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!