Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The Crocodile Blue by Coleman Pothemus

The Crocodile Blues is a funny wordless picture book about a man and his bird and their comical adventure dealing with an egg they recently bought. The egg turns out to be a crocodile! Terrified the man and bird run out of the house and find a new place to live. Soon they receive a letter in the mail from the crocodile inviting them to the opening of his new club at their old house. The bright pictures and use of only black,blue, white, and yellow colors really captivates the readers and makes the pictures pop out. Young children will love looking at the pictures and creating a story to go along with them. I just loved this book and found myself looking at the pictures over and over again catching new details.

Shopping with Dad by Matt Harvey

This is a great funny rhyming picture book for younger ages. A young girl and her father go grocery shopping together while her mom is at work. She gets so excited and can hardly control herself. She lets out a loud sneeze and ciaos erupts in the store and everything seems to go wrong. People in the store become restless by all the accidents occurring and an arguments start. The blame game starts and it finally is revealed that the little girl started this whole scene and soon everyone works together to clean up the mess. This is a great story in showing that accidents do happen, but they can also be fixed. Some things I loved about this story that would be great for children to see in their literature were the different races of characters. I thought it was great to finally see a mixed relationship shown in today's picture books. Also this book play a role reversal with the dad going grocery shopping and the mother was at work. These are all positive things to show to children to give different types of families that are all around us. I also like the positive relationship the girl had with her father, even though at some points he would show his frustration they still dealt with their problem in a positive way.

The Magic Finger by Roald Dahl

The Magic finger by Roald Dahl and illustrated by Quentin Blake is a fun easy read for young elementary students. This story is about a 8 year old girl who remains nameless through out the story who possesses a magical finger. She then becomes angry when people go hunting and it just happens that's exactly what her new neighbors love to do. After continuously asking them to stop and being rudely denied she resorts to using her special finger. The neighbors find themselves with wings the next morning and the tables turned, they have become the hunted! Roald Dahl presents the theme of animal rights into this story, which could start some discussion.This was a quick read that beginning readers would enjoy. Quentin Blake includes great illustrations through out the book to help create a picture in the readers mind. I would definitely recommend this book to teachers and parents as a fun read aloud for their children. It is a silly book that can inspire imagination.

The Giver by Lois Lowry

I absolutely loved this book! Lowry does a great job of painting an image into your head and really making you feel as though you are personally involved in the story. This is the story of Jonas who lives in this "perfect" world where everything is in order and the people feel no pain, along with no emotion. Jonas is then assigned the job as the memory holder for the community and is forced to feel and see all these memories that bring him both comfort and pain. He soon learns the truth about his "perfect" world and what they are missing out on. I just loved the way this book made you feel both during and after reading it. It was truly inspiring and made you appreciate the world around us and all of the things we are able to experience. I think this would be a great book to read with older elementary students. I'm sure this book would lead to great discussion and opinions. Lowry does a great job of creating scenes that could have multiple interpretations instead of just clearly stating what happens. This book captivates the reader and brings you to a new world full of suspense and excitement. I really encourage everyone to read this book! its a quick read and will change your out look on certain things. It will teach children not to take things for granted. I loved this book!

Bob's Best ever Friend by Simon Bartram

Bob the astronaut travels to and from the moon to give his daily "Moon Tours" and although he loves his job he gets lonely and wants to find his best ever friend. This is the sequel to Bob's first book Man on the Moon. I must admit the cover of the book gave me a different expectation of what I thought the story was going to be about. Though I did like this story it wasn't one of my absolute favs. I think it will help spark imagination for young children with the different aspects about space, but other than that there was nothing really that appealing to the story. I did like the illustrations they were very bright and had the pixar animation feel to them. Young readers will enjoy small details in the background of the pictures.I probably would not take the time to read this aloud to my class because it just didn't really grab my attention, not saying it was a horrible book it was just nothing special. Even the main character isn't very interesting he has a very generic name, Bob and is a white middle aged lonely man it just doesn't appeal to me.

The Wild Washerwomen by John Yeoman and Quentin Blake

What immediately grabbed my attention to this book as I'm sure it did many readers were the illustrations by Quentin Blake. I absolutely love his illustrations found in the Roald Dahl books so I had to check out this book! This is the tale of seven washerwomen who worked for an evil man Mr. Balthazar Tight, who made them work harder and harder each day. Finally the women found it too much and refused to work and instead went absolutely wild through the town. Since they were so strong from working all day and night no one could stop them. In the end seven woodcutters try to scare off the washerwomen, but their plan back fired and the women just cleaned off their dirty appearances. The washerwomen discover they can not run away from their jobs and end up marrying the woodsmen. This was a truly funny story! It was so great how just one day the women decided to stop taking orders and just went wild. The only problem I have this story is the roles that gender plays in to the characters. Why do all the washers have to be women with a male boss and why is that only seven strong men can finally control the women? These are just some of the questions I had while reading. Although this book does feed into different gender stereotypes and expectations, I did find it a fun read that younger children would enjoy with great illustrations.

Max's Logbook by Marissa Moss

Marissa Moss creates such fun and different types of novels for young readers that are so funny and exciting to read. If you are familiar with Amelia's Notebook series this is a the same concept with more of an attraction for a male audience. This is Max's log book where he shares the characters in his life, a comic book character he created, fun experiments he tries and details on his parents divorce and his feelings. I loved this book. I love the style where there is so much to look at so many details all over the page and wonderful illustrations that could almost be real children's doodles in their notebook. This is a great book for older elementary children with the topic of divorce that is filled with some common concerns and feelings that they often feel in this situation. I also love this book because it could lead into writing so well. It shows a journalist type of writing that is both fun for kids and gives them a chance to fully express themselves. This is definately and one on one type of reading there are too many fun details that the read would miss if it was read aloud. I would for sure recommend this book for old elementary boys because it highlights some common thoughts and intrests that they could connect to.

There's a Wolf at The Door retold by Zoe B. Alley

If your looking for a funny an appropriate graphic novel to share with young children, look no further! This is a great graphic novel for younger elementary students. In this rather large book, about 12 by18, it combines five classic stories, such as Little Red Riding Hood and The Three Little Pigs that all involve the same wolf and puts a humorous spin on all the tales that makes it fun for young readers. Not only will the text capture the reader, but the illustrations are great! The pictures are full of detail and even without words explain the story. Teachers this is a great example to show to your class as an example of a graphic novel and would be a fun read aloud with the large pictures. I thought this was a great combination of stories with a funny twist that would be both fun for adults and children. I recommend this book for anyone in the mood to laugh, it was great!

The Boy, The Bear, The Baron, The Bard by Gregory Rodgers

This is a wordless picture book and in some aspects a graphic novel. This is a story of adventure based around a young boy who travels back in to Shakespearean time and saves a bear, rescues a Baron, and escaping the Bard, William Shakespeare himself. At first when going through the pictures of the book I did not understand the story at all, nor did I get that the man chasing the characters was William Shakespeare, but after reading the summary in the front and then going through the book again it all made sense. I don't this a good book to view as a group with the comic book style set up, it would be to confusing. This is definitely a one on one book. I think younger children would really enjoy this story the pictures are detailed and full of expression which helps tell the story. Also I love the fact that it is set up in a graphic novel type of way! This would be a great story to show children a different way to tell a story rather than just common picture books. It could also be a great way to lead into project such as creating text for this story or even your own picture book. This is a fun read for younger children that is sure to fill their heads with imagination and adventures. I would for sure take the time to check it out!

The Hat That Wore Clara B. by Melanie Turner-Denstaedt

This is a fun and beautiful story that explores the African American Baptiast tradition on Mother's Sunday and the relationship between a girl and her grandmother. In this story the main character, Clara B., loves her grandmother and more than anything wants to wear the big beautiful hat she wears to church every Sunday. She tries to find the perfect moment through out the book and is some how stop by getting to asked to do little things for her grandma. Finally in the end she gets the opportunity to try on the hat when things go hay wire and ends up ruining the hat. In attempts to stay out of trouble she attempts to fix the hate and writes an apology to her grandmother. The following Mother's Sunday at church her grandmother has a special gift for Clara and is wearing her newly fixed hat. I think this was a really cute story that also showed a different type of cultures traditions that not everyone is familiar with, they even add a part in the back of the book to further explain the traditions. The reader will fall in love with the beautifully done and bright illustrations through out the book that help further create the scene. I think this a relatible story for most children regardless of the race because I sure they have all experienced taking something that doesn't belong to them and some how the situation going bad, I know I have many stories like that from when I was younger. This story has a positive ending of forgiveness, which is an important lesson to teach young children. I really enjoyed this story!

Where Is Home Little Pip? by Karma Wilson and Jane Chapman

Where Is Home, Little Pip? takes you on an adventure around the Antarctic meeting new characters as Pip, the main character, a baby penguin gets lost from home and attempts to find his way home. I think this story was so cute for younger kids to read. I loved the use of rhyme when each character would explain where home was to them. As a teacher I think you could even build off this book and learning other characters found in the and having students creating their own poem about what their home is. I really like the illustrations they were so details and beautiful. The colors used through out the book it created a very calming mood because they were so soft and light. I think younger readers will enjoy the amount of expression used, it will create a fun read aloud! I really enjoyed this story and would for sure recommend this for younger readers. It is a fun story exploring and accepting the idea that although everyone's home is different, family is the most important.

Wabi Sabi by Mark Reibstein

This book filled with amazing illustrations and Japanese haiku falls nothing short of the meaning of its title, finding beauty and harmony in what is simple. The simple tale of a cat name Wabi Sabi and the search of what his name truly means leads to the appreciation of the natural beauty in the things around you. First off just the way you read this book is unique! Instead of reading and opening this book horizontally, you open it vertically, which really inhanses the illustrations. On the page in different locations are Japanese haiku, whose meanings are revealed in English in the back of the book. The illustrations are beautiful collages that stand out on a simple background. The aspect of nature is truelly utalized in this story. I think this would be an great story to read to older ages because the concept of Wabi Sabi is kind of hard to grasp at a younger age. Teachers could also tie this story into a poetry unit.

My Abuelita by Tony Johnston

My Abuelita is a story about a boy who lives with and idolizes his grandmother or Abuelita. The story starts off going through the routine of what they do together before she goes to work. He shares the silly things she does and say to get ready for work and not until the very end to they reveal her job. The author mixes in spanish words through out the text and has captivating writing, but the illustrations really steal the show! The pictures use handcraft puppets that jump off the page and every detail is so perfect! When reading this to a child they are going to want to look at the pictures for hours, finding a new detail each time. Besides the illustrations, I really enjoyed the over all story line. I like how this could be use as a multicultural with the different laguage used and how the art of story telling is valued in the Mexican culture. Also I like how the main character once again doesnt fit into the common stereotype of white middle-class boy, instead he is a young hispanic boy who lives with his grandma. I think story shows a loving relationship between two family memebers and gives a positive outlook on how story telling is special and fun.

Never Eat Soggy Waffles by Patricia J Murphy

This is an informative text that I found for students. The title immediately caught my eye! This is a great book filled with different mnemonic memory tricks that I remember learning back in grade school and would be very helpful to students. It is filled with a varied amount of subjects from math, science, and geography. This book explains what a mnemonic device is and even gives you tips on how to create your own. The illustrations and bright colors and bold words help in remembering. I think this book is great! I know it's not your normal picture book more of a nonfiction read never the less I think this is an amazing book for elementary student to have and to hold on to. Teachers could also benefit from this book by sharing ideas and memory tricks to the class as a whole. I think this a great book filled with some of the mnemonic tricks that so many people used to and still use.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

NO! by David McPhair

This compelling wordless picture book connects the act of war and violence with bullying with the use of beautiful powerful illustrations. The story starts off with a young boy writing a letter to the president and then on the way to deliver the letter he sees all of these act of violence such as airplanes dropping bombs, people getting arrested, and tanks in the middle of the streets. Once the boy reaches the mailbox he is approached by a bully and by repeating the title NO! he leaves him alone. After his encounter with the bully and standing up for himself on his walk home things are dramatically different in a positive way. On the final page of the book it reveals what the letter said. In the inside cover the author reveals his hopes for a more positive world around us and how he feels the influence of adults and the violence in the world has a connection to children and bullying. I think that after reading this story it is easy to make that connection. As for the recommended age of 4 to 8 I find that a little low, older children could do so much more with this book, there is so much to interpret and to read into, that is why I like it so much. I really think this story gets you thinking about whats going on in the world and how the violence in society affects us. If only our world could change so easily as it does in the book with the word no. This is a great book that could lead to come great discussion and interpretations!

How Do Dinosaurs Say Good Night? by Jane Yolen and Mark Teague

I am a huge fan of Jane Yolen and the How Do Dinosaurs books! These books are always so funny and provide a positive lesson for young children, this book falls nothing short of expectation. This is a perfect bed time fav. to share with children before saying good night! The rhyming patterns and fun bold illustration help keep the reading engaged. I also love the fact that she uses different types of dinosaurs and represtations of parents for each situation. A positive aspect to this book is that it only uses one negative through out the book so as to really high light the positive things he does before going to bed and not really focus on the negative. Since most of the pages ask a question it would be fun to with the child to try and answer the questions and maybe even have small discussion on why. This is humorous bedtime story I'm sure will be a hit for younger children. Also if your children enjoy this book I would check out some of the other dinosaur books by this author.

April Fool! Watch Out at School! by Diane deGroat

This is a funny and clever book about Gilbert who is so excited for April Fools Day and ready to play tricks on everyone, but finds himself the target for all the jokes. In the end to get back at the biggest trickster in the class he claims to have the best trick ever to play on him, which is to play no trick at all. The idea works and Lewis falls for every trick in the book played by other classmates because he is so paranoid about what Gilbert's trick is going to be. This would be a great story to read on the holiday. I think the children would find it humorous to hear and see all the different tricks the characters play on each other. Even when you look at the pictures you can find little tricks in the background not mentioned in the text. One way that teachers could connect this to their classroom is by playing the game mentioned in the book about making different sounds for each punctuation when reading aloud. I think the game, as it did in the book, make reading more fun and exciting to both do and listen to.

Chicken Butt! by Erica S. Perl

Like the title this story is quite humorous and would be a fun read for children. It a silly story about a boy having a conversation with his father, which he continues to play chicken butt jokes on him. I think most younger boys will enjoy hearing this story read aloud and yes mostly because the word butt is used quite frequently. The bright pictures and bold large print draws the readers eye.I really liked how the author choose to change the colors of the text to show different characters speaking. To make this a more active and engaging read you could have two people each play a role. There is so much expression in this book it would be a great read aloud.This is just a fun story to read to your student or children when your having a silly day.

Inside All by Margaret H Mason

Inside All is a beautiful story of connecting nature and universe around us to ourselves and our hearts. Each page further in showing how the universe eventually connects to our hearts. Personally I found this book to be very inspiring and insightful for children. I really liked how the author really focused on how inside all so everyone can make a connection and further more how in the end we are all human beings that are full of love. I think this story sends a positive message that we sometimes forget. I am in love with the illustrations in this book! Each page is so unique and helps lead your imagination. The pictures are a mixture of watercolors and maybe some kind of crayon or chalk, either way the style is beautiful and goes along with the story perfectly. I think this a great story to read to children, it just puts you in a happy mood and gets you thinking.

Kitchen Dance by Maurie J Manning

By looking at the cover of this book you would think it was about an African American family, but once you read the book you realize it is a Latino or Spanish inspired story. This is a fun quick read about two children who are awoken by the sounds coming from the kitchen to find their parents dancing and singing while cleaning up. The children soon join the parents and share a fun family dance before heading back to bed. The author uses great alliteration and incorporated Spanish into the story. I loved the illustrations! They were drawn beautifully and really captured the feelings for each page with the use of colors. I think this a great story to read to children or for them to read to you because it shows a different kind of culture and positive home life of Latinos, which is refreshing rather than just focusing on white middle-class Americans as most picture books do. I also found it interesting in how the characters looked, they appeared to be African American, it just showed how the Latino community doesn't always fit into the stereotypical appearance. I think this is a great story to read to your children or student and could lead into reflection on positive family moments.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Horrible Harry and the Mud Gremlins by Suzy Kline

I love Horrible Harry novels! I think they are great first time chapter books for young children and although the main character loves to break the rules and cause trouble the book always seems to have a positive message in the end. In this tale of Horrible Harry he comes to school with a cool magnify glass necklace and tales of finding mud gremlins just beyond the school yard. He then leads his friends to break the rules in going into the restricted area at recess. Filled with humor this is a tale about following the rules that I am sure all young readers will love. Suzy Kline does a great job of telling the story through a kids point of view, which helps them relate to the story. I thought this book was so funny and lead back to childhood memories of breaking the rules and the first time I looked through a magnify glass and how everything was so cool and exciting. I think this would be an exciting book to both read aloud to young children or to ask them to read aloud to you. This is a great series for young readers that is both exciting and funny.

When it's the Last Day of School by Maribeth Boelts

If your looking for a great end of the year book, search no more! This is a great story to read to aloud to young elementary students such as kindergarten the last day before summer. This was a funny and cute book that goes through similar feelings the student are feeling about being excited and anxious for summer. The story follows a young boy during his last day of school and he tries to follow all the rules in school which is unlike him being the class clown . This gives students a friendly reminder that they are still in school and need to follow the rules until the end of the day. The illustrations are bright and draw the readers attention. I really think this would be a great read aloud to share with your students on the last day of the year!

Messing Around on the Monkey Bars by Betsy Franco

Messing Around on the Monkey Bars is a fun collection of poems that are meant to be read aloud by pairs. I just loved the over all idea of this poetry book. It is a for sure way to get your students involved and working together. The poems use bolded and unbolded font to differentiate between characters.I really liked the subjects of the poems in this book as well. The themes of the poems were different aspects of school, such as the library, recess, homework, and lunch time, all things that children can relate to.I can recall reading some of the poems and remembering having similar feelings when I was back in elementary school. Though the poems were often repetitive they would no less be fun for the students to read aloud. Some of the words uses in the poems are a little bit more difficult then others so I would probably recommend this book for 1st-2nd students. This books I think is a fun way to open with poetry and to inspire students to use their own experiences, such as school, to create poetry.

Those Shoes by Maribeth Boelts

Those Shoes by Maribeth Boelts is one of those books that everyone needs to read! I loved any and everything about this book. I thought the story line was honest and gave a positive message for children to learn. It is a story dealing with friendship and sharing. The main character Jeremy wants to fit in and have the "cool shoes" like everyone else in the class, but is unable to afford them. After receiving embarrassing little kids shoes from the guidance counselor he become extremely embarrassed. He eventually finds and buys the "cool shoes" at a thrift store, but are too small for him. After becoming friends with a boy from class he realizes how fortunate he really is to have any shoes that fit at all and selflessly gives his new shoes to his friend who is in more need than himself. I think the reason I loved this book so much is because there is so much you can do with it with your students. Rather the students can personally relate to this situation or that they are lucky enough to never have to deal with finical troubles every student gains something from this book. It helps bring awareness to students that not everyone can afford everything they want and also shows students who have dealt with similar situations that they are not alone. Another aspect of this book that I liked was that not although the main character was black and went along with the common stereotype of being less fortunate the other character is white, which helps misconstrue the common stereotype and makes it more relatible to all students. I think this a great book and think all elementary school teachers should take the time to read this to their students and take the time to talk about and discuss socioeconomic problems.

Crazy Hair Day by Barney Saltzberg

The book Crazy Hair Day brought me right back into my elementary days! It was great reading this story and remembering all the fun themed days we used to have in my school such as crazy hair day or twin day as he mentioned. This story is about the character Stanley and his horrible mix up between picture day and crazy hair day, every kids worse nightmare. It shows a realistic reactions and gives the reader a relatable connection to the character. In the end this is an uplifting story that shows the importance of friendships and kindness. I think the reason I enjoyed this book so much as I'm sure others would do the same is because it has such a positive message and shows how we all can have our embarrassing moments at times, but will make it through in the end. I would recommend this story for grades kindergarten through about 3rd grade. There are a lot of activies that I could seeing leading from this story. For example teachers could lead into talking about feelings and or embarrassing moments.

Let's Do Nothing! by Tony Fucile

I thought Let's Do Nothing was such a humorous perspective of two young boys trying to think of something new or "nothing" to do. This book really made me laugh out loud with the illustrations used to show the characters' imagination. The basic plot of this story is of two young boys who have run out of things to do and the different ways they try to accomplish doing nothing. One of the characters, Frankie, lets his imagination get the best of him and ruins their attempts to do "nothing" countless amounts of times. I really enjoyed this book as I believe most younger readers would do the same. This is a story that mostly anyone can connect to because we have all had those times of where we say we just want to do "nothing" or that there is "nothing" to do, but after reading this story it reminds you that you have to be something. I feel that this is a fun reminder to readers to really use your imagination and do something. As the characters figured out, it's impossible to do nothing, so you might as well do something fun.

Rapunzel retold by Lynn Roberts

Rapunzel is just one of those classic fairy tale we've all grown up with and love. Lynn Roberts fun spin on the tale helps bring it alive into today's age and to appear to be more realistic or likely to happen, which I think makes it more fun for the reader. The story still goes as expected, but is now set in the 70's and gives Rapunzel a more hippie vibe. Her lazy evil aunt plays the role of the nasty lunch lady to her "prince" or high school rocker boyfriend, which causes trouble and leads to the end of her beautiful long red hair. The ending is very witty by having Rapunzel creating her own wig store. I really enjoyed this story! I think it would be a fun read aloud to children up to 2nd grade. The pictures have great little details that also reflect on the time period, which was really fun to notice. I really liked how unlike in the classic tale they don't make Rapunzel such a damsel in distress, they show her having fun on her own and then in the end being successful, which I thought was great and sends a positive message to females. This version really added humor and steered away from the stereotypical female character in most classic fairy tales and is one that I really think would be enjoyed by most younger children and adults.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

It's Picture Day Today! by: Megan Mcdonald and Katherine Tillotson

I was actually kind of disappointed in this book, I completely expected something different. Not that I didn't enjoy this story, I just thought there was going to be more to the plot and story line than what was given. This is for sure meant to be read to younger readers such as kindergartners, I think any age higher would find it boring. This pretty much is a short story of a class full of different art supplies gathering to get together to take a class picture. Each page highlighted a different supply with colorful and bright pictures to draw the readers attention. In the end when the final supply or classmate arrives, the glue, the supplies all come together to form a different creation/character. Over all I thought this was a cleaver ending in showing how the class is not complete without every supply/student. This book would be great to lead into an art project that would maybe include some of these items. The younger students will really enjoy the larger print and illustrations that seem to jump off the page

A Crazy Day at the Critter Cafe by Barbara Odanaka

I absolutely loved this story!! Barbara Odanaka uses rhyme and onomatopoeias to keep the story flowing. I would personally use this story as a read aloud story for kindergarten or 1st graders because of all the sounds and expression used through out. I found it hard to read quietly to myself, there was so much you could play around with when reading this story to a class. I didn't think there was much to the plot of the story, but it really didn't effect how much I enjoyed reading this book. This was a fun quick read about a bus full of critters being dropped off at the Critter Cafe and all the trouble and ciaos they cause on the one waiter and cook in a short amount of time. Young children will really be engaged in this story with the way the story is told which really helps put the reader into the ciaos of the cafe. The illustrations help tell the story by adding little details through out every picture, you find something new each time you read it. I feel this story could lead into some great activities dealing with both food and animals. I would recommend this story to all younger elementary teachers.

Tough Cookie by: David Wisniewski

Tough Cookie by David Wisniewski was a fun and creative story that would be perfect for a 1st or 2nd grade class! This was a tale that took a creative spin on the life of a cookie in the "jar" and the dangerous fingers out on the loose. The main character "tough cookie" goes through a battle of how to stop the notorious fingers after his old partner "chip" almost is taken away. He goes on to win the battle with the help of the "crumbs" in the end. I thought this was a fun book to read for both young children and adults. I think my favorite part of this story was the creative beginning where there is a blueprint of the jar and told you the different stages of cookies or in a sense social classes are found there. I thought it was a creative little extra that added more detail to the book. Another great aspect of this book were the illustrations. This comic story was brought to life with amazing cup-paper illustrations. The bright and bold colors captured your attention right away. Overall I really enjoyed this story and would definitely consider reading in my future classroom.