Monday, November 24, 2008

GOOD QUEEN BESS: THE STORY OF ELIZABETH I OF ENGLAND by: Diane Stanley and Peter Vennema - Non-fiction Biography

Elizabeth, the daughter of England's famous King Henry VIII, grew up in a time of religious conflict and chaos. King Henry VIII went to an extreme, marrying six times, to make sure he had a son to rule after he passed, but it was Elizabeth who would conduct England through the rough years ahead. Historians call this the "Elizabethan Age," after Queen Elizabeth I, which is amazing since it was a time of men. This book is very attractive; the text is readable and the illustrations compliment the pages. The illustrations are beautiful paintings that reflect the lavish lifestyle Queen Elizabeth I lived.

My Name is Gabito by Monica Brown - Non-fiction Biography

This biography is of a famous adult author names Gabriel Garcia Marquez. I think this story was written to inform readers about Marquez's wild and vibrant imagination that allowed him to write his stories. During his childhood, Marquez spent a lot of time with his grandfather; hanging out with him brought many new ideas for Marquez to write about. This book is written in English and Spanish; this book would be very handy to teacher ESL students. Also, this is a good book to use if a teacher needs to introduce the concept of biography to students.

Girl Wonder: A Baseball Story in Nine Innings - Non-fiction Informational

Alta Weiss, the real life inspiration of this story, discovers she is "born to play baseball." At a young age, Alta developed the art of pitching and pursues a career as a professional baseball player in the early 1900s. After achieving that goal, Alta later was the only woman in her medical school graduating class. I loved this book, especially as an athlete. I wish this book would have been published when I was younger because I always wanted to be a professional softball player and was always beating the boys in various sports. I think this book could be a good way to introduce that women can be success and participate effectively in the same events as men.

Rosa by: Nikki Giovanni - Non-fiction Informational

Rosa Parks was traveling home from work on a segregated city bus in Montomery, Alabama when she was ordered by the bus driver to give up her seat to a Caucasian passenger. Rosa Parks refused to get up, she was sitting in the "neutral" section; the driver calls the police and Parks was arrested. Word spreads and a boycott of the buses is organized until segregation is ended. The pictures in this book are phenomenal; the illustrator creates Rosa Parks as a bold and strong woman. This book is aimed for 4 to 8 year olds, but I do not think that they will understand some of the material, a lot of the material is not explained. This is a good book for a family to read so the parents can discuss in more detail the events of this book.

Gooney Bird Greene by: Lois Lowry - Non-fiction Informational

Gooney Greene arrives at her new school, Watertower Elementary, and all the second graders are interested to getting to know her. When it is story time in class, all of the students want to hear about Gooney Bird; this is great because Gooney loves being in the middle of things. I thought this book was really entertaining and it teaches the reader what a story needs; a beginning, a middle, an end, and a main character. Mrs. Pidgeon, the teacher, is trying to demonstrate a lesson about a character in a story, but the class wants to hear about Gooney instead; so the teacher allows Gooney to tell stories for 15 minutes every day. As Gooney tells her stories, the teacher points out when Gooney uses characters, dialogue, or suspense during each of her stories. This is a very funny book with hidden instruction about how to create and design a good story. I think this book would be a great aid to assist a teacher when teaching the basics of writing a story.

How I Found the Strong by Margaret McMullan - Historical Fiction Intermediate

Frank "Shanks" Russell, the youngest of the Russel family, is ten-years-old when the Civil War begins. Since he cannot enlist, "Shanks" stays at home when his father and brother head off to fight in the war. He is left with a big duty, looking after the rest of his family and his family's land, with the help of Buck, the family's slave. During this novel, "Shanks" questions the war and his beliefs of slavery; this question continues to trouble him as he becomes close with Buck's family. At first, this book was really slow, but it becomes really suspenseful when "Shanks" and Buck are making their way to the Strong River. I really enjoyed this book because it questions people's beliefs and illustrates to the reader what the Civil War was like for everyday people in the South. It helps demonstrate that not everyone lived on a large plantation with a lot of slaves, but most people were poor and underwent hard lives.

Number the Stars byL Lois Lowry - Historical Fiction Primary

Number the Stars is a story told through Annamarie Johannesen's eyes, a ten-year-old. Her family is living through World War II, living in Copenhagen, Denmark. There are curfews and slim food to pick from; life is really uncomfortable and difficult. For instance, people have to be creative to make shoes, since leather is no longer available (they use fish scales). The situation takes an even worse turn when it is publicized that all Jewish people will be rounded up and relocated. Annamarie and her family help her Jewish friend and others escape to Sweden. I think this book is very well written and pretty factual; the best part is after the book, the author explains the realities that the book was based upon. I think that a teacher could incorporate this novel into a history lesson; readers will learn how desperate this time was.

The Outsiders by: S.E. Hinton - Moderate Fantasy Intermediate

I remember reading this book in seventh grade; I really liked the story, but now I appreciate this literature much more. S.E. Hinton was only 16 when she wrote this book; she was a teen, writing about teens, for her peers. This book can be related by many young people; if we were still at Muffley, I would have suggested this novel for the 5th or 6th grade class, those students could relate with these characters.The "greasers," a "gang" in the book, have long greasy hair, wear jeans and t-shirts, and eat whatever they want whenever they want. The other gang the greasers hate are the the "soc," who come from rich families and wear fashionable and expensive clothes. Through various plot elements, Hinton teaches the reader a valuable lesson; in addition, this novel will have the reader feeling many emotions. I really enjoyed this book and hope that teachers still have this novel in their curriculum and libraries.

Goldilocks and the Three Bears by: Alex Toys - Traditional Literature

This book came with a set of finger puppets (I was so excited! :)) A felt glove portrays the backdrop on one hand, while the puppets, the three bears and Goldilocks, act out the scenes on the other; the puppets are able to stick to the backdrop with Velcro. On the last two pages a felt board, with an image of the outdoors, is used to help act out the end of the story. I think is book would be great for preschoolers and kindergartners; I would love the kids to participate actively in the story with the backdrop.

Little Red Riding Hood by: Jerry Pinkney - Traditional Literature

I have already read a book by Jerry Pinkney, but I think his artwork is amazing and that benefits the story so much. With pencil and watercolor, Pinkney has filled each page with a scene that is expressive, strong, colorful, realistic, and imaginative all at the same time. It is amazing how soft he creates the features of Little Red Riding Hood, her mother, and grandmother. The way he designed the wolf is great; the wolf seems to smile like he is up to no good. As for the story, it is a traditional retelling of the original story, where the woodcutter comes and saves the day.

Chickerella by Mary Jane and Herm Auch - Traditional Literature

HaHaHa - This book is absolutely hilarious! Chickerella is a story, based off of the traditional Cinderella story with a little twist, about a chicken (Chickerella) who had a wonderful "chickhood" until a fox got into the coop and carried off with her mother. Chickerella's father, now a single rooster, had to raise her alone. Not too long later, Chickerella's stepmother and stepsisters, Ovumelda and Cholestera, show up. Sadly, Chickerella, like in the traditional story, becomes a servant in her own coop. This book seriously had be rolling on the floor; I think that everyone should read this book and the ending is very interesting and different from what you think will happen.

Cinderella by Walt Disney - Traditional Literature

As a child, my parents would read Cinderella to me at night and I remember watching the movie. Cinderella by Walt Disney is very similar to the movie from what I can recall. Cinderella lives with her step family, Anastasia and Drizella, her step sisters, and her cruel step-mother. Cinderella wants to go to the ball, yet isn't allowed if she doesn't clean the has and get something presentable and nice to wear. This is where her fairy godmother comes in and she magically makes her a dress and Cinderella is off to the ball where her and the Prince fall in love! <3 I love Cinderella, it is a classic story of a beautiful girl who ends up meeting the man of her dreams!

The Adventures of Captain Underpants by: Dav Pilkey - Modern Fantasy Primary

This story is about two kids, George and Arnold, who are in the fourth grade and have created and illustrated their own comic book hero, Captain Underpants. Notorious for playing pranks and being mischievous, the boys hypnotize their principal, Mr. Krupp. He becomes Captain Underpants and soon escapes out of the school and roams the streets in his underwear! I think this book is hilarious. This piece of modern fantasy would be great for a 3rd to 6th grader; I am sure that some of them would love to hypnotize their principals and have the Principal do other things than become a comic book hero.

Frog Went A-Courtin by: John Langstaff - Caldecott Award Winner

An elaborate and expensive wedding is soon planned after Miss Mouse accepts Frog's marriage propsal. A variety of creatures arrive as guests to the wedding, including the old cat that puts an end to the celebration. This story is an illustrated version on a folk song that was written in Scotland over 400 years ago. I did not care for this story, yet the illustrator used bright and vivid colors which did enhance the book.

Aunt Chip and the Great Triple Creek Damn Affair by: Patricia Polacco

Teachers can use this book to discuss the value of reading and have the students think about how TV can overtake a person's life. To intertwine this book to a lesson, the teacher can have the students keep track of when they watch TV and when they read then discuss what happened in Triple Creek and the effect reading can have on their lives. I enjoyed reading this book and enjoyed Polacco's drawings. Fifty years ago, a big television tower was put up in town and the library closed. Aunt Chip knew the consequences would be great; soon people stopped reading and then eventually could not even remember how! Aunt Chip finally got out of bed and began to teach and educate the children to read, they were reading so much they took books wherever they could. Soon they took books out of the dam and, thanks to karma, a flood caused the television tower to fall down.

The Hat by: Jan Brett - Illustrator Study

Jan Brett's bright and luminous paintings of a Scandinavian farm and the forest around it are covered in northern light, as the snow begins to fall and the story begins. Lisa's woolen stocking flies off the clothesline and Hedgie finds it and pokes his nose in it; he tries to pull it out, but it gets stuck. A mother hen comes, then a goose, a cat, a dog, etc. All of these animals laugh at Hedgie, especially when he pretends he is wearing a hat. But at the end of the book, Hedgie gets the last laugh. I would definitely recommend The Hat as a good read for children around 1st grade.

Town Mouse, Country Mouse by: Jan Brett - Illustrator Study

This book is a good read and it appeals to children of all ages with the illustrations making it easier to enjoy due to the colorful pictures. This story deals with the struggle of leaving home and adjusting to another place. The emotions that comes with moving to a new place and environment can be demanding on the emotions of a child. This book helped me realize that there is no place like home. A lesson a teacher could do after reading this book is to ask the students to draw or write about a place that they would consider, opposite of where they live today and have them explain why it would be better or worse.

The Mitten: A Urkranian Folktale by: Jan Brett - Illustrator Study

This book is being retold by Jan Brett; my favorite part of this story is that you can download a mitten and the animals from the story at Jan Brett's web site. This book would be great to read to your younger students, kindergarten to 1st grade, and have them color the animals and then cut them out. During this story, Nicki wants a pair of white mittens and his Baba decides she will make them. Nicki goes outside to play and almost immediately drops a mitten. The main part of the story is told in very large illustrations on each page as a series of animals squeeze themselves into the mitten. This is a simple story with beautiful, eye-popping illustrations; the details in the expressions on the animals faces to the colors used to create this book is my favorite.

Heather Has Two Mommies by Leslea Newman - Banned Book

Heather Has Two Mommies has been challenged because of it's blunt words discussing artificial insemination and addressing homosexuality. After reading the book and doing some research on the topic, I think this particular book is a great aid to introduce a different type of family to children. In the original book, which has since been modified, the book discusses artificial insemination of one of the mommies, using words such as "sperm" and"vagina," which is taken out in the newer, revised version on the book. Towards the end of the story, Heather, the daughter, goes to a daycare and is asked to draw a picture of her family. Each child shares their picture and Heather becomes sad; she is upset that she does not have a daddy. Molly, the caregiver, reassured her that she is special because she has two mommies and not every family is the same. There were other children with divorced parents and some with single parents; this book would be a terrific way to discuss various family make-up.

Aesop's Fables by: Jerry Pinkney - Traditional Literature

Jerry Pinkey retells these humerous and timeless fables. My favorite fable is The Fox and the Goat; I was able to act out this fable in the classroom, which was a blast, but I also like the message it is sending, Look Before You Leap. The gorgeous illustrations are brought to life by watercolors making this well-crafted book something special. His realistic and vibrant illustrations help enhance the stories; I did not want to miss the scenes of The Wolf, The Lion, and The Tortoise and the Hare in action on these large pages.

THE VERY LONELY FIREFLY by: Eric Carle - Author Study

This book is about a lonely firefly who travels along looking for some friends. He eventually finds a pack of fireflies and at the end of the book when he finds friends, the book has blinking lights were the fireflies bottoms are (which is really cool). This book was okay, I could not really get into it. I think this would be a good story to teach kindergartners and 1st graders social skills and friendship skills.

THE VERY HUNGRY CATERPILLAR by: Eric Carle - Author Study

This is an excellent book that addresses the life cycle of a butterfly. Starting as an egg, it hatches into a tiny caterpillar and begins eating until it because a large and fat caterpillar. After it has eaten enough it weaves a cocoon and hibernates before emerging as a colorful and beautiful butterfly. I think this book would be great to use during a science lesson for 1st to 3rd graders; it also addresses the concept of healthy and unhealthy foods.

Pancakes, Pancakes! by: Eric Carle - Author Study

Pancakes, Pancakes! begins with a rooster waking Jack up; Jack decides he wants some pancakes for breakfast. Jack's mom is busy doing other things so she tells him that he will have to help her. She tells him to go out into the wheat field to get wheat, then go to the miller so the wheat can be ground into flour. When Jack returns home, he goes out to the chicken to get an egg; after he has the egg, he has to go milk the cow. Once he has the milk, he has to churn the cream from the milk to make butter. When the butter in churned, Jack has to get firewood and then goes to the cellar to get the strawberry jam. When Jack finally has everything he needs, his mom tells him how to make pancakes. Jack's mom cooks the pancakes and Jack gobbles them up! I would have been so hungry after going and getting all the "fresh" supplies, I am not surprised he instantly began to eat! After reading this book, I actually went and made some pancakes!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Tales of the Fourth Grade Nothing by: Judy Blume - Realistic Fiction Primary

This is a hilarious book about the Hatcher family. Peter, who is a fourth grader, is aggravated with his little brother Farley, a.k.a. Fudge. In this novel, Fudge eats Peter's pet turtle and gets cornflakes dumped on his head! Fudge's "games" require his parents' attention so much that sometimes Peter does not feel like they care about him. Will Peter find a way to prove he is important and a member of the family? Tales of the Fourth Grade Nothing is a funny and realistic book that most kids can relate to. I really enjoyed this book because I can remember my older cousins always playing pranks on me; I look back at those memories now and can laugh.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Front Porch Stories at the One-Room School by Eleanora E. Tate - Multiculture Primary

This novel is about Margie, a 12-year-old, and her younger cousin Ethel; they are bored but soon are entertained by Margie's father. Margie's father tells the youngsters about his childhood, people, and occasions in their town's past. Throughout this story the girls and the reader learns how it was to be an African American in Missouri before integration was legislated. I think that this good would be a great addition with social studies unit discussing the Civil War and Reconstruction. This is a book that everyone can relate to; I know my dad used to sit down with me and I would listen for hours about his childhood and the differences in life then verses now.

Mississippi Bridge by: Mildred D. Taylor - Multicultural Intermediate

Jeremy Simms, a weary 10-year-old Mississippi boy, hangs out on the village store porch. Jeremy, like most kids, is always complaining about how nothing is going on and nothing ever happens here, until one day when something did happen. The day when the bus to Jackson staggered off the bridge over a flooded creek in which Jeremy becomes a partaker. The author allows the readers to see the African American's through Jeremy's eyes (a Caucasian boy during the 1930's). I liked the way Taylor dealt with Jeremy's effort to understand racial discrimination. Jeremy does not share his father's view of African Americans (a typical Southerner's view in the 30's) and he is willing to disobey his father because he knew those beliefs were wrong. As a reader, you need to be aware that Taylor uses words and phrases that would have been said in the 30s down south. Some of the words she uses are shocking, but one needs to understand that it people once spoke like that; I like that Taylor used this language, it shows the reader how bad things really were.

An Edible Alphabet by: Bonnie Christensen - Picture Book

The settings of this book are in a rural area, indoors and outdoors, and in all seasons. In the illustrations, different ages and varied races and cultures are depicted. This is an education alphabet book, there were many vegetables, fruits, etc. that I had not even heard of. At the end of the book, there is a glossary that describes each plant and how it is used for consumption. I did not really care for this book and would not share it in a classroom. Many of the plants that the author used I am not familiar with, so I am sure that the students would not know them. When I think of an Alphabet book, I imagine a book preschoolers or kindergartners can relate to.

The Alphabet from Z to A (with much confusion on the way) by: Judith Viorst - Picture Book

I picked this book from the library initially because I thought it was unique that it went from Z to A instead of the other way around. The concepts that Judith Viorst is presenting is way to complicated for preschoolers, which ABC books are typically for. Each letter has it's own page and includes illustrations that has hidden objects; but the best part of this book are the homophones, silent letters, and other pronunciation abnormalities. For instance, "T is for TAXI and TACKS, TRAY, and TRACE, TWO, TOO, TO. This Isn't the worst. T's for TURKEY, But back in the dinosaur days lived a bird Named - help! - PTERODACTYL. What in the world makes folks do this?" This example has the silent letter; this book is full of tricks and abnormalities. At first I did not like this book, but the more I look at it, I think it would be a great book to demonstrate homophones and silent letters.

HONEY, I LOVE and other love poems by Eloise Greenfield - Poetry Colletion

These love poems are written in a child's eyes: listening to music, playing with a friend, skipping rope, etc. All of the poems in this book seem to thank God for everyday life and the imporant events and aspects in a child's life. This book would be great to use for students 2nd and up, I would make sure the student's had a little bit of back ground before reading some of the poems. For instance, Harriet Tubman is the title of one of the poems, this particular poem discusses how fearless she was; students would need to know what Harriet Tubman did to grasp the full meaning of this poem.

THIS IS THE DREAM by: Diane Z. Shore & Jessica Alexander - Poetry Single Poem Pic. Book

My initial reaction to this book after reading it was, "WOW!" THIS IS THE DREAM is a picture book that tells the story of the Civil Rights Movement. This book is a phenomenal and educational book that is easy to read and isn't too detailed for young children. Also, the illustrations are gorgeous and aid in showing how far we as American have come in creating freedom and quality for all people. I would definitely recommend reading think book a loud and using it for an aid in a history lesson about the Civil Rights Movement.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

In Daddy's Arms I AM TALL Illustrated by: Javaka Steptoe - Poetry Anthology

This book is a collection of poems celebrating African American fathers. This assortment of poems revels the powerful and influential bond between father and child, acknowledging that family is our greatest gift. This book of poetry is even good for small child; even though they may not be able to read the poetry, the illustrations are so great that if the child is read to, they will be able to see the poem in the illustration. One of my favorite poems in this book is"Tickle, Tickle" by Dakari Hru, it was written to remember all those fun moments when children were tickled by their fathers.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Henry and Mudge and the Great Grandpas by: Cynthia Rylant - Monarch

Henry, Henry's dog, Mudge, and Henry's parents visit Henry's Great Grandpa Bill in this house where he lives with a bunch of other grandpas. After visiting with the grandpas, Henry and Mudge go off on an adventure towards the woods. Soon, they come to a pond and want to swim, but they know that they cannot swim without supervision. They travel back to the house and find out that all the grandpas want to go swimming too. I did not like this book, it did not have a plot or any interesting events happening; the illustrations were dull and boring. However, this book could be used for early readers who are ready to make the transition to chapter books.

Green Eggs and Ham by: Dr. Seuss - Lit. Based Lesson Plan

Sam-I-Am wants this little boy in the story to try green eggs and ham. Sam-I-Am suggests various places that the boy might like to eat green eggs and ham, but the boy keeps resisting. The boy finally tries green eggs and ham and likes it. The moral/theme of this story is not to judge something unless you try it. I think that this is a great book for children around 4; I think that they would enjoy this story and will understand the message and hopefully try new things.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Day of Tears: A Novel in Dialogue by Julius Lester - Coretta Scott Author

Emma is the property of Master Butler and has taken care of his daughters, Sarah and Frances, since their parents divorced. Emma wants to raise the girls to have good hearts, like their mother's. Sarah and her mother oppose slavery, while Frances and her father believe in the "Southern way of life" and treatment of blacks. Master Butler decides to sell his slaves to pay for his debts because of gambling and hosts the biggest slave auction in American history. Master Butler had promised Emma's parents he would not sell her, but money, desperation, and greed allow him to do so anyways. Through flashbacks and flash-forwards, readers will travel with Emma and others through time and place, and come to understand that every decision has a consequence. Julius Lester incorporates historical events and his imagination. This is an emotional book to read; this novel shows how the slaves were feeling and possible dialogue that was going on.