Friday, July 23, 2010
In the book a Grandfather tells his grandchildren a bedtime story about a make-believe town called Chewandswallow. In this town all the precipitation comes in the form of food! Things are great for awhile until the amount of food gets out of hand and portions begin to get bigger and bigger! Finally in order to survive, the people have to “set sail” for a new land.
In the movie version the town is Swallow Falls, and a young inventor named Flint Lockwood creates a machine which makes food fall from the sky. Eventually, the machine goes haywire and the overabundance of food threatens to destroy the town. With the help of weathergirl, Sam Sparks, Flint manages to disable the machine and save the town.
Although I liked the movie version, I enjoy the original account of the story which is told in the book. The movie is solid, with a somewhat complex plot that older kids would enjoy.
The Pura Belpre Award was created in 1996, and is presented to a Latino/Latina writer and illustrator whose work best depicts, affirms, and celebrates the Latino cultural experience in an exceptional work of literature for children and youth. It has been given every other year since 1996; however, the award began being presented annually in 2009. The award is named in honor of Pura Belpre the first Latina librarian from the New York Public Library.
The Batchelder Award is a citation awarded to an American publisher for a children's book considered to be the most outstanding of those books originally published in a foreign language in a foreign country, and subsequently translated into English and published in the United States. The award is named in honor of Mildred L. Batchelder, former director of the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC).
This book, first published in England, is an awesome story to introduce young readers to the continent of Africa, its climate and weather, and all the other fascinating facts about this part of the world. I liked everything about this book and can understand why the author has continued to write more titles in this popular children’s series. Atinuke is also the author of Hooray for Anna Hibiscus!
I was impressed with how the author dealt with presenting this subject matter to young readers. Slodovnick was able to capture a child’s innocence and natural sense of compassion for those in need. Artist Maron Gauthier’s muted-colored illustrations add warmth and character to this beautiful text. I would recommend The Tooth to be a part of any classroom collection.
I enjoyed the multi-colored artwork which is done in ink-and-watercolor. The text is very child-friendly and children from anywhere in the world can identify with this book. I also liked the fact that the pages contained maps so that the reader could check the family’s progress. Based loosely on the author’s own personal travels, this brilliantly illustrated book presents a lovely and booming introduction to Australia. I highly recommend it!
I have always loved the children’s book with its creative tale and colorful illustrations, and I use it to teach an art lesson each year. However, I did not care for the movie. In both the book and the film, there was the boy, Max in his wolf suit, who travels to an island where the “wild things” make him their king. But, this is where the similarities end.
The book is warm, funny, and entertaining. It is a sweet tale of an imaginative little boy who playfully misbehaves and is sent to his room without supper. There he pretends to travel to an island and have a rumpus with the wild things! Once his pretending is done, he is back safe in his bedroom where his supper is waiting for him.
The movie has a much darker side. Max is sent to his room after being excessively rough with the dog, throwing a tantrum and biting his mother! The film version of Max’s time on the island is filled with arguing, fighting, and other forms of physical violence. The different wild things are pitted against one another from time to time, and at one point, one of the characters threatens to eat Max.
Overall, I feel that the book is a wonderful children’s story, but the film version is disappointing and not worthy of the book.
In my opinion this was not the case with Horton Hears a Who! written by Dr. Seuss. Both the book and the movie were very similar. Each of the plots revolves around a speck of dust discovered by an elephant named Horton. On the tiny speck there is the microscopic town of Who-ville along with its miniscule inhabitants. Horton is the only one who can hear the voices of the people of Who-ville, and while he desperately tries to keep the speck safe, his fellow jungle friends think he’s nuts!
Generally speaking the movie was very much like the book with regard to the plot. There were a few differences; in the movie several new characters were introduced and advances in technology, such as computers and “Who Space” were evident in the film version. I enjoyed the book and the film. I would recommend both to young readers and movie-goers alike.
I take great pleasure in reading any book which chronicles this particular time period in American history; Ellen Levine’s book did not disappoint me! Henry’s Freedom Box: A True Story from the Underground Railroad is based on the real life experiences of Henry “Box” Brown. Henry was a slave who mailed himself in a box to the North to obtain his freedom. He got his nickname, “box”, because of his extraordinary journey to be free.
As a young boy, Henry was sold and separated from his mother. His new owner had a tobacco factory where Henry worked. As the story goes, Henry eventually married and had a family, but once again, the auction block intervened and he was stripped of his family for the second time in his life.
I feel that this book would be an excellent addition to any classroom collection and/or school media center. Through this book, young readers can learn about slavery along with its hardships and uncertainties, as well as courage, tenacity, and resourcefulness in the face of adversity.
In Henry’s Freedom Box, author, Ellen Levine, has exquisitely used the written word to describe an imaginative man with an unbelievable story. Adding to this, Kadir Nelson’s stunning illustrations help the reader to feel Henry’s experiences. I would recommend this book as an appropriate instructional tool for upper grade (intermediate) students.
Ellen Levine is also the author of Freedom’s Children.
Kadir Nelson is also the illustrator of Ellington Was Not a Street.
In the story, Daniel and his mother look out their window one evening and see looters on the street and far away flames. Daniel desperately holds onto his cat, Jasmine. Some time later, when it’s apparent that they need to flee their apartment, Daniel realizes that Jasmine is missing. Mrs. Kim, their neighbor, whom they do not know very well, has a cat that is missing, too. As the apartment building and the surrounding businesses are vacated, the cats must be left behind. But, Daniel does not believe that the cats are together because they don’t usually get along. Eventually, however, both cats are found hiding in the same place by one of the firemen.
I feel that this book would be an invaluable addition to any school’s media center. The simplicity of the text provides an excellent catalyst for opening discussion with young children regarding others who are “not of their own people”.
Eve Bunting is the author of over 200 titles. Her writing examines critical social issues with sensitivity and understanding. She has succeeded to include diversity in much of her work. Every title she’s written focuses on a different issue. Some of her other books include Night Tree, Summer Wheels, Fly Away Home, How Many Days to America?, and One Green Apple.
I enjoyed this book and can appreciate the author’s desire to document forgotten events and enlighten future generations regarding the ignorant injustices inflicted on Japanese-Americans during World War II. Many of Uchida's books are about Japanese children; however only Journey Home and Journey to Topaz relate the wartime experiences of Japanese-Americans.
Uchida’s book fills a huge need to chronicle the brutal and shameful treatment wreaked upon Japanese-Americans during World War II. Journey Home is a rich and genuine story that presents an insightful peek into a heartbreaking period in our country’s history. Yuki, her family, and her friends will linger in the reader’s mind as very likeable and spirited people. Yoshiko Uchida is the author of numerous books. Other titles written by her include Desert Exile, Journey to Topaz, Picture Bride, A Jar of Dreams, and The Bracelet.
The visit is wonderful except for the occasional teasing from Cousin Jack about how “citified” she is!
This tender and charming tale is more of a nostalgic journey than a story with a plot; an account of family, days gone by, and the most important things in life. Artist Jerry Pinkney’s artwork, accomplished by using pencil, colored pencils, and watercolors balance this description of a young African-American girl’s adventure in years past.
I enjoyed this book because of its reminiscent nature and its reminders of a simpler time. The artwork is beautiful, done with the same artistic expertise readers have come to expect from Mr. Pinkney. Gloria Jean Pinkney is also the author of Sunday Outing. Other books illustrated by Mr. Pinkney are The Lion and the Mouse, The Ugly Duckling, Noah’s Ark, and Aesop’s Fables.
Thursday, July 22, 2010
Bass Reeves was born a slave circa 1838 in Texas; however he ran away from his master during the Civil War. He then lived with Native Americans in Indian Territory (what is now Oklahoma) until the war was over. Following the war, he established himself in neighboring Arkansas. In 1875 the U.S. government sent Judge Isaac C. Parker to Indian Territory. His job was to bring law and order to the area, and he was directed to hire 200 deputy marshals; one of those was Reeves. During his 32-year tenure as a marshal, Bass Reeves arrested thousands of outlaws and was reported to have captured the notorious Belle Starr!
I liked this book not only because of the time in history it details, but I feel that it is an exceptional read for children because it portrays a man of commendable character despite the many obstacles in his life. Author Nelson depicts Bass Reeves as a man of duty and courage who was honest, hardworking, and had a keen sense of right and wrong. Another feature about this book that I liked was the websites and additional reading resources that were listed at the end. Great for enhancing social studies instruction!
Overall, Bad News for Outlaws: The Remarkable Life of Bass Reeves, Deputy U.S. Marshal is an exciting and historical story that I highly recommend. Other books written by Vaunda Micheaux Nelson include Who Will I Be, Lord?, Possibles, Mayfield Crossing, and Beyond Mayfield.
The Newbery medal is given to the author of the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children. The award has been given since 1922, and it was the first children's literary award in the world. The award was named for John Newbery, an 18th century English publisher of juvenile books. The winner of the award is announced every year in January. In addition to the Newbery medal, extra citations referred to as the Newbery Honor are given to praiseworthy runners-up. To be considered for the Newbery Medal award, a book must be published the previous year in English and in the United States. The author must be a citizen or a resident of the United States. Also, the book must contribute to literature, stand alone, and relate to a child audience. Finally, the book must be judged on its characters, plot, presentation, setting, style, and theme.
Caldecott Medal and Honor Awards
The Caldecott medal is given each year to the artist of the most distinguished children’s American picture book. The award was named for 19th century English illustrator, Randolph Caldecott and was first presented in 1938. In addition to the Caldecott medal, extra citations referred to as the Caldecott Honor are given to exemplary runners-up. To be considered for the Caldecott Medal award, a book must be published in English in the United States during the preceding year, and the artist must be a citizen or resident of the United States. The illustrations must be the artist’s original work, and the book must exhibit admiration for children's understanding, talents, and appreciations. Additionally, the book must meet several artistic requirements.
I consider Elijah of Buxton to be an ideal example of historical fiction; a rare model of literary excellence. Author, Christopher Paul Curtis’, vibrant narrative technique provides insight into the daily lives of slaves, former slaves, and those trying to flee that way of life. The story’s main character is an eleven-year-old boy named Elijah who lives in Buxton, Canada which is near the American/Canadian border. Buxton is an area settled by runaway slaves; however, Elijah is not a slave. In the story, Elijah is the first child in town to be born free. Elijah is a child who is scared of most everything, and the folks in town consider him to be “fra-gile”. However, when a past slave takes money from one of Elijah’s friends, he has an opportunity to become a local hero!
As I read the story, I found that the text had the ability to make the reader experience many emotions. I liked this about the story. The book was reminiscent at times, while the tale was fascinating, heart-stopping, and comical. One of the reasons that I chose this book and enjoyed it so much was that I have always been interested in the particular time period portrayed and the history behind it.
Christopher Paul Curtis has always been a big reader. He says that he became a writer partly because, as a child, he could not “find books about me”. Although I am familiar with some of Curtis’ books, I have not actually read any others written by him; however, after reading Elijah of Buxton, I am looking forward to checking out more of his work. Other titles written by Christopher Paul Curtis include Bud, Not Buddy, The Watsons Go to Birmingham – 1963, Bucking the Sarge, and Mr. Chickee’s Messy Mission.
Saturday, July 17, 2010
I read this book some time ago, and was originally drawn to it when I saw the cover of the book and that Kevin Henkes was the author. I really enjoyed the book and could identify with the main character’s adolescent experiences. Henkes does a great job capturing the feelings of those experiences. Like Martha, I was also very close to one of my grandmothers whom I lost when I was a young child.
Kevin Henkes is an incredible writer capable of producing fantastic and imaginative books for young readers as well as great novels for older children. Other books by Henkes include Chester’s Way, Wemberly Worried, Chrysanthemum, Julius the Baby of the World, Kitten’s First Full Moon, and Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse.
Friday, July 16, 2010
Not only was the story telling outstanding, but the creative approach to the illustrations is genius. I loved the unique concept and great result of layering cartoon drawings over top of actual black and white photographs. I thought this was very appealing to the reader’s eye.
Like his other books, Mr. Willems has succeeded in writing and illustrating another awesome story that preschoolers and early primary children can read, laugh at, and see themselves in. I can’t wait to get back to the library to get a copy of its prequel, Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Tale!
Wednesday, July 14, 2010
Kevin Henke’s story about a kitten who mistakes the full moon for a bowl of milk is delightful. The idea for this book was taken from another of Henkes’ books which contained a line referring to a cat, the moon, and a bowl of milk. The kitten is fearless, curious, swift, and determined in her quest to get the bowl of milk. Unfortunately, the kitten soon becomes soaked, miserable, exhausted, and starved! But once she returns home, there is a bowl of milk waiting for her.
The message of this book for young readers is to always keep trying. The simple text and straightforward illustrations balance each other nicely. The use of repetitive phrases lends itself to responsive read alouds in which listeners can interact with the book.Like many of Henkes’ tales little readers will be able to identify with the kitten and her persistent and mischievous efforts to get to the milk.
What I like about this book is its simplicity both in text and in pictures. Although I am not a “cat person” (I love dogs!), I can still appreciate and enjoy the way that Henkes captures the true, real-life nature of a cat. Although Henkes chose not to name the kitten, he has stated that he “secretly thinks of his heroine as Claire”.
This children’s book demonstrates that a timely lesson can be presented in a small number of pages. The little kitten is another one of Henkes’ courageous characters who children will love.
Monday, July 12, 2010
The horrible events of Tuesday, September 11, 2001 have been commemorated in many, different ways. One such remembrance is the children’s book by Mordicai Gerstein entitled, The Man Who Walked Between the Towers. Gerstein’s tale does not feature the eventual demise of the World Trade Center towers; rather, his story honors a time when one man chose to walk a tightrope stretched between the two grand buildings.
The book tells the story of young Frenchman, Philippe Petit. He is an acrobat who, with some help from his friends, planned and executed a tightrope walk on a wire strung approximately 1,340 feet in the air between the two towers of the World Trade Center. What an amazing (and definitely crazy) feat!
For me this book was extremely interesting. I had not previously read the story and was not aware of Philippe Petit’s “le coup” (as he referred to it). After reading the book, I did some research and found additional information regarding Petit’s life and his story. In 2008, a documentary was made, Man on Wire, which chronicles Petit’s walk high above Manhattan.
Though the book’s text is strong, Gerstein’s amazing illustrations alone could tell the story. The drawings make the reader feel as if he/she is actually high in the sky! Reading the book reminded me of man’s ability to build such magnificent structures, of the inspiring courage of one man, and of mankind’s capacity to inflict chaos and horror on others.
For me and most Americans, reminders of the twin towers and the fact that they no longer exist is usually laden with emotion. However, Gerstein’s book reminds his readers of another morning at the twin towers; a morning filled not with pain and sorrow, but with joy and triumph.
Sunday, July 11, 2010
Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!
Author and illustrator, Mo Willems, hit a homerun with his first children’s book. Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus has a charming true-to-life quality.
The plot of the story is about a wacky pigeon who wants to drive a bus. As the story begins, the bus driver is leaving the bus and asks the reader to watch things until he gets back. But, more importantly, the bus driver reminds the reader to not let the pigeon drive the bus! As soon as the bus driver is out of sight, the scheming pigeon begins his madcap antics to try and convince the reader to let him drive the bus. The pigeon’s hilarious methods of persuasion are typical of many preschoolers. Finally, the pigeon erupts into a full-blown temper tantrum, but the reader doesn’t give in. The bus driver returns, and the pigeon is forced to move on to bigger and better dreams. His next ambition is to drive an eighteen-wheeler!
This book is a favorite among preschool children; however, the story is captivating and funny for kindergarten and first graders as well. The book lends itself to interaction as the young reader can help to decide what happens in the story. I use this story with my first grade students as an introduction for persuasive letter writing activities. After a first read aloud, we discuss the book, and then students use words and their own illustrations of the pigeon to persuade me to let the pigeon drive the bus.
The emotional pigeon’s real-life drama and the book’s unsophisticated illustrations remind me that what may seem to be, at first glance, the simplest or silliest book, may really be the one with most profound message! I highly recommend this book, and be sure to check out the author’s other “pigeon books” which chronicle the pigeon’s other wild adventures.
This is an outstanding adaptation of Hans Christian Andersen’s classic! The illustrations by Jerry Pinkney are extremely detailed and absolutely beautiful. Stunning images from Mr. Pinkney are something that his readers have come to expect. He certainly does not disappoint with this effort. As I was reading, I found myself studying the artwork before turning each page.
The Ugly Duckling is a treasured tale about a swan egg that accidentally rolls into the nest of a duck. When the egg hatches, the “duckling” has a different appearance and is considered unattractive by the other ducks. Unfortunately, from that point on, the little ugly duckling endures abuse from the other ducks, ducklings, and hens in the barnyard. Even the girl who feeds the animals is mean to the ugly duckling. Finally, he leaves the barnyard and for a time lives with wild ducks and geese. However, he is not safe for long because the flocks are plagued by hunters. As the story continues, the ugly duckling finds other temporary homes and continues to suffer various hardships. Finally in the spring, after spending a horrible winter outdoors, he is taken in by a flock of lovely swans. As it turns out, the ugly duckling is not a duck at all, but a beautiful swan himself!
I especially enjoyed the stunning woodland images in this book. I love the outdoors and all the seasons. It was evident from the brilliant artwork that Mr. Pinkney also has a deep appreciation for the marvels of nature. Reading this book reminded me to not only pay attention to the words on the paper, but to also deliberately consider a book’s pictures and the story they tell.
This version of the classic story, The Ugly Duckling, is worthy of inclusion in any elementary classroom collection. Its lessons regarding self-acceptance, hurt and victory, wit and kindness are ageless.