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Inkling by Kenneth Oppel - a book review

Publisher's Synopsis: "From the acclaimed author of The Nest, The Boundless, and Airborn comes a brilliantly funny, breakout book about a boy who discovers an ink blot that’s come to life! Perfect for those who love Hoot and Frindle and sure to be a hit with kids everywhere!
       The Rylance family is stuck. Dad’s got writer’s block. Ethan promised to illustrate a group project at school–even though he can’t draw. Sarah’s still pining for a puppy. And they all miss Mom. So much more than they can say.
       Enter Inkling. Inkling begins life in Mr. Rylance’s sketchbook. But one night the ink of his drawings runs together–and then leaps off the page! This small burst of creativity is about to change everything.
       Ethan finds him first. Inkling has absorbed a couple chapters of his math book–not good–and the story he’s supposed to be illustrating for school–also not good. But Inkling’s also started drawing the pictures to go with the story–which is amazing! It’s just the help Ethan was looking for! Inkling helps the rest of the family too–for Sarah he’s a puppy. And for Dad he’s a spark of ideas for a new graphic novel. It’s exactly what they all want.
       It’s not until Inkling goes missing that this family has to face the larger questions of what they–and Inkling–truly need.
       Kenneth Oppel has given us a small masterpiece of middle-grade fiction. Inkling is funny and fizzy and exciting, and brimming with the kind of interesting ideas and dilemmas that kids will love to wrestle with. And Sydney Smith is creating wonderfully inky illustrations to bring the story to vivid life. Get ready. A little ink blot is about to become your new favorite character!"

My Two Cents: Inkling is a master class in personification. Taking an ink blot and not only giving it character, but DEVELOPING that character into a full-blown bildungsroman is brilliant.  Inkling devours ink as sustenance and his pal (and the protagonist) Ethan feeds him some great literature choices. Watching Inkling grow and develop on ink from the BFG, Moby Dick, Anne of Greene Gables (and others) speaks volumes about the ways in which literature has the power to shape who we are. I can not decide if I liked Inkling's BFG or Captain Ahab influenced speech better! AND... there is that double entendre name! This book is metafiction perfection for literary-inclined readers.

There is also a very lot right in the telling (besides Literary Nerd porn). The characters are so complete. Protagonist Ethan bears the burden of his family's loss as his father has pretty much just checked out after his wife's death. Ethan's sister, Sarah, is nine and a typical little sister pain in his butt, but she just also happens to have Down's Syndrome. Oppel writes this as a fact of Ethan's life and not a plot device or burden or event that matters to the story development. Sarah is just another kid in the story. The other characters are Ethan's classmates and his father's publisher boss. Some turn out to have some pretty nasty traits, but reasons for their nastiness are developed so as to not make a typical one-dimensional villain, and characters have redeeming qualities without you really needing to like them. Again, complete.

The plot begins in action from the first sentence, "No one was awake to see it happen, except Rickman." There are rising dangers and a climactic ending that will keep middle grade readers turning the pages after lights out, under covers, flashlight in hand. This is truly a strong addition to not only Mr. Oppel's already impressive oeuvre, but to the children's literature genre.

Inkling would be a great classroom read aloud or in excerpt for teaching various literary devices. I see that Mr. Oppel has several teaching guides available for his other titles so it is probably only a matter of time until there is one available for Inkling. You can check it out over on the teaching resource section of his webpage: HERE.
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Genre: Fantasy
Age: Middle Grade
Pages: 272
ISBN-13: 978-1524772819
ThemesInkling's themes shine! Bullying, Grit vs. Perfection, family, grief, depression, sacrifice, coming-of-age,
Character Development: Complete and Endearing. Who would have thought one could fall in love with a little blot of ink? THAT takes some writing chops!
Plot Engagement: Starts in action, builds slowly at first, very climactic ending as we have grown to adore the characters and root for their success
Originality: Seriously? Who else has ever brought a blot of ink into an inkling of an idea, let alone a full blown and well-drawn character  (easy puns! :-) 
Believability: Here's the point! An ink blot? Yep. He is named Inkling and you are going to love him.
Diversity: Although the characters physical specifics aren't discussed nor necessarily important to the story, they mostly present with white traits. HOWEVER, the attention - make that non-attention - to Sarah's Downs Syndrome make this a win in the diversity category

Thank You to NetGalley and Random House Children's Publishing for my digital copy.

You can buy a copy of Inkling HERE. It's available October, 2018

Because I had a digital copy, I did not get to see all of the amazing artwork that accompanies the book in its full glory. The work of award-winning children's book illustrator Sydney Smith is fantastic and adds much to the telling. You read more about him and see his other books HERE.


To read more about author Kenneth Oppel you can pop over to his website: HERE.







--------------- That's all folks! ---------------
 © 2007-2018 Dr. Cheryl Vanatti, education & reading specialist writing at www.ReadingRumpus.com

The Sinking of Captain Otter by Troy Wilson and Maira Chiodi - mini book review

Publisher's Synopsis: "Kelpy is an otter―and also a passionate sea captain. He builds himself a ship that he adores, from keel to cabin to crow’s nest. All the other otters and pirates and sharks just laugh at Kelpy’s ramshackle craft, but Kelpy sails on. Until one day on the high seas, he encounters a sailor even more laughable than himself―a petite butterfly pirate in a teeny-tiny boat. Kelpy’s laughter shifts to empathy when he realizes how much he has hurt the tiny pirate’s feelings. So Kelpy decides to scuttle his beloved boat in a playful ploy to repair the emotional damage he’s done. Along the way, an unlikely friendship (and rivalry) begins. Packed with rhyme, repetition, and lots of humor, this is a read-aloud with a heartwarming message about following your dreams even in the face of ridicule and doubt, and how even an underdog can lift someone up."

My Quick Two Cents:  It's a little harder for me to "review" all picture books. First, I'm solidly a middle grades gal myself, having spent the bulk of my teaching career between 3rd - 8th grade. Secondly, I could go all 'reading specialist' on a review and try to come up with phonics and foundational reading activities - even if I had to think a bit harder on them. So, it's sometimes easier just to talk about if I like a book (or not) and if I think kids will like it and, consequentially, if teachers and parents should buy it.

The Sinking of Captain Otter is a fun and engaging picture book, perfectly suited to its target age demographic. There's just enough rhyming and repetition so as to not overpower. I love the subtleness in the bullying message (which in the first few pages made me worry it was going to be another "bullying is bad" didactic tretise). Instead, the bullied Kelpy, knowing what it is like to feel sad and bullied, chooses to turn the other cheek, swallow some pride, and make friends in unlikely places. There's also something in there about a healthy rivalry, but I'm not very competitive so it kind of got lost on me. Mostly, I liked the idea of tenacity in the face of ridicule. It's short and sweet, but it contains a lot of possible discussion about Kelpy's traits and decisions.
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Genre: Picture Book
Age: 3-7 / Preschool - 2nd
Pages: 32

Themes: Tenacity, Empathy, Friendship, Rivalry

Character Development: Typical surface level in most picture books of this sort

Plot Engagement: Pretty strong, switches between scenes of bullying, meeting new friend, and resolution quickly

Originality: An otter and a butterfly as sea boat captains.... pretty unique

Believability: In today's world of children's books, nothing is unbeleiveable

Thank You to Publisher OwlKid Books and NetGalley for my advanced Digital Book copy
Date: October 15, 2018
ISBN: 978-1771473118

BUY The Sinking of Captain Otter HERE


----------------- That's all folks! -----------------
 © 2007-2018 Dr. Cheryl Vanatti, education & reading specialist writing at www.ReadingRumpus.com

Book Bit: Sleep, Sheep! - a bedtime story for the reluctant sleeper

Publisher's Synopsis: "There are lots of things Duncan likes about bedtime --- the stories, the pajamas, the bubblegum-flavored toothpaste ... The only thing he doesn't like is going to sleep. And he'll do anything he can to avoid it. Until one day, Duncan's mom has had enough of his stalling. ?Try counting sheep,? she tells him. So, he does. At first, it's kind of fun. As he counts, each sheep appears, wearing its number like a race car, and leaps over the bed. But then comes Sheep #68, who hesitates. He needs a drink of water before he can jump. Then he has to go to the bathroom. Then he wants to put on running shoes. Will Sheep #68 ever do what he's supposed to?

 Kerry Lyn Sparrow's hilarious picture book story offers a new take on a universal experience. Using delaying tactics to avoid going to sleep at bedtime is a common routine for young children, and they'll love the sly humor when Duncan's own tricks get turned on him by the (?sheepish?) sheep. In subtle colors with lots of telling details, Guillaume Perreault's illustrations bring Duncan's bedtime rituals and his unexpected sheep guests humorously to life. This book makes a fantastic, funny read-aloud, appealing to both children and adults."

My Two Cents: Sleep, Sheep! is mostly a bedtime book for small pre-school age children, but I wanted to give it a spot on here because it may not get a lot of buzz in the US (Canadian folks involved) and it has some strong merit in the bedtime story department. There's lots of humor complimented by very interesting and elaborated illustrations. I like the idea that the "mom knows best and is always there for you" as that is clearly part of my own favorite picture book (Reading Rumpus didn't get named accidentally!).

I feel that helping young readers see the boy's traits in sheep #68 is a good reading skill that gives it a little more credibility with this reader than other bedtime stories. I don't think this is necessarily a classroom purchase, unless one might be doing a sheep or a sleep unit, but it certainly will be a great bedtime tale for young ones to stretch those cognitive connections!
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Genre: Picture Book
Age: 3-6
Pages: 32
Themes: Bedtime Story, Moms are smart, Kids get tired, Sheep are for counting
Character Development: Sheep #68 is okay. The rest are pretty compliant.
Plot Engagement: Will #68 jump? That questions drives the tale.
Originality: Not particularly, lots of sleeping and sheeping books, but the illustrations are sweet and the plot moves well.
Thank You to NetGalley and Kids Can Press for my advanced digital copy.
Date: October 2, 2018
ISBN: 9781771387965
BUY Sleep, Sheep! HERE 
Author Page: HERE
Illustrator Page: HERE
------------ That's all folks! ------------
 © 2007-2018 Dr. Cheryl Vanatti, education & reading specialist writing at www.ReadingRumpus.com

Louisiana's Way Home by Kate DiCamillo - a great middle grade read

Publisher's Synopsis: When Louisiana Elefante’s granny wakes her up in the middle of the night to tell her that the day of reckoning has arrived and they have to leave home immediately, Louisiana isn’t overly worried. After all, Granny has many middle-of-the-night ideas. But this time, things are different. This time, Granny intends for them never to return. Separated from her best friends, Raymie and Beverly, Louisiana struggles to oppose the winds of fate (and Granny) and find a way home. But as Louisiana’s life becomes entwined with the lives of the people of a small Georgia town — including a surly motel owner, a walrus-like minister, and a mysterious boy with a crow on his shoulder — she starts to worry that she is destined only for good-byes. (Which could be due to the curse on Louisiana’s and Granny’s heads. But that is a story for another time.)

My Two Cents: I typically shy away from writing about books that I know will get a lot of “buzz.” Mostly because I am a late-to-the-party girl and by the time I set out to write a review, all sorts of accolades from folks way more influential than I have already been given. But, Kate DiCamillo is one of my very favorite, like top five - count on one hand, children’s writers and I don’t think I have ever written a word about any of her books! Her fabulous collection of meaningful and powerful works of art have their very own special shelf in my home, but nary a word on this little blog. That ends today with Louisiana's Way Home! I will still reserve my favorite Kate DiCamillo spot for the fantastical The Tale of Despereaux: Being the Story of a Mouse, a Princess, Some Soup and a Spool of Thread, but Louisiana's Way Home has all the makings of another Newbery-worthy addition to the Dicamillo canon. Just like most of her stories, it's filled with: Hope, Forgiveness, Trust, and Tenacity. Not surprisingly, since I read it as an eBook, I’ll be rushing out to my local bookstore in order to add the book to my DiCamillo shelf.

Louisiana's Way Home begins with a breathless runaway action scene, hooking readers right at the start. Where are they going? Why are they going? The chapters are short and the dialogue is succinct. I see the book as a very accessible title for all readers, even those who have not yet read the companion book, Raymie Nightingale. Like most of DiCamillo's stories, it's an emotional tale. This is why I love her writing: DiCamillo respects and acknowledges her young readers' emotional capacity like almost no other children's writer!

Teaching possibilities raced through my mind as I read:
  • It’s first person and that voice is so strong, so filled with desperation without being desperate. teaching first person and how it contributes to the theme, mood, tone would be a cakewalk.  
  • It’s filled with dialogue - a grammar teacher’s best friend 
  • The beautiful wording creates such a sense of place. Definitely a writer’s craft study in there 
  • There are numerous references to Pinocchio, which would make for a great comparative literature lesson (you’d have to find an appropriate level version for lower grades though). 
  • It's a strong pick for reluctant readers as short chapters, common settings, interesting characters, and a quick pace all help to hold attention.
  •  I really think I would spend a lot of time on theme and the writer’s creation of it. And I would be so excited to have discussions on the likes of prose such as, “you decide who you are” and "take what is offered to you" and "Perhaps what matters, when all is said and done, is not who puts us down but who picks us up" with students! Discussing circumstance and privilege, thinking about self-destiny, tenacity, kindness, and courage.... a lit. teacher's dream book.  
On a personal note, because her writing is so very in-tune with childhood feelings, I always find some remembrance of my own childhood in a Dicamillo book. In Louisiana's Way Home it was the scene where the two young characters climb a tree to think real hard and figure stuff out. I climbed the maple tree in our front lawn the whole of my youth, trying to figure out my place and who I wanted to be. Reading that scene made me wish for, close my eyes and breathlessly remember, that feeling of being up in a tree - the possibility of anything being within my grasp.

Not that anyone would doubt it, just on her reputation alone: This reading and education specialist highly recommends classroom (3-6) and library (elementary and middle) purchase.
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Genre: Realistic Fiction
Age: 3rd - 6th Grades
Pages: 240
Themes: Courage, Tenacity, Forgiveness, Trust 
Character Development: Louisiana is so present, fully-formed with all her fear, truth and hope in world that could have so very, very fallen into hopelessness. Her new friend, Burke, and his shoulder-perched crow, Clarence,  help to create that hope. Great balance of both good adults and bad adults.
Plot Engagement: Breathless start, excellent pacing. New twists and introduction of new characters keep it fast-paced. Great for reluctant readers, with short chapters and relatable settings.
Opening Lines: "I am going to write it all down, so that what happened to me will be known, so that if someone were to stand at their window at night and look up at stars and think, My goodness, whatever happened to Louisiana Elefante? Where did she go? they will have an answer. They will know. This is what happened. I will begin at the beginning.”
Thank You to NetGalley and Candlewick for my advanced eBook edition
Date: October 2, 2018
ISBN: 978-0763694630

Teaching Guide from publisher Click HERE

Buy Louisiana's Way Home HERE


Book Trailer:

Author Interview from Nerdy Book Club:




--------------- That's all folks! ---------------
 © 2007-2018 Dr. Cheryl Vanatti, education & reading specialist writing at www.ReadingRumpus.com

Banned Books Week: How Harry Potter Brought the Devil into My Classroom

Anyone who has read this blog, even a little, knows my adoration for the Harry Potter books. But LOTS of people adore those books (duh). My Harry Potter story is a bit different. Although I adore the books as a reader, my true adoration lies within the joy they brought to my students back in 1999, 2000 and 2001. My adoration began before the MANIA, before nary a toy or movie, before Harry Potter hysteria took over.

My story is that of a sixth grade reading and language arts teacher whose PTSA offered to buy her classroom sets of books. Ever frugal, it just so happened that Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone was the Scholastic Books ninety-nine cent selection that month. I knew it was getting some 'buzz,' but honestly, I hadn't paid that much attention. I borrowed a copy from our school library, took it home, and read it, in one night, showing up to work exhausted but certain of my PTSA book selection.

Copy in hand, I set forth in pulling all the sixth grade literary standards and wrote a unit (should've sold that!) so that when the Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone books arrived, I was ready. At this point in my career, about five years in, I was pretty certain the students would like the book and my newly planned unit would be both effective and engaging. I was wrong. The students didn't like the book, they loved the book. Engagement? They ran from their previous class to get to my classroom, grabbed their copy before the bell rang, and hunkered down happily in their seats. When I would make them close the cover in order to try to teach a lesson, they would moan, "Just let us read!" They were possessed all right. All of them - not just the strong readers, but the struggling readers too, the kids who had never read a whole book before, the kids who read on a first grade level. My job, using Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone as the template to teach reading and writing skills, was a cakewalk. The second year, I got my hands on the fabulous Grammy winning audio version by Jim Dale. When I would press pause, to try to teach something, teach anything, the students would revolt!  I still get students, to this day almost twenty years later, who contact me and tell me how I led them down the road to lifelong reading because of that book (well, me and J.K. Rowling).

But that's just the prelude to this tale....... how the Devil joined my classroom. You see, this is Banned Books Week; and eventually, I had to quit teaching Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. I taught in an affluent, urban area with well-educated parents and still, every year, I had a handful of parents who complained to the principal and I would then have to provide an alternate unit for those students (her solution). I typically gave them Shiloh and a packet of worksheets, sneaking moments to teach them while the rest of the class was enthralled with Harry & Co.

In 2001, right before the movie came out, all things Harry Potter verged at mainstream hysteria and two parents asked to excuse their children from my classroom. The first parent simply asked and was granted, never even meeting with me. Had we met, I would have asked them if they'd let their child read the likes of fairy tales or if they would please read the story first before they made the decision (two had changed their mind after reading it in past years). But this year, with all the mania surrounding it, I had one parent who wasn't only worried about his own son's soul, but also the souls of the other 100+ kids that I was teaching.

The first meeting with this gentleman was facilitated by the principal since I spoke very, very little Spanish, he spoke very, very little English and she spoke both well. The meeting was typical of year's past: she backed me, told him that his son would get a quality literary unit built around Shiloh, and though he argued a little, he had left somewhat appeased. I thought.

I made extra sure his son met with me individually to discuss his lessons - not because a complaining parent should garner more attention from any other student - but because his son was severely struggling in reading and needed a lot of attention. I think Shiloh is now, Common Core considered, a third grade title and even as a sixth grade student, he was barely able to read it, let alone complete the assignments without the support of classroom discussion and partner scaffolding.

One bright Florida morning I arrived to his father standing at my door, pensively waiting for me. In broken versions of Spanglish we both attempted to discuss an article, printed from the internet, that his pastor had given him. He was imploring me that the article told of demonic possessions, that he could not let me teach that book at his son's school, that his pastor had told him that he had to save all the children, not just his son. I took the offered article respectfully, but before I had a chance to even read it, I noticed the url at the very bottom. It began: www.theonion.com (source link). I was not very good at explaining anything in Spanish, but try explaining "parody" and "irony" and "farce" to someone whose pastor had told him that he had an obligation to save all the children from Satan himself!

Luckily, the students started arriving and I asked the gentleman to please head up to the principal to continue the discussion. He was a nice man, he left quietly. But that afternoon, when the principal asked to see me, I knew that would be the last year that I would be using Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone as a teaching tool. It was fine. The movie came out and I typically don't teach literature with a movie tied to it, especially a blockbuster. But, the Devil had showed up in my classroom thanks to Harry Potter. That Devil is named Censorship.

Read more about Banned Books Week, Get promotional classroom and library resources at their website: HERE


 © 2007-2018 Dr. Cheryl Vanatti, education & reading specialist writing at www.ReadingRumpus.com

CYBILS: Kid Appeal & Literary Merit. The Perfect Award.

I've written many a post about the fabulous CYBILS award over the years. Those who know me in person have heard me drone on about how it is the best children's literature award out there because it removes the politics involved in awards from various organizations. Don't get me wrong, I LOVE those awards too, but I think they usually lean way to the 'adult' side of the children's literature (typically) equation without a lot of consideration for kid appeal. The CYBILS are a complete LABOR OF LOVE with all volunteers, reading frantically, discussing into the wee hours of the night, trying to find that perfect balance of both literary merit and kid appeal. Having done it four times, I can attest that it is no easy task! So...
I am EXCITED to return as a CYBILS Round 1 Judge! 

In 2010, I was a round 1 judge for Middle Grade Fiction.
In 2011, I was a round 1 judge for Middle Grade Fiction again.
In 2012, I was a round 1 judge for Middle Grade Fantasy & Science Fiction.
In 2013  I was a round 1 judge for Young Adult Nonfiction.
Then, I had to lay low as lots of 'life stuff' got in the way. This poor little blog nearly went stone cold, but that's a story for another day!
This year, 2018, I will be judging Elementary/Middle Grade Speculative Fiction!!!!!!!

I am so excited to be back with my fellow KidLit Bloggers:
Once we Round 1 Judges narrow the massive MG Speculative Fiction list down, the Round 2 Judges will argue over pick the winner! Round 2 Judges are:
Nominations open October 1: 
CLICK HERE TO LEARN ABOUT NOMINATING YOUR FAVORITE BOOK THIS YEAR

You can learn more about the CYBILS Awards: HERE
or simply search the word CYBILS in the reading rumpus search bar up there on the right top of this blog and you'll see why I love, love, love me some CYBILS :-) 

-------------------- That's all folks! --------------------
 © 2007-2018 Dr. Cheryl Vanatti, education & reading specialist writing at www.ReadingRumpus.com

Two Books to Add to Every Classroom Shelf & a Little Soapbox on Citizenship

I'm going to talk about two books today that need to be on every classroom shelf ; I'm talking K-12, even though they are listed as for a younger crowd. The reason I want to talk about them BOTH has mostly to do with my own tardiness. When I read Her Right Foot last fall, I was very, very, very remiss in not mentioning it because I so instantly adored it for so, so, so many reasons. Then, when the team of Eggers (writer) and Harris (illustrator) followed-up with What Can a Citizen Do?, and Chronicle Kids sent me a copy, I knew I couldn't just talk about one without the other.

Her Right Foot got plenty of love and I tend to shy away from writing about those books. I may love them alongside the masses, but my nature leans a supporter of the underdog.  Her Right Foot was going to be fine. It was going to make it into lots of kids hands. All the kid lit darlings were talking it up. It did not need my little blog. And it was sort of overwhelming in it's educational possibilities. I'd have to REALLY offer some great teaching thoughts and there was the matter of finishing my doctorate that semester. So....yeah, excuse.

What Can a Citizen Do? is releasing in two days and I've seen a smattering of glowing thoughts on it, though one was rather critical (more on that later). I didn't instantly love it the way I had Her Right Foot, but by the third read, I definitely thought it belonged right alongside Her Right Foot on every classroom shelf.

Subtlety is a foundational key in stellar writing for children and writers tend to lean way, way too didactic when they set out to write a "children's book," especially authors who typically write for an adult audience. Mr Eggers has done a fabulous reining-in of the adult-to-kid speak on two topics that could have very easily leaned toward didactic. Both books have A LOT to say about our American societal experiment and What Can a Citizen Do? is even more subtle than Her Right Foot, not only because clocks in at 40 pages versus 104, but because our current state of affairs defining citizenship in this country creates presuppositions regarding what the book MIGHT say in an adult reader's mind.

While Her Right Foot is busy teaching kids facts about Liberty Enlightening the World (the real name of the Statue of Liberty), it is ever so subtly bringing home the message about her symbolism within the American experimental ideal of a diverse and welcoming society grounded in freedom and liberty for all. No preaching, no teaching about ideals of liberty, it's strength lurks quietly within the theme, whilst it goes about offering engaging facts (the absolute best way to teach kids).

What Can a Citizen Do? is even more subtle in theme and I think that's why it took me a third read to fully ignore my adult expectations on what the book was going to be about, something the writer criticizing it over at Kirkus Review failed to consider. The writer over there missed the mark when s/he said it was, "opaque and painfully insensitive to America’s practiced definition of citizenship both historically and contemporarily, which denies the humanity of those not legally deemed citizens." I'm not going to lie; I did keep waiting for some treatise on the legalities of becoming a citizen in the USA - and that treatise never comes. But it is not "opaque" or "insensitive;" it's just not about what you expected it to be about. The writing isn't a statement on the fact that we should be letting everyone who wants to BE a citizen of the USA be one - that message is actually better themed in Her Right Foot. The point lies in the theme that everyone, regardless of a piece of paper saying they belong, already IS a citizen and they can join and be part of something; they can have a voice anyway.

We have lots of children's literature on the immigrant experience and we probably need a new one to address the current immigration war, but  What Can a Citizen Do? is not that book and expecting it to be so simply comes from our own expectations based on the current state of affairs in our country. If you look at the book for what it is: a group of citizens who work together to build a better space for each other, you see Eggers ignoring the current 'othering' that happens when we assign citizenship to a piece of legal paper. I actually find that subtlety fantastic and that's why I think it also makes it a K-12 book. The conversation a high school lit or social studies teacher could ignite with this book would be phenomenal!
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Genre: Nonfiction with Flare (I'm going to start calling these new nonfiction offerings this!)
Grades: K-12 (Intro the little ones to sharing & community; debate the state of current affairs with the old ones)
Themes: Immigration, Citizenship, The American Experiment, Activism
Thank You to Chronicle Kids for my copy of What Can a Citizen Do? (PS: You can send mea copy of Her Right Foot any time you'd like ;-)

Buy Her Right Foot HERE

Buy What Can a Citizen Do? HERE

Here's a couple videos you might also use in the classroom:



 


If you're looking to do an entire unit on this subject, I'll throw a few links to start, but honestly, just google it..... there are links and links devoted to these themes.

Here's a link to 19 Books about the Immigrant Experience in America (from the website Brightly).

Here's Amazon's list of best selling books on the subject of immigration.

Here's Buzzfeed's pick of 15 Immigration books for kids


Want to know more about the author? Here's his website.
I, like everyone else on the planet, have read and enjoyed his Pulitzer-nominated adult book, A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius. Literary types will also know that he founded McSweeney's Publishing. Children's literature looks to be a new venture for him and he sure started with a bang (seems to be a pattern with him).
Given no credit throughout this post is illustrator Shawn Harris. Here's his website.
I've said it before, I'm not an artist so I feel less inclined to discuss illustrators in my posts, but Mr. Harris deserves better than I can offer. Both books are done using an amazing paper cutting technique in a way that adds depth and movement to the page. This book would also be an excellent example of that technique for use in art classrooms! 
Here are a few links discussing his technique: One Here and Another Here and Here

-------------------- That's all folks! --------------------
 © 2007-2018 Dr. Cheryl Vanatti, education & reading specialist writing at www.ReadingRumpus.com