I Didn't Do My Homework Because... by Davide Cali with illustrations by Benjamin Chaud- Book Review

Publisher's synopsis: "How many excuses are there for not doing homework? Let us count the ways: Giant lizards invaded the neighborhood. Elves hid all the pencils. And then there was that problem with carnivorous plants.... The excuses go on and on, each more absurd than the next and escalating to hilarious heights. Featuring detail-rich illustrations by Benjamin Chaud, this book is guaranteed to amuse kids and their parents, not to mention anyone who has experienced a slacker student moment—and isn’t that everyone?"

My thoughts: I Didn't Do My Homework Because... is engaging in that the humor creates an expanding effect that makes one want to read to the end to see what the teacher will do with the boy. To some degree, I felt like it became repetitive, almost expected, which caused some fatigue in the telling. What really makes this little book shine, and breaks the repetition, is the illustrations.

Upon first look, I Didn't Do My Homework Because...  reminded me of Maurice Sendak with similar styled illustrations and a small, non-standard size. Not bad company to be in! The exaggerated illustrations with disproportionate characters and a page-filled exuberance offsets the repetitive story.

For educators & parents, this book is filled with great vocabulary and possible offshoot investigations on things like Robin Hood & Vikings. Recommended for both elementary classroom & library purchase.

Genre: Picture Book, Humor
Age: 6-9
Pages: 44
Themes: Exaggeration, Making excuses, Not pulling the wool over a teacher's eyes
Thank You to Chronicle Books for my advanced copy. It has been donated to a classroom in Orange Co. Florida
Publisher: Chronicle
Date: March 2014
ISBN: 978-1452125510
BUY I Didn't Do My Homework Because... HERE

-------------------- That's all folks! --------------------
 © 2007-2014 Cheryl Vanatti for www.ReadingRumpus.com

Serendipity Saturday: All the best "stuff" I find interesting all over the place, published on Saturdays, mostly about books and education, but with some nerdy stuff too.......

Some education resources I have stumbled upon:

Getty Virtual Library - great for art teachers, but you might find some general knowledge text mixed in for interdisciplinary use

Wellcome Images - free use images (both via Bookshelves of Doom)

ReadWorks - every reading teacher/ language arts teacher knows about this place, right? So good it is worth repeating; over & over

Great 3 part Edutopia sessions on Close Reads

For parents (and teachers): Guides to the big social media sites from ConnectSafely

Did you know that Google has a great archive of old newspapers?

For my ELA pals.... Storyboard That, a place to create storyboards for free

It occurred to me that I've never posted about the Scholastic resource page, "Read Everyday, Lead A Better Life." It's been around a loooong time, but it's still adding resources!

Some great education articles I have been reading:

Grading First Graders, Seriously? on Chicago Now explores how we are continuing to lose sight of how to teach 'a child.'

If you read no other education centered article this week, read this one: The Failure of Test-Based Accountability by Marc Tucker for Education Week. It really nails how professional educators are feeling and why many are leaving the profession. 

After I read/saw a video of teachers being treated like idiots, I didn't know whether to laugh, cry or scream! The best question is why did they all sit there and take it? Honestly, it says something about how the very nature of teachers keeps them from advocating for all the crazy that his being heaped upon them! Head over to The Goddess of YA Literature to see for yourself!

Another (I could post hundreds of links) fed-up with testing teacher post: A good one. 

Why is this still happening? Can we get a voice of reason to be heard? When will we stop bullying students?

Something to think about:

The Let Toys Be Toys Campaign has started a petition to STOP labeling books as "boy" or "girl" books! Hurrah! 
You can sign the petition HERE

(found via Wands & Worlds)

Because Reading Rumpus values FUN over all this depressing education news......A website made to look like the Real Ministry of Magic UK government website. Ha! I would love to see it grow, but it looks like just a one trick pony.....

-------------------- That's all folks! --------------------
 © 2007-2014 Cheryl Vanatti for www.ReadingRumpus.com

The Ascendance Trilogy by Jennifer Nielson concludes with The Shadow Throne

The final installment of the The Ascendance Trilogy comes to a thrilling conclusion every bit as suspenseful and enthralling as the first. King Jaron begins as an orphan boy in The False Prince and matures to the great king he was destined to be in the final installment, The Shadow Throne. Although this trilogy reads like a fantasy, it is really a mixture of suspense and adventure. Nielsen is skilled at plot twists and character development providing readers with motivation to continue and investment in beloved characters. I have written about the first two books here as I'm quite the fan, but this conclusion seals my highest recommendation (not given lightly around Reading Rumpus).

This series is male/female friendly with strong characters all around. It's also a good choice for reluctant readers as the action is swift and super engaging. Filled with humor, romance and lots of adventure, MANY students will enjoy this series.

-------------------- Resources --------------------
Genre: Adventure
Age: Middle Grade through Young Adult
Themes: Coming of Age, Friendship,
Character Development: Excellent! With an unreliable protagonist that steals the show
Plot Engagement: Superb. Constant twists and trying to figure out what the main character is planning
Originality: Good. There have been a few in this vein, but Nielson does it better
Thank You to Net Galley & the publishers at Scholastic for my E-review copy
Advisory: Read this series in order!
Publisher: Scholastic
Date: February 2014
ISBN: 978-0545284172
BUY The Shadow Throne: Book 3 of The Ascendance Trilogy HERE

You can read more about the author on her website: HERE

-------------------- That's all folks! --------------------
 © 2007-2014 Cheryl Vanatti for www.ReadingRumpus.com

A bunch of books that I want. Just sayin'

Sparky by Jenny Offill with illustrations by Chris Appelhans
Publishers synopsis: "Sparky stars a pet who has more to offer than meets the eye. When our narrator orders a sloth through the mail, the creature that arrives isn't good at tricks or hide-and-seek . . . or much of anything. Still, there's something about Sparky that is irresistible."
My thoughts:  Love the 'retro' look of the illustrations, think it sounds funny :-)
Available March 11, 2014 / 40 pages /Picture Book / ISBN: 978-0-375-87023-1

A Snicker of Magic by Natalie Lloyd (debut author alert!)

Publisher's Synopsis: "Midnight Gulch used to be a magical place, a town where people could sing up thunderstorms and dance up sunflowers. But that was long ago, before a curse drove the magic away. Twelve-year-old Felicity knows all about things like that; her nomadic mother is cursed with a wandering heart.
  • But when she arrives in Midnight Gulch, Felicity thinks her luck's about to change. A "word collector," Felicity sees words everywhere — shining above strangers, tucked into church eves, and tangled up her dog's floppy ears — but Midnight Gulch is the first place she's ever seen the word "home." And then there's Jonah, a mysterious, spiky-haired do-gooder who shimmers with words Felicity's never seen before, words that make Felicity's heart beat a little faster.
    Felicity wants to stay in Midnight Gulch more than anything, but first, she'll need to figure out how to bring back the magic, breaking the spell that's been cast over the town...and her mother's broken heart."
    My thoughts: For the elementary set. Looks fun and interesting - all about words & the magic of them. Got to get my hands on this one for sure!
    Available: Feb. 25, 2014 (out now!) / 320 pages/ Middle Grade Fiction / ISBN-13: 978-0545552707

  • Robot Rumpus by Sean Taylor & Ross Collins
    Publisher's synopsis: "When a young girl's parents go out for the evening, they think they've left their daughter in safe hands with robots designed to get her to bed! There's Cook-bot to make great spaghetti for dinner, Clean-bot to do the washing-up, Wash-bot for bath time, and even Book-bot for a bedtime story. What could possibly go wrong?"
  • My thoughts: Now this one is a bit older (Sept. 2013), but I haven't been able to get my hands on it yet. Just having the word "rumpus" in it is enough for me! Robot Rumpus is available now! / 32 page / Picture Book / ISBN-13: 978-1467720311

The Mark of the Dragonfly by Jaleigh Johnson. I HAVE my hands on this one and just need TIME!
Publisher's Synopsis: "Piper has never seen the Mark of the Dragonfly until she finds the girl amid the wreckage of a caravan in the Meteor Fields.  The girl doesn't remember a thing about her life, but the intricate tattoo on her arm is proof that she's from the Dragonfly Territories and that she's protected by the king. Which means a reward for Piper if she can get the girl home.  The one sure way to the Territories is the 401, a great old beauty of a train. But a ticket costs more coin than Piper could make in a year. And stowing away is a difficult prospect--everyone knows that getting past the peculiar green-eyed boy who stands guard is nearly impossible.  Life for Piper just turned dangerous. A little bit magical. And very exciting, if she can manage to survive the journey." Available March 2014 / 400 pages / Middle Grade Fiction / ISBN-13: 978-0385376150

Saving Lucas Biggs by Marisa de los Santos  
Publisher: "Perfect for fans of Margaret Peterson Haddix, When You Reach Me, and Savvy, this charming time-travel story from husband-and-wife team Marisa de los Santos and David Teague follows one girl's race to change the past in order to save her father's future.
Thirteen-year-old Margaret knows her father is innocent, but that doesn't stop the cruel Judge Biggs from sentencing him to death. Margaret is determined to save her dad, even if it means using her family's secret—and forbidden—ability to time travel. With the help of her best friend, Charlie, and his grandpa Josh, Margaret goes back to a time when Judge Biggs was a young boy and tries to prevent the chain of events that transformed him into a corrupt, jaded man. But with the forces of history working against her, will Margaret be able to change the past? Or will she be pushed back to a present in which her father is still doomed?Told in alternating voices between Margaret and Josh, this heartwarming story shows that sometimes the forces of good need a little extra help to triumph over the forces of evil." Available April 29, 2014 / 288 pages / Middle Grade / ISBN-13: 978-0062274625
My thoughts: Well, it's compared to two of my favorite books so how can I resist? 

Boxers & Saints by Gene Luen Yang
Publisher's Synopsis: In two volumes, Boxers & Saints tells two parallel stories. The first is of Little Bao, a Chinese peasant boy whose village is abused and plundered by Westerners claiming the role of missionaries. Little Bao, inspired by visions of the Chinese gods, joins a violent uprising against the Western interlopers. Against all odds, their grass-roots rebellion is successful. 
But in the second volume, Yang lays out the opposite side of the conflict. A girl whose village has no place for her is taken in by Christian missionaries and finds, for the first time, a home with them. As the Boxer Rebellion gains momentum, Vibiana must decide whether to abandon her Christian friends or to commit herself fully to Christianity.
Boxers & Saints is one of the most ambitious graphic novels First Second has ever published. It offers a penetrating insight into not only one of the most controversial episodes of modern Chinese history, but into the very core of our human nature. Gene Luen Yang is rightly called a master of the comics form, and this book will cement that reputation. One of the greatest comics storytellers alive brings all his formidable talents to bear in this astonishing new work. Available now/ 512 pages/ 7th grade & up/ ISBN-13: 978-1596439245
My thoughts: I suppose I should want these since they won School Library Journals Battle of the Books. Haven't really wanted it, but with all the buzz (National Book Award finalist too!), I can't help but be intrigued...

At the Same Moment, Around the World by Clotilde Perrin
 Publisher's Synopsis: Discover Benedict drinking hot chocolate in Paris, France; Mitko chasing the school bus in Sofia, Bulgaria; and Khanh having a little nap in Hanoi, Vietnam! Clotilde Perrin takes readers eastward from the Greenwich meridian, from day to night, with each page portraying one of (the original) 24 time zones. Strong back matter empowers readers to learn about the history of timekeeping and time zones, and to explore where each of the characters lives on the world map. A distinctive educational tool, this picture book's warm, unique illustrations also make it a joy to read aloud and admire. Available March 2014 / 36 pages/ Picture Book for little guys/  ISBN-13: 978-1452122083
My thoughts:  This looks like one of those eloquent books that always make me hold my breath as I read them. The illustrations look amazing. Reminds me of All the World.  

Poached by Stuart Gibbs
Publisher's Synopsis: Teddy Fitzroy’s back for another zoo mystery—this time it’s a koala caper—in this action-packed follow-up to Belly Up, which Kirkus Reviews called “great fun.”
School troublemaker Vance Jessup thinks Teddy Fitzroy’s home at FunJungle, a state-of-the-art zoo and theme park, is the perfect place for a cruel prank. Vance bullies Teddy into his scheme, but the plan goes terribly awry.
Teddy sneaks into the koala exhibit to hide out until the chaos dies down. But when the koala goes missing, Teddy is the only person caught on camera entering and exiting the exhibit.
Teddy didn’t commit the crime—but if he can’t find the real culprit, he’ll be sent to juvie as a convicted koala-napper. Available April 2014/ 336 pages/ Middle Grades/ ISBN-13: 978-1442467774
My thoughts: Poached is the follow up to Belly Up. I LOVE that book. Who doesn't?

We Were Liars by e. lockhart
Publisher's Synopsis: A beautiful and distinguished family.
A private island.
A brilliant, damaged girl; a passionate, political boy.
A group of four friends—the Liars—whose friendship turns destructive.
A revolution. An accident. A secret.
Lies upon lies.
True love.
The truth.
 We Were Liars is a modern, sophisticated suspense novel from National Book Award finalist and Printz Award honoree E. Lockhart.  Read it. And if anyone asks you how it ends, just LIE.  Available May 2014/ 240 pages/ Young Adult/ ISBN-13: 978-0385741262
My thoughts: EVERYONE is talking about this book. It's everywhere I look! It will be one of those bandwagon books that I will be late for. Grrr. 

The Mermaid and the Shoe by K.G. Campbell
Publisher's Synopsis: Each of King Neptune's 50 mermaid daughters boasts a special talent, except for little Minnow, who seems to be good only at asking questions. When she finds a strange object, Minnow follows her questions to a wondrous place and finds answers, including the answer to the most important question of all: Who am I? A gorgeously illustrated story about finding one's purpose. Available now/ 32 pages/ Picture Book/ ISBN-13: 978-1554537716My thoughts: Don't know much about the story, but the cover art is just so inviting; I have to turn that page!

But more than ANY new book..... I want this one: 
But doesn't every bandwagon reader want Grasshopper Jungle by now?

Publisher's Synopsis: "In the small town of Ealing, Iowa, Austin and his best friend Robby have accidentally unleashed an unstoppable army. An army of horny, hungry, six-foot-tall praying mantises that only want to do two things.
This is the truth. This is history.
It’s the end of the world. And nobody knows anything about it.

You know what I mean.
Funny, intense, complex, and brave,Grasshopper Jungle brilliantly weaves together everything from testicle-dissolving genetically modified corn to the struggles of recession-era, small-town America in this groundbreaking coming-of-age stunner."
Available now/ 432 pages / Young Adult / ISBN-13: 978-0525426035

© 2007-2014 Cheryl Vanatti for www.ReadingRumpus.com

Iconic Giver adaptation makes me uneasy...

I just don't know. When you take something so iconic, there are always bound to be difficulties. Fingers crossed. 

© 2007-2014 Cheryl Vanatti for www.ReadingRumpus.com
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