The Harry Potter Generation

       All over the news I have been reminded that fifteen years ago this week Scholastic brought U.S. readers Harry Potter & Company. I very vividly recall my first interactions with Harry & Co. The summer I began teaching sixth grade, Scholastic offered Sorcerer's Stone as their 99 cent Arrow Book Club pick. Based on glowing reviews and good sense, I quickly purchased a class set. That decision made for three amazing years sharing Harry with eager sixth graders. Well before all the hoopla started, I watched kids literally race to my classroom to continue the story, moaning when I made them stop to complete a lesson.

Chick-o-saurus Rex by Lenore & Daniel Jennewein

Publisher's Blurb: "A bullied little chicken discovers his inner strength along with some surprising dinosaur ancestry in this farmyard tale with huge heart. Little Chick just wants to belong, but the bullies of the barnyard—Little Donkey, Little Pig, and Little Sheep—won’t let him play in their tree house because he is a chicken, and chickens are not strong and brave. Little Chick sees their point: What have chickens done besides invent the chicken dance and cross the road? But when his father shows Little Chick the family photo album, he learns something HUGE: He is related to the gigantic and ferocious Tyrannosaurus rex! Armed with this new knowledge, Little Chick returns to the tree house just in time to rescue the bullies from a scary wolf—and prove that strength and bravery have nothing to do with size."

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Genre:  Animal Tale / Picture Book
Age: 3+
Pages: 32 pages
Lexile: 630L
Publisher:  Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Date: July 2013
ISBN: 9781442451896

Themes: Bullying, Determination, Evolution

Character Development: Little Chick is strong and determined. He has good self worth, a role model.

Plot Engagement: While the story unfolds quickly, there is some vocabulary that will need a bit of explaining depending on the age of the student.  
Vocabulary (in order of appearance): longed, trespassers, boasted, bleated, bragged, taunted, squawked, frustration, paced, impressed, fossil, ancient, ancestor, investigate, skeleton, bellowed, squeals 

Originality: Bullying is a 'hot' topic, but this story has a unique twist. Be sure to check out the author's note. It adds some depth to the telling that will give older readers something to investigate further!

Thank You:  TLC Book Tours & the publisher for my copy, it was donated to a beginning teacher's primary classroom. She, and her students, thank you also.

My thoughts: This is a fun and humor-filled tale that many young students will love!
Recommended for dinosaur lovers, the science minded and kids who like animal tales. Primary elementary classroom should add it to their shelves (as well as elementary libraries) 

Buy Chick-o-Saurus Rex HERE


 Lesson Activities

Author Lenore Appelhans has traveled to 60 different countries, every continent excepting Antarctica. Find out more about the author HERE.  Find out more about the illustrator (and her husband)  HERE.
There is also an interview with the author at Storytime Books: HERE. 

-------------------- That's all folks! --------------------
 © 2007-2013 Cheryl Vanatti for

Sea Monster and the Bossy Fish & Sea Monster's First Day by Kate Messner with illustrations by Andy Rash

Reading Rumpus is so excited to welcome guest poster and author extraordinaire Kate Messner! She is here to talk about read-aloud books for the first days of school, including her wonderful titles: Sea Monster's First Day and Sea Monster and the Bossy Fish.

Great Read-Alouds for the First Days of School
by Kate Messner

 I’ve gotten a lot of emails from teachers and librarians this summer, letting me know that SEA MONSTER’S FIRST DAY and SEA MONSTER AND THE BOSSY FISH are on tap for read-aloud time during the first days of school. Nothing could make me happier.

 In SEA MONSTER’S FIRST DAY, Ernest the Sea Monster faces the challenge and anxiety of starting a new school (of fish!). Like all students, he worries about getting lost, where to sit at lunch, and making new friends. Teachers have told me that this book is a great way to launch classroom discussions about all those first-day jitters, while SEA MONSTER AND THE BOSSY FISH lends itself to conversations about bullying and exclusion in the classroom and on the playground.

In his second adventure, Ernest the Sea Monster encounters a new fish whose behaviors range from mildly bossy to downright bullying. When the new fish decides to start his own club and invite only some of the fish to join, Ernest has to be creative. He finds a way to include everyone – and to teach the new fish how to be a better friend. This title invites kids to consider how they would react in similar situations. Role playing activities are a natural extension, and kids can even take the special “Friend Fish Pledge” and promise to make their own classrooms friendly, inclusive places. What other titles should be in the read-aloud pile as we start the 2013-2014 school year?

Here are some recent reads that are also great conversation starters:

 ❏ READY FOR PUMPKINS by Kate Duke is a fresh take on the traditional fall pumpkin harvest story. Narrated by a classroom guinea pig named Hercules, this book not only shares a fun story but is also a perfect springboard for inviting students to write in the voice of their own classroom pets.

❏ HAPPY LIKE SOCCER, written by Maribeth Boelts and illustrated by Lauren Castillo, opens with the bright, vivid action of a neighborhood soccer game – familiar scene for so many kids – but goes beyond that to explore one player’s home life and her longing for her busy-at-work aunt to see her play. This is a great book for building empathy and reminding kids that their classmates come from all different backgrounds.

❏ BECAUSE AMELIA SMILED by David Ezra Stein is the perfect book to launch a classroom conversation about acts of kindness and how much of an impact they can have on a classroom community. In this story, a little girl’s smile as she walks down the street has a ripple effect that stretches all around the world.

❏ STUCK WITH THE BLOOZ by Caron Levis and illustrated by Jon Davis reminds young readers that not every day can be the brightest day of the year. In this story, a girl is visited by the Blooz, a glum, lumpy, and charmingly literal representation of a blue mood. The creature follows her around the house until she takes it outside to play and then, finally, going over a bump on her bike, it flies off and away. It’s a great book to make kids aware of feelings and give them ideas for what to do with a bad day.

❏ THINK BIG by Liz Garton Scanlon and illustrated by Vanessa Brantley Newton is a book that celebrates the arts. Its bold bright colors and strong, simple rhymes (“Thick paint…Deep hue…Bow stroke…One, two…) represent everything from cooking and photography to pottery and theater. It’s short and sweet – a perfect read-aloud to inspire kids on the first day of art class.

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Genre: Picture Book/ Animal Tale
Age: 3 and up (to about 2nd grade)
Themes: Friendship, Bullying, Sticking Together/Cooperation
My Two Cents: Great illustrations, character development, and fun! A must read for kindergarteners and first  & second graders will like it too.
Thank You to Chronicle Books for my copies! They were donated to a primary classroom of a new teacher when I finished. She, and her students, thank you also :-)

Have your students take the pledge to be a "friend fish." 
Just click to enlarge the picture below and print!

Publisher's Blurb for Sea Monster & the Bossy Fish: "Being kind is a big job, but nothing's too big for a sea monster. Not even taking on the new fish in school, who's great...except when he's pushing people around. This funny, charming twist on dealing with a bully will reassure and delight the smallest children and the biggest sea monsters alike." 

Publisher's blurb for Sea Monster's First Day: "Sea monster Ernest is starting his first day of school. But starting school is a big job! Fitting in when you’re a sea monster is tough enough, and there’s so much to learn and do—reading, singing, playing hide-and-seek with the fishermen, lunchtime in the algae patch….This funny, charming twist on the worries and joys of starting school will reassure and delight the smallest children and the largest sea monsters alike."

Not enough? You can find more good stuff on the "Making Fishy Friends Blog Tour"

To top it off, Chronicle Books is celebrating the blog tour with 30% off and free shipping until Sept. 26th, 2013. Use the code SEAMONSTER.

Kate Messner is a National Board certified teacher who taught middle school for fifteen years. Her award-winning writing includes novels, chapter and picture books. You can read more about her on her website or on Twitter.

For more info on illustrator Any Rash you can visit his blog or website. You can also read more about the picture book creation process between Kate & Andy on the Chronicle Blog.

-------------------- That's all folks! --------------------
© 2007-2013 Cheryl Vanatti for