Do you have a little one learning to read at the earliest level? In our house, we love, love Mo Willems. He's just launching a new series for kids jus...moreDo you have a little one learning to read at the earliest level? In our house, we love, love Mo Willems. He's just launching a new series for kids just learning to read: Cat the Cat. This series is geared to the youngest audience of any of the books he's made, but they have the classic Mo Twists. My favorite parts: they make us giggle, and they make my kindergartner want to read them again and again.
Cat the Cat is in search of friends. So she wanders down her street, meeting new friends along the way.
Cat the Cat, who is that? It's Mouse the Mouse!
Cat skips along, meeting a mouse, a duck, a fish. And then all of a sudden - EEP! - she meets a very strange creature. Should she be scared? Or fascinated? She has NO idea. But then this creature waves. Maybe... "It's a NEW friend!" Hooray! This is a fun book - it certainly made us giggle. And as a parent and teacher, I love the way Cat the Cat meets a new person, wonders about her, and then decides to try playing with someone new and different.
This series is for a younger audience than the Elephant and Piggie books, and will not cause the outrageous laughter that that duo cause. But Cat the Cat is wonderful for toddlers with very short attention spans, or for preschoolers and kindergartners learning to sound out words on their own. (less)
Do you remember when your preschooler first started to notice the seasons changing around her? I remember my children being fascinated with the crunch...moreDo you remember when your preschooler first started to notice the seasons changing around her? I remember my children being fascinated with the crunching of brown leaves or the bright green of new grass. Sidman and Zagarenski evoke wonderful memories of new seasons by focusing on the colors of our world, and they do so in a complex, unique way. Spring is much more than green: red with cardinals, maple buds and rhubarb spears, yellow with goldfinches, and white with lightning. This is a wonderful collection of poems and it can prompt lovely conversations about the colors you and your children notice around you.(less)
Any book that has a poem called “The Autobiography of Murray the Fart” is going to make kids laugh and want to read more. These poems are all told fro...moreAny book that has a poem called “The Autobiography of Murray the Fart” is going to make kids laugh and want to read more. These poems are all told from the point of view of Robert, an 11 year old boy who is clever but bored. “Technically, it’s not Robert’s fault that a concrete block fell on the car or that his sister’s homework got blown to smithereens. Really, he doesn’t try to cause trouble. He’s just an ordinary kid who likes pizza and sports and computer games.” Grandits creates visually engaging, hilarious concrete poems – shape poems that combine words, ideas, type and art to make pictures. But it’s Grandits’ humor and understanding of real kids that will make readers laugh about the most ordinary things. This accessible, goofy collection shows how you can bend and twist language to create meaning in new ways.(less)
This collection of nursery rhymes and songs from Spain, Latin America and the American Southwest will delight young children and their parents. Shared...moreThis collection of nursery rhymes and songs from Spain, Latin America and the American Southwest will delight young children and their parents. Shared in both Spanish and English, these nursery rhymes are sweet, simple and musical. The original Spanish rhymes are paired with English versions that are not direct translations, but rather “poetic recreations”. Alma Flor Ada and Isabel Campoy both live in San Francisco and are wonderful authors and teachers who bring their Hispanic culture alive through storytelling and poetry.(less)
This is a wonderful collection of poems for young children: toddlers, preschoolers and kindergartners. The poems selected are perfect for a young audi...moreThis is a wonderful collection of poems for young children: toddlers, preschoolers and kindergartners. The poems selected are perfect for a young audience. Each poem is only a few lines long; the expressive illustrations are full of joy and a love of life. This collection reflects a young child’s world, with poems organized into categories like “Me, Myself and I”, and “Who Lives in My House?”. Above all, this is a very child-centered collection, one that you will treasure sharing with young children.(less)
I loved this brilliant story - it's a great story, a great graphic novel that speaks to tweens on the brink of adolescence.
Raina just wants to be a no...moreI loved this brilliant story - it's a great story, a great graphic novel that speaks to tweens on the brink of adolescence.
Raina just wants to be a normal sixth grader - to fit in, to figure out the right clothes to wear, to have fun with her friends. But one night after Girl Scouts she trips and falls flat on her face, severely injuring her two front teeth. What follows is a long and frustrating journey with braces, dental surgery, embarrassing headgear, and even a retainer with fake teeth attached. Definitely not the recipe for fitting in!
On top of the dental drama, Raina goes through middle school and starts high school, dealing with friends who turn out to be not so friendly, boys and crushes, and a major earthquake. This coming-of-age true story is sure to resonate with tweens and teens who are trying to figure things out for themselves. Author/illustrator Raina Telgemeier does a wonderful job of capturing the emotions of a young tween/teenager - the joy, the angst, the pain, the drama. Yes, this is a real story, based on all the dental drama that Raina really went through.
When I brought home the ARC, my 5th grader took it to her room and read it straight through. That night, she asked me to read it aloud to her (a treat!), and we did - staying up way past her bedtime to finish it! We just got our "real" copy in the mail, with full color and a glittery front, and my tween escaped with it again!
Raina Telgemeier might be known to you as the illustrator of the Babysitter's Club comics. She grew up in the San Francisco area, but made her way to New York City when she was 22 to attend the School of Visual Arts as an Illustration and Cartooning student. She has a lovely style, full of action and emotions, and yet not too dense so the story shines through.(less)
This is a wonderful story showing a close-knit bond between three African-American sisters during the late 1960s. Eleven-year-old Delphine has helped...moreThis is a wonderful story showing a close-knit bond between three African-American sisters during the late 1960s. Eleven-year-old Delphine has helped watch over her younger sisters Vonetta, age nine, and Fern, age seven, ever since their mother left the family just after Fern was born. Now, in the summer of 1968, her father has decided that it's time for the girls to spend some time with their mother, Cecile, who is living in Oakland. Cecile seems to resent the girls' very existence. She barely speaks to them, does not cook for them, and sends them off each morning to the Black Panthers’ community center. Williams-Garcia creates intelligent, funny, well-developed characters in the three girls, as they learn about the Panthers' movement and adjust to spending time with their mother. Children will be drawn in by Delphine's strong character, amazed by Cecile's distance, and interested in the setting and time period. This would surely make a wonderful family read aloud for older children.(less)
Paulsen’s writing carries emotional weight, as you connect with Samuel and feel his isolation, his pain, his anger. But Paulsen intersperses each chap...morePaulsen’s writing carries emotional weight, as you connect with Samuel and feel his isolation, his pain, his anger. But Paulsen intersperses each chapter with a short nonfiction section explaining such things as weapons, war orphans, Hessians and other issues related to the story line. These nonfiction sections are short, usually one or two paragraphs, and without illustrations. While some readers might skip them, I found them interesting on audio, a short break from the intense story, and always related to the story. I was hoping Paulsen would provide sources for further reading, but am hooked enough on the story to want to seek out more information on my own.
This was a great story to listen to as an audiobook. Danny Campbell creates a deep, rough voice that feels like he's telling Samuel’s story sitting around a campfire. As Audiofile says, “Campbell skillfully employs pace and projection to build suspense and convey Paulsen's page-turning action. Campbell uses a deeper, flatter tone to differentiate brief paragraphs of background information appended to each chapter.” Because of the violence and emotional impact of this story, I would not recommend it for younger readers. It is appropriate perhaps for 5th graders, or more likely for 6th grade and above.(less)
Yellowstone has always held a special place in my heart, with its beautiful meadows, soaring mountains and awe-inspiring geysers. Yellowstone Moran: P...moreYellowstone has always held a special place in my heart, with its beautiful meadows, soaring mountains and awe-inspiring geysers. Yellowstone Moran: Painting the American West shows what it was like for early explorers to venture into this wilderness in the 1800s, and how Thomas Moran's paintings helped capture its beauty and persuade Congress to protect it.
Thomas Moran "had never ridden a horse, never shot a gun, and never slept in the open air," but he was determined to join Dr. Hayden's expedition to explore the land called the Yellowstone. "Few men had explored this high wilderness. Those who had been there told strange tales of mud volcanoes and spouting geysers at a place called Firehole Basin." The expedition was hard work, climbing steep mountain passes on horseback, fording rushing rivers, sometimes only covering a few miles a day. Readers will be astounded, along with Moran, at the sight of steaming hot springs, massive waterfalls, and the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone.
Moran's paintings helped to convince President Grant to designate Yellowstone as the first National Park in 1871. I particularly liked the author's note at the end which describes for young readers how she used the expedition members' journals to reconstruct the story. Judge has recreated Moran’s style in her dramatic watercolors, and her paintings (like Moran's) will make young readers want to venture to Yellowstone themselves. For another review of Yellowstone Moran, see The Miss Rumphius Effect. (less)
I love how stories can help us see into perspectives of other people. Return to Sender, by Julia Alvarez, is a touching story that explores the impact...moreI love how stories can help us see into perspectives of other people. Return to Sender, by Julia Alvarez, is a touching story that explores the impact immigration has on children from two very different families. I particularly liked how it introduced young readers to the world of Mari, a young girl whose parents immigrated from Mexico to the US when she was very young. This is a compassionate story about a complex, difficult situation.
Tyler is a 6th-grade boy on a Vermont farm who befriends Mari, the daughter of undocumented Mexican workers. Alvarez tells this tale from both sides, using the voices of Tyler and Mari. Tyler’s father was hurt in a farm accident, and the family must adjust to having more help on the farm. Mari was born in Mexico and now lives in a trailer as her dad and uncle work on Tyler’s family farm. Mari's mother left a year ago to visit her parents in Mexico, and has not yet returned to their family. Tyler is worried that his family won't be able to keep their farm since his father cannot run it on his own anymore, and Mari is very anxious that her mother will not return. Mari and Tyler's friendship was believable and moving, as they warily became friends, got to know each other, and finally reached out to really help one another.
Tweens will like hearing this story from the point of view of two different characters who are struggling with large and small issues in their lives. They will like exploring the moral dilemmas facing both families, and the emotional difficulties of being separated from your mother. Mari's mother does return, but she had been detained and abused by the Coyotes who were helping her across the border. Alvarez alludes to the horrors that Mari's mother faced, but does not explore the details - it was a perfect balance for young tween readers.
I particularly liked how Mari's feelings came through in the letters she writes to her mother, her grandparents, and even the president. She finds it very helpful to write out her feelings, and I loved that suggestion for tweens and young teens.. I did find it difficult to switch between the perspectives of Mari and Tyler - each time I started a chapter in Tyler's voice, it took me a few pages to switch gears. It would be interesting to ask young readers if they liked this way of reading a story, if it helped them see two sides to this story.
Julia Alvarez was awarded the 2010 Pura Belpre Author Award for Return to Sender. The award committee wrote of Return to Sender: After Tyler’s father is unable to maintain the family farm, he hires undocumented workers, resulting in an interdependent relationship that mirrors current social and political conditions in the United States. Alvarez humanizes a situation by giving a voice to millions of immigrants experiencing similar hardships. This outstanding novel about the solidarity between two children of different cultures will resonate in the hearts of readers of any age.
I would definitely recommend this story to readers who enjoy realistic fiction, who want to reach out beyond their own experiences.(less)
Ten year old Noonie Norton is an artist just waiting to be discovered. She’s sure of it. But no one else understands her. Not her Aunt Sylvia or Uncle...moreTen year old Noonie Norton is an artist just waiting to be discovered. She’s sure of it. But no one else understands her. Not her Aunt Sylvia or Uncle Ralph. Not her math teacher Mrs. Tusk or Principal Maloney. Perhaps the only people who can glimpse Noonie’s creative potential are her art teacher Ms. Lilly and her best friend Reno. Noonie’s mother died five years ago, and now Noonie’s father is in faraway China examining fossilized wild yak bones. But Noonie feels a strong bond with her artistic mother, and has started her Purple Phase. Noonie's Masterpiece was originally written as a play, and Noonie’s voice is fresh and full of life. The illustrations are a delight, adding texture and imbuing the story with creative energy and a fresh, contemporary look. This is not a graphic novel or a novel with occasional illustrations, but rather a highly illustrated novel with full color pen and ink drawings on nearly every page. This middle grade novel will appeal to budding artists who know how hard it is to take risks, share your artwork and make friends.(less)
Nikki and Deja are third graders, best friends living next door to each other. Deja can’t stop thinking about her birthday party, and she’s been talk...more Nikki and Deja are third graders, best friends living next door to each other. Deja can’t stop thinking about her birthday party, and she’s been talking about it for days. Nikki tries to be patient and helpful, but it’s hard sometimes! Now all sorts of things are threatening to ruin Deja’s big day: Her mom has to go on a last-minute business trip; another popular girl at school is going to throw a “just because” party on the same day as Deja’s party. What are the two friends going to do? Will Deja’s party turn out OK — or will it be the worst birthday ever? This chapter book really resonates with kids in second and third grades. They can relate to how hard it is to feel outdone by a kid at school, and they know what it’s like to struggle with your own best friend. This early chapter book is a winner at our school. (less)