Librarians’ Choices 2010
1. Addasi, Maha. 2010. TIME TO PRAY. Ill. by Ned Gannon. Honesdale, PA: Boyd Mills Press. ISBN 9781590786116 [Suggested Grade Levels 2–4]
2. Atkins, Jeannine. 2010. BORROWED NAMES. New York: Henry Holt. ISBN 9780805089349 [Suggested Grade Levels 7-10]
3. Avasthi, Swati. 2010. SPLIT. New York: Random House. ISBN 9780375863400 [Suggested Grade Levels 9-12]
4. Bacigalupi, Paolo. 2010. SHIP BREAKER. New York: Little, Brown. ISBN 9780316056212 [Suggested Grade Levels 8-12]
5. Barnett, Mac. 2010. OH NO! Ill. by Dan Santat. New York: Hyperion. ISBN 9781423123125 [Suggested Grade Levels 1-5]
6. Bartoletti, Susan Campbell. 2010. THEY CALLED THEMSELVES THE KKK: THE BIRTH OF AN AMERICAN TERRORIST GROUP. New York: Houghton Mifflin. ISBN 9780318440337 [Suggested Grade Levels 7-12]
7. Barton, Chris. 2010. SHARK VS. TRAIN. Ill. by Tom Lichtenheld. New York: Little, Brown. ISBN 9780316007627 [Suggested Grade Levels PreK-2]
8. Beaufrand, Mary Jane. 2010. THE RIVER. New York: Little, Brown. ISBN 9780316041683. [Suggested Grade Levels 7-12]
9. Bildner, Phil. 2010. THE HALLELUJAH FLIGHT. Ill. by John Holyfield. New York: Putnam. ISBN 9780399247897 [Suggested Grade Levels K–6]
10. Boyce, Frank Cottrell. 2010. COSMIC. New York. HarperCollins. ISBN 9780061836831 [Suggested Grade Levels 4-8]
11. Brennan, Eileen. 2010. DIRTBALL PETE. New York: Random House. ISBN 9780375834257 [Suggested Grade Levels K-2]
12. Brown, Calef. 2010. HALLOWILLOWEEN; NEFARIOUS SILLINESS. Boston: Houghton Mifflin. ISBN 9780547215402 [Suggested Grade Levels K-5]
13. Brown, Monica. 2010. SIDE BY SIDE: THE STORY OF DOLORES HUERTA AND CESAR CHAVEZ/LADO A LADO: LA HISTORIA DE DOLORES HUERTA Y CÉSAR CHÁVEZ. Ill. by Joe Cepeda. New York: HarperCollins. ISBN 9780061227813 [Suggested Grade Levels 1-5]
14. Chall, Marsha Wilson. 2010. ONE PUP’S UP. Ill. by Henry Cole. New York: Simon & Schuster. ISBN 9781416979609 [Suggested Grade Levels PreK-1]
15. Cohn, Rachel and Levithan, David. 2010. DASH & LILY’S BOOK OF DARES. New York: Knopf. ISBN 9780375866593 [Suggested Grade Levels 9-12]
16. Cooper, Elisha. 2010. FARM. New York: Orchard Books. ISBN 9780545070751 [Suggested Grade Levels K-5]
17. Cousins, Lucy. 2010. I’M THE BEST. Cambridge, MA: Candlewick. ISBN 9780763646844 [Suggested Grade Levels PreK-K]
18. Craig, Lindsey. 2010. DANCING FEET! Ill. by Marc Brown. New York: Knopf. ISBN 9780375861819 [Suggested Grade Levels PreK-K]
19. Crum, Shutta. 2010. THOMAS AND THE DRAGON QUEEN. Ill. by Lee Wildish. New York. Knopf. ISBN 9780375857034 [Suggested Grade Levels 3-6]
20. Davis, Eleanor. 2010. THE SECRET ALLIANCE AND THE COPYCAT CROOK. New York: Bloomsbury. ISBN 9781599903965 [Suggested Grade Levels 4-7]
21. Davis, Jill. 2010. ORANGUTANS ARE TICKLISH. Ill. by Steve Grubman. New York: Schwartz & Wade. ISBN 9780375858864 [Suggested Grade Levels K-4]
22. Donnelley, Jennifer. 2010. REVOLUTION. New York: Delacorte. ISBN 9780385737630 [Suggested Grade Levels 8-12]
23. Draper, Sharon M. 2010. Out of My Mind. New York: Atheneum. ISBN 9781416971702 [Suggested Grade Levels 4-6]
24. Engle, Margarita. 2010. THE FIREFLY LETTERS; A SUFFRAGETTE'S JOURNEY TO CUBA. New York: Henry Holt. ISBN 9780805090826 [Suggested Grade Levels 5-9]
25. Epstein, Adam Jay and Jacobson, Andrew. 2010. THE FAMILIARS. Ill. by Peter Chan and Ker Acedera. New York: HarperCollins. ISBN 9780061961083 [Suggested Grade Levels 4–6]
26. Erskine, Kathryn. 2010. MOCKINGBIRD (MOK’ING - B^URD). New York. Penguin. ISBN 9780399252648 [Suggested Grade Levels 4-8]
27. Fleischman, Sid. 2010. SIR CHARLIE: CHAPLIN, THE FUNNIEST MAN IN THE WORLD. New York: HarperCollins. ISBN 9780061896408 [Suggested Grade Levels 7-12]
28. Fleming, Candace. 2010. CLEVER JACK TAKES THE CAKE. Ill. by G. Brian Karas. New York: Random House. ISBN 9780375956973 [Suggested Grade Levels PreK-2]
29. Frazier, Sundee T. 2010. OTHER HALF OF MY HEART. New York: Random House. ISBN 9780385734400 [Suggested Grade Levels 4-8]
30. Freedman, Russell. 2010. LAFAYETTE AND THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION. New York: Holiday House. ISBN 978-0823421824 [Suggested Grade Levels 6-12]
31. Gal, Susan. 2010. PLEASE TAKE ME FOR A WALK. New York: Knopf. ISBN 9780375858635 [Suggested Grade Level PreK-2]
32. Gherman, Beverly. 2010. SPARKY: THE LIFE AND ART OF CHARLES SCHULZ. San Francisco: Chronicle. ISBN 9780811867900 [Suggested Grade Levels 4-8]
33. Gidwitz, Adam. 2010. A TALE DARK AND GRIMM. New York: Penguin. ISBN 0525423346 [Suggested Grade Levels 6-9]
34. Golio, Gary. 2010. SOUNDS LIKE A RAINBOW: A STORY OF THE YOUNG JIMI HENDRIX. Ill. by Javaka Steptoe. New York: Clarion. ISBN 9780618852796 [Suggested Grade Levels 3-5]
35. Gonzales, Christina. 2010. THE RED UMBRELLA. New York: Knopf. ISBN 9780375861901 [Suggested Grade Levels 7-12]
36. Guiberson, Brenda Z. 2010. DISASTERS. New York: Henry Holt. ISBN 9780805081701 [Suggested Grade Levels 5-8]
37. Haas, Robert B. 2010. I DREAMED OF FLYING LIKE A BIRD. Washington, D.C.: National Geographic. ISBN 9781426306938 [Suggested Grade Levels 3-7]
38. Harper, Jamie. 2010. MILES TO GO. Cambridge, MA: Candlewick. ISBN 9780763635985 [Suggested Grade Levels PreK-1]
39. Hemphill, Stephanie. 2010. WICKED GIRLS: A NOVEL OF THE SALEM WITCH TRIALS. New York: HarperCollins. ISBN 9780061853289 [Suggested Grade Levels 9-12]
40. Henkes, Kevin. 2010. MY GARDEN. New York: Greenwillow. ISBN 9780061715174 [Suggested Grade Levels PreK–2]
41. Hill, Laban Carrick. 2010. Dave the Potter; ARTIST, POET, SLAVE. Ill. by Bryan Collier. New York: Little, Brown. ISBN 9780316107310 [Suggested Grade Levels K-5]
42. Hinds, Gareth. 2010. THE ODYSSEY. Cambridge, MA: Candlewick. ISBN 9780763642686 [Suggested Grade Levels 7-12]
43. Hoffman, Alice. 2010. GREEN WITCH. New York, NY: Scholastic. ISBN 9780545141956 [Suggested Grade Levels 7-12]
44. Holm, Jennifer L. 2010. TURTLE IN PARADISE. New York: Random House. ISBN 9780375836886 [Suggested Grade Levels 4-8]
45. Hopkins, Lee. Bennett. (Ed.) 2010. SHARING THE SEASONS. New York: Margaret McElderry. ISBN 9781416902102 [Suggested Grade Levels 3-6]
46. Jarrow, Gail. 2010. LINCOLN’S FLYING SPIES: THADDEUS LOWE AND THE CIVIL WAR BALLOON CORPS. Honesdale, PA: Boyd Mills Press. ISBN 9781590787199 [Suggested Grade Levels 4-12]
47. Jenkins, Steve. 2010. BONES: SKELETONS AND HOW THEY WORK. New York: Scholastic. ISBN 9780545046510 [Suggested Grade Levels PreK–3]
48. Kerley, Barbara. 2010. THE EXTRAORDINARY MARK TWAIN (ACCORDING TO SUSY). Ill. by Edwin Fotheringham. New York: Scholastic. ISBN 9780545125086 [Suggested Grade Levels 3-6]
49. Kimmelman, Leslie. 2010. THE LITTLE RED HEN AND THE PASSOVER MATZAH. Ill. by Paul Meisel. New York: Holiday House. ISBN 9780823419524 [Suggested Grade Levels PreK-2]
50. King, A. S. 2010. PLEASE IGNORE VERA DIETZ. New York: Random House. ISBN 9780375865862 [Suggested Grade Levels 9-12]
51. Kontis, Alethea. 2010. ALPHA OOPS! H IS FOR HALLOWEEN. Ill. by Bob Kolar. Cambridge, MA: Candlewick. ISBN 9780763639662 [Suggested Grade Levels PreK–2]
52. Leedy, Loren. THE SHOCKING TRUTH ABOUT ENERGY. New York: Holiday House. ISBN 9780823422203 [Suggested Grade Levels 2-5]
53. Lin, Grace. 2010. LING & TING: NOT EXACTLY THE SAME! New York: Little, Brown. ISBN 9780316024525 [Suggested Grade Levels K-2]
54. Lyga, Barry. 2010. ARCHVILLAIN. New York: Scholastic. ISBN 9780545196499 [Suggested Grade Levels 3-6]
55. Marchetta, Melina. 2010. FINNIKIN OF THE ROCK. Cambridge, MA: Candlewick. ISBN 978-0763643614 [Suggested Grade Levels 8–12]
56. Marino, Gianna. 2010. ONE TOO MANY: A SEEK & FIND COUNTING BOOK. San Francisco: Chronicle. ISBN 9780811869089 [Suggested Grade Levels PreK-2]
57. Martinez, Rueben. 2010. ONCE UPON A TIME: TRADITIONAL LATIN AMERICAN TALES. Ill. by Raul Colon. New York: HarperCollins. ISBN 9780061468957 [Suggested Grade Levels PreK-5]
58. McCahan, Erin. 2010. I NOW PRONOUNCE YOU SOMEONE ELSE. New York: Scholastic. ISBN 9780545088183 [Suggested Grade Levels 9-12]
59. McCarthy, Meghan. 2010. POP! THE INVENTION OF BUBBLE GUM. New York: Simon & Schuster. ISBN 9781416979708 [Suggested Grade Levels PreK-3]
60. McElligott, Matthew and Tuxbury, Larry. 2010. Benjamin Franklinstein Lives! New York: Putman. ISBN 9780399252297 [Suggested Grade Levels 3-6]
61. McGowan, Michael. 2010. SUNDAY IS FOR GOD. Ill. by Steve Johnson and Lou Fancher. New York: Random House. ISBN 9780375841880 [Suggested Grade Levels 1-4]
62. Milford, Kate. 2010. THE BONESHAKER. New York: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. ISBN 0547241879 [Suggested Grade Levels 6-9]
63. Montgomery, Sy. 2010. KAKAPO RESCUE: SAVING THE WORLD’S STRANGEST PARROT. Photographs by Nic Bishop. Boston: Houghton Mifflin. ISBN 9780618494170 [Suggested Grade Levels 5-8]
64. Mora, Pat. 2010. DIZZY IN YOUR EYES; POEMS ABOUT LOVE. New York: Knopf. ISBN 978-0375843754 [Suggested Grade Levels 7-12]
65. Nolan, Han. 2010. CRAZY. New York: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. ISBN 9780152051099 [Suggested Grade Levels 8-12]
66. Oliver, Lauren. 2010. BEFORE I FALL. New York: HarperCollins. ISBN 9780061726804 [Suggested Grade Levels 10-12]
67. Parkhurst, Carolyn. 2010. COOKING WITH HENRY AND ELLIEBELLY. Ill. by Dan Yaccarino. New York: Macmillan. ISBN 9780312548483 [Suggested Grade Levels PreK-2]
68. Paschen, Elise and Raccah, Dominique. (Comp.) 2010. POETRY SPEAKS; WHO I AM. Naperville, IL: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky. ISBN 9781402210747 [Suggested Grade Levels 6-12]
69. Paulsen, Gary. 2010. WOODS RUNNER. New York: Random House. ISBN 9780375859083 [Suggested Grade Levels 6–12]
70. Portis, Antoinette. 2010. KINDERGARTEN DIARY. New York. HarperCollins. ISBN 9780061456916 [Suggested Grade Levels PreK-K]
71. Potter, Ellen. 2010. KNEEBONE BOY. New York: Macmillan. ISBN 9780312377724 [Suggested Grade Levels 3-6]
72. Raczka, Bob. 2010. GUYKU: A Year of Haiku for Boys. Ill. by Peter Reynolds. Boston: Houghton Mifflin. ISBN 9780547240039 [Suggested Grade Levels 2–6]
73. Reinhardt, Dana. 2010. THE THINGS A BROTHER KNOWS. New York: Random House. ISBN 9780375844553 [Suggested Grade Levels 9-12]
74. Ritz, Karen. 2010. WINDOWS WITH BIRDS. Honesdale, PA: Boyds Mills Press. ISBN 9781590786567 [Suggested Grade Levels PreK-2]
75. Scott, Grace. 2010. GRACE. New York: Penguin. ISBN 0525422064 [Suggested Grade Levels 9-12]
76. Sedgwick, Marcus. 2010. REVOLVER. New York: Roaring Brook Press. ISBN 9781596435926 [Suggested Grade Levels 7-12]
77. Shulman, Polly. 2010. THE GRIMM LEGACY. New York: Putnam. ISBN 9780399250965 [Suggested Grade Levels 6-12]
78. Sidman, Joyce. 2010. DARK EMPEROR AND OTHER POEMS OF THE NIGHT. Boston: Houghton Mifflin. ISBN 9780547152288 [Suggested Grade Levels K-4]
79. Sidman, Joyce. 2010. UBIQUITOUS: CELBRATING NATURE’S SURVIVORS. Boston: Houghton Mifflin. ISBN 9780618717194 [Suggested Grade Levels 2-12]
80. Singer, Marilyn. 2010. MIRROR, MIRROR: A BOOK OF REVERSIBLE VERSE. Ill. by Josée Masse. New York: Dutton. ISBN 9780525479017 [Suggested Grade Levels 2-6]
81. Soup, Dr. Cuthbert. 2010. A WHOLE NOTHER STORY. Ill. by Jeffery Stewart Timmins. New York: Bloomsbury. ISBN 9781599905181 [Suggested Grade Levels 4–7]
82. Springstubb, Tricia. 2010. WHAT HAPPENED ON FOX STREET. New York: HarperCollins. ISBN 9780061986352 [Suggested Grade Levels 3-6]
83. Stead, Philip C. 2010. A Sick Day for Amos McGee. Ill. by Erin Stead. New York: Roaring Brook. ISBN 9781596434028 [Suggested Grade Levels K-3]
84. Stork, Francisco X. 2010. LAST SUMMER OF THE DEATH WARRIORS. New York: Scholastic. ISBN 9780545151337 [Suggested Grade Levels 9-12]
85. TenNapel, Doug. 2010. GHOSTOPOLIS. New York: Scholastic. ISBN 9780545210270 [Suggested Grade Levels 7-12]
86. Tolman, Marije & Ronald. 2010. THE TREE HOUSE. Honesdale, PA: Boyds Mill Press. ISBN 9781590788066 [Suggested Grade Levels PreK-6]
87. Tomlinson, Heather. 2010. TOADS AND DIAMONDS. New York: Henry Holt. ISBN 9780805089684 [Suggested Grade Levels 8-12]
88. Vail, Rachel. 2010. JUSTIN CASE: SCHOOL, DROOL, AND OTHER DAILY DISASTERS. Ill. by Matthew Cordell. New York: Macmillan. ISBN 9780312532901 [Suggested Grade Levels 2-5]
89. Vanderpool, Clare. 2010. MOON OVER MANIFEST. New York: Random House. ISBN 0385738838 [Suggest Grade Levels 5-8]
90. Vande Velde, Vivian. 2010. CLOAKED IN RED. Tarrytown, NY: Marshall Cavendish. ISBN 9780761457930 [Suggested Grade Levels 6-12]
91. Voake, Steve. 2010. INSECT DETECTIVE. Ill. by Charlotte Voake. Cambridge: Candlewick. ISBN 9780763644475 [Suggested Grade Levels K- 3]
92. Weinstock, Robert. 2010. CAN YOU DIG IT? New York: Hyperion. ISBN 9781423122081 [Suggested Grade Levels PreK-4]
93. Weisner, David. 2010. ART & MAX. New York: Clarion. ISBN 9780618756636 [Suggested Grade Levels K-4]
94. Werlin, Nancy. 2010. EXTRAORDINARY. New York: Dial. ISBN 9780803733725 [Suggested Grade Levels 8-12]
95. Wiles, Deborah. 2010. COUNTDOWN. New York. Scholastic. ISBN 9780545106054 [Suggested Grade Levels 5-8]
96. Willems, Mo. 2010. CITY DOG, COUNTRY FROG. Ill. by Jon J. Muth. New York: Hyperion. ISBN 9781423103004 [Suggested Grade Levels PreK-3]
97. Williams-Garcia, Rita. 2010. ONE CRAZY SUMMER. New York: HarperCollins. ISBN 9780060760885 [Suggested Grade Levels 4-7]
98. Wilson, Karma. THE COW LOVES COOKIES. Ill. by Marcellus Hall. New York: Simon & Schuster. ISBN 1416942068 [Suggested Grade Levels Pre-K-1]
99. Winter, Jonathan. 2010. HERE COMES THE GARBAGE BARGE! Ill. by Red Nose Studio. New York: Random House. ISBN 9780375952180 [Suggested Grade Levels 1-3]
100. Wood, Maryrose. 2010. THE MYSTERIOUS HOWLING. Ill. by Jon Klassen. New York. HarperCollins. ISBN 9780061791055 [Suggested Grade Levels 4-8]
Tuesday, February 15, 2011
Wood, Maryrose. 2010. THE MYSTERIOUS HOWLING. Ill. by Jon Klassen. New York. HarperCollins. ISBN 9780061791055 [Suggested Grade Levels 4-8]
The Mysterious Howling is one of the funniest novels of the year-- sly, witty, and tongue-in-cheek. Miss Penelope Lumley has taken her first position as governess at Ashton Place, an elegant estate with considerable land. She has been hired to care for three children who have been raised by wolves. The lady of the house is terrified of the children and the lord of the manor inexplicably wants to present these strange children to his social group. It is up to Miss Lumley, recent graduate of the Swanburne Academy for Poor Bright Females, to civilize the youngsters so that they are not embarrassed in front of the hoity-toity at the Christmas ball.
Much of the humor comes from the expectations that Miss Lumley has for her charges and the surprising consequences that result from her endeavors. Penelope decides to introduce Dante’s INFERNO to the three children. The reader is perplexed with the governess’s choice, thinking that the illiterate trio will never understand such highbrow text. But we are mistaken. The children not only understand the plotline which Penelope realizes too late might be “too bloody and disturbing for young minds,” but the children demand “More, more!” every time she tries to stop.
This is the first novel in the series THE INCORRIGIBLE CHILDREN OF ASHTON PLACE so readers are left wanting much, much more.
Invite children to converse in the “Incorrigible-way”-- adding “awoo” to the first syllable of words. Try not to break out laughing.
Other novels that feature orphans:
Aiken, Joan. THE WOLVES OF WILLOUGHBY CHASE. ISBN 978-0440496038
Snicket, Lemony. THE BAD BEGINNING. ISBN 978-0064407663
By Cay Geisler
Winter, Jonathan. 2010. HERE COMES THE GARBAGE BARGE! Ill. by Red Nose Studio. New York: Random House. ISBN 9780375952180 [Suggested Grade Levels 1-3]
HERE COMES THE GARBAGE BARGE! provides a humorous and fictionalized account of a barge that hauled garbage from Long Island, New York in 1987. Because the landfills on Long Island are full, a barge is loaded with garbage to be hauled to another state. When the barge arrives at its destination it is turned away. For nearly six stinking months, the barge seeks a dumping ground only to be repeatedly rejected. Eventually the barge returns home and the garbage is burned. Readers will gain a greater appreciation of the illustrations once they read the detailed account about the creation of the illustrations found on the inside of the book jacket.
This math activity will help children contextualize the weight of garbage aboard the barge. First, explore the term “ton” with children and discuss its equivalent in pounds (2,000). Next consider the average weight of various common objects (e.g., an adult male-- 190 pounds; a minivan-- 5,800 pounds; a seedless watermelon-- 15 pounds). Compute how many of each object it would take to equal 6,336,000 pounds. Allow students to think, pair, and share the following: consider a unique object, conduct a simple Internet search to provide the average weight of the object, and compute the equivalent number equal to the weight of garbage aboard the barge. Finally, encourage each student to create an illustration portraying the garbage barge hauling the object.
Other books about ships and boats:
Floca, Brian. LIGHTSHIP ISBN 9781416924364
Kalman, Maira. FIREBOAT: THE HEROIC ADVENTURES OF THE JOHN J. HARVEY ISBN 9780142403624
Spier, Peter. NOAH’S ARK ISBN 9780440406938
Other books about garbage:
Clark, Katie. GRANDMA DROVE THE GARBAGE TRUCK. ISBN 9780892726981
McMullan, Kate. I STINK! ISBN 9780064438360
Odanaka, Barbara. SMASH! MASH! CRASH! THERE GOES THE TRASH! ISBN 9780689851605
Zimmerman, Andrea & Clemesha, David. TRASHY TOWN. ISBN 9780060271398
By Maria Cahill
Wilson, Karma. THE COW LOVES COOKIES. Ill. by Marcellus Hall. New York: Simon & Schuster. ISBN 1416942068 [Suggested Grade Levels Pre-K-1]
Text and illustrations charm in Karma Wilson’s THE COW LOVES COOKIES. Set on a farm, readers learn about the daily activities of the farmer and his animals: the horses, the chickens, the ducks, the pigs, the geese, etc. Through rhyme, readers learn what each animal likes best and what each animal needs to be happy. Much is predictable, as you’d expect, the horses eat hay; the pigs eat slop. But the cow—who loves to interrupt—loves cookies! Turns out that this cow and farmer have a daily ritual. She gives the farmer a pail of milk, and he gives her some cookies.
The text is playful and repetitive. Readers can anticipate what happens next. And the rhythm and rhyme is enjoyable throughout. The illustrations, however, make this one a winner. They are simple, bright and bold, and utterly charming with a nostalgic feel.
Have readers act out The Cow Loves Cookies, adding their own animal sounds, as needed.
Children can draw pictures of their favorite farm animals or talk about their own favorite snacks.
Other books about cookies:
Lass, Bonnie. WHO TOOK THE COOKIES FROM THE COOKIE JAR? ISBN 0316820164
Lewis, Paeony. NO MORE COOKIES. ISBN 0439683327
Numeroff, Laura. IF YOU GIVE A MOUSE A COOKIE. ISBN 0060245867
Other books about farms:
Alborough, Jez. THE GOBBLE GOBBLE MOOOOOO TRACTOR BOOK. ISBN 1935279661
Cronin, Doreen. CLICK CLACK, MOO: COWS THAT TYPE. ISBN 1416903488
Elliott, David. ON THE FARM. ISBN 0763633224
By Becky Laney
Williams-Garcia, Rita. 2010. ONE CRAZY SUMMER. New York: HarperCollins. ISBN 9780060760885 [Suggested Grade Levels 4-7]
Set in 1968, eleven-year-old Delphine and her two younger sisters have been shipped to California to spend the summer with their free-spirited mother who abandoned them when they were quite young. When they arrive, Cecile, their mother, is not thrilled to have them for the summer. For meals, she sends them to a Chinese restaurant every day and makes them attend a Black Panther run day camp so that she can work on her poetry. Ultra-responsible Delphine tries to keep her younger sisters Vonetta and Fern out of her mother’s way while at the same time taking over much of the responsibility of running the house such as the cooking and the cleaning. In the end, the girls and their mother are caught up in political intrigue during a volatile time in history.
Narrated by Delphine, all three girls in this Coretta Scott King honor book and National Book Award finalist have strong voices and independent personalities. The revelation of racial issues of the time period is authentic and told in a way that is understandable to young readers.
This work can serve as a focus novel for American history classes.
The book would also be a good read aloud during Black History Month.
Use with English classes to discuss character development.
Other historical novels for young readers:
Holm, Jennifer. TURTLE IN PARADISE. ISBN 9780375836886
Wiles, Deborah. COUNTDOWN. ISBN 9780545106054
McMullan, Margaret. SOURCES OF LIGHT. ISBN 978547076591
Willems, Mo. 2010. CITY DOG, COUNTRY FROG. Ill. by Jon Muth. New York: Hyperion. ISBN 9781423103004 [Suggested Grade Levels PreK-3]
CITY DOG, COUNTRY FROG is a touching story of two unlikely friends. The book takes the reader through the seasons of the year showing not only the changes in the landscape, but the growing friendship between City Dog and Country Frog. While Country Frog teaches City Dog the joys of frog activities like jumping and splashing, City Dog teaches Country Frog how to throw so they can play dog games like catch. Even though the text is simple, the illustrations speak volumes. The reader can see the love the characters have for each other in the wagging of City Dog’s tail to the giant grin on Country Frog’s face. Fall finds Country Frog too tired to play, so he just wants them to play “remember-ing games.” When City Dog falls asleep with Country Frog’s webbed-foot touching him, no words are needed. The illustration says it all. Winter and the spring (again) find City Dog looking for Country Frog. As he is sadly sitting on frog’s rock, Country Chipmunk asks him what he is doing. The circle of life and friendship continues.
John Muth’s illustrations paired with Mo Willems’ words are a winning combination. Muth’s choice of muted watercolors shows the warmth of the character’s friendship and beauty of the changing seasons.
This book could be paired with a unit on a frog’s life cycle or used when discussing the changing seasons.
Other books depicting city/rural settings, seasons, and/or the life cycle of a frog:
Brett, Jan. TOWN MOUSE, COUNTRY MOUSE. ISBN 9780698119864
dePaola, Tomie. FOUR STORIES FOR FOUR SEASONS. ISBN 9780671886332
Gibbons, Gale. FROGS. ISBN 9780823411344
Wiles, Deborah. 2010. COUNTDOWN. New York. Scholastic. ISBN 9780545106054 [Suggested Grade Levels 5-8]
Wiles focuses her story on 1962’s Cuban Missile Crisis which is a very tense time for Franny’s family since her father is in the Air Force and they live close to Andrew’s Air Force Base. Family and friends practice for nuclear disaster and fear is familiar. Franny is eleven and her world is rapidly changing. Her sister has secrets that she doesn’t understand, her mother is very tense-- smoking cigarettes every chance she gets, her great uncle is suffering from post traumatic stress syndrome which is horribly embarrassing to her, and her little brother is so frightened that he won’t eat. Enter a long lost friend of hers (who happens to be a boy) and more complications ensue.
Although weighing in at 377 pages, COUNTDOWN is extensively illustrated with black and white photographs, lyrics, and quotations that immediately pull readers into the sixties. The book design is remarkable: the jacket cover has a raised tactile representation of a 45 r.p.m. single record. Too bad librarians will have to put a book jacket on this gem. The end pages are also textured with vertical stripes, tone on tone black. Welcome back to the sixties! Even though it is a hefty tome, readers are going to be fascinated with the “documentary” evidence as well as Franny Chapman’s engaging story. This is the first book in a proposed three-volume set about the sixties.
Invite students to use a digital storytelling tool to recreate the decade using pictures and memorabilia of the sixties.
Other books by the same author:
EACH LITTLE BIRD THAT SINGS. ISBN 0-15-205113-9
By Cay Geisler
Werlin, Nancy. 2010. EXTRAORDINARY. New York: Dial. ISBN 9780803733725 [Suggested Grade Levels 8-12]
When Phoebe Rothschild meets Mallory Tolliver in seventh grade, she little knows that she has been tapped to save the fairy world and the dying faerie queen. When the girls are juniors, Mallory introduces Phoebe to her older brother Ryland, also a fey, who has deadly plans for the unsuspecting Phoebe. Ryland plans to seduce the girl, but Phoebe despite being bound by magic is able to thwart his plans and save herself. The crux of the story, though, is the deep friendship between the two girls and Mallory’s reluctance to sacrifice the friend who has been so important in her life, the friend who has wealth and beauty and has always been loyal to Mallory with her unconventional family who has little money.
The numbered conversations between Mallory and the Faerie Queen move the plot along and give explanation to what is really going on, but the real story is that of the friendship between the two girls. Werlin has taken the common theme of fairies and made it into an “extraordinary” story. While there are some flaws in the writing, especially the ending, which drags on a little overlong, all in all, this is an unexpected pleasure in this genre.
This is a great book to booktalk and to use with teen reading groups. This is also a good book for those who are not necessarily lovers of fantasy.
Other novels incorporating fairy tale elements:
Black, Holly. TITHE: A MODERN FAERIE TALE. ISBN 9780689867040
Black, Jenna. GLIMMERGLASS. ISBN 9780312575939
Stiefvater, Maggie. LAMENT. ISBN 9780738713700
Werlin, Nancy. IMPOSSIBLE. ISBN 9780142414910
By Janet Hilbun
Weisner, David. 2010. ART & MAX. New York: Clarion. ISBN 9780618756636 [Suggested Grade Levels K-4]
The use of color explodes in this delightful tale of two lizards who explore the creative process, one who knows just what he wants to paint while the other is at a loss. Arthur is quietly confident in his artistic expression as he paints a staid portrait. Yet, when Max bursts upon the quiet scene, chaos reigns as Max seeks to create his own painting. Following Arthur’s advice to paint him, Max does just that, literally. When Arthur explodes in a flurry of painted scales, Max vacuums up the mess then sprays the paint back onto Arthur, creating a pointillist lizard that is no longer staid. It is at the end of the story that the young reader realizes that both Max and Arthur have begun experimenting and stepping outside of self-imposed artistic boundaries.
Children will delight in this beautiful work by Weisner, finding a beauty in both the storyline and artwork. The self-imposed difficulties that are often associated with the creative process are laid to rest through the hilarious antics of these two lizards who explore and take delight in their discoveries. The minimal text aptly supports a story told through the detailed panels of events, a story that will appeal to the visual learner in all young readers and adults.
This book lends itself well to the discussion of artistic expression and styles. It would also prove useful as a tool to introduce biographies of famous artists, such as Georges Seurat and Paul Signac who exemplified the pointillist method of painting.
Other books about the exploration of the art process:
Thomson, Bill. CHALK. ISBN 978-0761455264
McDonnell, Patrick. ART. ISBN 978-0316114912
By Christine J. Rayl
Weinstock, Robert. 2010. CAN YOU DIG IT? New York: Hyperion. ISBN 9781423122081 [Suggested Grade Levels PreK-4]
Weinstock’s picture book collection of poems humorously takes readers in reverse chronological order through pre-history to the Permian Period (roughly 250 million years ago). Within the broad theme of pre-history, Weinstock amusingly addresses subjects of interest to children such as school, snacks, tag, and even the taboo subject of poop. This collection of 21 poems, each accompanied by colorful and equally comical cartoon illustrations, will delight young children: both dinosaur fans as well as those not so familiar with primitive life forms. As a read-aloud this collection will provide opportunities to address unique and attention-grabbing vocabulary such as “ballyhoo,” “drub,” “gawking,” and “berserk.”
Read these poems aloud sharing the artwork and discussing the unique vocabulary. Discuss the importance of word choice in writing and brainstorm other exciting and less common words. Encourage children to write their own poems, either humorous or heartfelt, incorporating interesting words.
Other books about dinosaurs:
Aliki. FOSSILS TELL OF LONG AGO. ISBN 9780064450935
Barton, Brian. DINOSAURS, DINOSAURS. ISBN 9780064432986
Yolen, Jane. HOW DO DINOSAURS SAY GOODNIGHT? ISBN 9780590316811
Strickland, Paul and Henrietta. DINOSAURS ROAR. ISBN 9780140568080
By Maria Cahill
Voake, Steve. 2010. INSECT DETECTIVE. Ill. by Charlotte Voake. Cambridge: Candlewick. ISBN 9780763644475 [Suggested Grade Levels K- 3]
In this simple picture book, Steve Voake reveals the world of insects in a way young children can easily understand. The casual yet knowledgeable voice is accessible and inviting. Individual facts scattered around the pages add bits of information that correlate to the insects and their world. Interesting facts about the specific insects are mixed with suggestions for listening to, looking for, and observing these creatures. The book differentiates insects from other arthropods in a brief explanation and suggests ways that children can look for all of them in their neighborhoods.
Pen and ink outlines emphasize the washes of soft watercolors and lovely spot art highlights the facts throughout the book. The soft colors and chatty voice of the book present the information in a friendly, quiet style. The world of insects is just waiting at the door and kids can learn more about insects by using the suggestions on the final spread, so that they can be insect detectives, too.
Read and discuss the activities on the final spread. Choose one of them to carry out. Create a space outside and make a place for insects to collect. Observe the insects and arthropods that show up and use the experience to write about their observations or create a story.
Other books for children about insects and appreciating them:
Eisner, Thomas. FOR LOVE OF INSECTS. ISBN 9780674018273
Johnson, Jinny. SIMON & SCHUSTER CHILDREN’S GUIDE TO INSECTS AND SPIDERS. ISBN 9780689811630
Naskrecki, Piotr. THE SMALLER MAJORITY. ISBN 9780674025622
By Shirley S. Duke
Vande Velde, Vivian. 2010. CLOAKED IN RED. Tarrytown, NY: Marshall Cavendish. ISBN 9780761457930 [Suggested Grade Levels 6-12]
Vivian Vande Velde wonders why stories about Little Red Riding Hood are so popular with children. She claims the classic fairy tale is lacking in the accepted elements of good storytelling including character development, detailed setting, interesting plot, and relevant theme. The author feels “‘Little Red Riding Hood’ is a strange and disturbing story that should probably not be shared with children. And then adds, “That is why I’ve gone ahead and written eight new versions of it.”
Vande Velde’s eight variations attempt to address problems in the original story such as Little Red’s inability to recognize a wolf pretending to be her grandmother, why her parents allow her to travel through wolf-infested woods alone, and how a mysterious character happens to come along just in time to rescue the little girl and her grandmother. Each retelling presents a different plot and theme complete with more developed characters that renders the tale more plausible than the original. Stories range from a shy teen embarrassed to be seen in public to an animated doll with stuffing for brains to explaining how Little Red ends up in such a precarious situation. Fans of fractured fairy tales will enjoy this humorous collection.
Readers will enjoy rewriting their favorite fairy tales to include more detailed story elements. Using CLOAKED IN RED as an example, children and teens may choose another tale to extend.
Other fairy tale retellings by Vivian Vande Velde:
THE RUMPELSTILTSKIN PROBLEM. ISBN 9780618055234
TALES FROM THE BROTHERS GRIMM AND THE SISTERS WEIRD. ISBN 9780152055721
By Kimberly C. Kinnaird
Vanderpool, Clare. 2010. MOON OVER MANIFEST. New York: Random House. ISBN 0385738838 [Suggest Grade Levels 5-8]
Abilene has heard stories about Manifest, Kansas, for many years now. It’s the town where her father grew up. But now that her father has sent her there for the foreseeable future, Abilene is finding one mystery after another to solve. How much does she really know about her father? How much does she really know about the town? She’s always believed that home can’t be found on a map, but is that true? Is Manifest the home she’s been (secretly) craving for years?
Rich in quirky characters, rich in historical mystery, MOON OVER MANIFEST is a wonderfully charming novel. Through stories, letters, and newspaper articles, a young girl pieces together a part of her past—and the town’s past. Alternately set during the Depression and World War I, it’s quite a coming-of-age story.
Discuss how secrets and stories shape the characters in MOON OVER MANIFEST. Which story do you think is the most difficult for Abilene to hear?
Children can choose a scene from the novel to dramatize or create a video book trailer for the novel.
Invite children to interview a grandparent (or great-aunt, great-uncle, aunt, uncle. etc.) to learn a few stories about their own parents.
Other historical novels set during World War I:
Frost, Helen. CROSSING STONES. ISBN 0374316538
Levine, Kristin. BEST BAD LUCK I EVER HAD. ISBN 0142416487
Moss, Jenny. WINNIE’S WAR. ISBN 0802798195
Other historical novels set during the Depression:
Banks, Sara. THE EVERLASTING NOW. ISBN 1561455253
Peck, Richard. A LONG WAY FROM CHICAGO. ISBN 0142401102
Peck, Richard. A YEAR DOWN YONDER. ISBN 0142300705
By Becky Laney
Vail, Rachel. 2010. JUSTIN CASE: SCHOOL, DROOL, AND OTHER DAILY DISASTERS. Ill. by Matthew Cordell. New York: Macmillan. ISBN 9780312532901 [Suggested Grade Levels 2-5]
Readers in the primary grades will empathize with this delightful character and his day-to-day struggles while in the third grade. The format is unique and easy to read, told in a daily diary format beginning shortly before school starts and ending the day after school lets out. Each day builds on life seen through the eyes of the main character, Justin Krzeszewski. He is a warm and lovable character with real flaws, worries, and concerns. Both boys and girls alike will enjoy this glimpse into his world.
Matthew Cordell’s illustrations are drawn in black and white and scattered throughout the book. Each one has details that are fun to scrutinize and place within the storyline. They greatly complement what is happening, matching the tone and giving appeal to the story.
Readers will love discussing Justin’s fears, analyzing whether they are justified or not. This can lead to a discussion of bad days and embarrassing moments at school versus good happenings. A fun activity would be for readers to create their own journals of “school, drool, and other daily disasters.”
Other books written from the viewpoint of elementary age characters, with all the humor and worries involved:
Kinney, Jeff. 2007. DIARY OF A WIMPY KID. (Series) ISBN 9780810993136
Kline, Suzy. 2010. HORRIBLE HARRY MOVES UP TO THIRD GRADE. ISBN 9780140389722
Musgrove, Marianne. 2009. THE WORRY TREE. ISBN 9780805087918
Peirce, Lincoln. 2010. BIG NATE: IN A CLASS BY HIMSELF. (Series) ISBN 9780061944345
By Kaye E. Bray
Tomlinson, Heather. 2010. TOADS AND DIAMONDS. New York: Henry Holt. ISBN 9780805089684 [Suggested Grade Levels 8-12]
The richness of India’s pre-colonial culture is elaborately developed in Tomlinson’s retelling of Perrault’s “Diamonds and Toads.” Two sisters find their lives drastically changed by the gifts endowed upon them by the goddess Naghali-Ji. Tana who is often rude and jealous of her stepsister is gifted with speaking serpents and toads, whereas Diribani who is gentle and caring is gifted with speaking jewels and flowers. The sisters’ lives take two very different courses as Tana suffers poverty and danger while Diribani lives under royal protection quite similar to imprisonment. Ultimately, it is Tana who saves the land and people with her serpents and toads, while Diribani is able to bring financial comfort to the lives of the common people with her jewels.
The well-realized setting and the cultural richness of old India provide a strong foundation for the adventures that take place in this retelling. The continual action and events hold the reader and support the unique setting and motifs from a time long ago. Throughout this lavish novel, Tomlinson creates a strong bond of love between the two sisters that melds their different lives together that ultimately brings the story to its superb finale.
This novel is an excellent inclusion in a study of fairy tales and their retellings within cultures and the centuries. It is also an excellent character study as well as an opportunity to find similarities with today’s young teenagers.
Other books that retell a fairy tale:
McKinley, Robin. BEAUTY: A RETELLING OF THE STORY OF BEAUY AND THE BEAST. ISBN 9780060241490
Shulman, Polly. THE GRIMM LEGACY. ISBN 9780399250965
By Christine J. Rayl
Tolman, Marije & Ronald. 2010. THE TREE HOUSE. Honesdale, PA: Boyds Mills Press. ISBN 9781590788066 [Suggested Grade Levels PreK-6]
Polar Bear and Bear separately discover a delightful tree house in the middle of an ocean. While there, the two bears become friends and bask in the serene atmosphere. The bears read books, play party hosts to a menagerie, and daydream. Bear even spends time fishing for snowflakes. Young children and older readers alike will revel in the beauty and wonder of the paradise imagined in this wordless picture book.
By definition, a wordless picture book conveys the entire story through pictures, thus, it can be accessed by readers and non-readers alike regardless of spoken language. For beginning readers and English language learners, invite the children to use THE TREE HOUSE to tell their own stories which they can then transcribe with or without teacher assistance. Encourage the children to use their own written stories as beginning reading texts to support further reading and/or language development. Use THE TREE HOUSE with older readers as a prompt for their own imaginative stories in words and/or pictures.
Other wordless picture books:
Briggs, Raymond. THE SNOWMAN ISBN 9780394839738
Lehman, Barbara. THE RED BOOK ISBN 9780618428588
Pinkney, Jerry. THE LION AND THE MOUSE ISBN 9780316013567
Wiesner, David FLOTSAM ISBN 9780618194575
By Maria Cahill
TenNapel, Doug. 2010. GHOSTOPOLIS. New York: Scholastic. ISBN 9780545210270 [Suggested Grade Levels 7-12]
Frank Gallows is a ghost wrangler, a special agent whose job is to capture rogue ghosts roaming the earth and zap them back to their proper world-- Ghostopolis. During an ill-fated chase with a horse ghost, Frank accidentally blasts a terminally ill boy, Garth Hale, back to Ghostopolis along with the horse. Feeling guilty about this latest mistake, Frank vows to enter the after-life, retrieve Garth, and return him to his anxious mother. Frank, along with his ghost ex-girlfriend, arrives in Ghostopolis to find Garth being pursued by the evil ruler who is threatened by Garth’s abnormal powers. Garth finds a friend in his deceased grandfather who helps Garth and simultaneously “grows” his own soul. Readers will find themselves rooting for many characters beyond Garth and Frank throughout this adventure.
TenNapel’s colorful and detailed cartoons make this graphic novel appealing to fans of the format. The strong plot and interesting characters provide a depth that will entice adventure-lovers, and ghost-story enthusiasts will appreciate the depictions of the dead. A forth-coming movie by the same name is sure to further enhance the book’s popularity.
Graphic novel devotees appreciate the art of a work as much or more than the text. Analyze with readers TenNapel’s use of shadows and color in this book. In what ways do his artistic choices enhance this atypical ghost story?
Other graphic novel adventures:
Kibuishi, Kazu. THE STONEKEEPER (AMULET series.) ISBN 9780545208857
Naifeh, Ted. COURTNEY CRUMRIN AND THE NIGHT THINGS. ISBN 9781929998609
By Rebecca S. McKee
Stork, Francisco X. 2010. LAST SUMMER OF THE DEATH WARRIORS. New York: Scholastic. ISBN 9780545151337 [Suggested Grade Levels 9-12]
When Pancho’s mentally disabled sister Rosa dies of an allergic reaction to alcohol in a motel room with her married boyfriend, Pancho is out for revenge and wants to kill the guy. Since both of his parents are dead, he is sent to a home for boys where he meets D.Q. who has cancer and his own issues with his mother who wants him to undergo chemotherapy that has some very severe side effects. D.Q. is also writing a “Death Warrior Manifesto” with the philosophy that you only live when you love. When Pancho is sent to care for D.Q. while he is in a facility at the hospital, he is given a chance to meet the man who gave Rosa the alcohol and meet D.Q.’s mother and girlfriend. Both boys are forced to make decisions about their issues and their futures in this well-written coming of age novel.
This richly layered story lacks action, but provides a compelling story as it addresses the difficult subjects of death, revenge, friendship, and love. Both Pancho and D.Q. find peace with themselves, but often at a cost. Stork’s superb writing and finely drawn characters makes this a book to read and reread.
This is one of those books that lends itself to deep discussion in both the classroom and book discussion groups.
Other novels about teens struggling with difficult issues:
Avasti, Swati. SPLIT. ISBN 9780375863400
Saenz, Benjamin Alire. LAST NIGHT I SANG TO THE MONSTER. ISBN 9781933693583
Shusterman, Neil. BRUISER. ISBN 9780061134081
Stork, Francisco X. MARCELO IN THE REAL WORLD. ISBN 9780545056908
By Janet Hilbun
Stead, Philip C. 2010. A SICK DAY FOR AMOS MCGEE. Ill. by Erin Stead. New York: Roaring Brook. ISBN 9781596434028 [Suggested Grade Levels K-3]
Amos the elderly zookeeper has a special relationship with several of the animals at the zoo. He plays chess with the elephant, runs races with the tortoise, sits quietly with the shy penguin, helps the rhino with his runny nose, and reads stories to the owl. But when Amos catches a cold and can’t come to the zoo, the animals come to him (on foot, by bus) and keep him company by (what else) playing chess, playing hide and seek (instead of running), napping quietly, handing him a handkerchief, and—or course—reading him a story. Their gentle, if fantastical, friendship is told forthrightly in simple, cyclical text with soft, pencil sketches, woodblock prints, and a spare use of muted color.
This is sure to be a storytime favorite, perfect for reading aloud or simplified readers theater performance. Use simple animal masks or puppets to add visuals. Children can also consider what other activities Amos might do with other animals. For example, he might slide with the snakes, gossip in sign language with the monkeys, etc. Compare this to other picture books about zoo animals and zoo friendships.
Other picture books about the zoo:
Ohara, Zachariah. STOP SNORING, BERNARD. ISBN 978-0805090024
Rose, Debra Lee. BIRTHDAY ZOO. ISBN 978-0807507766
Wilson, Karma. NEVER, EVER SHOUT IN A ZOO. ISBN 978-0316985642
By Sylvia M. Vardell
Springstubb, Tricia. 2010. WHAT HAPPENED ON FOX STREET. New York: HarperCollins. ISBN 9780061986352 [Suggested Grade Levels 3-6]
Mo Wren loves her street. It has everything a neighborhood should have. You have the woman with the perfect garden, the person who gives you milk and cookies (Italian Pizzelles to boot!) and the house with tons of kids… all of them bad. Everyone on Fox Street knows Mo and her little sister, “Wild Thing,” and they all look out for one another. But changes are starting to happen. Some of the neighbors are getting older and thinking of moving out. A real estate developer is fueling this fire by offering to buy their homes before the city comes and tries to buy them out for expansion. In the middle of all of this, Mo is dealing with memories, both good and bad, of what (really) happened on Fox street and why she hates surprises.
This genuine story of change and growing up hosts a wide and fun cast of characters, from Mo's handsome and irresponsible father, to Da, the ailing grandmother of her best friend. The writing style is eloquent and descriptive. When Mo "rabbits" her nose or when Da tells them to "kiss your brain," you are forced into a knowing smile yourself.
WHAT HAPPENED ON FOX STREET is the perfect vehicle to launch a discussion on family, community and change.
For more stories about a young girl coping in a single parent home, young readers can try the “Alice” series, starting with:
Naylor, Phyllis Reynolds. THE AGONY OF ALICE. ISBN 9781439541999
By Marianne Follis
Soup, Dr. Cuthbert. 2010. A WHOLE NOTHER STORY. Ill. by Jeffery Stewart Timmins. New York: Bloomsbury. ISBN 9781599905181 [Suggested Grade Levels 4–7]
A WHOLE NOTHER STORY is reminiscent of Lemony Snicket’s SERIES OF UNFORTUNATE EVENTS except the Cheeseman family unit consists of Mr. Ethan Cheeseman, three “smart, pleasant, witty, attractive, polite, and relatively odor free” children, Pinky their psychic dog, and Steve the snarky sock puppet.
Spies, the government, and other evil organizations are after the Cheeseman family. They are running for their lives to protect the machine that Mr. Cheeseman and his late wife invented that enables you to supposedly time travel. With the tragic loss of his wife, protecting the time machine is even more important. Mr. Cheeseman hopes one day crack to the code to make the machine work. Using the time machine is now the only way for the family to be reunited with Mrs. Cheeseman. Pinky, the family dog, has the unique ability to sense when evil people are on the way, thus giving the family time to flee. With each new move, the children take on new aliases to protect their identities, but the bad guys always catch up with them. The family maintains a good outlook on life and a sense of adventure even with the frequent uprooting of their lives. Dr. Soup also includes “unsolicited advice” throughout the book ranging from tips for safe driving to dealing with triskaidekaphobia.
Discuss what an alias is and why aliases were used in the story. Have students come up with their own aliases.
Other mystery books for children:
Bosch, Pseudonymous. THE NAME OF THIS BOOK IS SECRET. ISBN 9780316113694
Snicket, Lemony. THE COMPLETE WRECK: SERIES OF UNFORTUNATE EVENTS BOOKS 1-13. ISBN 9780061119064
By Jane Jergensen
Singer, Marilyn. 2010. MIRROR, MIRROR: A BOOK OF REVERSIBLE VERSE. Ill. by Josée Masse. New York: Dutton. ISBN 9780525479017 [Suggested Grade Levels 2-6]
This fun, puzzle-like collection of poetry about fairy tales is remarkable because all of its poems are reversos, or poems that can be read down as well as up the page. Each of Singer’s poems takes the voice of one fairy tale character when read one direction, but changes to another character from the same story when read the other way. Small allowances are made for minor changes in punctuation, line breaks, and capitalization. “A beast/can love/beauty./A moist muzzle/can welcome/a rose./A hairy ear/can prize/a nightingale, singing./beneath fur,/look!/A soft heart/stirs,/longing,” is the Beast’s voice when read in that direction, but beautifully transforms to Beauty’s voice when turned around.
Each two-page spread features a bold and bright split image illustration that gives clues as to the identities of the speakers of the reverso on the facing page. While simple enough for young elementary students, the game of unraveling these clever and witty poems will invite readers of all ages to pour over every page of this poetry collection. This book was included on the list of ALSC 2011 Notable Children’s Books.
Read the poems aloud as a group and let children guess which fairy tale character is speaking in each poem. Analyze why-- what are the clues? Have readers create their own reversible verse about any subject they like.
Other recent books that play with fairy tales:
Browne, Anthony. ME AND YOU. ISBN 9780374349080
Cousins, Lucy. YUMMY. ISBN 9780763644741
By Cecily Ponce de Leon
Sidman, Joyce. 2010. UBIQUITOUS: CELEBRATING NATURE’S SURVIVORS. Boston: Houghton Mifflin. ISBN 9780618717194 [Suggested Grade Levels 2-12]
Poetic nonfiction and poetry are combined in a picture book praising the resilience and beauty of life on Earth. Paired pages present thirteen UBIQUITOUS species through a variety of poetic styles perfect for their subjects. The physically threatening shark’s anatomy is described in detail, represented in a concrete poem. “Grass” is tall and thin, replete with the repetition of the single bladed letter “I.” Ants keep the pace, marching along in neat, orderly and uninterrupted lines. The showstopper poem is the run-on-stream-of-consciousness-single-sentence poem about squirrels, “Tail Tale:”
“…as we dash from limb to limb sailing out over the leaves with our parachute tails which by the way also act as umbrella, float, flag, rudder, and the warmest softest, coziest you could ever imagine…”
The accompanying nonfiction text is informative, humorous and lyrical. Sidman describes diatoms as “organisms that drift through the ocean by the billions, like tiny snowflakes.” Additional materials, including a glossary, acknowledgments of sources, author’s notes, and a unique time-line, work together to create a title worthy of recognition.
Using language and form UBIQUITOUS gives a voice to each of these species, presenting them as characters in the grand play of life.
Use UBIQUITOUS across the curriculum bringing poetry into the science classroom or science into an English unit.
Check out more of Joyce Sidman’s beautiful words in these collections of her poems:
DARK EMPEROR AND OTHER POEMS OF THE NIGHT. ISBN 9780547152288
RED SINGS FROM TREETOPS: A YEAR IN COLORS. ISBN 9780547014944
SONG OF THE WATER BOATMAN & OTHER POND POEMS. ISBN 9780618135479
By Marianne Follis
Sidman, Joyce. 2010. DARK EMPEROR AND OTHER POEMS OF THE NIGHT. Boston: Houghton Mifflin. ISBN 9780547152288 [Suggested Grade Levels K-4]
This collection of poems about the forest at night—owls, moths, and porcupines-- is the last in the trio of “ecosystem poetry books” that began with SONG OF THE WATER BOATMAN (pond) and continued with BUTTERFLY EYES (meadow). It also offers a parallel layout with beautiful linoleum prints in a double-page spread for each of 12 poems, alongside an accompanying prose paragraph. This marriage of lyrical poetry, science-focused topics, and beautifully executed art has become a Sidman (and collaborating illustrator) trademark.
Invite kids to discuss the following:
What is an “emperor”? Look at the book’s cover and speculate about the book’s content and the meaning of the word “emperor.” Imagine what happens outside your home when you sleep at night. What animals might be active? What noises might be heard?
Children can work in pairs to create nature poems and prose paragraphs about creatures in their immediate environment. Combine them to create a collaborative book. Illustrate with block prints similar to those in DARK EMPEROR; kids can try simple potato prints or leaf prints.
Other poetry books in Sidman’s eco-trilogy:
Sidman, Joyce. BUTTERFLY EYES AND OTHER SECRECTS OF THE MEADOW. ISBN 9780618563135
Sidman, Joyce. SONG OF THE WATER BOATMAN AND OTHER POND POEMS. ISBN 9780618135479
By Sylvia M. Vardell
Shulman, Polly. 2010. THE GRIMM LEGACY. New York: Putnam. ISBN 9780399250965 [Suggested Grade Levels 6-12]
Magic is available for loan in Polly Shulman’s enchanting novel set in the New-York Circulating Material Repository. Elizabeth is having a difficult time adjusting to her new high school when her social studies teacher offers her a job at a most unusual library. From the moment she walks in the door, Elizabeth feels that there is something odd about the repository. Her suspicions are confirmed when she earns the trust of the librarians and a key to the Grimm Collection, a room filled with magical relics from famous fairy tales. All is not well at the repository, though. Elizabeth and her fellow pages must uncover the secret behind a giant bird stalking the young employees, a missing page, and stolen objects replaced with non-magical duplicates.
Shulman’s novel successfully immerses readers in the magical world of the New-York Circulating Material Repository. The dark stacks, odd behavior of Elizabeth’s co-workers, and often-uncontrollable magical objects create a mysterious mood well-matched to the storyline. Elizabeth and her three newfound friends mature in sometimes surprising, but satisfying, ways through the course of the story. Teens looking for new fantasy stories will enjoy Elizabeth’s tale.
Novels based on fairy tales offer natural writing extension activities. Readers can write fractured or spin-off stories for their favorite fairy tales or create original stories featuring magical fairy tale items in different settings.
Other novels based on fairy tales in more modern settings:
Flinn, Alex. A KISS IN TIME. ISBN 9780060874193
Harrison, Michelle. 13 TREASURES. ISBN 9780316041485
By Kimberly C. Kinnaird
Sedgwick, Marcus. 2010. REVOLVER. New York: Roaring Brook. ISBN 9781596435926 [Suggested Grade Levels 7-12]
When Sig Anderson’s father freezes to death crossing a river that was only partially frozen, Sig remains at their cabin north of the Arctic Circle with his dad’s body while his mother and sister go for help. Sig does not understand his father’s carelessness until a menacing stranger who says he is the father’s ex-partner appears, demanding his share of stolen gold. Not only must Sig deal with the idea that his father might be a thief, but he also must try to save himself and his sister if she returns home too soon.
Set in the Arctic Circle in 1910 with flashbacks to the end of the Klondike Gold Rush, this Printz Honor book is an intriguing historical mystery, survival story, and taut psychological thriller. Factual matter about the history of the revolver interspersed between chapters heightens the mounting tension as the story builds to its chilling climax. Strong characters and excellent scene building in the frozen setting grips the reader from beginning to end. The short chapters make this a great “boy” book for reluctant readers, but the gripping story will appeal to all levels of readers.
Use this novel in American history classes to enhance the study of the Alaskan and California Gold Rushes or for a book discussion group, especially one for boys.
Other books about Alaskan history:
Berton, Pierre. THE KLONDIKE FEVER: THE LIFE AND DEATH OF THE LAST GOLD RUSH. ISBN 9780786713172
Berton, Pierre. STAMPEDE FOR GOLD: THE STORY OF THE KLONDIKE RUSH. ISBN 9781402751219
Cole, Terrence. CROOKED PAST: THE STORY OF A FRONTIER MINING CAMP. ISBN 9780912006536
By Janet Hilbun
Scott, Elizabeth. 2010. GRACE. New York: Penguin. ISBN 0525422064 [Suggested Grade Levels 9-12]
This dystopian thriller is set in the near future and stars Grace, a young woman questioning everything she has ever believed. The novel focuses on Grace’s train ride to freedom, but it’s an emotional journey of the heart. Raised to be a suicide bomber, an Angel, Grace realizes—at the last moment—that she desperately wants to live. But before she can claim a new life—a life where what she wants matters—she must escape her old life—and the people who want her dead. To survive, Grace may have to trust the one person—the one man—she has been taught to hate.
Grace is a compelling—and surprising—novel for young adults. It’s a political thriller that will keep readers turning pages. It asks difficult questions as it examines the ethical dilemmas of terrorism and war.
Discuss the themes of betrayal and trust. How was Grace betrayed by her family? How did she betray her people’s cause? Do you think it was difficult for her to learn to trust?
Choose a scene from the novel to dramatize. Or create a video book trailer for the novel.
Other books for young adults that involve acts of terrorism:
Kass, Pnina Moed. REAL TIME. ISBN 061869174X
Plum-Ucci, Carol. STREAMS OF BABEL. ISBN 0547258739
Rosoff, Meg. HOW I LIVE NOW. ISBN 0553376055
Other dystopian novels for teens:
Bacigalupi, Paolo. SHIP BREAKER. ISBN 0316056219
Bodeen, S.A. THE GARDENER. ISBN 0312370164
Dashner, James. THE MAZE RUNNER. ISBN 0385737955
By Becky Laney
Ritz, Karen. 2010. WINDOWS WITH BIRDS. Honesdale, PA: Boyds Mills Press. ISBN 9781590786567 [Suggested Grade Levels PreK-2]
In this delightful and bittersweet picture book, a brown tabby cat tells all about his beautiful house that had windows with birds and twenty-nine hiding places. Unexpectedly, the cat is moved to a high-rise apartment where he shrinks and hides from the unfamiliar surroundings, showing his displeasure by yowling at night. Slowly, with some coaxing from a young boy, the cat finds familiarity in new windows with birds and new places to hide, and he warms to his new surroundings.
In plain language, and without anthropomorphizing the cat, Ritz takes the reader through the fright, loneliness and trepidation of moving to a new place. Realistic watercolor illustrations show the environment from the cat’s quirky perspective and imbue the cat a personality that makes him immediately recognizable. Children will relate to this story about change and the cat’s reluctant adjustment to his new surroundings. Ritz has created a clear but understated story about dealing with change, made easier by finding continuity in the things and people that remain.
Invite children in storytime to think about a change in their lives and how it made them feel. Older readers can create their own stories about “change” moments and imagine it from the perspective of an animal.
Other recent picture books about dealing with change:
Becker, Bonny. A VISITOR FOR BEAR. ISBN 9780763628079
Willems, Mo. CITY DOG, COUNTRY FROG. ISBN 9781423103004
Woodson, Jacqueline. PECAN PIE BABY. ISBN 9780399239878
By Cecily Ponce de Leon
Reinhardt, Dana. 2010. THE THINGS A BROTHER KNOWS. New York: Random House. ISBN 9780375844553 [Suggested Grade Levels 9-12]
Levi’s older brother Boaz has spent the last the last three years in “some desert country, half a world away.” The Marines say he is fine, but Levi knows he is not—he will not ride in cars, he keeps the radio on static, he will not sleep in a bed or even come out of his room, and he often dives for cover and screams during the night. While his brother has been hailed a hero, Levi sees only a brother who has changed. When Boaz disappears, Levi searches his brother’s computer and discovers maps and cryptic notes, so he sets out to find his brother.
This journey of discovery explores survivor guilt and brotherly affection. Social commentary, coming of age, and a bit of a love story combine to make this a stirring and heartfelt story. Levi and Boaz are both damaged by war, in different and sometimes inexplicable ways, but the bonds of family prove to be stronger than the damage. Reinhardt goes beyond writing a novel about war and instead paints a portrait of survival and love.
Use this novel to connect students with current events and the stories of the struggles of returning soldiers or as a book club choice for boys.
In history classes, pair with books about other wars, especially classics such as Stephen Crane’s THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE to make connections between the past and the present.
Other novels set against the backdrop of war:
Myers, Walter Dean. FALLEN ANGELS. ISBN 9780545055765
Myers, Walter Dean. SUNRISE OVER FALLUJAH. ISBN 9780439916257
O’Brien, Tim. THE THINGS THEY CARRIED. ISBN 9780618706419
Schmidt, Gary D. THE WEDNESDAY WARS. ISBN 9780547237602
By Janet Hilbun
Raczka, Bob. 2010. GUYKU: A Year of Haiku for Boys. Ill. by Peter Reynolds. Boston: Houghton Mifflin. ISBN 9780547240039 [Suggested Grade Levels 2–6]
Bob Raczka takes the traditional elements of haiku: the observation of nature, writing in present tense, and the 5-7-5 syllable pattern, and uses examples of the fun that boys (and girls) can have playing outside with no technology. The reader is taken on a year-long journey through the seasons. Carefree days filled with flying kites, skipping rocks, building snowmen, and playing with friends are recurring themes the reader will find throughout the book. All of the haiku poems are drawn from something that the author or his sons have experienced as boys. In a world of technology, GUYKU reminds us of the fun that can happen outside.
Peter Reynolds’ illustrations complement the poems and his choice of color brings the words to life. He uses a single hue for each season; green for spring, yellow for summer, brown for fall, and blue for winter. Reynolds’ final illustration of the book shows the friends arm in arm with surprises hidden on the page. All the colors of the seasons are included and the boys are wearing 5-7-5 on their shirts! The format of the haiku poem and the simplicity of the illustrations are key ingredients for making this collection a must-read.
Take students outside for inspiration while they write their own haiku poems.
Host a poetry café and invite children to share their own or their favorite poetry.
Visit www.guyhaiku.com for resources and activities.
Other humorous poetry books for boys (and girls):
Clements, Andrew. DOGKU. ISBN 9780689858239
Florian, Douglas. Dinothesaurus: Prehistoric Poems and Paintings. ISBN 9781416979784
Lewis, J. Patrick. THE UNDERWEAR SALESMAN. ISBN 9780689853258
By Jane Jergensen
Potter, Ellen. 2010. KNEEBONE BOY. New York: Macmillan. ISBN 9780312377724 [Suggested Grade Levels 3-6]
The Hardscrabble kids are accustomed to people talking about them. After all, their mother disappeared years ago, and people still believe their father was behind it. When a series of mishaps leaves the children fending for themselves, they end up living in a castle and attempting to discover the mystery behind the real castle's legend of the Kneebone boy.
Told by a narrator who refuses to identify him (or her?) self, the verbal sparring between siblings and dry verbal asides call to mind the narrator from Lemony Snicket. Only better. In the end, the story is more about family and secrets as the children face their own tragic past and grow in the process. One of the best lines of the book: "All great adventures have moments that are really crap."
KNEEBONE BOY’s unique narrative voice lends itself well to reading aloud. Have listeners pay attention for clues to discover which of the Hardscrabble kids is telling the tale.
Children who like the narrative style of KNEEBONE BOY, may enjoy the narrators of these as well:
Snicket, Lemony. THE SERIES OF UNFORTUANTE EVENTS: THE BAD BEGINNING. ISBN 9780064407663
Wood, Maryrose. THE INCORIGIBLE CHILDREN OF ASHTON PLACE: THE MYSTERIOUS HOWLING. ISBN 9780061791055
Gidwitz, Adam. A TALE DARK AND GRIMM. ISBN 9780525423348
By Marianne Follis
Portis, Antoinette. 2010. KINDERGARTEN DIARY. New York. HarperCollins. ISBN 9780061456916 [Suggested Grade Levels PreK-K]
Annalina is the hero of this spot-on diary of the first month of school. Although afraid to begin Kindergarten, Annalina (quickly shortened to Anna because of the length of her name) before long reassures readers that “We are fine.” She makes friends, learns to share, and playfully uses her imagination. She faces her fears of big boys and an unknown teacher and confidently carries on. Her voice rings true with short sentences and short diary entries. This is the perfect story for anxious youngsters.
The genius, as with all of Portis’ books, is her art. Using mixed media on top of lined writing paper, she succinctly conveys the meaning of the story Her cartoon characters clearly express their emotions and actions. Mid-month, Anna reports that David M. says he’s “the best big-red-ball hitter in the whole world. We played at recess. / I beat him three times in a row. / David M. won’t play big-red ball with me anymore.” The illustration shows David M’s dismay and Anna’s determined fist hitting the ball. Children will understand the underlying meaning without much difficulty. By the end of the book, Anna is “too busy to write any more.” But we wish she would.
Encourage children to keep a diary of a particular month in the school year. The entries can be about anything they want to write about. Provide textured papers and crayons to create the illustrations.
Other books by the same author:
NOT A BOX. ISBN 9780061123221
A PENGUIN STORY. ISBN 9780061456886
By Cay Geisler
Paulsen, Gary. 2010. WOODS RUNNER. New York: Random House. ISBN 9780375859083 [Suggested Grade Levels 6–12]
Paulsen creates another authentic historical tale, this time set during the American Revolutionary period. The protagonist, thirteen-year-old Sam, is most comfortable in the woods outside his frontier home and adept at hunting and tracking, skills that will become even more useful when he finds his home burned to the ground and his parents kidnapped and all the neighbors nearby slaughtered. From here, the pace is riveting, with Sam tracking his parents, falling in with Iroquois, avoiding mercenary Hessians, and befriended by unlikely rebels. Unexpected examples of heroism big and small culminate in the rescue of his parents and aligning with a revolutionary movement.
Paulsen offers historical notes interspersed within the narrative, giving the reader a moment to catch one’s breath and adding to a deeper understanding of the greater historical context.
Readers may want to pick up on the factual historical notes Paulsen provides and dig further into the details of the war, the resistance, and the various players (Iroquois, Hessians, etc.) Look up the locations on a map to study the paths each would take (on horseback or on foot) as outlined in the story.
Other historical novels by Gary Paulsen:
NIGHTJOHN. ISBN 9780440219361
SARNY. ISBN 9780440219736
SOLDIER’S HEART. ISBN 9780440228387
By Sylvia M. Vardell
Paschen, Elise and Raccah, Dominique. (Comp.) 2010. POETRY SPEAKS; WHO I AM. Naperville, IL: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky. ISBN 9781402210747 [Suggested Grade Levels 6-12]
The anthology POETRY SPEAKS; WHO I AM is filled with more than 100 remarkable selections for ages 12–14 by a wide variety of poets. From Emily Dickinson to Billy Collins to Lucille Clifton and beyond, this anthology features both classic and contemporary selections and includes an audio CD (be sure to listen to the CD) with poets reading their own work. A journey of discovery through remarkable poets in a graphic teen-friendly format that looks deceptively like a journal of doodlings.
The accompanying CD includes 44 tracks with readings by Langston Hughes, Marilyn Nelson, and more. There are also blank pages in the book for readers to add their own favorite poems-- truly a tween-friendly creation.
Try reading selected poems aloud first, then listening to them read by the poets themselves on the accompanying CD. Discuss differences in delivery and interpretation. Tween and teen readers will also enjoy building their own anthologies of favorite poems, adding graphics and doodles, and making their own audio recordings of solo or choral readings.
Other books with audio CDs featuring poetry for children:
Giovanni, Nikki. HIP HOP SPEAKS TO CHILDREN. ISBN: 9781402210488
Paschen, Elise. POETRY SPEAKS TO CHILDREN. ISBN: 9781402203299
By Sylvia M. Vardell
Parkhurst, Carolyn. 2010. COOKING WITH HENRY AND ELLIEBELLY. Ill. by Dan Yaccarino. New York: Macmillan. ISBN 9780312548483 [Suggested Grade Levels PreK-2]
Hosts Henry and Elliebelly provide a humorous recipe for sibling fun as they work together preparing a pretend cooking show. Young children will ask for second helpings of this hilarious story in which Henry tries to demonstrate the proper technique for creating raspberry-marshmallow-peanut butter waffles with barbecued banana bacon only to be sabotaged by two-year-old Elliebelly. The entire text, written as dialogue, is especially well suited for read-aloud. Yaccarino’s cartoon illustrations creatively depict Henry’s joy and exasperation and Elliebelly’s true spunk.
Invite children to create their own sumptuous recipes like raspberry-marshmallow-peanut butter waffles with barbecued banana bacon. Allow each child to write the recipe for the unique food creation and illustrate an accompanying depiction of the imagined product. Compile all of the recipes into a single book and make copies for all participating children.
Other books about siblings:
Henkes, Kevin. SHEILAH RAE THE BRAVE. ISBN 9781591123262
Khan, Rukhsana. BIG RED LOLLIPOP. ISBN 9780670062874
Lin, Grace. LING & TING: NOT EXACTLY THE SAME. ISBN 9780316024525
Polacco, Patricia. MY ROTTEN REDHEADED OLDER BROTHER. ISBN 9780689820366
Other books about cooking and food:
Carle, Eric PANCAKES, PANCAKES. ISBN 9780689822469
Dr. Seuss. GREEN EGGS AND HAM. ISBN 9780394900162
Ehlert, Lois. GROWING VEGETABLE SOUP. ISBN 9780152325800
Katzen, Mollie. PRETEND SOUP AND OTHER REAL RECIPES: A COOKBOOK FOR PRESCHOOLERS AND UP. ISBN 9781883672065
By Maria Cahill
Oliver, Lauren. 2010. BEFORE I FALL. New York: HarperCollins. ISBN 9780061726804 [Suggested Grade Levels 10-12]
Samantha is a popular high school girl with a coveted boyfriend and trendy friends. She and her friends maintain their status level by trouncing on those on the lower rungs. As the story opens, Samantha explains that she has died in a violent crash. As she relates the day’s events before the crash-- Cupid Day rituals at school, her plan for losing her virginity, the despicable jokes she and her friends play on others-- readers may think, “Good riddance.”
However, when Samantha awakes to re-live the day again and again, she soon learns that changing one action can alter the course of events. Like the reader, Sam doesn’t understand whether she is really alive or in some kind of limbo between two worlds. Her willingness to change her ways in order to affect a new outcome will earn back the reader’s respect and empathy. The dialogue is realistic and Oliver obviously understands the mindset of high school cliques. Teen girls will especially enjoy re-living the same day, anticipating what changes will occur. Some may be dissatisfied with the ending, but the outcome is certain to invoke thought-provoking conversation.
Samantha discovers that changing one event can alter the future. Invite readers to write about a day when they did something bad. Given the opportunity to correct that action, how might subsequent events have changed? Present a situation that requires one to make a split-second decision. Ask readers to create a flow-chart depicting a cause-effect sequence based upon a single decision or action.
Other books with narration by a deceased character:
Sebold, Alice. THE LOVELY BONES. ISBN 9780316666343
Woodson, Jacqueline. BEHIND YOU. ISBN 9780399239885
Zevin, Gabrielle. ELSEWHERE. ISBN 9780374320911
By Rebecca S. McKee
Nolan, Han. 2010. CRAZY. New York: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. ISBN 9780152051099 [Suggested Grade Levels 8-12]
Jason believes he has managed to keep his life a secret. His mother has died and his father has once again succumbed to mental illness. With no money, no food, and no family, it is up to Jason be the provider. For support, he relies on a group of imaginary friends for guidance and companionship, preferring them to reality. Yet, sudden vocal impulses at school place him in mandatory group therapy with three other students coping with life issues. Jason maintains a distance, protecting his father and their life, yet it isn’t until his father disappears that Jason calls on others for help and they see firsthand his life of hunger and poverty. When Social Services step in, Jason begins to realize that he need not be responsible for everything other than himself. More importantly, he realizes what true friends are and the imaginary friends slowly disappear.
The emotional turmoil and conflict that take place in this novel will elicit thoughtful contemplation from readers. The emotional isolation of Jason is strongly realistic and will resonate with today’s young adults. The smooth writing is initially heavily interspersed with the dialogue among the imaginary friends. These dialogues are unique and appealing providing humor and other perspectives on Jason’s struggles. Yet the characters slowly fade away as Jason becomes settled both physically and mentally.
The issues developed in this novel and related books support classroom discussion on numerous issues relevant to young adults: personal responsibility, reliance on others, role of child versus adult, caring for others, and more.
Other books for teens about emotional growth:
Wesselhoeft, Conrad. ADIOS, NIRVANA. ISBN 9780547368955
Barnes, John. TALES OF THE MADMAN UNDERGROUND ISBN 9780670060818
By Christine J. Rayl
Mora, Pat. 2010. DIZZY IN YOUR EYES; POEMS ABOUT LOVE. New York: Knopf. ISBN 9780375843754 [Suggested Grade Levels 7-12]
The inter-generational points of view provide a powerful frame for the topic of love for young readers—and readers of all ages. There is clearly a youthful point of view and voice, but the poems reference love of parents, friends, family, pets—acknowledging the depth of feeling in many relationships and at many stages of life. (“Old Love” about an uncle’s mourning his wife’s passing is especially beautiful and poignant.) Plus, it’s chock full of many poetic forms (clerihew, tercet, list, dialogue, blank verse, tanka, letter poem, pantoum, sestina, villanelle, sonnet, cinquain, anaphora, haiku, acrostic, triolet, blues, couplet, lyric, ode, and song, with brief notes on each form) which teachers will enjoy.
Besides the variety of forms and voices, many poems also incorporate Spanish words, always in a clear and musical context that adds another layer of sweetness. “Ode to Teachers” is particularly special to me and appears twice, once in English, once in Spanish.
Kids will enjoy performing many of these poems since the voices and points of view are so strong and varied. “Doubts,” for example, is constructed with a series of questions; try it with a different person reading/reciting each question. You’ll also find great “occasional” poetry-- perfect for Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day; the final poem, “My Song” would be appropriate for graduation.
Other books of love poetry for children and teens:
Fletcher, Ralph. ROOM ENOUGH FOR LOVE. ISBN 9780613057998
Adoff, Arnold. LOVE LETTERS. ISBN 9780590484787
Grimes, Nikki. HOPSCOTCH LOVE: A FAMILY TREASURY OF LOVE POEMS. ISBN 9780439158121
By Sylvia M. Vardell
Montgomery, Sy. 2010. KAKAPO RESCUE: SAVING THE WORLD’S STRANGEST PARROT. Photographs by Nic Bishop. Boston: Houghton Mifflin. ISBN 9780618494170 [Suggested Grade Levels 5-8]
Imagine a flightless parrot that is active only at night when it leaves its underground nest to forage for food on the forest floor. This parrot also weighs around 8 pounds (most parrots weigh less than 1 pound), and happens to smell like honey. These are the kakapos, the endangered birds that author Sy Montgomery traveled to a small New Zealand island to see and learn about. These once prolific birds have been reduced, at present, to fewer than 90 and are closely guarded by a team of scientists trying to save the species from extinction.
Sy Montgomery is one of the best writers of narrative nonfiction for young readers with a compelling voice that is enhanced by her passion and hands-on research. Photographs by wizard Nic Bishop document the pair’s 10-day trip to meet these whimsical birds and capture such moments as the birth of the 87th known kakapo in the world. The result is a captivating account of what scientific fieldwork looks like. Animal fans and young scientists will be drawn to the love and care poured into this book. This is the 2011 Sibert Medal winner for most distinguished informational book for children.
Include this title in a study of endangered species or a lesson on environmental conservation. Have readers devise their own methods of studying and protecting local species they find in their backyard.
Other great titles from the “Scientists in the Field” series:
Jackson, Donna M. EXTREME SCIENTISTS. ISBN 9780618777068
Montgomery, Sy. QUEST FOR THE TREE KANGAROO. ISBN 9780547248929
Turner, Pamela S. THE FROG SCIENTIST. ISBN 9780618717163
By Cecily Ponce de Leon
Milford, Kate. 2010. THE BONESHAKER. New York: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. ISBN 0547241879 [Suggested Grade Levels 6-9]
Strange things can happen at a crossroads as readers learn in Kate Milford’s THE BONESHAKER. Can a young girl, Natalie Minks, with a little help from her friends, save the town of Arcane, Missouri, from a horrible fate? When a traveling medicine show comes to town promising great things—cures for all ailments—many of the town believe. But Natalie and a few others suspect that all is not as it appears. So begins Natalie’s search for the truth—a search that will lead her into danger and great adventure. For Natalie’s adversary is one of man’s oldest: the devil himself.
THE BONESHAKER is historical fantasy at its best. It is rich in quirky characters and atmospheric details. Kate Milford is a gifted storyteller.
Listen to Charlie Daniels’ song “The Devil Went Down to Georgia.” Discuss the images on the book cover. Do you think the cover does the book justice?
Storytelling is important in THE BONESHAKER. How does hearing her mother’s stories prepare Natalie for the adventure ahead? Could Natalie have saved the town without believing in her mother’s stories?
Other books with the devil as adversary:
Gidwitz, Adam. A TALE DARK AND GRIMM. ISBN 0525423346
Napoli, Donna Jo. THE WAGER. ISBN 0805087818
Other fantasy novels:
Bradbury, Ray. SOMETHING WICKED THIS WAY COMES. ISBN 0380977273
By Becky Laney