Hiss-s-s-s!

Written by Eric A. Kimmel

Outstanding Science Trade Book 2013 from the National  Science Teacher’s Association and the Children’s Book Council (click for more info)

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Look out for hidden corn snakes! Especially if you’re afraid of them, but also if you love them and keep them as pets. Rich plots, wonderful characters, and an appealing voice make this a winner for second graders. Because the snake information will speak to boys and because the family is Muslim, this is sure to appear on reading lists for cultural diversity.
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Your Skeletal System

Written by Caroline Arnold

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What do bones do for you? What would happen if you didn’t have any bones?  Could you run and jump? Second grade readers will find out in this fun and fascinating look at the world of bones. This is a wonderful addition to the “Searchlight” books series. After an introduction, the author launches right into the substances that make up bones. For children, marrow and hard bone are surrounded by cartilage and the periosteum. What are the ways bones help you function? From protection to hearing to keeping you upright, there are many groups. The rib cage protects the heart and lungs, while the hips protect a different set of organs. The vertebrae are extra special. How are bones connected? What is a muscle? What are the different types of joints and how do they work? Why do adults have fewer bones than children? What is the difference between a ligament and a tendon? What can kids do help maintain a healthy skeleton?
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Catfish, Cod, Salmon, and Scrod: What Is a Fish?

Written by Brian P. Cleary
Illustrated by Martin Goneau

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Wacky illustrations and fascinating facts make this a prime candidate for second grade readers. Part of the series, “Animal Groups Are CATegorcial,” this volume lends itself to further comprehension of both the words and of the animals portrayed. The author presents the basic facts. Fish live under water. They have backbones and breathe through gills. Fish are cold blooded and have fins and scales. However, the author is careful to note the many exceptions to the norm. Most fish lay eggs, but a few give birth to live offspring. Imagine a fish delivery room, complete with wheelchairs. Most fish remain in the water, but some walk on land or fly. With a parasail, we can fly with them. Fish can be almost any color – or a rainbow of colors. They live in oceans, streams, or lakes. They eat plants, bugs, or other fish. What would the reader order off the fish menu? They can be thumb-sized or the size or two trucks. Do you need a fish helmet to jump one that size? The cartoon-like fish characters are still accurate, for the most part, and make the learning fun.
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The Most Dangerous

Written by Terri Fields
Illustrated by Laura Jacques

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What is the most dangerous animal on Earth? Fearsome creatures from all over the world gather for the Most Dangerous Animal contest. Each animal presents its case, boasting that it is the most dangerous. The judges hear from snakes, sharks, crocodiles, spiders, and more, their evidence leaving the judges shaking in fear. Then, the last animal steps up. It is the lowly mosquito, who is jeered off the stage by the other contestants, all of whom are sure they are the deadliest animal of all. But when the judges announce the winner, it is the mosquito who scores the shocking victory! Mosquitoes spread disease, the judges explain, and this tiny insect has been responsible for more deaths than all the other dangerous animals combined.
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Immi’s Gift

Written and Illustrated by Karin Littlewood

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Immi’s Gift is a simple story of a little girl’s desire for friendship and how she finds it in the most unexpected of places. Immi is a lonely Inuit girl who lives in a stark world of bitter cold and white snow. One day while fishing on the ice, she brings up a little wooden bird. She’d never seen such beautiful colors before and she ties it on her necklace, alongside her treasured carved white bear. What happens next brightens Immi’s world. Day after day, when she comes to fish she catches brightly colored flowers, starfish, and leaves. They all are thrilling additions to her colorless life and she uses them to dress up her lonely igloo. Soon it was the brightest in the land and all the creatures come to visit Immi’s home. These special little gifts from the ocean not only brighten her life, but they warm her heart as her life is filled with creature friends and joy. When the ice begins to melt and she must move on, Immi has one last thought. Immi gives a gift of her own to the ocean as she drops her white bear charm into the water.
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Happy Birthday, Tree! A Tu B’Shevat Story

By Madelyn Rosenberg
Illustrated by Jana Christy

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Written as a novel about two children looking for a way to celebrate the Jewish celebration of trees, this is an environmental adventure. Joni and her friend Nate think about what will make the trees happy. In the process, they figure out that their tree will be happy if the Earth is happy. They try several ways to please their favorite climbing tree: singing to it in Hebrew and English, trying to blow away the clouds blocking the sun, giving it a party with hats, giving it a tree-friendly cupcake, watering, depositing a paper bird in the tree, and acting like trees themselves. In the end, their solution is to plant a companion tree and give it all the love, water, and sunshine they can.
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I Am An Elephant

Written by Aaron Carr

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What an interesting concept. Imagine a keyed treasure box. The key contains its own information, and it goes on to unlock the box that contains the treasure trove. The book under review, produced by AV2 Books, is such a key.

AV2 books are what they label “media enhanced books”. Simply put, the book links to a secure website that is rich with resources. Each book has its particular code, the key, to the website.

The book has value in itself. The very youngest readers will be attracted by the photo illustrations, and the simple sentences in bold, large-size font. Reading through at that level provides basic, but sufficient information about the elephant. The facts are interestingly presented. Elephant ears are as big as a person, they eat 300 ponds of food, and drink a bathtub full of water each day. Wow!

Second grade readers can move on to the additional facts provided in the back. Each paragraph is linked to the corresponding two-page spread, for more detailed reading. And then the jewel in the crown is the link to the website. Readers learn to transition from book to web.

Click on the pages listed to the left to be taken to the related page. Ah the riches; videos, audio files, games, read aloud activities, slideshows and more. There is enough to keep a classroom engaged for many productive weeks. Just what the teacher ordered.

  • ElephantsTitle: I Am An Elephant
  • Author: Aaron Carr
  • Publisher: AV2 by Weigl
  • Reviewer: Anjali Amit
  • Paperback: 24 pages
  • ISBN: 978-1-61690-760-0
  • Genre: Picture Book/ Non-Fiction

Happy Endings: A Story about Suffixes

Written by Robin Pulver

Illustrated by Lynn Rowe Reed

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Happy Endings: A Story About Suffixes is a fun and wacky introduction to the way words end and what that does to the meaning of each word. Mr. Wright has the audacity to try to teach something the last day of school: suffixes.  The kids don’t want to learn anything, forcing Mr. Wright to yell that they will tackle word endings after lunch.  The Words Endings not only get their feelings hurt, they worry about getting tackled, so they hide.  This has turned into a complete disaster.  Now Mr. Wright threatens to cancel summer vacation unless they get this situation under control!  The kids start looking for those missing word endings, patterning their search after the detective they read about.  Even though the Suffixes have been working out and have a fighting chance in case they get tackled, they would rather give clues than get physical.  Now that the kids are looking, they see the word ending clues in plain sight, even though they have been mixed up within each of the words.  Summer vacation is saved and the kids have learned about suffixes.
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The Case of the Piggy Bank Thief (A First Kids Mystery)

Written by Martha Freeman

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Excitement surrounds an archaeological dig in the fourth First Kids Mystery Cammie and Tessa return as the daughters of the first female President and immediately go into action. In the midst of dogs, cats, and canaries running wild, Tessa’s piggy bank goes missing. Tessa refuses to tell Cammie why the bank is so important, despite the low monetary balance inside. Meanwhile, archaeologists are digging in an area of the grounds thought to contain remnants from the burning of the White House during the War of 1812. Mysterious, unauthorized holes have appeared at the dig. Also, their friend, Dr. Maynard, is due to receive a presidential medal. So, Cammie gathers all the information she can about the piggy bank and the holes. The kids get a special tour of the coin collection at the National Museum of American History. Naturally, they find the bank and the artifact that makes it valuable and the kids end up being heroes.
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Fly, Chick, Fly

Written by Jeanne Willis

Illustrated by Tony Ross

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Jeanne Willis and Tony Ross team up again to produce a gentle read for a second graders, but the simply poignant text is appealing to a broad range of ages. Fly, Chick, Fly is a poetic tale about how different members of an owl family respond to the normal changes of life. The youngest chick in a sibling group is resistant to independence, despite her parents’ prodding and her siblings’ success.
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