The Journey is a story about a young Amish girl named Hannah who takes her first trip away from home to visit Chicago. I was drawn to this book becausThe Journey is a story about a young Amish girl named Hannah who takes her first trip away from home to visit Chicago. I was drawn to this book because I briefly lived in Philadelphia where I often saw Amish people in and around the city limits. I remember being unable to stop staring at them because I was curious about their clothing, mannerisms and way of life. This book is written entirely in diary entries, which describe Hannah's experiences. Hannah, her mother, and her mother’s friend experience many exciting activities in the city including going shopping, taking a boat ride, and visiting the aquarium and art museum. In her journal entries, Hannah compares her experiences in Chicago with her home life. For example when Hannah visits the aquarium she writes, “There was glass between the fish and me, but at home there always seems to be the whole lake between the fish and me when I’m trying to catch one for dinner!” This book would be perfect to use in the classroom to show how Hannah is able to make comparisons and make connections. A truly delightful book with wonderful illustrations to complement the text!...more
I choose to read this book because it was used as a benchmark for our students at my previous elementary school. Every year I saw the book used in claI choose to read this book because it was used as a benchmark for our students at my previous elementary school. Every year I saw the book used in classrooms and finally I found the perfect opportunity to read it. Written in 1993, Yoshiko Uchida's The Bracelet is a story set during World War II. Emi is a young girl who is forced to leave her home and most of her belongings and placed in a prison camp for Japanese-Americans because America is at war with Japan. Before being sent off to the prison camp her best friend gives her a special gift, a bracelet, to remember their friendship. In the prison camp Emi, her sister and her mother try to make the best of their desolate situation. However, Emi becomes devastated when she loses her bracelet. Emi learns that she does not need to bracelet to remember her friend or home. This picture book is a wonderful story explaining to young kids about prejudice, World War II, diversity, Japanese American culture and injustice. After researching the book I found out this book was based on the author’s real life experiences as a young girl. ...more
Harvesting Hope is a courageous story of one of America’s influential civil right leaders. This picture book is geared for students in grades 2-5 andHarvesting Hope is a courageous story of one of America’s influential civil right leaders. This picture book is geared for students in grades 2-5 and depicts the struggles and bravery of Cesar Chavez. As a young boy, Cesar and his family lived on a large ranch in Arizona where they harvested their own food. His family life was fruitful and loving, filled with evenings of singing songs, telling stories, and playing. Unfortunately, being a shy boy Cesar was ridiculed and struggled in school. Life for Cesar and his family took a turn for the worse, when a bad drought forced them to move away. The family moved to California where they would work on other people’s farms. The conditions were horrid and workers were treated inhumanely. In addition, workers were paid barely anything and life was difficult. Cesar decided to take action and called together a meeting. This meeting would lead to the beginning of extraordinary changes for all American workers. A book about how one man’s action caused a country to change. Viva La Causa! This book can be used in a variety of ways in the classroom including covering topics such as: American heroes, social action, Mexican-American history, hope, biographies, and prejudice. This award -winning book was written by Kathleen Krull and illustrated by Yuyi Moralses in 2003 by Hartcourt Inc. and would be a great addition to any elementary classroom library. ...more
Carmen T. Bernier-Grand’s writes a biography of twentieth century Mexican painter Frida Kahlo in the book entitled, Frida Long Live Life! The story ofCarmen T. Bernier-Grand’s writes a biography of twentieth century Mexican painter Frida Kahlo in the book entitled, Frida Long Live Life! The story of Frida Kahlo is heart wrenching yet inspirational. What makes this book unique is that the author uses poetry to write the story and uses Frida’s own paintings to accompany her writings. I tend to shy away from poetry books, but I was in awe at how easy it was to read and how much I loved it. Magdalena Carmen Frida Kahlo y Calderon was born in 1907 in Coyoacan, Mexico. Frida’s life changed forever when she was in a bus accident as a young girl. This accident resulted in over 30 major surgeries throughout her life. While recovering from her accident, she discovered painting. This led her to find the love of her life Diego Rivera a famous Mexican artist. Her story continues with the pain of the aftermath, a devastating affair, and remarriage. The book is simply a must for grades 8-12. I highly recommend this book to show students how poetry does not have to be “scary.” Teachers can use this book to study poetry, art, biographies, Mexican Revolution, and Mexican culture and history....more
The audio CD version of Akimbo and the Lions is read by the author Alexander McCall Smith. This fictonal story is the second of a book series featurinThe audio CD version of Akimbo and the Lions is read by the author Alexander McCall Smith. This fictonal story is the second of a book series featuring the character Akimbo. The story is geared for students in grades 3-5. I was immediately drawn into the audio CD because of the author's distinctive voice. I felt the story started a little slow, but became more interesting after ~10 minutes. The story takes place in Africa where Akimbo and his father, a park ranger, go out to capture a lion who is attacking a farmer's cattle. The two unintentionally catch a lion cub and Akimbo is allowed to care for and raise him. Akimbo names the cub, Simba, and they become very close. However, trouble starts when Simba is nearly full grown and Akimbo mustdecide what to do with him....more
A Book of Coupons was listed in our course textbook under the recommended books (International) in Chapter 4. The book was originally written in FrencA Book of Coupons was listed in our course textbook under the recommended books (International) in Chapter 4. The book was originally written in French and translated into several languages. It is a story about a fifth grade class who’s teacher, Monsieur Noel, practices highly unusual teaching methods that get him into trouble. On the first day of school, students are handed a special coupon book as a gift from their teacher. But this is no ordinary coupon book. Students look inside and find coupons for sleeping in class, eating in class, telling a lie, clowning around, and singing at the top of your lungs. Needless to say the principal is not happy with Monsieur Noel and keeps a close eye on him.
I was surprised to see this book on the recommended text section of our class text and as a Booklist Editors’ Choice Book as it was a culturally generic book and the story in general was mediocre at best. ...more
The Relatives Came is a story about a family from Virginia who packs their bags and takes a summer trip to visit family. Upon arrival family members hThe Relatives Came is a story about a family from Virginia who packs their bags and takes a summer trip to visit family. Upon arrival family members hug one another and are overfilled with joy to reunite. Their days are spent fixing broken things, gardening, eating strawberries and melons, and spending time together. When it is time to return home, they are sad and realize how much they will miss one another. However, the family is comforted by the fact they will see each other again next summer.
This picture book was a Caldecott Honor book and is geared for early elementary ages. Although I did not particularly enjoy this book because the story line was overly simplistic, I was still able to find a great teaching point. I choose to read this book because it is currently being used by our first grade team to discuss families. This text can serve as a mentor text on descriptive writing. It is a good example of how an author shows rather than tells. For example, instead of saying “The relatives were happy to see us.” The author writes, “Then it was hugging time. Talk about hugging! Those relatives just passed us all around their car, pulling us against their wrinkled Virginia clothes, crying sometimes. They hugged us for hours.” ...more
Owl Moon is a story about a young girl’s father who takes her “owling” for the first time. It is late at night and the girl and her father walk silentOwl Moon is a story about a young girl’s father who takes her “owling” for the first time. It is late at night and the girl and her father walk silently into the snowy forest hoping to soon hear an owl hoot. As they walk deeper and deeper into the woods, the father calls out “Whoo-whoo-whoo-whoooo” in hopes of baiting an owl into responding. Anxiously waiting to hear an owl they both stay silent as not to scare away any animals. This story is based on the author’s real life experiences. The author’s husband would take their children “owling”.
Owl Moon was awarded the 1988 Caldecott Medal. I choose to read this book because I felt this was a classic I missed out on as a child. This book can be used to show students how to paint a picture in the reader’s mind. The text provides students the opportunity to use all their senses. For example, students can use their sense of hearing when the author writes: “Somewhere behind us a train whistle blew, long and low, like a sad, sad song.” Another example is how the author explains how she felt in the following passage, “I could feel the cold, as if someone’s icy hand was palm-down on my back. And my nose and the tops of my cheeks felt cold and hot at the same time.” Having students use their senses is a great comprehension strategy to create meaning from the text. ...more
You may think it’s cold in the winter in Chicago, but you haven’t been to Delta Junction, Alaska. Recess at 20 Below is a nonfiction picture book writYou may think it’s cold in the winter in Chicago, but you haven’t been to Delta Junction, Alaska. Recess at 20 Below is a nonfiction picture book written from a student’s perspective of what recess is like at their school. The book begins by discussing the preparations for going out into the cold. Then it describes different activities students participate in outside such as sledding, making snow forts, snowball fights, and playing soccer and football. But if the temperature drops below negative 20 degrees it is too dangerous to go outside. The book has lots of great photographs and is very informational.
I think this would be a terrific book to use in the classroom for elementary aged students. Teachers could use this book for a variety of lessons as well as cross-curricular activities. The text features lots of figurative language such as onomatopoeia (“Crunch! Crunch! Crunch!”), similes (“The snow on the ground sparkles like diamonds”), and metaphors (“Megan, who is dressed all in purple looks like a jar of grape jelly”). ...more
Andy Shane would rather be at home than at school with his classmate Dolores Starbuckle. Everywhere he goes Dolores is there to boss him around and anAndy Shane would rather be at home than at school with his classmate Dolores Starbuckle. Everywhere he goes Dolores is there to boss him around and annoy him. That is of course until his Granny Webb steps in and makes a surprise visit to his school. Dolores can’t stand the fact her classmates are paying more attention to Granny Webb than to her. When Dolores tries to boss Andy around again, Andy uses a Granny Webb fail proof tactic that will change her tune.
This chapter book is geared for students in grades K-3. This book made me laugh because we have all had a Dolores Starbuckle in our class at one time or another. ...more
Thanks to training from her experienced big sister, Annabelle Swift is ready for her first day of Kindergarten. However things don’t go as smoothly asThanks to training from her experienced big sister, Annabelle Swift is ready for her first day of Kindergarten. However things don’t go as smoothly as anticipated for Annabelle. Her classmates laugh at her when she stands up and introduces herself as “Annabelle Swift, Kindergartner.” In fact when her teacher asks the class to identify the color light blue and she says “Blue Desire” (her sister uses her mother’s makeup to teach her colors) Annabelle starts doubting her sister’s advice. That is of course until it’s time for lunch. Annabelle becomes the first ever milk money counter on the first day of Kindergarten and her sister’s training pays off in the end.
Annabelle Swift, Kindergartner is written and illustrated by Amy Schwartz. This book is written for students in grades K-3. I believe this would be a great read aloud for students on the first day of school. Students would be able to make a text-to- self-connection with the main character and with each other. ...more
If you haven’t read No, David! you are in for a treat. David is a rambunctious little boy who is constantly getting in trouble. In the book David is sIf you haven’t read No, David! you are in for a treat. David is a rambunctious little boy who is constantly getting in trouble. In the book David is seen writing on the wall with crayons, banging on pots and pans, playing with his food, jumping on the bed and even picking his nose. Each page features only a few words or a short sentence with the message of No David! Poor David even sits in time out.
The author’s inspiration for this book was a book he wrote as a child. David, the author, wrote No! on every page and illustrated inappropriate behaviors. This book was awarded the 1999 Caldecott Honor. This book is geared for early elementary. Your students will love this book. I can’t wait to read David Goes To School. Although published before 2000, I had to read and review this book because a student of mine, who has Down Syndrome, carries this book to every class. ...more
Silent movie written by Avi is a picture book set in 1901 and is illustrated to mimic a silent movie. The illustrations are black and white and featurSilent movie written by Avi is a picture book set in 1901 and is illustrated to mimic a silent movie. The illustrations are black and white and featured frame-by-frame. This story is about a family who goes to America in search for a better life. The story begins by the father going alone to America. Several months later his family, Mama and Gustave, make the long trip to join father. Unfortunately they are unable to find Father Hans and after a few days they have no money and are scared. The two are forced to beg for money, which is then stolen by a thief. Things turn around for Gustave and Mama when they encounter an old friend, especially when Bartholomew Bunting sees Gustave and asks him to be in his movie.
Overall I was a little disappointed with this book written from Avi. She was a featured author in our textbook and is highly regarded. I thought this story was a bit unrealistic. I chuckled at the end of the book because it seemed a little unbelievable when Gustave goes from making a dollar a day to a hundred a week. I also found it odd that the father busts into the studio and attacks an actor in bear-suit acting with his son. I do find the topic of silent movies interesting and believe it can be used as a great teaching tool. On a positive note, I thought it was creative and an effective manner how the illustrator created a feeling of time. “I’ve created smaller images to show a quick sequence of events; most larger images are for stiller, more emotionally packed moments.” ...more
Saddle up for this wild western Cinderella story that stars Cindy Ellen. When Cindy Ellen’s father marries a second wife “meaner than a rattlesnake” CSaddle up for this wild western Cinderella story that stars Cindy Ellen. When Cindy Ellen’s father marries a second wife “meaner than a rattlesnake” Cindy Ellen’s life changes for the worse. She is made to do all the dirty work on the ranch, while her stepsisters sit back and do nothing. Then everyone in town is invited to a rodeo and square dance, but Cindy Ellen is not allowed to go. Thanks to her fairy godmother, Cindy Ellen is transformed into the cutest cowgirl this side of the Mississippi. At the rodeo she awes the crowd and the rich rancher’s son, a handsome boy named Joe Prince. At the dance, the two do-si-do and twirl all night. When the clock strikes 12:00am she runs off, however one her diamond spurs falls off her boot. Joe Prince, leveraging the spur, searches for his bride throughout the territory.
This was one of my favorite versions of Cinderella. The language in this book is fantastic, portraying western cowboy talk, slang and very descriptive metaphors and similes. The illustrations are just as enjoyable. This book will keep you and your students laughing from start to finish. A two thumbs up modern version of this fairy tale. Yee-haw!!! ...more
The Korean Cinderella features a young girl named Pear Blossom whose mother passes away when she is a child. Her father quickly remarries, so that hisThe Korean Cinderella features a young girl named Pear Blossom whose mother passes away when she is a child. Her father quickly remarries, so that his daughter can have a loving mother figure. However Pear Blossom’s new stepmother and stepsister are jealous and mean and make Pear Blossom work morning until night doing household chores. Her stepmother dresses her in rags and calls her Pigling or Little Pig. Magical animals help Pear Blossom with her list of impossible chores and help her become a magistrate’s wife, much in the Cinderella tradition....more