ARC Review | I’m a Lot of Sometimes by Jack Guinan

I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

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I’m a Lot of Sometimes by Jack Guinan
Release date: January 9th, 2017
Publisher: Red Chair Press
Genre: Picture Book
Format: eBook
Source: NetGalley

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Growing up can be oh-so confusing! “Shhh, don’t be so loud.” “Speak up!” “You’ve got to be the BIG brother now.” “You’re much too little to go on the big rides.” Sometimes, it’s best to just be YOU. For ages 3 to 5 and all of us still confused about mixed messages as we “grow up”.

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In this short picture book, the reader is taken through a series of comparisons about things we may be, feel or do while growing up.  While this is less of a growing-up story and more of a feelings story, it is written with a rhythm that keeps you wanting to read on.

The author gets the point across that it is ok to feel things and reinforces the idea that we don’t all have to behave in a certain way all of the time.  This is a great lesson for children of all ages, while the book lends itself more towards lower elementary.

I must say that I struggled with the grammar a bit as I had a hard time reading “sometimes I’m seek” as opposed to “sometimes I seek”.  Putting that aside, the book is a cute reminder that it is okay to just be you.

There are a lot of possible discussion prompts here, but I would use this book in the first few weeks of school when establishing community.

Possible Prompts:

-What would our classroom be like if we all acted and felt the same way all the time?

-Why do you think it is important that we each are different?

-When is a time that you have felt …..?

Happy Reading,

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Review | Kalico Jack by Mike Nahorniak

I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
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Kalico Jack by Mike Nahorniak
Release date: October 7th, 2016
Publisher: First Edition Design Publishing
Genre: Children’s Lit
Format: eBook
Source: NetGalley

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Kalico Jack is a little different from the other Jack Rabbits so much so that he is he is constantly ridiculed. As he gets old enough, Kalico Jack decides to embark on a journey to find where he fits in. This adventure takes him across the western part of the United States where he makes many friends and eventually figures out what his special purpose is.

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I was excited to read this book because the lesson that different can be good is always an appropriate topic for me to discuss with my students.  The concept of the story rings familiar as Kalico Jack, the main character, takes off looking to find a place where he fits in.  His journey across the Western US serves as a way to teach important monuments and animals found in that area, however, I found the writing to be lackluster and inconsistent.  The author moved from using traditional English dialect to modern urban slang and while some vocabulary was easy for young readers to understand, much of it would prove difficult.

While I was unimpressed by the writing, the artwork was very commendable.  The images act as a great discussion point and help the book move from drab to somewhat appealing.

If nothing more, this is a great revisit of an age-old lesson of how we shouldn’t judge a book by its cover (no pun intended).  I would read it to my students when I wanted to revisit this topic, but it definitely wouldn’t be my first choice.

Happy Reading,

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ARC Review | Dreaming of Mocha by An Swerts, Illustrated by Eline Van Lindenhuizen

I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Dreaming.pngDreaming of Mocha by An Swerts, Illustrated by Eline Van Lindenhuizen
Release date: Nov 15th, 2016
Publisher: Clavis Books
Genre: Picture Book
Format: eBook
Source: NetGalley

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Florence wants a dog. It doesn’t matter what kind of dog. Just any dog. To take care of, and to pet. To run with, and to play with. If she gets a dog, she will NEVER whine again and she’ll always be good. That’s what she promised Mom.
One day there’s a little dog in Florence’s garden. He came out of nowhere.
“Mocha” it says on his collar. Mocha and Florence become the best of friends.
But then Mocha’s owner is suddenly at the door. And he is a very nice man.
What will Florence do now?

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*Spoiler Alert!  The end of the book is discussed!

I am so excited to post my first review here on Rattle the Stars, and even more excited that it is for a wordless picture book–a genre that is not all that common within school libraries.  The thing I love the most about wordless picture books is how easily they lend themselves to be great discussion starters.  How is the character really feeling?  Why do you think that?  What do you think the author is trying to tell you here with this picture?  The absence of words allows the child to really create their own version of the story and is an excellent way to get children really talking.

As an avid animal lover, the storyline of Dreaming of Mocha immediately spoke to me.   For years as a child, I dreamt of one day owning my very own dog.  Florence’s desire reminded me of my younger self, as I thought back to childhood conversations with my parents where I begged them to allow me to adopt my own furry friend.  We would spend days bargaining over who would be responsible for walks, poop and cuddles, and in the end, I finally won them over and have been a slave to dogs ever since!  The idea of longing for a pet is a very relatable feeling for most children and in Dreaming of Mocha, the illustrations let us see the absolute love and adoration Florence feels towards the dog.

The author and illustrator walk us through how Florence finds a pup in the park and sneaks it into her own house, only to once again find it’s owner.  Some of my favorite pages were the illustrations in which Florence was trying to hide the dog from her family. Eline Van Lindenhuizen did a wonderful job of allowing the reader to learn a lot about Florence’s sneaky and curious personality.

I do have to say that I was disappointed in how the story ended.  I would have liked to see Florence find another dog that desperately needed a home, instead of Mocha being handed over so easily.  I found myself asking if the original owner really cared about his dog.  I know that I, for one, could never let my dogs go so easily, no matter how badly another child may want them.  Maybe its the teacher in me, but I would have liked to see a larger lesson play out in the last few pages of the book.

Overall, I think there are some good points of discussion here, and I look forward to sharing this book with my students on Monday!

Possible Teacher Discussion Prompts:

-Why do you think that Florence wants a dog so badly?

-Why do you think Mocha chose to go with Florence?

-Do you think that it was right for Mocha’s owner to give Florence his dog?

-If you were Mocha, would you want to go with Florence?  Why or why not?

-What do you think life will be like for Mocha now?

Happy reading!screen-shot-2016-10-15-at-9-46-23-pm