Sunday, December 6, 2009


By Patricia MacLachlan

This is probably my second favorite book by Patricia MacLachlan. Throughout her books I get a sense that she views her pets as great companions who have very human like qualities. This book definitely portrays that, as a dog and a cat of a family discover the new born baby, Bittle. At first they do not like her and are afraid to be around her. With time, and after she shares her food with both of them, they realize that they in fact love Bittle. They are then very protective of her. I think this is a very true story in that pets react very similarly to a new baby in the family. I also think that the author probably did not make this story up completely because during the A/P/I study I could tell that she uses real life experiences for her books. The illustrations were very cute and appropriate for the story; Bittle a little girl with a few tufts of hair and a dress on, a large dog named Julia, and a curious cat named Nigel. Overall, a very cute story!

Drip! Drop! How Water Gets to Your Tap

By Barbara Seuling

This was a book I used for my text set on water. This book addresses a common question of just how we are able to get clean water but simply turning a nob. The illustrations help explain the rather complex system of taking water from a resevoir, through many filters, to the mixing basin, to the water treatement plant, and into water mains in the city. The water cycle is also briefly discussed. I think that this book is a good resource to have as it is non-fiction but includes illustrations instead of pictures and has large text so students are not so overwhelmed with information.

One Well: The Story of Water on Earth

By Rochelle Strauss

This book is one of the first that I chose for my text set. This is probably the first book I have blogged about this is non-fiction. It has very beautiful illustrations throughout. The text is set up almost like a graphic novel; there are short paragraphs all around the page. The opening statement on the first page titled "One Well" sends a very powerful message to readers--that all of the water on the Earth is connected so everyone around the world should be responsible for taking good care of it. It breaks down where the water on earth is located (in the atmosphere, underground, oceans, lakes, etc). The web that I created for my text set follows along with this perfectly. It is a great book that encompasses many of the functions of water and the pictures are very vibrant and beautiful!

How To Cross a Pond: Poems About Water

By Marilyn Singer

This is a book of poems that I used in my text set on water. I had mostly picture books in my text set and this book takes a slightly different perspective of water. The poems are about the sounds water make, how water can "talk", and how it can dance as if to perform an "underwater ballet". There is a poem about the water from a fire hydrant that is titled "City River". I did not realize that fire hydrants could be used as a water source in the summer(other than for fires) in large cities--because I grew up in the suburbs on a quiet street. I thought the poem about the moon's gravitational pull would be a good poem to read aloud to get a discussion started on what the gravitational pull of the moon does to the oceans. The last two poems, "What Water Can Be" and "Meandering" would be fun poems to sort of 'breathe life into' like we did in our reading and responding class. Those poems would be fun to play around with and would make it a lot more interactive.

Mama One, Mama Two

By Patricia MacLachlan

This was such a sad book! From the title of this book I thought it was going to be about two mothers raising a little girl, but instead it was about a biological mother and a foster mother. From the text I inferred that the little girl's biological mother, mama one, has depression. A social worker was notified and took the little girl to a foster mother while her biological mother went through therapy at a hospital. While at her foster mother's house, the little girl asks mama two to tell the story of how the little girl came to have two mothers. The little girl is happy and seems to feel at home with both mothers, so the story could also be viewed as a positive outlook on foster homes. I think that this book would be a valuable piece of literature to have in the classroom because it goes against the norm or the typical nuclear family that is often portrayed in children's books.

A/P/I Study

I did my Author/Poet/Illustrator Study on Patricia MacLachlan. I was a little overwhelmed at first with the long list we had to choose from for this project. Finally I went to the Curriculum Lab, randomly selected this author, and looked up books she had written that were available. Before doing so, I had never heard of Patricia Maclachlan but I did remember reading Sarah, Plain and Tall when I was younger. She is now one of my favorite authors! Through her literature, I have come to find that we have a lot of the same interests. Her stories often include dogs, beautiful landscapes, and family(all the things I love!). Not to mention she has a daughter named Emily that she writes about in the very cute story The Sick Day. Also now that her daughter is older and has a family of her own, they write books together. I think that Patricia Maclachlan has a great gift for finding the beauty in man's best friend, the everyday experiences that families have, and the calm countryside landscape.

Final Reflection

Over the course of the semester I feel that I have learned quite a bit about children's literature. I have read a lot of great books that I would love to add to my collection for my future classroom library. I felt that a lot of the controversial books that I read and that we read as a class were actually very good books and definitely had something to offer for kids. Like we discussed in class, when controversial books are banned, it is as if we are trying to silence issues, many times issues that students are experiencing. The message banning certain books sends is that certain lifestyles, divorce, etc. are not okay because they are not normal. Before this class I did not realize how important literature can be; for some students it is a way to relate to others and not feel like an outsider or a misfit. I have read over fifty picture books through the semester, for this course and many others, and have found many similar qualities. I believe that what makes a good piece of literature is unique and creative illustrations, has a good story line that keeps the reader interested, allows students to connect/reflect on their own lives, and has a multicultural perspective. The best thing that I will take away from this class is the confidence to pick out and recommend children's literature to students, parents, or other teachers when I become a teacher myself!

Love That Dog

By Sharon Creech

This was a wonderful book! I'm glad that I was introduced to this story in our reading and responding class because I am now excited to use it in my future classroom. I think this book would be perfect to read and discuss in the upper elementary grades. It is very different the way that you can understand a story through Jack's poems. I must admit that I had the same views of poetry as Jack does at the beginning. I often found poetry hard to grasp and it wasn't until I came across A Poem for Emily by Miller Williams that I started to love poetry. It immediately caught my attention (because the title includes my name). When I read it, it was like an "aha!" moment and I suddenly understood the purpose of poetry. I came to the realization that poetry is truly an art of words. That said, the only thing that I did not particularly care for in this book was when Walter Dean Myers visited the class. I felt that it was not very realistic or plausible and it took away from the rest of the story. Yet overall, it was a different and fun book!

The True Story of Little Red Riding Hood

By Agnese Baruzzi

This is a novelty pop-up book that I used for one of my language arts lessons in my practicum. The students in my reading group absolutely loved this book. It was interactive and very detailed. The beginning of the story has an envelope filled with a letter that you pull out and read from the wolf. Unlike the original story of Little Red Riding Hood, the wolf feels lousy for not having an friends and having an bad reputation. He asks Little Red Riding Hood to help him change his image, and so she puts him to work cleaning and cooking for her and she puts him on a vegetarian diet. The wolf becomes famous for turning into such a good citizen, but then Little Red Riding Hood gets jealous and decides to sabotage the wolf and make him go back to his old ways. She makes him a meat sandwich and the wolf goes back to his old ways. I thought this was an interesting way to tell the story. I used this book as a mini-lesson on perspectives in literature and to show that there can always be more than one side of a story. I would love to have this book in my classroom but I would probably only use it for a mini-lesson or read-aloud.

The True Story of the Three Little Pigs

By Jon Scieszka

Along with the True Story of Little Red Riding Hood, I have used this book for many different reading lessons. It is a great way to start a discussion on perspective and bias in literature. Students think this book is hilarious; which it is! The wolf ends up in jail and claims to be "framed". He also tries to relate his circumstances to humans in that we eat cheeseburgers, so why was it so bad that he ate a few dead pigs? The illustrations are very creative and the one page with large print that says "This is the real story" is made up of sticks and other materials that come into play in the rest of the story. I think that children also like the idea of a newspaper--which actually comes into play in the True Story of Little Red Riding Hood as well. These books are great to use in a mini-lesson about perspective in literature and from my experience, students can have a fun time comparing and contrasting both original versions and "true story" versions.


By Laura Purdie Salas

This book of poems had such a funny take on how students act at school. The book goes from before school starts to after school. For instance, the first poem is called "swarm" and relates to how students are like bees in the morning that swarm in the doors. During the day they act like monkeys on the playground and when the final school bell rings, they create a stampede of animals to get out the door. I felt that a few of the poems like "Turtleneck"(about how a boy hides inside his shirt like a turtle because he didn't want to be called on) does a good job portraying how students are often very nervous of what their peers think, even at an early age. It would be a great way to introduce personification in literature as well. I would love to read these poems to my students; I think they would enjoy them all!

Brothers and Sisters: Family Poems

By Eloise Greenfield

This poetry book initially caught my eye because of the title--I am very close with my brother and so this book seemed appropriate to read. This book includes poems of only African American children but everyone who has a sibling can relate to each poem. It includes a section on poems just about brothers, then only about sisters, and finally brothers and sisters. The brothers section included poems on step-brothers, teenage brothers, and even fathers' relationship with his brothers. I especially enjoyed the poem "Don't Talk Mean" because it is told by the older brother trying to protect his younger sister. Although my brother and I usually butted heads growing up, he has always been and probably always will be very protective of me. This book would be fun to include on a unit about families because it does a good job highlighting the positive relationships of siblings.

The Misfits, Pt. 2

By James Howe
There is a lot going on in the last part of the book. I liked the groups' idea to put the names they have been called with slashes through them up around the school. I thought that was a bold move for them and definitely got people talking. I was pretty shocked and a little upset that the No-Name party lost the election. I felt like they put so much work into the campaign and deserved it the most. Yet the book did not end on a negative note. I think that throughout the campaign the group gained more confidence in themselves. In the end, each character was with who they wanted to be with all along. Yet I do not think that that part should have been included. I felt that it was not very plausible. The fact that their campaign got the school's attention and actually caused a change in their school's policy was a big accomplishment and I think it should have ended on that note.
If I teach the upper elementary grades, I think this would be a great read-aloud or independent reading book for students. Because it is controversial, I would have to get permission from the principal, etc. Yet I think this book tackles a very problematic issue and I would love to use it in the future!

The Misfits, Pt. 1

By James Howe

My first impression of Joe was that he was quite mature for his age. I pictured him tall and skinny, and very handsome looking. I was shocked to find out that he was overweight. It was a strange realization of how much reading can build mental images and finding out that Joe did not match my mental image was a bit surprising. I thought it was funny how the four friends call themselves the 'Gang of Five' because they want to keep people guessing about the last person. That's what I was thinking when I read it. I like the humor used throughout the book, and I think young readers would too. I was also rather shocked to find out that Joe confessed that he was gay. (I did not know the exact reason why this book was controversial at the beginning) Yet I honestly do not think this book should be banned because the main character is gay. I think that at this point in the book, a lot of children can relate to the main characters because I'm sure everyone has been teased or called names before. The first half of the book made me reflect on my own experiences as an adolescent, and I too felt like a 'misfit'. I can relate to how hurtful and cruel names can be.

Year of Impossible Goodbyes

By Sook Nyul Choi

This book was my least favorite of the pair with So Far from the Bamboo Grove. I felt that there were a lot of similarities between the two books, but this book was not as easy to relate to the character's life as the other. Each young girl goes through hardships and is brave and courageous enough to overcome them, but I feel that Yoko's story made me more emotional. I think that reading these two books together gives students a great opportunity to discuss how war affects people and how really in the end, we are all humans; it does not matter what side you are on. Therefore, even though I did not care for this book as much as the other, I would absolutely use this book in my classroom. I think that the two books would spark an interesting discussion about the war we are in right now and how civilians across seas are people just like us and not the enemy. Overall, I am excited to have the opportunity to teach these two books each gave me a new perspective on the complexities of war.

So Far From the Bamboo Grove

By Koko Kawashima Watkins

This novel was my favorite of the pair with Year of Impossible Goodbyes. From the start I was engaged--when Yoko's mother was pulling her by ties around her hands. I could not imagine what it would be like to live in a war zone. I felt that Yoko was a very brave young girl, and do not think that I could have been so courageous in the same situation. I could not image being forced to leave my home. It made me realize that as long as I had my family, I would get over the physical belongings that I would have to leave behind. I felt that there were so many setbacks in such a short amount of time for Yoko's family that I do not know how they were able to cope. I think that I would definitely use this book in my classroom if I teach upper elementary. A lot of important discussions could be started from this book such as WWII, refugees, struggle and triumph, and the history/culture of Japan and Korea.

City I Love

By Lee Bennett Hopkins

This is a book of poems that came out this year. The first time I read through this book I was wondering what city it took place in, then I realized that it goes to a new city for each poem. I then flipped to the inside front cover with dots indicating each city included in the poems, and noticed the map that continues onto the back inside cover...very cool! I liked how there was a main character ( a dog with a backpack) that was not included in any of the poems but was located somewhere on each page to make the book feel more cohesive. I think kids would love trying to find the dog on each page. I would have loved to bring this book in for a social studies unit of communities that I recently had in my practicum classroom. Overall, the poems were fun and unique and could be used for a variety of grade levels.


By J. Patrick Lewis

I first encountered this book during a genre presentation in the Curriculum Lab. I thought that the title was very clever--seeing as it is a poetry book about inspirational women. The pictures were very powerful--for each poem there was a full page picture on the next page. I felt that the pictures were very powerful; they truly captured the greatness of each woman. I thought it was neat how there was a paragraph for each outstanding woman that gave a brief description of why they were considered outstanding and how they have affected our world. I also thought it was neat how they had a wide range of famous women, and ended with two women who are still alive, Venus and Serena Williams. It was neat that they wrote a poem and I was actually impressed that it was so good. The layout on the page makes their voices come alive because it is written as if they are reading the poem together. This would be a fun poem to present like we did with the poems from Love That Dog in class. I would love to include this book in my classroom library.

Cosmo Zooms

By Arthur Howard

I was first introduced to this book during my observation for orientation. I am a huge dog-lover and coincidentally loved this book! The fact that every dog was good at something I think sends a positive message to children that they, too are capable of being good at something. The pictures were very large and colorful, which is perfect for a read-aloud. It's also very humorous--in my orientation experience, the students loved the part about Puddles drooling. Overall, I think this is a fun book that I would love to add to my collection for my future classroom library!

How Many Feet in the Bed?

By Diane Johnston Hamm

This is an older book that I came across when trying to find literature to incorporate into a math lesson for practicum. I think that it is a fun way to get students counting by two's or even to start thinking about multiplication. The big family is not portrayed as perfect--there are books, an alarm clock, and three pairs of slippers on the floor. The illustrations show a big, messy, and happy family. I thought this was a cute short story to include in my math lesson for second graders.

Goodnight Moon

By Margaret Wise Brown

This book was once again listed under Amazon's controversial book list. Yet when I picked it up and read it, I scrutinized each page and found nothing controversial about it. Then I read the reason for being on the controversial list, and in fact the only reason is because there was a picture of the author on the back holding a cigarette. After being published, the cigarette was then digitally removed. Overall, I felt like this was a great bedtime story for young children and would like to read it to my children someday.

Once I Ate a Pie

By Patricia MacLachlan and Emily MacLachlan Charest

For this class, I did my A/P/I study on Patricia MacLachlan. I came across this poetry picture book that she made with her daughter and fell in love with it! I absolutely loved the illustrations of the dogs, especially the pug on the cover! I thought it was a cute touch to put a stamp on the cover that says "13 Dogs Tell All!" and "Dog Approved" along with a puppy print. The book is a series of poems with different types of dogs on each page. The titles of the poems are the dog's names and include a glimpse into their lives. I am going to buy this book to have in my classroom because I think it would be fun to include in a poetry unit.

Reflection Statement

So far this course has given me a new perspective on children's literature. I have come to the realization that many books are geared towards middle class society. Most books portray a so called "typical" happy family with a caring mother, father, and siblings. I think as a future teacher I need to be aware of the books I chose to and be sure to include books that do not always portray a certain stereotype. I have also come across some great authors that I will be sure to include in my classroom library in the future. I am more confident about suggesting books which will be very helpful as a future teacher.
I thought it was very interesting to have the guest speaker from the curriculum lab come in and talk about all of the details that go into bookmaking that I never noticed before; such as picture books usually include 32 pages, how sometimes the front and back cover are one big picture, and how you can always find out what the artist used to make the illustrations (watercolor, paints, etc). I now take a little more time looking through picture books!

Monday, October 19, 2009

The Sissy Duckling

By Henry Fierstein

This is a book that I found on Amazon's controversial book list. The front cover caught my eye; it has a baby duck wearing heart sunglasses and a pink backpack with flowers on it. The title immediately caught my attention as well; the word 'sissy' is not very politically correct as it can be a derogatory term for gay. I flipped to the back cover when I picked up this book, and found out that the author is a gay rights activist. Overall, I enjoyed this book. I thought that it sent a positive message that Elmer (the main character, who is teased for being 'sissy') was very happy with himself and did the things he loved to do. It was a little stereotypical in that the father duck tried to get Elmer to play baseball instead of dancing and was ashamed of his son. The mother duck, on the other hand, was proud of her son and was very supportive. I thought this book brought up another important topic--bullying. It was very disheartening to see Elmer become afraid to even be at home. One quote that broke my heart was "Even then, alone in the dark, there was no place for Elmer". I think a lot of children may be able to relate to how Elmer felt alone and out of place. The book ends on a rather positive note, with Elmer saving his father's life and his father accepting Elmer for the way he is and standing up for him. The bully also makes amends with Elmer and Elmer no longer feels different from everyone but in fact more special. Overall, I can see why this book is controversial because it implies that Elmer is gay, and it is also very stereotypical in the activities that Elmer liked to do such as baking, making crafts and dancing. Yet I feel that this book could send a positive message to children who may feel different, who are bullied, or who do not always get approval from their parents.

Pinkerton, Behave!

By Steven Kellogg

This book was also on Amazon's controversial book list. The story is about a Great Dane puppy who does not listen and often misbehaves. It was deemed controversial because it has a picture of a robber holding a gun on the front cover as well as at the mother's head when he breaks into their home. Although the only picture of the front cover of this book that I could find is different; the robber is just seen looking in the window. I thought it was interesting that there was not a father figure in the story and that Pinkerton was sort of his replacement because he is so big and should be good at protecting its owners. Yet after going through dog training, the mother and daughter have found out that Pinkerton is very loveable and will do the opposite of the command. So when a robber breaks into their home, Pinkerton licks the robber when he hears the word "burglar" but when they yell the word "fetch" he attacks the burglar and saves their lives. Also the robber says "This is a stickup, lady. Don't move or I'll blast you and your silly hound to chicken powder." I felt that the pictures as well as the text were too graphic for a children's book and agree that it should be banned.

And Tango Makes Three

By Peter Parnell

I loved this book!! I think that this book has gotten a lot of slack and is probably one of the most controversial children's books of the past couple years. When I had to pick out 5 controversial books to blog about, this book was my first choice. I felt that the illustrations were very simple but unique; I loved the pictures of the baby penguins, they were so cute! I would love to include this book in a unit of families but would definitely be worried about what parents would have to say. I think that I would include it depending on the school district I teach in as well as having the principals' approval. etc. Throughout the book I thought it was also a good wayto start a science lesson by discussing how different animals interact and reproduce. I had also heard that the story is real; and the author's note at the end in fact confirmed that is was. I usually pass by the author's note but i thought that this author's note was particuluarly good. It made the story come alive and gave a very positive outlook on the story. What a great book!

The Un-Wedding

By Babette Cole

This controversial children's picture book has an interesting take on divorce. By the first sentence, I could tell that this author has a good sense of humor, as the family's last name is Ogglebutt. I enjoyed the second page and third page that was a diagram of the huge mansion the family lived in and had captions of what each parent hated about the other. It then had pictures of what each parent thought of as fun--which were complete opposites. I thought it was very interesting how the author then has a 4 progressing pictures of how the mother and father went from loving eachother and looking beautiful to how they grew to hate eachother and look "uglier and uglier". The two parents looked older, meaner, and each had much longer noses. It made me wonder why she chose to make their noses longer to symbolize the oppositive of beauty. After a slew of practical pranks that the parents play on eachother, the children start to take an active role in helping their parents become happy again. After talking it through with their peers, they decide to go talk to a minister about un-marrying their parents. After that point, it seemed like everyone was happy. I thought it was interesting that the illustrator used black for everything that was included in the 'un-wedding'. It was almost as if they were holding a funeral for the death of their parent's marriage yet it was a very happy time for everyone. Overall I felt that this book had a humorous take on divorce and I think it would be great to include in my classroom library because so many children have divorced parents.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

A Bit More Bert

By Allan Ahlberg

Once again, I found this book in my practicum classroom. This book was not what I expected. It was set up like a chapter book but with very little text. It was humorous because all the characters in the book were named Bert, even the dog! My first grade students did not enjoy this book as much as the others I have talked about because the illustrations are smaller and because it does not allow for prediction and is not very exciting. This is one of my least favorite books I have read so far.

Bear Feels Sick

By Karma Wilson

I read this book during my practicum in a first/second grade split classroom. It was a great read aloud! The main character, the bear, is sick throughout the majority of the book and his friends from the woods are helping him get better. They make him soup and give him blankets and try to help him get rest. When the bear finally falls asleep, he wakes up feeling much better. But then all the friends that helped him get sick. The children had fun predicting what was going to happen once the bear woke up. The illustrations were very large which made it easy for everyone to see. Overall, a good book when you have ten minutes to fill!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The Jewel Box Ballerinas

By Monique De Varennes and Ana Juan

This book was different but I enjoyed it. I of course wanted to read it because I knew it would have wonderful illustrations. Bibi Branchflower reminded me of a lonely "crazy cat lady" or a middle-aged woman who had all the money in the world but was not happy. I loved the dogs on each page jumping around and I'm sure children would love finding them on the pages. I felt like the moral of the story was that money does not buy you happiness and that friendship and love are two of the most important things to have in life.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The Chicken of the Family

By Mary Amato

I think I was drawn to this book because I always felt like the chicken or the baby of the family. I love how the title is a play on words; when I read the title I thought it would be about the person who is always scared or shy in the family. The main character is the more shy one and is constantly being bullied by her older sisters, but she is also told that she is literally a chicken. Henrietta is scared but decides that she can't do anything about being a chicken, so she goes to the farm closest to her house and introduces herself to the chickens. She wondered if any of the chickens were her brothers or sisters. She decides that they are MUCH nicer to her than her other sisters were and actually loves the life of a chicken. Her sisters show up and tell her the truth; that she isn't a chicken, and get upset when they realize that Henrietta is actually having fun. The joke ended up turning on them. I could definitely relate to Henrietta because my older brother would always tease me about crazy stuff like that and I would most likely always believe him. I really enjoyed the illustrations, they were cutesy kind of drawings with vivid pinks and greens which were my favorite colors as a little girl.

Slow Loris

By Alexis Beacon

I chose this book because it was by the author of Jitterbug Jam. It was not at all what I expected from the same author but was pleasantly surprised. Slow Loris is about a meerkat (I think!) who is, you guessed it...very slow. The people who go to the zoo watch him and are bored. However, no one knows that at night he is up doing anything and everything super fast. That is why during the day he is so slow, because he is exhausted. I loved how the author used two full pages for a picture of Loris that made him look super fast. The book has a page that folds out and a flap that folds over on a different page. I think kids would love this book because it has the element of surprise when you see Loris fast and it also has the pop-up illustration book feel.

What do you do with a kangaroo?

By Mercer Mayer

I can vaguely remember reading this book in elementary school. Mercer Mayer and especially the little critters were always my favorite. I think this would be a great read aloud book because it has a predictable pattern. I think students would enjoy how particular each animal is. It is ironic how the animals demand very elaborate things when we know that animals live very minimalistic lives. I like how Mayer illustrated the little girl trying to move the animals out on three different pages to show how difficult of a task it was without saying anything. It was a great precursor to the surprise ending when she gives up and lets the animals stay and they all seem happy. Very cute!

Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs

By Judi Barrett

I was excited to read this book because I had seen the trailer for the movie. I was first surprised by how dull the first couple of pages were in black and white. I thought it was interesting how the book illuminated with color only when the grandfather was telling the story, because at the end of the story and the end of the book, it returns to black and white. It made me very curious as to what the movie would be like because it's such a short book. I wondered how the author came up with the type of food that fell from the sky. The kinds of foods were very typical American staples-like hot dogs, hamburgers, sandwiches, and spaghetti. I think it would be neat to see this book transposed to a different culture and what different foods would be falling from the sky. I loved how this book is very imaginative and keeps you interested. Good book!!

The Night Eater

By Ana Juan

I chose this book because I absolutely loved The Elephant Wish and figured that if Ana Juan was such a good illustrator that she probably does okay writing books too. I was right, and this book is currently being added to list I've made for books I want to have in my future classroom. I instantly fell in love with the cute, chubby night eater in pink pajamas wearing the mischievous smirk on his face. I enjoyed reading about how the night would taste, the clouds like cotton candy, the darkness like bitter chocolate, and the stars like bubbles of gas. I also thought the metaphor of the sun greeting the people was very clever. When the night eater decided to stop eating the night because he was embarrassed about being too fat, all the people realize how they need the sun to survive. I saw this as a great opener for a science lesson on the importance of the sun or even what happens when something in our ecosystem is altered. In my opinion, this book ended up being a great lesson on how we shouldn't take things for granted. LOVED it!

The Knight Who Took All Day

By James Mayhew

I chose this book from just browsing through the curriculum lab shelves. I thought the title was a clever play on words. After reading books with illustrations by Ana Juan it was hard to appreciate the illustrations in this book. They were very simple and looked like they were done with colored pencils. The story was funny and had a lot of old vocabulary like squire and plume. It was also very ironic because the knight was so caught up with his looks that he didn't notice the princess was dressed up in less armor and had already tamed the dragon. I liked how the princess, although she starts off as the typical helpless woman who needs to be saved, ended up being more brave than the knight! I think this would be a good book to read aloud to primary elementary grades.

A Boy Called Slow

By Joseph Bruchac

This book was different from any book that I have read for this class so far. I picked it up for my child study student because he likes to talk about his Native American heritage. The main character of this book is given the name Slow because it is a custom for the Lakota Sioux to give their child a name that represents how they act. Once that child has grown, they have to do a courageous act that will allow them to be renamed based on something from that act. I could only imagine how self-conscious the young boy was because being "slow" does not have a positive connotation. Throughout the story, Slow looks up to his father and dreams of being just as brave and courageous as he is. It is fairly easy to predict that Slow turns into someone who is just as legendary as his father. I think this was a great lesson for children--that although you may start off "slow", you can take what you've learned and become whoever you want to be.

A Picture Book of Sitting Bull

By David Adler

This was another book I picked out for my child study student. My child study student loved this book and really liked the illustrations because he has a Native American heritage. The story was along the same lines as the book A Boy Called Slow because obviously the main character is Sitting Bull. In my perspective, the book was a little boring and did not keep me very interested. I did not care for the drab, old-looking illustrations. This book has made me realize how important reaching the interests of all students is when using literature in the classroom.

Love You Hate You Miss You

By Elizabeth Scott

This novel is in the top five of my favorite books of all time. It is recommended for sixth grade and up; however, in my opinion, it should be for at least seventh or eighth grade. It is an easy book to read but I do not think some of the content is appropriate for upper elementary students. The lead character, Amy, is a sixteen-year-old who lives with her mother and father who are still so sickly in love that they do not seem to notice their daughter spinning out of control. She has taken up drinking at parties that she goes to with her best friend, Julia. Julia has a boyfriend, Kevin who is known to be a bad guy at their high school. Amy is sick of her best friend being betrayed by Kevin. One night at a party she decides to plan for Julia to catch Kevin being unfaithful . To her surprise, Julia does not break up with him, but is completely traumatized. Julia ends up driving away from the party, with Amy as a passenger, and crashing the car. Amy survives, but her bff Julia does not. You do not find out any of this information until the very end. The process of getting tidbits of information at one time is what kept this book on the edge of my seat. From the start, all you know is that Amy has a friend from high school who passes away and she misses her a lot. The book is split up into two different parts; one part is letters to Julia and the other is a personal narrative, all in Amy's perspective. She goes through the mourning process that coincides with the title of loving her best friend, hating her for dying, and missing her beyond belief. Amy also has to deal with the enormous feeling of guilt that, although she was not driving, she was the reason Julia was driving so careless. Reading about how Amy goes through picking up the pieces of her life again was an emotional roller coaster. The written letters are incredible--I do not usually cry for movies or books but I definitely cried when reading this book!

The Giver

By Lois Lowry

WOW...I had no idea that I would like this book so much. I did not read this book in high school, but had heard of it. I was very confused at the beginning and did not know whether to think the book was either set in the future or in some socialist community in history. I was very curious when Jonas was talking about being afraid of a plane overhead. I was amused by how they classified children and people's jobs. I also found it interesting how his father took the role of what we could call a nurse in our society and his mother was a judge. At times I felt like I was reading a different language or reading about a different time period. Everything was very set, rigid, and very controlled. I would not have liked to live like they were, and am glad that Jonas stood up for what he believed in, I like to think that I would have done the same. I liked how the book allowed for many different interpretations. For instance, the ending I felt like could go either way. I viewed the book as a glass half full, and believe that Jonas and Gabriel did in fact find "Elsewhere" and lived on to lead happier, more exciting lives. Overall, I would definitely love to use this book in my classroom if I teach upper elementary. It was not what I expected at all but I am glad I read it!

Odd Boy Out: Young Albert Einstein

By Don Brown

I picked this book up for my child study student because he is a very intelligent second grader and thought he would enjoy reading about someone who was also very smart as a young boy. It is the story of the childhood of Albert Einstein and not only is it funny but it tells interesting facts about Einstein that I did not know. I had no idea that Albert Einstein did not talk for the longest time when he was younger; I just assumed that smarter children spoke sooner. The setting takes place where Albert was from, Germany, so it gives the reader a glimpse into a different culture. I loved the illustrations that were almost like sketches and the fact that almost every page was either yellow or blue depending on the mood of Albert (mostly the pictures were drab, Albert was not portrayed as a happy young boy). The end shows Einstein as an old man, how we would picture him today. I loved the last line, "For the world, Einstein comes to mean not fat baby, or angry child, or odd boy, but great thinker". It just comes to show children that the sky is the limit.

The Elephant Wish

By Lou Berger and Ana Juan

I was very curious about this book because our teacher has a blog post about it and the picture of it intrigued me. I wanted to find out for myself what it was all about. It didn't surprise me that it was a fabulous book! I found out after reading this book that my favorite children's literature genre is fantasy. I loved how the main character is not as skinny as a twig, and that her parents are a little crazy and occupied with their own personal lives. I think that I expected to see a mother and a father who loving took care of their child, but that was not the case. This little girl made a wish to be taken away by elephants, in my opinion, because she felt alone and depressed. It made me feel blessed that my parents were always so involved in my life. But I could also relate feeling alone because I was very shy (and am still trying to come out of my shell more) and did not have very many friends growing up. I also just enjoyed reading this book because the words Berger chose were very fun to say, like Prattlebottom. Not to mention the illustrations! At first glance, I thought there was smoke behind the little girl, then saw the elephant, and made the connection that she was blowing out candles from a birthday cake and the smoke took the shape of what her wish was. I could have probably looked through the book for hours finding tiny details that Juan incorporated into the book. It was interesting to see how the parents felt remorseful and found out that they needed to change in order to show their daughter that they loved and cared for her. My favorite page was when the whole jungle was still--I couldn't help but laugh out loud when I came to that page! Overall, I think that everyone should take the time to read this book, it's very interesting!

Scaredy Squirrel Makes a Friend

By Melanie Watt

This book is hilarious! It is about a squirrel who lives in a tree and is afraid of EVERYTHING! It was a quick read and does not have a lot of text. It mostly consists of labels and cute descriptions of what Scaredy is worried about doing. I love how throughout the entire book Scaredy's main goal is to avoid the dog but ends up becoming great friends with him. I felt the overall message was that some things may have germs and be scarey but they are worth the risk!

Monday, September 21, 2009

The Red Book

By Barbara Lehman

This is a wordless book I found searching for fantasy and science fiction books for our genre presentations. The front of the book does not even have a title, which immediately made me very curious. It won the Caldecott award in 2005, so I knew it was probably pretty good. I would not have picked it up on any given day, but I'm glad I did! My interpretation of the book was that a young girl finds a red book in the snow and when she finally opens it, she sees a boy on a far away island looking in the same book at her. She wants to go see this boy so she buys a huge bouquet of balloons and flies there. On the way she drops the book. The story then continues from the dropped book on the sidewalk and you see the girl reach the island to meet the boy. At the end, a boy on a bike sees the red book and takes it, and left me thinking about how the same thing would happen to that boy. It then got me thinking about how I, the reader was also looking in the "red book" and was yet another perspective. In other words, I was reading the book that a girl was reading, that a boy was reading all at the same time. What a crazy coincidence! I really loved this book and it made me realize how much I want to have all types of genres of books in my classroom, including wordless books because they are open for interpretation and can require as much effort as reading does!

A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving

By Charles M. Schulz

I had not heard of graphic novels until this class. The few that I flipped through at the curriculum lab, when we were looking at all types of genres,I did not really care for. It was hard to figure out what to read next and just like we discussed in class, it hurt my eyes looking at the illustrations! That said, I used to love Charlie Brown as a little kid. I do not remember reading the books, only watching it on TV. I felt that graphic novels were perfect for Charlie Brown because the pictures were sequenced and were very similar to the TV shows. I loved the part where Charlie asks Snoopy to help set up a table and Snoopy gets sidetracked with Woodstock playing ping-pong. I also liked the fact that there were multiple problems for Charlie that kept the reader waiting for something to happen next. My favorite part about this book is the humor and the irony that I never really got until now. My only concern with this book is that I would be cautious of having it in my classroom. I would be sure not to have Christmas and Thanksgiving to be the only holidays represented in literature in my classroom. Overall, as far as graphic novels, I enjoyed this book.

Jitterbug Jam

By Barbara Jean Hicks

This was such a fun book! Yet another children's picture book I would not have read if I did not have the fantasy/science fiction genre to present. It is a book about a young monster who is afraid of the boy hiding under his bed at night. The story is told in the little monster's point of view and so is not in grammatically correct English. The author uses repetition with the tongue-twister phrase "lickity-split and spit-fish" which is quite amusing to read. I liked how the family consisted of two brothers, a mother, and a grandfather. Some children could maybe relate to living with a grandparent, which is not portrayed in children's literature very often. I thought the end to the story was very cute how it related to the title. While reading the book I kept wondering where Jitterbug Jam came from. It wasn't until the end where the little monster makes friends with the human kid by sharing a piece of toast with the monster form of jelly on it-jitterbug jam. The illustrations were very different and really captured the theme of monsters, I really liked them. One page is just one big picture to show the climax of the story when the little monster gets up the nerve to go under his bed to find the human boy. I also noticed that the paper was not shiny and slick like most picture books, it had the feel of construction paper. Overall, I loved this book and will be putting it on my Christmas list this year!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Jimmy Zangwow's Out-of This World Moon-Pie Adventure

By Tony DiTerlizzi

I stumbled upon this book while searching the bibliographies pages on the curriculum resources lab website. This book is a science fiction tale about how Jimmy, a very hungry boy, is denied a moon pie from his mother and flies to the moon to get his own moon pie. I like how the mother is not portrayed as perfect. You do not see her face but she is wearing shabby slippers and is making a mess cooking dinner. Also, there are finger prints on the cupboards most likely from Jimmy and he has his toys strung out in the kitchen. I can definitely relate to this illustration because my house growing up was usually untidy. I also love Jimmy's outfit; he has a blanket on for a cape, cowboy boots, suspenders, and goggles around his head. He depicts a very adventuresome young boy. I love the puns the author includes in the book--how Jimmy flies to the moon for a moon pie and then goes to the milky way to get some milk to go with his moon pie. Jimmy has multiple problems throughout his journey that keep the reader interested. Ironically, Jimmy never gets to eat all the moon pies he finds on the moon but when he returns home he gets a moon pie for dessert from his mom. I love the last page with the moon in the background outside the window while Jimmy is enjoying his moon pie. I think this would be a great read-aloud. LOVED this book!

Jumpy Jack and Googily

By Meg Rosoff and Sophie Blackall

I actually found this book in the classroom I have practicum at. I read the book to three first graders and they absolutely loved this book, especially the illustrations. I enjoyed reading this book out loud because it was fun using alliteration saying Jumpy Jack every other sentence and saying the name "Googily" was just a fun word to say. Also while reading to the students it was easy to change my tone, pitch and speed for the two different characters. I spoke really fast for Jumpy Jack because he was always scared and read at a low and steady pace for Googily because he was a brave monster-type creature. I also thought it was great how there was a pattern to each page; Jumpy Jack always wanted Googily to check certain places to make sure he wouldn't be scared. He always says something along the lines that there's probably nothing hiding that would scare him, but he just wants to be sure. The fact that students can predict what Jumpy Jack will say keeps them engaged and interested in the book. The ending is very cute. Jumpy Jack wants Googily to check under the bed for monsters. I think the students could definitely relate to that same situation. I can't remember how many times I asked my parents to check for monsters under my bed before I could go to sleep. It is a surprise ending, because after Googily checks for monsters for Jumpy Jack, he starts to get scared himself and asks Jumpy Jack for help. I like how the brave character shows a vulnerable side and shows kids that it is okay to be scared sometimes. Great book!

Monday, September 14, 2009

The Deaf Musicians

By Pete Seeger and Paul Dubois Jacobs

I like to read the dedications of each book, and this one grabbed my attention. The first dedication reads, "To my deaf father: Charles Louis Seeger". I think the fact that the author has written this book about and/or for his father makes it more meaningful and interesting. Everything about this book is Jazz-inspired, from the style of writing, to the font and arrangement of certain words, and especially the illustrations. I loved the picture when Lee is on the subway. There is a lady dressed in formal attire and a young guy slouching with his hat turned sideways and Lee bending down tying his shoe. For me the picture was almost like I was watching a movie; it was very realistic. The author's relation of signing and jazz music was unique and gave me a different perspective on sign language. I particularly like the end where Lee proves that his hearing loss does not stop him from expressing his musical talent or love for jazz. The afterward written by the author reminded me of Mr. Holland's Opus where they have a sign interpreter for the final concert so his son could "listen" to the music. This book opened my eyes to the different ways music can be expressed and heard!

One of Those Days

By Amy Krouse Rosenthal

I chose this book because it was by an author that our guest speaker in class thought was really good. When I found the book I was actually having "one of those days". It is a very easy book for children to read-it just has the name of the bad day on each page. I enjoyed reading all of the different scenarios and could relate to just about all of them. I think children would think this is a really funny book. I especially enjoyed the "Say The Wrong Thing Day" and the illustration that has a girl saying hi and a boy replying "uh...marshmallow?" I have a lot of days where I can't seem to say anything right! After reading this book I felt a little better about my day. I think that may be the overall message of the book-that everyone has a bad day. I thought the ending was clever where she says "luckily every single one of those days eventually turns into night....and every night turns into a brand-new day". It is a great uplifting ending. I thought the illustrations were unique. I liked how the illustrator drew lots of people with different heights, hair color, skin color, and style of clothing to further represent that everyone has a bad day. Loved this book!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

The Boxcar Children

By Gertrude Chandler Warner

I can still remember the day when I checked this book out at the school library about thirteen years ago. As a child I really enjoyed Gertrude Chandler Warner's novels. Reading this book again was pretty cool because I could remember a few chapters and it was weird to see it from my perspective now. While reading I couldn't help but think how the scenario is very unrealistic. It was almost like a fantasy novel to me when I was younger; how simplistic life was for the children who only needed food and shelter to be happy. I can't even think of life without my cell phone or the internet! The roles that the children took were very stereotypical. Jessie, the oldest sister, was in charge of setting up the boxcar and making dinner that the oldest brother, Henry brought home after a long day's work. I felt that the whole field day race that the grandfather sponsored was random. I did not care for how the children just assumed that their grandfather was old and mean as if the two qualities go hand in hand. However, I did like the fact that the kids missed their boxcar and their simple life compared to living in luxury under their grandfather's roof. I loved this book when I was younger but I think now it is a little outdated.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Esio Trot

By Roald Dahl

I chose to read this novel because it was by an author I have heard of (the author of James and the Giant Peach). Otherwise, it would not have been a book I would typically pick up judging by its cover. I felt that the story kept me interested but I was disappointed with the ending. I liked when I finally figured out what the title was about because I was a little confused as to what the title meant. I think children would enjoy the silliness of Mr. Hoppy fooling Mrs. Silver that turtles really talk backwards. When the text is written so it creates a staircase and it clearly states that Mr. Hoppy leaves the door to his apartment open, I expected all of the turtles to come out and for Mrs. Silver to figure out what he was up to. I think that may have been a better ending. It was a little unrealistic for my taste, but on the other hand, children might enjoy it. I did not think that Mr. Hoppy should have gotten away with lying and overall, I do not think it sends a very good message. On the bright side, I did enjoy the more simple, sketch-like drawings throughout the book.

The Whales

By Cynthia Rylant

This is an older book that I found in the curriculum lab. I chose to read this book because I was familiar with the name Cynthia Rylant but have never read any of her books. I think it is great how she wrote and illustrated the book. I like how the book is written as a poem about whales. Rylant is definitely able to capture the grand and majestic characteristic of whales. I felt that I actually learned a few things about whales from the poems. For instance, I learned how whales do not have a sense of smell and how they communicate by sound and touch by the part " But a rose is lost on them, for they haven't any sense of smell. No matter. They love songs and touching and can court without flowers." I do however have an issue with one of the last pages that reads, "Like angels appearing in the sky, whales are proof of God." I think that some parents may have an issue with that part of the book. Other than that, I loved the illustrations and the unique style of writing that the author uses. I also like the page at the end that has pictures of whales with their names on them so students can see all the different types of whales that were written about in the book.

If You Give a Pig a Pancake

By Laura Numeroff

I loved this book! When I was younger the book If You Give a Mouse a Cookie by the same author was very popular. I thought that the illustrations of the greedy little pig were hilarious! I think it is neat how the pig goes off on a tangent wanting so many different things but ends up where she was at the beginning of the book wanting a pancake. I think that it would be fun to take the same style of writing Numeroff uses and have children come up with their own animal to write a story about.

Itty Bitty

By Cece Bell

I was not too impressed with this book. I was initially drawn to it because I love dogs. The story begins with Itty Bitty (a very tiny dog) finding an enormously large bone to live in and has to find furniture to fit inside. It is a very quick and easy read appropriate for pre-school through kindergarten. Personally, I did not see how children could connect to this book or be very interested in reading it. There isn't a pattern to the book or a point where students can predict what will happen. There is no purpose to the story. Although the book is newer, the illustrations were not very unique. Overall, nothing to write home to mom about!