Monday, April 28, 2008

Becoming Naomi Leon-Let me add that to my list!

Title: Becoming Naomi Leon

Author: Pam Munoz Ryan

Publisher & Publication Date: Scholastic Press, 2004

Genre: Multicultural, Realistic fiction, novel

Grade Level: 4-6

Summary: Naomi and Owen live with Gram in Lemon Tree, California. Owen has a slight handicap but is extremely bright. Naomi likes to make lists all the time of everything she can think of, and hate her last name which is Outlaw. The kids make fun and she hates it. Throughout the book she is trying to find her true identity and become happy. Naomi and Owen's mother, Skyla comes back after several years and tries to act like she wants to get her children back. In reality all she wants is to take Naomi (for a babysitter for her boyfriends daughter) and leave Owen because of his handicap. Gram has to fight for custody and they even start a search for their father. In the end Gram is awarded custody and everyone is happy that they get to stay together!

Response: I thought this book a little hard to get into. It took me a while to actually enjoy reading it. I don't really know why I couldn't become interested in it. Once I read it I thought it was an enjoyable book, but not one of my favorites. I did like the way the author used English and Spanish throughout the reading. It brought out the Mexican culture more, and made it more realistic. The mixture of languages showed great cultural markers. Also, the different traditions and celebrations that took place in the book showed cultural markers. The author did a good job of integrating them naturally. It may not have been my favorite book, but it was a decent book and would be good for a multicultural discussion.

Teaching Ideas: I would use this book in an upper elementary classroom to talk about Mexican culture. I would have everyone read this novel and then do a book report on it. They would have to figure out the best part of the story they liked and make a visual to represent that section of the story. Then they would have to present it to the class and share their thoughts on the book and their thoughts on Mexican culture.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Mouse Tail Moon

Title: Mouse Tail Moon

Author: Joanne Ryder

Illustrator: Maggie Kneen

Publisher & Publication Date: Henry Holt and Company, 2002

Genre: Poetry, picture book

Grade Level: K-2

Summary: This whole book is a collection of poems about a mouse and a night out that he would encounter. It starts with dusk and continues until right before morning. Each poem tells about a different viewpoint that the mouse has at different times and about different things that are happening around him.

Response: This is a wonderful poetry collection. I love the way it is told from the view-point of the mouse. The illustrations were produced using watercolor on hot-pressed watercolor paper. They are beautiful. They seem so life-like and the mice that are in the illustrations seem extremely real. Most of the illustrations have happy and bright colors in them, others use more natural and realistic colors. The poems are fun and easy to read. They are not very long, but they have a lot of meaning and power behind them. Some make you feel good and other make you feel as though you are on a chase. I loved reading this collection of poems.

Teaching Ideas: This would be a good book to use with science. Have your students pick an animal that they know a lot about or are really interested in to research and write a poetry collection about! They can use this book as a basis for their final product, but let them be as creative as possible. This is a good way to incorporate science and poetry!

Monday, April 21, 2008

Mouse Tail Moon-Favorite Poem

The Chase

By: Joanne Ryder

Claws out,
beak wide,
owl plunges.
Can I hide?
Ears high,
nose down,
paws racing
over ground.
Turn left.
Spin right.
Look! A hole --
snug and tight.
Claws fail.
Paws win.
He's out.
I'm in!

I love this poem! It is so exciting. It reminds me of a song and I like to sort of chant it as I read it. I got this poem from the book Mouse Tail Moon by Joanne Ryder. The book is full of poems from a night out that a mouse might have. All of them are cute and simple poems, but the one above is my favorite. It involves action and excitement. I think the poem is a narrative poem, because it tells the story of an encounter with a mouse and an owl. The rhythm is upbeat and fast because of the action that is happening. It happens really quick, so the rhythm has to be fast. There is a rhyme scheme of ABCBDEFEGHIHJKLK, lines 2 and 4 rhyme, 6 and 8, 10 and 12, and 14 and 16 rhyme. The form of the poem is broken up into actions. Each line is an action. I think that makes it easier to capture the episode that is taking place in the poem. Also, there were images that accompanied the poem, but the description is good enough to form images in your head if the pictures weren't there.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Mirror of Erised

When someone looks into the Mirror of Erised they see what their heart desires most. Harry looked into the mirror and saw his parents and then himself finding the Sorcerer's Stone. Those were two things he wanted more than anything in the world. He never knew his parents, so he wanted to meet them and find out what they were like. Also, he needed to get the stone and therefore he saw himself finding it in his pocket.

If I looked in the Mirror of Erised I would see my mom becoming healthy and being able to use her prosthetic legs. She has been battling diabetes since I was born. Within the last five years she had both her feet amputated and then was able to get prosthetic legs. She has never been able to use them since she left the rehabilitation center because they put too much pressure on her knees. She believes that the disease she had in her feet has spread to her knees. I would love for her to able to walk again one day. She is the most important person in the world to me and what I desire most in the world is to see her happy and healthy.

I would also see me graduating from Appalachian in 2010, becoming employed at an elementary school in North Carolina, getting married in July 2010, and then starting my career in the fall of 2010. My heart desires to accomplish all of the things in that year, and I would love to see myself succeed! I know all of these images would appear in the Mirror of Erised if I were to look in it.

(I haven't been able to upload my images for my Mirror of Erised, but I will try my best to get it up as soon as the program starts responding!)

Harry Potter

Title: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone

Author: J.K. Rowling

Illustrator: Mary Grandpre

Publisher & Publication Date: Scholastic Inc., 1997

Genre: Fantasy, Novel

Grade Level: 4-6

Summary: The novel begins by introducing the Dursleys. One night a baby is left on their doorstep. The next morning they awake to find that their nephew Harry Potter has been left to them because both of his parents were killed. A letter is left with him and they are instructed to tell him what happened when he is old enough to understand. They did not like Harry's parents and therefore do not want to take him in, but they do and treat him very badly. Around Harry's eleventh birthday he starts receiving letters in the mail. He is not allowed to read them, but notices the change in the way he is treated. Mr. Dursley ends up taking the whole family to a secluded house on the water to get away from the incoming letters. While they are there a huge man named Hagrid comes to talk to Harry. He tells Harry what the letters are for and lets him read one. He then tells Harry the real story of what happened to his parents. He tells him that he will be going to Hogwarts starting September first and they will go shopping for his school supplies. The Dursleys are upset and a little scared about this so they try to avoid Harry until he leaves for school.

When Harry gets to Hogwarts he encounters many exciting, yet scary adventures. The sorting hat puts him and his new friend from the train, Ron, and Hermione in the Gryffindor House. Harry learns what Quidditch is and becomes the youngest seeker in a long time. They encounter a three headed dog, named Fluffy. Ron, Harry, and Hermione become best friends after they rescue her and she takes the blame when they get in trouble. Harry plays with a jinxed broom during Quidditch and thinks it is Professor Snape, but ends up getting his broom to work properly to catch the snitch and win the game for Gryffindor. Harry finds the Mirror of Erised and takes Ron to look into it. Harry sees his family and himself finding the stone, while Ron sees himself winning the Quidditch Cup and becoming head boy. They are sent to detention with Hagrid and see a dark hooded figure who they believe is Voldemort. All along they think it is Professor Snape who is after the Sorcerer's Stone, but it is really Professor Quirrell. Voldemort is killed and Professor Quirrell dies also. The stone is destroyed and everything is fine. Dumbledoor gives last minute points to the Gryffindor House so that they win the House Cup!

Response: I LOVED HARRY POTTER! I attempted to read this book several years ago but couldn't get interested in it. I am so glad I read it finally! I had seen the movie and heard that they left a lot of things out of it, and now I know! The details were amazing. I felt like I was in the book. I think it was more interesting for me to read now because I understood the descriptions and I was sucked right in! I quickly noticed the theme of love in the book. The only reason Harry survived that night was because of the love his mother had for him. Love is a powerful thing, and it is a major theme of the book. The theme of desires was introduced with the Mirror of Erised. You would look into the mirror and see what you desired most in life. That was an awesome chapter in the book. Also, the themes determination, success, and rebellion (not in a negative form) all linked together. Harry was determined throughout the book to become successful in his adventures. In order to become successful he had to become a bit rebellious, meaning he had to break the rules. He was not trying to get into trouble through his rebellion or rule breaking, he was doing it for the better of the situation.

Teaching Ideas: A great idea for teaching Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone would be to make a scrap book for Harry's first year. As the students read the book have them work on a scrape book of the adventures Harry has while at Hogwarts. This would be a good idea to use working with the art teacher. It would help them understand what was happening in the story and then be able to express it! Once they finished the book they would make the final touches on their scrap book and then share with everyone in the class. The scrap book would the story through the student's work! (I found this idea on the Internet with several other ideas for Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone.)

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Sarah, Plain and Tall

Title: Sarah, Plain and Tall (Newbery Award Book)

Author: Patricia MacLachlan

Publisher & Publication Date: Harper & Row, 1985

Genre: Historical fiction, novel

Grade Level: 3-5

Summary: Sarah, Plain and Tall is about a family living in an unknown state (to the reader) in the American Prairie. There is a young girl, Anna, her younger brother Caleb, and their father, Jacob, living in a small house in the open prairie. He informs his children that he has put an advertisement in the paper for a wife and that a lady named Sarah has written a response. They all write her letters and she writes back and decides to come to stay with them for a month. She misses the sea (she is from Maine) but likes all the new things she is being introduced to in the prairie. She learns to ride and horse and handle the wagon on her own and then leaves for town. Caleb thinks that she is not coming back because she doesn't like the family anymore, but she does come back with colored pencils. She ends up marrying Jacob and living with the family as their new wife and mother.

Response: I thought this was a wonderful story. It made me sad to think of the children growing up without a mother, but I was glad Sarah came along and decided to stay. It is a very touching story and I can see why it won the Newbery medal. It moved along at a good pace. It was short, but had just the right amount of details to make it a good story. It was easy to read. The words weren't too difficult. I liked the way the letters were in the middle of the pages. They flowed with the text before and after the letter was shown. I actually felt like I was watching a movie while reading the book. The details were good enough to make the book seem like a television series. The reader can stop at the end of a chapter and would be satisfied, or they could read on and read about the next exciting, new thing Sarah encountered.

Teaching Ideas: This would be a good book to use to tie in with a geography lesson. It talks about Maine where Sarah comes from and the family is from a state in the American Prairie. Tennessee is also mentioned in the book. Providing students with a map of the United States would help them track of where the different people come from. You could have them label the states in the American Prairie and all the other states mentioned. Afterwards you could have them finish the map so they could see the states they had to travel through to get from point A to point B. I think this would be an exciting and fun activity to do while reading the book!

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Dear Mr. Henshaw

Title: Dear Mr. Henshaw (Newbery Medal Book)

Author: Beverly Cleary

Illustrator: Paul O. Zelinsky

Publisher & Publication Date: Morrow Junior Books, 1983

Genre: Novel, Realistic fiction, Humorous

Grade Level: 4-6

Summary: This novel is about a boy named Leigh who is in the sixth grade. His favorite author is a man named Mr. Henshaw. He has liked his book Ways to Amuse a Dog since he was little. Leigh's parents get divorced and Leigh's mom gets custody of him because his father is a truck driver and is always on the road. He moves with his mom to a new neighborhood and becomes the new kid in school. He is given an assignment to write an author and ask about their life. He writes to Mr. Henshaw and actually gets a response. He continues to write him and then Mr. Henshaw tells him he should write in a journal. He starts writing in a journal to a pretend Mr. Henshaw. Later a story writing contest comes up. He wants to win the contest badly because the winner gets to have dinner with a famous author. He ends up writing a story about an adventure he had with his dad and doesn't win. He then finds out one of the winners plagiarized her poem and he gets to go have dinner with the author, who turns out to be a woman who writes about girls problems. He goes and has a good time and is glad he got to meet the woman. Throughout the story there is a lunch box thief and Leigh wants to catch whoever it is so badly that he makes his own lunch box alarm. It is a big hit and his lunch stops being stolen, but he never finds out who the thief was. During the story his dad loses the dog they all had before the divorce and tells Leigh, but at the end he comes to visit Leigh for the first time and brings the dog because he found him with another trucker.

Response: I loved this book. It made me cry and it made me laugh. I almost lost it when his dad lost Bandit. I am such an animal person. I also had a dog named Bandit and it made me think of him. The ending made me very happy though. He brought Bandit to see Leigh and he wanted to try to work things out with his mother, but she didn't want to. I thought this was a good ending even though it wasn't completely happy. That is the way life is, not everything ends with a "happily ever after."

The words in the story made it easy to read and the way the book was set-up made it even easier to read. It was in letter or journal form and I think that is one of the easiest forms to read. I think Beverly Cleary did a wonderful job capturing the life of a sixth grader. The underlying story of the lunch box thief was great. I loved how it wasn't the main focus of the story, but it was a good part of it!

Teaching Ideas: I would have my students read this novel and then have them write to their favorite author. The idea comes straight out of the book! While they are reading the book have them think about questions that want to ask and have due dates for the approval of the questions and a rough draft. This is to make sure all the letters are appropriate to mail out to the authors. Then once everything is in place have them address an envelope and hand them into you to be sent off! This will be an exciting and fun experience for you and the students!

Sara's Secret

Title: Sara's Secret

Author: Suzanne Wanous

Illustrator: Shelly O. Haas

Publisher & Publication Date: Carolrhoda Books, Inc., 1995

Genre: Realistic fiction, informational

Grade Level: 2-5

Summary: Sara is a little girl who has a handicapped brother. His name is Justin and he has cerebral palsy. They recently moved schools and she has been given an assignment to bring in something that has to deal with a disability. The other students start talking about the students in the special ed class and Sara becomes uncomfortable. She has been keeping Justin a secret at this school because she was made fun of at the one they attended before. She tells her parents about the assignment and they suggest that she brings Justin to the classroom. At first she doesn't want to because she doesn't want anyone to know about her being related to him, but she ends up bringing him in and talking about him to the class. She explains what cerebral palsy is and that it cannot be transmitted to another person from contact. She is relieved to find out that her friends do not make fun of her and are supportive of her and her brother.

Response: I thought this was a sad book, but it did have a pleasing ending. The cover of it caught my eye, so I decided to read it. It was interesting and informative. The author's note at the end explained more about cerebral palsy. The illustrations were mostly bright colors and seemed to run together. I would guess that the images were produced with watercolors. The facial expressions were so real. There was a lot of text on most pages and so I would use this for mid to upper elementary students. It also covers a subject that might be more helpful and understandable for mid to upper elementary students.

Teaching Ideas: I would use the idea from the book that the teacher gave his students to research. This would be an excellent book to talk about disabilities and differences among each other. I would read the book to the class and then talk about the same things the teacher in the book talked about, and then have them do the same assignment. This would be a great learning experience for all of the students, and who knows maybe someone would have a secret like Sara had in the book.

Ready, Freddy! Homework Hassles

Title: Ready, Freddy! Homework Hassles

Author: Abby Klein

Illustrator: John McKinley

Publisher & Publication Date: The Blue Sky Press, 2004

Genre: Chapter book, fiction

Grade Level: 1-3

Summary: Freddy Thrasher is a first grade student that has been facing with a problem. His teacher wants everyone in the class to do a report on a nocturnal animal, but he can't think of any animal to research. His best friend Robbie talks Freddy into having a sleepover so that they can stay up all night and see what it is like to be nocturnal. They sneak out of the house once everyone is asleep and start investigating in the back yard. Freddy climbs up a tree and falls out and breaks his arm. The whole family has to go to the hospital and they are there until four in the morning. He thinks it is great having his arm broken because everyone is doing things for him. He then finds out that he still has to do his report on the nocturnal animal because it is an oral report not a written. So he goes to Robbie's house after school for help because he is super smart and has his own computer. Robbie's mom ends up giving Freddy the idea for his report because she called him a bat. He researches bats and practices his report on his mom and sister and then gives it at school the next day.

Response: I think this is a great beginning chapter book for first graders. It is about a class of first graders therefore if a beginning reader read this book they could relate to the story. I like how it talks about the stress Freddy feels when he finds out he has to do the report and how he deals with it. There were some single-page illustrations but they were produced with pencil and were not that elaborate. The word fin is in every illustration and it was fun looking for that every time I came across them. This cute little chapter book made me happy to read. I would consider it a pick-me-up story. I really enjoyed it!

Teaching Ideas: This would be a good book to use to talk about stress that students might feel when they are given certain assignments. It would tie in with the health topic of coping with stress. You could talk about how he dealt with the assignment and breaking his arm then ask them to write about a time that they were under stress and how they dealt with it. This could be a simple journal activity.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Creepy Crawlies

Title: Creepy Crawlies

Author: Hans Post

Illustrator: Irene Goede

Publisher & Publication Date: Lamniscaat, 2005

Genre: Informational, picture book

Grade Level: 1-4

Summary: Lika is a cat and she goes on an adventure in this book. She starts in the living room and then goes to the kitchen and then to the bedroom. Then she goes outside and explores different places. As she enters each place she notices the different critters around her. At the end she goes back to the house and rests after all her adventures. The book is comprised of the story of the cat and then pictures and paragraphs of information about each critter.

Response: This was a very informative book. It has a story about a cat and A LOT of information packed into it. The text in the story of the cat are simple and easy to understand. The text with the information about the animals and insects is a little more complex and difficult to read. This would have to be a book that is read aloud to the class so the teacher could break down the meanings of certain words in the informational sections. The illustrations seemed so life-like. I think they were produced using oil pastels. The colors and details really bring the images to life. It was an adventurous book full of information.

Teaching Ideas: This would be a great book to use with a science activity. It talks about several different insects and animals. Each student could be given a creepy crawly from the book to research more in depth. You could take them to the computer lab and help them find information about it. Also, take them to the library to see if they can find any other books about the critter. Then have them share with the class what they learned about their critter!

Monday, April 7, 2008

Little Gold Star

Title: Little Gold Star A Spanish American Cinderella Tale

Author: Robert D. San Souci

Illustrator: Sergio Martinez

Publisher & Publication Date: Harper Collins Publishers, 2000

Genre: Multicultural, traditional literature, picture book

Grade Level: 2-5

Summary: This story starts by Teresa losing her mother and her father wanting to re-marry. He re-marries to a mean woman who has two daughters. They all treat Teresa badly. There is a fiesta being held in honor of the patron saint of the town and Teresa is not allowed to attend. At night Miguel opens his house to the people of the community and looks for the girl with the gold star on her head. Teresa was given the gold start by the Blessed Mary for her kind heart. She is pushed out of the house by her step-mother, so then Miguel starts to look for her. He goes to her house and her step-mother locks her in a small room. The cat ends up telling Miguel she is there and he finds her. He then requests her hand in marriage and her step-mother gives her three tasks that seem impossible to do before she will be allowed to marry Miguel. She is helped by the Blessed Mary and is successful at all of the tasks. They were then married and lived happily ever after.

Response: I thought this was a gorgeous book. The images were amazing. They were produced using watercolors. Most of the illustrations are dark, even the cover of the book. The only bright images are the last two pages of illustrations. They are also the happiest of all the pages in the story. I noticed a difference in the version of Cinderella that I have been brought up hearing and this Cinderella. This has different cultural markers in it, names, religious aspects, and some of the words and expressions used. This might be a difficult book to use in the classroom because it does involve religion. It talks about Blessed Mary. That would be my only concern about using this book in my classroom.

Teaching Ideas: Have your students write their own Cinderella story! Read several different variations of Cinderella and let the children explore concepts from the different tales. Once many versions have been read, allow students to research different cultures and start creating their own version of Cinderella. They will create a picture book of their Cinderella story so tell them to be as creative as possible!


Title: Rosa (Caldecott Honor Book, Coretta Scott King Award)

Author: Nikki Giovanni

Illustrator: Bryan Collier

Publisher & Publication Date: Scholastic Inc., 2005

Genre: Biography, picture book

Grade Level: 2-4

Summary: This picture book biography is about Rosa Parks and the stand she took on the bus in Alabama. She was asked to move from the neutral section of the bus for a white person and she decided she was tired of doing everything for white people so she said she would not move. They had her arrested and the women of the Women's Political Council held a meeting to talk about what happened and what they should do. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was asked to come to speak with them and he did. They boycotted the buses until they were given permission to sit where ever they wanted.

Response: I thought this was a wonderful biography picture book. The text was simple and easy to read. The illustrations were amazing. The images were produced using watercolor and collage. The illustrator said he used yellow and dark hue to create the feeling of heat through his illustrations, because the heat was the main thing he noticed when he visited Montgomery, Alabama. They were almost full double-page spreads, but the text was set in a column to the side of the illustration. I was inspired by this book and I think anyone who reads it would be also. I felt the emotions of the text and images and was angry when Rosa was angry. I really enjoyed reading and learning from this book. It may seem like a simple picture book, but it is so much more!

Teaching Ideas: When I was in fifth grade my class used the whole black history month to focus on several different prominent African Americans. We had to research important African Americans in the United States and find books about them. Then we had to write a paper about their life and the things they are famous for doing. It was called a "Who Am I?" paper. We then had to dress up like the person and read our paper to the other upper elementary classes and they would try to guess who we were. I was the only student to memorize my two page paper and I was awarded extra credit. That is an option that applies from teacher to teacher. This would be a great idea for upper elementary classrooms. Rosa is a well known historical figure and this book would be a great resource for starting the unit plan.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Martin's BIG Words

Title: MARTIN'S BIG WORDS The Life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Author: Doreen Rappaport

Illustrator: Bryan Collier

Publisher & Publication Date: Scholastic Inc., 2001

Genre: Biography, picture book

Grade Level: 2-6

Summary: This picture book is about the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his nonviolent push for equality. He grew up in the segregated south and did not like the things that went on around him. When he was older he used nonviolent methods to obtain peace in the world around him. It talked about how he went to Alabama when Rosa Parks refused to move on the bus. It also talked about other nonviolent demonstrations he participated in while he was alive. At the end it tells how he was assassinated while speaking in Memphis, Tennessee.

Response: I thought this was a good informational book about the life of Dr. King Jr. I knew a little about the things he did, but this book helped further my knowledge of him. It made me want to go out and fight for something important in a nonviolent way as he did. I liked how it tied the story of Rosa Parks into his life story. The front cover is really interesting because it is a picture of Dr. King smiling. I thought it was the back cover at first but it is the front. I think it is moving the way the book is set up. It starts with him as a little boy talking about how he didn't like the things (segregation) were going on around him. Most of the illustrations are double-page spreads but most of the pages would have the illustration and then separate the text from the picture. The illustrations were produced from watercolor and cut paper collage. They were really moving images.

Teaching Ideas: This is an idea for upper elementary age students. Read the picture book to your students and then play a recording of Dr. King's "I have a dream" speech. Talk about the importance of his speech and how it impacted the lives of others. Then distribute the "I have a dream too!" worksheet so that your students can write their own "I have a dream" speech.

(I got this idea from

Nonfiction texts

I think that nonfiction texts are great resources for children. Some children might not even realize that they are reading something that is teaching them a great deal. I think that is wonderful. It is always good to have children thinking no matter what they are reading or doing. Informational texts provide excellent knowledge for growing minds. The simple picture books that are informational are great to introduce new or even re-teach knowledge of things. Some people might think of nonfiction texts as being boring, but I find them to be extremely interesting.

Bio Poem

Dr. Martin Luther
Ambitious, Peaceful, Loving, Courageous
Husband of Coretta Scott
Lover of freedom, peace, and equality
Who feels oppressed, separated, and unequal
Who finds happiness in bringing people of all races together in a peaceful and loving world
Who needs others to understand the power of LOVE
Who gives his life fighting for equality
Who fears violence, segregation, and
Who would like to see equality for ALL
Who enjoys standing up for is right
Who likes to wear a courageous face when speaking for civil rights
Resident of Atlanta, Georgia
King, Jr.

Monday, March 31, 2008

Cinderella Study

I read Little Gold Star a Spanish American tale and Vasilisa the Beautiful a Russian tale.

I learned about Baba Yaga from the Russian culture. She was the iconic witch of the Slavic folk tales. In Vasilisa the Beautiful Baba makes Vasilisa her slave and threatens to eat her if she does not complete all the tasks she is assigned. With the help of Vasilisa's blessed doll she is able to survive being Baba's slave and then is sent away because Baba doesn't want blessed things in her house.

I noticed the symbols of the Spanish culture used in Little Gold Star. The religious aspect of Mary, Joseph and baby Jesus, the names of the characters, and the use of donkey ears (something I relate to the Spanish culture).

I thought the use of the I poems was a good idea for this assignment. It made you have to research and understand some of the concepts the story talked about and it also made you make connections and pull differences from the two stories. You had to compare and contrast the stories using a poem instead of a regular vinn diagram. It was a neat way to make me think about the two Cinderella stories.

I knew there were other versions of many fairy tales, but I had no idea there were that many verations of Cinderella. There is so much an author can do with the simple story of a girl and her step-family. I was amazed at the two varations I read and I would like to read other varations later on when I can take time to compare and contrast all the versions I have read.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Letters From Rifka

Title: Letters From Rifka

Author: Karen Hesse

Publisher & Publication Date: Henry Holt & Company, 1992

Genre: Historical fiction, Multicultural, novel

Grade Level: 4-6

Summary: Rifka is a young, Jewish girl that does not look like other Jews. She has blond hair and blue eyes. This allows her to help her family escape the harsh Russian treatment of the Jews. Her father, mother, two brothers and her hide on a train. She is used as the deploy so they can escape successfully. She already has two brothers in America, which is where they are trying to go. They go through many horrific and humiliating situations. She is even separated from her family on the way. She has to stay with a "foster" family until she is treated for ringworm. Once she is better she is sent to America and is told that she is not going to be allowed to join her family because of her condition. Her condition that they speak of is the fact that she doesn't have any hair. They think she will not be able to marry and have a life because no man will find her attractive enough. She pleads her case and stays at the hospital to try to grow hair. Finally, she has her interview with the doctor. Her family comes in support and hopes that she will be able to join them. She is given the stamp of approval to live in America and is able to join her family. The whole story she is telling of her journey to her cousin, Tovah.

Response: This book made me laugh, cry, hate America for the way they treat people, then love America because of how good it is to people. I love reading books that are in letter or journal form because I think they are much easier to read and comprehend. Karen Hesse does a wonderful job with this style of writing. The linking of cultures was something that really stood out for me from the book. I knew about the difficult life the Jewish people had while in the country they were trying to flee, but I never knew it was so bad in other countries or at the access point to come to America. I read the author's note before I started the book so I knew Rifka made it to America, but it still made me mad the way she was treated before they let her join her family. This was such a touching book. I loved every word and would definitely read it again!

Teaching Ideas: This would be a wonderful book to use for mapping different countries. This would show location and distance between several countries. Start off using the countries named in the book and then after the students have read the book have them label the countries around the ones from the story. Labeling will allow them to become familiar with the places that Rifka is talking about throughout the story. This is a good way to incorporate social studies and the lesson on locating different countries around the world in relation to the United States.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Dragon of the Red Dawn

Title: Dragon of the Red Dawn (Magic Tree House #37 A Merlin Mission)

Author: Mary Pope Osborne

Illustrator: Sal Murdocca

Publisher & Publication Date: Random House Inc., 2007

Genre: Fantasy, Multicultural, Historical fiction

Grade Level: 3-5

Summary: In this magical story Jack and Annie are sent on a mission to help save the life of Merlin, the magician who has given the a magic wand to help them if they need it. They are sent to Japan to find one of the secrets of happiness. They being their journey by landing in the Imperial Garden. They are then faced with Samurai asking for passports and then meet Basho. Basho is a famous poet in Japan and is known by everyone. He provides safety for Jack and Annie because they do not have passports to travel alone. He lets the children stay with him. They wake in the middle of the night with the sounding of bells in the distance. They learn that the town is on fire and they use their magic to save the city. They go back to their home and realize they didn't find the secret of happiness they were looking for, but then think about the things that made them happy while they were in Japan. They realize that just taking time and listening and noticing nature is a secret to true happiness. They learned that from Basho.

Response: I loved this story. I had really enjoyed the other Magic Tree House book that I read in class, but I really liked this one. It was about finding happiness and I love to be happy so it was great! It made me happy while I was reading it. I was a little scared at times because I didn't know the dragon was a good thing. I thought something bad was going to happen and the story wasn't going to have a happy ending. It was an easy read and once again I escaped into my own fantasy world. I also learned things from the story. I did not know that much of the Japanese culture, but now I know a little bit more. There were a few illustrations in the book and they were eye-catching. They looked like they were produced with a pencil. They were basic looking, but had a great amount of detail. They were mainly single-page spread illustrations, but there was one amazing double-page spread. Overall, this was a wonderful story. I would like to read more of the Magic Tree House series.

Teaching Ideas: The Magic Tree House series is an excellent series to use for connections to history. The passport idea from the books is a great idea to use in the classroom. This book would be a good one to use with a unit on Japan. It is an adventure so the students will love finding out new things about the culture and seeing what is going to happen next in the story. You could read the book over a couple of days or a week then let the students access the passport website to update their passports. This would also be a good book to use for the term of happiness. You could ask what happiness means to the students, and then have them journal about the things that make them happy. Then they could make drawings of the one thing that makes them happier than any other and share with the class. Another idea would be to use the Haiku form of poetry. The book tells what a haiku is so you could tell your students and have them make their own haiku. A great way to integrate poetry, Japanese culture and happiness all with one book!

Monday, March 17, 2008

Venn Diagram

My Venn diagram is of two versions of Goldilocks and the Three Bears. I read Dusty Locks and the Three Bears and Goldilocks and the Three Hares. They were both wonderful versions of the original that I read when I was younger. I used a cut-out of a rabbit and a bear and then colored them and placed them on colored paper. I think this would be a neat activity to use in the classroom.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Lon Po Po

Title: Lon Po Po (Caldecott Award Winner)

Author: Ed Young

Illustrator: Ed Young

Publisher & Publication Date: Philomel Books, 1989

Genre: Multicultural, Picture book, Traditional Literature

Grade Level: 2-4

Summary: This story is about a wolf that comes to the house that three young children are staying at while their mother went to visit their grandmother. He comes to the door and acts like he is their grandmother, and gets the children to let him in the house. One of the children figures out that he is wolf and gets the other two to help her get rid of him. They climb up a tree and get the wolf to climb up it too, but every time they start to pull him up they drop the basket he is sitting in. They end up killing to wolf and their mother comes home and they tell her all about their adventure with the wolf.

Response: I thought this was a great version of Little Red Riding Hood. It was different, but still good. The illustrations were a little scary, so this might not be the best book to red before bedtime to a small child. The illustrations were boxed-in and I think pastels were used to produce the images. Many of the image were dark, but some were a bit brighter. I felt many emotions while reading this story; scared, worried, concerned, and happy. Overall this was a wonderful little story. It relates to the Little Red Riding Hood I read when I was little, because it is a Red Riding Hood story.

Teaching Ideas: I would use the book to talk about different versions of well-known children's stories. You could talk about the other Red Riding Hood, then read it and talk about it some more. After that you could read this story and talk about it and how it is related to the other story. Then to finish up the activity have your students create their own Red Riding Hood story, as a whole class. Write the story they come up with on the board or on a big piece of paper. Then discuss how all three stories are different from each other.

Swamp Angel

Title: Swamp Angel (Caldecott Honor Book)

Author: Anne Isaacs

Illustrator: Paul O. Zelinsky

Publisher & Publication Date: Dutton Children's Books, 1994

Genre: Folk tale, Picture book

Grade Level: 1-3

Summary: Swamp Angel is a folk tale of how the Great Smokey Mountains, Montana's Shortgrass Prairie and a constellation in the sky were all formed. Swamp Angel was a rather large lady who defeated a bear that was tormenting the people of Tennessee. While she was trying to capture the bear (Thundering Tarnation), many things happened and those are the explanations of why the landscape looks the way it does today.

Response: This was a beautiful story. The illustrations were gorgeous. Most of them were double-page spreads, but there were some single-page spreads. They were produced using oils on cherry, maple, and birch veneers. I am not used to reading folk tales, so this was a nice touch to the many traditional stories I have been reading. I like folk tales, I just haven't read very many of them that I can remember. It was very entertaining and made me laugh. It was a little sad when the bear died, but it was for the best and made the story fit into other folk tales of how things were formed.

Teaching Ideas: This is a good book to introduce folk tales. Ask your students if they have ever heard any folk tales and let them share if they have. Then read the book to them and talk about the places and things that are formed from the fight with the bear in the story. Ask if they have ever heard of these places, and if they have how they heard the place was formed. Then use this story and its places it introduces to do some research. Take the class to the library or computer lab and have the media assistant show them different informational items about the places. This would be a great learning experience as well as a way to show how to research.

Dusty Locks and the Three Bears

Title: Dusty Locks and the Three Bears

Author: Susan Lowell

Illustrator: Randy Cecil

Publisher & Publication Date: Scholastic Inc., 2001

Genre: Traditional literature, Picture book

Grade Level: K-1

Summary: In this story a dirty little girl named Dusty Locks sneaks into the house of three bears. The bears left to go on a walk to let their beans cool. Dusty Locks goes into the house and tries the beans, sits in their chairs and then lays in their beds. She falls asleep in the baby bears' bed. The three bears come back and find her asleep in the bed, so they wake her and she goes running out the door. She goes back home and her mom cleans her up. The bears see her in public but don't recognize her because she is so much cleaner than before.

Response: This is a funny picture book. It is very similar to the original three bears story I heard when I was younger. I thought it was cute the way the girl was called a dirty little girl and her name was Dusty. I really enjoyed reading the story it made me feel like a little girl sitting with my mom reading again. It brought back good childhood memories. The illustrations were mainly single-page spreads, but there were a couple double-page spreads. The images were produced with acrylic gouache. I thought they were really basic illustrations, nothing too fancy.

Teaching Ideas: This would be a good book to use in discussion groups. Put the students in groups of four and give each group a copy of the book. Have them read it together and then talk about the setting, characters, plot, illustrations, and text in the book. This is a good way to start children thinking about the different elements of a story or book. Make sure you give them a sheet with the different elements on it so they know what to look for and talk about. This would tie in with the lesson on "What is in a book?" Young students need to learn the different parts of a story and should be able to talk about them before the first writing test. This would be a fun activity to use in order to teach the elements.

Goldilocks and the Three Hares

Title: Goldilocks and the Three Hares

Author: Heidi Petach

Illustrator: Heidi Petach

Publisher & Publication Date: Scholastic Inc., 1995

Genre: Traditional Literature, Picture book

Grade Level: K-2

Summary: In this story a pretty little girl with bouncy hair loses her ball in a hole in the ground. She goes down into the hole and discovers that a family lives there and has left some food out on the table. So she tries some of the food and then she tries to relax in their chairs, and ends up breaking the smallest one. Then she goes to the bedroom and tries to sleep in the beds, but ends up falling asleep in the smallest one. The family of three hares comes back to find everything out of place and then finds her in the bed. She wakes up and becomes friends with the hares. She fixes the seat she broke and says she will fix breakfast in the morning. There is also a little commentary from eight mice at the bottom of every page.

Response: This was a packed full of excitement picture book. There was the main story going on and then there was the story with the mice happening as well. I thought this was an interesting way to combine two stories. This book made me happy and I laughed a lot while reading it. I thought the mice were very amusing. It was similar to the original three bears story and Dusty Locks and the Three Bears. I was glad I selected to read this interesting story. The illustrations were mainly single-page spreads, but had a few double-page spreads. The images were probably produced using acrylic like many other simple picture books. The illustrations were pretty basic, but with a good amount of detail.

Teaching Ideas: This would be a wonderful book to perform. There are several characters for the students to select from (3 hares, Goldilocks, 8 mice, and many others!) and the book would be used as the guide for the script. You could work with the art and theater teachers to make this an awesome production. The students could design their own set and costumes and maybe even perform for a PTA meeting so their parents would see all their hard work in action!

Tuesday, February 26, 2008


Title: Josefina

Author: Jeanette Winter

Illustrator: Jeanette Winter

Publisher & Publication Date: Harcourt Brace & Company, 1996

Genre: Picture book, Multicultural, Counting book, Biographical, Bilingual

Age Range: K-1

Summary: This book was inspired by the Mexican folk artist Josefina Aguilar. The story is about a woman who loved to use clay to make art. She had nine children and still made artwork. She starts with one sun and then goes up to the number ten using different objects. The words are in Spanish at the top of the illustrations.

Response: I thought this was an interesting book. I liked that it was an unusual counting book. It used two languages and talked about the Mexican culture. It was actually about a real Mexican folk artist. The illustrations were done in acrylics. All of the illustrations were single-page spreads, except the one where all of the counting objects and pulled together, it is a double-page spread. This is a simple, happy book. It is also a little informational because of the Spanish that is used in it. It reminded me of the simple counting books I read to my nephews when they were learning their numbers.

Teaching Ideas: This is a good book to use for students that are having trouble with their numbers. It would also be a good book to use with a link to Spanish class, or a Spanish unit. Read the book out loud to the class and then have the students repeat the Spanish words so they can practice them. After reading it have the students make their own counting books with any objects they wish to use. Then have them read it out loud to the class.

Baseball Saved Us

Title: Baseball Saved Us

Author: Ken Mochizuki

Illustrator: Dom Lee

Publisher & Publication Date: Lee & Low Books, 1993

Genre: Picture book, Historical fiction, Multicultural

Age Range: K-3

Summary: This book is about the Japanese Americans that were in an internment camp. The little boy was made fun of at school and then he was taken from his home. He was not allowed to have any of his belongings. His dad finally came up with something that saved them from going insane while at the camp. He made a baseball field out of the open dirt. The little boy wasn't very good at the sport, but ended up doing okay and helping his team win. He even played on the baseball team at his school when he got out of the camp, he ended up hitting the winning run for his team.

Response: I enjoyed this book. I think it would be a good book to read to younger children who sometimes feel out of place. It shows that even a small child can overcome being different. It was moving the way the Japanese family managed to leave the camp and still have hope. It made me think of the books Grandfather's Journey and Weedflower. I read the information about the illustrations and it says that they were acquired by using beeswax on paper, and then scratching out the images, and then using oil paints for color. Most of the illustrations were single-page spreads, but some of them stretched over to be almost complete double-page spreads. It also said that some of the illustrations were inspired by actually photographs of the internment camps. I thought the illustrations were really well done.

Teaching Ideas: This book could be used to follow up with the Japanese unit. You could start a World War II unit and end the Japanese unit with this book. It would be a good resource to use for an alternative look at WWII. After you read the story you could have the students write down things they would want to take with them if they were all of a sudden force-relocated. Then have them make a tough decision of the one thing they would want to take with them, only one item. Ask them how they would feel and have them draw pictures to go along with what they talked about and wrote down.


Title: Family

Author: Isabell Monk

Illustrator: Janice Lee Porter

Publisher & Publication Date: Carolrhoda Books, 2001

Genre: Picture book, Multicultural

Age Range: K-3

Summary: Hope a little African American girl has been invited to her family's traditional, potluck, get-together. She is excited and wants to bring a surprise. She makes "Hope's sweet and sour pickles." She has them brought out with the desserts and then has everyone try them. She is nervous, but in the end everyone loves them.

Response: I thought this was a nice, multicultural story. It introduces new foods from her African American culture to the readers. I like how at the end of the book the recipes for the mentioned food items were given. It added a nice touch to the story. There was a combination of single and double-page spreads in the book. The illustrations were paintings. The illustrations of the people were sort of funky. They were oddly shaped and more cartoon like than actual looking people. The story made me think of the family gatherings I have been to. I am a very picky eater, so I don't usually try new things when I go to family gatherings. I definitely would not have tried the sweet and sour pickles in the story. The story made me laugh, but it made me a little sick because I am such a picky eater and those foods just did not sound appetizing to me.

Teaching Ideas: You could use this book to tie in with the family and cultural sections of social studies that lower elementary school teachers have to incorporate into their lessons. This would be a good book to introduce the topic of different cultures having different food choices and traditions. After you have read the book out loud to your class, have the students make a graphic organizer of their family compared to the family in the story. It is a good way to show similarities and differences among individuals.

The Old Woman Who Loved to Read

Title: The Old Woman Who Loved to Read

Author: John Winch

Illustrator: John Winch

Publisher & Publication Date: Holiday House, 1997

Genre: Picture book, Traditional literature

Age Range: K-2

Summary: The story is about an old lady that moved to the country so she can read in the peace and quiet, because she loved to read. Once she moved she found out that it was just as difficult to make time to read in the country. She had many inside and outside chores to do, therefore her time she had to read was limited. Finally, at the end of the story she finishes all her chores and is able to sit down and read.

Response: I thought this was a lovely picture book. The story was simple, but had an important theme of never giving up on something you want to do. Always make time for enjoyable things in life. The title reminded me of the story of the old lady that lived in a shoe. I think this would be a great book to use for a lower level classroom, that is full of young minds that are ready to read. The double-page spreads were amazing. I think they were painted. The note at the end of the book said that John Winch is known for his paintings, and the spreads looked like paintings to me. I remember when I was younger and I wanted to read all the time, but I always had to clean my room or help my mom with something. I loved to read just like the lady in the story, so I really related to the character. This book made me happy. I was happy that it was about wanting so badly to read, and it made me happy to see that the old lady finally got the chance to read.

Teaching Ideas: If you have a literature month in your classroom then use this book to introduce the idea of making time to read. The books shows how busy the old lady was, yet she still made time to read. This book can be used to show how important it is to make the time for things you enjoy, just because you have so many chores or other obligations doesn't mean you can make time for something you really enjoy. After you read this story to your class have them make a book about something they enjoy doing, but never have much time for because of the chores they have to do.

Grandfather's Journey

Title: Grandfather's Journey

Author: Allen Say

Illustrator: Allen Say

Publisher & Publication Date: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1993

Genre: Multicultural, Picture book, Historical fiction

Age Range: K-2

Summary: This lovely picture is about the life of a young man's grandfather. The young man is actually the author/illustrator. He tells the story of how his grandfather came to America and then became homesick for Japan, so he went back to visit. Throughout the story the man travels back and forth from Japan to America (California). It also talks briefly about the bombing from World War II.

Response: I think this was a great picture book. It tied in the life of a real person and real events that happened in history. The pages were single spread illustrations and they were numbered. The illustrations were paintings and I would guess he used only paint to produce the beautiful images. I think I read this story when I was younger, because it seemed familiar after I started reading it. It made me think of the stories my grandpa used to tell me about his experiences traveling. This was a touching, yet simple picture book. It can be used to introduce the Japanese culture and WWII. It is similar to Baseball Saved Us and the other chapter books we have read in the world literature for children class.

Teaching Ideas: Read this book before you read the books about the Japanese in the internment camps. This would be a great book to use as a opening to a Japanese unit. Read the story and then just have an open discussion with the class about things they might have heard of their grandparents. It could be an open story time for the students. After you have read this book go on into the history of the way the Japanese Americans were treated during WWII and use Baseball Saved Us to introduce that topic.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Free Verse Poem on Aleutian Sparrow

I am going to write about the free verse poem on page 129. It is the poem about Pari dying. It was the most emotional poem in the book.

I do not know what it would feel like to lose
a best friend that I was so close to and loved so much.
That had to be one of the worst situations ever.
I know it is hard to lose a family member,
but it must also be hard to lose a best friend.
It is hard to have all of those memories run through your mind,
and all of the planned adventures you were going to have.
My heart goes out to anyone who has lost a best friend,
I know it had to be really hard to understand why they were taken.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Where I'm From...

I am from homemade apple pies, from Mott's Applesauce with cinnamon and Pillsbury biscuits.

I am from the creepy old house, way back in the woods, out in the middle of nowhere, where the cold would seep through the walls and freeze you to death.

I am from the garden of Dorothy, the passion my mawmaw had for gardening and her flowers.

I am from a Silver Dollar in the cabbage on New Year's for good fortune and double jointed elbows, from Richard and Barbara and mainly the Barton side of the family.

I am from the tender-hearted and the hard-headed.

From birth control and penicillin and a weekend home from the job that makes you travel.

I am from "You don't have to go to church to have God in your heart, all you have to do is accept Him and His ways."

I'm from Winston-Salem and a family full of West "By-God" Virginians, pinto beans and fried potatoes.

From the two weeks Sam and Dorothy knew each other before they were married and had a son and beautiful daughter, Barbara, the crazy sister that gave up many good nights of rest to take care of me while my moma was working, and the up-to-date technology my brother always supplied me with while I was growing up.

I am from the stacks of pictures my moma has in her closet for her scrapbooks she is making for her three children and all of the items that were lost when my moma and I moved to Walnut Cove.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Moses: When Harriet Tubman Led Her People to Freedom

Title: Moses: When Harriet Tubman Led Her People to Freedom (Caldecott Honor & Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award)

Author: Carole Boston Weatherford

Kadir Nelson

Publisher & Date of Publication: Jump At the Sun, 2006

Genre: Historical fiction, Picture book,

Grade Level: 2-4

Moses: When Harriet Tubman Led Her People to Freedom is a historical fiction, picture book of the amazing Harriet Tubman and her journey on the Underground Railroad. The book starts with a Foreword describing slavery and giving details of slaves and slave life. The story begins with Harriet praying to God asking to be free. God speaks to her and she follows his directions. He gives her signs to look for and follow, then guides her and keeps her safe. She makes it safely to "Free Soil" and then decides to go back for her family. The whole time she is still talking to God and listening to what he tells her to do so she will stay safe. She goes back and gets her family and other slaves and takes them to freedom. They refer to her as the Moses of her people. At the end of the book there is an author's note giving more in-depth information of Harriet's life and accomplishments.

Response: I enjoyed reading this book. It is very informative and is a great book for young learners. I thought the information at the beginning and the end were good to help students understand slavery and the life of Harriet Tubman. I really liked the double page spreads because they made the story flow. Some of the words would flow from the first page to the second and I thought that was a good way to get the children's eyes to look over the whole picture. After reading it I felt more informed of Harriet's life and had a better understanding of the impact slavery had on a person. The only thing that some teachers might have trouble with is that fact that it is a spiritual book and Harriet speaks to God in it. Some teachers might be afraid to use it in their classroom. I would have no problem using it as a learning activity, because God was something Harriet believed in to gain her freedom. It was her beliefs and it is not trying to convert others with the story, it is only telling of how she believed.

Teaching Ideas: Before you read the book with the class have the students make a list of all the things they know about slavery or Harriet Tubman. Then read the book as a class. After you read the book, ask the students to make another list of the new things they learned about slavery and Harriet Tubman. Once they have made the two separate lists have them get into small groups and compare the lists they made. Have them ask each other questions like; "How did you know about that?" or "Where did you learn this?" to make the group discussion flow. After the group discussion have each group come up with a list of facts and write them on a big piece of paper. Then have the students present the combined list to the rest of the class. Once everyone has shared hang the lists up around the room so the students can look at them in their free time.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Sun & Spoon

Title: Sun & Spoon

Author: Kevin Henkes

Publisher & Publication Date: Greenwillow Books, 1997


Grade Level: 4-6

Summary: Spoon Gilmore is a ten year old boy who is dealing with the sudden loss of his paternal grandmother. The book begins with Spoon trying to figure out what object he can find of his grandmother's that he could keep to remember her. He has dreams about her almost every night, good ones not bad ones. He has an older brother, who is on vacation with the maternal grandmother, and a younger sister who always wants to tag along with Spoon. In the first part of the novel, Spoon decides he wants to go to his grandfather's house and look around for something that will make him think of his grandmother. He decided he did not want a picture, because he hates pictures of himself, so a picture wouldn't be enough to satisfy his personal item. While he is at his grandfather's he helps clean out the garage, but takes a few trips to the bathroom so he can look around the house. He figures out that he wants the deck of cards his grandmother used to play triple solitaire with because they have suns on them and she had collected suns. They seemed like they would be the perfect item to remember her by, so he takes them without telling his grandfather. Later he finds out that his grandfather is stressed because he can't find the playing cards. Spoon decides to return the cards without telling anyone and then he finally breaks down and tells his grandfather what happened. His grandfather in return gives Spoon a picture of his grandmother when she was about ten years old and also shows him a tracing of her hand that she did. With the tracing she wrote "M always stands for Martha" (Martha was her name). At first Spoon didn't understand what that meant, but later he figured it out. He looked at his sister's hand and then at his and his parents and realized that the letter "M" is in the markings on all of their hands. He then decides that the marking of the "M" will be the thing to help him remember his grandmother.

Response: This was a sad and touching book. I could relate to Spoon because I lost my grandmother and it was very hard on me. At first I was a bit shocked by the story, then I realized that this is a topic that has to be covered with young children. I think the story was a bit choppy, but overall it was a good book. Henkes did a good job with this novel, even though I think he is stronger in writing picture books because they can be more choppy than novels. Some parts of the story were hard to follow, but after I re-read them a couple of times I understood what was going on. The book made me feel sad. I felt sad for Spoon, and sad in general because it was talking about death. I cannot think of any other books I have read that relate to this one. I am sure I have, but I just can't think of any that make me automatically connect one to the other.

Teaching Ideas: This is a great book to use with the coping area in the NC Stardard Course of Study Health section. The book deals with a death of a close loved one and shows how well the child handles with coping. A teaching idea that I would incorporate into my classroom would be to have an open discussion about the topic, coping with loss. Then I would read the novel out loud to my students and ask questions as I read. After I finished reading the book I would have my students talk about any deaths they have experienced (only if they are willing to do so) and then ask them to talk about how they coped with the death. Once everyone who wanted to share was done, I would have all my students write a journal entry either about the book or about the death that they had to cope with (something more personal so some students might not want to write on this topic, so give options).


Title: Owen (Caldecott Honor Book)

Author: Kevin Henkes

Illustrator: Kevin Henkes

Publisher & Publication Date: Greenwillow Books, 1993

Genre: Traditional Literature, picture book

Grade Level: K-1

Summary: Owen is about a young mouse that carries around his favorite blanket all the time. His parents try to get him to stop carrying it around before he has to start school, but he refuses. They go to their neighbor for advice and she gives them different ideas, but nothing seems to work. Finally, his mother comes up with her "absolutely wonderful, positively perfect, especially terrific idea" of making the blanket into a handkerchief. Owen is satisfied with this solution and then begins to take his handkerchief everywhere like he did the blanket.

Response: I love Owen! I remember reading this book in elementary school. I would make my mom listen to me read it all the time. I had completely forgotten about it until I selected Kevin Henkes as my author/illustrator study. Reading it brought back all the childhood memories of looking forward to reading circle in Kindergarten and of all the countless times I read it on my own or to my family. I never realized how much a simple item meant to a young child when I read it when I was younger, but now that I am grown and I understand things better I understand the idea of the story. I never really had an item that I was so attached to that I wouldn't give it up for anything. I do however have a few blankets that I like to take with me everywhere I go (college, home, vacation). I am not attached to it, I just really like it and it is really warm. I associated this book with the other mouse books that Kevin Henkes wrote, like Chrysanthemum and Lilly's Purple Plastic Purse.

Teaching Ideas: A simple activity that you can use in your classroom would be to have your students bring in their favorite blanket for show-and-tell. Then design a sheet with different shaped "blankets" with the names of different colors in each of the shapes. Have your students color the "blankets" correctly and then have them show you which "blanket" is the same as Owen's and which "blanket" matches the color and shape of like their favorite that they brought in for show-and-tell. This helps students learn how to spell and recognize colors and match shapes of things.

Snowflake Bentley

Title: Snowflake Bentley (Caldecott Medal Winner)

Author: Jacqueline Briggs Martin

Illustrator: Mary Azarian

Publisher & Publication Date: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1998

Genre: Biography, informational, picture book

Grade Level: 2-4

Summary: Snowflake Bentley is a picture book biography of the self-taught scientist, Wilson Bentley. The book tells the story of how Willie Bentley became a famous photographer of snowflakes and other things in nature. On almost every page there is some biographical information of Bentley. The story takes you through his life, but on a level that young children would be able to understand. It starts with his love of the snow, then goes on to tell how he wanted a camera, and then how he got one. It then goes on to tell of how he tries to photograph the snowflakes and then how he starts to photograph nature. It tells when he died and how he died, and also gives information about the monument that was built in his honor in his hometown.

Response: I think that Snowflake Bentley is a wonderful book. It is so inspiring and really teaches the reader a lot about someone from history. I noticed as I was reading that in the side margins of the pages there were small pieces of information about Wilson Bentley. I think that is a great idea, because information is given not only about Bentley's life but about Vermont, early cameras, and snowflakes. I did not know of Wilson Bentley before I read this book, and I think that my students will not know who he is either. This book reminded me of when I was younger and how I was interested in caterpillars. I used to catch them all the time and keep them to examine them. I wanted to know everything about them, where they were coming from and what they ate. I made a strong connection with this story because of the fact that I was so interested in something so simple when I was growing up.

Teaching Ideas: An activity that you could do with your students is to have them think of something that they are really interested in. Then have them do a mini-research assignment. Take them to the computer lab and to the library to do their research. Have the students write down what they want to know about the thing they have selected, and then have them do the research to answer their questions. Of course you would have to help them find ways to research their topic. This is also a great way to introduce children the idea of researching. This would be very beneficial to them as they progress in school. They will already have basic research skills and knowledge of something that is really interesting to them. You could also provide good, credible websites for the children the check out while they are researching.

What Do You Do With A Tail Like This?

Title: What Do You Do With A Tail Like This? (Caldecott Honor Book)

Author & Illustrators: Steve Jenkins & Robin Page

Publisher & Date of Publication: Houghton Mifflin Children's Books, 2003

Genre: Informational, Picture book

Grade Level: K-3

Summary: What Do You Do With A Tail Like This? is an informational, picture book about different animals and their body parts. A question is asked and the body part of the animal that the question is asking about is illustrated. Then on the following page the answers to the questions are given. The questions asked are; "What do you do with a nose like this?", "What do you do with ears like these?", "What do you do with a tail like this?", What do you do with eyes like these?", "What do you do with feet like these?", and "What do you do with a mouth like this?", in that order. At the end of the book descriptions and information is given about the different animals that were asked about in the book.

Response: I think this is a wonderful and very informative book for growing minds. I liked the illustrations of the different animals. I also liked the way uncommon animals were used in the book. Young children have probably never heard of some of the animals so this book is a great learning experience. I even learned from the book, so I know my students would learn a lot from it. I could see myself reading this to my class and being surprised at the things I learned from it. It made me feel young and innocent again, because of the information that I did not already know that I learned from the simple picture book. The book kind of reminded me of Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? I think it was because of the animal associations and maybe because of the illustrations.

Teaching Ideas: Have your students draw an animal that they have made up. Make sure they draw the body parts from the book; nose, tail, eyes, feet. Then have your students describe the animal to you, and then tell you what each body part is used for. For older students (second and third grade) have them write down their description and the uses of the body parts. For younger students (Kindergarten and first grade) have them tell you and then have them write down their favorite body part and what it does.