Tag Archives: Book Talk Tuesday

Booktalking Picture Books

Typically it seems that the books that I booktalk are chapter books or non-fiction titles. But any length of book can be promoted with a booktalk–I know I’ve caught more than one person’s interest with just a few words describing a picture book. Here are a few particularly compelling titles:

Monkey Truck Monkey Truck, Michael Slack. He’s a monkey and a truck, he races around doing adventurous things, rescuing people, and maybe even eating bananas. If your toddler enjoys animals, trucks, and running around, this is the book for you–plus it has sturdy pages!

Shark vs. Train Shark vs. Train, Chris Barton, Tom Lichtenheld. Who here likes sharks? How about trains? In an epic battle between Sharks and Trains, who do you think would win? How would they even fight? Who is stronger? Faster? Smellier? Find out who wins in this crazy match up by reading Shark vs. Train.

When Dinosaurs Came with Everything Elise Broach, David Small. Who here’s ever had to run errands with your parents? It can sometimes be boring. What if every time you went somewhere you got a special treat? And what if that treat was a free DINOSAUR!? Would your parents let you keep them? Where would they stay? What would they eat? Read all about what happens in When Dinosaurs Came with Everything.


It’s the End of the World as We Know it, and I feel fine!

While dystopian novels are all the rage, I’ve always preferred apocalyptic and post apocalyptic novels. There is something about seeing ordinary people face extraordinary circumstances that draws me into the book. I recently read a post that offers a definition of post-apocalyptic versus dystopian novels, that clarifies to some extent the two. Their definition is correct, dystopian refers to a planned society, where in the attempt to achieve some goal people are deprived of certain liberties, or the dark side of a utopia. Post-apocalyptic stories take place after some destruction has taken place. As they point out there is substantial overlap in genres, Hunger Games is a dystopian society within a post apocalyptic world, as is Ship Breaker. My one criticism is that they leave out a distinct genre, apocalyptic fiction–not after the destruction, but during the cataclysm. I would say that Ashes and Ashfall are both apocalyptic as they take place during a destructive event. Here are three books that represent these three forms:

Apocalyptic: Life as We Knew It, Susan Beth Pfeffer Life As We Knew It (Last Survivors, #1) Miranda is an ordinary 16 yr old, dealing with school, boys, and homework–lots of homework about the moon of all things. See it turns out an asteroid is heading to the moon, and all the teachers figure it is a good reason to write more papers! But when the asteroid actually hits the moon, things start to change–the tides are higher, there are unexpected storms, satellites are interrupted and things start to fall apart. Can Miranda and her family stay together, and alive, as everything around them falls apart?

Post-Apocalyptic: Z for Zachariah by Robert C. O’Brien Z for Zachariah Z for Zachariah After nuclear war has broken out, it appears that humanity has been destroyed, all that is except Ann. She’s left on the farm, seemingly alone in the whole world. Her parents left to find help, and never returned. In order to survive, she has to keep the farm running all by herself. One day, however, she sees a man approaching her valley. What does he want? Can she trust him? Are they alone in the world?

Dystopian: The Sky Inside, Clare B. Dunkle. The Sky Inside Martin lives in a world where it is all about the latest and greatest product, from food to genetically modified children. Each day they watch the TV to find out what’s next, to enjoy the endless gameshows, and to vote nightly on matters important to society, such as the colors of the president’s drapes. Everything seems fine, until Martin discovers there is going to be a recall, but not of the latest toy, rather they are going to recall his sister and her generation. No one will say what a recall means, by Martin is suspicious and sets out to discover where they are taking his sister and what is really outside of their “perfect” suburb. Can he figure out what is going on in time to save his sister?

Funny Favorites–Booktalks

Readers advisory is huge at my library, and is a constantly developing skill that I and all of the staff are working to perfect. While some kids are always looking for something new, most kids don’t care as much about the date on the book (unless it is the new Diary of a Wimpy Kid book) as long as it sounds interesting, has a good cover, and they haven’t read it yet. When kids want funny they could mean a whole range of things, from Captain Underpants to joke books to Bark, George . The most common request is for humorous realistic fiction, which may be because of the Wimpy Kid popularity. Here are three recommendations I make regularly for funny books that are likely to be on the shelf.

Punished! Punished is the story of a young boy who gets in trouble in the library for doing something a lot of kids think they can get away with until WHAM! He wasn’t yelling, or eating, or wearing books as hats in rainstorms. And it wasn’t the librarian who yelled at him–no it was the old man he ran into–quite literally. A mysterious old guy who curses him to only speak in puns until he learns a lesson. This seems fine–people are laughing until he realizes he can’t stop, and people aren’t laughing with him, their laughing at him! Logan has to make this stop–and once he tracks the old man down, he learns he has to complete three tasks to be free. Will he be doomed to pun his life away? Read Punished by David Lubar to find out, and you may just want to not run in the library, just in case.

The second funny book I recommend is Sideways Stories from Wayside School by Louis Sachar, but lately most kids have already read it. It is a classic and most kids LOVE it. Recently I found another great read alike for those Wayside fans. As soon as the copies I order come in, it will be a go to recommendation.

The Fabled Fourth Graders of Aesop Elementary School Sometimes a class can be crazy, particularly when you and your classmates get into trouble. In the Fabled Fourth Graders of Aesop Elementary by Candice Fleming, these 4th graders are so naughty that they don’t think they can find a teacher willing to take them on. Just in the nick of time a brave explorer returns to take on the challenge, he’s taught wild monkeys, and visited peoples in far off lands, but can he face this fourth grade class? Join Mr. Jupiter as he takes on this crazy class and has new adventures throughout the year!

A Long Walk to Water

This is a book talk for a 6th grade class.

A Long Walk to Water: Based on a True Story Salva is sitting in school one day when an explosion rocks the classroom. Rather then telling the students not to panic, or evacuating quietly, the teacher tells the students to run, run as fast as they can, and be careful who they trust. It is 1985, and the boys do that, they run, and then walk, as fast as they can. Not sure who to trust or where they can find safety, they embark on a quest that takes them across the desert, to refugee camps in two different countries, facing violence and environmental dangers every step. Their quest lasts years, and many never make it. They are called the Lost Boys.

Nya is also 11, and in 2008 she also spends most of the day walking. Only her trips take her to the water hole to get water, four hours one way, four or more hours back. Hauling water for her whole family is her full time job. The same thing every day, except when the water dries up, and then it might be a longer walk. The dangers Nya faces are less dramatic, but if the water dries or is fouled her and her village all could die.

While this is fiction, it is based on a true story. In A Long Walk to Water, Linda Sue Park moves between the experiences of these two kids, a boy and a girl, in two different times in a country far away. The events that happen to the two are things that real kids just like you experienced and continue to experience. The country is Sudan. Does anyone here know anything about Sudan? Where is it? What is it like? If you don’t know, Sudan is the largest country in Africa. Like many countries around the world unrest and civil war has led to many people fleeing the country in the past century. As fighting dies down, challenges arise over access to education, food and water. To find out how a few brave people, just your age, struggle through violence, and now struggle to live their lives in a part of the world that is completely different from ours, read A Long Walk to Water. And if you want to learn more about the stories of kids living all around the world, come join our Summer Reading Program, One World, Many Stories.

Book Talk Tuesday is hosted by Lemme Library, head on over to check out the other posts:

Earth Day Book Talk

When I do a class visit to share books, I try to find a theme and tie the books together in some way that makes for a flow from one to the next. Transitions are important to hold attention. So while I’ve posted individual book talks for this presentation for the past couple of weeks, here is how they all fit together.

The Watcher: Jane Goodall's Life with the Chimps I want to start by sharing The Watcher, a picture book biography of Jean Goodall, as it emphasizes the way that even as children we can watch and learn about the world around us.

A Life in the Wild: George Schaller's Struggle to Save the Last Great Beasts After starting with the idea that observing nature is an important way to learn about the world, I’ll share A Life in the Wild, which will allow me to tell students about how wilderness conservation changed when scientists began to observe and study nature.

The Strange Case of Origami Yoda Next, I’ll share The Strange Case of Origami Yoda, which is the case study a bunch of kids did of a phenomena they noticed in school.

Kakapo Rescue: Saving the World's Strangest Parrot (Scientists in the Field Series) Featuring another strange creature, I’ll move from Yoda to Kakapo Rescue: Saving the World’s Strangest Parrot, which continues the importance of observing the world around us as well as being very interesting.

Hoot (Newbery Honor Book) The next book is also about a rescue attempt, but of who? A runaway boy, a bird living in the ground? In Hoot , there are a number of mysteries to solve.

I’ll conclude with Crunch, which also has mysteries and encourages kids to keep watching the world around them.

Since this is ready, I’m turning my attention to Summer Reading titles, so I can promote our programs and share books at the programs. Stay tuned!

Audio Book Book Talk

As I’ve mentioned before, audio books are SUPER popular at my branch, so we are asked on a regular basis to recommend good titles for kids, teens, and adults. There is a fair amount of crossover, with a lot of adults listening to teen and children’s titles. Unfortunately, I’m not much of an audio book listener, generally they are too slow for me, and I either tune out the book or whatever else I’m doing (something that can be particularly dangerous when driving). Most of our patrons, however, are satisfied with good story recommendations, even if I can’t tell them much about the narrators.

Recently, I visited a middle school and took a handful of audio books to book talk. It was a resource class and the teacher had told me that she was trying to promote different ways of accessing stories.

Stuck in Neutral Stuck in Neutral, Terry Trueman. This is a powerful book, and an easy on to book talk. Can you imagine if you thought your father was going to kill you, but you had no way of communicating with anyone to tell them your suspicions, or anything else!

Hoot Hoot, Carl Hiaasen. I actually listened to this one, and I thought it really brought the different characters to life. My five second book talk is, new kid in town, notices a mysterious loner running away from the bus, starts an investigation of pranks, and finds more and more mysteries.

The Graveyard Book The Graveyard Book, Neil Gaiman. This is another book I listened to, and it is a fantastic listen–it has Bela Fleck on banjo and it is narrated by the author. The story is also awesome–toddler escape’s his family’s murder and is raised in a spooky old graveyard by an eccentric mix of ghosts.

The City of Ember (The Ember Series, #1) The City of Ember, Jeanne DuPrau. Lots of kids have seen the movie or read the book, but I figured if this class was made up of kids who didn’t like to read, they might not have. In a world that is dark, the electricity is running out, as well as a lot of other things–how can you survive in a world where everything is falling apart.

Booktalk Tuesday is hosted by Lemme Library, head on over to check out the other book talks and reviews.


Hoot (Newbery Honor Book) Riding the bus to his new school in Florida, Roy Eberhardt notices a barefoot boy running flat out away from the bus. Is this some special Florida thing? No one else seems to notice or care about this boy. Roy is new in town, and misses his home and friends in Wyoming, so with few other things to distract him, he is not willing to let this hint of a mystery go. Even when his questions bring the attention of bully Beatrice the Bear down on his head, Roy pushes on to find out who this boy is and why he is running from the bus.

Some investigating leads Roy to discover the mysterious boy, who goes by Mullet Fingers for his ability to catch fish without a hook or line. But this only leads to more questions, who is this kid, why doesn’t he have to go to school, or live in a house, and what does he have to do with the mysterious things happening at the future site of Mother Paula’s All-American Pancake House?

Read Hoot by Carl Hiaasen to find out what happens to Roy in his new school and to figure out the mystery of Mullet Fingers and the vacant lot.

This book talk will go with the book talk from last week, this week’s non fiction Monday and several more for my earth day presentation.
Book Talk Tuesday is hosted by Lemme Library, hop on over and enjoy the other great books.

Twisted Fairy Tales

After I did my historical fiction book talk in February, the teacher e-mailed me to invite me back to share books again. *happy dance* I was also invited to visit another fourth grade class in the school. I’m planning on sharing the same books in the two classes, as there shouldn’t be any overlap of students. My theme for this set of book talks is twisted fairy tales/old fashioned fairy tales, with the Adam Gidwitz’ A Tale Dark and Grimm as the inspiration. In my library system it is in the teen section, but I think it is suitable for the 4th grade audience. Most of the kids are good readers, reading Percy Jackson and the like.

A Tale Dark and Grimm After introducing myself and announcing upcoming programs, I’ll read the introduction to A Tale Dark and Grimm, which lays out the theme for the book talk: fairy tales, and how they once were awesome and still are pretty good adventures. It is a good introduction to the tone of the book, as it is the narrator talking. I’d describe this book as a cross between the Brother’s Grimm and Lemony Snickett.

Then I plan on reading an original Brother’s Grimm’s tale, one of the more grim tales. I’m thinking the “Seven Ravens.” Grimm’s Fairy Tales are available from Project Gutenburg for free. We just got a new copy at the library, and I’ll bring that to show them where they can find these stories. I also have another collection of Grimm’s fairy tales called Grimm’s Grimmest, which is a little scary for them. I do warn them that it is violent, but that just gets them excited. Grimm's Grimmest

The Frog Princess (Tales of the Frog Princess, #1) Next I share something lighter, The Frog Princess, which is not as girly as the cover suggests, though there may be too much kissing for much crossover appeal. Honestly, if they cut a few of the kissing scenes this could be a good boy book. There are good parts about eating bugs, and adventure scenes running away from snakes. I was surprised that none of the kids had read it in the first class I visited.

How to Save Your Tail*: *if you are a rat nabbed by cats who really like stories about magic spoons, wolves with snout-warts, big, hairy chimney trolls . . . and cookies, too. After that, I introduced them to a pretty easy read How to Save Your Tail*: *if you are a rat nabbed by cats who really like stories about magic spoons, wolves with snout-warts, big, hairy chimney trolls . . . and cookies, too. It is sort of a Geronimo Stilton meets the Brother’s Grimm, with a little Arabian Nights. It is fun and not too scary, but also an easier read for struggling readers.

The Ordinary Princess I wrap it up with a book I loved from my childhood: An Ordinary Princess, it is kind of a girly book, and like the last book, it is easier read. I introduce the basic premise, but there is no cliffhanger in this book. At the same time, I think it is a gentler read and a nice counterpoint to the scariness of the first books.

For the first group I also did a little blurb for the Sister’s Grimm, but I think I’ll cut it for this final talk.
This post is part of Book Talk Tuesday, at Lemme Library, check out the other great posts!