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Podcast Podcast

Episode 30 — Unusual Gifts


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Chatting About Books: Recommendations for Young Readers

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Grades K – 5
Podcast Series Chatting About Books: Recommendations for Young Readers
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Duration 12:55
Original Air Date Published December 17, 2010

Music in this podcast is provided by Freeplay Music.


Book Chat

Expert Chat


Book Chat

Savvy by Ingrid Law (Dial Books for Young Readers, 2008).

In the Beaumont family, turning 13 is pretty spectacular; it’s the day that a savvy (a supernatural power) appears. Mibs Beaumont is just days away from turning 13, and she can’t wait to find out what her savvy will be. She’s been praying for the ability to fly or to shoot lasers from her eyes. However, things don’t turn out exactly how she expects. The day before her birthday, she finds out that father has been in a terrible car accident that landed him in a hospital miles away from home. Determined to help her father, Mibs makes a quick decision to stow away on the Heartland Bible Supply Bus. Her brothers and the pastor’s kids (one of whom she has a small crush on) are also determined—determined not to let Mibs go on this journey alone. Together this group finds a way to make a mess of things and to trust one another during this unforgettable adventure. With a cast of memorable and fun characters, this magical tall tale is certain to keep kids captivated.

Scumble by Ingrid Law (Dial Books for Young Readers, 2010)

Scumble is the follow-up adventure to Law’s Newberry Honor book, Savvy. The story is set nine years later, and now another person in Mibs Beaumont’s extended magical family has just turned 13, Ledger Kale. And just like Mibs, Ledger’s savvy turns out to be a little less than he had hoped for. It seems that his savvy is destruction—things just seem to explode, combust, and come apart when he is around. In fact, his sister has been wearing a football helmet since his birthday. To make matters worse, he and his family are on their way to his Uncle Autry’s farm in Wyoming for a family wedding. Readers will delight in the cameos of characters at the wedding from Law’s first novel, Savvy, and be drawn into Ledger’s tale as he learns to scumble (control and manage) his savvy and save his Uncle Autry’s farm from going into foreclosure. Just like Mibs, Ledger will discover the good in his savvy and how to trust himself.

Swamp Angel by Anne Isaacs; Illustrated by Paul O. Zelinsky (Dutton Children’s Books, 1994)

Angelica Longrider isn’t just any ordinary girl. When she was born, she was “scarcely taller than her mother,” and by the time she was two she had built her first log cabin. So starts the fantastic tall tale of Swamp Angel. But the real tall tale begins with the hunt for Thunderin’ Tarnation—the biggest and most problematic black bear of the area. Amidst jeers and laughing (killing bears is men’s work), Angelica signs up for the competition to kill Thunderin’ Tarnation. Whoever can defeat Thunderin’ Tarnation will receive his magnificent pelt and the title of Champion Wildcat. When Swamp Angel and Thunderin’ Tarnation go head to head, it’s an earth-changing event. Their fighting stirs up so much dust that you can still see it in the Great Smoky Mountains. And when the two of them are wrestling in their sleep, it’s the Swamp Angel’s thundering snore that finally makes her the winner. Thunderin’ Tarnation is dead, and though his pelt is too small for Tennessee, Swamp Angel finds a perfect resting place for it. You might have seen it if you’ve visited the Short Grass Prairies in Montana.

Dust Devil by Anne Isaacs; Illustrated by Paul O. Zelinsky (Schwartz & Wade Books, 2010)

Swamp Angel is back! She’s settled in Montana and quickly making her new home suited to her needs. It seems there’s a lack of shade in Montana that wakes a person up too early, so Angel takes some peaks from the Rocky Mountains and places them in Montana for some shade. You can still see the buttes in Montana sitting in the prairies. In Montana, she also finds a horse powerful enough to handle her. His name is Dust Devil, and when he’s not carrying Angel around, you might see him stirring up dust in the prairies of Montana. It’s perfect timing that Angel has found a horse because Montana is being terrorized by Backward Bart and his Flying Desperadoes. They’re stealing gold from east to west, and Angel is determined to stop them. In this Swamp Angel follow-up, Anne Isaacs and Paul Zelinsky team up again to create a fantastic tall tale with fun storytelling and illustrations to match.

Where Are We? Learning to Read Maps
Tall Tales are full of real geography! In this Parent & Afterschool Resource, families can explore all of the places mentioned in Ingrid Law’s and Anne Isaacs’s books. On Google Maps, you can check out the Sawtooth Mountain Range in Montana—the place where Backward Bart’s Flying Desperadoes lost all of their teeth while eating Essie’s hard biscuits. Or trace Mibs’s journey to Salina, Kansas, to find her dad. This resource offers more ideas about using maps with your kids and several mapping websites to explore.

Expert Chat

In this expert chat, Emily visits with Ingrid Law, the award-winning author of Savvy and Scumble. Law discusses how she came up with the idea for Savvy, how she decided which characters would get which savvy, and, best of all, what she considers her savvy to be!