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.