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.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Giant Squid

Author: Candace Fleming

Illustrator: Eric Rohman

Publisher: Roaring Brook Press

Publication Year: 2016

ISBN-13: 978-1596435995

In Giant Squid, Candace Fleming takes readers on a poetic exploration of the little bit we know of giant squids. The illustrations and excellent descriptions reel readers in, causing them to question constantly as they read the book.

This book falls into the category of narrative nonfiction. Instead of the typical nonfiction setup with headings, subheadings, captions, etc., a poetic narrative feeds readers information. The illustrations add to the understanding of the text and help to draw readers in.

American Library Association Notable Book
Cybils Award for Elementary Non-Fiction 2016
Charlotte Zolotow Honor Book
Chicago Public Library Best Books of 2016
Horn Book Fanfare 2016
NCTE Orbis Pictus Honor Book
NSTA/CBC Outstanding Science Trade Books 2016
Robert F. Sibert Informational Honor Book 2017
Wall Street Journal Best New Children's Books

This book immediately intrigues learners, especially gifted learners. It leads them to ask questions and may even inspire them to explore beyond the book. It serves as a great reminder that while we tend to think that we have learned quite a bit about our world over our existence, there is still more to discover.

Teachers can use this book as a mentor text for alternate forms of non-fiction. It would also be great for teachers wanting to inspire and to develop the skill of questioning.

Monday, February 13, 2017


Author and Illustrator: Leo Lionni

Publisher: Alfred A. Knoff, Inc.

Publication Year: 1967

ISBN-13: 978-0399555527

In Frederick, a family of field mice prepares for the winter. The other field mice get upset when Frederick appears to sit around instead of gathering food like the rest of them. Instead, Frederick reports that he gathers sun rays, colors, and words for winter. When winter comes and they begin to run low on food, Frederick shares the things he has been gathering. After hearing his beautiful words, the mice see the value in Frederick's gift.

This book blurs the lines between animal fantasy and fable. The illustrations and simple plot lead the reader to quickly develop an interest for the story and a love for Frederick and his gift. Leo Lionni presents a lesson that audiences will appreciate and relate to for years to come.

Awards and Reviews:
“A charming fable, it deserves to take its place once again with other beloved Lionni favorites.”          -Children’s Literature

This book received the Caldecott Honor.

The message of Frederick speaks to the gifted learner struggling with seeing the value in others or the gifted learner needing to understand the value of oneself when they seem so different. Those struggling to see the value in others' differences learn that sometimes people may surprise you. Those needing to understand the value of oneself relate to Frederick as the field mice disapprove of his behaviors, but then imagine seeing the value in their own gifts when Frederick comes through for his family. 

I like to use this book to lead into discussions of each of our gifts and their values. Additionally, Leo Lionni makes a great choice for an author study in the primary classroom.

What Do You Do with an Idea?

Author: Kobi Yamada

Illustrator: Mae Besom

Publisher: Compendium, Inc.

Publication Year: 2013

ISBN-13: 978-1938298073

What Do You Do with an Idea? presents an inspirational message for students.

In this book, Kobi Yamada writes the story of a boy who has a brilliant idea. He first tries to ignore it, but finds that the idea follows him. Later, after he accepts the idea, others disapprove and the boy almost leaves it behind. Eventually, the boy's confidence grows, and with it the idea.

Yamada writes this story almost as a procedural text. The illustrations and language of the book make it easily accessible to its audience. While it may not represent a traditional procedural text with very specific steps, this one still leads audiences to imagine how to go through the same process with their own ideas.

Gold medal winner of the Independent Publishers Award, the Washington State Book Award, and the Moonbeam Children's Book Award.

Children's Book Review:
"What makes this message so unique is the simple but beautiful way it's delivered, in narrative and illustration, through the eyes and voice of an innocent and hopeful child. What Do You Do With An Idea? is a spectacular book for all ages and is a wonderful treasure for any home or school library." 

For gifted students, What Do You Do with an Idea? acts as an inspiration to work hard at developing their own ideas. This non-traditional procedural text helps teach gifted students how to make a decision about sticking with an idea. It shows them that they should expect others to disapprove and push through that. It also reiterates the fact that they will need to work on their idea to improve it.

In the classroom, this book works wonderfully with the Design Process or in conjunction with an introduction to Genius Hour. 

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Just Plain Fancy

Author and Illustrator: Patricia Polacco

Publisher: Dragonfly Books

Publication Year: 1990

ISBN-13: 978-0440409373

Two sisters, Naomi and Ruth, live in an Amish community. They discover an egg in the hen house that looks different than the others. In a plain world, this egg presents intrigue. Once the egg hatches, they find a "chicken" who does not appear plain at all. In fear of the elders shunning this fancy "chicken", Naomi and Ruth attempt to hide him. With quite an entrance, the elders discover the fancy chicken and the girls learn that this peacock was meant to be fancy.

This example of realistic fiction provides a plot that readers will enjoy. Readers learn about the Amish community and easily understand the characters. Polacco's incredible illustrations add to the understanding and power of the story. Best of all, even though Polacco wrote the book in 1990, the message relates to children today.

Publishers Weekly:
"Naomi and Ruth are sisters who live on a farm in Pennyslvania's Amish country, where people take pride in their uncomplicated lives. But Naomi complains that everything in her life--from her clothes to her chickens--is plain. The girl longs for "something fancy." When she and Ruth find an unusual egg by the side of the road, they place it in their hen's nest, hoping it will hatch. It does, and the bird that emerges is obviously not a garden-variety chick. The sisters name it "Fancy," and keep its existence a secret from the grownups, who they fear will shun it. On the day the elders of the community have gathered for a working bee, Fancy breaks out of the henhouse and spreads its feathers in front of the group. By this time perceptive young readers will have gathered that Fancy is a peacock--and Polacco's pictures reveal it to be a magnificent one at that. Naomi is praised for raising such a beautiful bird, and learns that some kinds of "fancy" are acceptable. Polacco's warm story and sensitive illustrations offer a fresh, balanced perspective on Amish life."

Many gifted students need to learn that it is okay to be different. After hearing this story, students learn that individual differences are not only okay, but they are to be celebrated. Presenting this message through realistic fiction is perfect as it allows students to learn and almost experience the lesson as they live vicariously through the characters they read about.

In the classroom this story lends itself well to lead into discussion about what makes each of them unique. Additionally, teachers could use this story when working on realistic predictions or to offer a glimpse into life in an Amish community.

Beautiful Oops!

I see Beautiful Oops! as an essential piece to any GT teacher's book collection.

Author and Illustrator: Barney Saltzberg

Publisher: Workman Publishing Company, Inc.

Publication Year: 2010

ISBN-13: 978-0761157281

In Beautiful Oops!, Barney Saltzberg takes readers on an adventure of "happy accidents." As the reader unfolds, lifts, or turns the pages,he enters a world where mistakes present a chance for creativity. That torn piece of paper becomes the mouth of an alligator. The bent page becomes a penguin beak. The story sets off to convince readers that mistakes are not the end of the world, but in fact present an opportunity for celebration.

This unusual example of persuasive text presents a strong case against feeling sorry for mistakes. Saltzberg's illustrations and the whimsical design of the book draw readers in and open their minds to the possibilities mistakes present. Despite the fact that Saltzberg uses very few words in this book, the creative examples he provides give solid support to the argument that people should celebrate their mistakes.

Kirkus Reviews:
"A pleasingly tactile exploration of the possibilities inherent in mistakes. "A torn piece of paper... is just the beginning!" Spills, folded paper, drips of paint, smudges and smears—they "all can make magic appear." An increasingly complex series of scenarios celebrates random accidents, encouraging artistic experimentation rather than discouragement. The folded-over paper can be a penguin's head; a torn piece of newsprint can turn into a smiling dog with a little application of paint; a hot-chocolate stain can become a bog for a frog. Thanks to a telescoping pop-up, a hole is filled with nearly limitless possibilities. The interactive elements work beautifully with the photo-collaged "mistakes," never overwhelming the intent with showiness. Saltzberg's trademark cartoon animals provide a sweetly childlike counterpoint to the artful scribbles and smears of gloppy paint. A festive invitation to creative liberation."

For the gifted child struggling with perfectionism, this book provides an alternative view. Additionally, a goal of many if not most gifted programs remains the development of student creativity. This book holds potential to open doors of possibility for students needing more examples of creativity.

One way to use the book in a gifted classroom is in conjunction with draw starts. After reading and discussing the book, the teacher gives students a paper (or choice between two papers) with 1-2 lines drawn on it. Then, each student looks at the line and determines what picture they could draw that would utilize that line or "mistake."

Author and illustrator, Barney Saltzberg created a site with resources for teachers who want to take the message of Beautiful Oops! to their classrooms everyday. Click here to learn more.


Somewhat similar to Beautiful Oops!, Ish also makes a great addition to the GT classroom library.

Author and Illustrator: Peter H. Reynolds

Publisher: Candlewick Press

Publication Year: 2004

ISBN-13: 978-0763623449

In the story Ish, Ramon loves to draw. Well, he loved to draw until his brother Leon laughed at one of his drawings. After that, Ramon attempted to draw, but never found himself satisfied with any of his pieces. One day, he discovers his sister Marisol's room full of his crumpled drawings. She explains to him that his drawings are not perfect, but are "ish." That's all Ramon needed to let his ideas flow freely and to develop his love for drawing once again.

This work of realistic fiction boasts incredible illustrations that accompany the easy-to-follow plot. Students who read or listen to this book easily relate to the story, the characters, and the message. Its audiences will find the message applicable for years to come.

School Library Journal:
"Reynolds follows The Dot (Candlewick, 2003) with this companion story about creativity and the artistic process. Ramon loves to draw: "Anytime. Anything. Anywhere." When his older brother laughs at one of his pictures and points out that it does not look like a real vase of flowers, a dejected Ramon crumples up all of his efforts. However, he soon learns that his younger sister has hung the discarded papers on her bedroom walls. When he declares that the picture of the vase doesn't look like the real thing, she says that it looks "vase-ISH." The child then begins to produce paintings that look "tree-ish," "afternoon-ish," and "silly-ish." His "ish art" inspires him to look at all creative endeavors differently. The watercolor, ink, and tea illustrations have a childlike charm. Set against white backgrounds, the quirky line drawings and restrained use of color combine to create an attractive, unique picture book. The small size lends itself to one-on-one sharing and thoughtful examination. Ish, like Leo Lionni's Frederick (Knopf, 1967), encourages readers to see the world anew." - Shawn Brommer, South Central Library System, Madison, WI

This book speaks directly to the gifted perfectionists. As they listen to the story, they see themselves in Ramon's character. After seeing the frustration he goes through and then hearing the wonderful freedom Marisol grants her brother with the word "ish," students will find themselves using the "ish" philosophy as well.

In my classroom, I simply use this as a discussion about allowing ourselves to put forth our best effort each day, and understanding that does not equal perfection. After reading this book, we quickly adopt the word "ish" in our classroom and use it throughout the year to remind ourselves of Peter H. Reynolds message.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Thanks for the Feedback... (I Think!)

Author: Julia Cook

Illustrator: Kelsey De Weerd

Publisher: Boys Town Press

Publication Year: 2013

ISBN-13: 978-1934490495

Thanks for the Feedback... (I Think!) represents another excellent story for gifted children.

In this story, RJ struggles to know exactly what to say when he receives compliments or criticism. With the help of his mom and dad, RJ learns the social skills he needs to accept compliments and criticism.

In this narrative nonfiction piece, illustrator Kelsey De Weerd has created illustrations that perfectly support the message Julia Cook has written for children. Julia Cook writes in a way that students can so easily understand her message and apply it to their own lives. 

This book has been honored by Mom's Choice Awards.

The story of RJ learning how to accept compliments and criticism can act as a social story for gifted students struggling with the same thing. Many gifted students grapple with perfectionism, and this story touches on that in such an easy-to-understand way.

In my classroom, I use this story in connection with goal setting. At the beginning of the year, we usually set goals in at least two areas as this is an important skill for students to learn and is a big push in my district. We read the story, talk about RJ's struggles and share any connections or "ah-has" we have, and then refer back to the story when we set and reflect on our goals.

We just finished mid-year goal setting in my classroom. To simplify it for second graders, I had them look back some work I had saved since the beginning of the year, note their specific improvements, and then set a new goal that they were responsible for tracking. Feel free to download the work reflection and goal setting sheets below.

Eggbert, The Slightly Cracked Egg

Over the next few weeks, I plan to share fifteen of my favorite books to use with elementary gifted students.

Author: Tom Ross

Illustrator: Rex Barron

Publisher: PaperStar

Publication Year: 1994

ISBN-13: 978-0698114449

Eggbert, The Slightly Cracked Egg always finds its way into my beginning of the year must read pile.

In this story, the foods in the fridge discover that Eggbert is slighty cracked. After they kick him out, Eggbert searches for his place in the world, and uses his artistic talent to attempt to blend in. Eventually Eggbert discovers that the world is full of cracks, and instead of trying to hide it he should take pride in his crack.

This low fantasy story does a great job captivating the reader right away. The illustrations follow the plot beautifully, and help develop a believable story despite the fact that the main character is an egg who can talk, paint, and survive much longer than an actual cracked egg! Best of all, what Eggbert learns from his quest for his place in the world represents a universal truth that children easily relate to.

From School Library Journal:
"PreSchool-Grade 2-The other eggs in the refrigerator admire Eggbert's remarkable paintings-until they discover that he has a slight crack. Because of his defect, he is banished from his home. At first he uses his artistic talent to attempt to camouflage himself, but his disguises are quickly discovered. Then he realizes that the world contains many lovely cracks. Brush in hand, he travels the globe and produces wonderful paintings of fissures found in things such as volcanoes and the Liberty Bell. Back at the refrigerator, his former friends ponder his hand-painted postcards with amazement and a touch of sadness. The story might be read as a commentary on the lives of artists and/or the dangers and blessings of nonconformity; however, young readers will be more engaged by the illustrations than by philosophical reflections. Eggs and vegetables rarely assume such lifelike expressions and stances, and the simple text and clear design add up to read-aloud potential. Eggbert is an egg worth watching."-Kathy Piehl, Mankato State University, MN

Gifted students often struggle with understanding and accepting themselves. Even at a young age students notice how they differ from other students and need to learn to accept and appreciate themselves. Eggbert, The Slightly Cracked Egg represents an excellent choice to help primary students learn to understand themselves.

I typically read this book during the first week of school. Afterwards, we have a discussion about what makes each student unique, and we celebrate that. To remind them of this message throughout the year, we create an Eggbert puzzle poster.

Beforehand, I draw an egg on a piece of poster board, and write each student's name to ensure they know which direction is up. Without telling my class what the puzzle pieces will create when put together, they decorate their pieces to represent themselves. Once everyone is finished, they work together to fit the pieces together and discover that they have created Eggbert!


Hello there. This is Mrs. Patton from Mrs. Patton's Patch.

Over the past 4 years my posts on Mrs. Patton's Patch have been sparse. Some of that was due in part to having my son, some in part to getting a new position in my district, and a lot of that was due to working on my graduate degree.

After much deliberation, I've decided to begin a new blog here dedicated to sharing my experiences, tips, and "ah-has" I've discovered through working with gifted children.

So here's the new info about me:
For the past four years, I've been teaching at an academy for the highly gifted. In this school within a school, I have the pleasure of teaching a class of highly gifted 2nd graders.

I'm also currently working on completing my Master's in Gifted Education. I will be done with coursework in August.

Over the next couple of weeks I'll share my reviews of books that I have found to work well with gifted students.

I hope you enjoy your read here!

Mrs. Patton