Diary of a Wimpy Kid Do-It-Yourself Book by Jeff Kinney

Jeff Kinney is a godsend for reluctant readers.  His Diary of a Wimpy Kid series is my go-to for students who hate reading.  Everytime, within only a few pages of Greg Heffley’s “diary” they are laughing and telling their friends what a great book it is.  I can’t tell you how many of my students over the past two years list Kinney’s books as their favorites.  Jeff Kinney has truly written “gateway books”.  My kids start with the middle school adventures of Greg Heffley and then move into other novels, exploring new genres and authors, thanks to Diary of a Wimpy Kid!  

Now, Jeff Kinney is looking to do the same for reluctant writers. His latest venture is Diary of a Wimpy Kid Do-It-Yourself Book. Designed just like the other Diary of a Wimpy Kid books, this hardcover (orange!) book includes original art, writing prompts, and do-it-yourself comics.  Greg leads the writer/reader through a variety of silly and funny writing ideas.  Some of my favorites include rules for your family, the baddest thing you ever did as a little kid, and a few questions from Rowley (Greg’s best friend).  The entire book is written in Greg’s authentic middle schooler voice, and the book reads like a conversation.  I found myself laughing out loud more than once!  

This language arts teacher was even more excited to discover that the second half of the book contains entirely blank pages- to be filled in by the author!  And Greg reminds you to keep the completed book in a safe place, because it will be worth a ton of money when you get famous someday!  :)

I really enjoyed this book.  It is available in the October Scholastic catalog and a few of my students already mentioned they can’t wait to order it.  If Jeff can hook kids into reading as well as he hooks them into writing, I will love him even more!  

 

 

Miscellaneous Thoughts-  I love the orange color of the cover! I also love that Amulet printed this as a hardback instead of a paperback.  Kids are going to love the idea that their book truly is a Wimpy Kid book and not just a lame knockoff, because it is a real hardcover, too.  Small details like that are so important when you are trying to get kids to enjoy writing.

Houdini: The Amazing Caterpillar by Janet Pedersen

I am the crazy butterfly lady, no doubt about it. If a book so much as even mentions monarch butterflies I must have it for my classroom collection. Imagine my excitement when I received a review copy of Houdini the Amazing Caterpillar from Clarion Books this week!

Houdini is a monarch caterpillar who lives in a classroom. He is always the center of attention due to his amazing tricks, like eating milkweed leaves really fast and shedding his skin. The kids love him! But one day, they start paying attention to other animals in the classroom, like their pet turtle. Houdini is not thrilled with this new development (especially since he thinks the turtle is B-O-R-I-N-G). He tries to perform new, more amazing tricks but nothing holds their attention.

Until the big day.

The day that Houdini decides to pull out all the stops and shed his skin on last fabulous time. This time? He becomes a chrysalis! The students are in awe after viewing this last transformation and Houdini is one more the center of attention. He goes two weeks without moving, eating, or doing any other tricks! Finally, after 10-12 days he opens his eyes and emerges from the chrysalis. This amazing feat stuns the children, who are thrilled with their friend, Houdini! Now that he is a beautiful monarch butterfly, they hold a butterfly release and let him go.

This is a very cute book and one that rings very true for me. We just did our last monarch release a week ago and even my 6th graders are excited about the metamorphosis of the monarch butterfly. The book is very accurate and includes all the stages of the life cycle. The illustrations, watercolors done my Janet Pedersen, are gorgeous. The only small issue I have is that Houdini is more white/yellow striped than black/white/yellow striped. However, this is my only quibble with the book.

Janet Pedersen was inspired to write Houdini the Amazing Caterpillar after attending her son’s kindergarten butterfly release. How cool is that?! I hope that kindergarten teacher is as excited as I am! Pedersen also includes a page of monarch facts in the back, which makes me happy.
This is a great book for any classroom that raises monarchs. It is also great for teachers and parents who don’t have monarchs of their own but want to share these magical creatures with their children. I highly recommend it!

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