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Great books for Toddler Storytime!

Just Like Me, by Joshua Seigal/Illustrated by Amélie Falière, (Sept. 2017, Flying Eye Books), $13.99, ISBN: 9781911171119

Recommended for readers 2-4

Can you rub your tum? Can you stretch up high? Join a little girl and her fuzzy friend as they play a game of Just Like Me with colorful animals! Tap your foot like a rabbit, stretch your neck like a giraffe, or spin like a dog: this book is made for a storytime activity or an animal storytime. I’d pair this with Eric Carle’s Head to Toe, Sandra Boynton’s Barnyard Dance, and Lindsey Craig’s Dancing Feet for an interactive, physical toddler time. The colors are bright and the bold, black text makes it easy to read along as you show off the story.

 

 

 

Posted in Fiction, Fiction, Middle Grade, Middle School, Realistic Fiction, Tween Reads

Spotlight On: Just Like Me, by Nancy Cavanaugh

I recently raved about how much I loved Just Like Me, by Nancy Cavanaugh. Now, enjoy this spotlight and excerpt from Just Like Me – and make sure to enter the Rafflecopter giveaway for a chance to win your own copy of the book!

9781492604273-PR

Just Like Me, By Nancy J. Cavanaugh (April 5, 2016; Hardcover, ISBN 9781492604273)

Book Info:

Title: Just Like Me

Author: Nancy J. Cavanaugh

Release Date: April 5, 2016

Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Praise for Just Like Me

“A tender and honest story about a girl trying to find her place in the world, and the thread that connects us all.” – Liesl Shurtliff, Author of Rump: The True Story of Rumpelstiltskin

“A heartwarming and tender story about the universal struggle of yearning to be an individual while longing to fit in.” -Karen Harrington, author of Sure Signs of Crazy

“[A] charming and refreshingly wholesome coming-of-age story….Filled with slapstick humor and fast-paced action, the novel will engage reluctant readers, while offering fuel for deep contemplation by those ready to tackle questions of identity and belonging.” –School Library Journal

“From pillow fights to pinkie promises, sock wars to s’mores, a red thread connects this energetic summer-camp story with Julia’s deeper journey to accept herself, her adoption, and her Chinese roots.” -Megan McDonald, award-winning and bestselling author of the Judy Moody series and Sisters Club trilogy

Summary:

Who eats Cheetos with chopsticks?! Avery and Becca, my “Chinese Sisters,” that’s who. We’re not really sisters—we were just adopted from the same orphanage. And we’re nothing alike. They like egg rolls, and I like pizza. They’re wave around Chinese fans, and I pretend like I don’t know them.

Which is not easy since we’re all going to summer camp to “bond.” (Thanks, Mom.) To make everything worse, we have to journal about our time at camp so the adoption agency can do some kind of “where are they now” newsletter. I’ll tell you where I am: At Camp Little Big Lake in a cabin with five other girls who aren’t getting along, competing for a camp trophy and losing (badly), wondering how I got here…and where I belong.

Told through a mix of traditional narrative and journal entries, don’t miss this funny, surprisingly sweet summer read!

Find Just Like Me on Goodreads!

Buy Links:

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Indiebound

Jacket Flap Author PhotoAbout the Author:

NANCY J. CAVANAUGH is an award-winning author and former teacher and librarian at an elementary school. Nancy lives in Chicago, IL, with her husband and daughter but flies South to Florida for the winter. Visit nancyjcavanaugh.com for more.

Social Networking Links:

Website- http://www.nancyjcavanaugh.com/

Facebook- https://www.facebook.com/Nancy-J-Cavanaugh-281062665333065/

Twitter- https://twitter.com/NancyJCavanaugh

Excerpt from Just Like Me:

The camp bus sputtered and chugged up the interstate, sounding as if this might be its last trip. Avery sat across the aisle from me with her earbuds on, practicing a Chinese vocabulary lesson. Becca sat next to her, chewing on a straw and watching a soccer match on her cell phone.

“Ni hao ma,” Avery said, her chin-length hair with bangs making her look studious in her thick, black-framed glasses.

When she saw me looking at her, she pulled out one earbud and offered it to me.

Did she really think I wanted to learn Chinese with her?

“Technically the lesson I’m working on is review, but I could teach you the basics if you want.”

I looked around at all the kids on the bus staring at her and shook my head.

“GO! GO! GO!” Becca yelled, pumping her fist in the air as she cheered for Spain’s soccer team.

Her hair spilled out of her ponytail as if she were playing in the soccer game instead of just watching it. “Booyah! Score!”

As kids stood up on the bus to see what all the yelling was about, I slid down in my seat, and the driver gave us that “death look” in her rearview mirror. The one that said, “If I have to stop this bus, somebody’s gonna get it…”

“Hey, Julia!” Becca yelled, holding up her phone. “Wanna watch with me? The game just went into overtime!”

“No thanks.”

Crowding around a tiny phone screen and watching people kick a soccer ball around was not my idea of fun.

My idea of fun was craft camp at the park district with my best friend, Madison, but Mom said I had the rest of the summer to do that.

Instead I was heading north toward Wisconsin to Camp Little Big Woods, but at least that was better than heading south toward Indiana for Summer Palace Chinese Culture Camp.

As soon as we “graciously” agreed to be the subjects of Ms. Marcia’s adoption article, she suggested that the three of us spend a week together making paper lanterns and learning the pinyin alphabet at culture camp.

“It will be a great way for you girls to reconnect not only with each other, but also with your heritage,” Ms. Marcia had gushed.

She loved treating us as if we were two instead of almost twelve.

But I said there was no way I was going to eat Chinese food three times a day and do tai chi every morning, so we settled on the sleepaway camp Avery and Becca went to every year.

I reached into the pocket of my suitcase and pulled out the plastic lacing of the gimp friendship bracelet I had started a few days ago. I had planned to finish it before camp so that I could give it to Madison when I said good-bye to her, but I’d run out of time. I decided I’d try to finish it while I was at camp and mail it to her along with a nice, long letter saying how much I missed her.

“Hey, Julia!” Becca yelled. “What’s that?”

“Nothing,” I said. “Just a friendship bracelet for my friend Madison.”

“COOL!” Becca yelled. “We should totally make those for each other in the arts-and-crafts room at camp.”

She went back to her straw-chewing and her tiny-phone-screen soccer game.

Friendship bracelets for the three of us? I guess “technically” as Avery would say, the three of us were friends. But even though “technically” I had known Avery and Becca longer than I had known my parents, I couldn’t imagine ever thinking of them as the friendship-bracelet kind of friends.

What are your thoughts on the Chinese proverb: “An invisible red thread connects those destined to meet regardless of time, place, or circumstances. The thread may stretch or tangle, but never break.”

Dear Ms. Marcia,

I’ve been hearing about this red thread for as long as I can remember, but I cannot imagine a thread, of any color—red, blue, purple, orange, or green—connecting Avery, Becca, and me. And if by some chance there really is a thread, I’m pretty sure this trip to camp might just be enough to snap that thing like an old rubber band, breaking it once and for all. Then that Chinese proverb would be history in a whole new way.

Julia

ALSO BY NANCY J. CAVANAUGH

always abigailAlways, Abigail

Summary:

Abigail and her two best friends are poised for a life of pom-poms and popularity. But not only does Abigail end up in a different homeroom, she doesn’t make the squad. Then everyone’s least favorite teacher pairs Abigail up with the school’s biggest outcast for a year-long Friendly Letter Assignment. Abigail can hardly believe her bad luck! As her so-called best friends and dreams of pom pom fame start to slip away, Abigail has to choose between the little bit of popularity she has left or letting it go to be a true friend.

Goodreads

Buy Links:

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Apple

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BooksAMillion

!ndigo

IndieBound

ratchetThis Journal Belongs to Ratchet

Summary:

It’s the first day of school for all the kids in the neighborhood. But not for me. I’m homeschooled. That means nothing new. No new book bag, no new clothes, and no new friends.

The best I’ve got is this notebook. I’m supposed to use it for my writing assignments, but my dad never checks. Here’s what I’m really going to use it for:

Ratchet’s Top Secret Plan

Turn my old, recycled, freakish, friendless life into something shiny and new.

This Florida State Book Award gold medal winner is a heartfelt story about an unconventional girl’s quest to make a friend, save a park, and find her own definition of normal.

Goodreads

Buy Links:

Amazon

Apple

Barnes & Noble

BooksAMillion

!ndigo

Indiebound

Don’t forget to enter a Rafflecopter giveaway for a chance to win one of 2 Copies of Just Like Me! Runs March 8th-April 30th (U.S. and Canada only)

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Posted in Fiction, Middle Grade, Realistic Fiction

Just Like Me examines adoption’s internal narrative

just like meJust Like Me, by Nancy J. Cavanaugh (April 2016, Sourcebooks Jabberwocky), $16.99, ISBN: 9781492604273

Recommended for ages 9-14

Julia is on her way to summer camp with her friends, Avery and Becca. It’s a little more than a regular week away at camp with friends, though – Avery, Becca, and Julia are “Chinese sisters” – the three girls were adopted from the same Chinese orphanage as babies, and their parents have stayed in touch. While Avery and Becca eat Cheetos with chopsticks and don’t mind talking about their Chinese heritage, Julia has conficting feelings. Becca thinks that Julia hates being Chinese, but that’s not it at all – while the world sees Julia as Chinese, she sees herself as Irish and Italian, like the parents who are raising her and who love her. But she also wonders about the birth mother who gave her up.

Told in alternating journal entries and narratives, this is Julia’s story. It’s told in the first person from her point of view and her journal articles provoke her to think more deeply as the novel progresses. Through Julia’s eyes, we see the other girls develop as she gets to know them.

Just Like Me is a great summer camp story about a bunch of girls who have to learn to get along: Julia, Avery, and Becca end up in a cabin with three other girls who bring some tension of their own, and the group has to learn to get along or do a lot of clean-up duty! But digging deeper, Just Like Me is a story that peels away the faces we show to everyone, only to discover that no matter how different people may think they are, they’re more alike than anyone can imagine. Every family has rough spots – it’s how we as individuals cope with them that makes us different. The story is ultimately about a group of girls who learn to embrace who they are, individually, and embrace one another for their similarities and celebrate their differences.

It’s also a touching story about figuring out who you are when you feel like you have a giant blind spot in the middle of your life. Nancy Cavanaugh wrote this story, inspired by her own daughter’s adoption story; as an adoptee myself, I found myself particularly drawn into Julia’s journal articles. Julia’s thoughts could have come from me, had I kept a journal at that age:

“Most of the time, I don’t even think about being adopted. …even though my mom doesn’t always want to admit it, people do sometimes treat me differently. Like the time in third grade when my mom dropped me off at a classmate’s birthday party, and when my classmate’s cousin saw my mom, she asked me if I knew who my ‘real’ mom was. And then there was another time when I heard a lady at the grocery store ask Mom if she had any children of her ‘own.'”

Wow. Like Julia, I’m Italian and Irish, just like my parents. “On the inside”, I’m French-Canadian. I look pretty similar to my parents, but those scenarios are real, and they hit hard. I’m 45 and still get asked if I know who my “real” mom is. It took a long time for me to be able to respond, “Yeah, I do; she’s at work, probably wondering why I haven’t called to let her know I’m home from school yet.” And it still irritates me if someone deigns to ask me that.

“Did my birth mom love me?”

It’s the question you probably won’t get an answer to. I think about it on my birthday now, not as often as I used to. But I’d like to think that she did in her own way, because she took care of herself well enough to make sure I was born healthy, and made sure I was adopted by a family that would love me and take care of me.

What I’m trying to say here is, Just Like Me is required reading, because Nancy Cavanaugh – already a constant on my library shelves, thanks to books like Always, Abigail and This Journal Belongs to Ratchet

Visit Nancy J. Cavanaugh’s author website and learn more about her books, download educator guides, and find out about author visits.