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

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

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  

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

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: 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- 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- 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- 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