Sunday, May 2, 2010

Final Blog Reflection

After completing my blogging for this class, I felt that there were so many benefits that resulted. Not only did I get a chance to explore children's literature and get a good idea of what kinds of literature I would like in my own classroom but I got an experience of a critical look at children's lit. I feel like I have a better grasp on how to use children's literature in my class. I had never given much thought to how I would tackle some tough topics that may come up in various books but now that's at the forefront of my mind. Now when I open a book, I think about how I can use this is my classroom, how it may benefit my students and if I feel comfortable and appropriate using it in my classroom. Not only have I learned about the professional use of children's books but I also appreciate them for my own entertainment. Reading all of these picture books for this class has made me learn a lot about myself and what I expect to find in a book written for children. It has also let me experience some of the books that I experienced as a child which I also really enjoyed. It gave me an excuse to get to read all of my childhood favorites. Overall, the benefits from this class are numerous. The biggest impact for me was how I feel like I am prepared to choose books to bring into my classroom. Before I took this class, I'm not sure that I would have chosen books as critically as I will now. This class benefited not only me but my future students as well.

Come to the Great World: Poems From Around the Globe

Come to the Great World is a book of poems from around the globe. This is a great book for a multicultural aspect. Not only are there great representations of poems from different places around the world but there are also great drawings to go with each culture as well. It would be a very interesting book to use in the classroom and to see if there were any differences or similarities between the poems from different places. It's a great way to show students that kids are kids, no matter where they are from. It's also a great book to use teaching poetry because the poems are written by children so they are easy to read and to relate to. I know as a student, I was bored by poetry. I think that if I was given poetry written by kids like me that I would have enjoyed it a little more.

Celebration Song

Celebration Song by James Berry is a beautiful book of the celebration of the birth of Jesus. This is a different kind of story for me personally, because the birth of Jesus is set against a Caribbean background instead of the traditional story. The illustrations are bright and gorgeous and really go along with the Caribbean background of the story. The lines of the poems are written along on flags and banners across the page which adds to the flow of the story. I could see this book of poetry coming across as being controversial. For one thing Jesus is born as a Caribbean native. Many people would find this hard to believe. Also, the traditional story of Bethlehem has now been replaced by a new backdrop. Being a Catholic, this book doesn't offend me at all, but I could see how some people could find issue.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Sol a Sol

Sol a Sol is a bilingual book of poetry put together by Lori Marie Carlson. Each page contains one poem written in English and the same poem written again in Spanish. I thought that this would be a great option for both home and the classroom. It could benefit ESL students who shouldn't be exposed to only English throughout the day and it could help them learn their Spanish words written in English. It could also just be beneficial for a student who doesn't speak a foreign language but is in the process of learning. The poetry is written about things like a grandmother or a cat, so it isn't too far away from the kids schema for them to understand. The colors go along with the bilingual theme of the book, lots of bright tropical colors such as orange, yellow and green. It has a very Hispanic feel to it, so it could be beneficial for learning about culture while at the same time learning the Spanish or English language. Overall, I think that this is a great way to expose kids to poetry while also exposing them to a new language at the same time.

Strawberry Drums

Strawberry Drums is an assortment of poems put together by Adrian Mitchell. There's plenty of variety within this book and I was surprised to find Yellow Submarine by Paul McCartney and John Lennon. I never would have thought that I would find that in a book of poetry. But this collection introduces the idea that not all poetry starts out as a written poem. The creator points out that many of the poems in this book are traditional songs or chants from around the world and he said they were all picked because 'they are bright and sweet like strawberries. and all of them have a beat- like drums." The illustrations are bright and colorful and I think that this book would be beneficial in the classroom. It introduces the world of poetry to children with other ways than just the typical poetry that we tend to hear in the classroom. I still am not sure how I personally enjoyed the book because I am still hesitant about poetry but I do think that the book is worthwhile.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Mirror Mirror

Mirror Mirror by Marilyn Singer was a really cool book. I picked it up off of the new shelf not even knowing that it was poetry until I opened it up. It takes classic fairy tale poems and turns them around called a "reverso" and then makes a whole different poem. It was so interesting to read a classic poem about a fairy tale and then see it reversed and see how the meaning managed to change. There was a note in the back from the author how she did a reverso containing her cat one day and then had so much fun with that, that she wanted to write a whole book of them. The illustrations are classic which is fitting along a fairy tale book and they were really colorful and bright. But it wasn't the illustrations that I really cared about. I thoroughly enjoyed seeing how just a simple reversal could change the entire meaning of a poem and I think that a classroom of students would really enjoy this book. The students could then try to come up with their own reversos. Overall, a great idea and a fun read.

Love That Dog

I was very hesitant about this book before I started reading it. I am hesitant about anything that has to do with poetry. From childhood, I have never particularly enjoyed poetry. I never liked the poetry units in school and I especially never liked when I had to write my own poems. Once I began reading this book, my opinion changed. Yes, this is probably not what you think of when you think of typical poetry, but it still is. As the boy in this novel says, almost anything can be poetry if you space the words right. I really enjoyed his character. He had humor and was really believable as a school aged boy. He seemed like he would be an easy character to relate to for both boys and girls. I read most of the books by this author, Sharon Creech, when I was younger and I was a huge fan. I'm not sure that if I read this book back then if I would have appreciated it like I do now.
In a classroom I think that this book would be a great one to open up a discussion about poetry. Many kids, not just me, are hesitant to write poems. This book could help to show them that a poem doesn't have to rhyme, it doesn't have to contain vocabulary that you need a dictionary to decipher and that it could even be enjoyable. The main character is skeptical of poetry in the beginning and he eventually begins to find authors that he really enjoys. This could be a real situation for a student who reads this book. It could open up their mind to more than just fiction books and authors.

Monday, April 12, 2010

So Far From the Bamboo Grove

So Far From the Bamboo Grove was another book about the war that this time was told from the Japanese perspective. This book was much more gruesome. While this book had scenes of despair and tragic violence, The Year of Impossible Goodbyes seemed to focus more on the desperation and the loneliness that the war seemed to cause. I found myself cringing at certain scenes and I found it hard to stomach. It was really engaging and it kept my attention the whole time and I really liked how the characters were written. I didn't like how they never told you what happened to the father until I looked in the back of the book at some sort of index and saw that the father did eventually return.
In terms of teaching this book, I think that this novel would be a lot harder than The Year of Impossible Goodbyes. I would still feel comfortable teaching it, because the violence is just an aspect of war, but I would want to tread carefully, especially with the scenes of rape. I know that this book is often taught in 5th grade and I wish I could look back and see what I knew or what I thought about the topics that this book presents. Aside from the hard topics, it would be really interesting to compare the Japanese and the Korean perspective. Whichever book you read first you kind of just assume that their enemies are your enemies and that they were the ones in the wrong. But then you read a different perspective and you're not sure about your previous notions anymore. That would be an interesting discussion.
I liked this book a little bit more than The Year of Impossible Goodbyes because I think it was a quicker read in that it kept me a little bit more engaged. Both were well written and inspiring but this one just managed to grab me a little more.

Fletcher and the Springtime Blossoms

Fletcher and the Springtime Blossoms was a really enjoyable story about a little Fox who believed that snow was coming, in Spring. He set off to warn all of his animal friends of the impending snowstorm, only to discover that the snow was only blossoms. I read this story with my second grade buddies and they really enjoyed it, as did I. It looked like the illustrations were done in water color and towards the end there was a beautiful page that had glitter on the blossoms that both my students and I gazed at for a couple of seconds before turning the page. The story itself was cute, and it was a good book to use for predictions. I asked the girls if they really thought that it was snow, or if they thought that it was something else. I also got some discussions going about what kind of animal they thought Fletcher was because it wasn't explicitly said. Any book that you can create discussion out of I think is worth it and the illustrations only added to it.

Henry Aaron's Dream

When I first picked this book up I asked myself "Did they mean HANK Aaron's dream?" I thought that it was probably a fiction story about a boy named Henry Aaron who wanted to play baseball. I was wrong. Henry Aaron is Hank Aaron, he didn't become Hank until he finally made it into the Major Leagues. Unexpectedly to me, this was a non-fiction book but I still really enjoyed it. The illustrations looked to be oil paintings and they were beautiful and really added a lot to the words on the page. I'm a big baseball fan, so that might be why I responded so much to the book but I also think that Hank Aaron had a great story. It tells you not only about his journey as a colored baseball player but it also describes the climate that was going on during that time between whites and blacks in America. This could be a great book to use in a classroom whether you are discussing Civil Rights or if you are having a unit about sports. The only questionable thing about this book was that it contained the 'n' word, to show what kinds of names Hank Aaron was called during his journey. I wouldn't want to be the one to expose that racist term to my students so I would think twice about reading that part, but the rest of the book was great.

Bedtime for Mommy

Bedtime for Mommy by Amy Krouse Rosenthal is a cute reversal on what happens if it is the kids that put the parents to bed instead of vice versa. I think that kids would really see the humor in this book. They would laugh at the ridiculous notion that they could be the ones telling their parents to go to bed instead of them being told. It was fun to see the variations on the parents going to bed, wanting to stay up late to work, reading Anna Karenina as a bedtime story and laying out work clothes for the next day. The illustrations were nice but they were a little old fashioned and plain. Much of the book consisted of only pictures. There was very little text, but there probably didn't need to be more than there was. I could see this as a cute book to read before going to bed and kids giggling at, but it lacks substance to be put in a classroom.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

The Inside Tree

The Inside Tree by Linda Smith has joined the group of my favorite books that I have read this semester. The story is about a man who admires the tree outside of his cozy house so much, that he has a inspired idea to bring the tree inside. But not only the tree comes inside, other various beings that belong outside join the tree in Mr. Potter's house. It begins to be too much for Mr. Potter and he needs to find a solution to this problem he has created. I liked this book a lot because the main character Mr. Potter was so likeable for both boys and girls. I also found myself very engaged with the story. I loved the idea of taking the things that we love outside inside our homes and then being reminded of the reasons why some things belong outdoors. Along with the great story were great illustrations as well. They were a great mix of cartoon and real life drawings and they were colorful as well. I could see this book as being a great read aloud for a classroom, one of almost any age. The book is recommended for ages 4-8 but I think that kids older could enjoy the story as well. I know I did!

The Middle Child Blues

The Middle-Child Blues by Kristyn Crow probably had some of my favorite illustrations ever. I'm pretty critical about illustrations, so saying that these were some of my favorite is a pretty big deal. They were full page, big and bright and provided SO much to look at. They had a shiny quality to them and they were so unique. Not only were the illustrations great, but the story was great as well. As read in the title, the main character has a serious case of the middle child blues. The book is written in the well known blues song format, and it made me want to sing the words. However, I'm not THAT familiar with the blues tune so I wouldn't have done a very good job but it added an interesting element to the story. It's also entirely relatable for many students. Being the middle child isn't always easy and this character brings to light many of the frustrations that middle children can feel. Of course, in the end he comes to some sort of resolution with his middle child status and it makes for a delightful book. I would highly recommend having this book in a classroom, for its relatability and for it's delightful pictures and story.

The Year of Impossible Goodbyes

The Year of Impossible Goodbyes was a really strong story of a Korean family during WWII whose freedoms are taken away by the occupying Japanese. When I first started reading this story, I thought the main character was a young boy. When I found out that it was a young girl, it didn't change the story much but for some reason, I was surprised. I thought it may have been the relationship with her grandfather that made me believe it was a boy narrating. Either way, the story was strong from the beginning. I found myself thinking of how I would feel in this situation and I experienced anxiety and desperation just thinking about it. The situation that this family was in where they couldn't be free or even keep possession of their belongings was just terrible. I thought that the story moved rather fast paced until the ending where they were trying to find their mother. That part didn't move along as quickly for me as the rest of the story did.
In terms of teaching this book as a teacher, I think that I could handle it. The book brings up great questions about things that many people take advantage of such as freedom and peace. I could think of some great discussions to have with my students about the things that they thought about while reading this book. Of course, I don't think that as a child I would respond as strongly to this book as I do now but I still think that it is important for students to read literature such as this. It helps not only to teach them about history but also to look at their lives in a different way.
Overall, I thought that this was a great book. Most of the book, along with the ending especially, was particularly heartbreaking but I think that it is important that we not always shield our kids from the hard subjects of history and that we let them experience it through a great way, reading.

The Perfect Gift

The Perfect Gift by Mary Newell Depalma was my favorite picture book that I read this week. It's a story about a little bird who dropped the perfect strawberry to the bottom of a river and got together with a few of her animal friends to try and rescue her strawberry, which was to be a gift for her grandmother. This book was my favorite mostly because of the illustrations. The illustrations were done with beautiful, bold colors and the color of the water was a gorgeous shade of blue that made me want to paint my whole room that color. I just found the story along with the drawings to be so soothing. It also had a great theme of teamwork. Although the animals didn't have any benefit to saving the strawberry, they were still willing to help their bird friend. This book is definitely for the younger crowd, kindergartners or first graders probably as a read aloud because there are a lot of words on the page. Also, the font is unique and while I think that it only adds to the story, it might be a little hard for a child that isn't an experienced reader. I highly recommend this book, if not for the story for the great illustrations. This is one I would definitely want to have in my classroom library.

Every Cowgirl Needs a Horse

Every Cowgirl Needs a Horse is a book that contains every little girl's wish, to get a horse for their birthday. Nellie Sue desperately wants a horse for her birthday and ends up getting a bike. Now, she didn't want a bike for her birthday but a bike is close enough in her imagination to a horse and eventually, she finds the bright side. I really liked this book. The cover alone is enough to attract any girl under age 11, with it's bright pink, sparkly stars and a little girl on a horse and the story will keep any girl enchanted. I'm not sure that a boy, at least an older one, would sit through this story most likely declaring that it's "too girly". I really liked the illustrations, the kind that take up the whole page and manage to provide print and things to look at for a few minutes before turning the page. I also liked the message, though subtle, that the book sent. Although you don't get exactly what you want, a little imagination and positive attitude can go a long way. Although I don't feel the need to have this book in my classroom, I feel that it is definitely one that I would read to my kids and have in my library at home.

Princess Pigtoria and the Pea

Princess Pigtoria and the Pea is a twist on the classic tale of The Princess and the Pea except in this case, the princess is a pig. Unexpectedly, this book also uses the letter 'p' as much as possible. I found this to be quite distracting. It was tongue twisting and while a child might have fun trying to make their way through all the 'p' words, I thought that it took away from a really cute story. The illustrations are basic, but still really nice to look at. The ending also provides a bit of a surprise which is nice for the reader. I expected to be a lot more impressed with this book. Princess and the Pea was one of my favorite stories growing up and I thought that a twist with a new kind of character would help to modernize the story a little bit and make it appeal to younger audiences. However, while a child might really enjoy this book, I found the word play with the letter 'p' a little too much to carry this story.

Miss Fox's Class Earns a Field Trip

Miss Fox's Class Earns a Field Trip is a cute story about a class who desperately wants to earn enough money to take a class field trip to a roller coaster park. Although they are trying hard to make the money, various problems keep getting in the way. The students need $135 dollars to take the trip and it seems like a lot of the book is focused on helping kids with their math. It would be a good opportunity to use this book in a math lesson because the story tells you how much they earned and then tells you how much they take away when they hit various roadblocks. Having your students keep track of the money might make a good lesson. In addition to the learning component, this book is enjoyable. The illustrations are bright and fun with Miss Fox's class made up of various animals and their activities provide a sight to see. I think that a child would be entertained by this book and after I learned that there are other books in this series, I might just have to go check them out.

Tutus aren't My Style

Tutus aren't My Style written by Linda Skeers is a predictable book about a young girl who is quite the tomboy and doesn't want to have to wear a tutu. I could have described the book to someone without even cracking open the cover but it still was a cute book. It came with the obvious message of "girls don't have to be girly" and so on, but it would definitely keep the interest of a child. Especially with the full page illustrations that illustrated the funny scenes with the little girl. I know from experience that it's the main character falling down or something of the sort that becomes the favorite part of the book. I thought that the book could have been a little longer, especially with the topic, and that the author could have added a little more embellishment. It was too short to really get into but it was a cute story.

Friend Frog

Friend Frog was the last book that I read by Alma Flor Ada. Overall, I was impressed by this author. But I also was surprised at the variation of her books. She didn't really seem to have any sort of consistent theme throughout her books. I thought while researching her that she would write mostly in Spanish and English themes, but that wasn't it at all. In Friend Frog the reader explores the relationship between two unpredictable animals, a mouse and a frog. I liked this book especially because of the bright illustrations, because I felt like some of her books could have had better illustrations to accompany her great writing.

Daniel's Mystery Egg

This book, written by Alma Flor Ada is a book about a young boy who finds an egg and along with his friends, wonders what is inside. I read this book with a student that I work with on reading and she seemed to like the book just fine. She struggles a little bit with reading as a second grader and this book was pretty simple for her. The words and the illustrations were basic and there were only a few words on each page. I thought that this was incredibly different from her other books. Alma Flor Ada is very diverse but I responded much more to her other books that I read than this book. But it is a book for "Green Light Readers" so I'm guessing that it is more of a story to help children along than to entertain. It was a great book to work with predictions, because I had my students guess what they thought could be in the egg. Of course, as kids do, they came up with some crazy ideas but in the end we were all surprised at what came out of the egg. I wouldn't enthusiastically recommend this book but there was nothing negative about it either.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

I Love Saturdays y domingos

This book also written by Alma Flor Ada is a great mix of English and Spanish. It is about a young girl and her love for the weekend days. She describes an event in English and then that same text is on the next page only certain words are switched out for Spanish words. This is a great method for children who are just learning how to speak either English or Spanish. It only changes key words such as grandma to abuelita so it's not too challenging for younger children. Also, the illustrations that go along with it are vibrant and bright and they remind me of tropical islands and culture. This would be a great book to use in a unit about different cultures and in addition to gaining knowledge about the Spanish culture, the students can also absorb some new vocabulary as well. The only negative about the book is the fact that it is a little long but I think that it is interesting enough to keep children's interest. Overall, I think that this is a really useful book to teach children about culture and language.

Jordi's Star

I found this book, Jordi's Star written by Alma Flor Ada, to be a little sad. The story is a man who is lonely and sad until he sees the reflection of a star in a rain pool and believes that the star has actually fallen down into the pool of water. This belief leads him to do wonderful things with his life and eventually he regains his faith and happiness. This is a rather mature theme for kids and it might go over some of their heads, but it's also a nice idea that he believed the reflection of the star was truly the star. Also, the language is beautiful and inspiring. The illustrations are a little bland, I think the book could have been enriched with more brilliant and detailed drawings, but they are better than some. This is a key Alma Flor Ada book because of the rich detail and language. I really respond to her writing and although this book was kind of sad, I do think that it was a well-written and engaging story.

Dear Peter Rabbit

This book written by my Author study Alma Flor Ada is a great twist with well-known fairytale characters. The whole book is written in letter form, with well known characters such as Goldilocks, Pig 1, 2, & 3 from the Three Little Pigs and other various characters. They write to each other and have relationships that the reader of the original fairy tales probably would never have even thought about. Eventually, their paths cross and it's a great twist on a well known topic. I really enjoyed this book. I think it would be best for upper elementary students because of the length and I'm not sure that the really young ones would pick up on the fairytale theme. The illustrations are nice and bright and they match the accompanying letters really well. Alma Flor Ada is great at writing engaging text and I really responded to this book of hers.


So far in this class, I have really enjoyed all of the material that I have gotten to revisit or experience new. I grew up with a world full of books, so it's especially great that I still get to follow children's literature although I am no longer a child. I especially liked the unit on the controversial books. Some people never consider the fact that a book written for children could be controversial and it was really interesting to see the different books that cause people to be in uproar. I also enjoy the freedom of the class. Although we have certain assignments some weeks, other weeks we are free just to pick any kinds of books that we want. This has provided a great opportunity to think about what kinds of books I would like to have in my classroom when I become a teacher. It's providing great experience with literature that I think will be especially useful in the future and I will be excited to get to apply it.

The Misfits

This book was definitely different than I thought it was going to be. I typically really enjoy reading young adult fiction still, now a 20 year old and I love rereading books that I read when I was younger, so I thought that I would really respond positively to The Misfits. The premise sounded interesting to me so I was surprised that when I began reading, I just couldn't seem to really get into it. I was confused right from the beginning on which character was which and I kept having to return to the beginning to figure out who was who. I also didn't like how it was written in dialogue form, I find this method to be boring and hard to follow. I think that if I read this when I was younger, I probably would have liked it more. I would have enjoyed the more "controversial" aspect because those were typically the books that I liked to read, always trying to be ahead of my peers with my reading material. Even though i didn't really enjoy this book, I think that it is beneficial for students to read and I don't think that it should be banned in schools. Plus, if parents and administrators don't already realize this, the fastest way to get kids to read something is to ban it. So they might want to rethink that plan.

Mommy Laid an Egg

This book Mommy Laid an Egg is an educational book for kids to teach them about sex and where babies come from. I found this book to be more awkward than controversial. I think that it is written well and it's very informative but it also just made me think how when the time comes to explain to my own children where babies come from, I'd rather just explain it on my own then rely on this book. I don't know that it's necessary to include "ways mommy and daddy fit together" because that's not really even in a child's realm of understanding at a young age. I found this book to be entertaining but mostly because I am old enough to understand the humor of it. I'm not sure that a child would respond very positively to this book. I don't really know that this is controversial because there are plenty books out there about sex for parents who aren't entirely comfortable talking about it themselves.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Walter the Farting Dog

Surprising to me, and possibly to the readers of this blog was that Walter the Farting Dog, written by William Kotzwinkle and Glenn Murray, was the book that I found most offending out of all of the controversial books this week. It wasn't so much that I found the book offensive, I more so found it to be obnoxious. I didn't really understand why there is a book written about a dog that just farts all the time and has really gross illustrations to go along with this. As I write this, I am thinking that I may come across to some as a little conservative in terms of topics, but I'm more conservative in writing about bodily functions in children's lit. I believe that if it represents some sort of teaching value or lesson, then writing about this sort of thing would be okay, but I just think it's supposed to be funny. I didn't think it was funny. I also didn't really like the illustrations that were drawn in almost a realistic way. Overall, I can understand why children would like this book, I just didn't have a positive response to it. I probably won't go out and buy this book for my children but I also wouldn't banish it from my classroom either.

The Rabbits' Wedding

The Rabbits' Wedding by Garth Williams is a book that if I wasn't told was controversial, I probably wouldn't have figured it out for myself. The story line contains a white rabbit and a black rabbit getting married. Evidently, the controversial aspect is that it is a BLACK rabbit marrying a WHITE one. Now, I have to hope that this book is just an example of a past controversial one. If interracial marriage is still a controversy, then this country has farther to go than I would have thought. I think that most kids wouldn't even pick up on the fact that the rabbits could represent a black person and a white person, and they would mostly just focus on the fact that they are rabbits, unless of course it is pointed out to them. I liked the classic feel of this book and I also liked the illustrations. The story was cute and if the author wrote it to symbolize that interracial marriage didn't matter, then I give them credit. It's a great thing to represent through literature. I just hope that no teachers or parents would still hide this book from their children because I truly believe that nothing detrimental could come from this.

and Tango Makes Three

and Tango Makes Three is an adorable story that ties in directly with a hot topic these days, gay parents. Two male penguins fall in love at a Zoo and eventually get to raise a child of their own. I can understand the controversial aspects of this book because gay rights are still so controversial in the country today but I also think that this is a valuable book for kids. More and more gay couples raise kids and start families together and chances are, a student will probably be in the same class as someone who has gay parents. It's a lifestyle, a different lifestyle to some, but it's one that should be taught about to our students. I think the more controversial aspect about this book could be the fact that two boys raised a penguin. Some people believe that gay parents shouldn't be allowed to raise children. I have different values than this so the book didn't bother me like I know it would bother other people. I also loved the fact that at the end it included the fact that this book is a true story! I thought that was really neat. I also liked the illustrations and the style of the book. It felt classic to me. Overall, I believe that this is a book that should be valued instead of hidden from today's children.

The Stupids Have a Ball

I didn't react as negatively to this book as I had expected to by hearing other people talk about it. The Stupids Have a Ball by Harry Allard and James Marshall is a book about a family called the Stupids and their various "stupid" ways of going about life. I was really surprised to find out that one of my favorite books from my childhood was written by these authors called Ms. Nelson is Missing. I recognized the illustrations from this book and looked at the author description to see if I had read any of their other books. Although I can see where the negativity and the controversy comes from, I didn't really mind the book. I probably wouldn't read it to young kids or bring it to my classroom, mostly because "stupid" just isn't a nice word to use, but for older kids I think as long as it's taken in stride, it's not necessarily a bad thing. A talk could go along with it such as "just because the book calls people Stupid does not mean that it's okay for you to do that". Kid's hear negative words everywhere and censoring them from this book won't prohibit the word stupid from entering their vocabulary. Aside from the controversy, I enjoyed the book. I thought it was funny and the illustrations reminded me of that favorite book from my childhood. It's not award winning but it's one that would probably make kids laugh. At a high cost many believe, but I'm not sure I agree.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Listen, Listen

Listen, Listen by Phillis Gershator and Alison Jay is one of those rare books that I find myself not wanting to put down after I finish it. A book created around the sounds of nature and the season, it's the stunning illustrations that really make this book so good. With a cracked quality to the cover and to the illustrations it almost appears as though you are looking at canvas drawings or inside of an old globe. I would be interested to hear why the authors chose to represent the illustrations this way. I found the words to be written in a soothing, calming manner. It would make a great book to read to your kids before they go to bed. Also it provides a great opportunity for the readers to think of their own sounds of nature and the seasons. It would be a great book to read maybe in first grade if they are doing a lesson about the seasons or just about nature. This is a book that I am definitely interested in adding to my book shelf both as a teacher and for my future kids.

Rattletrap Car

Rattletrap Car by Phyllis Root is a fun, interactive book. It was a lot different than I had expected when I first picked the book up off the shelves. The book uses a lot of word play, tongue twisters, rhyming and sounds. The reason why I think that this book is interactive is because the rattletrap car makes numerous crazy sounds as it is breaking down. The kids would have a lot of fun making these noises along with whoever is reading and emphasizing them each time the car breaks down. Also, the phrase "chocolate marshmallow fudge delight" is used quite often and I feel like kids respond to any book that has mention of such a delicious dessert in it's pages. The illustrations weren't my favorite, but they were still full page and still well done enough to provide a child who can't read something to look at. Overall, I thought this book would provide entertainment to kids who read it, but it also lacks a little in substance. It's definitely a quick read, not one that you would want to read to send any sort of moral message, but it's fun nonetheless.

Snowmen at Night

Snowmen at Night by Caralyn Buehner is a creative story about what kinds of things snowmen are doing once their creators have gone to sleep. I also find imaginative books like this fun, such as the idea of our stuffed animals and toys coming to life the second we leave the room, an idea I believed in for years. The illustrations are full page, offering really pretty oil paintings to look at of streets filled with snowmen. I read this book with my child study buddy and she really enjoyed it. She found all of the descriptions funny and she even showed me that there are hidden animals on each of the pages, which showed me she had read the book once or twice before. That aspect of the book was great because it added something new for the kids if the book was read more than one time. Also, it's written in a rhyming pattern which is great for kids that are just learning how to read or still need some extra help. They can correct themselves if the words don't seem to be rhyming right. Overall, I liked this book just as much as my child study did.

Book Fair Day

Book Fair Day is another book that is part of a series that I did not know about. There is also Science Fair Day and Teacher Appreciate Day. I haven't read those two, but I really enjoyed this one. It's about a boy who loves to read so much that he just cannot wait to get his chance at the book fair that day. Of course, he runs into obstacles but eventually we see him finally get to read all the books he wants. It was nice to read a book about a boy who loves reading so much. I feel like a lot of books reinforce gender stereotypes and we don't get an opportunity to see books about boys who love to read as much as we should. The illustrations are simple and old fashioned but I really enjoyed them. They provide something to look at without overwhelming the text. Overall, this was a fun read that my child study buddy really enjoyed reading and I think most readers would as well.

And then it rained...

This was such a unique story written by an author with an equally unique name, Crescent Dragonwagon. The main title is And then it rained...about a town who is just sick of the rain. And then you flip the book over and the new title is And then the sun came out...about a town that is just sick of the sunshine. This is a really cute idea for a book. The characters are the same in each edition of the story and it makes you think about how much we love the variation in weather, even though all we do is complain about it, and how even when it's sunny for 10 days in a row, sometimes it's nice to finally get that rain. The illustrations are beautiful to look at, done in what I believe is oil paint but I'm not positive. They take up the whole page, which is my favorite because it provides so much for a child to look at. I think any kid would get a kick out of this book, the only problem is that is there no ending. You could keep flipping the book over and over again, which a child might want you to do! Overall, I recommend this book.

The Giver

The Giver by Lois Lowry is one of those book titles that you hear everywhere. I myself read it in junior high but couldn't exactly remember what it was about. I remember that it wasn't my favorite book, I tended to stick to girlier books back then. After rereading this book, I truly understand why this book is so talked about. I had remembered that Jonas is given a special role but that was about it. I didn't remember so much of the other aspects of this book. I also found myself truly horrified when I learned what being released meant. I was surprised that I had such a strong reaction to this book, years after I had read it for the first time. After I read it, in one sitting, I wanted to go online and look up discussion guides because I found it just that interesting. I know that if I taught older kids, this book would be a great one to discuss themes and parallels with real life. This book kept me interested from the first page on. I could not put it down. However, I would probably think before I gave this book to a kid of a younger age than junior high because the themes can be rather adult. But I understand why this is required reading for many students and I'm glad that I got to read it a second time to fully appreciate it.

Artemis Fowl: A Graphic Novel

For my graphic novel I chose to read the graphic novel representation of a book that I had heard a lot about, Artemis Fowl. I didn't know that there was a graphic novel of this popular book until I picked it up at the curriculum lab. It was a lot different than I had expected. I had commonly heard it referred to as the next Harry Potter and I was surprised to see that I didn't really see any Harry Potter relation at all. The graphic part of the novel was interesting. There wasn't too many words on each page and the illustrations were pretty big and easy to see, unlike a lot of the Japanese graphic novels I sometimes see. I was really opposed to the idea of reading a graphic novel because it just isn't my style of reading but this wasn't as bad as I anticipated. I don't plan on reading more graphic novels anytime soon but I think I got the message that a graphic novel can still be as worthwhile as a regular one and maybe this is a good way to get reluctant readers to join in. I would like to see more graphic novels with believable plots, not just science fiction or fantasy.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Hairdo! What We Do and Did to Our Hair

This was my favorite out of my information books assigned for the genre project. The reason why I liked this book so much, written by Ruth Freeman Swain, was because she explains why people wore the hairstyles that they did. I knew about the hippie age and a few others, but many of these hairstyles I didn't know any background for. It doesn't just contain information, there are also great illustrations to go along with the writing that really helps the reader visualize the hair that the author is describing. At the end there is also a "Hairy Information" section that contains a lot of funny and useful information about the stuff that keeps us warm. It gives world records for the longest hair and beard, something that a kid would definitely get a shock out of. This book is really enjoyable and full of new information even for an adult. I highly recommend picking it up!

I Face the Wind

I Face the Wind is written by Vicki Cobb. There is a label on the front that says Vicki Cobb Science Play. The book is an interactive one about air and the questions that many kids have about it. Like, does air have weight? This book helps to answer that question and many others that could stump even people like me when we try to explain. It's a great information book because it takes real life situations to help to explain to a child about wind. Such as your hair blowing or flags fluttering straight out. The only problem that I would have with this book is if I wasn't going to do the experiments that it asks you to do, then there really wouldn't be much to read. However, there is a letter from the author on the first page stating that this is an experimental book and to have certain supplies ready. I think that a child would be really excited to do these experiments, children like most any experiments that have to do with science. It's for both genders and any one can do the experiments, requesting pretty simple materials such as a hanger and a balloon. Overall, I think that a kid could really have fun with this book.


Lightning by Seymour Simon is a book that contains so much information, even I found it challenging to comprehend. Lighting is a pretty complex subject so it's pretty hard to dumb down even for children. The pictures are pretty cool to look at, because what pictures of lightning aren't? I think that if reading this book, most of the kids would focus on the pictures rather than on the information that it is giving. Speaking as a 20 year old adult, I enjoyed learning about lightning, the various kinds and how it is created, I'm just not sure that an 8 year old would feel the same. I would definitely start this book maybe around the 3rd grade area and even up to 6th grade. The 6th graders might think it's a baby book, but I promise that the information that is in there isn't too young for an adult, let alone a 6th grader.


Tornadoes! by Gail Gibbons is exactly what it sounds. An informational book about Tornadoes. I must give credit to the author, Gail Gibbons, that she managed to create a book about a complicated topic and make it kid appropriate. Some of the information might still go over a child's head, but the pictures will provide additional information and help the child process what he or she hears. The book isn't chock full of information, it just provides mainly what a child can understand such as the differences between tornadoes based on the Fujita Scale. I particularly liked the fact that it includes real life tales of tornadoes and told you the scale number so that you could get a better idea of how strong these particular tornadoes are. An interesting topic (for me at least) this book will probably hold a child's interest, especially if they are interested in weather. However, the pictures can appear a little frightening, since there are houses and cars overturned and it might scare a child off tornadoes. So, proceed with caution if your child is a little sensitive but otherwise, a useful book.

Face to Face With Leopards

Face to Face With Leopards written by Beverly and Dereck Joubert, two National Geographic writers, is a great information and story book about a particular leopard named Legadema. These two authors have been living in Africa and following this Leopard for many years. This provides an excellent setup for a book that helps a child learn about this exotic species but also provides a back story of a leopard and their way of life. The accompanying pictures are stunning, both of the photographers getting so close to the leopard that you almost can't believe they survived. I also loved the side stories about Legadema, being a leopard that almost believed itself to be a house cat and liked to spend time with the two authors, enjoying the shade parked underneath their jeep. I think that boys and girls alike would enjoy this book, and even an adult would enjoy it. The information isn't too lengthy or boring and instead I walked away feeling as though I knew more about Leopards and that I had learned a great story about a particular one. The back is also filled with extra information that a child might like to read after the book. Overall, I was really pleased with this book and would highly recommend this.

Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret.

Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret is one of those books that at points has been swirling with controversy. Judy Blume is an author that is no stranger to controversy, with many of her books containing strong themes of sex. However, I grew up reading her books and I turned out just fine. Of course, I remember reading the sexually explicit parts with my friends and giggling out loud. But it didn't make me any worse for the wear. This book is a coming of age story about a girl who has no idea what her religion is, but still talks to god for many requests about growing boobs and getting her period. Obviously, this wouldn't be a great book for boys. I enjoyed reading this book, mostly because of the fact I remembered most every event that happened since I read this book when I was younger. One thing to say about this book is that it is severely outdated and most young teenage girls reading this book would be confused by the references that they make. Even with the outdated references, the books main themes still old true for every teenage girl that is trying to grow up. A quick read, without any illustrations, I would say that this book is probably for 11-14 year old girls. Any younger, and you're entering into too immature of territory. This book is a little silly when I read it as an adult but I can't deny the fact that if I have a daughter, I may just give this to her to read.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Star of the Week

On the cover of Star of the Week it says "A Story of Love, Adoption, and Brownies with Sprinkles". This little caption led me to believe that this was going to be a book explaining all about adoption and how even if you were adopted, that it's okay. However, I think that the caption is misleading. It's more about a girl who gets to be the star of the week in her classroom and wants to include her birth parents in her poster. It's less focused on the process of being adopted and more focused on her life now. However, it still sends a positive message to children who were adopted and how it's okay to still love both sets of parents. It's also a great book in terms of diversity, because the little girl comes from China and her parents are American. It represents diverse families well. It's a book for both genders and I think that even kids who aren't adopted can relate because many kids are familiar with the star of the week idea. Also the pictures are full page, my favorite kind, and will keep kids attention with nice representations of Chinese streets. Overall, I enjoyed reading this book even though I was a little misled with the cover.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Mr. and Mrs. Portly and Their Little Dog, Snack

This was a book that I chose off of the new book section in the curriculum lab. I chose it because of it's attractive cover and bright illustrations. I have discovered that so far through this process, I really am most strongly attracted to reading a book with a bright and colorful cover on it. This has posed some problems because I'm sure I'm missing out on some great books by choosing them this way. But in the case of this book, I read a pretty good one by judging a book by it's cover. Mrs. Portly comes across the little dog named Snack and just has to have him. While Mr. Portly is away on business, her and Snack become the best of friends. But, when Mr. Portly returns Snack has to earn the love of him as well. This book was unique in the fact that the illustrations and the font seemed to mirror each other, both very clean and simple. I think that the illustrations suited the book well, because there was a lot of story that went to this book and it didn't need much illustration to supplement it. I enjoyed this book because it didn't feel like a picture book as much as some other children's books. The words were big enough to pose a challenge to some readers and that is a nice change from books such as Snow Day, that I read previously, that uses very simple wording. Overall, this book may be a little challenging for some readers but the story and the illustrations are worth the read.

Alice the Fairy

Alice the Fairy can be described in one word, bold. The illustrations are bold and the font is bold. Even the character of Alice can definitely be described that way as well. Alice is a little girl whose imagination takes her very far into the world of fairies. The book is full of jokes and humor, which is my favorite aspect of the book, but I think that it goes over some of the younger readers' heads. I read this particular book with my child buddy at Grant Wood and she seemed to enjoy it but didn't seem to get the witticisms like I did. The illustrations are full page and bright and fun to look at. Alice is a fun, silly little girl and that is what makes this book so great. The way that her face can take up a whole page of illustration just makes her character seem so big and lively. I loved the way that David Shannon wrote and chose to illustrate this book and it makes me eager to try out some of his others, especially one that he won a Caldecott award for called No, David! This is definitely one of my favorite books for this semester so far and I hope that whoever is reading this blog goes out and gets it from the library or the bookstore. It would be a great addition to any bookshelf.

When I Was Little: A Four-Year-Old's Memoir of Her Youth

When I Was Little is another one of Jamie Lee Curtis's books. I love these books, I think that they are so fun and adorable. This one has definitely become one of my favorites. A little girl compares her life as a baby to her life now as a four year old. The illustrations are parallel of her as a baby and her as a four year old. I enjoyed it so much because I think it gives kids perspectives on how much more they can do when they grow up but how certain things will always stay the same. Such as your grandmother playing with you at the park. The illustrations are the same as Curtis's other books, still remaining some of my favorite illustrations. They are so unique and they manage to hide interesting little objects in each drawing. This book could be for either gender, but I think that Curtis somehow manages to always write towards little girls. Possibly being one herself maybe it is just easier for her to relate to little girls. I also see this book as a great read for a little child that doesn't yet want to grow up and still acts like a baby. This book can help them see the positive in being older and all the things that you can't do when you are a baby. Overall, Curtis gave me another one of my favorite books and I plan on keeping it around when I have my own kids.

The Fiesta Dress: A Quinceanera Tale

The Fiesta Dress: A Quinceanera Tale is written by Caren McNelly McCormack and illustrated by Martha Aviles. It's a fun story about a little sister who feels ignored on her big sisters quinceanera day but when she comes through in the end for her sister's missing sash, she becomes noticed by her sister and all her family members. The illustrations are really bright and colorful and they take up a full page which gives the reader a lot to look at. What I really enjoyed about this book was the fact that certain words are substituted for spanish words. Such as Tios for Uncles, and there is even a glossary in the back so that children can learn these new spanish words. I would say that this book is largely aimed towards girls especially with the large picture of a dress on the cover, I'm not sure a boy would be inspired to pick this one up. I think children will enjoy reading about the scrapes and mishaps that the little sister gets into and how she escapes being noticed in various situations. Overall, I liked this book and I especially enjoyed the multicultural aspect.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Snow Day!

I chose Snow Day by Patricia Lakin this week because of the amount of snow that Iowa has gotten this winter, and how every time it snows I still wish for a snow day. This is a really simple book, great for beginner readers. It relies a lot on rhyming words and the words don't really get much harder than "mittens" and "scarves". It's enjoyable to look at because the characters are alligators. I think that it provides an interesting twist on the illustrations to have the characters be an animal enjoying a snow day, rather than humans. What was really cute about this book was that from the beginning you assume that these are little alligator school children, thrilled for a day of snow, but we later find out that these are actually four principals who are enjoying the prospect of a snow day just as much as the students. I thought that it was a cute twist on an otherwise simple story, although one that might go over a child's head a little bit. Overall, it's a good book to read with kids who still can hope for a snowday.

Clifford's Birthday Party

Another book I always encourage the kids I babysit to read is the Clifford Series by Norman Bridwell. A series that probably exists on most kids bookshelves, Clifford is a big red dog whose size usually leads to various mishaps on any occasion. In this case it is Clifford's birthday and he gets some interesting presents from his friends and things don't really go as planned. But in the end he realizes what is most important about birthdays, and it isn't the presents. I always enjoy Clifford books because I love how they all start out with the same sentence. It offers kids a chance to be able to read along even when they can't read yet, simply by memorizing that one sentence. The illustrations are pretty basic, at least by today's standards, but they still are done well enough to keep kids' attention. Also, Clifford is a great character because he usually tries to do the right thing, with his size being the thing that most often gets in the way. He sets a great example for his fellow dogs, and for the readers of his books. There are many adventures with Clifford to explore and I encourage everyone to do so.

Arthur's TV Trouble

Another book, or series you could say, I was fond of as a child was the Arthur series. It all started when Arthur was watching The Bionic Bunny Show and he saw an ad for the amazing doggy Treat Timer and he just has to have it. He performs a series of chores to afford it only to be met with a surprise once he could. I enjoy Arthur books because each one comes with a "lesson" of some sort. The illustrations are usually full page and fun to look at and Arthur and his friends are entertaining characters. It's also a TV show so even if kids haven't read the books they are usually familiar with the characters anyways. The little girl I work with at an elementary school each week chose this book to read to me and she seemed to really enjoy it. Some of the words were a little hard for her to pronounce, so I think she might have gotten a little more out of it had I read this particular story to her, but either way it is an enjoyable story that kids definitely respond to.