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.