Blog Post

I wrote this on the Planet Esme blog about two books called:
-When I Grow Up: A Young Person’s Guide to Interesting and Unusual Occupations by Jessica Loy
-The Underwear Salesman and other Jobs for Better or Verse by J. Patrick Lewis
 Erika said…
Thank you for recommending these two books. I think they sound great to give to students to begin thinking about their future. These books could be great to give to those struggling students that believe there is no hope for them. They can give them a different perspective on education than a grade on a test.

8:29 AM

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Published in: on March 16, 2009 at 2:26 am  Leave a Comment  

Genre- Graphic Novels

Title: Comic Adventures of Bootsboots

Author: Satoshi Kitamura

Publisher: Farrar Straus Giroux

Date: 2002

Age Level: Elementary(3-4)

Summary: This book is about Boots the cat. It has short stories that tell the adventures of boots in comic strip format.

Strengths: I enjoyed reading about Boots. I thought that if kids were struggling to read this might be a great book to introduce to them because it is easy and fun to read. If a teacher was doing a unit on graphic novels this might be a great book to show them to start off with.

Concerns: This book really has no point. It might be too much for some students, there is a lot going on and it might be hard for some to keep up.

Classroom Use: I would recommend having this book in the classroom for students to read during free time. It is a good book to get students interested in graphic novels.

Published in: on March 15, 2009 at 3:16 pm  Leave a Comment  

Genre- Graphic Novels

Title: Kampung Boykampung-boy

Author: Lat

Publisher: Roaring Book Press

Date: 1979

Age Level: Upper(5-6)

Summary: “Realates the life experiences, from birth to beginning boarding school, of a boy growing up on a rubber plantation in rual Malaysia.

Strengths: I thought this was a great story about a mans life from birth to adult. I loved the illustrations. I especially liked that the text is hand written. I think this makes a stronger connection between the author and this book. I thought the author did a good job relating his Muslim culture to all different kinds of readers. I thought he made in a way that every reader would enjoy, not just Muslim students.

Concerns: The book has some hard language to understand and some difficult words. This might turn off students from the beginning. There are some parts of the book that may be inappropriate for students. I thought the circumcision part was humorous, but grade school students may not be mature enough to handle it.

Classroom Use: This just might be a great book to have in the classroom available to students, especially those students who love graphic novels.

Published in: on March 15, 2009 at 3:15 pm  Leave a Comment  

Genre- Graphic Novels

Title: Thoreau at Waldenthoreau

Author: John Porcellino

Publisher: Hyperion Books

Date: 2008

Age Level: Upper(5-6)

Summary: Porcellino write about Thoreau’s time at Waldern Pond. he uses Thoreau’s writings to tell the story in a comic stip format.

Strengths: The color scheme  works really well for the book. I thought the idea of this man leaving society to live in the nature was interesting, especially when he comes back and is put in jail for not paying taxes. I enjoyed this graphic novel is easy to follow along and read. There is not too much happening on each page that would distract the reader. After reading the book, I think it makes you want to go out and find out more about Thoreau.

Concerns: I think for some readers this book may be to advanced to understand. There is a lot of philosophy in this book that made it even harded for me to follow along.

Classroom Use: May be good to have in the classroom, especially for the advanced readers that enjoy graphic novels. This also may be a good book to recommend to a student for a project or paper on Thoreau.

Published in: on March 15, 2009 at 3:14 pm  Comments (1)  

Genre- Graphic Novels

Title: Middle School is Worse than Meatloafmeatloaf

Author: Jennifer L. Holm

Publisher: Simon and Schuster

Date: 2007

Age Level: Upper (5-6)

Summary: This book tells the story of Ginny beginning her first year of Middle School. Everything that could possibly go wrong, goes wrong for Ginny. This story isn’t told in the ordinary text, it is told with all her stuff (receipts, notes, IM screen messages).

Strengths: This book shows a unique way of telling a story. I think it is something that all middle schoolers can relate to. It is also tells some deeper issues that some students may be going through and can find comfort in this book.

Concerns: I thought that some areas of the book were inappropriate for students. There was some reference to alcohol.

Classroom Use: This book would be nice to have in the classroom. If a teacher wanted to do an activity with this book, I think it would be cool if the teacher read the story to the students or show them (it may be difficult to read). After that, the teacher could assign the students to write a short story using there stuff instead of text.

Published in: on March 15, 2009 at 3:13 pm  Leave a Comment  

Genre- Graphic Novels

Title: You Can’t Take a Balloon Into The Metropolitan Museummetropolitan-museum

Author: Jacqueline Preiss Weitzman and Robin Preiss Glasser

Publisher: Dial Books for young readers

Date: 1998

Age Level: Primary(K-2) or Elementary (3-4)

Summary: “In this wordless story a young girl and her grandmother view works inside The Metropolitan Museum of Art, while the balloon she has been forced to leave outside floats around New York City causing a series of mishops that mirror scences in the museum’s artwork.

Strengths: I thought this book was so amusing. I loved all the illustrations and how the things going on outside the museum correlated with the items in the museum. I especially liked how they highlited those things by making them the only things in color. I thought it was interesting too how the guy who works at the museum takes it open himself to keep the balloon safe for the little girl when she comes out.

Concerns: Some younger students not familar with graphic novels may not know how to read them, in this case follow the pictures. The concept of things going on outside the museum correlating with items in the museum may not be understaood by younger students.

Classroom Use: This is a great book to have in the classroom for students to view during free time. I think this book could also be incorporated in a social studies lesson about museums.

Published in: on March 11, 2009 at 6:05 pm  Leave a Comment  

Genre- Informational/Bios

Title: The Magic School Bus at the Waterworksmagic-school-bus

Author: Joanna Cole

Publisher: Scholastic Inc.

Date: 1986

Age Level: Primary(K-2)

Summary: “When Ms. Frizzle, the strangest teacher in school, takes her class on a field trip to the waterworks, everyone ends up experiencing the water prification system from the inside.”

Strengths: This book gives great information to students about the water cycle in a fun way. The pictures are great and the personality of the characters makes the story fun. I like how at the beginning of the story it captures the readers attention about Ms. Frizzle being strange. It makes you want to keep reading to see what this teacher has up her sleeve. I also like at the end of the book it gives a review of the steps of the water cycle and how water gets to our homes. At the end of the book it explains the things that are not real in the book for the “Serious Students” to read.

Concerns: The only thing I feel might be a problem about this book is it may be too difficult for students to read on their own. There is too much going on on the pages of this book. I think it might be too much for them to keep track of.

Classroom Use: The book would be a great book to start a lesson on the water cycle or to review the water cycle. Students seem to be really interested in the magic school bus.

Published in: on March 11, 2009 at 5:54 pm  Leave a Comment  

Genre- Informational/Bios

Title:  Sunken Treasuresunken-treasure

Author: Gail Gibbons

Publisher: Thomas Y. Crowell

Date: 1988

Age Level: Elementary (3-4) or Upper (5-6)

Summary: “Describes the many years long search for the treasure that went down with the Atocha, a Spanish galleon sunk off Florida in a hurrican in 1622.”

Strengths: Gibbons does a great job of telling the story of how treasure is found in a fun easy way for students. There is so much information in this book and after reading it I didn’t feel overwhelmed from all the information because it was really easy to undertand. I liked that the book was broken down into sections: The Sinking, The Search, The Find, etc.

Concerns: My only dislike was that the text is all over the place. I think it might make it difficult for readers to know where to go next. I think I would have liked it if the text was in a certain location making it easier to read.

Classroom Use: This book would be great to use during a social studies unit on ship wrecks. I think it is just interesting to look at even at my age. The teacher could come up with a “shipwreck” of her own in the classroom. she could provide students with a map and some information to find the treasure and the steps they take after they find the treasure according to this book. It would be neat if the teacher could make it like a virtual field trip on the computer.

Published in: on March 11, 2009 at 5:54 pm  Leave a Comment  

Genre- Informational/Bios

Title: We Rode the Orphan Trainsorphan-trains

Author: Andrea Warren

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Company

Date: 2001

Age Level: Upper (5-6) or even beyond into high school grades

Summary: Andrea Warren tells the stories of people who rode on the Orphan Trains that took orphans by trains to different states in the nation to find them families between 1854 and 1929.

Strengths: I was really interested in this book. It tells personal accounts of train riders that are very informative and emotional. I love the old pictures displayed every couple pages. I think it is a great source for students interested in this topic and Warren has many more informational books.

Concerns: I think that some parts of this book are for older grades beyond elementary school. In one part Warren talks about some of the kids being emotional, verbally, and sexually abused. This might be too hard for younger students to understand and they may be too young for teachers to discuss with them. Some of the stories are happy, but many of them are sad. For example, the two brothers that set out to find their mother. They found her and she didn’t seem interested in them. Some students may think this is really depressing, too depressing for them to read and maybe even scary.

Classroom Use: This would be great to use in the classroom during a social studies unit. The teacher could choose a couple chapters to read to the students, so they could get a picture of how it was from people who were actually on the trains. It would also be good to use for students that had a paper and project to do this on Orphan Trains.

Published in: on March 11, 2009 at 5:53 pm  Leave a Comment  

Genre- Informational/Bio

Title: Owen & Mzee: The True Story of a Remarkable Friendshipowen-and-mzee

Author: Isabella Hatoff, Craig Hatoff, and Dr. Paula Kahumbu

Publisher: Scholastic Press

Date: 2006

Age Level: All Age Levels

Summary: A stranded Hippo is saved by people and taken to Haller Park to live. The hippo, Owen, lost his mother so he has to stay in the park or he won’t be able to survive. When Owen first gets there he befriends Mzee, an Aldabra tortoise. They develope a strong bond with each other and become very close friends.

Strengths: The pictures in this book are absolutely amazing. I love them all. I love the story itself. It is so interesting and it just makes you want to know more about these two very special animals.  I want to go visit these animals. I love that the book was inspired by a six year old. I think it would really reach out to many students.

Concerns: I personally didn’t like the style of writing in the book. I know the book was inspired by a six year old. The writing sounded like it was written by a six year old and that bothered me. I just didn’t think some parts flowed well.

Classroom Use: I think this is a great book to have in the classroom and even read to students. I think it would be very beneficial to point out the fact that this book was inspired by a six year old. I think that if students know that it will make them want to write stories and know that there stories matter.

Published in: on March 11, 2009 at 5:53 pm  Leave a Comment  

Genre- Informational/Bios

trees-of-kenyaTitle: Planting the Trees of Kenya

Author: Claire A. Nivola

Publisher: Frances Foster Books

Date: 2008

Age Level: Primary (K-2), Elementary (3-4), or Upper (5-6)

Summary: Wangari Maathai returns to Kenya after being away for 5 yrs. at college and finds that the landscape is completely different. The people of Kenya are suffering because there is no water, trees, or food. Wangari Maathai teaches the people to plant trees and gardens to help themselves instead of waiting on the government.

Strengths: I really enjoyed the illustrations in this book. They are very eye catching and go along with the text very well. This book really shows people how one person can make a difference. I enjoyed the story and I really liked Maathai stepped up and made the people help themselves instead of waiting for the government. I love the courage this one women had to even go to inmates and prisons to talk about what needs to be done, especially being a woman.

Concerns: The only thing I didn’t completely understand was how the fig tree was so sacred and than after five years the people of Kenya are cutting this sacred tree down. If they would have left their fig trees alone then they might not have been in the situation they were in or atleast not as bad.

Classroom Use: This would be great to be used in a history class. It is a great book to read to students especially maybe around Earth Day. It is great to show students that they can make a difference. I think it would be great to also turn students on to Wangari Maathi for independent research papers or projects.

Published in: on March 11, 2009 at 5:52 pm  Leave a Comment  

Genre- Fantasy

Title: Chester’s Waychesters-way1

Author: Kevin Henkes

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Date: 1988

Age Level: Primary(K-2)

Summary: “Chester and Wilson share the same exact way of doing things, until Lilly moves into the neighborhood and shows them that new ways can be just as good.”

Strengths: I thought this was a really cute book. I liked the topic of this book because so often we hear young children talk about how they only can have on best friend. This book shows students they can have more than one friend. I love Lilly’s personality and the fun she brings to Chester and Wilson. I thought the illustrations were great and there was a great use of white space.

Concerns: I worry that this book doesn’t show students that it is okay to be individuals. I think that is very important to show students to be who they are and not be followers.

Classroom Use: This would be a great book to read to a class that is having clique problems or when a new student comes to the class. The book is also just a great read to have in the classroom available to students.

Published in: on March 11, 2009 at 3:28 am  Comments (1)  

Genre- Fantasy

Title: Bunniculabunnicula

Author: Deborah and James Howe

Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers

Date: 1979

Age Level: Elementary (3-4)or Upper (5-6)

Summary: The Monroe family pets have a mystery on there hands. The dog and cat believe that the new bunny added to the family is actually a vampire bunny.

Strengths: This book is so fun. It has a mystery aspect to it that might turn on students to reading this book plus other mystery books. I love the relationship between the dog and cat and how concerned the cat is about the bunny. I thought the book was cute and told in a way that makes you want to continue reading. I love the ending!!

Concerns: I thought this book was great, therefore I have no concerns!

Classroom Use: This is a great book to have in the class to recommend to students. It is an awesome book and hooks the reader from the beginning. There are also more in the series so readers can continue if they like this one.

Published in: on March 10, 2009 at 4:54 pm  Leave a Comment  

Genre- Fantasy

Title: One Potatoe, Two Potatoeone-potatoe

Author: Cynthia DeFelice

Publisher: Farrar, Stratus and Giroux

Date: 2006

Age Level: Primary (K-2) or Elementary (3-4)

Summary: “A very poor, humble couple live so simple a life they share everything, until the husband discovers a pot with magical powers buried under the very last potatoe in the garden.”

Strengths: This book tells a great story about an elderly couple that don’t become greedy even when they find a pot. I like that this book could be used in a math lesson or just a fun book to read to students in class.  I think the story line is something students would pay attention to and be intrigued by. This book would also make students use their imagination and think about, what if they had a magic doubling pot. 

Concerns: I didn’t like the ending so much. I like the idea that they are very happy with just having friends, but it is a little weird to me. I think they should have put their house in the pot and got two houses out that way their friends could live next door to them in a house.

Classroom Use: This book could be used in the classroom as a math lesson about doubling. The teacher could read this book to the students and then give them a worksheet with a pot on it. The assignment could be to have the students draw something they wanted to put in the pot and have them draw what would come out of the pot. They would also have to make a math problem that would describe what happened in the pot.

Published in: on March 10, 2009 at 4:51 pm  Comments (1)  

Genre- Science Fiction

Title: Commander Toad and the Voyage Homecommander-toad

Author: Jane Yolen

Publisher: G.P. Putman’s Sons

Date: 1998

Age Level: Elementary (3-4)

Summary: Commander Toad sets off in “Space Warts,” his space machine, to explore but runs into troubles on his voyage home.

Strengths: I enjoyed the fun writing of Yolen. Her writing is fairly simple to read, so it would be good for beginning readers. I thought the writing was very descriptive and really emphasized the expressions and emotions of the characters in the book. It was just an overall fun book to read. There is a series of Commander Toad books so if students enjoy this book they can have more just like it to choose from.

Concerns: I thought the book was so simple that it kind of made the book just silly. I don’t know how I would feel as a teacher if one of my students got hooked on this book and wanted to continue reading more books in the series. I think they are good for beginners.

Classroom Use: This book would be great to influence struggling readers to read. The book is simple enough to read so it could boost their confidence. It is also fun and students that like sci-fiction stories would get really caught up in the book.

Published in: on March 10, 2009 at 4:51 pm  Leave a Comment  

Genre- Science Fiction

Title: The Giverthe-giver

Author: Lois Lowry

Publisher: Laurel Leaf Books

Date: 1993

Age Level: Upper(5-6)

Summary: A society grows raising everyone to be the exact same through strict rules and regulations.

Strengths: The book is something that the average student is not use to, so I think once you start reading you want to continue reading to see what is going to happen next. I believe that once you finish reading this book you really appreciate you individuality and being yourself, but mainly being able to freely be who you are.

Concerns: There are In some part the book is hard to understand because these societies are so different than the one we live in. The book could bring up difficult questions that may be hard to answer.

Classroom Use: This book could be offered in the classroom as a book for students to choose. It also could be a book to use in a book discussion. I think this book would bring up a lot of questions and thoughts from students, so it would be a great opportunity to really pick apart a book.

Published in: on March 10, 2009 at 4:50 pm  Leave a Comment  

Genre- Historical Fiction

Title: A School for Pompey Walkerpompey-walker

Author: Michael J. Rosen

Publisher: Harcourt Brace & Company

Date: 1995

Age Level: Elementary (3-4) or Upper (5-6)

Summary: “At the dedication of a school named after him, an old former slave tells the story of his life and how, with the help of a white friends, he managed to save money to build a school for black children in Ohio by being repeatedly sold into and escaping from slavery.”

Strengths: I thought the book was very descriptive about a life of a slave. I like that it was from his own account, I think it makes you feel more for the character. I love the illustrations. I like that this book is positive. I think in so many books about slavery they are always very negative. This book shows how a bond between a white man and a slave help to build a school for black students.

Concerns: I think the way in which the story is told with Pompey Walker telling the story but also talking to the students (shown in italics) is confusing. I think some kids may be turned off because they are confused. This book is descriptive so some of the hard times may be hard for students to comprehend, when Pompey Walker gets beaten.

Classroom Use: This book would be great if assigning students projects or a paper. The teacher could give this book to a student and have them read the book, but also do more background research. This would be great to have when doing a unit on Slavery. Again, its nice to point out that this book has a positive mood, so it might be neat to have students research other slaves that had contributions or other stories out there.

Published in: on March 10, 2009 at 4:49 pm  Leave a Comment  

Genre- Historical Fiction

song-of-treesTitle: Song of the Trees

Author: Mildred D. Taylor

Publisher: Dial Books for Young Readers

Date: 1975

Age Level: Elementary(3-4)

Summary: A young girl’s father is away for work during the depression, when a man offers her grandmother pratically no money to cut down the trees on their property. The young girl, Cassie, is very fond of the trees and hears them sing while others claim it’s just the wind. Her father returns just in time to keep the man from cutting down all the trees.

Strengths: I loved that the book was an easy read and would be great for all types of readers. I thought it was a great representation of what times were like during the depression and especially for African Americans. I thought it was great that the book showed some racial inequalities, but in a way that wasn’t so harsh for readers.  The illustrations are simple, but enough to give a visual of what is going on in the story.

Concerns: I had a hard times with keeping up with the names. I thought it was especially difficult with Big Ma and Mama. I kept getting confused if they were talking about mother of grandmother. I also had a hard time with Stacey being a boy, Cassie’s brother. I didn’t like how the book ended. It was still kind of sad even though they got Mr. Anderson to leave. I wish there would have been some kind of happy note to end on.

Classroom Use: I think this book is short enough that you could either read it to the students or have them read it and have a class discussion about it. It is a great representation of the hard times during the depression and how still African Americans were not seen as being equal to whites.

Published in: on March 10, 2009 at 4:34 pm  Leave a Comment  

Blog Post

I posted the below statement on the blog Poetry for Children in response to a post about Kenn Nesbitt and his new book My Hippo Has the Hiccups.

Erika said…
Thank you for this recommendation. I love that authors of poetry are coming out with fun books geared towards the younger students. I think it is really important to get kids interested in poetry. The CD would be great to play and have students act out the poem.

Published in: on March 10, 2009 at 4:19 pm  Leave a Comment  

Genre- Historical Fiction

train-to-somewhereTitle: Train to Somewhere

Author: Eve Bunting

Publisher: Clarion Books

Age Level: Elementary (3-4) or Upper (5-6)

Date: 1996

Summary: “In the late 1800s, Marianne travels westward on the Orphan Train in hopes of being placed with a caring family.”

Strengths: The text in the book is really moving. As you read the book, you feel like you are a fly on the wall watching as everything is going on. You also put yourself in the childrens shoes and feel their emotion. I like the page spreads, all text on one side and the illustration on the other. The full page illustrations really go along with the text and help explain what is going on. I think this is helpful for students not that do not quite understand the Orphan Trains.

Concerns: As I was reading the book, some parts are really sad. The story itself is about something really scary to students, being alone without parents. I think this is something students should be aware of though and the book is a great way of showing them how the time period was for orphans. However, the book did give a sense of hope that Marianne would either find her mother or be adopted.

Classroom Use: This would be a great book to read to students. I personally had no idea about these Orphan Trains. The class could do a unit about these Orphan Trains and discuss why their were so many orphans and what they think about the orphan trains, good or bad.

Published in: on March 10, 2009 at 4:05 pm  Comments (1)  

Genre- Historical Fiction

Title: Seesaw Girlseesaw-girl

Author: Linda Sue Park

Publisher: Clarion Books

Date: 1999

Age Level: Elementary(3-4) or Upper(5-6)

Summary: Impatient with the constraints put on her as an aristocrat girl living in Korea during the seventennth century, twelve year old Jade Blossom determines to see beyond her small world.

Strengths: I thought the author was very good at describing the life women had during seventeenth century Korea. I thought it was a great example of how other cultures view social class.  I thought it gave a great visual of what life was like and how younger girls didn’t quite understand why it was that way. I like the ending of the book, although it was not what I expected I thought it was creative. Jade found a way to see something she wanted to while still following the rules.

Concerns: The book is geared toward female readers, which would be hard to use as a book the whole class reads. I also didnt like how Jade dealt with all the stereotypes of how womens lives were in this time. While reading, I was expecting Jade to stand up for her freedom.

Classroom Use: This is a great book to introduce students to different cultures. The setting of this book is in Korea where many women don’t have the freedoms that they have here in the U.S. This book could be used in a unit about Asian culture. This book would also be good to have in the classroom for girls to read.

Published in: on March 10, 2009 at 4:04 pm  Comments (1)  

Blog Post

I posted the below statement on Miss Rumphius Effect Blog in a response to a blog about dogs in literature.

eluera86 said…
I think it is interesting that all ages are in love with dog books. In my college course we were talking about different titles of children’s books with dogs and the list could go on forever. I have always been a dog lover!

3/04/2009 8:58 PM

Published in: on March 5, 2009 at 2:01 am  Leave a Comment  

Genre- Poetry

joyful-noiseTitle: Joyful Noise

Author: Paul Fleischman

Publisher: Harper & Row

Date: 1988

Age Level: Elementary (3-4) or Upper (5-6)

Summary: “A collection of poems describing the characteristics and activities of a variety of insects.”

Strengths: I absolutely loved these poems. They were so fun. I read them alone and then had to find a friend to read them along with me. It made them so much better. I think these are the kinds of poems that students would enjoy reading. They are easy to read and understand. You can add as much expression to them as you would like and you can just have fun!

Concerns: I honestly have no concerns about these poems. They are awesome!!

Classroom Use: The teacher could use these in a Poetry Unit. Before the teacher started a topic, she/he could have a pair of students read the poems in front of the class. It would be neat to have students memorize the poems and perform some kind of skit with the poems along with props. The teacher could also have students make their own poems like Fleischman’s.

Published in: on March 5, 2009 at 1:30 am  Comments (1)  

Genre- Poetry

Title: This Land is Your Landthis-land-is-your-land

Author: Woody Guthrie

Publisher: Little, Brown and Company

Date: 1998

Age Level: Primary (K-2)

Summary: This well-known folk song is accompained by a trivute from folksinger Pete Seeger, the musical notation, and a biographical scrapbook with photographs.

Strengths: I love the detail in the illustrations. I like how the illustrator included all different kinds of places from around the world. I think it is neat that all the places are labeled also. The song is well known and many young kids love to learn new songs. Songs are something they can take home and show off to family and friends.  In the back of the book there is a tribute to Guthrie, which is also very neat.

Concerns: I think the pages are so detailed in there illustrations that you would have to look at the page for a few minutes to grasp everything, but the text is so short and simple. If you are singing the song, it sounds weird if you slow down to show off the pictures.

Classroom Use: This book would be good for any younger students talking about patriotism and the U.S.A. This would be a good book for a music teacher to read while trying to help students learn this song. I also think it would be a great book to have in the classroom for students to look at during any free time.

Published in: on March 5, 2009 at 1:29 am  Leave a Comment  

Genre- Poetry

Title: Jabberwockyjabberwocky

Author: Christopher Myers

Publisher: Hyperion Books

Date: 2007

Age Level: Elementary(3-4) or Upper(5-6)

Summary: A classic poem from Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking Glassed reimagined by Christopher Myers. A boy takes on the Jabberwocky in basketball.

Strengths: I liked that the book could be geared towards boys. It is hard to find poetry that can interest boys. I like that the text was large, small, and colorful. I thought it added exaggeration and emphasis to those words. I wanted to say them in a more intensified and different voice than the rest of the words. i like the use of illustrations. I think the illustrator did a great job using simple illustrations have meaning by making things different sizes to add emphasis. In the back of the book it does give an explanation of the nonsense words.

Concerns: I did not like the use of made up words. It made it hard for me to understand the poem. I had to read through a second time to iunderstand what was going on in the poem.

Classroom Use: This book could be used to get boys attention on poetry. I think it is hard to engage boys in poetry because so much of poetry is geared towards girls. This book can engage boys with sports, specifically basketball.

Published in: on March 5, 2009 at 1:29 am  Leave a Comment  

Genre- Poetry

a-maze-meTitle: A Maze Me

Author: Naomi Shihab Nye

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Age Level: Upper (5-6)

Date: 2005

Summary: A book of poetry for girls.

Strengths: The author writes a detailed note in the front of the book about the poems written in the book. She tells readers they should jot notes down in a journal everyday even if it is only three sentences and they do not mean anything. The poems were fun and great for girls.

Concerns: The book is specifically geared towards girls. This is a serious problem because a lot of times it is hard to find books and especially poetry that will interest young boys.

Classroom Use: This book could be used in a lesson about poetry. It can be a book in a group of examples of poetry. It would be a great book to recommeng to girls that are really interested in poetry. This could be a book teachers use to motivate those girls to continue reading poetry and maybe even writing poetry.

Published in: on March 5, 2009 at 1:28 am  Leave a Comment  

Genre- Poetry

Title: Hey You! C’merehey-you-cmere

Author: Elizabeth Swados

Publisher: Scholastic Press

Age Level: Elementary (3-4) or Upper (5-6)

Date: 2002

Summary: A poetry slam book. This book has many poems that are fun and silly and displayed in different ways.

Strengths: The book is directed toward a children audience. I think students could have a lot of fun with these different poems. The pictures are also fun and go with the poems. The way the text is written shows a lot of expression and enthusiasm in the poems.

Concerns: My only concern is some of the poems have no meaning. They are really pointless and that could be a problem for students trying to understand poetry.

Classroom Use: I think this is a good book to provide an example to students that poetry can be different and fun.  The teacher could assign students to write their own poems. She could give them a stack of poetry books to look at for help and this book would be a great one to include.

Published in: on March 5, 2009 at 1:28 am  Leave a Comment  

Genre- Realistic Fiction

Title: Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridgewilfrid

Author: Mem Fox

Publisher: Kane/Miller Publishers

Date: 1984

Age Level: Primary (K-2)

Summary: “A small boy tries to discover the meaning of “memory” so he can restore that of an elderly friend.”

Strengths: I enjoyed the use of white space in the illustrations. The use of white space really makes the reader focus on the text and the accompanying illustrations. I think it gives you a better connection to the close relationship Wilfird and Miss Nancy have. I also thought the idea of the story being centered around a young boy making friends with the elderly in a home is unique. I liked this aspect of the book and I think it could be good for the younger grades to see how they could help their community even at a young age. I enjoy Wilfrid’s curiosity and determination to figure out what “memory” is and retrieve Miss Nancy’s memory.

Concerns: I thought it was strange how all the things Wilfrid chooses to bring back Miss Nancy’s memory back actually do. Every single one makes some connection to Miss Nancy. I didn’t like how the book didn’t explain the capacity of memory. Miss Nancy retrieves a few memories, but she has still lost a lot and I don’t think that is clear to readers, expecially if they are not sure what “memory” is.

Classroom Use: I think this is a great book for the younger grades. I feel that a lot of students have grandparents they might relate this book with. They are also at an age when they are discovering new words and their meanings everyday. I think this would be a good story book just to read for fun to the students.

Published in: on March 3, 2009 at 2:45 am  Leave a Comment  

Genre- Realistic Fiction

Title: 7×9= Trouble7x9trouble

Author: Claudia Mills

Publisher: A Sunburst Book

Date: 2002

Age Level: Elementary (3-4)

Summary: “3rd grader Wilson struggles with x’s tables in order to beat the class deadline”

Strengths: I love that this book is directed to an audience of many that have this same problem. I thought the book was about a school subject that haunts many students.  It was a story told in a fun exciting way that will capture many students attention.

Concerns: The only concern I had was all the different plots going on in the book at once. There is Wilson and his x’s tables, Wilson and his relationship with his brother, and the missing class hamster. I think this takes a bit away from Wilson’s success from completing his x’s tables.

Classroom Use: This would be a great book to offer to those struggling in math or any other subject for that matter. Wilson shows true determination to finish his x’s tables before the deadlines. He has a lot of obstacles along the way, but he gets through it.

Published in: on March 3, 2009 at 2:44 am  Leave a Comment  

Genre- Realistic Fiction

Title: Because of Winn Dixiebecause-of-winn-dixie

Author: Kate DiCamillo

Publisher: Candlewick Press

Date: 2000

Age Level: Elementary (3-4) or Upper (5-6)

Summary: “Ten-year-old India Opal Buloni describes her first summer in the town of Naomi, Flordia and all the good things that happen to her because of her big ugly dog Winn-Dixie.

Strengths: I really enjoyed reading this book, so much that I read it in one sitting. I love the relationship between Winn-Dixie and the people of this small town. I like that Winn-Dixie creates relationships between Opal and people of the town. At certain parts, I found myself laughing because of the personality DiCamillo gave Winn-Dixie. Winn-Dixie brings people together from the town that usually wouldn’t get together. This book overall is a great read!

Concerns: The only thing I didn’t like about the book was the fact that it didn’t explain a lot about Opal’s mother. I would have liked some more information about her. Also, I wish there would have been some kind of confrontation with Amanda about her brother Carson. I thought it was just kind of mentioned then dropped.

Classroom Use: This would be a great book for a book discussion. It would be great in small groups or in large groups with the whole class. I would assign chapters and then do activities pertaining to the chapters read just to be sure everyone is keeping up. The language is easy enough for students to read alone. They could read the book and then do some kind of project, presentation, or skit.

Published in: on March 3, 2009 at 2:43 am  Leave a Comment  

Genre- Realistic Fiction

Title: Amazing Graceamazing-grace

Author: Mary Hoffman

Publisher: Dial Books for Young Readers

Date: 1991

Age Level: Primary (K-2) or Elementary (3-4)

Summary: “Although classmates say that she cannot play Peter Pan in the school play because she is black and a girl, Grace discovers that she can do anything she sets her mind to”

Strengths: I think this book is great for children. Children love to imagine and role play they are someone else and Grace does this in the story having so much fun. I love the basis behind the book, that you can do anything you set your mind to no matter the color of your skin. I think this is great for the classroom, because there probably will be a problem like the one in the book. I like when Grace performed all the other students voted for Grace and showed acceptance of her in an unlikely role.

Concerns: I think it might be a hard book to introduce to young kids. Younger kids are so interested as it is and after they heard this story they might ask more questions about being an African American. If there are African American children in the classroom it could make them feel uncomfortable.

Classroom Use: I think this book could be just a book to read to students during anytime. I think it would be especially useful if there were issues with differences in a teachers classroom. With classrooms becoming so much more diverse these days, this book might be a helpful way to address the issue to students. We are all different and unique in our own special ways.

Published in: on March 3, 2009 at 2:42 am  Leave a Comment  

Genre- Realistic Fiction

Title: A Corner of the Universea-corner

Author: Ann M. Martin

Publisher: Scholastic Inc.

Age Level: Upper (5-6)

Date: 2002

Summary: A young girl named Hattie discovers an Uncle she never knew about. This particular Uncle has mental problems that her family seems to not understand. Hattie develops a friendship with Uncle Adam. They teach each other valuable lessons throughout the book. This book is a Newberry Honor book.

Strengths: I loved the book. I liked that Ann Martin added Uncle Adam with mental problems. I think some students do not have any experience with this and with inclusion classrooms being so prevalent it is a good thing to know about. I like the relationship between Hattie and Uncle Adam. They both help each other realize things. I think it is special because nobody else in the family seems to know how to deal with the situation. 

Concerns: The idea of a mentally retarded Uncle who acts more like a child than the grown adult man that he is might be hard for some readers to understand if they do not have a personal experience in this area. Their might be a lot of questions about some of the behaviors Uncle Adam has or does throughout the book.

Classroom Use: This book would be great you upper elementary readers. It is a good book to have as a choice for the readers to do a book discussion or literacy circle.  I would recommend it for girls, but it would also be a great book for special education learners. I think it is something they could relate to.

Published in: on March 3, 2009 at 2:41 am  Comments (1)  

Genre- Traditional Literature

Title: Why the Crab Has No Headwhy-the-crab-has-no-head

Author: Barbara Knutson

Publisher: Carolrhoda Books, INC.

Age Level: Elementary (3-4) or Upper (5-6)

Date: 1987

Summary: “Retails the African folktale from the Bakongo people of Zaire in which Crab’s pride influences his creator, who leaves Crab without a head to make him humble.”

Strengths: I enjoyed this story. It is very interesting and it makes you want to get to the end quick so you can find out why the crab has no head, but also I like that the author included the fact the crab was sideways. I thought there was a lot of culture in the story with the story, but especially in the illustrations.

Concerns: I did not like that the book doesn’t have any color. I think the illustrations would be more eye catching if there would have been color added. I think more kids might choose to read the book if there was color. I also thought that for younger kids the lesson behind the story might be hard for them to grasp. The teacher might have to explain some things after the story.

Classroom Use: Again, this book could be used in a lesson about African culture or as a part of different folk tales. The teacher could read this book to the class. Then she could have the students individually or in groups think of an animal and make a story of how that animal got a characteristic. For example, maybe how the leopard got its spots or how the frog got its super long tongue.

Published in: on March 2, 2009 at 4:33 am  Leave a Comment  

Genre- Traditional Literature

Title: The Stone Cutter

Author: Pam Newton

Publisher: G.P. Putman’s Sons

Age Level: Elementary (3-4) or Upper (5-6)

Date: 1990

Summary: “A retelling of a traditional Indian tale in which a discontented stonecutter is never satisfied with each wish is granted him.”

Strengths: I truly loved this book. The illustrations were really detailed and fun. The language was discriptive and filled with emotion. I could feel for teh stonecutter as he was in each in wish. I liked that each time he wanted to be something else, he repeated “then I would be truly happy.” I feel if this was read to students they would start to jump in on that line and repeat with the teacher. My favorite part was the ending. I did not see it coming, I thought he might be stuck as something he didn’t want to be. The stonecutter realizes that being a stonecutter is exactly what he wants to be. This teaches kids, the grass isn’t always greener on the other side.

Concerns: I felt the tigger in the book was just thrown in there. I thought the tiger would be the one to grant the wishes, but it was the mountain spirit. I didn’t understand what the point of adding the tigger was.

Classroom Use: This book could be read in a lesson about traditional literature or folk tales. This book teaches a great lesson. It could also be read just for the lesson it teaches to students.

Published in: on March 1, 2009 at 6:34 am  Leave a Comment  

Genre- Traditional Literature

pretty-salmaTitle: Pretty Salma

Author: Niki Daly

Publisher: Clarion Books

Age Level: Elementary (3-4) or Upper (5-6)

Date: 2006

Summary: “In this version of “Little Red Riding Hood,” set in Ghana, a young girl fails to heed Granny’s warning about the dangers of talking to strangers.”

Strengths: I like that the pictures are simple but just enough to make the pictures go along with the story. I like how the author used aspects of “Little Red Riding Hood” in this story, but still made it unique and different.  It is great that there are some pronouncations in the front of the book of the different Ghanaian words used in the story.  Toward the end of the book when Mr. Dog gets to Granny, I like on the top half of the book they show Pretty Salma and Grandfather dressed up on there way to Granny’s house to scare the wolf.

Concerns: It bugged me when Pretty Salma gets to Granny, Granny doesn’t realize it is not her and is Mr. Dog. I understand it is a vital point in the story. Granny gives Mr. Dog a bath and still doesn’t realize it is Pretty Salma. It bothered me, because clearly Granny should have recognized her Salma especially if she is Pretty Salma.

Classroom Use: This book could be used when talking about traditional literature in the classroom. Little Red Riding Hood is a popular folktale, with many varieties. Teachers could use Pretty Salma when talking about the different ways a story can be told. It would be a great book for a specific lesson or topic on the African culture.

Published in: on March 1, 2009 at 6:32 am  Leave a Comment  

Genre- Picture Books

Title: A Sweet Smell of Rosessmell-of-roses

Author: Angela Johnson

Publisher: Simon and Schuster Books

Age Level: Elementary (3-4)

Date: 2005

Summary: Two youg African American girls sneak out of their house to march for the Civil Rights movement with Dr. King.

Strengths: I love the repetition of “the sweet smell of rose.” When the girls leave the house, march in the streets, and return home they smell the roses. The illustrations are fabulous. They are in black and white, but are detailed in a way that makes you feel for the characters in the book. The only color in the book is the red on the flag, the red roses,  and the bow on the bear. The text contrasts with the color it is written on. If the background is white, the text is black and vice versa. This adds a lot to the text as your reading. Also, the books ends like it begins which is neat. At the beginning the girls run out of the house, past the milkman, over the bridge, through the market to Charolette Street and at they repeat the same pattern till their safely at home. 

Concerns: I have no major concerns about this book.

Classroom Use: This book would be great for a lesson on the Civil Rights Movement and the march. I enjoy how the book comes from the childs point of view. The author leaves a great note in the front of the book talking about all the important adults during this time. She talks about how this book is a dedication to all the children that risked their lives to be a part of the movement. I think the illustrator using red as the only color in the whole book could be a great discussion. The class could talk about symbolism and why they think the illustrator did that.

Published in: on February 22, 2009 at 5:40 pm  Leave a Comment  

Genre- Traditional Literature

handful-of-beansTitle: A Handful of Beans

Author: Jeanne Steig

Publisher: Harper Collins Publishers

Age Level: Elementary (3-4) or Upper (5-6)

Date: 1998

Summary: A book with a collection of six fairy tales with a few illustrations to go along with each one. The fairy tales include: Rumpelstiltskin, Beauty and the Beast, Hansel and Gretel, Little Red Riding Hood, The Frog Prince, and Jack and the Beanstalk.

Strengths: Fot the most part the six different fairy tales are told like I remember them. There might be a few differences, but not many. I like the idea of six fairy tales in one book and I like the size of the book is smaller than a normal book. There are few pictures, but they are still fun to look at.

Concerns: There is a lot of text in these fairy tales with very few pictures. This could be a problem if a teacher tries to read the fairy tales to the classroom. They might not pay attention for long. There is a lot of use of white space and as I was reading I did not appreciate it. I thought it would have been nice for some more pictures or even spot drawings.

Classroom Use: This book would be hard to use in the classroom. There are not a lot of pictures, so it might be hard to read it to the class and keep them entertained. The only way I can think of to use it is to show students the different variety of fairy tales and the different versions.

Published in: on February 11, 2009 at 4:16 pm  Leave a Comment  

Genre- Traditional Literature

Title: Finn MacCoul and His Fearless Wifefinn-maccoul

Author: Robert Byrd

Publisher: Dutton Children’s Books

Age Level: Elementary (3-4) or Upper (5-6)

Date: 1999

Summary: “With the help of his brave and clever wife, Finn MacCoul bests the fearsome giant Cucullin.”

Strengths: This book is so fun and has really great illustrations. The story line is great and I like how the wife is the dominant character in the book. She pushes Finn aside and deals with Cucullin on her own. I like the way she tricks Cucullin. As an adult reading the book, I wanted to read the book faster and get through the pages to see what would happen. I can only imagine students would love it as much as I did. Also, in the back of the book is a pronunciation guide of the names in the book.

Concerns: I cannot think of any concerns I have about this book.

Classroom Use: This book would be great to act out as a class. I think it would be fun to assign students different characters and allow them to really get into character by acting parts out and changing their voice to match their character. It might also be a great book to read and then have students come up with their own ending. The students would have to think of different ways to trick Cucullin.

Published in: on February 11, 2009 at 3:46 pm  Leave a Comment  

Genre- Picture Books

Title: Frog and Toad Are Friendsfrog-and-toad

Author: Arnold Lobel

Publisher: Harper Collins Publishers

Date: 1970

Age Level: Primary (K-2) or Elementary (3-4)

Summary: Frog and Toad are great friends. In this book you can read through four short stories of Frog and Toad. They are always having exciting adventures that capture the minds of beginning readers.

Strengths: I always loved Frog and Toad books when I was growing up. The author uses simple text that is easy for beginning readers. I like how he divided the books into short stories. I feel this is nice for beginning readers. They can finish a story and then start a new one or stop and continue later. The story line is great for kids and there are even a few pictures to look at. Frog and Toad books are always fun!

Concerns: I have a concern about the amount of text on a page. Some pages in this book are filled with text, which can be intimidating to some young readers. This might be a better reading book for students who are not new to reading but need some extra help.

Classroom Use: Frog and Toad books are great for sturggling readers. This book could be used for reading practice or just for fun. It is great that teachers can assign one of the short stories in the book for students to read instead of the whole thing. Students could read a section of the book and then have a book discussion on the short story they read. F

Published in: on February 11, 2009 at 2:28 am  Leave a Comment  

Genre- Historical Fiction

henrys-freedom-boxAuthor: Ellen Levine

Title: Henry’s Freedom Box: A True Story from the Underground Railroad

Publisher: Scholastic Press

Age Level: Elementary (3-4) or Upper (5-6)                     

Date: 2007

Summary: A fictionalized account of how in 1849 a Virginia slave, Henry “Box” Brown, escapes to freedom by shipping himself in a wooden crate from Richmond to Philadelphia.

Strentghs: I enjoyed how the book showed both negative and positive life events of being a slave. The tone is happy when Henry gets married and has children, but sad when Henry’s family is sold. The book also ends on a happy note with Henry reaching freedom. The idea of sending yourself to a different state through the mail is interesting and could create a great classroom discussion. After reading the book myself, it made me want to research Henry “Box” Brown to learn more about his story.

Concerns: The book shows a lot of pain that might be hard for the students to understand. Henry is sold and taken away from his mother and then his own family is sold and taken away from him. I do not know how students would react to this and especially the fact that Henry doesn’t ever find his family. I also thought some parts of the story line were choppy. I think it was to make it short, so students would stay interested.

Classroom Use: The book could be an opening activity for the Civil War and slavery. It could be a good start for a research activity for older grades. The teacher could read the book about Henry. The class could discuss how Henry was so  desperate to reach freedom that he mailed himself to Philadelphia. The teacher could talk about how many slaves did unique things to reach freedom. Then the teacher could assign a research project where students could work in groups to research a particular slave and the unique way they reached freedom.

Published in: on February 4, 2009 at 4:48 pm  Comments (2)  

Genre- Picture Books

Author: Peggy Rathmanofficer-buckle

Title: Officer Buckle and Gloria

Publisher: G.P. Putman’s Sons

Age Level: Elementary (3-4)                                    

Date: 1995

Summary: “The children at Napville Elementary School always ignore Officer Buckle’s safety tips, until a police dog named Gloria accompanies him when he gives safety speeches.”

Strengths: The illustrations and story line of this book are great. The book adds some humor to a great story. I like at the end of the book there is a safety tip that kind of teaches students a lesson, “Always stick with your buddy.” It is just overall a great book and a fun read even as an adult.

Concerns: The book shows students being rude to Officer Buckle. The only reason they begin to pay attention to his important safety tips is because of Gloria. Students might get the wrong idea of how to behave when some one is giving a speech or presentation.

Classroom Use: Officer Buckle and Gloria is a fun book to read to students. It might be a great book to open a lesson on about safety. It also may be a good book to read if the classroom is having social problems. The book explains that even Officer Buckle learns a new safety tip, “Always stick with your buddy!” This can show students emotion and how they can hurt each others feelings. The book might be helpful and fun in explaining to students to be kind to their classmates.

Published in: on February 4, 2009 at 4:37 pm  Leave a Comment  

Genre- Picture Books

i-am-invited-to-a-partyAuthor: Mo Willems

Title: I Am Invited to a Party!

Publisher: Hyperion Books for Children

Age Level: PreK or Primary (K-2)                             

Date: 2007

Summary: Piggie is invited to her first party, but she does not know what to wear. Gerald is a party expert and knows just how to help her.

Strengths: I love the simplicity of this book. The text in text bubbles are great for children. The size of the text and expression of Piggie and Gerald are awesome. The text bubbles are color coated to match either Piggie or Gerald. This helps students follow along with who is speaking. The use of white space in the book is great for focusing on the story and the characters. The illustrations are simple but fun. I feel like I can really hear these two chaaracters having a conversation when reading along.

Concerns: I have no pressing concerns about this book.

Classroom Use: This book could add some fun to any classroom. Beginning readers could really enjoy this book. It is not like your average beginner reading book, it uses repetition but also still tells a story. This will keep reading exciting for young readers and encourage them to continue reading. While the readers are enjoying the story, they are also developing reading skills.

Published in: on February 4, 2009 at 4:28 pm  Leave a Comment  

Genre- Picture Book

Author:  Crockett Johnsonharold-and-the-purple-crayon

Title:  Harold and the Purple Crayon

Publisher: Harper Collins Publishers

Age Level: Primary (K-2)                                   

Date:  1955

Summary: Harold and the Purple Crayon is about a boy named Harold that wants to go for a walk in the moonlight. There is no moon so he brings along his purple crayon and draws a moon. This begins Harold’s adventure as he draws with his purple crayon where he wants to go and what he wants to do.

Strengths: I like how the book is an easy read. It is a good book for younger children to be read to, but also fun for students beginning school. The book has an interesting adventure that captures the students attention and it is very imaginative.  All Harold has is his purpule crayon, so I like that the illustrations are only in purple.

Concerns: The book might lead students to be a little creative with their crayon and confused as to why they cannot draw a boat and sail away. Although, the book has a great adventure story, it might not keep childrens attention because of the lack of pictures and color.

Classroom Use: Harold and the Purple Crayon could be used in the classroom as an activity book. The teacher could read the book to preschoolers of kinderdarteners and then give them a chance to draw their own story. They could choose their own color crayon. The teacher could use adding machine paper to give the students so they could draw their adventure. It might be a good lesson for story telling, having a beginning, middle, and end.

Published in: on February 4, 2009 at 4:15 pm  Leave a Comment