A story celebrating all kinds of grannies, Australian Maragaret Wild's text is funny and sweet, but Julie Vivas's illustrations of "women of a certainA story celebrating all kinds of grannies, Australian Maragaret Wild's text is funny and sweet, but Julie Vivas's illustrations of "women of a certain age" will make you laugh out loud and cheer "Yea for Grannies" at the same time....more
Margaret Wild and Ron Brooks have conspired to make "Fox" disturbing, strange, and thought provoking. The text, the pictures, the themes – there is noMargaret Wild and Ron Brooks have conspired to make "Fox" disturbing, strange, and thought provoking. The text, the pictures, the themes – there is no comfort in any of these. The cover warns you that danger is approaching - with the bright orange color, the sharp line drawings, and Fox’s profound yellow stare. Fox is as evil a character as I have ever seen in a children’s book – not evil born of greed or selfishness like Red Riding Hood’s wolf, but evil born of a desire to damage something precious, to cause desolation, to bring others to the place of emptiness and despair where Fox’s own heart lies. I am unsure if I would read this book to primary level students. I notice that it is a book selected for the writing trait of ideas, and I can imagine that, in a writing class of intermediate or junior high students, this book would generate endless ideas for discussion and writing....more
A sweet sleepy-time tale by Australian author Mem Fox, with illustrations from the always luminous Jane Dyer. Pairs nicely with Nikola-Lisa's Night isA sweet sleepy-time tale by Australian author Mem Fox, with illustrations from the always luminous Jane Dyer. Pairs nicely with Nikola-Lisa's Night is Coming....more
A beautiful message on Buddhist reincarnation beliefs, Samsara Dog shows us what must be learned (in one life or as many as it takes) in order to passA beautiful message on Buddhist reincarnation beliefs, Samsara Dog shows us what must be learned (in one life or as many as it takes) in order to pass from this world to Nirvana. I gave Samsara Dog five stars, one for each tissue I used as I cried my way thru the book. Australian author and artist....more
An Australian author and artist joined forces to bring us a book for our economically pinched times. In Colin Thompson and Amy Lissiat’s “The Short anAn Australian author and artist joined forces to bring us a book for our economically pinched times. In Colin Thompson and Amy Lissiat’s “The Short and Incredibly Happy Life of Riley” we learn that rats have short but happy lives, they have everything they want, and more importantly they want everything they have. In contrast, people’s long lives are spent yearning for other, better things, places, and people. “…Realizing that rats have a better life than you do is really, really sad,” but reading this book is really, really funny. Adults may enjoy this picture book more than kids, but kids will definitely learn a lesson and laugh all the while. The illustrations are a bit gross, a little cheeky and quite hilarious, but beware; a naked tush is shown, as well as a cherub smoking a cigarette. ...more
I love children’s books by authors from other countries – they take away my ability to predict the story, and I am so often happily surprised by the uI love children’s books by authors from other countries – they take away my ability to predict the story, and I am so often happily surprised by the unexpected twists and turns and endings. Marie Léonard’s Tibili, The Little Boy Who Didn’t Want to Go to School, is no exception. The author is French, but the book is set in Africa, where Tibili, the boy who laughs at everything stops laughing when he learns he must soon start school (Andrée Prigent’s illustration of the non-laughing Tibili made me laugh!). Tibili doesn’t want to learn to read and write words on a chalkboard, he wants to read the sky like his grandfather, and read the dust on the road that shows the tracks of animals who cross there each day. These statements are one of the twists in the story – they made me stop and wonder about the concept of reading – we might be learning to read words, but I think there are many other “texts” in our world that go unnoticed. As a Media Specialist, I am concerned with teaching information literacy. The sky and the dust are two pieces of information that I hadn’t considered before. Tibili made me laugh and made me think, and this book took me through several twists and turns to a very satisfying ending. ...more
There are no colors in The Black Book of Colors, ones we can see with our eyes, anyway. This book, by Venezuelan artists, pairs raised black line drawThere are no colors in The Black Book of Colors, ones we can see with our eyes, anyway. This book, by Venezuelan artists, pairs raised black line drawings with black paper – we can feel the “pictures” – and the text describes to us what colors taste, smell and feel like. White text is paired with black Braille letters, and the descriptions of the colors bring fantastic images to mind. I had to close my eyes to test if my fingers could read the difference between red (the shape of a strawberry) and brown (the shape of leaves) – my fingers failed the test. An experiential book that can be the basis for many kinds of lessons. I have noticed that this is one of the most reviewed books in Goodreads!...more
The poetry written by a young girl who is both gifted and learning disabled, Reach for the Moon, by Samantha Abeel, is truly inspiring. Teachers, thisThe poetry written by a young girl who is both gifted and learning disabled, Reach for the Moon, by Samantha Abeel, is truly inspiring. Teachers, this book contains an invaluable set of author's notes - passages from Samantha Abeel about her feelings regarding school before and after her LD diagnosis, from her mother documenting a long and heartwrenching journey to find the right educational support and placement for her daughter, and from the teacher who helped Samantha find a way to free her inner voice. This book belongs in every school library and should be read by every teacher who interacts with students in gifted or LD programs....more
My extended family includes people with physical disabilities and people in same-sex relationships. Among my closest friends are a family with two dadMy extended family includes people with physical disabilities and people in same-sex relationships. Among my closest friends are a family with two dads and a family with two moms. Because our family is “different” it was important for my children to learn from their earliest days that different is okay. I’ve been reading Todd Parr’s It’s Okay to be Different to them since the book was first published and my kids were 1 and 3 years old. As we read the book together we would say who the page reminded us of –for example on the page that shows a boy in a wheelchair we would read “ it’s okay to have wheels,” and add, “like uncle John.” Todd says it simply (and colorfully), “It’s okay to be different. You are special and important just because of being who you are.” I hope this message stays with my children all of their lives....more
Teen Life Among the Amish and Other Alternative Communities: Choosing a Lifestyle, by David Hunter is part of a non-fiction series called Teen Life inTeen Life Among the Amish and Other Alternative Communities: Choosing a Lifestyle, by David Hunter is part of a non-fiction series called Teen Life in Rural North America, which examine the particular challenges, issues, and activities of teens in a rural America. Other titles in the series range from Growing Up on a Farm: Responsibilities and Issues, to Rural Crime and Poverty: Violence, Drugs and other Issues. The entire series sounds fascinating to me, and if this book is any indication, my hunch may prove to be true. While I choose this book to reflect on the Amish Lifestyle, while reading, I realized that the rural American lifestyle can be considered “alternative” for many city and suburban students.
“Choosing a Lifestyle” begins with an inquiry into what is meant by community, and progresses to a discussion of alternative communities and the reasons why alternative communities are founded. The book breaks up longer chapters with half-page highlights that contain brief bits of interesting and important information. In one of these sections, “A Note About Terminology,” students are cautioned to be aware of the words they choose, and informed that the use of the word “normal” when discussing a student’s own community or lifestyle implies that other communities or lifestyles are “abnormal.” Different does not mean weird, strange or abnormal, the book says, and that is good advice for any teen.
When providing information about the Amish, the book begins with the Protestant Reformation in Europe, describes the Amish beginnings in the Anabaptist movement, and concludes the historical background with an explanation of the difference between the Amish and the Mennonites. The information about Amish life today is delivered with matter-of-fact honesty; the Amish lifestyle is not romanticized or made quaint in this book, and that is partly why I gave it five stars.
Other alternative communities discussed include Israeli Kibbutzim, communes born from the counterculture movement of the 1960’s and 70’s (some are still operating successfully!) and the newly popular Eco-Villages, which are focused on sustainable living. The book concludes with a chapter on learning to respect differences, and the final half-page highlight states “ultimately, we all belong to a single global community!”
In 95 pages, Choosing a Lifestyle provides brief, relevant and easy to understand lessons in history, religion, sociology and anthropology, but the lesson most emphasized is respect. The focus this book places on acceptance, respect and understanding for lifestyles different from one’s own is the other reason I gave this book five stars. ...more
Moses is an exuberant seven year-old boy experiencing a bit of writer’s block on his “Friends” assignment. He has so many friends that he cannot choosMoses is an exuberant seven year-old boy experiencing a bit of writer’s block on his “Friends” assignment. He has so many friends that he cannot choose which one to write about. Finally he decides to write about Zaki, an iguana with special needs. Zaki lost most of her toes to an infection, and iguanas need their toes in order to climb. Zaki must “figure out how to get where she wants to be in different ways” than other iguanas. “She’s like me,” Moses decides. Moses has several disabilities, including spina bifida. He uses a wheelchair, and like Zaki, he has to figure out how to get where he wants to be using different means.
All Kinds of Friends, Even Green, written and photographed by Ellen B. Senisi, shows both Moses and Zaki living active lives and interacting in all kinds of ways with their (human and reptile) friends. This is a bright, colorful book that truly shows that many children with physical disabilities learn to most things, just in a different way. The text is written on a background that looks like first grade writing strips – a perfect little extra touch. The iguanas (Zaki and her brother, Hashi) really underscore the messages – a friend is someone you have things in common with, and a disability is a challenge, not a limit. This is a great book for the beginning of kindergarten or first grade---this age group loves animals, loves to talk about friends, and they may be seeing students with disabilities for the first time. Moses and Zaki will help them feel comfortable around students in wheelchairs, and iguanas. ...more