Monday, July 16, 2018

MMGM: Breakout by Kate Messner


Nora Tucker is looking forward to summer vacation in Wolf Creek--two months of swimming, popsicles, and brushing up on her journalism skills for the school paper. But when two inmates break out of the town's maximum security prison, everything changes. Doors are locked, helicopters fly over the woods, and police patrol the school grounds. Worst of all, everyone is on edge, and fear brings out the worst in some people Nora has known her whole life. Even if the inmates are caught, she worries that home might never feel the same.

Told in letters, poems, text messages, news stories, and comics--a series of documents Nora collects for the Wolf Creek Community Time Capsule Project--Breakout is a thrilling story that will leave readers thinking about who's really welcome in the places we call home.


Nora Tucker and her best friend, Lizzie Bruno are looking forward to the end of the school year.  The upcoming field day will provide Nora a chance to prove her running skills and earn her the chance to throw water balloons at the principal.  The cookout and other activities promise to make the day a fun way to end the school year.  But the arrival of Elidee Jones who runs faster than Nora and the escape of two inmates from the local prison change everything.  Told through letters, poems, newspaper articles, transcripts of 'recordings', and texts, Breakout, tells the story of not only Nora, Lizzie, and Elidee, but the story of this small town that revolves around the prison.  The girls face the fears associated with having two murderers on the loose, but also the prejudices of not only themselves, but those around them.

I enjoyed this book immensely.  Not only did I like the format (although not everyone will) but I enjoyed the characters and the themes.  Themes related to friendship, racism, white privilege, and the justice system pervade the book, but not in overwhelming ways.  As Nora's eyes start to open to the biases of those around her, she starts to see things she never noticed before.  And as she points out at the end of the book, she can't go back to the way things were before, and that's a good thing.  I also appreciated the unique voice of each girl.  Nora is a bit nosy and blunt in her observations and perspective.  Lizzie has a snarky voice, and she enjoys comedy and writing parody articles for Nora's practice newspaper.  Elidee struggles to find a place in this new place, but finds inspiration in copying the patterns in the beautiful poetry she reads.  Reading her poems even inspired me to go looking for the works of the poets she references.

Messner has written an excellent novel that makes for both an enjoyable read, and a social commentary on current issues.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Mystery & Mayhem series by Nomad Press w/ Guest Post by Author Judy Cummings


Feel a tickle in your throat? Do you still have that headache? Could you be falling victim to a deadly virus?

From history’s earliest days, bacteria and viruses have stalked humans. Stowing on wagons, ships, and airplanes, these diseases traversed the globe, infecting people in city streets and isolated hamlets. Epidemics and Pandemics: Real Tales of Deadly Diseases tells the tale of five of history’s most critical contagions.


Disease has long played an important role in both historical and contemporary events.  In this book, the author takes the reader through five such diseases and specific times when those diseases changed history.  The diseases covered include the bubonic plague that wreaked havoc during the Middle Ages, the yellow fever epidemic of 1793 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania that almost destroyed a nation, smallpox that inadvertently destroyed a people, the Spanish flu that killed more people than World War I, and the AIDS epidemic of the 1980s and 1990s.  A brief description of the disease is given followed by a narrative of the events in which the disease played such a key role.  Each section is fascinating and well told.  The stories are compelling and easy to read.  Enough detail is given to carry the stories forward without the narrative getting bogged down in detail.  That makes this book and others in the series well designed for reluctant readers.  The plentiful white space and short paragraphs also make the books attractive for middle grade readers.  The only concern I had with the book was the lack of a bibliography or works cited page.  Suggested websites, books, and videos were provided but no list of resources.  However, I've read about these events before and everything I read here is consistent with what I've read elsewhere, so it's clear the author did her research.


We might think humans have control over our environment, but Mother Nature has proven us wrong again and again.

Earth, Wind, Fire, and Rain: Real Tales of Temperamental Elements tells the story of five of America’s deadliest natural disasters that were made worse by human error, ignorance, and greed.


While natural disasters are inevitable and uncontrollable, they are often made worse when people make poor decisions in response or fail to prepare.  This book in the Mystery & Mayhem series focuses on five such disasters.  Those events include the deadliest fire to ever occur in America (Peshtigo), the "Great Blizzard of 1888" that shocked New Englanders through and through, the Johnstown Flood, the San Francisco Earthquake of 1906, and the Dust Bowl.  Each story is told clearly and succinctly with plenty of background information provided.  Each story is compelling and well-told.  The timelines and photographs help support the stories.  The only problem I had with the book was the lack of references or a bibliography.  The book does have a glossary and suggested books, websites, and videos to check for more information.  The compelling stories combined with the white space and short paragraphs make this a good book for reluctant readers.


Have you ever felt the earth shake beneath your feet? It's a scary feeling! In Eruptions and Explosions: Real Tales of Violent Outbursts, kids ages 10 to 13 learn about five different explosions, both natural and man-made, that were big enough to cause chaos across the world. Another installment in the Mystery and Mayhem series, which combines hair-raising, real-life mysteries with primary sources and rich language for middle school readers to gobble up.


This book in the Mystery & Mayhem series by Nomad Press focuses on natural and man-made explosions.  The eruption of Mount Tambora in 1815 and the damaging effects it had worldwide is the first story told.  The second story is about the 1865 explosion of the steamboat Sultana as she made her way north up the Mississippi with over 2,000 former Union prisoners.  The third story is about the dropping of the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki at the end of World War II.  The fourth story talks about the nuclear disaster at Chernobyl in the Ukraine.  And the last story looks at the Deepwater Horizon explosion that sent millions of gallons of oil flooding in the Gulf of Mexico.  As in other books in the series, these stories are well-told with enough detail to be compelling and interesting.  The wise use of white space and the short paragraphs make it an easier read for struggling readers.  The book includes a glossary and suggestions for places to go for more information.  The only thing the book is missing is a list of references.


Why on earth would anyone want to dig up a grave? The characters in Tomb Raiders: Real Tales of Grave Robberies all have their reasons. Whether they're starving, greedy, poverty-stricken, or hungry for knowledge, the real people who are portrayed in this nonfiction book for early middle schoolers are driven far enough to disturb the bones of the dead. Another installment in the Mystery and Mayhem series, which combines hair-raising, real-life mysteries for kids with primary sources and rich language.


The accounts of grave robbing that are described in this book are both a bit gruesome and fascinating.  Cummings looks at the hungry settlers of Jamestown who robbed graves to avoid starvation, the robbing of graves to provide bodies for dissection by early doctors that lead to a riot, the attempted theft of Lincoln's corpse for ransom, grave robbery associated with Egyptian royalty, and the Lord of Sipan and the looting of his grave.  All of the stories are well written and easy to follow.  There is enough detail to understand what is going on  without the story getting bogged down in details.  The timelines, glossary, and suggested resources are all nice touches.  The only thing I would have liked to have seen would have been a list of references, but young readers aren't likely to care much about that.  A nice entry in the series that would be great for handing to reluctant readers. 


Judy Dodge Cummings was a high school history teacher for 26 years and has written 20 nonfiction books for children and teens. When she isn’t researching or writing, she is busy building a time machine. The test run is scheduled for April 1, 2050. Connect with Judy on her website, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Think like a Historian to Time Travel
I read history books so I can travel back in time, and I write history books so young readers can do likewise. But with the right mental equipment, kids don’t need my books. They can learn how to time travel themselves. All they have to do is think like historians.
What does it mean to think like a historian? Students will be happy to know it does NOT include memorizing dates, places, and names. They can look that stuff up in a book.
Historians are detectives of the past.
They frame questions about important events and unsolved mysteries, and then they interrogate historical sources to answer these questions. Those historical sources open up doorways through which historians experience life from an earlier era. Of course, speeding across dimensions of time and space in a machine traveling faster than the speed of light is way cooler than time traveling like a historian, but we have to work with what we’ve got.
Until a real time machine is invented, educators should follow these steps to help their students time travel the historian’s way.
First, reframe your concept of what history is. Define history as a verb, rather than a noun. The Greek word for history is ἱστορίa, “learning or knowing by inquiry.” History defined this way demands action. It is not enough for students to read a chapter of the social studies textbook or listen to a teacher lecture, even if that teacher is a riveting storyteller. To really understand the past, students need to actively engage with historical data. For more on how to mentally reframe history as a verb, check out my post Doing History.
Second, teach kids how to ask good questions about the past. The questions they frame are the GPS coordinates for their time machine. The right questions will lead students to sources that will bring their topics to life. The internet is full of resources to help you breakdown the essential elements in a well-written historical question. A good place to start is Glenn Wiebe’s History Tech blog.
Third, teach students how to interrogate primary sources. Diaries, letters, photographs, newspaper articles, and court proceedings recorded by people of the past offer students the chance to view a previous era through the eyes of its contemporaries. When I was teaching, I introduced the process of dissecting primary sources with documents from my own youth—report cards, notes written to a crush, angst-filled poetry. The kids eagerly explored this glimpse into their teacher’s private life.
Homecoming Court 1978--Can you find me?
Model how to find the author, date, and purpose of the document and then teach students how to do a close read of this source. The Stanford History Education Group has a lesson plan on how to close read the image in this poster. (sign up for a free account to access their stuff)
Fourth, corroborate the evidence. If a student was traveling back in time to Lexington, Massachusetts on April 19, 1775, what if the only person he talked to was an officer in the British army? Almost certainly that student would conclude that the upstart American rebels fired the shot that launched the American Revolution. But the truth is much more complicated.
Historians never just interrogate one witness in their quest to interpret the past. Guide students in evaluating multiple sources and identifying and reconciling the disparities and biases in these sources. Another great lesson from the Stanford History Education Group called Who Started the Lunchroom Fight teaches the skill of corroboration in a way kids can relate to.
Fifth, contextualize. A real time machine would not take you back to 1863 just so you could meet Abraham Lincoln in an empty void like the place Eleven visits in Stranger Things.
Image result for eleven in empty room in stranger things
Darn it, I forgot my book!
You’d see Lincoln in the White House, coordinating the Union’s war effort. You’d hear people debating the Emancipation Proclamation and you’d read newspaper coverage of the war. It’s impossible to understand the poetry of Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address without some knowledge of the three days of carnage that occurred in Gettysburg just a few months before Lincoln penned those memorable lines.
Contextualization is the skill of placing events in their proper framework. This is where the teacher’s riveting lectures, the dramatic History Channel clips, and the books from that awesome nonfiction author Judy Dodge Cummings (shameless plug), come into play. These secondary sources provide the background students need to understand the people and events they meet in the primary sources.
Every time machine must return to the present. Your students will emerge from their investigation of the past, and their next job is to interpret what they discovered and communicate their position to the public. Historians develop written and verbal arguments in defense of a thesis. The blog Two Writing Teachers offers lots of ideas and resources for how to help students write history.
Someday we’ll get to time travel in a DeLorean like Doc and Marty in Back to the Future.
Image result for back to the future
Why Didn't We Just Think Like Historians?
But until that day comes, encourage your young charges to enter the past by thinking like historians. They never know who they might meet.
Guess who he Claims Started the American Revolution?

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

WILD & WONDERFUL WEDNESDAY: Speediest!/How They Choked/Life on Surtsey


Caldecott Honor winner Steve Jenkins is back with more Extreme Animals, perfect for young readers looking for accessible nonfiction chock full of incredible art. Speediest! will focus on the fastest members of the animal kingdom. 

Through illustrations, infographics, facts, and figures, readers will see how big each animal is compared to humans, where it lives on the globe, and just how quickly it can move!

With his signature art style, Steve Jenkins' Extreme Animals reader series explores nature's truly superlative animals. These readers are fact-packed and span the globe, detailing the astounding abilities of every shape, size, and species. Each installment focuses on amazing and unusual animals, making these nonfiction readers accessible, informative, and fascinating.


As in his other books, Speediest combines interesting animal factoids with gorgeous cut paper illustrations.  This book focuses specifically on the fastest animals in the world.  Animals that are highlighted include cheetahs, ostriches, brown hares, the road runner, and the falcon.  The size of the book makes it particularly appealing to children in grades 1st through 3rd.  In addition to each two page spread, Jenkins includes a glossary, bibliography, and graphs comparing the different animals.  A great addition to a fun series that is sure to be popular with young animal lovers.


Over the course of history, famous people made mistakes that were so monumental they could never escape them, no matter how brilliant their successes! Ferdinand Magellan is credited as the first man to sail around the world . . . but he only actually made it halfway. His terrible treatment of everyone he met cut his life journey short. Queen Isabella of Spain is remembered for financing Columbus’s expeditions—and for creating the Spanish Inquisition. J. Bruce Ismay commissioned the unsinkable marvel of the sea, the Titanic—and then jumped the line of women and children to escape death on a lifeboat. Readers will be fascinated well past the final curtain and will empathize with the flawed humanity of these achievers.

Famous successful “failures” include:
Marco Polo • Queen Isabella of Spain • King Montezuma II • Anne Boleyn • Ferdinand Magellan • Isaac Newton • Benedict Arnold • George Armstrong Custer • Vincent Van Gogh • Susan B. Anthony • Thomas Alva Edison • J. Bruce Ismay • Amelia M. Earhart • Joseph Jefferson Jackson (“Shoeless Joe”)


The snarky tone of this book is bound to make it interesting to young adult readers.  So often history books don't provide details about the people they mention, depriving young learners of the depth needed to truly start to understand historical events and people.  Books like this one provide a look at people who left their mark on the world, bringing about change of various kinds, but they didn't necessarily do it in good ways.  Whether one is talking about Queen Isabella of Spain who proved that women were capable of ruling a country, but who tortured many of her own people or George Armstrong Custer who became a general because of his daring, but who pridefully led his men to their deaths, Bragg focuses on famous individuals who succeeded in some things but failed utterly in others.  A fascinating account of just how human our predecessors were. 


On November 14, 1963, a volcano fifteen miles off the shore of Iceland exploded under the sea, resulting in a brand-new island. Scientists immediately recognized Surtsey for what it was: an opportunity to observe the way life takes hold. 

Loree Griffin Burns follows entomologist Erling Ólafsson on a five-day trip to Surtsey, where since 1970 he has studied the arrival and survival of insects and other species. Readers see how demanding conditions on Surtsey can be, what it’s like to eat and work while making the smallest impact possible, and the passion driving these remarkable scientists in one of the world’s most unique fields ever!


One of the things I love about the Scientists in the Field series is the chance to visit other places vicariously.  I'm not much of an adventurer myself, but reading these books makes me appreciate those who are.  In this book, Burns gives the reader a glimpse into the study of a newly born island, created through volcanic activity.  The author follows a group of scientists to the island where they spend a week gathering information about the plants and animals taking root on the island. The author provides an close-up look at the work of the scientists as well as a glimpse into Icelandic culture and the conditions that field scientists live with as they work in the field.  It's always fascinating to me to read about the information gathered by field scientists as well as the methods used.  Burns focuses on the work of Erling Olafsson, an entomologist, who has been studying the insects on the island for over thirty years.  For young readers who enjoy science this series opens windows into fascinating worlds and the work people do to understand those worlds better.

Monday, July 2, 2018

MIDDLE GRADE REVIEWS: Argos, The Story of Odysseus as Told by His Loyal Dog/The Wizard's Dog Fetches the Grail


From a compelling new voice in middle grade comes a reimagination of The Odyssey told from the point of view of Odysseus’s loyal dog—a thrilling tale of loyalty, determination, and adventure.

For twenty years, the great hero Odysseus struggles to return to Ithaka. After ten years beneath the walls of Troy, he begins the long journey back home. He defeats monsters. He outsmarts the Cyclops. He battles the gods. He struggles to survive and do whatever it takes to reunite with his family.

And what of that family—his devoted wife, Penelope; his young son, Telemachos; his dog, Argos? For those twenty years, they wait, unsure if they will ever see Odysseus again. But Argos has found a way to track his master. Any animal who sets foot or wing on Ithaka brings him news of Odysseus’s voyage—and hope that one day his master will return. Meanwhile, Argos watches over his master’s family and protects them from the dangers that surround a throne without its king.


Hardy's taken the story of the Odyssey and retold it through the eyes of an imaginary loyal dog.  While Odysseus is attempting to make his way home from the Trojan War, Argos, The Boar Slayer, remains at home attempting to take care of Odysseus's wife and son.  What should have been a simple voyage home becomes much more complicated as Odysseus and his men visit various islands and have a bunch of adventures along the way.  After blinding a Cyclops who happens to be the son of Poseidon, they find themselves facing destruction. Greek gods in this tale were creatures of whim and grudges.  During the ten years that follow, Argos works hard at taking care of his master's flocks while daily seeking news of his master from any and all animal visitors to the island.  Thus, Argos follows along by proxy his master's troubles.  But many on the island believe that after so long a time, Odysseus must be dead, thus a hundred suitors descend on Odysseus's home to court and marry his wife.  Argos and Telemachos struggle to contain the excesses of the suitors while trying to maintain hope that Odysseus will be coming home.  Hardy does a nice job covering ten years of time while keeping the action going both at home with Argos and through the stories of Odysseus's adventures.  This is a fun book for middle grade readers who enjoy Greek mythology and stories about dogs.


For fans of The Hero's Guide to Saving Your Kingdom comes an offbeat, comedic spin on the Holy Grail legend as told by the lovable Nosewise--talking dog and wizard-in-training! 

The magical realm of Avalon has gone to the dogs--well, one dog. Nosewise, the hilarious talking pup and wizard-in-training, can wield powers untold...but he has yet to master the powerful sword Excalibur. This dog still has some new tricks to learn.

But Lord Oberon's evil worms threaten to eat all magic in existence. Nosewise and his pack, the street urchin Arthur, the sorceress Morgana, and his beloved master Merlin, must find the Holy Grail, the one item that can save them all. The only problem: the goblet is hidden in the legendary castle of Camelot--which has been missing for centuries! Worse, Queen Mab, sovereign of dreams, is planning havoc of her own. As naps turn to nightmares, Nosewise will have to rely on his smarts and his snout, or the dog days will be over!

Popular author Eric Kahn Gale returns with a fast-paced fantasy adventure that stands out from the pack!


This sequel to The Wizard's Dog proved to be just as entertaining.  Gale has taken the story of Merlin, Arthur, Morgana, and Camelot and turned it on it's head with thoroughly enjoyable results.  Nosewise, the talking, magical dog, and his pack, Merlin, Arthur, and Morgana, think the worst is over after defeating Oberon on the island of Avalon.  But when they return to Avalon after gathering some supplies they discover their fae friend Nivian dead as a result of the worm sprites that Oberon created, that they had thought were dead.  Nosewise being an extremely loyal companion won't accept that there is nothing he can do to help his friend.  After Oberon, who is dying himself, tells them that the only way to bring Nivian back is to find the Grail of life with it's life bringing water, Nosewise is determined to do whatever it takes to find it.  But traversing the land of the fae and confronting Queen Mab, sovereign of dreams, proves to be much more difficult than he ever imagined.  Especially once Queen Mab gains control of Merlin, Arthur, and Morgana through their dreams.  It's up to Nosewise to not only save his pack, but find a way to gain the Grail to save Nivian.  Gale has written a book full of adventure and humor.  Nosewise is an amusing narrator as he strives to understand his human pack.  Each of the characters has their strengths and weaknesses making the book that much more realistic.  But the fun comes in with the adventures that Nosewise and his pack experience.  A thoroughly engaging tale full of fun characters and exciting adventures.

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

WILD & WONDERFUL WEDNESDAY: Siege: How General Washington Kicked the British Out of Boston and Launched a Revolution


Step back to British-held Boston and hear the voices of citizens, militiamen, and redcoats at a turning of the tide in the American Revolution, brought to life in Roxane Orgill's deft verse.

It is the summer of 1775. The British occupy Boston and its busy harbor, holding residents captive and keeping a strong military foothold. The threat of smallpox looms, and the town is cut off, even from food supplies. Following the battles of Lexington and Concord, Congress unanimously elects George Washington commander in chief of the American armed forces, and he is sent to Cambridge, Massachusetts, to transform the ragtag collection of volunteer militiamen into America's first army. So far the war is nothing more than a series of intermittent skirmishes, but Washington is in constant fear of attack — until he takes the offensive with results that surprise everyone, the British most of all. Roxane Orgill uses verse to zoom in on the siege of Boston that launched the war to defeat the British, giving voice to privates and generals, their wives and city residents. to tell a story that is usually overlooked in Revolutionary War history. Back matter includes source notes, a glossary, and a bibliography.


I wasn't aware this book was written in free verse until I picked it up to read it.  I've developed a fondness for free verse stories as I've become an adult.  Sadly I'm not sure I would have picked this up as a kid.  But it's a fabulous telling of one of the major events leading into the American Revolution.  The siege of Boston was the prelude to the 'official' start of war between the patriots and the British and as such was an important series of events in moving the country towards independence. 

One of the problems with writing history nonfiction for young readers is knowing how many details to include.  If you don't include enough, the young reader doesn't get a good picture of events, but if you include too many details, the reader will get bogged down and lose interest.  So the combination of free verse with it's limited word use with history makes for a great combination.  But only if the writing is well done.  And the writing here is very well done.  The poems are short enough to be quick to read, but include enough information to be compelling.  At least I found the writing compelling.  The author also did a fabulous job balancing different aspects of the story.  There are poems about Washington and the challenges he faced in pulling together untrained, poorly supplied, volunteer soldiers from across the area.  There are poems about the orders given by Washington in an efforts to establish some discipline.  There are poems about life in the camps (mostly boring with occasional events of interest).  Poems about the British in Boston give a look at a city under siege.  Henry Knox's remarkable trip to Fort Ticonderoga to obtain artillery for the fledgling army provide a glimpse into the challenges that the patriots faced. 

Overall, Orgill has written a fascinating account of an important event in American history.  This is a book that would be a great teaching tool in either history classes or Language Arts classes.  The options are numerous here.  But I think history-loving middle grade readers who pick this up will find much to enjoy as well.

Monday, June 25, 2018

MMGM: The Wishmakers by Tyler Whitesides


Ace unwittingly releases a genie from a peanut butter jar and gets unlimited wishes that he must learn to use with their consequences before all the world's cats and dogs turn into zombies who will eat mankind.


Having enjoyed Whitesides Janitors series I was thrilled to discover this new series.  The concept behind this new series is a clever one, one I haven't seen in any other book I've read.  Ace doesn't expect anything except peanut butter when he opens that peanut butter jar to make himself a sandwich.  But what he gets is a genie offering him as many wishes as he wants.  There are a couple of catches though.  First, each wish has a consequence accompanying it.  Some consequences are short term, some are permanent.  The bigger the wish, the more uncomfortable the consequence.  For example, Ace's first wish is for a lifetime supply of peanut butter sandwiches, which carries the consequence of a smudge of peanut butter constantly visible on his face for a year.  The second catch is a quest that needs to be completed in seven days or the world will be destroyed by all the world's cats and dogs turning into zombies.  Things get even more complicated when Ace runs into a couple of other kids (wishmakers) with quests of their own that seem to conflict with his.  And as the consequences start to pile up, Ace has to decide just what price he is willing to pay to save the world.  Whitesides has created another fun series opener full of both humor and heart.  The occasional illustrations are a delightful addition.  I look forward to seeing the unexpected places this series will take me.

Saturday, June 23, 2018

BLOG TOUR: Two Truths and a Lie: Histories and Mysteries by Ammi-Joan Paquette & Laurie Ann Thompson


Unbelievable TRUTHS about outrageous people, places and events—with a few outright LIES hiding among them. Can you tell the fakes from the facts?

Did you know that a young girl once saved an entire beach community from a devastating tsunami thanks to something she learned in her fourth-grade geography lesson? Or that there is a person alive today who generates her own magnetic field? Or how about the fact that Benjamin Franklin once challenged the Royal Academy of Brussels to devise a way to make farts smell good?

Welcome to Two Truths and a Lie: Histories and Mysteries! You know the game: Every story in this book is strange and astounding, but one out of every three is an outright lie.

Can you guess which stories are the facts and which are the fakes? It’s not going to be easy. Some false stories are based on truth, and some of the true stories are just plain unbelievable! Don’t be fooled by the photos that accompany each story—it’s going to take all your smarts and some clever research to root out the alternative facts.

From a train that transported dead people to antique photos of real fairies to a dog who was elected mayor, the stories in this book will amaze you! Just don’t believe everything you read. . . .


Ammi-Joan Paquette loves caves, hates mushy bananas, and is ambivalent about capybaras. She is the author of the novels The Train of Lost Things, Paradox, and Nowhere Girl as well as the Princess Juniper series and many more. She is also the recipient of a PEN/New England Susan P. Bloom Children’s Book Discovery Award honor. Joan lives outside Boston, Massachusetts, where she balances her own writing with her day job as a literary agent. You can visit her online at

Laurie Ann Thompson loves capybaras, hates caves, and is ambivalent about mushy bananas. She is the author of several award-winning nonfiction books, including Emmanuel’s Dream,  a picture book biography of Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah, which was the recipient of the Schneider Family Book Award and was named an ALA Notable Book and a CCBC Choice, among other accolades. She lives outside Seattle with her family, and you can visit her online at


Paquette and Thompson have created another fascinating and fabulous book.  With the prevalence of fake news of all kinds it's become vitally important for young readers to learn to be discerning readers.  Two Truths and a Lie books one and two do a great job of showing young readers the importance of not believing everything you read, no matter how convincing and legitimate it may seem.  This series makes not only a fun read for young readers either.  I've thoroughly enjoyed reading them and seeing if I can figure out which articles are true and which ones aren't.  Sometimes I'm right and occasionally I'm not.  This second book in the series is divided into sections: Hazy Histories, Peculiar Places, and Perplexing People.  Each section has three chapters with each chapter including three articles.  Two of the articles are factual and one is not.  The authors have done a great job of picking their topics (caves, animals, disease, the dead, etc.).  Not only are the topics interesting but the book design is bright and appealing with fun sidebars.  This is a great book for young readers, but it also works well for teachers and parents who want their children to learn to be discerning readers.  One of my new favorite nonfiction series.

EDUCATOR'S GUIDE can be found here.



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