no. 1 car spotter

Let me introduce myself.  My name is Oluwalase Babatunde Benson.  But everybody calls me No. 1. The No. 1.

            I am the No. 1 car spotter in my village.  Car spotting is the only hobby in this village.  Grandmother, Mama and all the aunties think that no such hobby should be allowed.

I stumbled upon this wonderful and humorous, multicultural literature the other day in the library.  Thank you to my school librarian for displaying this book above the shelves!

This story takes place in a small village on the continent of Africa.  In the very beginning of the story, the reader meets No. 1, his eclectic family, and his friend Coca-Cola.  The problem is their only means to get to the market is an old wooden cart that breaks!  Can you figure out how they solve this problem?  It definitely has to do with his unique ability to spot any car, knowing the make and model, before it actually enters the village.  The entire book is connected in some way to this unique ability No. 1 has to spotting cars.  I adored the illustrations and the simple 4 short stories or chapters that bring the story together.

Please enjoy a brief reading of The No. 1 Car Spotter: Best in the Village Maybe in the World! from the author Atinuke.

Once you start reading, I hope you won’t stop…


Happy Reading!


zeusGeorge O’Connor’s Olympians: Zeus King of the Gods is an excellent companion to The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan.  I am actually thankful that I had planned to read these two books together because I learned so much about Greek Mythology.  I also think that Olympians: Zeus King of the Gods and the entire series could be used in classrooms studying Greek Mythology.

In the inside cover of the book, there is a very useful Olympians Family Tree.  I referenced this text feature quite a bit while I was reading.  Since it has been so long since I read the complex, interwoven stories of each god and goddess.  In the graphic novel, Zeus, opens with how the solar system came to be a part of earth.  I found the comic illustrations to offer a much different perspective than what I recall learning in the past.

At the end of the book, I enjoyed the thorough author’s note, greek notes, and teacher guide information.  I knew that the author was well-versed in his understanding and study of Greek Mythology because of the detailed bibliography and recommended reading list.

Happy Reading and Learning!

the lightning thief

percyWow! The Lightning Thief graphic novel adapted by Robert Venditti has been the most challenging graphic novel.  I really enjoyed how the art and color brings the original novel of The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan to life.  Following the main character, Percy Jackson, on his quest to save his mom and bring peace among the gods and goddesses is a complicated storyline.  It has been a very long time since I studied Greek Mythology, but this graphic novel weaves elements of each of the gods strengths, and a few weaknesses, together to create an action packed adventure.  Any student who loves high-fantasy should spend some time reading this graphic novel series.  There were so many exciting elements to explore.  For example, portals, magic, and good vs. evil.  All of these elements make the graphic novel dark and often times scary, but at no point could I put the book down!  Percy fumbles to fight mythological creatures and bargains with the gods from Mount Olympus to become a hero to the reader.

From School Library Journal:

Starred Review. Grade 5-9–An adventure-quest with a hip edge. At first glance, Perseus Jackson seems like a loser (readers meet him at a boarding school for troubled youth), but he’s really the son of Poseidon and a mortal woman. As he discovers his heritage, he also loses that mother and falls into mortal danger. The gods (still very active in the 21st-century world) are about to go to war over a lost thunderbolt, so Percy and sidekicks Grover (a young satyr) and Annabeth (daughter of Athena) set out to retrieve it. Many close calls and monster-attacks later, they enter Hades’s realm (via L.A.). A virtuoso description of the Underworld is matched by a later account of Olympus (hovering 600 floors above Manhattan). There’s lots of zippy review of Greek myth and legend, and characters like Medusa, Procrustes, Charon, and the Eumenides get updates. Some of the Labors of Heracles or Odysseus’s adventures are recycled, but nothing seems stale, and the breakneck pace keeps the action from being too predictable. Percy is an ADHD, wise-cracking, first-person narrator. Naturally, his real quest is for his own identity. Along the way, such topics as family, trust, war, the environment, dreams, and perceptions are raised. There is subtle social critique for sophisticated readers who can see it. Although the novel ends with a satisfying conclusion (and at least one surprise), it is clear that the story isn’t over. The 12-year-old has matured and is ready for another quest, and the villain is at large. Readers will be eager to follow the young protagonist’s next move.–Patricia D. Lothrop, St. George’s School, Newport, RI
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. –This text refers to an alternate Hardcoveredition.

This book trailer highlights some of the creativity and suspense it took to bring this excellent novel to life in graphic novel format.

As always, Happy Reading!

loud boy

Boom #1The Adventures of Daniel Boom AKA Loud Boy by D. J. Steinberg is bursting with a fun story line with energetic illustrations by Brian Smith.  I was hooked by the very opening page and can’t wait to use it  with my class as an example on how to grab the reader’s attenion!

Will Old Fogey silence Loud Boy Forever?  Have we heard the last from our high-decibel hero? Will Loud Boy be–EXCUSE ME? What’s that? You don’t KNOW who LOUD BOY is? Okay, cut! Hit the rewind button.  Let’s go back, WAY back to the beginning…”

I don’t know how you could read that opening page and not be curious about Daniel Boom and what appears to be his nemesis Old Fogey!

I think many students will connect with Daniel Boom’s lively personality.  If not, there are a few other characters with unique personality traits who will grab the reader’s attention.  Violet uses tantrums to get more than just her way.  Rex Rodriguez or “Destructo Kid” who can use making a mess to his advantage.  Sid Down is known for his fidgety personality and how it can help him distract others.  Together, these four kids will try to save kids everywhere from Old Fogey and his evil squad from silencing children around the world.

Enjoy this book teaser:

Happy Reading!  Be sure to check out the other books in the series:

Boom #2




extremeThe only book in my classroom library that every student in my class has checked out and read at least once is Extreme Babymouse by Jennifer & Matthew Holm.  It’s no question why this graphic novel is so popular!  Babymouse is back trying to convince her parents that she should join her friends on the snowboarding trip of a lifetime!  In typical Babymouse fashion, she exaggerates her dreams of becoming a world-renowned snow boarder.  Of course, once she arrives and sees her nemesis Felicia is staying in the “super swanky” hotel she is besides herself with annoyance as her family travels a bit further to the “super scary” cabin in the woods.

The biggest buzz around my classroom is special appearance of Lunch Lady, Houdini, R2-D2, and Abraham Lincoln.  I have to thank The Holm’s once again for inspiring reading in my classroom.  After reading Extreme Babymouse, many students were checking out books about Houdini and Abraham Lincoln!


cupcake_serviceUnfortunately, my class will not be officially with me in the fall for the release of Happy Birthday, Babymouse.  Not to worry, because they are already planning a reunion for the book release in September 2013.  I have to admit…I am looking forward to cupcakes and books, too!


Babymouse + snowboard = many faceplants on the way to wisdom and cupcakes.

In her 17th outing, Babymouse’s yearning to join the latest craze at school actually results in a trip to Snowy Mountain—not to the plush resort itself, but to the cobwebby cabin of a family friend: “Where’s the hot tub?” ”I think you’ll be lucky to have hot water, Babymouse.” “Typical.” It’s a long day on the training slope (“What did you learn on your first day of snowboarding, Babymouse?” “The true meaning of pain”). A timely recollection of her instructor’s cautionary “go at your own pace and always listen to your inner voice” keeps her out of deadly Half-Pipe Alley despite a sneering classmate’s dare, leaving her enjoying a snack at the resort as the aforementioned tormentor wipes out big time. Presented in the customary mix of thick-lined drawings with pink highlights, easy-to-read dialogue in balloons and occasional interjections from the outside, the tale positively shreds its way down the narrative slope for an awesome stick.

Extremely entertaining. (Graphic fiction. 7-12)

Happy Reading!

hands down

Two of the MOST popular characters in my fourth grade classroom are, HANDS DOWN, Babymouse and Lunch Lady.  At any given moment, so far this year, someone in my classroom can be seen reading or writing about one or both of these characters!  I would love to have the opportunity to thank Jennifer and Matthew Holm for creating the lovable Babymouse (and Squish, who also deserves some credit).  I would say the same thank you to Jarrett J. Krosoczka for creating Lunch Lady.  I would thank these talented authors and illustrators for their amazing ability to motivate some of the most reluctant readers.  In both series, the reader cannot help but fall into the world of Babymouse and Lunch Lady.

rockstarCurrently, my favorite Babymouse book is Babymouse Rockstar!  It is probably because I can relate to Babymouse’s dream to someday become a famous rockstar. It doesn’t matter if you are a boy or a girl, Babymouse knows just how to make the reader feel like their worries about life are not crazy and their dreams for the future are not impossible.  In Babymouse Rockstar, Babymouse tries her hardest to become a talented flautist, flute player, who has a dream to star in a music video and travel the world performing rock concerts.  I love how in Babymouse graphic novels, there reader knows when Babymouse is daydreaming because Ms. Holm uses shading to change the graphic novel text features.

Get to know Babymouse in this exclusive book trailer!

lunch_lady_cyborgThe first graphic novel in the Lunch Lady series is, Lunch Lady and the Cyborg Substitute.  This story revolves around a super hero Lunch Lady.  Who wouldn’t love to have a secret super hero serving their lunches?  My class and I agree, Lunch Lady’s super hero gadgets are so cool.  She has a spatu-copter, a spatula that turns into a hand-held helicopter.  We all want the Lunch Tray Laptop, too!  I love the simple summary on the back cover:

Serving Justice! And Serving Lunch!

I couldn’t have summarized this Lunch Lady graphic novel any better!

Don’t miss this Lunch Lady book trailer!

Do you have a favorite Babymouse or Lunch Lady graphic novel?  Stay tuned for my next blog post on Extreme Babymouse!  It’s no secret, Lunch Lady makes an unique appearance!

Happy Reading!

the meaning of life

Amelia Rules-Meaning of LifeI knew when I saw The Meaning of Life and Other Stuff at the book store, I would not be leaving with out it.  Little did I know, this book is number 7 in the Amelia Rules series by Jimmy Gownley.  I have actually read this book a few times because I have fallen in love with Amelia’s unique perspective on dealing with real life problems.  She is an example of how young girls can overcome difficulties with friendships, peer pressure, and fitting into (or in some cases out of) the crowd.  She is also a mentor to children who are dealing with divorce.

I found this video from Mr. Gownley so interesting!  I loved learning where he got his inspiration for comics and his passion for reading!  I also think it’s a great introduction to Amelia! Enjoy!

Another wonderful selling point, was on the cover of the book Jennifer Holm, author of the beloved Babymouse series and Newberry  Honor winning author, recommends this book.  I love her quote:

“Amelia Rules! rocks!”

In my opinion, any book Ms. Holm recommends is bound to be an engaging read!

I think if you check out this book trailer introducing Amelia you will see why she and her G.A.S.P. friends are so much fun to read.  Are you curious about what G.A.S.P. means?  You will have to read one of the books in the series to find out!

Also, check out this awesome video of Jimmy Gownley illustrating Amelia!

Happy Reading!


OutFromBonevilleI am certainly glad I read Bone: Out From Boneville by Jeff Smith!  I was not quite sure how I felt about Bone: Rose because it was much darker of a storyline than I had anticipated.  Bone: Out From Boneville still has some dark moments, but also weaves so much humor into the story.

My favorite character is Phoney Bone!  He spends a lot of time grumbling and being annoyed, but has the most hysterical quotes.  One quote that stood out to me is:

“Here’s your problem, Fone Bone! We’re off the map! Get a bigger map!”

In this moment, Phoney Bone doesn’t realize he can’t correctly read the map.  This is where Jeff Smith’s talent as both an author and illustrator of graphic novels is key.  The reader has to use the graphic novel frame to put the quote in context!  If you are looking for the quote, it is on page 4.

In short, this graphic novel weaves Fone Bone, Phoney Bone, and Smiley Bone’s adventures into one story.  The three Bone cousins are lost in a fairy tale style forest where they encounter unusual characters.  The mysterious dragon/dinosaur from Bone: Rose returns along with a few other creepy characters. Even though the three Bone cousins are separated from one another, I was still able to follow how the stories tied together and couldn’t stop reading until I found out if they would make it out of the forest and be reunited.

I look forward to reading the rest of the books in the series!  Especially because the books are so popular amongst the students in my class!  Fourth graders, if you are reading, tell me your favorite Bone book!

I hope you enjoy this video showing Jeff Smith illustrating his famous Bone character along with Bone’s colorist Steve Hamaker!  Give the illustration a try yourself!

bone: rose

bone roseWhen I think of graphic novels, or I picture the cover of a popular graphic novel, the first graphic novel series that pops into my mind is the Bone Series by Jeff Smith.  This must because of their popularity in my classroom!  So many students love and adore the series, and I have seen many reluctant readers become consumed by the series.  I knew I had to take a turn reading such a popular graphic novel series!

After doing a little research, I found that Bone: Rose is the first book in the series.  This book was not at all what I had expected, since the rest of the books in the series have a unique “Bone” character on the covers.  In short, Bone: Rose is the prequal to the Bone Saga.  While reading, I was very much reminded of a classic fairy tale premiss.  The main hero is Princess Rose, who must fight the threatening dragon from further attacks to her family and the Northern Valley.  Of course, it wouldn’t be a true fairy tale without an evil character, Princess Briar, the older sister to Princess Rose.

From a teacher’s perspective, I was impressed by the depth of vocabulary.  If there had not been such detailed pictures, I would have been more concerned with my students comprehension.  As a side note, I was disappointed in how appealing the cover illustration was in comparison to the actual cartoon inside.  However, I was enthralled with the dark story line and could not put the book down.  As I look back at my book, I have sticky notes poking out from many pages in the book.

This interview with Jeff Smith is awesome!  Take a minute to learn more about his illustrating and writing process.  I learned so much about how what inspired Mr. Smith to become such a successful author of graphic novels.  He offers great advice about becoming a reader and writer!

I couldn’t stop at Bone: Rose!  Stay tuned for my next post on Bone: Out of Boneville by Jeff Smith.

amulet series

amuletgnIn the first twenty pages, I was hooked on Amulet: The Stonekeeper Book One by Kazu Kibuishi!  This is the story Emily and Navin, written in graphic novel format, as they attempt to seek answers to the power of the amulet.  Emily has been preselected by her great-grandfather, Silas Charnon, to use the power of the amulet to save her family and to use the power to rule the Land of Alledia.  Emily and Navin are on a non-stop, action-packed journey battling a multitude of imaginative and dangerous characters.  At this time, I only have the first two books, but will be sure to grab the rest of the series to as soon as possible!

I love this book trailer because it highlights the best of Amulet, with narration from Kazu Kibuishi, as he takes you on a tour of his studio!

Check out the rest of the series!



I encourage readers to check-out Amulet: The Stonekeeper Book One
by Kazu Kibuishi from their school or local library.
Support your neighborhood and independent bookseller whenever possible.