It's Monday! What Are You Reading? is a meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journey as a way to share what you have read and/or reviewed in the past week. It's also a terrific way to find out what other people are reading.
Jen Vincent, of Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee Moye of Unleashing Readers have given this meme a children's literature focus: picture books, middle grade novels, etc. They "encourage everyone who participates to support the blogging community by visiting the other bloggers that link up and leave comments for them.
April showers bring May flowers! It's a rainy, sloppy weekend and perfect day for sitting around reading books! I've read quite a few picture books this week. I'm starting to compile my lists of books that I want to order for my classroom library for next year. There's only 23 days left of school, and then it'll be time to start shopping for books. In addition to what I'll order through the school, I spend a lot of time scouring garage sales, thrift stores, and library sales to build my classroom library.
Here's what I've been reading:
Waylon! One Awesome Thing by Sara Pennypacker, Marla Frazee (Illustrations) For fans of the Clementine series, this will be a fun book to read. The kids in Clementine's class are in fourth grade now. This book focuses on Waylon, a boy in her class. Waylon has a very scientific mind and he's considered one of "the Brains" of the fourth grade. The kids in his class are split up into "teams" and they don't particularly get along with each other. Arlo, a very charismatic fourth grader, seems to be calling all the shots and deciding who's on which team. This is stressing Waylon out (among other things like his older sister's scary new attitude) and he just wants to be friends with his regular friends. Then Baxter, a new kid with a bad reputation, comes along. He's not interested in being on a team either. But, he teams up with Waylon on a very important mission.
I like the character development in this story. All of the characters grow. I like that the book focuses on the kids are often overlooked at school, and makes the reader root for them. I also like that this book takes a look at a boy character from a popular series. It kind of reminds me of the Beverly Cleary books that focus on Henry Huggins, who is a friend and neighbor of Beezus and Ramona.
This book, and the Clementine series, would be fun to have in my classroom library. I have a few of the other Clementine books, and some of the girls in my class seem to like them. They are aimed more at third and fourth graders, though.
My Name Is Truth: The Life of Sojourner Truth by Ann Turner This is a great nonfiction biography about the life of Sojourner Truth. This book is very informative and nicely illustrated with beautiful watercolor paintings. This would be a great addition to my classroom library, as we study about slavery and the Underground Railroad. This book has further information at the end, also.
Miss Mary Reporting: The True Story of Sportswriter Mary Garber by Sue Macy, C.F. Payne (Illustrator) This is a beautiful and inspiring picture book biography of sportswriter Mary Garber. Garber grew up loving sports of all kinds. Her father often took her and her younger sister to sporting events and encouraged her to learn all she could. She became a sports reporter at a time when women weren't even allowed in the press box or the locker rooms. She was inspired by Jackie Robinson, the first black player in major league baseball. This book is so well researched and it has an extensive list of resources at the end. The mixed media illustrations are beautiful! This biography would serve as an awesome mentor text for informational writing in my classroom library.
Elizabeth Started All the Trouble by Doreen Rappaport, Matt Faulkner (Illustrations) This is a great nonfiction picture book! This book is highly engaging and very informative. I don't think we teach enough about how women have fought for equality and one of the most basic rights, the right to vote. A lot of kids and grown-ups take these rights for granted. When politicians accuse someone of "playing the woman card" we should remember that the rights we enjoy didn't come easily. This well-researched book lays out just how long it took from our birth as a nation to equality for women. It also discusses many of the other laws that were unfair to women: women couldn't go to college, women couldn't own property, women couldn't become doctors, lawyers, or ministers. The illustrations are colorful and detailed and really support the text very well. There's also a great list of resources for further research. I would love to order this book to be in my classroom library for next year.
A Beetle Is Shy by Dianna Hutts Aston, Sylvia (Illustrations) This is an informative nonfiction picture book that would be a great starting place for research on beetles. There is tons of information and beautiful watercolor illustrations. While the book is very well researched, I think the Emerald Ash Borer should have been mentioned on the page that states a beetle is "harmful." When you consider that this beetle has killed hundreds of millions of ash trees in North America and has cost municipalities, property owners (including us!), and nursery operators hundreds of millions of dollars, I'd consider this beetle more than just part of the pretty kaleidoscope of beetles! Otherwise, I think this book would be a great addition to any classroom library.
Otters Love to Play by Jonathan London, Meilo So (Illustrations) I love this nonfiction picture book that takes us through a year in the life of the playful otter. We start in the spring when the baby otters are born, and from the beginning, otters love to play! As the author takes us through each season, we learn about their homes, how their bodies are adapted for all kinds of weather in the water, how they hunt, and lots of other information. Each page also includes more detailed information in stylized type. Their is an index in the back of the book, making this a terrific resource for young readers starting to use nonfiction books as a research tool. The watercolor illustrations are awesome. I am going to try to get a copy of this for my classroom library!
Little One by Jo Weaver This is a beautiful, heartwarming story of the year in the life of a bear and her baby cub. The bears emerge from the den in the spring. Mama bear teaches the baby bear so many things during the spring. When it's finally winter again, the go home again to their own den to cuddle up and sleep away the winter. The black and white charcoal illustrations are just wonderful.
Daniel Finds a Poem by Micha Archer What an awesome picture book this is! This lovely book is a terrific mentor text for young readers and writers to use to build their own conception of what poetry is. As I read the text, the words are just so perfect and the accompanying artwork is so beautiful, I am just in love with this book. The illustrations were done in oil and collage, using tissue paper and patterned papers created with homemade stamps. I definitely need to order this book for my classroom for next year as I've already had 109 ideas on lessons I could teach with it! Yay!
What Are You Glad About? What Are You Mad About?: Poems for When a Person Needs a Poem by Judith Viorst, Lee White (Illustrations) I definitely need to have more poetry in my classroom library and in my instruction. I have poetry and enjoy it, but I'm not consistent. Maybe because I (along with my students) tend to associate poetry with stiff and formal literature and sometimes feel a little bit intimidated by it. I know that is silly, but thankfully, this book will be a terrific place to start. The poems in this book cover topics that are familiar and fun for all age groups: emotions, school stuff, family, friends, seasons, etc. Many of the poems rhyme, but not all of them do. Some are silly and some are more serious. The illustrations complement the poetry nicely, but they don't overwhelm it. I definitely want to order this book for my classroom for next year!
Puddle by Hyewon Yum Just in time for springtime showers comes this charming picture book! A little boy is completely bummed out because the rainy weather is ruining all of his fun plans for the day. He can't go to the playground, play soccer or ride his bike. His mother tries to get him to stop moping around and come and draw a picture. When he declines to come over and draw, she starts drawing without him. Like all curious little kids, he comes over and sees that she's drawing a picture of his umbrella. Before long the two of them are drawing themselves in a rainy day scene complete with a jump in a puddle. The illustrations are awesome and fit the story so well. This would be fun to read to bored youngsters on rainy days for sure!
The Bear and the Piano by David Litchfield I love this picture book not only for the lovely story, but the illustrations are just breathtaking! The story tells about a bear who finds a piano in the forest. He plays a note here and there. And over the course of a year, he becomes a talented piano player. Eventually he's heard by people, goes to the city with them, and becomes an accomplished pianist on Broadway. And even though he becomes famous, he never forgets where he comes from and how important the rest of the bears back home are. The mixed media illustrations are just beautiful. Most are double page spreads that show sunlight streaming through the trees, almost like a spotlight on the bear playing the piano. My absolute favorite illustration is the double page spread of the bear playing a sold-out concert in a giant theater. I definitely want to order a copy of this book for my classroom, and maybe one for here at home, too!
Have a Look, Says Book. by Richard Jackson, Kevin Hawkes (Illustrations) This is a nice picture book to share with a young child, especially if you can snuggle together in a big chair. This book is a simple, rhyming picture book that explores all that can be enjoyed between the pages of a book. There's even a place for a break with hot cocoa and cake, as long as you don't spill or get crumbs on the big, comfy chair!
Who Woke the Baby? by Jane Clarke, Charles Fuge (Illustrations) This picture book is a cute, rhyming cumulative tale. Something or someone woke the baby gorilla. The watercolor illustrations and the rhyming tale show all that happened prior to the baby waking up. I think this would be a fun book to use to talk about cause and effect chains. I want to order this book for my classroom for next year!
Pigs and a Blanket by James Burks This is a cute book to share with young children as it has a fun message about sharing and getting along. Both Henry and Henrietta love their blanket, but they don't like sharing it so much. They both tug on it and try to have more of it for themselves until it rips in half. It's cute they way they try to enjoy their separate pieces of blanket, but don't seem to be having so much fun until they come back together. The illustrations are fun and complement the story well.
Waiting for High Tide by Nikki McClure For readers who wonder what it would be like to spend time on the seashore, this is a great picture book. A boy is dying to go for a swim, but it's low tide. The shore is all muddy where the water would normally be. He has to wait for about six hours for high tide. He spends his time searching for treasure, helping his family build a raft, and eating sandwiches and cookies. Finally when it's time to push the raft off into the water, the wait is over. The illustrations in this book were made by cutting black paper with an X-ACTO knife. The author also used a fountain pen to render the drawings. This artwork really complements the story well. It would be a lot of fun to spend the day with the family in this book!
Spare Dog Parts by Alison Hughes, Ashley Spires (Illustrations) This book is clever and fun to read, perfect for dog lovers. A little girl with a great imagination tells how her dog was put together: with leftover parts and put together like a big dog puzzle. That explains the odd-shaped body, the mismatched legs, the stumpy tail, the floppy ears, the snuffling nose and the drooly snout. But in spite of all these strange features, the girl loves her dog and wouldn't trade her for anything. The illustrations, rendered in ink and watercolor, are humorous and help tell the story wonderfully. This would be a fun book to have in my classroom library.
Our Love Grows by Anna Pignataro This is a nice picture book for young readers who are anxious to grow bigger, older. "When will I be big?" the little panda bear asks his mother. The mother reassures him. He's bigger than he was before, the trees are bigger, the birds are bigger. She also lets him know that as he grows, she will always love him. Watercolor and pencil were used to create the lovely illustrations that complement the story so nicely.