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April 25, 2015

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‘Teaching to Complexity’ | Professional Shelf

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When it comes to measuring text complexity, teachers and librarians know it’s not just about attaching a particular lexile number or other quantitative label to a book jacket. A new, practical tool walks educators through the process of selecting the best texts for instruction.

Benny Andrews | His Life and Art

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In “Draw What You See: The Life and Art of Benny Andrews,” illustrated with the artist’s oil paintings and collage compositions, Kathleen Benson highlights the words Andrews chose to paint by, and to encourage those he taught.

“Four Centuries, Four Families, One Delicious Treat” | Spotlight

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In “A Fine Dessert” Emily Jenkins and Sophie Blackall tell the story of how the creation of one dessert—blackberry fool—has changed over the centuries. It’s a perfect choice for a sharing with a class, or as a group-reading selection.

Water, Water, Everywhere… | Our Unsustainable Future

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Simply put, our current use of freshwater resources is unsustainable. Two new books explain why—and outline the dimensions of the crisis.

Reach for the Stars | Out-of-This-World Astronomy Titles

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Amid info and images streaming from the Mars rover Curiosity, updates about NASA’s evolving plans to capture and explore a near-Earth asteroid and headlines about privately owned companies such as SpaceX and Virgin Galactic, space and space exploration have become hot topics.

Changing the World | New Books about African American History

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Utilizing a variety of literary forms, writing techniques, and illustrative styles, four 2015 books convey information in a powerful and personal manner, making history accessible—and enticing—to young readers.

Riffs on Classic Tales | New Fiction for Young Adults

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A number of young adult authors continue to adapt, interpret, and honor classic novels and short stories in tales that have proven to be fascinating companion titles to explore in classrooms or as independent reading choices.

Feed the Need | Facts for Fact Hounds

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Driven by natural inquisitiveness and personal interests, many children find the volumes in series such as ‘Guinness World Records’ and ‘Ripley’s Believe It or Not’ irresistible. Here are a few other titles that will feed the informational needs of fact hounds.

What the New Research Tells Us About Adolescence and Learning | Professional Shelf

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Does cramming for exams work? Are there benefits to testing? What type of projects encourage deeper understanding? New research in brain and cognitive science offers insights into adolescent behavior and learning with significant implications for both students and teachers.

Best Adult Books 4 Teens | Curriculum Tie-In Edition

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From the ‘Best Adult Books 4 Teens’ blog comes a list of high-interest fiction and nonfiction titles that make important contributions to conversations and topics covered in the high school curriculum.

In the Line of Fire: Perspectives on War

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Although they focus on different historical events, represent various viewpoints, and employ an assortment of formats, three new titles offer riveting perspectives of war and its devastating effects.

Robin LaFevers’s “Medieval Obsession”

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SLJ spoke with Robin LaFevers, who concludes her thrilling “His Fair Assassins” trilogy set in 15th-century Brittany with the exciting ‘Mortal Heart.’

A Trio of Trailblazing Performers

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Three new picture books about three African American women born in the early 20th century resound with compelling storytelling, expressive artwork, and a sonorous message about overcoming obstacles and following one’s dreams.

Old Friends, Fresh Stories: New Middle Grade Fantasy

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Fantasy writing for children has a long and storied history, populated with all manner of heroic quests, forgotten prophecies, and strange magic. Despite its near-century of popularity, there is no sign of flagging enthusiasm for this much-beloved genre.

Views On An “Embattled” Profession | Professional Shelf

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As journalist Dana Goldstein eloquently documents in ‘The Teacher Wars: A History of America’s Most Embattled Profession,’ the state of our current public school system is rooted in a complicated story.

Raúl Colón: The Boy Who Loved To Draw

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Raúl Colón’s latest book, ‘Draw!’ unfolds entirely through pictures, as a boy confined to his bed, takes readers on a journey of the imagination to the Serengeti plains of Africa.

Kathleen Krull: An Author to Study

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Kathleen Krull’s many picture books exemplify the best kind of narrative nonfiction for our students—accurate, well-researched, lively texts enhanced by large, handsome illustrations.

Transitioning to Chapter Books | Series Standbys

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What are your favorite series titles for children making their first forays into chapter books? We’ve listed a few of ours.

From Easy Readers to First Chapter Books | Titles to Ease the Transition

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This sampling of well-written, pleasingly illustrated books formatted with independent readers in mind will help students make the transition from easy readers to longer chapter books.

Separating a City—and Families

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On the eve of the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, Beth Kephart’s compelling YA novel ‘Going Over’ offers a story of the human impact of the barrier, which separated not just the city, but friends and families on either side.