February 25, 2018

The Advocate's Toolbox

New Series Entries for Independent Readers │ JLG’s Booktalks to Go

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From Amber Brown to fairly new-on-the-scene Magician Mike Lane, beloved characters are welcomed by young readers. When a well-loved author introduces a new series, librarians also sit up and take notice. As they have always had a certain magic, series installments allow children to feel confident about their reading skills before they even turn the first page. The following titles selected by the editors at Junior Library Guild offer independent readers the comfort of well-known friends.

With the turn of the publishing calendar, a new JLG Booktalks to Go: Fall 2014 LiveBinder has been created. Titles are now sorted by interest level. Clicking on that tab will take you to the books and their resources. The Spring 2014 LiveBinder will continue to be posted.

Amber Brown Horses AroundCOVILLE, Bruce and Elizabeth Levy. Amber Brown Horses Around. illus. by Anthony Lewis. Putnam. 2014. ISBN 9780399161704. JLG Level: I+ : Independent Readers (Grades 2–4).

Spending four weeks at summer camp with her best friends is a dream-come-true for Amber Brown. Unfortunately, she is separated from the girls and placed in a cabin with her worst enemy. Days of being a happy camper go further down the drain when she faces her swimming test. She is doomed to be an embarrassing Guppy for sure. It seems as if horseback riding is the one thing she can get right.

Paula Danziger’s series continues as Coville and Levy team up to create another adventure. Follow Coville on Twitter. Visit the illustrator’s website for a peek at his work. Connect independent readers with lessons from Wonderopolis: “How are Ponies and Horses Different?” or “What’s Your Favorite Ghost Story?” The American Camp Association is a great resource for finding summer camps, advice for parents of campers, and even job listings for counselors.

Leroy Ninker Saddles UpDICAMILLO, Kate. Leroy Ninker Saddles Up. illus. by Chris Van Dusen. (Tales from Deckawoo Drive: Bk. 1). Candlewick. 2014. ISBN 9780763663391. JLG Level: I : Independent Readers (Grades 2–4).

Leroy Ninker has everything a cowboy should have―except a horse. Lucky for him Maybelline is available. She is however, a bit eccentric. She won’t go unless you sweet talk her. She is eats a lot of grub. And thirdly, she doesn’t like to be left alone. Once Leroy discovers he has a knack for poetic musings and that Maybelline is quite fond of spaghetti, he thinks all is right in his world. He’s forgotten one thing, though. Don’t leave her alone for too long. When she disappears, it seems that there is only one thing to do: take fate in his hands and wrestle it to the ground.

Videos, interviews, and articles about the award-winning author abound. Visit her website and follow her on Facebook. Make sure you’re pronouncing her name correctly by listening to the audio on Teachingbooks.net. Include informational text in your study of the chapter book with Newsela which has an article on cowboys and includes a quiz that can be adjusted from 680 to 1000 Lexile.

Incredible Twisting ArmEGAN, Kate and Mike Lane. The Incredible Twisting Arm. illus. by Eric Wight. (Magic Shop: Bk. 2). Feiwel and Friends. 2014. ISBN 9781250029157. JLG Level: I : Independent Readers (Grades 2–4).

When Mike misses a traveling magician show, he begins a campaign to prove to his parents that he is mature enough to bicycle to the White Rabbit shop. Being responsible is harder than he expects; he makes bad choices no matter how hard he tries. Completing extra credit seems like his best ticket to freedom. Can his magic provide the miracle he needs?

Let kids practice their reading skills by following the directions in the novel to replicate the magic tricks. Read about the author on his website to learn how he broke into writing. Follow the illustrator on Facebook and Twitter. An excerpt from the book is on the publisher’s website. Revisit the Spring 2014 JLG BTG LiveBinder for a look at the first book in the series, The Vanishing Coin. You’ll find links to magic tricks and videos.

Circus Goes to the SeaKLISE, Kate. The Circus Goes to Sea. illus. by M. Sarah Klise. (Three-Ring Rascals: Bk. 3). Algonquin. 2014. ISBN 9781616203658. JLG Level: I+ : Independent Readers (Grades 2–4).

Sir Sidney’s Circus has mixed feelings about traveling by ship. Elsa Elephant doesn’t know how to swim. Leo the Lion doesn’t like water, and Sir Sidney gets sea sick at the thought of the idea. Banning Barnabas Brambles from coming with them is all the circus owner needs to accept the offer. To their surprise it is a little girl who sent the invitation. Now they have to overcome their fears, and they also need to convince the skeptical captain that they really are a first-class show―even on the sea.

From writing tips to lesson plans, don’t miss the Klises’s website. You’ll also find the series website to be fun and useful. Kids can join Sir Sidney’s Circus by filling out an application and writing a letter. Go Backstage and learn about the creative sister duo. The Teacher’s page has reader and educator guides, puzzles, and class activities.

Greatest Star on EarthKLISE, Kate. The Greatest Star on Earth. illus. by M. Sarah Klise. (Three-Ring Rascals: Bk. 2). Algonquin. 2014. ISBN 9781616202453. JLG Level: I+ : Independent Readers (Grades 2–4).

A little competition can be healthily motivating, until Polly Pumpkinseed announces that she is giving an award for the “greatest star on earth.” Now it’s performer against performer. Partner acts divide. Elsa does an embarrassing belly flop. Leo and Tiger lose their voices. With Sir Sidney at home recuperating from a worrywart, Barnabas Brambles is up to his old ways of serving goopy goulash, taking money from children, and being mean. Can the circus survive the week?

In addition to the above resources, teachers will be glad to know that there are specific class activities for this title. You may want to pair the series with the picture book, Extraordinary Jane by Hannah E. Harrison. You’ll find a LiveBinder tab for it with many support sites from Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus to Wonderopolis lessons.

Additional Resources

The resources for the above titles have been organized in a new JLG Booktalks to Go: Fall 2014 LiveBinder. Titles are sorted by interest level, PreK-3, 3-6, 5-8, and YA. Check out our award-winning Spring 2014 LiveBinder which organizes resources for spring releases. All websites are posted within each LiveBinder, along with the accompanying booktalk. As I write more columns, more books and their resources are added. Everything you need to teach or share brand new, hot-off-the-press books is now all in one place. Booktalks and resources are also included on JLG’s BTG Pinterest board.

For library resources, tips, and ideas, please visit JLG’s Shelf Life Blog.

Junior Library Guild (JLG) is a collection development service that helps school and public libraries acquire the best new children’s and young adult books. Season after season, year after year, Junior Library Guild book selections go on to win awards, collect starred or favorable reviews, and earn industry honors. Visit us at www.JuniorLibraryGuild.com. (NOTE: JLG is owned by Media Source, Inc., SLJ’s parent company.)


Deborah B. Ford About Deborah B. Ford

Deborah is the Director of Library Outreach for Junior Library Guild. She is an award-winning teacher librarian with almost 30 years of experience as a classroom teacher and librarian in K–12 schools.

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