Category Archives: New in 2014

Find Momo by Andrew Knapp

Pet books – specifically dog books – were hot commodities for readers in MTigersLibrary.  There was an overflowing shelf of them in the 600’s which was usually decimated by the end of September.  While my elementary readers liked books on each breed, they really liked the ones with good pictures.  Forget the words: they wanted to coo over the photos of the doggies.  Like Momo.

Find Momo Coast to Coast & Let’s Find Momo by Andrew Knapp

The original Find Momo isn’t a typical addition to the elementary library: it’s a photo-journal of a dog, Momo, in landscapes and interiors.  But one element makes Momo a bona fide hit: the black and white dog hides in each photo.  This I Spy aspect is age-appropriate and perfect for readers of any age, language, or ability.  Momo’s first book had enough fans (my students included) to spur more titles: Find Momo Coast to Coast and a board book for the youngest readers Let’s Find Momo.  Both keep the element of I Spy and showcase beautiful photography with one hidden dog.  Momo Coast to Coast gives young readers a picturesque view of the United States through the adventures of an appealing dog.  Imagine the mapping activities one could do with Momo! The board book Let’s Find Momo is great for emerging readers and English-language learners, as it showcases four words and objects in a quadrant, inviting readers to find the matching objects on the following page…along with Momo, of course.  The only drawback may be if readers learn the name “Momo” as representing a dog.  Fun and appealing, share these with dog-lovers of all ages.   

Find Momo published in 2014.  Find Momo Coast to Coast published in 2015.  Let’s Find Momo is released April 18, 2017.

One of the previewed titles at 2017 London Book Fair at the Quirk books booth.

Cheers, y’all! 🙂 arika

Library Lessons: January 2016

Week 17 of the school year, week 1 of 2016!

It MUST be January, since the kindergartners began the Ezra Jack Keats author/illustrator study.  Stories by EJK make me so very happy. Rereading these stories aloud and sharing them for the first time to the K’s is one of the highlights of my year!

With very squirrelly K’s this year, I was happy to lead an abbreviated Rhyme Time (Humpty Dumpty, Tommy Thumbs) and read 2 stories: Goggles! and Whistle for Willie. We even had a bit of time for critical thinking questions and check out!

Students focused on similar EJK questions from previous years:

  • Before reading Goggles!, students are asked to think of as many types of goggles – protective eye ware that is not sugnlasses – as they can.
  • After reading Whistle for Willie, students are asked to predict how Peter might be based on what they heard/saw in the story. Most common answer this year: 6!

One class had time to start thinking of how old Peter was in both stories. In the coming weeks, we’ll construct a chronological display of EJK books with Peter based on Peter’s perceived age. This is a great Claim-Evidence-Reasoning question, too!

The 2nd graders made connections between a WCCPBA nominee and a local news story. A gorilla at our Woodland Park Zoo had a new baby a few weeks ago, and it seemed like the perfect time to share Katherine Applegate’s Ivan: the remarkably true story of a shopping mall gorilla. Stressing that the story was entirely true, students were horrified that such treatment to animals could occur. Cries of “that’s just MEAN!” were often mumbled during the read-aloud.  Sharing the news of our zoo’s new baby gorilla – with pics to boot – cemented the concept that animals deserve to be treated with humane respect.

The 2nd AND 4th graders had a mini-lesson on Readolutions to start their classes. Examples were given, tracking was explained, and homework was given (!!!). All families were emailed, explaining Readolutions and library goals. Students have a week to write their goal and return it to the library. Next week, I’ll type their goals and make progress charts (to be kept on their library circ pass). If they forget to bring back their work, they can come in during recess to set an appropriate goal.

The 4th graders had a whole-group discussion on historical fiction vs nonfiction prior to listening to Henry’s Freedom Box. One student came up with a brilliant definition: “historical fiction takes place in a non-fiction point in time”. Nicely worded, Alex! Informed that our read-aloud was, indeed, historical fiction, students created questions that would help expound on the fact/fiction points of the story. Next week, we’ll use KCLS databases to research their questions and learn more about the true story of Henry Box Brown.

And my beloved 5th graders! They showed up in droves for the first Lunch and Listen of 2016! What a treat they had: two nonfiction stories, both brilliant and well-received.

They were particularly impressed with the musical prowess of Trombone Shorty, as we watched a YouTube video of the then-13-year-old’s phenominal skill. Perhaps the most impressive to them was that he did all the voices of the parents/teachers in the recent The Peanuts Movie!

Books for transitional readers – the OTTER Award

A few years ago, while serving on the Sasquatch Committee, there were a handful books that the committee loved (like Lulu and the Brontosaurus) that didn’t make the final nominee list.  Why? They were geared to an audience younger than the grades 4-6 award criteria.

Pondering on this, I had a thought: there should be an award for chapter books geared toward children ages 6-9.

The idea went dormant…until last year, when my daughter was in 2nd grade and struggling to find just-right chapter books. Looking critically at my 2nd grade students and their reading choices, I realized they also were challenged to find a just-right chapter book that wasn’t part of a household-name series.  The chapter book shelves, full of all levels of fiction, were overwhelming to them.  And while the collection contained plenty of appropriate titles for 6-9 year olds, I had to find ways to share these outstanding titles to them…and to their parents and teachers.

For my students, I displayed and shelf-talked titles: hand-selling books is one of my favorite things.  There were many happy readers…but not enough.  Too many non-readers weren’t engaged.

For my teachers and parents, it was harder.  Advertising great beginning chapter books via newsletters and emails didn’t get results.  The big winner was face-to-face conversation: adults liked hearing personal recommendations, especially the “best books” – ones that won awards or were well-received by other students.

Last winter, still thinking about a beginner chapter book award for grades 1-3, I mentioned it in passing to a colleague across the state. Seeing a similar need in her district, she was on board for a pilot book award project. So were our fellow teacher-librarians.  Relaying the idea to my 2nd grader, she said “Are these books kids like or books adults think kids like?”  With that one sentence, I heard a challenge. If we (teachers, parents, librarians) are trying to get kids to read, then we should be sharing the titles that kids like…not the ones we think they should like. Their opinion matters.

She ultimately read some of the potential nominees, as did my 6 yo son and my students at school.  And after some discussion among librarians, we curated a list of nominees that kids liked and created a new book award for young readers in Washington State.

The OTTER AwardOur Time To Enjoy Reading – aims to be that award.  Designed for for children in 1st, 2nd, and 3rd grades, these titles are intended for transitional readers.  They have ample white space, larger font size, adequate line spacing, and/or illustrations.  Most importantly, they have been read and approved by young readers.  These are books kids like.

Note: this is a pilot project. It has not been approved by WLMA…yet. 🙂

12.18.15 update: the OTTER Award is now an official WA state award! Thank you, WLMA!

The 2015-2016 OTTER Award nominees:

Dog Days by Karen English (Carver Chroncies #1)

The Princess in Black by Shannon & Dean Hale (Princess in Black #1)

The Year of Billy Miller by Kevin Henkes

Tales of Bunjitsu Bunny by John Himmelman (Bunjitsu Bunny #1)

Ares and the Spear of Fear by Joan Holub and Suzanne Williams (Heroes in Training #7)

White Fur Flying by Patricia MacLachlan

Our selection criteria:

  • copyright year 2013-2014
  • reading level suitable for grades 1,2,3
  • multiple kid-friendly specs (including, but not limited to: white space, font size, line spacing, illustrations)
  • read and positively reviewed by a student (“books kids like, not books adults think kids like”)
  •  representation of genres/gender/diversity/series

Voting will take place by April 15. Award winners announced by May 1.  Nominees for 2016-2017 year TBA.

Now: to submit this award to WLMA.

Read-Aloud Tuesday: 05.05.15


Welcome! On #ReadAloudTuesday, I read to the Maple classroom at my son’s Montessori school to students ages 3-6.  Young readers are demanding and honest: I strive to share the best of children’s literature with them each week.


Kitten’s First Full Moon by Kevin Henkes

One night, a little kitten mistakes the full, round, white moon for a bowl of milk.  Hungrily, she pursues it: running across fields, climbing trees, even leaping into a pond!  Tired, wet, and exhausted, she returns home to find a special surprise on her porch.  Henkes’s pacing is perfect, as is the gentleness in which the kitten explores her world.  The Caldecott-winning black and white illustrations are a bonus.  Share with ages 2+.


Jamberry by Bruce Degen

“One berry, two berry, pick me a blueberry.”  So begins this rhyming, rhythmic ode to berries and creative play.  With playful illustrations, off-beat plotline, and fun-loving characters, this is a classic worthy of reading again and again.  Share with ages 2-5.


You Are NOT My Friend, But I Miss You by Daniel Kirk

Monkey and his best friend Dog are true buddies, until the day they argue over a toy ball.  “You are NOT my friend”, Monkey emphatically states, taking his ball away. As he recalls ways in which Dog was not a good friend, readers begin to see that Monkey is just as guilty of not being a good friend.  This is THE BOOK for preschool and Kindergarten teachers who struggle with friendship issues.  Share with ages 3-7.  NEW in 2014.


Manana, Iguana by Ann Whitford Paul

The folktale of The Little Red Hen with a Spanish twist.  Iguana is hosting a fiesta on Sabado.  Who will help her mail the invitations, hang the streamers, and cook the food?  “Yo no!”, cry the conejo (rabbit), tortuga (tortoise), and culebra (snake).  When they’re left out of the festivities by  frustrated, upset Iguana , the three realize the error of their ways and work to find an opportunity to help.  Includes a glossary of spanish terms.  Share with ages 4-10.

Library Lessons: Mar 9-13

Kindergarten: Week 2 in our Geisel Award unit.  Find the PowerPoint / Assessment here: K-geiselaward-2

2nd grade:

4th grade:  Hoop Genius & Tournament of Books!

Read-Aloud Tuesday: 03.31.15

read-aloud-tuesdayWelcome! On Read-Aloud Tuesday, I read to the Maple classroom at my son’s Montessori school to students ages 3-6.  Young readers are demanding and honest: I strive to share the best of children’s literature with them each week.

stellas-starlinerStella’s Starliner by Rosemary Wells

Stella lives in a silver Starliner on the side of the road.  She loves it’s coziness and her life there, until unkind comments from group of weasels leave her heart stinging.  She doesn’t want to tell Mama – that’ll only hurt her heart, too.  It’s when Daddy comes home and drives the Starliner to the beach that Stella meets new friends who appreciate the awesomeness of mobile living.  Wells takes a sensitive subject and writes with a deft, knowing touch.  Highly recommended.  NEW in 2014.

looking-for-a-mooseLooking for a Moose by Phyllis Root

A group of kids are on the hunt for a moose – they’ve never seen one, but they have some ideas of what one looks like and where it could be hiding.  Each place they go – the forest, the swamp, the bushes, the mountains – they’re faced with the fact that there are no moose…or are there?  Careful observers will spy the moose hiding in plain sight and may just realize that there is not just one moose to be found.  Expect lots of repeat readings looking for evidence of moose!

hoot-owl-master-of-disguiseHoot Owl: Master of Disguise by Sean Taylor

In the dark of night, Hoot Owl is on a mission: he is hungry and wants to eat.  And while owls are clever, they’re also masters of disguise.  A natural carnivore, he first spies a young rabbit and dresses as a carrot to con it closer.  It doesn’t work.  No matter – Hoot Owl tries again: he disguises himself as a mother sheep and an ornamental birdbath to similar, less-than-stellar results.  FInally, spying a pizza – pepperoni, of course – Hoot Owl’s waiter costume proves he is a master of disguise!  Droll humor with bold, rich illustrations make this a winner for the preschool / elementary crowd.  NEW in 2015.

Read-Aloud Tuesday: Mar 3, 2015


Welcome! On Read-Aloud Tuesday, I read in the Maple classroom at my son’s Montessori school to students ages 3-6.  Young readers are demanding and honest: I strive to share the best of children’s literature with them each week.


Rupert Can Dance by Jules Feiffer

Rupert has a secret.  He loves to dance…but only when his dancing-obsessed owner, Mandy, is asleep.  Only then does he sneak into her closet, put on her dancing shoes, and spin and twirl to his heart’s content.  When Mandy wakes up one night, she discovers Rupert’s secret and decides to teach him all her dance moves.  What happens when Rupert, who wants to dance his own way, refuses?  With gentle themes of confidence and sense of self, this dance-filled tale is worthy of many reads.  New in 2014.

blue-on-blue-dianne-whiteBlue on Blue by Dianne White

Lilting rhymes take readers on a sensory-filled weather journey.  The sky begins “blue on blue”, but ominous gray clouds warn of the storm ahead.  The rhythmic language begs to be read aloud, and the woodcut illustrations accentuate the focus.  New in 2014.

i-spy-fly-guyI Spy Fly Guy! by Tedd Arnold

Buzz’s pet fly, Fly Guy, is back!  This time, they’re playing hide and seek all over the house.  But when Fly Guy hides in garbage can, he is picked up and dropped off at the local dump!  Buzz follows him there, repeatedly calling his name, yet he can’t find his fly.  But has their game ended?   Always a crowd favorite, the Fly Guy stories are great for building confidence of emerging readers.


Monkey and Me by Emily Gravett

“Monkey and me, Monkey and me. Monkey and me, we came to see…”  So repeats this rhyming story of a young girl and her stuffed Monkey.  Clever readers will notice clues in the illustrations, letting them know what Monkey sees (i.e., when jumping with Monkey in her “pouch”, they’re off to see some kangaroos).  This begs to be read aloud, and it is a great addition to units on animals/zoos.