Non-fiction

Observations of a Master Marketeer

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I've made lots of guides for Don Tate and always enjoy doing so. But the one I made for Strong as Sandow: How Eugen Sandow Became the Strongest Man on Earth was my best experience with a Tate project ever. Not only is this picture book one of the most fascinating non-fiction stories of all time (Which makes my job tons of fun!), I got to watch a master marketer in action. Being that I’ve got a non-fiction picture book to promote soon enough, you can bet I'm watching this master in action – close! Here are few things I've learned, thus far:

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  • Be generous with information: Don has created a website dedicated to this story. Check out http://strongmansandow.com/. You’ll find lots and lots of information about his creative process, historical facts, great images, and links to fascinating videos! I’m planning on doing something very similar with Play Like a Girl, which reminds me, I’d better grab a domain for the PLAG website, a.s.a.p.
  • Connect with readers in a personal way: I love how Don's friendly voice rings true in his posts. Consider the post titled "What’s Up With The Medallion Hanging from Sandow’s Neck?" In it, Don explains the how some facts, and the omission of others, served to guide his decisions regarding what to include in the story.  Being that Sandow's religious affiliation is unclear, yet the star medallion suggests otherwise, Don chose to leave the medallion off of the "dude" in his illustrations. Best not mislead his readers with ambiguity.  
  • Be an expert in your topic: Don is a fitness fanatic, pure and simple. He’s a swimmer, a yogi, a “gym rat”, and was once a body-builder himself. We capitalized on his expertise in the Educator’s Guide by adding a weekly Fitness Plan using his illustrations as graphics. Hopefully kids will become inspired to become as strong as Sandown...and Don, too.

I want to wish Don all the very best with his book launch being held at Book People in Austin on Saturday, September 9. He’s been planning the launch for a year now (Take note, Deb.). It’s sure to be a colossal event, particularly because he is featuring modern-day strongman Andrew Perlot as a main attraction. He and Don are sure to wow the crowd. I wish I could be there with him.

Don, my friend, I’m with you in spirit! Have a grand time!

I Geeked Out on This Guide, Big Time - GRACE HOPPER: QUEEN OF COMPUTER CODE

Grace Hopper: Queen of Computer Code is an inspirational story about a dynamic, tenacious, and accomplished woman whose entire life was guided by insatiable curiosity.  It was clear from the beginning that Grace Hopper was going to make a lasting impact on the world. As a child, she was driven to understand how and why things worked as they did. Her tolerant mother accepted her daughter’s continual dissections of alarm clocks and other household items as “Grace just being Grace”.  As an adult, Grace’s perpetual need to question the scientific status quo, coupled with her deep patriotic devotion, affected every project she was involved in, as well as the people she served along the way. Grace Hopper was one of kind, to say the very least.

As a teacher, I’ve worked with lots of kids like Grace Hopper. Brainiacs obsessed with math and science. Kids that won’t take an adult’s word for an answer. Instead, they are driven to comprehend why and how about everything and will not stop questioning until they do. (I once had a batch of students that found memorizing the numeric sequencing of pi to be entertaining! Good times, right?) Because of my experiences with Grace’s clones, I particularly enjoyed creating a guide for Grace Hopper: Queen of Computer Code. Ideas for projects kept on coming.

One of Grace Hopper’s most remarkable scientific contributions was developing computer code using the English language, rather than relying totally on the binary system.  In the guide, I created a lesson in which young readers could experience the tediousness and attention to detail computing with base-two, the binary numeric system. To think that Grace Hopper had to use that system to write code all the time! Yikes!  

There is also a manipulative historical timeline in this guide. Because Grace’s life was so extraordinary, readers deserved an elaborate one.  The dated timeline strip is documented with tabs describing key events in her life which coincide with others noting historic occurrences of the day, highlighted by labeled phrases derived from a lively list poem found in the introduction to the book.  I can just imagine Grace Hopper Mini-Me’s huddled around the timeline and the other projects in the guide, exploring the life and times of this astonishing woman.

I only wish I could be there with them.

WATER RUNS THROUGH THIS BOOK by Nancy Bo Flood

Reading Nancy Bo Flood’s insightful Water Runs Through This Book spun me back to a delightful memory of my classroom teaching experience I enjoyed years ago. We had scheduled an environmental agency in Dallas to present a half-day workshop session. Their mission was to teach water conservation, which sounded like a fine way to spend the better part of the morning. As it turned out, their program was unforgettable!

The group brought a game with them, an interactive one that had the kids hopping all around the room like raindrops on a rooftop. The game was chaotic and engaging and FUN! I had a blast and the kids did, too.

Flood’s book reminded me of the game we played, a game illustrating the agelessness of the water molecule. That day we learned that one molecule of water can transform from being a snowflake, to a dinosaur’s dribble, and then show up shooting itself out of a water hose! How cool is that?

An adaptation of that incredible game, and a few other activities, are included in the Project and Activity Guide created to compliment the fascinating facts featured in Water Runs Through This Book. Ultimately though, what makes this book a must-read is Flood’s blend of factual data with her signature poetic touch – a combination that will keep young readers deliciously engaged in the miraculously wondrous world of water for eternity and beyond.

Buy it. Read it Enjoy it. Fair warning, though. Keep your umbrella close by. You just might need it.

POET: THE REMARKABLE STORY OF GEORGE MOSES HORTON by Don Tate

Poet: The Remarkable Story of George Moses Horton is the story of a man who was born with words inside of him – words full of life and love and wonder. Poetic words. Musical words. Profound and philosophical words. Thoughts and perceptions that had to be expressed. However, young George Moses Horton was enslaved. There would be no formal education for this brilliant boy. And, yet, he was driven to find a way to express the poetry he had composed in his mind.

At first, he learned the alphabet by listening to the white children’s lessons. Then he taught himself how to read his mother’s hymnal.  Eventually, after a series of remarkable events and opportunities, George Moses Horton grew to become the first southern African-American man to be published.

Written and illustrated by Don Tate, Poet: The Remarkable Story of George Moses Horton is an inspirational account of man’s determination to become the person he was intended to be, despite the oppression he endured.  To deepen the understanding and appreciation for George Moses Horton’s life and accomplishments, Peachtree Publishers is offering a free, downloadable Teacher’s Guide consisting of discussion questions, an author spotlight, a historical timeline project, and other activities.

The Story of Seeds: From Mendel’s Garden to Your Plate, and How There’s More of Less to Eat Around the World by Nancy Castaldo

Nancy Castaldo’s incredible The Story of Seeds: From Mendel’s Garden to Your Plate, and How There’s More of Less to Eat Around the World (Harcourt Brace and Company) is much more than a mere non-fictional account of cross-pollination and heirloom tomatoes (although she does explain these topics in a logical and comprehensive way). Folks, this book is a call to ACTION and we’d best be heeding that call.

Did you know that, throughout history, people have risked their lives to protect seeds? I mean, like, they died for the cause. And, that seeds are being exploited through biopiracy, and that even Hitler was in on the seed wars, and that there is plenty seedy trouble brewing today? Download the guide to get a sense of rich content covered in The Story of Seeds: From Mendel’s Garden to Your Plate, and How There’s More of Less to Eat Around the World. It’s pretty darned amazing, I tell you.

This is exactly the type of text that my upper-elementary Montessori students would have loved. Our class was comprised of young activists, kids that cared about the environment, animal rights, and non-violence. I imagine that, after reading Castaldo’s fine work, we’d be joining heads to find a way to make a difference.

We’d become seed defenders.

I’m sure of it.

The Guides by deb Library is Now Open!

You are invited to take a tour of a collection of the various types of guides I’ve created over the years. Guides for YA, middle grade, picture and chapter books – you name it, I’ve made it.  Access this link and you’ll find discussion questions, games, puzzles, and projects galore for some of the best books in the business!

The experience of organizing this collection of .pdfs was much like the nostalgic feelings one gets when flipping through a stack of old family photographs. Hard to believe that I began creating guides six years ago. Yet the books and the lessons created to compliment them are still as intriguing as they were back then.

I’m grateful to have the honor of partnering with so many great authors and illustrators on such a wide variety of projects. What a joy it is to explore opportunities for readers to connect with their stories in a creative ways. Access the link and see for yourself! Check out the science experiments and reader’s theater scripts and poetry and crafty, paper folding activities and… and… and... Such fun!

So, my friends, welcome to the Guides by deb Library of Reading Guides. Stop by and browse the lists. Additional titles will be added weekly. I’ll be sure to let you know when they arrive.

The Guide that Found Its Way to the Land Down Under - The Poppy Lady

 Click on image to access the CCSS-aligned Discussion & Activity guide.

Click on image to access the CCSS-aligned Discussion & Activity guide.

On Memorial Day weekend I received an email from Barbara Elizabeth Walsh, a teacher guide client of the most delightful kind. She wrote to say that, not only was the guide we created for her incredible The Poppy Lady: Moina Belle Michael and Her Tribute to Veterans (Calkins Creek) being received very well, she had some very exciting news to share. Teachers in Australia were using the guide as part of a nation-wide project commemorating the Anzac Centenary! Well, what to do know?

Anzac Day is one of Australia's most important national commemorative occasions. It marks the anniversary of the first major military action fought by Australian and New Zealand forces during the First World War. The Australian Government has launched the Spirit of Anzac Centenary Experience, a special traveling exhibition which will visit 23 locations across the continent.  Apparently, the guide created for Barbara’s Poppy Lady will be rolling along with them!

The good folks at the 5000 Poppies Project state, “Between 2014 and 2018 Australia will commemorate the Anzac Centenary, marking 100 years since Australia’s involvement in the First World War. And in 2015, there will be a large number of activities commemorating 100 years since the Anzac Gallipoli landing.  The 5000 Poppies project is a grass roots community tribute of respect and remembrance, inviting crafters across Australia to participate in this meaningful and heartfelt project.”  Kids across the nation are participating in the project, too. Educators are well equipped with information and curriculum to keep those grass roots spreading.

The 5000 Poppies Project Teacher Guide can be accessed HERE. On page 4, you’ll find a lovely piece about Moina Bell Michael, the beloved Poppy Lady. Beneath the article is information about Barbara’s book and a link to our Discussion and Activity guide. Take a moment to scroll down the 5000 Poppies Project guide to discover a plethora of stunning poppy patterns. Wow! They’re much more intricate than the simple crepe paper pattern offered in our guide. That’s for sure.

After reading about Anzac Day and the honorable way Australians and New Zealanders celebrate it, I am over-the-top excited that The Poppy Lady: Moina Belle Michael and Her Tribute to Veterans will be a part of the commemoration. It’s terrific to know that the time-line, poetry prompts, and other lessons in the book’s Discussion and Activity will be a part of the celebration!

I wonder if the 5000 Poppies Project accepts poppies made in Michigan...

SWEET DREAMS, WILD ANIMALS: A STORY OF SLEEP by Eileen Meyers

Below is a video showing how to make a Hibernating Bear Craft which is part of a CCSS-Aligned Discussion & Activity guide created for Eileen Meyer’s SWEET DREAMS, WILD ANIMALS: A STORY OF SLEEP.  The book guide can be downloaded at the author’s website at www.eileenmeyerbooks.com or right here!!!!

Synopsis: Fourteen animals, including the cuddly koala, the hairy anteater, and the wise owl, are featured in this lyrical bedtime story about the unusual ways that animals sleep. Natural history notes explain how each animal sleeps, from the magnificent frigate bird, which naps while flying hundreds of feet above the sea, to the walrus, which sleeps with its tusks anchored in floating ice. Whimsical watercolors of dozing animals will help any weary child fall to sleep with a smile.

Book Title: SWEET DREAMS, WILD ANIMALS: A STORY OF SLEEP

Written by: Eileen Meyer

Website: www.eileenmeyerbooks.com   

Illustrated by: Laurie Caple

Website: www.lauriecaple.com      

Published by: Mountain Press Publishing Company

ISBN: 978-0670012855

 

A CCSS/STEM Activity Guide for THE INVENTOR'S SECRET: WHAT THOMAS EDISON TOLD HENRY FORD

 Click on image to purchase book.

Click on image to purchase book.

It is a shame that this great book won't hit the market until September, 2015. I'm just dying to show you the projects, games, and experiments included in the guide.  I must have been channeling my inner Edison, because ideas for activities never stopped coming. This was one of those guides I had to force myself to quit creating projects for! Wait till September and you'll see what I mean.

Not to worry, though. Access the you tube video below to get a sense of the energy, inspiration, and  just plain fun that this great book offers to young readers. 

Title: The Inventor's Secret: What Thomas Edison Told Henry Ford

Author: Suzanne Slade

Illustrator: Jennifer Black Reinhardt

Synopsis:  Both Thomas Edison and Henry Ford started off as insatiably curious tinkerers. That curiosity led them to become inventors—with very different results. As Edison invented hit after commercial hit, gaining fame and fortune, Henry struggled to make a single invention (an affordable car) work. Witnessing Thomas's glorious career from afar, a frustrated Henry wondered about the secret to his success.

This little-known story is a fresh, kid-friendly way to show how Thomas Edison and Henry Ford grew up to be the most famous inventors in the world—and best friends, too.

Survival Secrets of Turkey Vultures by Deb Toor

Title: Survival Secrets of Turkey Vultures

Author: Debra Toor

ISBN: 978-1616335717

Synopsis: Join mother vulture on a day-long hunt to feed her hungry chicks. Will she survive? She can't defend herself, kill her own prey, or hunt without thermals. Up-to-date science, photos and activities will help kids understand this gentle vulture's adaptations and its biological role in nature. Suggested age range for readers: 9-11

Educator's Discussion & Activity Guide: Vetted by a number of scientists and experts in the field, this guide consists of an extensive research activity, writing lessons, a puzzle, and a fact-based bingo game. Deb Toor is passionate about this subject and has gone well beyond the extra mile to create a website packed with everything you'd like to know about the turkey vulture - and then some!

An Educator's Guide for T is for Texas

I want to home with the armadillo…

Well, shoot.

If I can’t go back to Texas, I’ll just have me some fun creating an Educator’s Guide about my beloved Lone Star State. Thanks to my good friend author Anne Bustard, that’s exactly what I got to do!

Just take a quick moment and check out the fun projects this guide is filled with, projects that tickle the creative side of the brain as well as the academic.

Why, we’ve got an awesome alphabet matching game and crossword puzzle, each with their very own answer sheets.

What’s not to love about this macaroni-backed armadillo? Isn’t he darling?

And, those fingertip bluebonnets are just about as a cute as a pig’s ear, don’t you think?

Each of the crafts has a writing component that’ll make both the kids and teachers holler, “Hi-dee-ho!”

Y’all, instead of hopping a flight to the heart of Texas, why don’t you simply download the Educator’s Guide right here and have some southern-fried fun.

It helped to take care of my homesick, bluebonnet blues for a little while. For that, amigo, I am mighty grateful!

A Kiss Means I Love You (Concept Picture Book)

Click on image for publisher's information.Author: Kathryn Madeline Allen

Photographer: Eric Futran

Publisher: Albert Whitman & Company

ISBN: 978-0-8075-4186-9

Awards: 2013 Baker's Dozen: The Best Children's Books for Family Literacy, Pennsylvania Center for the Book; 2013 Gradiva Award for Best Children's Books Finalist; 2013 Texas 2 x 2 Reading List; A Chicago Public Library Best of the Best Book 2013 - Picture Books; Best Books for Babies 2013

Click to download the Common Core State Standards Discussion and Activity Guide created for Ages 2-6/Grades PreK-1

Overview: A Kiss Means I Love You is charming a book that helps you teach children the meanings of facial expressions and gestures. Children will wave, clap, and cheer along with you as you read the light, rhyming verse paired with delightful photos of young children.

 

Plastic Ahoy: Investigating the Great Pacific Garbage Patch (Non-fiction)

 Click on image to access Educator's Guide.

Click on image to access Educator's Guide.

Author: Patricia Newman

Photographer: Annie Crawley

Genre: Science, Non-fiction

Publisher: Lerner Publishing

ISBN: 978-1-4677-1283-5

Click to download the Next Generation Science and Common Core Standards Aligned Educator's Guide created for Grades 3-6

Overview: Plastic: it's used to make everything from drink bottles and bags to toys and toothbrushes. But what happens when it ends up where it doesn't belong—like in the Pacific Ocean? How does it affect ocean life? Is it dangerous? And exactly how much is out there? 

A team of researchers went on a scientific expedition to find out. They explored the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, where millions of pieces of plastic have collected. The plastic has drifted there from rivers, beaches, and ocean traffic all over the world. Most of it has broken down into tiny pieces the size of confetti.

For nearly three weeks at sea, researchers gathered bits of plastic and ocean organisms. These samples helped them learn more about the effects of plastic in the ocean. Follow along on the expedition to find out how scientists studied the Garbage Patch—and what alarming discoveries they made. (Lerner Books)

Under the Freedom Tree - A Remarkable Story

The tale of Under the Freedom Tree is a moving historical account of bravery and tenacity and inner conviction.  Susan VanHecke’s beautifully written account of three runaway slaves who became contraband of war is the type of story that stays with a reader long after the final page is turned. And, illustrator London Ladd’s heartfelt renditions of tragedy and triumph breathe life into the bold acts that ultimately played convincing roles in Lincoln’s decision to craft the Emancipation Proclamation. Folks, it was and is a true honor to create a Discussion and Activity Guide for this incredible story. It’s a keeper, for certain.

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Mary Smith Peake - my hero!!!!!There are number of critical players in Under the Freedom Tree, people who changed history because of their beliefs in civil rights for all. For instance, there are Frank Baker, James Townsend, and Shepard Mallory – the three runaway slaves who risked their lives to find asylum at Fort Monroe, Virginia. Then, there’s General Benjamin Butler of the Union Army who deemed these men as ‘chattel’ and refused to return them to Confederate Army. And my most favorite person in the story – one that I’ve come to love – is Mary Smith Peake, the heroic teacher who courageously taught the children of the Slabtown community to read under the shade of a broad-limbed Live Oak – The Freedom Tree.

The guide is crafted in such a way that students will be able to retell this poignant story time and time again. It is my hope that, through the writing, matching, and historical sequencing activities offered in the guide, this remarkable recounting of the courageous individuals introduced in Under the Freedom Tree are celebrated forever.

Update

on 2014-11-26 12:24 by Debbie Gonzales

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Note! The guide created for UNDER THE FREEDOM TREE has been included as a part of a review for the School Library Journal's Booktalks to Go: History in Picture Books. This amazing book is keeping some great company with several other fantastic titles. Now that's something to be thankful for, isn't it?