Monday, March 13, 2017


Author and Illustrator: Brian Floca

Publisher: Atheneum/Richard Jackson Books

Publication Year: 2009

ISBN-13: 978-1416950462

Brilliantly illustrated, Moonshot tells the story of our first visit to the moon in 1969—an unforgettable story of home, seen whole, from far away.

This example of narrative non-fiction draws readers in immediately with the illustrations. Brian Floca varies the layout of his pages, changes the font and size of words, and even the appearance of words to convey meaning to the reader.

Robert F. Sibert Honor Book
New York Times 10 Best Illustrated Children’s Books of the Year
A Society of Illustrators Silver Medal winner
Winner of the 2010 Flora Stieglitz Straus Award
American Library Association Notable Children’s Book
Kirkus Reviews Best Children’s Books of 2009
Smithsonian Notable Book for Children 2009
National Parenting Publications Awards (NAPPA) Gold Award Winner

For gifted students who grapple with multi-potentiality, this could be a chance to explore what life would have been like as an astronaut on the Apollo 11 mission. It also speaks to an interest I've seen in many of my gifted students over the years.

This book makes a great choice to supplement instruction about the moon. It also makes a great mentor text if a teacher wants to explore different strategies illustrators use to convey meaning.

Horrible Bear!

Author: Ame Dyckman

Illustrator: Zachariah OHora

Publisher: Little, Brown and Company

Publication Year: 2016

ISBN-13: 978-0316282833

In Horrible Bear, Bear accidentally breaks a little girl's kite, but she's upset anyway, upset enough to shout "HORRIBLE BEAR!" Bear  doesn't think he's horrible! Then Bear gets a truly Horrible Bear idea. As Bear prepares to live up to his formerly undeserved reputation, the girl makes a mistake of her own, and realizes that maybe, just maybe Bear isn't as horrible as she had thought.

This picture book is an excellent example of the pictures and illustrations working well together to bring meaning. The illustrations, even from the start with the special end pages, reel the reader in and hold attention throughout the story.

School Library Journal:
"Molly Bang's Sophie finally has a worthy shelf-mate for absolutely spot-on characterizations of mood. VERDICT: Highly recommended for picture book collections." 

For gifted elementary students, this book presents a great example of how accidents happen and the value of saying "sorry." I would especially recommend this for students who hold so true to their sense of justice that they make accusations before understanding the situation as the girl did in this story.

This book makes for a great read aloud to younger students about manners and understanding each other. It also serves as an illustration for older elementary students who need help learning how to accept others' mistakes.

Fish in a Tree

Author: Lynda Mullaly Hunt

Publisher: Puffin Books

Publication Year: 2017 (reprint edition)

ISBN-13: 978-0142426425

In Fish in a Tree, Ally has been smart enough to fool a lot of smart people. Every time she lands in a new school, she is able to hide her inability to read by creating clever yet disruptive distractions.  However, her newest teacher Mr. Daniels sees the bright, creative kid underneath the trouble maker. With his help, Ally learns not to be so hard on herself and that dyslexia is nothing to be ashamed of. 

In this example of realistic fiction, Lynda Mullaly Hunt does an excellent job making the situation and characters relateable. Readers have the opportunity to learn much from this book!

Schneider Family Book Award
SCBWI Crystal Kite Winner
ALSC Notable Book of 2016
New York Times Bestseller
Global Read Aloud choice, 2015
SLJ Best Book, 2015
ALSC Summer Reading List, 2016
SCBWI Summer Reading List, 2016

For the gifted student, especially any twice exceptional student, this book could ring very true. One of the best things about literature is the chance to live vicariously through the characters and feel as if you experience things with them just by reading it. This book provides students with the opportunity to work through feeling like they don't quite fit in.

This book makes another excellent choice for a book club. I found many ideas to use through the author's website here.

Roller Girl

Author and Illustrator: Victoria Jamieson

Publisher: Dial Books

Publication Year: 2015

ISBN-13: 978-0803740167

In Roller Girl, Astrid faces the worst summer of her life as she and her best friend split ways- Astrid to roller derby camp, and Nicole to dance camp. The books takes readers through her struggles to keep up with others, make new friends, and deal with the loss of a friendship. 

In this graphic novel, Victoria Jamieson does an excellent job conveying the message of the story to the reader. Readers are captivated by the easy-to-follow graphics and text, and their interest is held by the content and variation of picture size and layout throughout the book.

A Newbery Honor book
2016-2017 Texas Bluebonnet Award winner
New York Times Bestseller
A Spring 2015 Indie Next Pick
New York Times Book Review Notable Children's Book of 2015
A New York Public Library Best Book for Reading and Sharing of 2015
Publishers Weekly Best Book of 2015
School Library Journal Best Book of 2015
Kirkus Reviews Best Book of 2015
A Top 10 Latin@ Book of 2015
Parents Magazine Best Children's Book of 2015
A Chicago Public Library Best Book of 2015
A Texas Bluebonnet Award 2016-2017 nominee
A 2016 YALSA Quick Picks for Reluctant Readers selection
A 2016 YALSA Popular Paperback selection
An ALA Notable Children's Book of 2016
A 2015 Nerdy Book Club Award Winner for Best Graphic Novel

For the gifted student needing to read a story about friendship or to inspire perseverance, this is a great choice.

In the classroom, a teacher could use this book as an example of what makes a great graphic novel. 

The Girl Who Drank the Moon

Author: Kelly Barnhill

Publisher: Algonquin Young Readers

Publication Year: 2016

ISBN-13: 978-1616205676

The witch in the forest, Xan, is believed to be evil, but is actually kind. She takes the offering of a baby the Protectorate leaves and nourishes them with starlight before giving them to welcoming families. One year, she feeds a baby moonlight instead of starlight and fills the ordinary child with extraordinary magic.

This is an excellent example of high fantasy. As the winner of the 2017 Newbery Medal, this book would serve as a great mentor text.

Winner of the 2017 Newbery Medal
The New York Times Bestseller
An Entertainment Weekly Best Middle Grade Book of 2016
A New York Public Library Best Book of 2016
A Chicago Public Library Best Book of 2016
An Amazon Top 20 Best Book of 2016
A Publishers Weekly Best Book of 2016
A School Library Journal Best Book of 2016
Named to Kirkus Reviews’ Best Books of 2016
2017 Booklist Youth Editors’ Choice

For gifted students, fantasies such as this one can be a break from the real world. Fantasies give them the chance to experience and imagine life in a different world. Additionally, students can learn from the main characters as they problem-solve throughout the novel.

After perusing this book, it appears to be another example of a good book for a book club. I plan to offer this as a choice to my students for a book club very soon!

Sunday, March 12, 2017


Author and Illustrator: Brian Selznick

Publisher: Scholastic

Publication Year: 2011

ISBN-13: 978-0545027892

Wonderstruck tells the stories of Ben and Rose, two children who are deaf and wish their lives were different. Set 50 years apart, the independent stories (one told in words, and one in pictures) weave back and forth. At the end the reader discovers a surprising twist as the stories come together.

Brian Selznick expertly crafted this piece of realistic fiction. If somehow the incredible story in the words doesn't draw the reader in, the illustrations surely will. Throughout the book readers discover connections between the two stories and develop a greater understanding of the content as the stories weave together.

#1 New York Times Bestseller
New York Times Notable Children's Book
2012 Schneider Family Book Award Winner
ALA Notable Children's Book
Parents' Choice Gold Winner
Publishers Weekly Best Book 

Through reading this book, gifted students can work through issues or learn from experiences of the characters. They can learn about the importance of relationships, self-management, and can even learn to understand themselves a bit better.

In the past, I've used this book as a read aloud. The more I've thought about this book, though, the more I see the potential to discuss the power of stories in words and in pictures. After reading this book, students could also attempt to tell stories in pictures and in words in the style of Brian Selznick.

Out of My Mind

Author: Sharon M. Draper

Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers

Publication Year: 2011

ISBN-13: 978-1416971719

In Out of My Mind, author Sharon M. Draper presents an eleven-year old girl, Melody, with Cerebral Palsy. Melody cannot walk, talk, or grasp objects, much less feed herself or take herself to the restroom. She relies on her family, neighbor and aides at school to buckle her into her wheelchair and attempt to interpret what she wishes to communicate. However, despite her physical shortcomings, Melody has an amazing mind. She knows much more than doctors and even her own mother think she does. With the help of her neighbor, Mrs. V, as well as her own clever communication tactics, Melody gets what she needs to show the world what she can do.

New York Times Bestselling Novel
Josette Frank Award
2011 IRA Teachers' Choice Book
2011 IRA Young Adult's Choice
KIRKUS Best Book of the Year
Buckeye Children's Book Award
Sunshine State Young Reader's Award
Black-Eyed Susan Book Award
Virginia Reader's Choice Award

This problem novel is another great choice for gifted students. Sharon M. Draper does a great job developing the characters and helping the reader to get a clear picture of the events happening in the story. I would not make a blanket recommendation of this book for all gifted students as those who experience the emotional overexcitability may struggle with the highly emotional content. For those who don't struggle with this, the book presents an excellent opportunity to experience life as Melody and to learn from her as well as develop a new perspective of anyone with a disability.

In my classroom I think this would make a great book for a book club. Students would enjoy discussing the book and having deep conversations about its implications for their lives.