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Classroom Picks . . . Informational Picture Books!

These enlightening and educational reads, all available in hardcover and e-book formats, are the perfect supplement to classroom learning.

This Month's Picks

Owl Boy
by Brian Schatell
Brian Schatell, Illustrator


RL.2.1-7, 10
L.2.3, 4, 4a, 4c, 4e, 5, 5a, 6
RF.2.3, 3f, 4, 4a, 4c
SL.2.1, 1a-c, 2-6
W.2.1-3, 5, 7, 8

1. Why did author Brian Schatell call this book OWL BOY? Use details from the story. RL.2-3.1

2. How did Al’s love of owls affect his life? RL.2-3.1, 2

3. How did Al change from the beginning to the end of the story? Create a picture of Al in the beginning and at the end. Write a thought bubble for both showing how he changed. RL.2-3.1, 3, 5

4. What was the turning point in the story that changed Al forever? Summarize his experience. RL.2-3.5

In this laugh-out-loud picture book, owl-obsessed Al spends a night with his favorite creatures—and learns an important lesson along the way.
Al loves owls. He reads books about owls, watches movies starring owls, and draws pictures of owls—he even sleeps with a stuffed owl. Al wishes he could be just like an owl instead of a kid! His dream comes true at summer camp, where he gets lost on a hike and spends the night in the forest with a bunch of owls. But when Al gets hungry, he learns that owl life isn't all it's cracked up to be. Maybe being a kid isn't so bad after all.


"An offbeat tale about following your dreams, no matter where they might lead."—Kirkus Reviews

"A comical showstopper in an appealing picture book.—Booklist

Swamp Chomp
by Lola M. Schaefer
Paul Meisel, Illustrator

Grades: SECOND

RI.K-3. 1, 2, 5, 7
W.1.2, 5, 7, 8
SL.1.2, 4-6
L.1.1, 4-5
RL.1.1, 2, 4, 5, 7, 10

1. What does author Lola Schaefer want to describe or explain? Do you think Swamp Chomp is a good title for this book? Write your opinion. RI.1-2.2, 3, 4 / W.1-2.1
2. Create a swamp food chain using the events from the story. RI.1-2.3
3. What did you learn about the swamp from the words in the story? What did you learn from looking at the illustrations? Describe the differences. RI.1-2.6
4. Using a page from the book, produce and expand a complete simple and compound sentence. Draw a picture of the expanded sentence. L1-2.1 / SL.1-2.5 Ex) page 28: "Turtles dive. Snap." New sentence: The turtles in the swamp dive and snap.

In this dynamic book about the food chain, swamp animals glide through the wetlands as they hunt down their next meal.

It's nearly lunchtime in the swamp. Insects buzz, fish slither, and turtles glide through the wetlands as they hunt down their next meal. Listen to the sounds of the swamp: Splash—Scratch—Swish. Look out . . . the alligator is ready to CHOMP!

Vibrant paintings show hungry swamp creatures above and below water, from the tiniest bugs to the biggest reptiles. Learn more about food chains and the balance of nature from additional information at the back of the book.


"Detailed images entice young readers to explore for hidden treasures within this ecosystem. . . . A satisfying introduction to ecosystems and food chains."—School Library Journal

Freaky Fast Frankie Joe
by Lutricia Clifton

Grades: FIFTH

4-5: RL.3

Twelve-year-old Frankie Joe Huckaby can’t find anything good to say about Clearview, Illinois, where he must spend the next ten months living with a father he knows only through birthday cards, a stepmother he didn’t know existed, and four half brothers intent on making him the “freak” of the town. His mother is in jail, so he has no choice . . . or does he?

When life in Clearview becomes unbearable, Frankie Joe hatches a plan to ride his old Rover Sport bicycle 1,400 miles through the middle of the Corn Belt back to the Lone Star Trailer Park in Laredo, Texas. For that he needs money, and so he opens Frankie Joe’s Freaky Fast Delivery Service. But Frankie Joe hasn’t counted on quirky clients, unpredictable winter weather, and his equally unpredictable new family.

His deliveries win new friends for Frankie Joe, a place in the rural Illinois community, and a sense of achievement. But his planned escape is destroyed by a heartbreaking betrayal, and Frankie Joe needs all his incredible resilience and the loving support of his new family to survive the devastating loss.


AWARDS & HONORS IRA-CBC Children's Choice Award Bank Street Best Children's Book of the Year Texas Bluebonnet Award Master List Kansas William Allen White Award Master List Kansas State Reading Circle Recommended Reading List Missouri Mark Twain Readers Award Nominee Nebraska Golden Sower Award, Intermediate Nominee South Carolina Children's Book Award Master List

Out in Left Field
by Don Lemna

Grades: FIFTH

4-6: RL.3

The companion novel to When the Sergeant Came Marching Home offers more feel-good, laugh-aloud adventures of eleven-year-old Donald growing up in post-World War II Montana.

This time out, Donald is sure that his life is ruined when a pop fly beanball knocks him senseless out in left field. The error costs his team the game, and Donald is convinced that the whole town is laughing at him. Donald is desperate to redeem himself, and his attempts to become a superstar (at hockey, archery, skiing) demonstrate admirable commitment, but all end in disaster. Readers will welcome the return of this appealing young hero in a hilarious new story.


When the Wind Blows
by Stacy Clark
Brad Sneed, Illustrator

Grades: FIRST

L.2.1, 3, 3a, 4, 4a, 4c, 4d, 5, 5a, 5a
RF.2.3, 3f, 4, 4a-c
SL.2.1, 1a-c, 2-6
W.2.2, 3, 6-8
RL.2.1, 4, 5, 7, 10
RI.2.1, 3, 4, 6-10

1. How do words and phrases in WHEN THE WIND BLOWS supply rhythm and meaning in the poem? Find the words that rhyme. RL.2-3.4 / L.2-3.2 / RF.2-3.3

2. Write a sentence and draw a picture about an experience you had on a windy day. When the wind blows . . . W.2-3.3

3. Discuss what happens when the wind blows. Why is wind energy an important natural resource? RI.2-3.3

4. Recognize that moving air can be used to power machinery to do work. Plan, build and test a windmill ( W.2-3.7, 8

While the blowing wind makes "porch doors sway" and "sea waves spray," it is responsible for much, much more. These same breezes send electron power traveling down windmills and circuits to ignite electricity. Electrons travel through power lines, and electricity charges the national grid so that lights may be turned on, cold homes may be warmed, and warm homes may be cooled. The gusts can help make "Factories hum / Harbors light up / Smart cars run."
With a poetic text and sweeping landscape paintings, this picture book explores the many facets of the wind and shows how blowing wind generates power as it introduces very young children to basic physics and engineering concepts.


"Intriguing, easily informative and even inspiring."—Kirkus Reviews

"Its simple look at wind energy has great classroom potential that can easily segue into science lessons. . . . A breezy introduction to wind energy."—Booklist


Read an exclusive Q&A with author Stacy Clark!

Big Red
by Jim Kjelgaard

Grades: FIFTH


The adventures of a champion Irish setter and a trapper's son who grow to maturity together.

Danny Pickett is too poor to own one of Mr. Haggin's Irish setters, but that doesn't stop him from losing his heart to a beautfiul dog he calls Big Red. The two are drawn to each other from the start and soon become inseparable. But their loyalty and courage are tested as they face grave danger in the harsh wilderness, including Old Majesty, a massive bear, and a fierce snowstorm.

*"Sure-fire combination of boy and dog. . . . It's love at first sight, and so it will be for all who read the story."—Library Journal, Starred Review

"A story of love and understanding. . . . Absorbing reading."—Booklist, Starred Review

Now available only from Holiday House! Read the official press release.


Hunter Moran Saves the Universe
by Patricia Reilly Giff

Grades: FIFTH

3: RL.3
5: RL.4, RL.6
6: RL.2, RL.6

Two-time Newbery Honor winner Patricia Reilly Giff has created a novel filled with whimsical characters, lots of mischief, and plenty of heart.

Twins Hunter and Zack have a small problem to solve: they must save their town from a diabolical dentist who is planning to blow it to smithereens. But first they have to hold a funeral for an incriminating report card before it breaks their mother's heart, hide a cello that has been demolished, and keep their father from finding out what they did to his laptop. None of this is going to be easy with their busybody older sister, Linny, watching their every move; older brother, William, just waiting to get them in trouble; five-year-old brother, Steadman, tailing them; and baby Mary banging her spoon like a maniac so no one can think. Before the book is over, a vintage airplane, a hot-air balloon, and a borrowed fire engine will all play parts in the unfolding mystery.


"With a wry blend of mystery and farce, fifth-grader Hunter describes the crazy goings-on in his small town over a summer."-Booklist

"With Giff as skilled accomplice, the Morans provide delightful entertainment."-Publishers Weekly

"This is an amusing tale of an imagination gone wild, an affectionate tribute to a kid whose mischief is entirely warm-hearted and endearing. Hunter's voice is pitch perfect."-The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

"The boys' exaggerated escapades make for an appealing read-aloud as well as a successful summer read."-Kirkus Reviews


Download the Hunter Moran Series Educator's Guide featuring Common Core State Standards and questions for classroom discussion.

Patricia Reilly Giff is the author of many highly acclaimed books for children, including Lily's Crossing, a Newbery Honor Book and Boston Globe-Horn Book Honor Book, Pictures of Hollis Woods, a Newbery Honor Book; and Don't Tell the Girls: A Family Memoir. She lives in Connecticut.

Hunter Moran Hangs Out
by Patricia Reilly Giff
Chris Sheban, Illustrator

Grades: FIFTH

3: RL.3
5: RL.4, RL.6
6: RL.2, RL.6

When Hunter and his twin brother, Zack, hear from Sarah Yulefski that there is going to be a kidnapping in Newfield, they are on high alert. But the more shocking news is yet to come: they figure out that Steadman, their younger brother, is the kidnapper's target. After erecting a rickety lookout tower high in a tree in nearby Werewolf Woods, they discover suspicious activities going on around town: a probably ax murderer is hiding in the cellar of an empty house, Bradley the neighborhood bully is poking at what must be dead bodies in the pond, and a suspicious letter arrives for Mom. Meanwhile, Mom heads to the hospital to give birth to a new sibling whom the boys hope to name Killer Godzilla while hapless Nana tries to hold down the fort at the chaotic Moran family home.


"Readers will appreciate Giff's gentle message that even exasperating relatives (including Fred, the family's untrained pooch, who is kidnapped) are worth defending."—Booklist

"This satisfying sequel [to Hunter Moran Saves the Universe] can be a good starting point for middle-grade readers."—Kirkus Reviews


Download the Hunter Moran Series Educator's Guide featuring Common Core State Standards and questions for classroom discussion.

Hunter Moran Digs Deep
by Patricia Reilly Giff

Grades: FIFTH

W. 4.1, 1a, 3, 3a-e, 5, 9a
RF. 4.3, 3a, 4, 4a, 4c
L. 4.3, 3a-b, 4, 4a, 5, 5a-c, 6
RL. 4.1, 2-4, 6, 9-10
SL. 4.1, 1a-d, 2-4, 6

1. How does the Moran family discover the true meaning of family unity? RL.4-5.1,3

2. How do words and phrases impact the meaning and tone of the story? Give five specific examples from the book. RL.4-5.4

3. Why do you think author Patricia Reilly Giff chose Hunter Moran Digs Deep as the title for this book? Use details from the story to explain. RL.3-4.1, 2, 3

4. Compare and contrast the themes, settings and plots of two Hunter Moran books written by Patricia Reilly Giff. RL.3-4.1, 2, 3, 5, 9 / W.3-4.3, 9

In the final installment of the Hunter Moran series, including HUNTER MORAN SAVES THE UNIVERSE and HUNTER MORAN HANGS OUT, the Moran clan stirs up even more mayhem in a tale both humorous and heartwarming.

Yee-ha! Hunter, his twin brother, Zack, and neighborhood pest Sarah Yulefski are about to be rich. All they have to do is find the hidden hoard of town founder Lester Tinwitty. It shouldn't be a problem, because they have clues. Shovels in hand, the gang sets to work tearing up their town and getting into some tight spots&mdashsuch as getting locked in the basement of St. Ursula's School and being trapped high atop a railroad overpass. When the cache is finally uncovered, the treasure hunters are in for a startling surprise: one man's riches can be another's refuse. Although the twins may leave a trail of havoc behind them, they also make some leaps forward as they discover the true meaning of family unity.


"The short sentences and paragraphs make the book especially appropriate for reluctant readers. A fun adventure."—School Library Journal

"Short chapters, nonstop action, good humor, and a cast of well-developed minor characters make this a worthy addition to the easy-chapter-book shelf."—Booklist


Download the Hunter Moran Series Educator's Guide featuring Common Core State Standards and questions for classroom discussion.

Ivy's Ever After
by Dawn Lairamore

Grades: FIFTH

3-5: RL.3
6: RL.6

Full of humor and high adventure—and plenty of slightly skewed fairy-tale motifs—this frothy, fractured fairy tale will delight young readers.

Once upon a time in the kingdom of Ardendale there lived a spirited princess named Ivy, who had no interest in being rescued by Prince Charming, and an undersized dragon named Elridge, who was better at solving word puzzles than breathing fire. Sailing into this world on a ship made of whale bones came Romil, a handsome prince with dastardly designs on Princess Ivy and her kingdom. Ivy and Elridge, both disappointments to their families, join forces to try and thwart Romil's evil plot. In the process these traditional enemies become fast friends, discover hidden strengths, and earn the respect of all who know them.

Check out the author's website and her book trailer for IVY'S EVER AFTER.


"Evenly paced with humor to match, this fractured fairy tale will delight tween readers. ."—Kirkus Reviews

"Ivy is an engaging alternative to the standard damsel-in-distress figure. . . . A lushly vivid setting, witty dialogue, and lots of adventure."—Booklist

The Incredible Charlotte Sycamore
by Kate Maddison

Grades: SIXTH

6: RL.5
6-8: RL.3

Queen Victoria's court knows Charlotte Sycamore as the mild-mannered sixteen-year-old daughter of the Her Majesty's royal surgeon. Yet Charlotte has a penchant for inventing new gadgets, and most nights she sneaks out to sword fight with her best friends, Peter and Jillian. When the three are mauled by what look like rabid dogs, Charlotte is forced to hide both her friends and her own injury. As her symptoms worsen and people are murdered across London, she embarks in a race against time to find the antidote and ultimately save the queen's own life. Full of action, luxe royal court, engineered beasts, and a good dose of humor, this steampunk novel is a masterful blend of science fiction, fantasy, and alternative history.


"This steampunk novel has it all: deceptions, a brainy and courageous girl, violence, inventions and mystery set in Victorian England. Charlotte’s tale is indeed incredible—in a good way."—Kirkus Reviews

"The underlying mystery and Charlotte’s rebellious antics will have readers swiftly turning pages to see what happens next, while the plentiful period detail and light-touch romance give them a reason to linger. . . . A thoroughly engrossing read."—The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books