Middle Grade

Congratulations, Newbery Award Winners!

Newbery award.png

The John Newbery Medal is a literary award given by the Association for Library Service to Children, a division of the American Library Association, to the author of "the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children."

The book covers for the 2019 Newbery Medal and Honor winners are posted below.

congratulations, all! From Guides by deb

Mail Chimp Banner.jpg

Guides by Deb – Keeping your books in the hearts of young readers and in the hands of those who care for them.

This blog post was created by Debbie Gonzales, MFA. Deb is a career educator, curriculum consultant, former school administrator and adjunct professor, and once served as a SCBWI RA for the Austin Chapter. She's the author of six “transitional” readers for a New Zealand publisher and the forthcoming non-fiction picture book Girls with Guts: The Road to Breaking Barriers and Bashing Records (Charlesbridge, 2019). Deb earned her MFA in writing for children and young adults from the Vermont College of Fine Arts.

Click here to access a website - Guides By Deb - which is jam-packed full of premier educators guides for all genres, all ages, and all kinds of fun.

Are you interested in discussing a reader’s guide project? If so, click here. Deb’s eager to hear from you!

Deb also hosts The Debcast - a podcast dedicated to the courageous female athletes of the past and present who demonstrate that playing like a girl means to approach sports – and life – with confidence, commitment, and drive in order to achieve any worthy goal. It means being aware that, when you excel in your sport, it’s a win for all girls – everywhere. The Debcast explores what it means to be an athletic girl with guts by talking with female athletes of all ages and walks of life, as well as authors who have written about them.

Facebook Fanpage.jpg

Congratulations, Coretta Scott King Award Winners!

Coretta Scott King.jpg

The Coretta Scott King Book Award is awarded by the American Library Association is presented by the Ethnic & Multicultural Information Exchange Round Table. Named for Coretta Scott King, wife of Martin Luther King, Jr., this award recognizes outstanding books for young adults and children by African American authors and illustrators that reflect the African American experience.

Below you’ll find the covers of the 2019 Coretta Scott King Book Award medalist and honor winners.

81M3LZ1ya9L.jpg
A10Nwh992eL.jpg
71LE4I4ao7L.jpg
91VjNyPTDWL.jpg

congratulations, all! From Guides by deb.

Mail Chimp Banner.jpg

Guides by Deb – Keeping your books in the hearts of young readers and in the hands of those who care for them.

This blog post was created by Debbie Gonzales, MFA. Deb is a career educator, curriculum consultant, former school administrator and adjunct professor, and once served as a SCBWI RA for the Austin Chapter. She's the author of six “transitional” readers for a New Zealand publisher and the forthcoming non-fiction picture book Girls with Guts: The Road to Breaking Barriers and Bashing Records (Charlesbridge, 2019). Deb earned her MFA in writing for children and young adults from the Vermont College of Fine Arts.

Click here to access a website - Guides By Deb - which is jam-packed full of premier educators guides for all genres, all ages, and all kinds of fun.

Are you interested in discussing a reader’s guide project? If so, click here. Deb’s eager to hear from you!

Deb also hosts The Debcast - a podcast dedicated to the courageous female athletes of the past and present who demonstrate that playing like a girl means to approach sports – and life – with confidence, commitment, and drive in order to achieve any worthy goal. It means being aware that, when you excel in your sport, it’s a win for all girls – everywhere. The Debcast explores what it means to be an athletic girl with guts by talking with female athletes of all ages and walks of life, as well as authors who have written about them.

Facebook Fanpage.jpg

MAUD by Melanie Fishbane

MAUD (Penguin Teen, 2017) is based on the life and times of the prolific author Lucy Maud Montgomery. Crafted by author Melanie Fishbane, a lifetime L. M. Montgomery devotee, this debut novel is as unforgettable as the countless novels, short stories, and poems Lucy Maud created. MAUD is an inspirational testimony to a life led by faith, determination, and a deep-seeded passion to write.

Fishbane examines aspects of Maud’s, at times, traumatic childhood with tender consideration, gradually revealing the truth about her parents’ relationship, a mysterious burden Montgomery unwittingly carried her entire life. She experienced a perpetual feeling of misunderstanding and lack of acceptance within the community in which she lived, as well as from her father, with whom she loved. Guided by opportunities Providence provided, Maud found solace in her love of writing.  She poured her soul onto pages and pages on her beloved journals, recording fodder that would later become the emotional core of publications winning the hearts of readers for ages to come.

The Educator’s Discussion & Project Guide created for MAUD deeply delving into the themes tying this beautiful novel together. The notions of faith, reputation, sacrifice, and perseverance are just a few of the concepts explored in the discussion questions and through written expression.  The guide serves as an insightful compliment to Melanie Fishbane’s stunning masterpiece!

School Visit Presentation Packet - Survival Strategies for the Almost Brave

SurvivalStrategies-Pinterest SLide.jpg

If you’re an author or illustrator seeking to find a niche in the school visit market, having a well-planned, standards-aligned Presentation Packet as part of your media kit is a must. Documents such as this one created for debut author Jen White communicate to educators that you honor their need to offer quality academic content while having a great time doing so! You're letting the gatekeepers know that, not only will you bring your enthusiasm for reading, writing, and hanging out with kids to the school visit, you’re providing a wealth of great, value-packed, follow-up fodder, too.  

Click on image to download Presentation Packet.

Click on image to download Presentation Packet.

The Presentation Packet created for Jen’s fantastic Survival Strategies of the Almost Brave (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2015) is divided into three sections; the inspiration for each is based on this heart-warming, expertly-crafted survival story.  The lessons are designed to pull the child into the story experience through consideration of their own survival strategies in strangely unfamiliar habitats.  Being that Jen features a number of very cool animal habitat videos during her school visit, specifically created graphic organizers and various writing prompts complimenting her presentation are included in the packet – ready for downloading action!

In short, any educator who desires to enrich their students’ classroom experience should consider inviting Jen White to present her program. Not only has she written a memorable story that will remain in the hearts of readers long after they turn the final page, she’s prepared to creatively support the curriculum by demonstrating the use of figurative language, nuances in word meanings, word relationships, a discussion of the notion of natural selection and much more!

DINOSAUR BOY by Cory Oakes Putnam

Title: Dinosaur Boy

Author: Cory Putnam Oakes

ISBN: 9781492605379

Synopsis: Everyone knows the dinosaur gene skips a generation.

So it isn’t a complete surprise when Sawyer sprouts spikes and a tail before the start of fifth grade. After all, his grandfather was part stegosaurus.

Despite the Principal’s Zero Tolerance Policy, Sawyer becomes a bully magnet, befriended only by Elliot aka “Gigantor” and the weird new girl. When the bullies start disappearing, Sawyer is relieved—until he discovers a secret about the principal that’s more shocking than Dino DNA. The bullies are in for a galactically horrible fate…and it’s up to Sawyer and his friends to rescue them.

Discussion & Activity Guide Download: Guide consists of discussion questions, a word scramble puzzle, a point-of-view writing project, and a guided research activity - all aligned with the Common Core State Standards.

An Educator's Guide for Outside In

Making an Educator’s Guide for Outside In was a joy to do. You see, the author, Sarah Ellis, was one of my VCFA advisors.  Not only was I delighted to be of service to someone I consider to a dear friend, I knew I’d be wowed by her work. Sarah did not let me down. Outside In is incredible! It’s no wonder it's been nominated for the prestigious Red Maple Award. Those smart Canadians … they know a good book when they read one.

Outside In explores the notions of community, environmentalism, materialism, honesty, and friendship. Sarah addresses these heavy concepts in the lively, humorous, and  heartfelt manner she’s known for.  Here’s how the publisher, Groundwood Books, synopsizes the story. “Lynn’s life is full — choir practice, school, shopping for the perfect jeans, and dealing with her free-spirited mother. Then one day her life is saved by a mysterious girl named Blossom, who introduces Lynn to her own world and family — both more bizarre, yet somehow more sane, than Lynn’s own.” I say, buy the book. You’ll be glad you did!

When going about creating guides for smart, multi-layered, well-crafted books like this one, I like to look for thematic threads in the storyline to explore. One such thread I found in Outside In was the notion of ‘triangulation’ (A term that, interestingly, rhymes with the word ‘strangulation,’ which comes close to describing the emotionally precarious situation the protagonist must face.). The process of triangulation is the establishment of the distance between two points of a triangle. Lynn is not only studying the process of triangulation in Geometry, she living it in the flesh!

 Lynn’s enactment of triangulation is contrived by three vastly different groups of people she is associated with – Shakti, her nut-case mother; Celia and Kas, her two best friends; and the Underlanders, a strange yet remarkably tender community of people who live in the underbelly of the city. Shakti, her best friends, and the Underlanders serve as triangle endpoints. When these three worlds discover one another, Lynn is pressed at the poigniant center point of the story – pressed in hard!

In the Educator’s Guide you’ll find several really cool graphic organizers that analyze character, theme, and point of view. And, as bonus, there’s a nifty craft project included that requires basically no cash to create. Download the guide, have a look, and let me know what you think. I’d love to hear from you.

The Battle of Darcy Lane

Book Title: The Battle of Darcy Lane

Author: Tara Altebrando

Genre: Middle-grade

Publisher: Running Press Book Publishers

ISBN: 9780762449484

Click here to download the Common Core State Standards aligned Educator's Guide created for grades 4-6.

Overview: It is summertime, and twelve-year-old Julia Richards cannot stand the anticipation. Everyone on Darcy Lane seems to be holding their breath waiting for the cicadas to emerge, but what Julia and her best friend, Taylor, want is some real excitement. Which arrives in the form of a new neighbor named Alyssa, who introduces a ball game called Russia . . . and an unwelcome level of BFF rivalry.

Suddenly nothing stands unchallenged—not Julia's friendships, her crush, or her independence. But while Julia realizes that she cannot control all the changes in her life, she hangs onto the hope that everything will go in her favor if she can just win one magnificent showdown.

Acclaimed author Tara Altebrando's middle-grade debut features a voice that is true to the adolescent experience, where everything is felt acutely in a whirlwind of all-or-nothing emotion (Running Press).

Tut: The Story of My Immortal Life

Title: Tut: The Story of My Immortal Life

Author: P. J. Hoover

Genre: Middle-grade

Publisher: Starscape

ISBN: 9780765334688

Click here to download the Common Core State Standards aligned Discussion & Book Trailer Guide created for grades 4-8.

Overview: Tut: The Story of My Immortal Life is a funny, fast-paced novel for young readers by P.J. Hoover which chronicles the mischievous adventures of King Tut, now an immortal eighth-grader living in Washington, D.C..

You’d think it would be great being an Egyptian demigod, but if King Tut has to sit through eighth grade one more time, he’ll mummify himself.

Granted the gift of immortality by the gods—or is it a curse?—Tut has been stuck in middle school for ages. Even worse, evil General Horemheb, the man who killed Tut’s father and whom Tut imprisoned in a tomb for three thousand years, is out and after him. The general is in league with the Cult of Set, a bunch of guys who worship one of the scariest gods of the Egyptian pantheon—Set, the god of Chaos.

The General and the Cult of Set have plans for Tut… and if Tut doesn’t find a way to keep out of their clutches, he’ll never make it to the afterworld alive (Indie Bound).

Odette's Secrets (Speculative Non-Fiction)

Click here for publisher's informationAuthor: Maryann McDonald

Genre: Middle grade, Speculative Non-Fiction

Publisher: Bloomsbury Children's Books

ISBN: 978-1-59990-750-5      

Awards: Texas Bluebonnet Award Nominee

Click to download the Common Core State Standards Aligned Educator's Guide created for Grades 4-7

Overview: Today’s children are told never to keep secrets. But what if your life depends on it? What if you learn to lie so well that you start to forget who you really are? And if that happens, how will you find your true self again?

Odette Meyers was a Jewish child who survived WWII in France by hiding in plain sight. Many of the 84% of Jewish children saved in that country lived through the war in this way. Told in first person in free verse in Odette’s childhood voice, this historical novel “is a gentle introduction to a dark period (Maryann Macdonald).”

 

Odette is a young Jewish girl living in Paris during a dangerous time. The Nazis have invaded the city, and every day brings new threats.

After Odette's father enlists in the French army and her mother joins the Resistance, Odette is sent to the countryside until it is safe to return. On the surface, she leads the life of a regular girl--going to school, doing chores, and even attending Catholic Mass with other children. But inside, she is burning with secrets about the life she left behind and her true identity.

Inspired by the life of the real Odette Meyers--and written in moving free-verse poetry--this is the story of courage, of determination to survive, and of a young girl forced to hide in plain sight. - See more at: http://www.bloomsbury.com/us/odettes-secrets-9781599907505/#sthash.5eqI9PAL.dpuf
Odette is a young Jewish girl living in Paris during a dangerous time. The Nazis have invaded the city, and every day brings new threats.

After Odette's father enlists in the French army and her mother joins the Resistance, Odette is sent to the countryside until it is safe to return. On the surface, she leads the life of a regular girl--going to school, doing chores, and even attending Catholic Mass with other children. But inside, she is burning with secrets about the life she left behind and her true identity.

Inspired by the life of the real Odette Meyers--and written in moving free-verse poetry--this is the story of courage, of determination to survive, and of a young girl forced to hide in plain sight. - See more at: http://www.bloomsbury.com/us/odettes-secrets-9781599907505/#sthash.5eqI9PAL.dpuf
Odette is a young Jewish girl living in Paris during a dangerous time. The Nazis have invaded the city, and every day brings new threats.

After Odette's father enlists in the French army and her mother joins the Resistance, Odette is sent to the countryside until it is safe to return. On the surface, she leads the life of a regular girl--going to school, doing chores, and even attending Catholic Mass with other children. But inside, she is burning with secrets about the life she left behind and her true identity.

Inspired by the life of the real Odette Meyers--and written in moving free-verse poetry--this is the story of courage, of determination to survive, and of a young girl forced to hide in plain sight. - See more at: http://www.bloomsbury.com/us/odettes-secrets-9781599907505/#sthash.5eqI9PAL.dpuf
Odette is a young Jewish girl living in Paris during a dangerous time. The Nazis have invaded the city, and every day brings new threats.

After Odette's father enlists in the French army and her mother joins the Resistance, Odette is sent to the countryside until it is safe to return. On the surface, she leads the life of a regular girl--going to school, doing chores, and even attending Catholic Mass with other children. But inside, she is burning with secrets about the life she left behind and her true identity.

Inspired by the life of the real Odette Meyers--and written in moving free-verse poetry--this is the story of courage, of determination to survive, and of a young girl forced to hide in plain sight. - See more at: http://www.bloomsbury.com/us/odettes-secrets-9781599907505/#sthash.5eqI9PAL.dpuf
Odette is a young Jewish girl living in Paris during a dangerous time. The Nazis have invaded the city, and every day brings new threats.

After Odette's father enlists in the French army and her mother joins the Resistance, Odette is sent to the countryside until it is safe to return. On the surface, she leads the life of a regular girl--going to school, doing chores, and even attending Catholic Mass with other children. But inside, she is burning with secrets about the life she left behind and her true identity.

Inspired by the life of the real Odette Meyers--and written in moving free-verse poetry--this is the story of courage, of determination to survive, and of a young girl forced to hide in plain sight. - See more at: http://www.bloomsbury.com/us/odettes-secrets-9781599907505/#sthash.5eqI9PAL.dpuf
Odette is a young Jewish girl living in Paris during a dangerous time. The Nazis have invaded the city, and every day brings new threats.

After Odette's father enlists in the French army and her mother joins the Resistance, Odette is sent to the countryside until it is safe to return. On the surface, she leads the life of a regular girl--going to school, doing chores, and even attending Catholic Mass with other children. But inside, she is burning with secrets about the life she left behind and her true identity.

Inspired by the life of the real Odette Meyers--and written in moving free-verse poetry--this is the story of courage, of determination to survive, and of a young girl forced to hide in plain sight. - See more at: http://www.bloomsbury.com/us/odettes-secrets-9781599907505/#sthash.5eqI9PAL.dpuf

Fab Guide for The 14 Fibs of Gregory K.

The 14 Fibs of Gregory K. is precisely the type of story I would have used in my classroom when I worked with those wacky upper elementary kiddos. It's funny and tender and intelligent and delicately didactic, in a super-subtle way.  Both boys and girls will enjoy this tangled tale of confusion, mild deception, pi (pie), and poetry.  

 Its a story about a boy who has a poet's heart and a father who is blind to the his passion. Author Greg Pincus nailed the voice of a conflicted, well-intentioned kid who, because of his desire to please others, gets caught in a web of lies - or fibs. Ultimately, through the study Fibonacci and his fascinating numeric sequence, the protagonist finds a way to be true to himself, as well be honest with his dad about his love of writing.

Fibonacci - and that ain't no lie.

In addition to being lively and full of comical action, this book is layered upon layer with depth of  that would reflect these literary elements and have some Fitheme and premise. I wanted to make a CCSS aligned guide Fibonacci fun, too! In it, along with gobs of discussion and writing activities, are three brainiac lessons that I had a total blast creating - The Pi Number Roll, Fibonacci Numbers in Excel, and - the all time classic - The Fractal Foldable! 

It's my hope that Pincus' The 14 Fibs of Gregory K. will become as timeless as the Golden Rectangle. I know it's tons more entertaining.