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Amy S > Seven more of your choice....

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message 1: by Amy (new)

Amy Stevens | 26 comments 1)


message 2: by Amy (new)

Amy Stevens | 26 comments On My Honor by Marion Dane Bauer is a short novel that takes place in Illinois on the Vermillion River; specifically Ottawa, IL near Starved Rock. The story tells of two boys riding their bikes on a hot afternoon. The decide to go for a swim even though they have both been told on numerous occasions never to swim in the Vermillion River. Though the river is shallow, it is treacherous. The boys go in despite Tony's lack of swimming skills. They are to swim to a sand bar and once Joel looks back, Tony is gone. Ultimately, Tony has drowned. Joel doesn't know what to do, basically panics, goes home and does NOT tell anyone.

The rest of the novel focuses on Joel living with the guilt of his best friend's death. The police come to the Tony's house at the end where finally Joel spills what he knows.

Joel's father later apologizes to his son telling him that he should not have let the boys go on the bike ride. Joel tells his father that by touching him, his hand will have the stink of the river forever. While his dad cannot smell the stench, in this moment it is a realization of the grief, guilt and shame Joel is carrying. Joel's father tries to reassure him that the burden is not only on Joel, but on all who made choices that day.

Although this novel is very sad, it is really a great book to use for grief, friendship, living with the choices we make...lots of issues really. I think it would be great to use with students who are in 5th grade or older to help them realize that there are always consequences to the choices and chances that they take. The boys in this novel are the same age as fifth graders.


message 3: by Amy (new)

Amy Stevens | 26 comments Meet Danitra Brown by Nikki Grimes is an African American picture book that is a story but in poetic form. I love the poems for each page. The poems can be read in singular form for meaning, but overall collectively create one story about Danitra Brown. The poems are told from the perspective of Zuri Jackson, Danitra's friend. While Danitra is somewhat of an oddball, she pays no attention to what others think of her. Danitra has "coke bottle" round lenses for glasses and is the target of bullying by the other kids in the neighborhood. Danitra has such wonderful self esteem that she does not let this effect her outlook on life.

This text is appropriate for all ages really. The blend of poetry, illustrations and the overall story together makes a great piece focusing on friendship.


message 4: by Amy (new)

Amy Stevens | 26 comments The Family Book by Todd Parr is a great piece of Children's Lit that illustrates all types of families: two parents (both heterosexual and then as Parr says, "some families have two moms of two dads"), single parents, adopted families, blended families, etc. Literally the book goes on to cover how we sometimes look alike or not at all, color, distance...anything you can imagine.

This book is really a great piece for teaching tolerance and acceptance in our classrooms. The text can be used as young as pre-K and with older students. The illustrations are whimsical cartoon-like pieces of people who are blue, purple, pink, yellow, etc. and includes animals too.

The text also lends itself to helping adopted children see that all families are different, not just theirs. This is a text I really appreciate and wish we had read more of this type of book for class since it is one I can use with my students.


message 5: by Amy (new)

Amy Stevens | 26 comments Twoo Twit by Kes Gray is the tale of an owlet and the forest children. Everyone stereotypes Twoo Twit making comments about his intelligence because he is an owl. In fact, Twoo Twit cannot read. He is constantly making mistakes and being made fun of. Twoo Twit's secret finally comes out and everyone realizes he cannot read because he has been skipping school to do his own thing. Twoo Twit decides to go to school after sitting in a church bell and having it ring for two hours straight in his ears. He missed the sign and decides that now that everyone knows he doesn't read, Twoo Twit does not want to miss another sign and hear church bells nonstop ever again.

Initially I thought this would be a great book to address overcoming stereotypes. It's a cute children's book with fun illustrations. While I think it still could be used for elements of racial stereotyping, I was disappointed in the ending. I wanted so badly for Twoo Twit not to go to school and be "wise" in his own ways, other ways. In the end, Twoo Twit conformed to society. Bummer!


message 6: by Amy (new)

Amy Stevens | 26 comments Chrysanthemum by Kevin Henkes is a great children's book to use as a tool during a lesson on bullying, particularly that of name calling. Chrysanthemum loves her unique name until she begins attending school. Her classmates make fun of her on a daily basis and you can see Chrysanthemum's self esteem begin to wilt. Through the intervention of a unique music teacher, Chrysanthemum's love of her name is rekindled along with her classmates and their new appreciation of a "flower" name.

While the message is simple and clear, this text is useful for all ages. Younger students will enjoy the mice characters presented in the illustrations keeping the mood light. Older students will appreciate the straight forward approach of Henkes.


message 7: by Amy (new)

Amy Stevens | 26 comments I really debated about doing an author study on Chris Van Allsburg. He literally is my all time favorite author, hands down. However, I knew I needed to dig into a different author, thus my reasoning for choosing Jon Scieszka.

Over the summer I taught a gifted class at the local university for students grades 6-8. I incorporated many of the items we completed during our technology course. One thing I used was the original version of Thy Mysteries of Harris Burdick by Chris Van Allsburg. I don't know if any of you know the history behind the mystery, but the book is a series of black and white illustrations with titles and a one liner, but no complete story. Van Allsburg claims he is not the author and that he discovered the pictures and published them.

The book was just "re-imagined" and retitled to The Chronicles of Harris Burdick. This version now has 14 complete short stories using the preexisting titles, one liners and illustrations. I could not wait to purchase this book!

I can't decide what I am more excited about: 1) The republication of this text with stories added. 2) The fact that there are many of my favorite authors who wrote the stories (Walter Dean Myers, Jon Scieszka, Linda Sue Park, Lois Lowry, Louis Sachar, Stephen King, Chris Van Allsburg...and Sherman Alexie whom we just read about) or 3) The joy of rediscovering one of my favorite pieces of literature!

One thing that leaps out while reading is that the authors really stay true to who they are while they are writing. Scieszka uses his traditional fractured format and fractures common idioms in the English language to write his tale. (Although, Alexie's was a little disturbing.)

Anyone who has previously loved the original, will be sure to love Chronicles. My oldest son was in my class this summer and loved creating his own stories to match the illustrations. He has been begging me for this book since he heard of it. I am still hiding it from him, I am not ready to share!


message 8: by Amy (new)

Amy Stevens | 26 comments One author who continues to drift into our home is Sandra Boynton. She has a bunch of board books for toddlers, really everyone that feature comical animals as characters. While three of my four children liked her books, our youngest child seems to be in love with Sandra Boynton's books. Our favorites include: Barnyard Dance; Moo, Baa, La, La, La; Perfect Piggies; The Going to Bed Book;

Today I bought the Belly Button Book for our youngest child. I loved the book because it has the sing-song, rhyming type text that is easy for my 2 year old to pick up on. The hippos in the book are hilarious as they bare their midsections. The baby in the story cannot say belly button and it again allows a connection even at 2 of a little one who cannot quite say what the rest of us can say. This text was an instant hit both with myself and my daughter Reagan.

I chose to write about Sandra Boynton rather than just one of her books. Many of us in class have young children, nieces, nephews, are moms to be, and have grandchildren. We spend a lot of time looking at texts for our classrooms. Choosing books that fit into the earliest of experiences of literacy can really impact our own family members as they embark on their journey of reading.

Any time I pick up one of Boynton's books, it makes me smile because I can read just one part of ANY PAGE in her books and Reagan will finish the text. Although we have already read the Belly Button Book twice tonight, I anticipate reading it again before bed (along with Moo, Baa, La! La! La!). Boynton also has music available for anyone who is interested and likes this author.


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