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A Topps League Story: Book Four: The 823rd Hit

Written by Kurtis Scaletta
Illustrated by Eric Wright

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Teddy “Bear” Larrabee, a slugger on the Pine City Porcupines, gets his 823rd base hit on his birthday, August 23—and it’s a home run! The Bear is a big believer in the power of numbers, so he asks Pines batboy Chad to retrieve the ball from the stands. There’s only one problem: the crabby fan in the ballpark who caught it. Chad really wants to keep the Bear happy and slugging, so he’s just got to figure out what the fan would be willing to trade for that 823rd ball.

The 823rd Hit is a book in a Topps League Story series. The book features the adventures, and misadventures, of the Pine City Porcupines and their two batboys: Chad, an avid baseball fan with a huge baseball card collection, and Dylan, who doesn’t know a thing about the sport. The fictional series has a unique twist: Chad solves problems by using information from Topps cards of real figures from modern baseball history.
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Waga’s Big Scare

Written and illustrated by Samuel Hiti

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This scary monster is not for the faint of heart!  Waga may be small, but he has the biggest scare. Right now, however, Waga is sad.  He has lost his scare and can’t remember where he left it.  Time is running out.  If he does not find his scare by morning, he will disappear forever.  So he starts looking: at the monster parade, in the creepy woods, in a dark, dank cave, even the graveyard.  Suddenly, he remembers, but the sun is almost up.  He jumps into a drain pipe, squeezes through the plumbing, and comes up the kitchen sink.  He goes through the dining room, down the hallway, into the bedroom and under the bed.  Because he left his scare – under your bed!
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Madam and Nun and 1001: What is a Palindrome?

Written by Brian Gable

Illustrated by Brian Gable

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This clever book not only demonstrates what a palindrome is, it does so with a rhyming text.A palindrome is “a word, phrase, sentence or number that is the same when read forward or backward.” The words are obvious and easy to spot, but the phrases can be quite tricky and always intriguing. For instance, “test set” does not seem to fit the pattern but, once it is broken down, the pattern becomes clear. The puzzle becomes an obsession and has readers looking for palindromes everywhere.
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Tim Tebow

Written by Jeff Archer

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Even people who don’t follow football have heard of Tim Tebow. For one thing, he’s famous for dropping to one knee on the football field and praying. It’s now called Tebowing. But who is the man behind the quarterback? This volume of the “Amazing Athletes” series attempts to answer that question.

Born in the Philippines and moved to the United States at the age of three, he returned to Asia with his family each summer to work at the orphanage they started. He is known for being home schooled. Despite that, he was allowed to participate in team sports at the local high school, where he was a fantastic player. He worked so hard that his college strength coach limited the amount of weight lifting he was allowed to do. He was the first college sophomore ever to win the Heisman Trophy. When he entered the National Football League (NFL), he was one of the first to point out that he had a lot to learn from the more experienced players. He tries to give back to the fans in many ways. His religious faith is very important to him.
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Bloodsucking Creatures

Written by Ron Knapp

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Load up a book with the ‘ouch’ facts, the ‘yech’facts, and the ‘oh yeah?’ facts. Do away with the blah. Add to that mix magnified photos of the bloodsucking creatures and you have an instant readership – second and third grade readers who delight in the icky and gross and awful.

The vampire bat on the cover looks like it is on its way to the next meal source – you. We learn that the only real vampires in the world are these tiny (three-inch long) vampire bats. Count Dracula with his red cape is a figment of our imagination.
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Butterfly, Flea, Beetle, and Bee: What is an Insect?

Written by Brian P. Cleary
Illustrated by Martin Goneau

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The author of the Words are CATegorical series has done it again.This time he brings us Butterfly, Flea, Beetle, and Bee: What is an Insect? which is part of the new series Animal Groups are CATegorical. The book introduces readers to the world of insects in a clever, rhyme filled, funny manner. The insect names are written in color which makes for easy identification. The colorful illustrations make this book a fun read for any 3nd grade student. The story is zany enough to keep kids engaged and informative enough to provide a learning experience at the same time. The illustration style along with the fun approach to what could otherwise be creepy, off-putting, and gross, makes insects seem interesting and makes a fan out of even the most squeamish third grader.
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It’s Snowing

Written and Illustrated by Gail Gibbons

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In It’s Snowing, Gail Gibbons delivers dozens of facts about snow with cheerful illustrations. Third grade students will read about the precipitation process of snow from evaporation to snowfall.

Though the book does not lend itself to be read aloud from cover to cover, portions of it would, and there are plenty of comprehension activities to use with this book. One of the most enlightening parts of this book is about each continent’s snowfall. The most interesting fact is that Antarctica has less snow fall than any other continent! In response to the initial read of It’s Snowing, students may write a list of ten facts that they learned or remember. Students may also respond to a number of journal prompts: What do you do when you have a snow day from school? Would you rather have more sunny days or snowy days? Why? What is your first memory of playing in the snow? If there is a snow day this school year, what do you want to do?
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Snakes

Written and illustrated by Nic Bishop

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Magnificent, crisply detailed photographs make possible the difficult feat of looking at snakes with unbiased eyes. Nic Bishop, the author and illustrator of the book, does not gloss over the many dangerous snakes that exist; it is just that the photographs show the reader the beauty and diversity of this misunderstood species of reptiles.

Only some snakes are dangerous, but all snakes share basic common features. The author presents this information in an interesting manner. If you were a snake, he tells us, you would be about four times longer than you are now, and only a few inches thick. The book draws in third grade readers with such imagery. “..if you were like many snakes, you would only have room for one large lung.” Wow! How do they breathe with just one lung?
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Body Actions

Written by Shelley Rotner and David A. White

Outstanding Science Trade Book 2013 from the National Science Teacher’s Association and the Children’s Book Council (click for more info)

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Your body is incredibly well-designed! Rotner’s and White’s book is an easy-to-understand book about the major organ groups of the body. With large, real pictures and clearly written text, this book is well-suited for a third grade class as a read-aloud, especially in a small group setting. Students will find the illustrations overlaying the photographs easy to understand; the ear bones illustration is especially helpful. The x-ray of teeth is also enlightening because students reading this book will be in full swing of tooth loss and replacement, so they will marvel at the sight of the adult teeth growing beneath the baby teeth. For students who are hungry for more information, there is a glossary and a section that further describes the body’s systems.
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Freaky Fast Frankie Joe

Written by Lutricia Clifton

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Frankie Joe lives in a trailer park in Texas and his friends are the retired people who live there.  But all that changes when he has to leave them behind because his mother is put in jail and he can’t live alone.  The father he has never known is taking temporary custody of Frankie Joe.  He will move in with a family he has never met and go to Illinois, a place he has never seen.  Frankie Joe hates it.  The school holds him back a grade to give him a chance to catch up, but he is bigger than everyone else.  His four half brothers make him feel like a freak.  He decides to escape.  He will earn money as a delivery boy and ride back home on his bicycle.  Slowly, he makes friends as he builds his business and he gains the respect of his new family.  Just as he attempts to put his escape into action, his mother throws the biggest kink of all into the plan.  She signs over permanent custody to his father and blithely leaves town with the boyfriend whose drugs landed her in jail in the first place.  The life he created in Illinois is now his safety net.
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