Sunday, December 6, 2009

Final Reflection!

I can't believe that the semester is over already! I have enjoyed this class so much and I have learned so many things that I am going to be able to take into my future classroom. I honestly believe that this is one of the most beneficial classes I've taken. I've learned how to look at children's books critically and decide which offer the most to children (and which ones are just enjoyable to read!) Going into this class I really didn't think that there was much to know about children's books. I just assumed that they were all great and there was no technique to finding the exceptional ones. Now that the semester is over I realize how wrong I was! I have really enjoyed digging deeper into what makes up children's books and finding out how to create a great library for my classroom.

Out of all of the assignments and activities that we did throughout the semester, I think the most beneficial was creating a text set. I can definitely see how and why this is so important in classrooms and I'm glad that I've had a chance to test it out. I honestly feel like I can take everything that we've done in this class and apply it directly to my future classroom. I think that I am much more prepared to handle a classroom library and to help my students find great books for them to read.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Love to Mama edited by Pat Mora

This book is full of poems about mothers and grandmothers and is a tribute to mothers everywhere. The poems are beautifully written and contain both Spanish and English words within them. For students coming from a Spanish background this would be great for them to have background knowledge in the language and the culture of the book so that they can relate and connect to the poetry. for students who do not have a Spanish background it is great for them to get insight into a new culture or a culture that they may not know much about. At the end of the book there is a glossary of Spanish words and phrases and it was one of my favorite parts about the book. I think that people of all ages can really benefit from reading books that contain multiple languages and cultures because it opens up their minds and exposes them to new ideas and ways of life. Aside from the text of this book, the illustrations are incredible. The colors are very bright and bring a lot of life to the poems and make it fun to read through.

Good Sports by Jack Prelutsky and Chris Raschka

This book is a poetry book all about sports. There are the typical sports- basketball, baseball, football, etc. but there are also poems about gymnastics and frisbee and sports that some people wouldn't think of right away. There is something for everyone in this book.
I think this book is great for children because it goes back to what I have said in previous posts about making poetry accessible to children. It is hard to read poetry when you are first introduced to it and it is even harder if it is about things that you have little or no experience with. By having short poems about sports (which is a topic that a lot of children know about) it helps students begin to connect with poetry and makes it relevant to them. I think that poetry books like this are a great starting point for introducing poetry to students because it allows them to combine the familiar with the unfamiliar.

Poetry for Spring selected by Lillie Patterson

This book is full of multiple poems about Spring. The poems are from various poets but they all consist of topics relating to Spring. My favorite thing about this book is the layout. The table of contents starts with "Welcome, Spring" and the first few poems are all about the beginning of Spring. Then, the poems focus on events that occur during the Spring season- Mother's Day, Easter, Arbor Day, St. Patrick's Day, etc. Finally, that last poem is Goodbye, Spring and it is about the last few days of Spring before summer arrives.
I enjoyed reading this book because when I was in school I was not interested in poetry, and even in college I still have trouble understanding some of the poems I read. Although I might not fully understand what the poet is saying or understand the way he or she is saying it, I can still understand the meaning of the poem and I can use my imagination to create scenes in my head that help me understand what I think is being said. I think books like this really help children begin to create meaning in what they are reading and shows them that they don't have to understand every piece of what they are reading in order to understand what the author is trying to tell them. I think this book is great for creating class discussions.

Winter Eyes by Douglas Florian

This book, as you might have guessed, is a book of poems all about winter. The poems are short and each one has an accompanying page that is used just for a painting of the poem. The poems are about all of the wonderful things about winter-cabins, ice fishing, sledding, etc. However, there are also great comparing and contrasting poems-What I Love About Winter followed by What I Hate About Winter.
I really enjoyed this book because, again, I think it makes poetry accessible to students. I liked that it had poems that were contrasting because I think that would be an interesting way to approach a discussion about comparison and contrast because a lot of children don't have exposure to poetry. Also, being from Iowa I love the winter and the fact that I am reading it in November just gets me thinking about all of the things that I love about winter and how great snow is!

More Small Poems by Valerie Worth

I read this book because it was mentioned in Love That Dog and it made me curious as to what it was. Just as the title states, it is a book of small poems. The poems are all of various topics-kittens, shoes, fireworks, anything you can think of.
I think this book is great, especially when children are first being introduced to poetry because it makes it very accessible to young readers. It shows them that poems don't have to be long, extravagent poems to be meaningful and that you can create poetry from anything. There are virtually no limits. I also really enjoyed this book because I usually don't read poetry but when I was reading through this I was amazed at how simple, yet powerful some of the poems were and it was fun for me to read through them.

Love That Dog by Sharon Creech

This book is about a boy named Jack who is telling a story through a series of short poems. However, he doesn't really think they are poems because he believes he doesn't understand poetry. His teacher helps him realize that everyone is a poet.
I love this book! I could completely relate to it, even now in college. Reading through the first few pages I knew exactly what Jack was saying. In my creative writing class in college we read the Red Wheelbarrow and I remember thinking, "I have no idea what this is about." As I was reading Jack's thoughts I couldn't help but laugh because it doesn't matter how old you are, sometimes you're going to feel like you just don't get it. What I loved about this book was that Jack's teacher keeps having him read poems and write poems and eventually Jack starts realizing that he can actually write poems. Throughout the entire book he keeps saying he doesn't understnad the poems they are reading and he doesn't think that his poems are that great because he doesn't really think they are poems. By the end of the story he is writing poems and putting his name on them for the entire class to see. I think this book is great for children because they can relate to it and it shows them that it's okay to not understand something right away, and also that not everyone gets the same thing out of what they are reading.

Strega Nona by Tomie dePaola

This is about a girl name Nona who grows up with her grandmother in Italy. Her grandmother is a strega (someone who does magic and creates potions and lotions) and eventually Nona will become a strega. She learns from her grandmother and when her grandmother decides to retire Nona takes over the business and gets the secret to her grandmother's magic. She becomes Strega Nona.
I read this book when I was little and I loved it! I remember thinking how cool it would be to be able to have a magic pot that made pasta for you if you sang to it. I also remember that, although my grandmother didn't do magic, I loved spending time with her and learning from her. I really enjoy reading this book and no matter how many times I read it I love it every time. I think this is great for children because I think that when they start out writing they are really focused on telling about their lives and it's very factual and this book shows that you can write stories and they don't have to be completely true. You can have fun with it!

Caps For Sale: A Tale of a Peddler, Some Monkeys, and Their Monkey Business by Esphyr Slobodkina

This book was about a man who sold a variety of caps and he stacked them on top of each other when he would walk to town to sell the caps. However, no one was buying his caps so he went to the country and found a tree to rest under for a little bit. When he woke up all of his caps were gone and he found them in the tree with a bunch of monkeys. He gets very angry and tries to get the monkeys to give the caps back but they just keep mimicking him. Eventually, he tricks the monkeys into giving the caps back and he re-stacks them on his head and walks back to town.
I remember this book from when I was in school and I thought it was really funny. I loved reading this book because it was just fun to watch the monkeys and see how the peddler was going to get the hats back. I think that this book would be fun in a classroom because it is simple but you can do a lot with it. The class could create their own play and act out the scenes or they could create a similar story and make their own books. This story is great for getting young children involved in reading!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Painted Dreams by Karen Lynn Williams

This book is about a little girl named Ti Marie and her love of painting. In the beginning of the story Ti Marie uses bricks and rocks to created colors for her paintings. However, she does not have a lot of time to paint because she has to look after her two younger siblings while her mother goes to sell food at the market and her father goes to work in the field. One day while she is watching her siblings she sees the bocor (priest and healer), Msie Antoine. His yard is full of houses that have brightly painted pictures on them that Ti Marie falls in love with. Then, she sees him painiting and she sees all of the paints that he is using. She wishes she had paints like his so she sneaks out one night and she finds his old paint tubes that he had thrown away and she uses the last little bits of the paint. She goes to the market to help her mother and she realizes that their area never really gets looked at when people come to the market because it is so far back. Ti Marie decides to help her mother and she finds a wall that she can clear and make into a "canvas." Many people stop by their cart to see her painting and end up buying from her mother. For the rest of the book she is able to practice her painting and the bocor tells her that she is doing a great job.
I think this story is great because children can really see how it is important to find something you believe in and keep going. Ti Marie's mother didn't quite agree with her through the entire process because she knew it might not happen and she need Ti Marie for help. However, even without the full support of her mother she still did what she had to do to help her mother/family and to get the paints/materials that she needed.

Shadows by April Pulley Sayre

This book is about two friends who discover their shadows and then they continue to find all the things around them that have shadows.
I thought this book was really sweet. It had a "stop and smell the roses" theme to me. It's easy to notice peoples' shadows but it's not so easy to notice a flower's shadow, or a tree's shadow, or the fact that a person's hat creates a shadow. I really enjoyed this book because it pointed things out that I had never thought about before and did it in a way that I hadn't thought of before. The illustrations really bring the idea of shadows into the overall pictures. The illustrator used acrylics and there aren't really definite lines but you can still see the basic picture; which is just like a shadow. I thought this story was great and I think children would love it. It could be a great resource for discussing details and being specific in stories and why it is important in stories.

Abuela by Arthur Dorros

This story is about a little girl named Rosalba and her abuela. The two go for a bus ride and then they go to the park. While there they feed the birds and Rosalba begins to imagine what it would be like if one of the birds picked her up. The rest of the story is Rosalba telling the reader what all her and her grandmother would do if they were flying in the sky.
I thought this book was great for many reasons. I really enjoyed that it was from a different cultural background because I think that that can bring a lot to a classroom. Also throughout the story there are Spanish words along with English words. In a classroom this would be great for students because non-Spanish speakers would become familiar with some pieces of the language and native Spanish speakers would be familiar with them and may feel more comfortable reading a book with a little of both English and Spanish. Aside from the cultural benefits that this book could bring to a classroom I also think it is a great book for encouraging imagination! Who hasn't watched birds flying above them and thought about what it might be like if we could do that? The illustrations are amazing! The reader can see what is going on in the background of all of the pictures but the main focus stays on Rosalba and her abuela. This story is beautifully written and illustrated and it could bring a lot of beneficial elements to a classroom.

So Far From the Bamboo Grove by Yoko Kawashima Watkins

This story is about a young Japanese girl living in northern Korea during the Japanese occupation of Korea. I read this book after reading A Year of Impossible Goodbyes and I think it made it that much more interesting for me. I already had all the ideas of what it was going to be about and it was not what I was expecting at all. I still did not know much about the history of these events so I thought it was interesting to learn more about it and also to have another perspective. In reading A Year of Impossible Goodbyes it seemed that the Japanese had it very easy. However, in this book it shows that that was not the case. I really enjoyed the pace of this book because I found it hard to put down, I wanted to keep reading to see what happened to Yoko and her family. I also felt this was very emotional to read because it seemed that the characters had horrible situations to deal with over and over again. The fact that this story is based off of true stories made it even more unbelievable because I can't imagine being eleven and going through all of these things and being forced to grown up so quickly.
At the beginning of the book there is a letter from the author telling why she chose to write this book and I thought that was a great addition to the book. I think it helped me get into the story even more because she said she was writing to tell her own life experiences. Through the entire book I kept thinking how awful it was that people actually had to go through this and the fact that she survived creates an even more amazing story. As I said with the other book, I think this book would be great in the classroom. It would be great by itself but by pairing the two together I think it really creates amazing discussion and also helps students understand that stories have multiple perspectives.

Year of Impossible Goodbyes by Sook Nyul Choi

This story is about a young Korean girl named Sookan and her life during the Japanese occupation of Korea. I really enjoyed this story because prior to reading this I really had no idea about what actually happened in this area of the world during this time. I don't feel like the Japanese occupation is something that is covered in school curriculum so I really had no information about it. For me, this book was really emotional to read. At times I was excited and happy that the family had gotten out or had passed through a trying time but then right after that page there was an extremely sad or intense part where they were back to fearing for their lives hoping not to get caught. I cannot imagine being so young and going through these situations. Even going to school was a horrible experience and it seemed to me that Sookan stayed very positive (for what she was put through).
The mos surprising part of the story for me was towards the end when the war is over and the Koreans are celebrating. After the war, everything seems to be getting better for the family. Then, Korea is taken over by Russian communists. However, in the book it did not seemed to be portrayed as a negative thing at first. When I was reading this portion of the story I couldn't believe how happy the Koreans seemed to have the Russian there. What they had gone through was so horrible that even though the they were taken over by the Russians it was still better than what they were living through.
I can definitely see how this book would be perfect for a classroom. Even if it wasn't paired with So Far From the Bamboo Grove I still think it would be very beneficial because it is offering insight into a time in history that many students no very little about.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

A/I/P thoughts

For my author/illustrator/poet presentation I chose to research Mercer Mayer (as you could probably tell). I really enjoyed this project because I learned so much about one of my favorite author/illustrators and I was surprised at how much I didn't know about him. In regards to using a project like this in my classroom I see many benefits and would definitely implement this into my class. What I found interesting is that Mercer Mayer went to school for art and knew he wanted to try to illustrate children's books. However, when he showed his first portfolio to an art director he was told to throw it away and start he did! I thought that was unbelievable because even as an adult I have a misconception that authors and illustrators know what they want to do and are good at it right away. I think that doing a study like this with a class would be a great way for them to see that even authors don't start out making books. Along with this, it will also show students different ideas that they can use in their writing. I think studies like this are perfect to get students engaged in their reading and writing because they understand what writers do and by learning more about the author it might create more of an interest when they are reading.

Golden Eagle: A Graphic Novel Adventure (Critter Kids Adventures) by Erica Farber and J.R. Sansevere ILLUSTRATED by Mercer Mayer

This book is part of a series based on the critter kids created by Mercer Mayer. The critters' class goes on a field trip to Coyote Canyon, a desert reservation. When they arrive at the reservation they discover that there are golden eagle eggs that have dissappeared and the kids go on an adventure to find out what actually happen to them.

My favorite Mercer Mayer books are the Little Critter collection and I did not know that this graphic novel series existed. I thought this was great because most of the Little Critter books seem to be for younger readers and these books apply to older readers! On almost every page of the story there are facts given about things related to reservations or animals found in the desert and I think that these make the book very worthwhile. It is fun to read and children are also learning a little so it is definitely a win-win. I did find it a little difficult to read just because it seemed like there was so much going on on every page. This could be that I am not an avid graphic novel reader so I am not used to the layout but, there were times when I was confused on where to go next on the page. However, I think it is a fun and different way for students to read about new topics and I think they would enjoy that it is an adventure series!

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens ILLUSTRATED by Mercer Mayer

This book is about the classic Christmas story about Ebenezer Scrooge and Bob Cratchit. However, in this story all of the characters are animals.

I really enjoyed this book. While the story is a classic and is a favorite of mine, what I liked most about this book was the illustrations. As I've said before, Mercer Mayer is one of my favorite children's illustrators and he does not disappoint in this story. The colors that he used were absolutely perfect! They were dark and really portrayed the "classic" feel of the story but they were also bright and kept the reader looking and engaged. I thought this was a great switch to classic tale that I knew.

There's A Nightmare In My Closet by Mercer Mayer

A little boy who is afraid of what lives in his closet at night decides that he is going to get rid of the nightmare once and for all. He comes up with a whole plan for how to catch him and he waits in the dark for the nightmare to come out of the closet. He turns on the light and shoots him with his cap gun. Unexpectedly the nightmare starts to cry so in order to soothe him the little boy tucks him into his bed.

I read "There's An Alligator Under My Bed" and loved it and I this story is no different. I like that there is a twist at the end. The reader is expecting to see a scary monster come out of the closet (and they do) but then the monster turns out to be very sensitive and very sweet. I love this story because it is definitely something that everyone can relate to. Who hasn't been laying in bed and thought they heard something out of the ordinary? I read this with my child study and he thought it was hilarious! Children of all ages can relate to this book and would really enjoy it!

Shibumi and the Kitemaker by Mercer Mayer

This story is about an emperor's daughter, Shibumi, who lives in a far-away kingdom with her mother and father. Her father built her a garden and she was allowed in the garden but not outside the walls so that she would be safe. She can hear all of the sounds outside the walls and she hears other children saying that she is kept in there because she is so ugly. She climbs a tree to yell at them and from the tree she looks out over the city and sees that it is nothing like what she imagined. She is used to beautiful things and in the city she sees slave traders, beggars, and garbage in the streets. Immediately she wants to talk to her father but can't because he will know she climbed a tree so she comes up with an idea to have the royal kitemaker build a kite for her to fly over the city with. By doing this she will send a message to her father-she wouldn't come down until the city was as beautiful as the palace or the palace was as run-down as the city. The emperor immediately says that he will rebuild the city but his councilors do not agree with him so they try to shoot the kite down. The kitemaker was holding the kite and saw them so he jumped off the tower and the two of them disappeared for many years. The emperor still tried to rebuild the city and a war broke out because the noblemen were greedy and didn't want to change the city. One day a samurai leaves the kingdom because he believes that the little girl is still alive and he finds her and tells her that her father has tried to change the city but he is too old now. Shibumi tries to go back with him but the palace is surrounded so she goes back and builds a giant kite so that she can enter the way she left. In the end, her father is killed in combat and Shibumi takes over.

I loved this story and I was completely surprised that it was written by Mercer Mayer. He is one of my favorite illustrators and I love his Little Critter stories but I had no idea that he wrote other stories (which sounds very naive but I only knew him for these books). The story is amazing and I think it does a great job of discussing contrasts in SES in a society and how people can change these differences and not just accept them. While the story is great, the illustrations are absolutely beautiful. They are different from his other books but the colors are still very vibrant and the scenes he creates are amazing.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009


I have really enjoyed this semester so far. I love that we get to blog our responses instead of just writing up a paper for the teacher to read. I think this has really helped me in how I present the information because I feel that when I write my reflections I am talking to my peers and fellow teachers so I write differently than if I am just telling a teacher my ideas. My favorite part of this class is that we get to read through many different types of children's books and look at them critically to decide whether or not we think they would be good to use in a classroom. Prior to this class I had never really looked into children's books, I just read them and took the information as it was presented. I didn't look deeper into them and I didn't look at it from a child's perspective. I think that these are very important when thinking about books that I want to bring into a classroom because I want to know what my students are reading and know what they are getting from the text. When I blog about the books I love getting feedback because I think it is very beneficial and it is similar to what I would like to do when I begin working in a school. I think that the discussions are very similar to conversations that I will have with teachers at any school I work for in the future and being able to present information to different people (especially those with different views/opinions) is very beneficial. This class has really helped me to begin thinking about how to use children's literature in my classroom so that students can get the most out of the texts.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

The Misfits (Part I) by James Howe

This book does an amazing job of redefining "minority." It is about a group of five 12 year olds who are trying to run for student council. They are not part of the "popular" or "in" group but they know they have something to offer and they know that they are not the only ones who can benefit from them being in student council. They represent a lot of different aspects of the school.

I loved this book because it discusses so many different topics and the title "Misfits" brings it all together perfectly. The misfits are seen as people who don't fit into the "norm" and in this book they are represented in a number of different ways, for example; a tall and very smart girl, a very round, chubby boy, and a homosexual boy, to name a few. My favorite part of this book was they way it discussed the minority in a school and how it showed that it is about a lot more than race. When Addie decides that she wants to run for student council she immediately goes looking for someone who is black and who is popular to run as president on her ticket. She does this because she thinks that if anyone knows what it is like to feel like a minority, it has got to be a black student. When DuShawn agrees to run for president he understands why she picked him to run but says "You're more oppressed than Tonni and Royal and me. I mean, we're cool." This part of the story really stuck out to me because this is exactly how it is in school. People aren't really seen as fitting in based on the color of their skin, it is based on whether or not their cool. And what makes them cool is the people they hang out with, what activities they participate in, what their families are like...race doesn't really come into play. I thought this book did an amazing job of pointing out this idea!

Mommy Laid An Egg or (Where DO Babies Come From) by Babette Cole

In this story parents are preparing to tell their children where babies come from. They come up with many different ways in which children are made; girls are sugar and spice and everything nice, and boys are slugs and snails and puppy dog tails. Then they create stories about how they are brought to the parents; some are delivered by dinosaur, made from gingerbread, the stork, and in the case of these children..mommy laid an egg. After hearing all of this from their parents the children laugh and begin to "educate" their parents.

I thought this book was really funny and also very true! It seems that parents are very uncomfortable talking to their children about where babies come from but most of the time, children already have a pretty good idea of what actually happens. I thought this book did an excellent job of showing that kids know more than we think and that by trying to "shelter" them and avoid awkward topics it makes it more awkward when they begin informing you. This book is controversial, I would say, mainly because of the illustrations. There are full pictures of the a male and female and it discusses the ways they "fit" together. I can definitely see why this would be controversial and I would be very concerned about having it in a classroom but I think that parents could really benefit from this book. I'm sure that many children would giggle and snicker (I know I did when I was reading it) but there is not reason they can't laugh about it. I think that this book would help parents present the topic in a way that the children could understand and by being able to laugh about it it would be a lot easier to talk. The end of the book does a great job of illustrating the idea that EVERYONE knows how babies are made by having a herd of animals come into the house. This book shows that it is a natural process and that it is okay to laugh about it.

Arlene Sardine by Chris Raschka

This is about a fish named Arlene who wants to be a sardine. It talks about her life and swimming around with her thousands of friends until one day she swims into a big net purse. Then, she sits in the net for a few days and is eventually lifted up to a boat and that is where she dies. However, the story doesn't end continues on talking about how she is salted and smoked (delicately). From there, it moves to her being "well rested on the conveyer belt" and then being packed into a can that is closed up with no air and being cooked.

I thought this book was interesting and it was very specific and graphic about what happens to our food before we I'm not a fan of sardines but after reading this book I would find it hard to be! I thought it was interesting how, even when talking about the not so pleasant things that happen to the fish when they are being prepared for packaging, the author didn't make it sound bad. By saying "delicately salted and smoked" and being "well rested on the conveyer belt." While I think this would be good for children who are reading this to feel more at ease with the idea of the fish being harmed, I think there was probably a hint of sarcasm as well. I think this book would be good for children because it is always important to know where the food you eat comes from. However, I think this book is a little biased and would make children feel bad for the fish, and other animals they eat, so they would feel like they shouldn't eat animals. I felt the book was promoting vegetarianism and I think it is important to show different view points. However, I think that if I had this book in a classroom I would want to find books that promote the views of people who prefer to eat meat because, as I said before, this book seem to support just one point of view.

And Tango Makes Three by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell

This story takes place in a zoo in New York. It starts by talking about all of the animal families that live in the zoo and then it focuses on the penguins. It begins to discuss how a boy and a girl penguin find each other and beome a couple. Except for Roy and Silo. These 2 male penguins do everything together and they watch other penguin couples and they do the same things. They make a nest of stones (like the other penguins) and they sleep together (like the other penguins). Eventually, they realized that the other couples were having babies and they weren't. They found a rock and they treated as an egg; they took turns sitting on it to keep it warm and they were very cautious. The zoo keeper was watching them and realized what they were doing so he found and egg that needed to be cared for and he put it in their nest. When the new baby penguin finally arrives the zoo keeper names him Tango because it takes 2 to make Tango. From then on they lived like all of the other families in the penguin house.

I thought this book was great! I really liked that it was written from a penguin family because I think it makes it more fun and I think that children will really enjoy it. I also think that it made it really easy to make connections to humans, so even though it disconnected by talking about penguins it was easy to come back and talk about it on a more common level. I think that would be great for children as well. I liked that it talked about them watching the other penguin couples and how they did the exact same things because it shows that there really is no difference between the couples other than they are two males. My favorite part is when the zoo keeper brings an egg for them to care for because I think this could bring up a lot of great discussions, for adults and for children. It shows that although they themselves cannot have a child together, there are other ways and they can still be happy together. I thought this book did a great job of addressing the topic and making it accessable to children.

Whitewash by Ntozake Shange

This is a story about a young African-American girl named Helene-Angel. Her and her brother, Mauricio, were walking home from school and they got stopped by a group of white males. Mauricio is beaten up pretty badly and they spray painted Helene-Angel so that she is white. After the incident there is a lot of publicity and Helene-Angel does not want to come out of her room or go to school because she is ashamed of what has happened. She is embarrassed for herself but she also feels that she has embarrassed the world. When she finally decides to come out she sees all of her friends from school and they walk to school with her.

I loved this story! I wasn't sure what this book was going to be about and it totally surprised me. It was really hard to read this book and not get emotional because it is such an amazing story and it is based off of true events. I think this book really made me step back and think about how people in our country look at race and what they believe. In the story, when the boys are spray painting Helene-Angel, they are yelling things at her about being white and being American and I found this to be very interesting. Why is it that people still see white as being American? Obviously, there are plenty of Americans who are not white, yet so many people view it as being a characteristic of American. This book was really hard for me to read because it made me realize that as much as people want to believe that there are no racial issues and that everyone is equal, that's not how it is and I think it is important to understand that. For children, I think this book is very powerful and I think that it would be hard for children to understand completely what is happening and what it means but I definitely think it would be a great book for children to read so they can begin to get an understanding of these issues. The illustrations do a great job of bringing the words to life in this story and I think that this would be very beneficial for children because even if they don't fully understand what they are reading or what is being read to them, they can see the illustrations to help them understand.

The Un-Wedding by Babette Cole

This book is about 2 children, Demetrius and Paula Ogglebutt. Their parents do not get along at all. They used to get along and they used to be pretty people but because they had ugly thoughts about each other they became ugly. They would play tricks on each other and the children thought their behavior was because of them. Demetrius and Paula decide to ask if anyone else has parents like they do and they make a sign for anyone with problem parents. They find that a lot of students have the same issue and they all come to a group consensus that the parents' actions are clearly not their fault. Then, they decide the best thing for their parents is to not be married any more so they decide to "un-marry" them and the parents agree it is a great idea. The un-wedding is complete with an un-wedding cake and separate un-honeymoons. At the end the family takes down the big house they used to live in and they build 2 separate houses with a tunnel connecting them so Demetrius and Paula and go back and forth.

I thought this was a really great story about a topic that is hard for a lot of adults to talk about with children. The illustrations in this book did a really good job of depicting the children's emotions in various situations. When the parents are playing mean tricks on each other, for example, the children's faces look scared and nervous. When it discusses them feeling that their parents' behavior was because of them, their faces seem very sad. I also thought it was great that the book talked about the students talking about it in school and finding other students who were having the same problems with their parents. I think a lot of children feel like they can't talk about it in school because they feel like they are the only ones going through this type of situation but that is obviously not the case so it is important to show children that it is alright to talk about it. I did notice that in the book the family was a wealthy, white family. Their house that they had was very large and extravagant and when they tore down the old house to build two separate houses those houses were pretty extravagant as well. The idea that a family would actually be able to have a separate "honeymoon" for each parent and that they would take down a house and build two separate ones is pretty extreme and I doubt a lot of children could relate to that situation but I think that it makes the story fun. It is a pretty serious topic but it makes it fun and humorous for children and takes some pressure off the topic for a little while.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

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

This book is about a bunch of materials; yarn, string, buttons, funny shaped glasses, feathers, you name it. They all gather together for a class picture and, like most class pictures, it is chaos. Several things are late, including the most important material...Glue! Eventually, they all get there and Glue helps everyone get ready and the picture is taken. The final page of the book folds out so it is actually 4 pages wide and it is a picture of all of the materials. However, Glue put all of them together and there are bodies and faces created from of these various materials.

I thought this book was really creative and really fun! I was reading it trying to figure out where it was going and how it would end and then when they all came to together to make faces and bodies it was almost like a surprise ending. The illustrations are from cut out paper and I think it really makes them stand out and gives them a sort of 3D effect. I think this book would be great for children because it takes simple things like buttons and yarn and turns them into characters and I think it would be great for encouraging students to "think outside the box."

Our Family Tree by Lisa Westberg Peters

This is a story about evolution and how humans came to be. It starts with the first cells and continues on through history until we transformed into humans.

I think this book was interesting and it would be a really good way to teach evolution because it puts it in a very basic way and at the end there is a time line of where humans started and where they are now. I think that this is a book that would be great for families because parents could read this to their children if they believed in evolution. However, I don't believe this book has a place in a classroom unless there is a book about creationism as well. Having this book alone would seem to be supporting one theory over another and I don't think it is the school's place to say which is correct. Also, if a student has been taught creationism at home or at church and then reads this book and asks a teacher about it I think it would be difficult to answer a lot of the students questions without crossing the thin line between church and state. However, I think that evolution and creationism are important topics and that if one theory is going to be supported in a classroom then the other should be as well. If this book were in my classroom I could not see justifying it's place there without offering a book about creationism because this would single out those students who do not believe in evolution. I think a classroom should be a place that welcomes all ideas and not just some of them.

Duck and Cover by Jackie Urbanovic

This was a book about an alligator named Harold who escapes from a zoo after he is accused of eating a little girl's pet dog. He goes to a nearby house where a woman and all of her pets live. No one wants to help Harold, except for one duck named Max. He convinces Irene, the owner of all of the animals, to let him in and try to hide him and he succeeds and convincing the other animals in the house that he is harmless. Eventually, the zoo comes looking for him and they tell him that they made a mistake, the dog he ate was just a hot dog not a pet dog, and Harold goes back to his home at the zoo.

I thought this book was fun to read. The text was a lot different from a typical book. The words were all over the page sometimes and there was no consistent text or font; if they were yelling it would be larger and usually in a different color. There were also small dialogues from some of the characters that were very small and were sometimes hard to notice if you weren't focused on looking for them. The story also used a lot of great actioin words or words for sounds that I think children would love because it would be fun for them to try to read them with expression and create the sounds that the words were representing. I think this book is great because it gets away from a lot of the routine, typical book layouts that most students and teachers are used to but it is still understandable and organized.

My Mama Sings by Jeanne Whitehouse Peterson

This book is about an African American boy and his mother. His mother has a song for everything, they are not new songs but he likes the familiarity of them. One day everything seems to go wrong and his mother doesn't have a song to sing. The little boy realizes that his mother is sad and that she doesn't feel like singing so he makes up a new song for her.

I thought this book was really sweet. Most of the book rhymed which I thought was neat because it was talking about the songs the mother would sing so I think it is great to be able to make that small connection. I also really liked that this wasn't another book about a white, middle-class family. The illustrations are amazing! The illustrator, Sandra Speidel, did a great job of making all of the pages seem almost like a dream which I think made a huge impact on how I read each page. I couldn't find what type of illustration it was in the book but it looks a lot like oil pastels or something for similar. All of the colors seem to flow together, there are no clear, precise lines. I really enjoyed this book and I think that children would enjoy it as well.

If You Give A Mouse A Cookie by Laura Joffe Numeroff

This is one of my all time favorite books! This book is about a boy who gives a mouse a cookie and then the mouse asks for a glass of milk and it goes on and on. There are a series "what if" scenarios that make up the story and in the end it comes back to "If you give a mouse a cookie..."

I love this book because it is hilarious and it's just a fun book to read. For teaching, I think this would be a great book for teaching a circular type of writing, where the beginning comes back in the end. I think this book does an excellent job of showing how that can work in a story. Also, I think children just really enjoy this book. I read this with my child study and he thought it was really funny and I liked that it was a pretty simple book so it was easy for him to read and follow.

The Giver by Lois Lowry

I, unlike most people by the time they reach college, had never read The Giver and was very anxious to see what all the excitement was about. When I read the first few chapters I was definitely interested in what the rest of the book would be about but I thought it was very strange. However, I quickly realized that the concepts weren't really that strange at all when looking at the world we live in now.

The story is about a community that has everything equal and there are no differences between anyone or anything and no one ever has to make decisions on their own. There is no color, no weather, no pain, no inconveniences, no rudeness; everything is "perfect." When Jonas, the main character, is selected to have the responsibility of Receiver of Memories he realizes that feelings and colors and all the things his community is lacking, are all things that everyone should experience. They are not just things that the Receiver should get to know about and know how to deal with.

As I said before, I thought this story was very strange when I began reading it. Now, I think this is very similar to what people in our country want to become. The idea of everyone being equal and there being no differences in any aspect of life. If everything and everyone are equal then there is no diversity and I think that, although there are many people pushing for equality, it is at the price of all of the diversity that makes our world so amazing! I also think that this book made me appreciate the little things that I seem to think for granted on an every day basis; the color of flowers, music, being able to make choices about my own life without being told what to do. I think this book is great because it is open to a variety of interpretations and I love that it can start so many vivid conversations.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Magic Pickle by Scott Morse

A little girl named JoJo has a magic pickle under her bedroom floor and it has super powers. It has been preserved their for over 50 years in a pickle jar and has come out of hybernation to find it's enemies- Phantom Carrot and Chili Chili Bang Bang. JoJo tries to look around the lab underneath her room to figure out where the pickle came from and before she knows it, it is time for school and she is at the bus stop in her pajamas. She gets teased at the bus stop by a girl named LuLu who is characterized as a girl who has rich parents, cheats on tests, wears make-up, and has a cute haircut and it is someone that JoJo and her friend do not like. JoJo tells this girl that she is secure in her originality and LuLu comes back with a comment about being normal. In the end, JoJo starts a food fight in the cafeteria against LuLu and a "popular" boy talks to her and she is happy.

First, I think this book is great because it has a lot of puns throughout the entire story that really add to the humor. However, there were a lot of things that bothered me about this particular story. When the main character is describing LuLu it is clear that there are definite stereotypes being used. LuLu has "rich parents", "wears make-up", and has a "cute haircut." To add to this, she is picking on JoJo for what she is wearing...her pajamas. I thought this was really interesting because this book just puts the stereotypes right out in the open for the reader, there is no digging involved. At one point in the conversation between the girls LuLu says she is "normal." As a teacher it is very important to realize that there are many students who could fit themselves into this situation and I don't want to promote these ideas. I did like that JoJo said she was "secure in her originality," I think that is a great way to help children start to see that it is ok to be different and there is nothing wrong with it. However, I didn't like that the book ended with JoJo getting to talk to a "popular" boy and finally feeling like she had won against LuLu. I think that this idea is showing students that the goal is to be popular and that if you are popular you'll be happy and you'll be like everyone else.

The Dangerous Snake and Reptile Club by Daniel San Souci

Three brothers go on a family vacation and one finds a snake, one finds a bunch of tadpoles, and one finds a dinosaur bone. They bring all of their findings back home to show their friends and the group of all boys decide to start a club in their clubhouse. Eventually, they charge people to walk through and see all of their "exhibits." The snake gets out one day and the boys don't find him until it scares their mother and her friends who are having lunch at home. After finding the snake they decide it would be best to let all of their reptiles go and they close down the reptile club.

This book was a really fun read and I thought it was a good story. However, there were definitely parts that teachers would need to take into consideration before using it in their classrooms. The three brothers go on a family vacation and they go with their entire family; mom, dad, sister, the brothers, and the family dog. This is important to consider because a lot of children don't have families that look like this and a lot of children don't go on big vacations like this. Also, the mother stays home all day and in the story she has friends over for lunch. Many students don't have mothers that can stay at home with them every day. There is also a family dinner scene where the family is discussing the decision to let the snake go. I have eaten family dinners occassionally but they rarely consisted of group discussions on making decisions. It is really important that teachers realize that this book can be reconstructed in many ways to fit the life of any child in the classroom, not helping the child make themselves "fit" into this story.

Alligator Boy by Cynthis Rylant and Diane Goode

This is about a little boy who decides he wants to be an alligator instead of a little boy and it goes through his day, at school and at home, as an alligator. As an added bonus the story also rhymes!

I could see using this book in my classroom for two main reasons. The first would be to look into rhyming and maybe even the very beginning of poetry. I think the students would find this book fun to read so it would be easy for them to sit and listen to if you were trying to work it into a lesson. Second, I would use this book just to encourage imagination. I know there were many times growing up that I didn't want to be a little girl any more, I wanted to be something completely different. I think this is a great way to show students that they can let these ideas out and have fun with them!

George and Martha by James Marshall

This book was actually a set of 5 very short stories about 2 hippos named George and Martha. I read through all of the stories to see if there were any commonalities throughout the book and found that in almost every story Martha is given a typical "female" role. In the first story she is cooking meals for George every day and eventually finds out that he doesn't like what she is cooking and she moves into talking about "feelings." This was interesting to me because girls are usually seen as expressing more emotions and feelings than boys. The idea behind the story is telling the truth and at one point Martha says, "Friends should always tell each other the truth." I think this is a cute idea but the way it was presented in this particular story seemed almost like a public service announcement or from a t.v. show similar to "Leave it to Beaver" where there is this symbol of a "perfect" world. In another story Martha is put in the same typical female role again when she takes care of George after he falls down while skating. George gets to Martha's house and she has him sit down while she takes on the nurturing role of helping him with everything and trying to comfort him. After realizing these very stereotypical roles I double checked the copyright date and found that it was published in 1972. I definitely think that at the time this book was published most people weren't concerned with stereotypes of males and females and what that could mean for children's literature so I thought it was something that definitely helped me in my view of this book.

I think this is a cute book to read but I can't see justifying it's place in a classroom library because I don't want to promote the stereotypes that are being shown in this book. I want to be able to move beyond them and find books that go against them.

Pearl and Wagner: One Funny Day by Kate McMullan

This story is about a bunny named Pearl and a mouse named Wagner who are friends from school. This particular book focuses on April Fools Day at school and all of the events that happen throughout the funny day. Wagner's day started off horribly after he overslept and is almost late. From there, his classmates and teachers play practical jokes on him that he does not find to be very funny at all. At the end of the story he becomes very sick and has to go to the nurse. When he comes back into the classroom he is covered in green spots and he tells the class he has "bug pox" which he got from being tricked into drinking bug juice. Everyone is very worried until Wagner yells, "April Fools!"

I thought this book was really cute and I loved reading it. It is classified as a level 2 easy-to-read book so it would be great for younger, beginning readers but I think older students would still love a lot of the humore in it as well. This book had male characters in traditionally "female" roles- a librarian and a cafeteria/lunch lady- and I thought that was an interesting piece to this book. However, the teacher is still a female. I really enjoyed this book and I thought the humor was great and children would really love it.

Dear Deer by Gene Barretta

This is a book all about homophones. Aunt Ant is writing a letter to her friend deer (thus the title Dear Deer). She is telling him about her move to the zoo and all of the things that she encounters there. On every page there is a set of homophones. My favorite, for example, was: "That's HIM, the HORSE who is HOARSE from humming a HYMN." Througout the story the homophones are bolded and in all capital letters just like this line so it makes it easy to distinguish them in the text. The pictures in this book were amazing; they were made by some form of using watercolors but to me they look very crisp and bright! I also thought it was neat how most of the pictures were horizontal but there were a couple that were vertical for emphasis. For example; I know the page about a giraffe was vertical to help show it's long neck. I thought it was a fun way to emphasize certain features in a picture and it was a really nice variation from the standard horizontal pages.

The classroom connection is really obvious here, I think. In a language arts setting this would be a great book for teaching and for discussing homophones. I definitely think students would love this book and it would be fun for them to make up their own funny sentences using homophones.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Strider by Beverly Clearly

This book is about a boy who is going to be a freshman in high school. It goes through the typical "awkwardness" of trying to fit in in school. To add to his adjusting, his parents just got a divorce. He has a friend that lives up the road from him and they find an abandoned dog when they are walking along the beach. They decide that they are going to keep him and that because they both found him they will have joint custody over him. Leigh, the main character, can't take full custody of Strider because he and his mom live in a small apartment and the land lady won't allow dogs. He also knows that once school starts he won't have time to take care of the dog because he will have school and his job. He runs everyday with Strider and when he starts school he is asked to join the track team. Strider kind of helped him survive starting high school.

I loved this book! It kept me interested throughout the entire time I was reading it and I felt like I was there with Leigh experiencing everything with him. I think Beverly Clearly does a really fantastic job of describing the scenes and describing the situations the characters are in; when the joint custody doesn't work out as planned Leigh takes Strider to Barry's house and leaves him there to let him keep him I got really into the story and actually got a little emotional reading it. I also really enjoyed that the book took on a different perspective than just a white, middle class male who has two parents living with him and lives in a big beautiful house. Leigh's parents are divorced, he lives with his mom, and he rarely sees his dad until towards the end of the book. His friend, Barry's parents are also divorced and they live in completely different states so it talks about how Barry leaves for months at a time to go see his mom. I think this offers two different points of view on the same subject which is really good for students because, obviously, no one goes through everything in the same way. Also, Leigh and his mom live in a really small apartment and Leigh has to work to help his mom out. Although he doesn't see his mom much they enjoy the little time they do have with each other and Leigh is never ashamed of what he has; he is very proud of his mother. I thought this was great too because it shows that even if your life isn't like the "normal" life that everyone likes to imagine, you can still be very happy and very proud of your life. I would definitely love to have this book in my classroom because it gives the students another view point and allows them to relate in different ways.

The Arrival by Shaun Tan

This book is both a wordless book and a graphic novel. I thought this was interesting because it really put an emphasis on GRAPHIC novel. I looked through the book several times and I still don't feel that I fully understand what was going on but I also think that some of it is open to interpretation. The book was about a man who left his family and went to another country (or at least a place that he did not speak the same language). From there I started to get confused because there were "creatures" that were not real and they seemed to be pets of people living in this new place. When I saw them I found myself wanting words to explain to me what they were. Once he is in this new place there are all kinds of new things around him; animals, vehicles, buildings, that you wouldn't normally see in the real world. I took these to be his disorientation to the new place. When someone travels to a new country they are not familiar with the customs and could feel like some things are completely "out of this world" that they have never seen before. After realizing this I really liked the book because it kind of gave a glimpse of what it would be like to immigrate to a new country and not know how or what was going to happen and trying to adapt to the new environment.

I didn't understand a lot of this book and I definitely got a little frustrated when I looked through it the first couple of times and couldn't figure out what exactly was going on. However, after I realized that I could interpret things in different ways I really enjoyed going through it and trying to decide what certain characters or objects meant to me in regards to the story. The pictures in the story are gorgeous, the seem very life-like to me and I really enjoyed them. They are in black and white so it gives a different feel to the book than if it had been in color. If this book was in a classroom I could see it in an upper grade just as far as understanding. However, if it were used in a younger setting I could see the children really enjoying looking through the pictures and creating their own stories to go along with them; without any words it is completely open to interpretation and I think they would really love that.

Oops by Arthur Geisert

This is another wordless book and it took me a couple times through to figure out what was going on. For this book the reader really has to concentrate on the pictures, I kind of felt like I was going through a "Where is Waldo" book and looking for things that were out of place in the picture. It all starts with a glass of spilled milk at the breakfast table and how that trickles down through a hole in the floor, through the pipes, onto a paint tray that hits a saw, and so on until the whole house comes down.

I thought this book was really fun to read and look through just because it was a challenge to find what was happening in the picture and how that was going to affect on the next picture. I had to read through the book at least three times before I noticed the glass of spilled milk on the second page that started the entire process. It really helped me get focused and when I went to another wordless book I noticed I was looking over every detail in a picture before I went on. This book puts a fun twist on the saying "Don't cry over spilled milk."

The Other Side by Istvan Banyai

This is a wordless book and it is a book about perspectives. Throughout the book you see a picture and then when you turn the page you see the otherside. By the end of the book you are back where you started but you are in a different position or different perspective. It reminded me of the wordless book "Flotsam" except that all of the pictures don't connect to one another.

I really liked this book because it made me pay attention to detail and I was constantly wondering what was going to happen next. I could definitely see using this in a classroom for multiple lessons; it would help show perspectives and the idea that there are two sides to every story. I also think this is a good beginning to read book because it makes the reader start asking, "what is going to happen next," which is a very important part of reading.

Babymouse: The Musical by Jennifer L. Holm and Mattew Holm

This is a graphic novel, from a series, about a young mouse named Babymouse and her experience at school and in particular, her experience with the school musical. Babymouse really enjoys musicals so the book is set up similar to a musical; each chapter is an Act and around the middle of the book there is an "intermission" page. There were a lot of references to popular musicals throughout the story and it was when Babymouse was imagining situations happening to her. For example; she was thinking about her math homework and talking to her friends about math as if she were in a scene from "Grease." She really loves musicals so when her school has auditions for the school musical she wants to try out but she's not very graceful. Eventually, she decides to try out and she gets the understudy for the lead role. On the opening night she gets to go on in the middle because the main character gets a hairball (Felicia Furrypaws-a cat). Babymouse is really nervous but does a great job until the very end of the play when she goes the wrong direction and falls off the stage and causes everything to collapse.

This is a really cute series that I think children would really enjoy. I definitely think it is relatable and it is really funny; I was laughing out loud reading some it. I enjoyed that there were comparisons to other musicals throughout the story because I thought it really brought a lot to it and made it even more fun to read. I also really liked the characters; her "enemy" is a cat and one of her friends that she meets is a hedgehog. It really comes at children in a different way than if the characters were all just humans and I think it makes it more fun to read.

Hyperactive by Scott Christian Sava

This is a graphic novel about a young boy who goes to school and throughout the day is experiencing weird things; in gym class they are playing dodgeball and everything begins to slow down for him. Before he knows it he has hit everyone on the other team and he is the only one left standing. He finds out from his friend that everything wasn't slowing down, it was him that was speeding up. He goes home and tells his parents and they take him to the doctor and he finds out that his metabolism is in overdrive and that's what is causing things to go really fast for him. Later, he gets kidnapped because someone wants to steal his DNA but he gets out of it by using his super strength from his overactive metabolism.

This book was really fun to read and the graphics were amazing! The pages were very glossy and they made the colors stand out a lot. I thought it was kind of an interesting twist on graphic novels because I typically think of them as super hero comics. The boy in the story is somewhat of a super hero but it's not what you would usually expect since it is a young boy so I think it makes it really relatable to children. I picked this book because of the title "Hyperactive" because I was curious to see what it would be about. There is a lot being said about students being hyperactive and having hyperactive disorders so I was interested to see what was going to be discussed. The book didn't discuss hyperactivity really other than saying that it was the reason for making him go so fast but I did find that two main characters are boys. I thought this was interesting because when talking about schools there is always a stereotype that boys are distracted and can't focus and boys are usually the students who are diagnosed with disorders like ADHD. I would be concerned that this book would be promoting that thought and that stereotype so I would be cautious about having in my classroom. However, I also think that it is cool how the book makes it into an advantage (being super hero-like) instead of a disadvantage as it is often perceived so I think there are good points and bad points about using this book in a classroom.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Araminta Spookie: My Haunted House by Angie Sage

This children's novel is about a young girl name Araminta who lives in a haunted house with her aunt and uncle. She has been searching for ghosts the entire time she has lived in the house and can never find any. Then, after struggling with the boiler, her aunt decides she is going to sell the house. Araminta is furious! She begins devising plans to get rid of all of the possible buyers. In her planning she finds a key that opens up secret passages and secret doors throughout the house and eventually finds a ghost that helps her ambush potential buyers. However, a family comes to look at the house and no matter what awful things she does to them, they love the house even more. Finally, she tells her aunt that she doesn't want to leave the house and that she will help with the boiler and whatever else she needs as long as they can stay.

This book was really fun to read. It had amazing detail and I could see exactly what was happening and what the characters were doing throughout the story. I thought it was different from the "normal" books about a girl leaving her home and moving away and it gave the reader another world of fantasy. It reminded me of a younger version of Harry Potter which could definitely help in a classroom because

There's An Alligator Under My Bed by Mercer Mayer

Mercer Mayer is one of my favorite children's authors and he doesn't disappoint in this book either! I read this book when I was younger but it was a lot of fun going back and reading it again now. The book, for those who haven't read it, is about a little boy who believes there is an alligator living under his bed. He is determined to get it out so that he can get some sleep so he makes a trail of food from his bed to the garage hoping the alligator will come out. Sure enough, it does! Then, he leaves a note for his dad letting him know that there is an alligator in the garage and that he should be careful when he goes to get his car in the morning.

I think this book is great for children. I loved it when I was younger and I think that students today would still enjoy it. It is a very fun and imaginative story and it could help get children using their imaginations to create stories of their own. I also love the illustrations, Mercer Mayer is one of my favorite illustrators as well and I think the illustrations are great in this book! Also, at the end the main character leaves a note for his father and in the illustration you can see pictures, "invented" spellings, and corrections in the note. From a teaching point of view I think this could help students with the writing process and help them understand that it doesn't have to be perfect and that it doesn't have to be writing at all. There are many things that can come from this book and I think it is great for teachers and students because it's just fun to read!

Dinner at Alberta's by Russell Hoban

This story was about a crocodile name Arthur who does not have good table manners. His parents and his sister try to correct him at dinner but he just won't listen. Every time they correct him he ends up getting discouraged and leaves the table to go play his guitar very loudly. His sister, Emma brings her friend Alberta to dinner one night and Arthur watches her through the whole dinner. He begins to copy her manners at the table; when she breaks a piece of bread off to butter it Arthur does too. Then, Alberta invites Arthur and Emma over to her house for dinner. Immediately, Arthur's family begins working with him on his manners and how to act. When goes to dinner he does very well and behaves just as his family has taught him. Alberta's family is very pleased with him and tells Alberta's brother to learn from Arthur.

This book was really sweet and a good way to discuss table manners. I could see it being very helpful for children when they are beginning to understand manners and behaviors. I thought the book was somewhat stereotypical and I would have some concerns about having it and reading it in my classroom. There was a line in the book that said "boys are trouble" and throughout the entire book Arthur is getting in trouble for anything and everything while his sister is not. He is being told to watch his sister and listen to her so he can learn how to behave. In a classroom, it is important to get rid of stereotypes as much as possible and I definitely think this is one of the most common stereotypes that teachers see. Not all boys are going to be trouble and not all girls are going to be perfect angels so it is important not to promote these ideas to students.

My Lucky Day by Keiko Kasza

This is the second book I've read from Keiko and I loved it just as much as the first. This story is about a fox and a pig. The fox is preparing to go out to hunt for his dinner when a little pig knocks on his door; he thinks it is his lucky day. Through a series of requests or "suggestions" as the pig puts it, he has the fox bathing him, feeding him, and massaging him. By the time all of this is finished the fox is exhausted and is too tired to eat the pig. The pig walks out of the foxes house feeling as though it is HIS lucky day.

I thought this story was really entertaining and I definitely think children would love it. I really enjoyed the twist at the end and how it turned out to be the pig's lucky day instead of the fox. I was interested through the entire story and I could see students loving this book because it has a lot of humor that children can relate to.

I Wonder Why by Lois Rock

This was a poem that asked a lot of questions about life and things around us in the world. For example, one page in the book reads; "And why is grass green and the flowers so bright? And how do seeds know they should grow to the light?" This book is a great way to get children to use their imaginations and think about what is around them and how they can use these things to write. Also, I usually do not like reading poetry but I really enjoyed this book and I think that can help teachers present poetry to students who may be reluctant. I thought it was really interesting and I would definitely have it in my classroom.

Amanda's Perfect Hair by Linda Milstein

This is a really cute story about a little girl named Amanda who has CRAZY hair. Everywhere she goes people are always making comments about her hair and she doesn't feel that they are really noticing her. Her teachers always tell her how beautiful her hair is, her friends tell her how much fun it is to style her hair in new ways, and her brother and sister always pester her about it. Eventually she gets tired of people noticing her hair before they notice her and she decides that she will cut it all off. When she comes out of the bathroom she has cut her hair extremely short and at first everyone is shocked. Then they realize how much they love it and tell her that it looks great.

I thought this was a good story because it was really fun and I think children would like it a lot. I think it also shows that you can be yourself and do what you want to do and people will still like you and respect you for it. I definitely think it can provide a lesson for children but it is also just a fun story to read.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Dyamonde Daniel by Nikki Grimes

This is about a 3rd grade African American girl named Dyamonde. She is VERY smart and has a lot of attitude. She has just moved to a new city after her parents divorced and lives in a small apartment with her mom. When she gets home from school she goes to her neighbors until her mom gets off of work to bring her home. She is very upset because she had to move away from her best friend and has not found a new best friend at her new school and she has been there for 3 weeks. Later in the story there is a new boy that comes into her class name Free, and he is very angry and very rude to everyone. Dyamonde finally gets tired of his behavior and asks him what is bothering him. Obviously, he is very hesitant but eventually he opens up and tells her that his dad lost his job and they had to move there so he could find a new one. Realizing that they have something in common the two of them continue talking and become good friends.

I thought this was a good book that discussed a lot of common topics for children. It brought up families moving and having to move away from friends and also living with parents who are divorced and how that effects children. In the book it also talks about how Dyamonde loves math and how it is her favorite subject. I thought this was good for young girls because there has been a lot of emphasis on girls exceeding in reading and language classes and boys in math and science so I thought it was important for girls to see that it is ok to be good in thosee subjects. Dyamonde's friend Free that moves to the city tells her that his actual name is Reed Freeman but he has everyone call him Free because he got made fun of for his real name, Reed. When she asks him why he was made fun of he tells her it is because there aren't very many black people named Reed. I thought that was interesting and something that I would want to take into consideration if I was going to read this book in my future classroom. To me it was sounding as if there are "black" names and "white" names and that it is clear which are which. I was a little confused by this aspect of the book but perhaps it could be used as a teaching tool and could help discuss some points of views. It may help to discuss diversity but for me I didn't understand why the fact that Reed wasn't a commom black name caused him to change his name. I don't see why it was important to the story. Overall, I thought it was an interesting story and I think it would be good for children because a lot of the siuations can translate into their lives.

Don't Laugh, Joe by Keiko Kasza

This is a funny story about a possum (or opposum) who can't play dead. His mother is very concerned about him because that is a possums only defense from predators and she wants him to learn how to do it. However, when she tries to act like a bear, or a fox, or a wildcat Joe just thinks it is funny and laughs. His friends find it just as funny as he does but his mother is still very worried. When a real bear shows up Joe's mother is worried he will start laughing again but Joe does exactly what he is supposed to. Unfortunately, the bear is a cranky bear and was looking for Joe because he heard that he was funny and wanted to learn to laugh.

I thought this was a good book for children. I liked the way it brought up the topic of individuality and fitting in. When I was reading it I was trying to figure out where it was going to go and how it was going to be relatable but at the end it made sense and I thought that it brought in the importance of individuality unexpectedly which was a nice change. Using possums was an interesting change instead of using human characters and I think children would find that fun. The connection with the concept of individuality is subtle but I definitely think it is there. If not, it is an interesting start into learning about possums and how they survive in the wild.

Christmas Makes Me Think by Tony Medino

I loved this book! It is not your typical Christmas story but it is all about "finding the true meaning of Christmas." This little boy tells about how excited he is for Christmas to be coming and how he can't wait for all of the food his family will have, the big tree they will decorate, and all of the presents that will be piled under the tree. Then, the story switches and the boy starts thinking about what happens to the trees that don't make to next Christmas and why it is such a tradition to eat turkeys and pigs and chickens on Christmas. From there he begins talking about other people in his community that are not fortunate to have all of these things and how he feels it is better to help them out. He takes food to homeless shelters and offers warm clothing. Eventually, he shares some of his presents with them and finds out that together they can all have a great Christmas.

I thought this book was really sweet. I've heard plenty of stories about giving to others and understanding what Christmas is all about. However, this book included ideas about the environment and nature that I hadn't seen before. With everyone being environmentally friendly these days I thought it was interesting to think about all of the trees that are cut down each year for Christmas and what happens to them when Christmas is over. Also, I usually don't hear people talking about their food they have for Christmas and how one year it would be nice to feed a turkey or pig instead of eating one. It's a very subtle way of beginning discussions on bigger issues. On top of the newer ideas of environment and nature, the book also discusses the concept of community and how it is important to help people around you. I thought this book was really adorable and I could definitely see using it in the future!

I Have A Loose Tooth by Sally Noll

This is a typical story about a little girl named Molly and her loose tooth. Molly wakes up one day and finds out that she has a loose tooth and tries to tell anyone and everyone about it. However, because of various reasons no one seems to understand what she is saying. After several misunderstandings Molly learns that she can express herself in other ways instead of just speaking that may be more effective in getting her point across.

I thought this story was really cute and really relatable for children because everyone loses their teeth and everyone is misunderstood sometimes. What I thought was interesting was that at the end of the story Molly writes a letter with a picture to tell her family that she has a loose tooth. In my future classroom I could see using this book to initiate a discussion about different types of communication; sign language, brail, pictures, writing, etc. and discuss how and why people use them. I think it is a good way to discuss other ways to communicate that can often be more effective.

The Subway Mouse by Barbara Reid

This is a cute story about a mouse named Nib who lives in a mouse community underneath a subway. It is very loud and the choices for food are minimal but he loves having other mice around him for safety and for company. Every night the elderly rats tell stories of a place called Tunnel's End. In this "magical" land there is fresh air and an abundance of food. The problem is that most mice never make it to Tunnel's End. There are monsters on the way there and there is an extreme shortage of food. After hearing about this place night after night he decides that he wants to find this place and sets of to do so. The other mice tell him he will never make it and that he will have to turn back. Along the way he finds that they might be right but he keeps going to reach his goal.

This is a great book to show the importance of perseverance. Although everyone told Nib that he would not make it and that he would have to turn around he kept going. He was met with many struggles and he persevered and kept working towards his goal. It shows that working towards a goal, and working hard, will be rewarded when you finally achieve it. I think children would enjoy this book because it puts it into a different perspective but is still easy to understand how it relates.

The illustrations are also very intersting in this book. They give the book a different feel and i think they really compliment the story.

My Very Big Little World by Peter H. Reynolds

This book is about a young girl named Sugarloaf who tells about the many different things she sees in her world. What is interesting about this book is the way it really looks at the world through a child's point of view. She discusses "her neighborhood" which consists of all of her stuffed animals and she talks about "going to work" when her parents do. It is very relatable for young children.

I could definitely see myself using this book in my future classroom because aside from being from a child's perspective it is also a good way to show comparisons. Throughout the entire book Sugarloaf is comparing things in her world; her family members, objects she sees around her, things in nature. If a teacher were doing a class on comparisons I definitely think this would be a great book for demonstration, especially for younger children. Overall, I thought this was a great book!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

First Blog

This is my first blog!