Stanley's Worldwide Adventures #2: The Great Egyptian Grave Robbery
Flat Stanley's Worldwide Adventures #3: The Japanese Ninja Surprise
Flat Stanley's Worldwide Adventures #4: The Intrepid Canadian Expedition

And for teachers:
Flat Stanley Novel-Ties

***Learning Activities/Literature Tie-Ins***

A fellow blogger friend of mine, Gabby at The Work of Childhood, is getting set-up to start the Flat Stanley game. The details are as follows:

I was trying to figure out the best way to handle this for each of the kids to have their own Flat Stanley going around the U.S., and I think this is how it can work:
  • Each child decorates their own Flat Stanley to mail.
  • Prepare an envelope to mail, containing your Flat Stanley.
  • I will send out an address via email to each participant (making sure they are in separate states, etc).
  • Then, mail your Flat Stanley to your participant and wait for your friends Flat Stanley to arrive at YOUR house!
Once you receive a Flat Stanley, take him out with you where ever you go! Make sure to take pictures to email to the 'parent' of Flat Stanley. Instead of including journals, pictures, etc in the mail, we can conduct that via email and just let Stanley himself go around through the post offices ;)

Each Flat Stanley will spend a week at each participants house, so depending on how many participants we get, will determine how long it is until Flat Stanley returns home!

To join in on this AWESOME activity, head on over to Gabby's blog,
or shoot her an email @ no later than Friday, August 28.

You can either join in on Gabby's fun at The Work of Childhood: Flat Stanley - Wanna Play?!

Or you can check out these independent activities:
If you're interested in finding out more information about any of the books reviewed or if you'd like to purchase the books, click the cover image for a link to

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

National Aviation Day

Presidential Proclamation 2343, of July 25, 1939, covers all succeeding years. Always August 19 of each year since 1939. Observed annually on anniversary of birth of Orville Wright, who piloted "first self-powered flight in history" on December 17, 1903. First proclaimed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt.
-The Teacher's Calendar, 2008-2009

Hubbell, Patricia.
Airplanes: Soaring! Diving! Turning!.
Marshall Cavendish Children.

Summary from Barnes & Noble:

Planes, planes, planes, in the big wide sky! Cargo planes, jumbo jets, propeller planes, rotor planes, hydroplanes, military planes, and many others dive, buzz, and turn as they fly across the sky.

This book is 100% perfect for the airplane-loving child! Not only does it detail different types of planes, it shows various purposes for airplanes! I could also see using this book to teach adjectives, as there are many descriptor words that make it perfect for such a lesson!
Little planes take short, quick hops,
or dust a farmer's growing crops.
Propeller planes.
Rotor Planes.
Single-and four-motor planes.
Munsch, Robert.
Angela's Airplane.
Annick Press Ltd.
Guided Reading Level: I

Summary from Barnes & Noble:

While looking for her lost father at the airport, Angela ends up in the front of the plane. She decides to push just one button, and then another ... and another ...

In true Munsch fashion, Angela sets forth on adventure bigger than she could ever begin to imagine - taking her young self on an airplane ride! Kids will surely love this story and will likely be dreaming of flying a plane of their own! If you're a Robert Munsch fan, this book won't disappoint you, and even better... brand-new copies are available at for just $1.50!

If you're interested in finding out more information about any of the books reviewed or if you'd like to purchase the books, click the cover image for a link to

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

19th Amendment Ratified

On this day, August 18, 1920, the 19th Amendment to the US Constitution was ratified, extending the right to vote to women.
McCully, Emily Arnold.
The Ballot Box Battle.
Alfred A. Knopf.
Guided Reading Level: P

Summary from Barnes & Noble:

From Caldecott medalist Emily Arnold McCully comes the inspiring story of Cordelia, a young girl whose relationship with her neighbor, the great suffragist Elizabeth Cady Stanton, inspires her to a remarkable act of courage.

We often read about these incredible women, who so much impacted the lives of women today, yet we often see the struggles faced by the less-ordinary girls who were fighting their own battles within, dealing with the inner conflicts faced by the laws around them during this time period. Cordelia allows us to see how "being a girl" impacted this young child's life - and I think children will really be able to connect to this story because the character fighting these inner battles is a child! Definitely worth adding to any Women's Rights Movement library!

White, Linda Arms.
I Could Do That!: Esther Morris Gets Women the Vote.
Farrar Straus Giroux.
Guided Reading Level: L

Summary from Barnes & Noble:

“I could do that,” says six-year-old Esther as she watches her mother making tea. Start her own business at the age of nineteen? Why, she could do that, too. But one thing Esther and other women could NOT do was vote. Only men could do that.

If you have a determined daughter at home, this is the perfect book for her... encouraging young girls to reach for their dreams, rather than sitting back and letting the boys tromp all over her! Not only does the book perfectly depict the way women felt at a time when women's rights were nil, the book realistically portrays the fight for women's rights, most specifically, the right to vote! A must have for young girls and teaching about the Women's Rights Movement!

Stone, Tanya Lee.
Elizabeth Leads the Way: Elizabeth Cady Stanton and the Right to Vote.
Henry Holt and Company.

Summary from Barnes & Noble:

Elizabeth Cady Stanton stood up and fought for what she believed in. From an early age, she knew that women were not given rights equal to men. But rather than accept her lesser status, Elizabeth went to college and later gathered other like-minded women to challenge the right to vote.Here is the inspiring story of an extraordinary woman who changed America forever because she wouldn’t take “no” for an answer.

This is a third wonderful book to use when teaching about women's voting rights or the Women's Rights Movement. What I liked the most about this was that the book shows women living life the "right" way - Elizabeth continued to do what was expected of her by law, while at the same time lobbying in a respectable manner to try and change not only her life, but the life of all women... the way it was written kind of reminded me of MLK and his non-violent ways!

Related Learning Activities:
If you're interested in finding out more information about any of the books reviewed or if you'd like to purchase the books, click the cover image for a link to

Monday, August 17, 2009

31st Anniversary - Balloon Crossing of Atlantic Ocean

On August 17, 1978, three Americans - Maxie Anderson (44), Ben Abruzzo (48), and Larry Newman (31), all of Albuquerque, NM became the first people to complete a transatlantic trip in a balloon. Starting from Presque Isle, ME, on August 11, they traveled some 3,200 miles in 137 hour, 18 minutes, landing in Miserey, France (about 60 miles west of Paris) in their craft, named the Double Eagle II.
-The Teacher's Calendar, 2008-2009

I didn't find any books specifically targeted toward these three individuals or the particular flight mentioned... however, that being said, I did find some interesting books relating to hot air balloons. Unfortunately, only one of them actually arrived at the library in time for this review, but I'm going to pass along links for the others!

Van Leeuwen, Jean.
The Amazing Air Balloon.
Phyllis Fogelman Books.
Guided Reading Level: M

Summary from Barnes & Noble:

Long before the Wright brothers made their famous flight, a young boy from Baltimore became the first person ever to travel by air-in a hot-air balloon. One of the most exciting ways to fly, the air balloon was invented in 1783, although it would take another ten years before a balloon was built that was ready to carry human passengers. Aviation aficionados and indeed all readers will be fascinated by this time before airplanes when an ordinary boy experienced what seemed like an impossible dream-to fly.

This book was a really interesting read for a couple of different reasons!
  • I was glad to see an orphan depicted as the main character in the story who overcomes the oddities and is able to come out on top - being the one to take flight in the air balloon! You don't typically see orphans mentioned in children's literature and it would make for an interesting conversation with middle-grade readers to enable them to see how different the life of an orphan might be from their own!
  • The book also would be a great read for children who are interested in hot air balloons - obviously the balloons used in the late 70's were different than todays... children might enjoy discussing the differences and advancements that have been made over time.
Other Hot Air Balloon Books to Share:
Hot-Air Balloon Teaching Activities:
If you're interested in finding out more information about any of the books reviewed or if you'd like to purchase the books, click the cover image for a link to

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Weekly Blog Plan, August 17-21

Here's the weekly blog plan! Again, please remember this is subject to change and is dependent upon whether or not my materials come in from the library as planned. I realize that this may fall too late for you to use in your classroom this year, but the activities will definitely swing from year-t0-year! If you see something you really want to incorporate into your classroom, leave me a comment on this post or send me an e-mail, I'd be glad to provide you with the links I have, if nothing more!

Monday, August 17 - 31st Anniversary of Balloon Crossing of the Atlantic Ocean
  • The Amazing Air Balloon, Jean Van Leeuwen
  • Hot Air Henry, Mary Calhoun
  • Flying in a Hot Air Balloon, Cheryl Walsh Bellville
  • Altoona Baboona, Janie Bynum
Tuesday, August 18 - 18-19th Amendments to US Constitution
  • The Ballot Box Battle, Emily McCully
  • I Could Do That!: Esther Morris Gets Women the Vote, Linda Arms White
  • Elizabeth Leads the Way, Tanya Lee Stone
Wednesday, August 19 - National Aviation Day
  • Angela's Airplane, Robert Munsch
  • Mr. Putter and Tabby Fly the Plane, Cynthia Rylant
  • Airplanes: Soaring! Diving! Turning!, Patricia Hubbell
Thursday, August 20 - Jeff Brown's Birth Anniversary
  • Flat Stanley
Friday, August 21 - Monarch Butterfly Fall Migration
  • Hurry and the Monarch, Antoine O Flatharta
  • Monarch and Milkweed, Helen Frost
  • Isabel's House of Butterflies, Tony Johnston
If you're interested in finding out more information about any of the books reviewed or if you'd like to purchase the books, click the cover image for a link to

Thursday, August 13, 2009

National Underwear Day

A day for all Americans to show pride in their undergarments, National Underwear Day was celebrated on August 5. However, is celebrating throughout the entire month of August! Underwear doesn't get the recognition it deserves, and considering the amount of time people spend picking out those undies each morning, they should be able to show them off a little bit more.
The Teacher's Calendar, 2008-2009

For more information:
National Underwear Day

Parr, Todd.
Underwear Do's and Dont's.
Little, Brown and Company.

Summary from Barnes & Noble:

"What should you do with your underwear? DO go shopping for underwear with a hippo -- DON'T let her try it on." This is just one piece of advice from Todd Parr's new book, Underwear Do’s and Don’ts. As the title suggests, humor abounds in these words of undie wisdom. Filled with bold illustration and a zany set of rules, this book will incite giggles and smiles from its young readers.

Kids will likely get a chuckle out of this book! The advise is crazy, but it makes for good reading. One activity to do after reading, is have kids come up an underwear "do" and underwear "don't" of their own!

Monsell, Mary Elise.
Albert Whitman & Company.
Guided Reading Level: K

Summary from Barnes & Noble:

Bismark the Buffalo is grumpy and unlovable until his friends teach him how to laugh and show him that wearing colorful underwear can be great fun.

This is a great underwear-themed story that would be great for a read aloud. However, other than use as a read aloud, I didn't find much of an educational use for the book! I think kids will find it funny though!

More Underwear Books:
If you're interested in finding out more information about any of the books reviewed or if you'd like to purchase the books, click the cover image for a link to

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

An Update... and Mary Ann Hoberman's Birthday!

Well, you know vacation is over when life appears to be more hectic than it was before the vacation even started! Arrived home about 12:15am Sunday morning... by 9:00pm we'd had such heavy rain that the basement was flooded with about 4" of water... only to be followed by about 2" more on Monday afternoon. Now that we're mostly dry down there, the whole mess has to be cleaned and mopped... However, since I missed the first two planned posts of this week, I'm taking a break from disaster clean-up and getting today's post out!

It's Mary Ann Hoberman's birthday today... Many of you are probably wondering who she is... I was too, at first! Then I received an ARC copy of her latest book, a middle-grade reader titled Strawberry Hill. The book was released July 1. However, in my search for Mary Ann Hoberman books, I discovered that's she's also authored several children's picture books! I really enjoyed all of the ones that I read and hope that you'll find them just as read-worthy!

Hoberman, Mary Ann.
Strawberry Hill.
July 1, 2009.
Little, Brown and Company.

Summary from Barnes & Noble:

When ten-year-old girl Allie learns that her family will be moving from their two-family home to their very own house in the country, she's hesitant until she finds out they will be living on a street with the magical name of Strawberry Hill. That changes everything! From her struggle to find a new best friend, to her quest for acceptance at her new school, Allie takes readers on her journey to make Strawberry Hill feel like home.

Moving is hard on children... and this book makes the perfect companion for any young girl in the midst of moving to a new home - a new school. As I was reading this book, I could actually feel myself taking on the role that Allie plays (yes, even as a 26 year old, I could put myself in the shoes of which this 10 year old's is walking). This was an incredible story that I really enjoyed... I think the girls will enjoy it even if they're not in the midst of a family move!

Hoberman, Mary Ann.
A House Is a House for Me.
1988 (1982).
Puffin Books.
Guided Reading Level: K

Summary from Barnes & Noble:

Where does everyone - and everything - live? A House Is a House for Me is a rollicking rhyme about houses. Some of the houses are familiar, such as an anthill and a dog kennel, while others are surprising, such as a corn husk and a pea pod. This longtime favorite is filled with pictures that parents and children will want to look at again and again in a beautifully produced, deluxe fullsized edition.

I was not at all familiar with this book (despite is mentioned popularity) when I originally scheduled it for my blog review. However, in reading it, I found this book absolutely perfect for teaching children about different habitats and dwellings! From themeselves, to indians, to vegetables and fish, children will learn about all the different places that can be considered homes. Alongside the learning that takes place, children and parents alike are sure to get a chuckle out of the rhymes within! Definitely add this to your child's TBR pile!

Lesson Plans:
Hoberman, Mary Ann.
The Seven Silly Eaters.
Harcourt Brace & Company.

Summary from Barnes & Noble:

Peter wants only milk, Lucy won’t settle for anything but homemade lemonade, and Jack is stuck on applesauce. Each new addition to the household brings a new demand for a special meal. What’s a mother to do? “[A] highly comic rhyming romp that surprisingly (and nicely) twists into a birthday story.”

My poor mother would whole-heartedly connect with this story... even though there were only 3 of us kids... however, I can't even begin to describe how many times she's cooked different meals to please us kids! I almost think mothers will enjoy the story more than children! It is however, very funny and will make for a wonderful read-aloud!

Lesson Plans:
If you're interested in finding out more information about any of the books reviewed or if you'd like to purchase the books, click the cover image for a link to

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Weekly Blog Plan, August 10-14

Here's the weekly blog plan! Again, please remember this is subject to change and is dependent upon whether or not my materials come in from the library as planned. I realize that this may fall too late for you to use in your classroom this year, but the activities will definitely swing from year-t0-year! If you see something you really want to incorporate into your classroom, leave me a comment on this post or send me an e-mail, I'd be glad to provide you with the links I have, if nothing more!

Monday, August 10 - Get Ready for Kindergarten Month
  • Little Bear Goes to Kindergarten, Jutta Langreuter
  • Countdown to Kindergarten, Alison McGhee
  • When You Go To Kindergarten, James Howe
Tuesday, August 11 - Don Freeman's Birth Anniversary
  • Corduroy
Wednesday, August 12 - Mary Ann Hoberman's Birthday
  • Strawberry Hill
  • Seven Silly Eaters
  • A House is a House for Me
Thursday, August 13 - National Underwear Day
  • Underwear: What We Wear Under There, Ruth Freeman Swain
  • Underwear!, Mary Elise Monsell
  • Underwear Do's and Dont's, Todd Parr
Friday, August 14 - Assistance Dog Day
  • Buddy, the First Seeing Eye Dog, Eva Moore
  • Anna and Natalie, Barbara Cole
  • Looking Out for Sarah, Glenn Lang
If you're interested in finding out more information about any of the books reviewed or if you'd like to purchase the books, click the cover image for a link to

Friday, August 7, 2009

Vacation Week for Me (and for Your Child's Imagination)

I'm in Myrtle Beach for the week... and since I'm on vacation, I thought I'd share one of the "Literacy Book Bags" I've created for the 3rd grader I've been tutoring in reading this summer. I created the book bag at her independent reading level (determined by Running Records and Fountas and Pinnell guided reading levels), which falls between H and I. Even if your child reads at a different level, or you're not sure how to determine their reading level, the books are great to be shared as a read-aloud! The bag I've chosen to share with you contains five books, are all beach-themed. Each book in the bag focuses on a different aspect of a school curriculum.

Hopefully you will have as much fun completing these activities with your children as I did in creating them and/or putting them together.

Ashman, Linda.
To The Beach!
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
Focus on School Curriculum: Read-Aloud, Fill-In Activity
Guided Reading Level: H

Summary from Barnes & Noble:

A forgetful family is sure to have fun at the beach--if only they can get there!

Follow-Up Activity:
Lionni, Leo.
On My Beach There Are Many Pebbles.
HarperCollins Publishers.
Focus on School Curriculum: Art
Guided Reading Level: I

Summary from Barnes & Noble:

Take a look. And another. And another. Are those ordinary pebbles you see, lying on an ordinary beach? Or are they hearts and gift-wrapped packages, numbers, letters, and the faces of friends? Take a look. And another.

Follow-Up Activity:
Mayer, Mercer.
Just Grandma and Me.
Random House Children's Books.
Focus on School Curriculum: Reading Comprehension - Sequencing
Guided Reading Level: I

Summary from Barnes & Noble:

Little Critter and his grandmother spend the day at the beach in this funny-and-true picture book about Mercer Mayer's popular character. Little Critter is a good helper, even at the beach. When his grandmother's hot dog falls in the sand, he washes it off in the ocean. He promises to blow up the inflatable seahorse but needs a little help in the end. The joys and mishaps of a special summer day with Grandma are all brightened by Little Critter's sunny disposition.

Follow-Up Activity:
Hurd, Edith Thatcher.
HarperCollins Publishers.
Focus on School Curriculum: Science
Guided Reading Level: I

Summary from Barnes & Noble:

Brickman has done startling new cutpaper collage illustrations for Hurd's beginningreader book on starfish. Watercolor washes, marbling techniques, and shocking colors portray the starfish in all their chromatic glory, while the simple text points out their intrinsic oddities, such as the fact that they can regrow lost limbs.

Follow-Up Activity:
Murphy, Stuart J.
Seaweed Soup.
HarperCollins Publishers.
Focus on School Curriculum: Math - Problem Solving
Guided Reading Level: I

Summary from Barnes & Noble:

It's slimy. It's smelly. Its green and it's gooey. It's seaweed soup — and its Turtle's favorite lunch!

Turtle has made enough seaweed soup for everyone. But it looks awful and smells worse! Nobody wants to even taste it. How can they tell Turtle without hurting his feelings?

As Turtle serves lunch to his reluctant guests, young readers can learn about matching sets (also called one-to-one correspondence) by keeping track of all the different bowls, cups, spoons, and napkins on the table. Lighthearted art and a surprise ending make this a story readers will eat up.

Follow-Up Activity:
If you're interested in finding out more information about any of the books reviewed or if you'd like to purchase the books, click the cover image for a link to