Review Policy

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Book Review: The Summer Nick Taught His Cats to Read

Author: Curtis Manley
Illustrator: Kate Berube
Interest Level: Ages 4 and Up

From the Book Jacket: Nick has two cats, Verne and Stevenson. They do everything together - except read. So Nick has an idea: he will teach them to read too! But reading can be hard and takes lots of practice. Can his cats learn how? In this celebration of reading, Nick and his cats discover that finding just the right book can make all the difference. 

Why It's On My Bookshelf: This is an adorable story about changing one's attitude from resistance to persistence. One cat jumps right into learning to read but the other wants nothing to do with it. He won't even give it a try. I feel like this mirrors life so well - especially when our children are learning new academic tasks. It feels hard and the temptation to give up is an easy choice. I also loved the message of finding books that interest reluctant readers. For Stevenson it was Pirates! If you are wanting to help your students tap into their growth mindset, add this one to your bookshelf. It's a must. 

A Link to This Book:

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Book Review: My Friend Maggie

Author/Illustrator: Hannah E Harrison
Interest Level: Ages 5 and Up

About This Book: A sweet and heart-tugging story about bullying, friendship, and fitting in. Paula and Maggie have been friends forever. Paula thinks Maggie is the best—until mean girl Veronica says otherwise. Suddenly, Paula starts to notice that Maggie is big and clumsy, and her clothes are sort of snuggish. Rather than sticking up for Maggie, Paula ignores her old friend and plays with Veronica instead. Luckily, when Veronica turns on Paula, Maggie’s true colors shine through. 

Why It's On My Bookshelf: This is a powerful story about exclusion and how harmful it can feel. As a school counselor I have witnessed these types of power plays among students. It is very hurtful when a student tells another student not to play with a certain person. Veronica puts down Maggie by body shaming and saying that she is too big. It's a putdown I have heard other students use. I have not used a story like this before so it was a good discussion when we read it. This book fits perfectly into my curriculum around including others and accepting differences. I also like how the victim in the story ends up being the upstander. 

A Link to This Book and Others You Might Find Helpful:

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Book Review: Life Without Nico

Author: Andrea Maturana
Illustrator: Francisco Javier Olea

From the Book Jacket: Best friends Maia and Nico are inseparable. So when Nico's family must move away for a while, life without him leaves a big hole in Maia's world. 

But little by little, Maia's sadness eases, thanks to a kitten, a new friend and the magic of music. When it's finally time for Nico to return home, Maia worries. Can she find room in her life for him again?This is an endearing story of friendship and the infinite capacity of the heart. 

Why It's On My Bookshelf: I've had a few students have to deal with a friend moving away and really feeling devastated by the loss. This is a sweet story that validates these circumstances and feelings. It also shows you can fill the void in your heart by making a new friend and finding hobbies. I don't have too many books on this subject so glad I found it. This will also be a great resource to teach The Zones of Regulation. Great find!

A Link to This Book and Others You Might Find Useful:

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Book Review: Melena's Jubilee: The Story of a Fresh Start

Author: Zetta Elliott
Illustrator: Aaron Boyd

About This Book: After being sent to bed early the previous night, Melena wakes up to a new day with a song in her heart. At breakfast she learns she has been given a “fresh start,” and she decides to celebrate by doing things differently for the rest of the day. Melena chooses not to fight with her brother, and shares the money she has rather than demanding to be repaid by a less fortunate friend. This story introduces children to the concept of jubilee, which stresses the important principles of generosity, and forgiveness.

Why It's On My Bookshelf: What a WONDERFUL book! I am so excited to share it with my students and my own children. We all make mistakes. But how we recover and move forward is what matters most. Lets start modeling to our kids we can do that without being so hard on ourselves. I have always loved the message that tomorrow is always a new day and it brings with it renewal. Melena's Jubilee models this concept so well and it can truly be life changing for kids. Mistakes are not the end of the world - they are a catalyst for positive change. 

A Link to This Book:

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Book Review: Kindness is Cooler, Mrs Ruler

Author: Margery Cuyler
Illustrator: Sachiko Yoshikawa
Interest Level: Ages 5-8

From the Book Jacket: When Mrs. Ruler asks five of her kindergarteners to miss recess, she's got a special plan up her sleeve. She's about to teach a new golden rule: Kindness Is Cool! Soon the entire class is doing so many good deeds that their kindness bulletin board barely fits their classroom!

By clearing the table after dinner to helping the elderly, one kindergarten class is proving that kids really can make a difference. Count along with Mrs. Ruler's class. Can all their good deeds really add up to 100 acts of kindness?

Why It's On My Bookshelf: Love this book so much! It starts out with a teacher being frustrated with her students being unkind to one another and her way of dealing with them is by teaching them about acts of kindness. She asks each student to go home and do five acts of kindness for their families. Then in show-and-tell they will share what they did. Their experiences inspire the rest of the class to also try acts of kindness. Soon it becomes a class project. 

I feel this should be a staple in a classroom teacher's library when it comes to building community and managing behaviors. As a school counselor this is a wonderful addition to my bucket filling books and working on school kindness projects. I'm also excited to read this to my daughter because she would love to learn about acts of kindness and this is such a perfect resource. 

A Link to This Book:

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Book Review: Yoga Bunny

Author/Illustrator: Brian Russo
Interest Level: Ages 4 and Up

From the Book Jacket: It's a perfect day for yoga, and Bunny is practicing his poses and wishes his friends would do yoga with him! But Lizard is too tired, Fox is in a rush, and Bird has the hiccups. Will Bunny ever be able to get his friends to slow down and realize that yoga just might be the solution to their problems?

Book Trailer:

Why It's On My Bookshelf: I thought this was going to be another book showing kids how to do yoga poses but it was much more than that. It's about how yoga is an important tool and how helpful it can be to calm the body and mind when you are feeling angry, anxious, or down. It reminded me to not rush into yoga poses with kids but to first enlighten them on how it can help them overcome something challenging they might be feeling. Yoga Bunny will be the first book I read when teaching kids about yoga. 

A Link to This Book and Others You Might Find Helpful:

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Book Review: The Word Collector

About This Book: Luna is passionate about words. She loves their light and becomes tickled with laughter from them. But one day she realizes that, little by little, the beautiful, gorgeous, and fun words are disappearing from the world—so she decides it's time to act. A poetic tale about the magic of words, this delightful story invites readers of all ages to enjoy the power that positive words can have.

Why It's On My Bookshelf: This book is really timely right now for my students. It's easy to fall back into the habit of using unkind words to try and solve problems or bucket dip. We do a lot of community building in the beginning of the year around being bucket fillers and trying to uplift one another through our actions and words. It's good to reintroduce this message through a story like this to encourage students to continue to build relationships with each other. Our words can heal or harm. Luna discovers people are forgetting to use all of the wonderful positive words with each other. She gathers up all of her words and puts them in a suitcase to share with everyone. I just loved this story and it is a great reminder to not fall into name calling or using our words to hurt. 

A Link to This Book: 

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Book Review: Be Who You Are

Author/Illustrator: Todd Parr
Interest Level: Ages 4 and Up

From the Book Jacket: Be who you are: Be proud of where you're from. Be a different color. Speak your language. Wear everything you need to be you. JUST BE WHO YOU ARE! 
Todd Parr's bold messages and bright picture encourage readers to embrace all their unique qualities. 

Why It's On My Bookshelf: A lot of self-esteem problems could be solved through these important words - BE WHO YOU ARE! It seems like it has been awhile since I have seen a story around this theme published. Sometimes I get focused on other skills and character traits when working with kids so it was refreshing to see this new one. Helping kids build confidence and pride in who they are is at the top of my list. My daughter was giggling at the illustrations and by the end she was exclaiming JUST BE WHO YOU ARE!

A Link to This Book:

Monday, November 14, 2016

Book Review: When Miles Got Mad

Author: Sam Kurtzman-Counter
Interest Level: Ages 4 and Up

About This Book: When his little brother breaks his favorite toy, Miles gets MAD. As his anger swells, he catches sight of himself in the mirror -- but instead of his own reflection, a furry red monster stares back at him! By encouraging Miles to use words to express his anger, the Mad Monster helps Miles calm himself until eventually the anger -- and the monster -- disappears. 

Why It's On My Bookshelf: This is an awesome resource for self-regulation around controlling anger. It encourages a strategy of voicing feelings when you are upset. Miles becomes borderline out of control with his anger until he is confronted by it and he tries to deal with it by avoiding it and then trying to hit it. Finally he admits that he just doesn't know what to do other than he feels SO SO MAD. He starts talking about why he is mad and immediately begins to calm down and his anger shrinks. This will work great in many of my lessons around the Zones of Regulation and how to solve problems.

A Link to This Book:

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Book Review: Maxwell's Mountain

Author: Shari Becker
Illustrator: Nicole Wong
Interest Level: Ages 5 and Up

About This Book: When he spies the BIG hill—make that a mountain!—in his neighborhood park, Maxwell is determined to climb all the way to the top. He has everything a true outdoorsman needs: climbing gear, a map, a first-aid kit, water, snacks, and his trusty toy soldier, Harry, by his side. But when Maxwell loses the trail, he must rely on his smarts to get back on track.

Why It's On My Bookshelf: Another counselor introduced me to this book and it is another great example of using growth mindset to overcome a challenge. Maxwell finds a BIG awesome, glorious mountain in his neighborhood park and is set on getting to the top of it. What I love about the story is Maxwell does everything it takes to accomplish his goal. He practices, prepares, and uses positive self-talk to keep going. When it comes time to climb the mountain - he uses all of these skills to overcome the setbacks he encounters. These are the exact things we are trying to teach our kids. Love. 

A Link to This Book: