Browsing Tag

picture books

Books We Love: A Boy, A Mouse, and A Spider

Books We Love

My love for E.B. White’s stories has existed ever since my first grade teacher read Charlotte’s Web to our class. It wasn’t until Melissa Sweet’s Some Writer was released that I learned the story behind the beloved children’s author. It’s a story of a man who was brilliant, smart, and above all, an unrelenting optimist.

I’m so excited that Barbara Herkert and Lauren Castillo have teamed up to bring White’s story to younger readers. This well-written biography tells of White’s journey from childhood to literary fame. Readers who loved Stuart Little and other books will adore this look into the life of an incredible author. Lauren Castillo’s gorgeous illustrations are a perfect fit for the story.

Classroom Connections

This book would serve as a strong mentor text for biographies. Herkert’s text clearly explains the events of White’s life and celebrates his significance.

For paired middle grade texts, Melissa Sweet’s Some Writer! is an obvious and perfect choice. Sweet’s words add depth to Herkert’s strong overview. Students might also find enjoyment in Kid Authors by David Stabler (my review coming to the blog this Tuesday!).

Books We Love: What Makes A Monster

#bookexcursion, Books We Love

This week marked a book birthday for Jess Keating’s What Makes a Monster?! After the success of her Pink is for Blobfish, my students became captivated by Keating’s writing. With fascinating facts and strong nonfiction text features, the World of Weird Animals series draws in many young readers. Keating’s website describes the series as “a must-read series for curious kids,” and I can’t think of a more accurate description.

What Makes a Monster pulls readers in to the respective worlds of the aye-aye, the vampire bat, the prairie dog, the tyrant leech king, and other scary animals. The book explores what makes the animals dangerous, as well as how many “monsters” contribute positively to our ecosystems.

Each two-page spread features a large photo of each animal, along with a vivid description and fast facts. Funny illustrations add humor to the pages and make this book a great fit for young readers.

One powerful section in the book talks about “misunderstood monsters:” the animals who are less likely to be included in conservation efforts because they aren’t cute or furry. This serves as a call-to-action for readers as they think about how ugly or scary animals can still add to our world. By the end of the book, readers will be questioning what it means to be a monster.


Huge thanks to Jess Keating for sharing a copy of What Makes a Monster? with our #bookexcursion group! #bookexcursion is a team of nine educators who read and share new children’s and middle grade titles. For more of my #bookexcursion reviews, click here!