Texas Bluebonnet Award 2014-2015

Resources for the TBA Nominees


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The Expeditioners
by S.S. Taylor

Scroll down to find Related Activities & Resources, Book Talk Teasers, Read Alikes, and Book Reviews.

Readers Theater Script – The Expeditioners (PDF)


Official trailer:

The Expedition Log ~ Author’s website:

Design your own explorers vest ~ Author’s website:

Cartography Project

The Expeditioners Trivia Board Game

Classroom Cartography – Ask your students various questions:  where they were born, where they have lived, where have they gone on vacation, where they would like to go, etc…. Select the appropriate U. S., state, or city map based on student responses. A large road map that you can tack up on to your bulletin board is best. Using multicolored pushpins, assign one color to each question you ask. Then, have the students place the pushpin at the appropriate location on the map.  If you use a city map, you may want to ask them questions, such as, where is downtown? Where is the library? Where is our school? What are some other places you visit in the city? etc…

Cartography Sites:

National Geographic–Interactive game to teach kids how to use maps:

National Geographic World Atlas–Countries, Animals, Maps, Games and Other Fun Stuff:

Maps4Kids.com–Helping children gain a greater understanding of the world through maps, geographic information and games:

MapHistory.info–a resource with weblinks to sites about maping and early maps:

National Geographic World Atlas–Countries, Animals, Maps, Games and Other Fun Stuff:

Geography Worksheets:

Sheppard Software–Free Online Geography Games:

KidsGeo.com–Geography for Kids:

Teacher Led–Interactive Whiteboard Map Maker:

The Beautiful Art of Mapmaking–Cartography Unit Plan: http://www.teachers.yale.edu/curriculum/viewer/initiative_07.03.04_u#k

Map Making Activities for Kids:


Read the Prologue.


Plot-driven/adventure fantasy novels (Storyline Appeal):

Barrie, J. M. Peter Pan. The Darling children have adventures in Never-Never Land with Peter Pan, the boy who would not grow up. (NoveList)

Jacques, Brian. Castaways of the Flying Dutchman. In 1620, a boy and his dog are rescued from the doomed ship, Flying Dutchman, by an angel who guides them in travelling the world, eternally helping those in great need. (NoveList)

Lasky, Kathryn. The capture. The reader is introduced to Soren, a barn owl and the centerpiece of the series. When Soren is pushed from his family’s nest by his older brother, he is rescued from certain death on the forest floor by agents from a mysterious school for orphaned owls, St. Aggie’s. When Soren arrives at St. Aggie’s, he suspects there is more to the school than meets the eye. He and his new friend, the clever and scrappy Gylfie, find out that St. Aggie’s is actually a training camp where the school’s leader can groom young owls to help achieve her goal. (NoveList)

Rodda, Emily. Rowan of Rin. Because only he can read the magical map, young, weak, and timid Rowan joins six other villagers to climb a mountain and try to restore their water supply, as fears of a dragon and other horrors threaten to drive them back. (NoveList)

Yolen, Jane. Merlin. Merlin, now twelve-years-old, begins to come into his magic while being held captive by a band of wild folk. (NoveList)

Plot-driven/fast-paced novels (Pace Appeal):

Avi. The escape from home. Driven from their impoverished Irish village, fifteen-year-old Maura and her younger brother meet their landlord’s runaway son in Liverpool while all three wait for a ship to America. (NoveList)

Baccalario, Pierdomenico. The door to time. After moving from London to an old mansion on the English coast, eleven-year-old twins Jason and Julia discover that their new home has twisting tunnels, strange artifacts from around the world, and a mysterious, locked door. (NoveList)

Baccalario, Pierdomenico. The ring of fire. Four seemingly unrelated children are brought together in a Rome hotel where they discover that they are destined to become involved in a deep and ancient mystery involving a briefcase full of artifacts that expose them to great danger. (NoveList)

Carman, Patrick. The dark hills divide. When she finds the key to a secret passageway leading out of the walled city of Bridewell, twelve-year-old Alexa realizes her lifelong wish to explore the mysterious forests and mountains that lie beyond the wall. (NoveList)

Yolen, Jane. The wizard’s map. Three children visiting relatives in Scotland become involved in the plans of a diabolical wizard. (NoveList)

Fantasy novels with orphans (Subject Appeal):

Barry, Dave. Peter and the Starcatchers. Soon after Peter, an orphan, sets sail from England on the ship Never Land, he befriends and assists Molly, a young Starcatcher, whose mission is to guard a trunk of magical stardust from a greedy pirate and the native inhabitants of a remote island. (Novelist)

Haig, Matt. Samuel Blink and the forbidden forest. Accompanied by his aunt’s Norwegian elkhound, Ibsen, twelve-year-old Samuel ventures into a weird forest filled with strange and dangerous creatures to rescue his younger sister, Martha, who has been mute since their parents’ recent death. (NoveList)

Nielsen, Jennifer A. The false prince. In the country of Carthya, a devious nobleman engages four orphans in a brutal competition to be selected to impersonate the king’s long-missing son in an effort to avoid a civil war. (NoveList)

Selfors, Suzanne. Fortune’s magic farm. Rescued from a rainy, boggy town where she works in a dismal factory, ten-year-old orphan Isabelle learns that she is the last surviving member of a family that tends the world’s only remaining magic-producing farm. (NoveList)

Cartography fiction books (Subject Appeal):

Durango, Julia. Sea of the dead. When thirteen-year-old Kehl, fifth son of the Warrior Prince Amatec, is kidnapped by the Fallen King and forced to map the entire Carillon Empire, he also discovers a secret about his own past. (NoveList)

Reynolds, Cynthia Furlong. Oliver’s travels: an Indiana adventure. When he meets a long-lost cousin in Indiana, who holds another piece of the family treasure map, Oliver the mouse travels throughout the state, making new friends and having adventures along the way. Includes activities and facts about Indiana. (NoveList)

Tash, Sarvenaz. The mapmaker and the ghost. The summer before starting middle school, when eleven-year-old Goldenrod Moram sets out to make a very accurate map of the forest behind her home, she discovers a band of troublemakers, a mysterious old lady, and the ghost of her explorer idol. (NoveList)

Cartography non-fiction (Subject Appeal):

Anderson, Moira. Grid coordinates by land, air and sea. Introduces how to read and use a map using grid coordinates, and provides information on different kinds of maps. (NoveList)

Panchyk, Richard. Charting the world: geography and maps from cave paintings to GPS with 21 activities. Tells the history of maps and mapmaking with activities including, drawing a treasure map, creating a nautical map, and navigating a course using a compass. (NoveList)

Torpie, Kate. Map parts. An introduction to maps and their various parts discusses such topics as legends and symbols, compass roses, scales, boundaries, and latitude and longitude. (NoveList)

Waldron, Melanie. Let’s get mapping (series). Introduces maps and how they are used. (NoveList)


The Expeditioners and the Treasure of Drowned Man’s Canyon. By S. S. Taylor.  Illus. by Katherine Roy. 2012. 384p. McSweeneys/McMullens, $22 (9781938073069). Gr. 6–9. (Booklist Online, January 23, 2014).

Taylor sets her story in an alternate future of clockwork mechanisms, scant natural resources, an oppressive government, and new lands miraculously undiscovered—which makes explorers and cartographers national heroes. Among the most famous is Kit’s father, who went missing on his last mission and was mysteriously booted from the Expedition Society. Kit and his brother and sister—and talking parrot Amerigo Vespucci—struggle to get by. Then a strange man gives Kit a book with a secret code that leads them to half of a secret map their father made, and then to the hiding place of a fabled treasure more spellbinding than anyone could have imagined. Meanwhile, the Expedition Society is hot on their tails, hoping to use Kit’s superior cartography skills—and ability to decipher his father’s tricky puzzles and codes—to find the treasure first. The tension builds at a tantalizing pace as the kids uncover secrets and escape danger at every turn. Taylor’s expansive world building and clever, thrilling plot are wonderful enough on their own, but they’re equally matched by the rich, well-rounded characters, brought to life by Roy’s expressive black-and-white illustrations. — Sarah Hunter  

School Library Journal:
Taylor, S. S. The Expeditioners and the Treasure of Drowned Man’s Canyon.

Gr 4–7—With their father presumed dead, all of his maps and papers taken, and their food supply eliminated, Zander, Kit, and M. K. West have lost all trust in the government, particularly the repressive Bureau of Newly Discovered Lands (BNDL). Their father, a once-famous Explorer and mapmaker (planet Earth has more continents and land formations than previously thought), was suddenly labeled a traitor and the BNDL seems up to no good in its search of a mythical cache of gold. But now the siblings-the Expeditioners, so named by their father-discover that they are in possession of one map that the government missed. With agents on their tail and no money, the three youngsters and their steel-clawed talking parrot set off to follow the hidden trail of clues left by their father. With the help of a glider pilot, they reach the Grand Canyon and follow the map in an attempt to find Drowned Man’s Canyon and the elusive gold mine. A wonderful example of steampunk done well, this thoroughly satisfying adventure contains enough danger and suspense to keep even reluctant readers turning the pages.—Clare A. Dombrowski, Amesbury Public Library, MA


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