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.