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Showing posts from October, 2011

Nonfiction Monday: More National Geographic for Kids

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Ponies (National Geographic Kids, Level 1)
written by Laura Marsh
National Geographic, 2011
ISBN: 978-1-4263-0849-9
Grades K-1
Reviewed from purchased copy.

Ponies addresses a perennially favorite topic.  The book takes a look at what a pony is, how they are different from horses, different markings, and different breeds, along with advice about riding them. The photographs compliment the text which is very important in nonfiction books.  The photographs are clear and crisp, the text is suitable for new readers. I especially like the photos in the glossary that help students understand the highlighted words better. The jokes are a nice touch, since I have yet to meet a child that didn't love a good joke.

Trains (National Geographic Kids, Level 1)
written by Amy Shields
National Geographic, 2011
ISBN: 978-1-4263-0777-5
Grades K-1
Reviewed from purchased copy.

TRAINS BLURB:
Choo Choo! Kids love trains! Especially the old-timey steam engines found in amusement parks and zoos. But what …

Read to Me Picture Book Challenge: Around the World

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Up, Up, Up
written and sung by Susan Reed, illustrated by Rachel Oldfield
Barefoot Books, 2010
ISBN: 978-1-84686-550-3
Grades PreK-1
Reviewed from purchased copy.

BLURB:
This airborne adventure takes readers ballooning over lands near and far, all the way to the stars. The charming singalong song on the accompanying CD keeps spirits high, while the rhyming and playful text introduces all sorts of settings and vocabulary-building words. Education Market: It includes aerial maps throughout of changing landscapes and seascapes with many items to talk about. It joins Barefoot Books' popular "Singalong Songs" series. Cultural Diversity: It features three children each from a different cultural background. The bright colors and fun song make this a fun read-a-loud.  I used it with both kindergartners and special needs children.  I felt a little self-conscious doing this, since I sung along with the accompanying CD.  I am not a real great singer, but the students enjoyed it. I…

Read to Me Picture Book Challenge/Book Talk Tuesday: Cats

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Pete the Cat: I Love My White Shoes
written by Eric Litwin, illustrated by James Dean
HarperCollins Publishers, 2008
ISBN:978-0-06-190622-0
Grades K-2
Reviewed from personal copy.






Pete the Cat: Rocking in My School Shoes

written by Eric Litwin, illustrated by James Dean
HarperCollins Publishers, 2011
ISBN:978-0-06-191024-1
Grades K-2
Reviewed from personal copy.

BLURB:
Pete the Cat goes walking down the street wearing his brand-new white shoes. Along the way, his shoes change from white to red to blue to brown to WET as he steps in piles of strawberries, blueberries, and other big messes! But no matter what color his shoes are, Pete keeps movin' and groovin' and singing his song . . . because it's all good.In the sequel, Pete the Cat is now one fleet-footed feline in his shiny school shoes.
I used these two books with my kindergarten and special needs classes a couple of weeks ago.  I downloaded the songs and played them while I showed the pictures to the students. They loved it.…

Nonfiction Monday: Human Footprint by Ellen Kirk

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Human Footprint:  Everything You Will Eat, Use, Wear, Buy, and Throw Out in Your Lifetime
written by Ellen Kirk
National Geographic, 2011
Grades K and up
Reviewed from personal copy.

BLURB:
What is your human footprint? Well, it's 13,056 pints of milk, 28,433 showers, 12,888 oranges, 14,518 candy bars, and $52,972 worth of clothes, all in one lifetime. Makes you want to step more lightly on the planet! Perfectly timed for Earth Day, this book doesn't preach or judge, but simply shows kids—in an exciting, visual way—how humans interact with the environment and how we can lessen our impact. Astonishing photography captures the full picture of consumption, documenting all the diapers you wore as a baby, the bread you'll eat in a lifetime, and the cans you'll recycle, based on national averages. This book is very eye-opening in terms of American consumerism.  It's easy to ignore the vast amount of food, goods, and services that we use.  The photographs are especial…

Fantastic Friday: The Flint Heart by Katherine & John Paterson

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The Flint Heart
written by Katherine Paterson & John Paterson, illustrated by John Rocco
Candlewick Press, 2011
ISBN: 978-0-7636-4712-4
Grades 3-6
Reviewed from personal copy.

BLURB:
An ambitious Stone Age man demands a talisman that will harden his heart, allowing him to take control of his tribe. Against his better judgment, the tribe’s magic man creates the Flint Heart, but the cruelty of it causes the destruction of the tribe. Thousands of years later, the talisman reemerges to corrupt a kindly farmer, an innocent fairy creature, and a familial badger. Can Charles and his sister Unity, who have consulted with fairies such as the mysterious Zagabog, wisest creature in the universe, find a way to rescue humans, fairies, and animals alike from the dark influence of the Flint Heart?  I found this book rather intriguing for several reasons.  First, the illustrations are absolutely gorgeous.  I especially appreciate Rocco's use of color as well as the addition of silhouettes. …

Book Talk Tuesday: The Milo & Jazz Mysteries by Lewis B. Montgomery

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There are many different mystery series for children, some are naturally better than others.  Here are a few of the many available series:

The A to Z Mysteries by Ron Roy
Jigsaw Jones Mysteries by James Preller
Encyclopedia Brown mysteries by Donald Sobol
The Boxcar Children by Gertrude Chandler Warner
Young Cam Jansen by David A. Adler
Nate the Great by Marjorie Weinman Sharmat

But today I'm highlighting my favorite mystery series for younger readers, The Milo & Jazz Mysteries by Lewis B. Montgomery.  Not only are these books well written, but the plotting is clear and crisp.  The stories are not elaborate and full of complications like many mysteries for older readers.  This series makes a good introduction to the mystery genre.  These mysteries focus on the real world and the sorts of mysteries that most of us meet up with in our daily lives.  Each mystery also focuses on different skills that detectives need to develop to be really good at their jobs.  Skills such as communicati…

Nonfiction Monday: Children Around the World

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For today's Nonfiction Monday, I am highlighting several books that give a glimpse of what life is like for children around the world. I used these books to show the students that while there are major differences in the way people live around the world, there are similarities also.

If the World Were a Village (Second Edition)
written by David J. Smith, illustrated by Shelagh Armstrong
Kids Can Press, 2011
ISBN: 978-1-55453-595-8
All Ages
Reviewed from personal copy.

BLURB:

There are currently more than six billion people on the planet! This enormous number can be difficult to grasp, especially for a child. But what if we imagine the whole world as a village of just 100 people? In a time when parents and educators are looking to help children gain a better understanding of the world's peoples and their ways of life, If the World Were a Village offers a unique and objective resource. By exploring the lives of the 100 villagers, children will discover that life in other nations i…

Book Review: Alvin Ho by Lenore Look

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Alvin Ho: Allergic to Dead Bodies, Funerals, and Other Fatal Circumstances
written by Lenore Look, illustrated by LeUyen Pham
Schwartz & Wade Books, 2011
ISBN: 978-0-375-86831-3
Grades 2-5

Reviewed from purchased copy.

BLURB:

Everyone's favorite neurotic second grader is back, in the most touching Alvin Ho book to date. In this fourth book in the Alvin Ho series, Alvin is facing something truly scary: the idea that someone he loves might die. When Alvin's GungGung loses his best friend, Alvin (gulp) volunteers to go with him to the funeral. In many books, the more the reader connects to the main character(s), the more they are likely to appreciate the book.  At least that is true in my experience, but not always.  Sometimes the author makes the character so real that you can sympathize even without having similar experiences.  Alvin Ho is one such character.  His fears and good intentions make him a very sympathetic character, even if one does not have numerous fears as does…

Wild & Wonderful Wednesday: Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick

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Wonderstruck
written and illustrated by Brian Selznick
Scholastic Press, 2011
ISBN: 978-0-545-02789-2
Grades 3 and up
Reviewed from purchased copy.

BLURB:

Set fifty years apart, two independent stories—Ben's told in words and Rose's in pictures—weave back and forth with mesmerizing symmetry. How they unfold and ultimately intertwine will surprise you, challenge you, and leave you breathless with wonder.

Ever since his mom died, Ben feels lost.
At home with her father, Rose feels alone.

He is searching for someone, but he is not sure who.
She is searching for something, but she is not sure what.

When Ben finds a mysterious clue hidden in his mom's room,
When a tempting opportunity presents itself to Rose

Both children risk everything to find what's missing. There isn't much I can say about this book that hasn't already been said.  But I can share a few of my thoughts about it.  When I first heard about this book, I was really excited.  I love Hugo Cabret and wa…

Fantastic Friday: Two Graphic Novels

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It's interesting to watch the evolution of graphic novels and the variation in the quality of different series.  I confess there are few graphic novel series that I truly love.  There are a bunch that I like, but only a few that I truly love, such as The Secret Science Alliance (I keep hoping that Eleanor Davis will write a sequel), Zita, the Space GirlSmile, The Three Thieves series, and Lunch Lady (I think I love this one because it revolves around someone who works in a school).  The Amulet,Amelia Rules and Bone series have grown on me over time.

I think the biggest reason I have a hard time with a lot of graphic novels is the lack of character development.  As I've gotten older, character development has become more and more important to me and most graphic novels simply don't have a lot of space for character development.  I am very aware however that children love graphic novels. I have added graphic novels to my library and will add more as the money becomes avai…

Wild & Wonderful Wednesday: Tales from Around the World

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Today I'm highlighting two great picture books about people and places outside of the United States.  This is my favorite kind of book because it gives me a glimpse of worlds beyond my own.  They also show that despite the many differences between people from other countries, there is much that we have in common as well.

The Boy Who Wanted to Cook
written by Gloria Whelan, illustrated by Steve Adams
Sleeping Bear Press, 2011
ISBN: 978-1-58536-534-0
Grades K-5
Reviewed from purchased copy.

BLURB:
La Bonne Vache (The Good Cow) is a little restaurant in the south of France. It takes its name from and is famous for its boeuf a la mode, a delicious beef stew. Ten-year-old Pierre longs to follow in the culinary footsteps of his father. Pierre spends as much time as possible in the restaurant's kitchen, hoping for a chance to demonstrate his cooking skills. But his parents shoo him away and he is not allowed to cook. I thoroughly enjoyed this book.  First, I am a big fan of Gloria Whel…

Book Talk Tuesday: Clementine by Sara Pennypacker

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Some books are timeless, they can be enjoyed by almost any age and at any time.  Charlotte's Web by E.B. White, the Ramona Quimby books by Beverly Cleary, Judy Blume's Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing, Lloyd Alexander's Prydain Chronicles, and Lois Lowry's Gooney Bird Greene books, all feel very timeless to me.  I could sit down in twenty years and still enjoy them as much as do now.  Sara Pennypacker's Clementine series feels that way to me.  Whenever I need a good laugh, I pull out these books.  When I heard the fifth book was out, I rushed to get my hands on it.


Clementine and the Family Meeting
written by Sara Pennypacker, illustrated by Marla Frazee
Disney-Hyperion Books, 2011
ISBN: 978-142312356-9
Grades 2-4
Reviewed from purchased copy.

BLURB:
Clementine's having a nervous breakdown. The FAMILY MEETING! sign is up in her house, and she just knows she's in trouble for something. Has she been too mean to her little brother? Too sloppy? Eating too much junk…