Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Book Trailers

Unwind by Neil Shusterman

video





Graceling by Kristin Cashore
video




The Maze Runner by James Dashner
video

Module 10: Graphic Novels/Censorship Issues

Title:  Maus

Author: Art Spiegelman

Bibliography: Spiegelman, Art. Maus: a Survivor's Tale. New York: Pantheon, 1986. Print.

Summary: Art Spiegelman writes his own story and how he interviews his father on surviving World War II and Nazi concentration camps. 

Reviews: School Library Journal (May 1987)
YA Told with chilling realism in an unusual comic-book format, this is more than a tale of surviving the Holocaust. Spiegelman relates the effect of those events on the survivors' later years and upon the lives of the following generation. Each scene opens at the elder Spiegelman's home in Rego Park, N.Y. Art, who was born after the war, is visiting his father, Vladek, to record his experiences in Nazi-occupied Poland. The Nazis, portrayed as cats, gradually introduce increasingly repressive measures, until the Jews, drawn as mice, are systematically hunted and herded toward the Final Solution. Vladek saves himself and his wife by a combination of luck and wits, all the time enduring the torment of hunted outcast. The other theme of this book is Art's troubled adjustment to life as he, too, bears the burden of his parents' experiences. This is a complex book. It relates events which young adults, as the future architects of society, must confront, and their interest is sure to be caught by the skillful graphics and suspenseful unfolding of the story. Rita G. Keeler, St. John's School , Houston

Impressions: Absolutely loved this story, thought it was different, considering it was a true story where the author illustrated himself as a mouse. The story tells about the author interviewing his father about surviving concentration camps and World War II. I thought this was a great book for older students and adults.

Activities:This would be a good further study for a student to read to learn about personal experiences of World War II and concentration camps.


Title:  Draw Me a Star

Author: Eric Carle

Bibliography: Carle, Eric. Draw Me a Star. New York: Philomel, 1992. Print.

Summary: The illustrator of the book creates a world for a young boy, starting with a star, a sun, tree, world, people, etc. A different turn on the creation of the world. 

Reviews: School Library Journal (October 1992)
K-Gr 4-- A young boy is told (readers are not sure by whom) to ``Draw me a star.'' The star then requests that the boy draw it a sun; the sun asks for a ``lovely tree,'' and throughout his life the boy/man/artist continues to create images that fill the world with beauty. The moon bids the now-elderly artist to draw another star, and as the story ends, the artist travels ``across the night sky'' hand-in-hand with the star. This book will appeal to readers of all ages; its stunning illustrations, spare text, and simple story line make it a good choice for story hour; but older children will also find it uplifting and meaningful. Especially pleasing is a diagram within the story, accompanied by rhyming instructions on how to draw a star: ``Down/ over/ left/ and right/ draw/ a star/ oh so/ bright.'' An inspired book in every sense of the word.-- Eve Larkin, Middleton Public Library , WI


Impressions: As familiar as I am with Eric Carle's other books, I was very disappointed in this one. Having a love for The Hungry Catepillar and Brown Bear, Brown Bear, I was actually surprised at this book and the illustrations. While the story was ok (not as good as Carle's other works), the illustrations of the man and woman were a little too revealing for a children's book.

Activities: A good book for young elementary age (kindergarten) to use as an introductory story on nature and the world. You could also read this book to a group of small children and teach them how to draw stars, perhaps to start a unit on space.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Module 9: Poetry/Short Stories

Title: Comets, Stars, the Moon and Mars

Author: Doug Florian

Bibliography: Florian, Douglas. Comets, Stars, the Moon, and Mars. Orlando, FL: Harcourt, 2007. Print.

Summary: A collection of poems and illustrations about all things space: including a different poem for each planet.

Reviews: School Library Journal (July 1, 2007)
Gr 1-5-Nothing gladdens the heart of believers in good poetry for children more than a new collection by Florian, whose verses and paintings consistently capture the essence of his featured themes. This one literally sings the music of the spheres. Twenty playfully lyrical poems treat topics such as the universe, the individual planets, constellations, and black holes. Each selection is presented on its own spread and adorned with a magical painting done in gouache, collage, and rubber stamps on brown paper. Circles abound in the artwork, and many pages have round cut-outs that lead into the next picture. For example, "the earth" ("Two-thirds water./One-third land./Valleys deep./Mountains grand") is illustrated with a colorful globe decorated with circled collage prints of animals and plants. A smaller orb appears nearby, made from a cut-out circle that reveals part of the illustration for the next selection, "the moon." Some of the paintings incorporate mythological names and images. The pleasing blend of faded shades and brilliant colors, of old-fashioned prints and fanciful sketches, makes the illustrations seem both antique and high-tech. An appended "Galactic Glossary" provides additional information. In both language and artwork, Florian strikes the perfect balance between grandeur and whimsy. Like Myra Cohn Livingston and Leonard Everett Fisher's Space Songs (Holiday House, 1988; o.p.), this book is a work of art worthy of the vastness of its subject.-Kathleen Whalin, York Public Library, ME Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.

Impressions: Considering my three-year-old is on a big space kick right now from watching Wall-E a few too many times, we both enjoyed this book thoroughly. I really liked the poems, and how they were written (spacing and font) while my daughter enjoyed all the different illustrations of the planets and how each page was incorporated into the next.

Activities:This book would be a excellent add-on to a unit on space. After reading the poems and showing the pictures, you could have students draw pictures of space incorporating their own poems into the pictures.


Title: Geektastic: Stories from the Nerd Herd

Author: Holly Black and Cecil Castellucci

Bibliography: Black, Holly, and Cecil Castellucci. Geektastic: Stories from the Nerd Herd. New York: Little, Brown and, 2009. Print.

Summary:  A collection of short stories from famous authors such as Holly Black, Libba Bray, Cassandra Clare, Scott Westerfield (a few of my favorites) about all things geek. 

Reviews: School Library Journal (August 1, 2009)
Gr 9 Up-From Trekkers to science geeks, Buffy fanatics to Dungeon Masters, nerds of all persuasions are sure to find themselves in the pages of this anthology. It contains fun reads such as Black and Castellucci's "Once You're a Jedi, You're a Jedi All the Way" in which a Klingon wakes with a Jedi in her hotel room while at a sci-fi convention, and Tracy Lynn's "One of Us," in which a cheerleader enlists the school nerds to teach her the basics of geekdom so she can impress her Trekker boyfriend. The collection also includes more profound fare such as Kelly Link's moving and masterful "Secret Identity" about a 15-year-old girl who has pretended to be her 32-year-old sister on an online RPG. She must face the consequences of her lies when she arranges to meet the man with whom she has developed a relationship. Also included are stories by YA lit greats such as John Green, Libba Bray, Scott Westerfeld, and M. T. Anderson. Each story is followed by a comic-book-style illustration offering information or advice such as "What Your Instrument Says About You" and "How to Look Cool and Not Drool in Front of Your Favorite Author." Simultaneously addressing the isolation and loneliness that geeks can feel as well as the sense of camaraderie and community that can be found when one embraces a world or ideology in which he or she can completely invest, Geektastic is a completely dorky and utterly worthwhile read.-Heather M. Campbell, formerly at Philip S. Miller Library, Castle Rock, CO Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.

Impressions: I thoroughly enjoyed this book, not only for the fact that it included several of my favorite authors (Cassandra Clare, Libba Bray, Holly Black) but also because the stories were humorous and easy to read. I will admit there were several "not-so-short" short stories, but the comics in between each story were funny as well.

Activities: This book could be displayed as part of a Geek display including graphic novels, science fiction books, and nonfiction books on space, Star Wars, etc. 

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Module 8: Mystery and Series Books

Title: Where is the Big Bad Wolf?

Author: Eileen Christelow

Bibliography: Christelow, Eileen. Where's the Big Bad Wolf? New York: Clarion, 2002. Print.

Summary: Detective Doggedly is after the Big Bad Wolf but instead keeps finding Eleanor the sheep. Eleanor befriends the three little pigs and talks them into building a house of of straw, then out of sticks. But each time the house is blown down, when the detective goes to investigate, all he finds is Eleanor the sheep pulling the pigs to safety.

Reviews: School Library Journal (September 1, 2002)
Gr 1-2-A determined Detective Doggedly pursues the elusive BBW (Big Bad Wolf) in a delicious parody of the traditional tale. Three dim-witted and naive pigs, a wolf with a taste for unusual costuming, and three sharp-eyed residents of the nearby "Home for Elderly Cows" create a mystery worthy of the slightly befuddled detective: who is destroying the pigs' houses, when the wolf is currently hospitalized with mysterious flulike symptoms? Doggedly catches the culprit, but one doubts that this "egg-snatching, pie-pinching, chicken-chasing, pig-poaching" villain is ready to change his habits when released. Christelow's pen-and-ink and gouache cartoons show sticks and straw flying across pages, the not-too-bright protagonist, and a hilarious wolf in sheep's clothing. Characters comment on all the goings-on in dialogue balloons that add to the fun and humor. Pair this book with Jon Scieszka's True Story of the Three Little Pigs (Viking, 1989), another choice for lovers of fractured tales.-Mary Elam, Forman Elementary School, Plano, TX Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.

Impressions: I enjoyed reading this book to my three-year-old who was already pretty familiar with The Three Little Pigs. While she was a little young, and didn't catch all the clues (I had to point out the picture of the wolf climbing back in the window of the hospital), overall she enjoyed the story. I think this would be a great book to read to an elementary school audience.

Activities:Use Where is the Big Bad Wolf? with other books that are a play on fairy tales and then have students write their own version of a famous fairy tale.


Title: The Body of Christopher Creed

Author: Carol Plum-Ucci

Bibliography: Plum-Ucci, Carol. The Body of Christopher Creed. San Diego: Harcourt, 2000. Print.

Summary: When Christopher Creed, the annoying kid that every one grew up with but no one liked, disappears in the middle of the week, the entire town is in shock. Every one wonders why a spoiled kid with super strict parents would run away, or worse. When Victor "Torey" Adams is named in Chris's "suicide" note" he begins to investigate the disappearance.

Reviews:  First-time novelist Plum-Ucci wraps a well-crafted mystery... builds to a fever pitch enar the conclusion, vividly describing Torey's late-night hunt for Chris's body in a nearby Indian burial ground. Readers will likely be enthralled. -Publisher's Weekly

Impressions: This book started out rather slow, what should have normally took me a few days to read, took me about a week just to get through the first hundred pages. After that point the story really picks up and the book is difficult to put down.

Activities: After introducing the novel and reading the first four chapters, students will make guesses on the conclusion of the mystery. Students will analyze the mystery, and use text evidence to find all of the clues that lead to their conclusion.

Module 7: Informational Nonfiction/Biography

Title: What if You Met a Pirate

Author: Jan Adkins

Bibliography: Adkins, Jan. What If You Met a Pirate?: an Historical Voyage of Seafaring Speculation. Brookfield, Ct.: Roaring Brook, 2004. Print.

Summary: Forget the peg legs and walking the plank, this book gives the real story of real pirates in history. Everything from Queen Elizabeth's Seadogs to the real Pirate Blackbeard. This book tells about pirate ships, pirate treasure, and pirate attacks.


Reviews: Booklist starred (October 15, 2004 (Vol. 101, No. 4))
Gr. 3-5. Can it be that walking the plank was a fictional punishment invented by illustrator Howard Pyle? In this appealing book, Adkins gives readers the lowdown on what life under the pirate flag was really like. After setting up the conventional portrait of swaggering, singing sailors in colorful duds, he replaces it with a more realistic picture of hard-working sailors who "might swashbuckle just a few hours each month"and bathed considerably less. Yet this realistic portrayal of pirates and their activities is even more intriguing than the romanticized version he debunks. Adkins strikes just the right note in the text, always informative and frequently entertaining as well. Bright with color washes, the excellent, energetic drawings show pirates engaged in a variety of activities, from pumping out the bilge to braiding each other's hair to using the open-air bathroom at the front of the ship. In a send-up of current book marketing, the back cover carries appreciative comments by the likes of Queen Elizabeth I and Leonardo da Vinci. Where pirate fever runs high this spirited presentation will find an enthusiastic audience. For more titles, see the Read-alikes, "Ship Ahoy!"[BKL S 1 04].

Impressions:Overall, I enjoyed this book. The pictures were great and the information was told in a humorous way, with cute little anecdotes about all things pirate. If I hadn't completed my nonfiction project over this particular book, I never would have realized it; but the author has no qualifications to write about pirates, nor does he mention any consultants in writing the book. Therefore I have to question the validity of the information presented.

Activities: Students will use this book along with several other informational books to create a Power Point over a topic of their own interest. The Power Point will then be "taught" to the class while they take Cornell Notes over the topic.





Title: Starry Messenger


Author: Peter Sis

Bibliography: Sís, Peter, Lilian Rosenstreich, and Robert L. Egolf. Starry Messenger: a Book Depicting the Life of a Famous Scientist, Mathematician, Astronomer, Philosopher, Physicist, Galileo Galilei. New York: Farrar Straus Giroux, 1996. Print.

Summary:This book tells the life story of Galileo Galilei, the famous Italian astronomer. Explores Galileo's idea that the earth was not the center of the universe and the trials he went through to prove it.

Reviews: School Library Journal (October 1996)
Gr 1-6--In Follow the Dream (Knopf, 1991), Sis depicted both the humanity and heroism of Christopher Columbus. In Starry Messenger, Sis turns his considerable talents to another infamous Italian--Galileo Galilei. He layers his telling so that young children or groups may focus on the short version printed in large type at the bottom of each page. Older readers will glean more from the quotes pulled from the astronomer's treatise (the work that inspired this title) and other primary sources, such as Inquisition documents. This second layer is printed in script and presented in a variety of decorative patterns (suggesting ideograms) to distinguish it. The sophisticated details of Sis's watercolor, pen, and rubber-stamp illustrations provide yet another dimension as well as ambiance. A master of symbol, the artist creates scenes that focus on the subject--"a boy born with stars in his eyes"--and shows how he shines against the darker aspects of his time. The aging scientist stands alone in a circle of yellow light, suggesting his identification with the heliocentrism for which he was being condemned, surrounded by a sea of red-clad Cardinals. The text is no less powerful: "He was tried in the Pope's court, and everyone could see that the stars had left his eyes." The pathos, the painstaking copies of Galileo's famous sketches of the heavens, and the attention to current scholarship make this book a fascinating find. Leonard Everett Fisher's Galileo (S & S, 1992) is a useful companion for a more straightforward approach.--Wendy Lukehart, Dauphin County Library, Harrisburg, PA

Impressions: I liked this book because it could be used with a large audience. Each page included a basic text, but also other information including quotes and facts about Galileo that could be further read by an older audience. The illustrations and information were fascinating.

Activities: Students will use this book along with several other biographies to study the lives of an important person in history and then create a scrapbook over their lives.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Module 6: Historical Fiction

Title: Esperanza Rising

Author: Pam Munoz Ryan

Bibliography: Ryan, Pam Muñoz. Esperanza Rising. New York: Scholastic, 2000. Print.

Summary: Esperanza is a rich twelve-year-old who lives in Mexico on her parents' grape plantation. She is used to wearing the finest dresses and being waited on by servants, until one day her father is killed and her house is burnt down. In order to escape a horrible life of being sent off to a private school, Esperanza and her mother must secretly travel to California with a family of their servants. Esperanza gets to America, "the land of opportunity" only to live in a two room shack with no running water, dirty clothes, the same food every day. Esperanza must learn to sweep, take care of babies, and end up packing vegetables with the older women in order to take care of her sick mother and keep what little things they have. 

Reviews: School Library Journal (October 2000)
Gr 6-9-Ryan uses the experiences of her own Mexican grandmother as the basis for this compelling story of immigration and assimilation, not only to a new country but also into a different social class. Esperanza's expectation that her 13th birthday will be celebrated with all the material pleasures and folk elements of her previous years is shattered when her father is murdered by bandits. His powerful stepbrothers then hold her mother as a social and economic hostage, wanting to force her remarriage to one of them, and go so far as to burn down the family home. Esperanza's mother then decides to join the cook and gardener and their son as they move to the United States and work in California's agricultural industry. They embark on a new way of life, away from the uncles, and Esperanza unwillingly enters a world where she is no longer a princess but a worker. Set against the multiethnic, labor-organizing era of the Depression, the story of Esperanza remaking herself is satisfyingly complete, including dire illness and a difficult romance. Except for the evil uncles, all of the characters are rounded, their motives genuine, with class issues honestly portrayed. Easy to booktalk, useful in classroom discussions, and accessible as pleasure reading, this well-written novel belongs in all collections.-Francisca Goldsmith, Berkeley Public Library, CA
Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.

Impressions:This book was always recommended to my ELL students by our school's reading interventionist. I even own a copy in my class library, but never got the chance to read it. I thought the story was interesting, and even more so when I found out that it was actually written about the author's grandmother. Its nice to consider a different point of view.

Activities: Students will write a paper about a time when they have overcome a difficult situation and how their life has benefited because of it.


Title: Al Capone Does My Shirts

Author: Gennifer Choldenko


Bibliography: Choldenko, Gennifer. Al Capone Does My Shirts. New York: Puffin, 2004. Print.

Summary: Matthew "Moose" Flannigan comes to live on Alcatraz Island when his father gets a job as an electrician/guard. He loves to play baseball, but comes to find out that none of the other children on the Island play, and ends up spending most of his time taking care of his "ten year old" sister, Natalie. Natalie has a form of autism, which during this time period is undiagnosed, and most of the story tells of the struggle of her family to adapt to her sickness. Moose is one of the only children on the Island, other than the Warden's daughter, Piper, that leaves the Island to go to school in San Francisco. Piper gets Moose in trouble when she puts together a laundry scheme where the kids at school pay a nickel to have their clothes washed by the convicts on the Island, including Al Capone. Moose tries to stay out of trouble, but its not easy when you live on an island full of convicts.

Reviews: School Library Journal (March 1, 2004)
Gr 6-8-In this appealing novel set in 1935, 12-year-old Moose Flanagan and his family move from Santa Monica to Alcatraz Island where his father gets a job as an electrician at the prison and his mother hopes to send his autistic older sister to a special school in San Francisco. When Natalie is rejected by the school, Moose is unable to play baseball because he must take care of her, and her unorthodox behavior sometimes lands him in hot water. He also comes to grief when he reluctantly goes along with a moneymaking scheme dreamed up by the warden's pretty but troublesome daughter. Family dilemmas are at the center of the story, but history and setting-including plenty of references to the prison's most infamous inmate, mob boss Al Capone-play an important part, too. The Flanagan family is believable in the way each member deals with Natalie and her difficulties, and Moose makes a sympathetic main character. The story, told with humor and skill, will fascinate readers with an interest in what it was like for the children of prison guards and other workers to actually grow up on Alcatraz Island.-Miranda Doyle, San Francisco Public Library Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

Impressions:I enjoyed this book not only for the historical mentions of Al Capone, but also the inside look at autism and how it was perceived in the 1930s. I think students would enjoy reading this and seeing how different life was from this time period to our own.

Activities: Students will write a paper about a real time from their past when they put together a scheme and were caught, or how they got away with it. What were the consequences or benefits of their actions?

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Module 5: Fantasy and Science Fiction

Title: Graceling

Author: Kristin Cashore

Bibliography: Cashore, Kristin. Graceling. Orlando, FL: Harcourt, 2008. Print.

Summary: Katsa is an assassin hired by her uncle, the king and is forced to torture or kill anyone who commits faults against the king. Katsa is special, she is Graced with the ability to kill like no other. However, when Po sneaks into the kingdom in search of his father, instead of killing him, Katsa begins to doubt her king. Together, Katsa and Po form the Council and help others in the fight against the tyrannical king.

Reviews: School Library Journal (October 1, 2008)
Gr 8 Up-In this debut fantasy novel, Cashore treats readers to compelling and eminently likable characters and a story that draws them in from the first paragraph. In Katsa's world, the "Graced," those gifted in a particular way, are marked by eyes that are different colors. Katsa's Grace is that she is a gifted fighter, and, as such, she is virtually invincible. She is in the service of her tyrannical uncle, king of one of the seven kingdoms, and she is forced to torture people for infractions against him. She has secretly formed the Council, which acts in the service of justice and fairness for those who have been accused and abused. Readers meet her as she is rescuing the father of the Lienid king, who has been abducted. The reasons for his capture are part of a tightening plot that Katsa unravels and resolves, with the help of Prince Po, the captive's grandson. He has his own particular Grace, and he becomes Katsa's lover and partner in what becomes a mortally dangerous mission. Cashore's style is exemplary: while each detail helps to paint a picture, the description is always in the service of the story, always helping readers to a greater understanding of what is happening and why. This is gorgeous storytelling: exciting, stirring, and accessible. Fantasy and romance readers will be thrilled.-Sue Giffard, Ethical Culture Fieldston School, New York City Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.

Impressions: I really enjoyed this book and look forward to reading the next in the series, Fire. I love fantasy stories and liked reading about Katsa. I felt that her story could easily be translated into being an outcast, who is different and how she handles it. She keeps people at a distance, but in the end, gets the boy. I felt that they could have left out the sex scenes with Po, it wasn't appropriate for this age group and I don't think the story line would have lost anything if they left it out.

Activities: Students will write a creative paper on having a grace like Katsa in the story. Students will have to explain in detail what the grace is, how it benefits their life as well as how it hinders their life.


Title: The Hunger Games

Author: Suzanne Collins

Bibliography: Collins, Suzanne. The Hunger Games. New York: Scholastic, 2008. Print.

Summary: In a post-apocalyptic society made up of twelve districts, Katniss Everdeen lives in District Twelve, the farthest from the Capitol. Every year, two children from each district are chosen to participate in the Hunger Games, a televised fight-to-the-death competition, where the survivor wins food and prizes for his/her entire district. The year that Katniss's younger sister, Prim, is chosen, Katniss decides to take her place and with the help of Peeta, District Twelve's other competitor, must fight to survive the cruel Hunger Games.

Reviews: School Library Journal (September 1, 2008)
Gr 7 Up-In a not-too-distant future, the United States of America has collapsed, weakened by drought, fire, famine, and war, to be replaced by Panem, a country divided into the Capitol and 12 districts. Each year, two young representatives from each district are selected by lottery to participate in The Hunger Games. Part entertainment, part brutal intimidation of the subjugated districts, the televised games are broadcasted throughout Panem as the 14 participants are forced to eliminate their competitors, literally, with all citizens required to watch. When 16-year-old Katniss's young sister, Prim, is selected as the mining district's female representative, Katniss volunteers to take her place. She and her male counterpart, Peeta, the son of the town baker who seems to have all the fighting skills of a lump of bread dough, will be pitted against bigger, stronger representatives who have trained for this their whole lives. Collins's characters are completely realistic and sympathetic as they form alliances and friendships in the face of overwhelming odds; the plot is tense, dramatic, and engrossing. This book will definitely resonate with the generation raised on reality shows like "Survivor" and "American Gladiator." Book one of a planned trilogy.-Jane Henriksen Baird, Anchorage Public Library, AK Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.

Impressions: This series has been very popular in my school for about the past year and I finally had enough time to sit down and read it. I read all three books in the series in about a week. I loved the story, it was very different from the rest of the fantasy stories out there. While a lot of novels today are about dystopian societies, this one took it to a new level with the Hunger Games and how an entire district has to rely on one child. By the end of the first book, you are so involved in the story and what happens next that you just have to pick up Catching Fire. I talked my mother into reading the series and we had many a heated argument over whether Katsa should be with Peeta or Gale. I, of course, disagreed with the ending of the trilogy and really wanted her to end up with the other guy.

Activities: This would be a great book to include in a display with other futuristic stories and to introduce the idea of dystopian societies. As students read books such as The Giver in the seventh grade, you could introduce this book as well as others, such as Roar by Emma Clayton, Gathering Blue and The Messenger by Lois Lowry, The Maze Runner by James Dashner, etc.

Module 4: Realistic Fiction

Title: Frindle


Author: Andrew Clements


Bibliography: Clements, Andrew, and Brian Selznick. Frindle. New York, NY: Simon & Schuster for Young Readers, 1996. Print.


Summary: Nick Allen is a fourth grade expert at getting out of homework. But with the new school year, comes a new teacher, Mrs. Granger. Mrs. Granger's reputation precedes her with her obsession for the dictionary. Nick takes this into consideration when he tries to test her by creating a new word, frindle. Soon, the entire fifth grade is asking to borrow a frindle from a classmate or getting their parents to add frindles to the grocery list. The news of the new word soon exceeds past the fifth grade to the local newspaper, then goes as far as Nick appearing on the Late Show with David Letterman. Ten years down the line, when Nick is in college, he receives a gift from Mrs. Granger of a brand new dictionary with the word frindle on page 541.



Reviews: School Library Journal (September 1996)
Gr 4-6--Nicholas Allen, a sharp, creative, independent thinker starts fifth grade looking for a way to sabotage his Language Arts class. The teacher, Mrs. Granger, is a legend, and he believes her when she states that it is the people who decide what words go into the dictionary. Picking up a dropped pen triggers a brilliant idea. He coins a new word for pen-frindle. It's all for fun, but frindle catches on and Nick finds himself on the "Late Show" and "Good Morning America" explaining his new word. Readers will chuckle from beginning to end as they recognize themselves and their classrooms in the cast of characters. A remarkable teacher's belief in the power of words shines through the entire story, as does a young man's tenacity in proving his point. Outstanding and witty.--Pamela K. Bomboy, Chesterfield County Public Schools, VA

Impressions: Even though this book is for elementary school, I really enjoyed reading it. I love how it started out with the "bad" boy pranking the teacher and in the end the teacher was in on it the entire time. As a teacher, I absolutely loved the ending of the book. I just wish that my students would get the same out of the story as I did.

Activities: You could use this book as a class study involving the dictionary and how words are created. You could have each of the students create their own word, giving a detailed description of where the word came from and why it should be used. Then allow the students time to see if any of their words catch on throughout the school.


Title: Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants

Author: Ann Brashear

Bibliography: Brashares, Ann. The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. New York: Delacorte, 2003. Print.

Summary: The book tells the story of four teenage friends: Tibby, Bridget, Carmen, and Lena, and how they spend their summer vacation. The girls keep in touch writing letters and mailing a pair of jeans back and forth that surprisingly fit all four girls. The four friends all experience typical teenage conflicts: family issues, boyfriend problems, personal troubles, etc. By the end of the summer, each girl has resolved her problem (with the help of the pants) and matured a little through it all.

Reviews: School Library Journal (August 1, 2001)
Gr 9 Up-Best friends Lena, Tibby, Bridget, and Carmen are preparing to spend their first summer apart since they were born. Before leaving to visit her father, Carmen buys a pair of second-hand jeans on a whim, and when the others discover that the pants fit all of them, they create the sisterhood of the traveling pants. Each teen gets them for a few weeks before sending them on, and thus they travel from Washington, DC, to Greece to Baja California to South Carolina, linking the friends even as they are apart. The summer and the pants come to represent more than any of them can ever anticipate in this four-part coming-of-age story. Before the season ends, each teen must deal with some unpleasant problem, reach a real low, then confront her personal flaws and pull herself back up again. Brashares deftly moves from narrative to narrative, weaving together themes from the mundane to the profoundly important, from death to raging hormones, from stepfamilies to dead-end minimum-wage jobs. The endings aren't pat, yet each story line comes to a satisfying conclusion. All four girls are completely realistic, and even the secondary and adult characters are fully drawn. The result is a complex book about a solid group of friends, with each one a strong and courageous individual in her own right. They form a true sisterhood of acceptance and support, resulting in a believable and inviting world.-Linda Bindner, Truman State University, Kirksville, MO Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.

Impressions: I enjoyed reading this book, you really begin to bond with each of the characters and can easily identify with at least one of them. I felt that I was easily a Tibby. Even though the review from the School Library Journal ranked this as grades nine and up, I could easily see a middle school student reading it. I feel that the material is not too mature for someone in seventh or eighth grade to be able to relate to.

Activities: This could be a good beginning of the school book where you can encourage students to write about their summer, either through letters, journals, or just a narrative story.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Module 3: Newbery/Printz/Coretta Scott King/Pura Belpre Winners

Book Title: Bud, Not Buddy

Author: Christopher Paul Curtis

Bibliography: Curtis, Christopher Paul. Bud, Not Buddy. New York: Delacorte, 1999. Print.

Summary:  Bud lives during the Great Depression in Flint, Michigan. He runs away from a foster home and sets out to find the man he thinks is his father, a famous bandleader, H.E. Calloway.

Reviews: School Library Journal (September 1999)
Gr 4-7-When 10-year-old Bud Caldwell runs away from his new foster home, he realizes he has nowhere to go but to search for the father he has never known: a legendary jazz musician advertised on some old posters his deceased mother had kept. A friendly stranger picks him up on the road in the middle of the night and deposits him in Grand Rapids, MI, with Herman E. Calloway and his jazz band, but the man Bud was convinced was his father turns out to be old, cold, and cantankerous. Luckily, the band members are more welcoming; they take him in, put him to work, and begin to teach him to play an instrument. In a Victorian ending, Bud uses the rocks he has treasured from his childhood to prove his surprising relationship with Mr. Calloway. The lively humor contrasts with the grim details of the Depression-era setting and the particular difficulties faced by African Americans at that time. Bud is a plucky, engaging protagonist. Other characters are exaggerations: the good ones (the librarian and Pullman car porter who help him on his journey and the band members who embrace him) are totally open and supportive, while the villainous foster family finds particularly imaginative ways to torture their charge. However, readers will be so caught up in the adventure that they won't mind. Curtis has given a fresh, new look to a traditional orphan-finds-a-home story that would be a crackerjack read-aloud.-Kathleen Isaacs, Edmund Burke School, Washington, DC
Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.



Book Title: Parrot in the Oven: Mi Vida

Author: Victor Martinez

Bibliography: Martinez, Victor. Parrot in the Oven: Mi Vida. New York: HarperCollins, 1996. Print.

Summary: Manny is a young Mexican-American boy who tells the story of his constant life struggles. Everything from joining a gang, an abusive father, working in the vegetable fields, an OCD mother, and a sister who has a miscarriage. Through it all, he survives and learns that it is the life experiences that make you the person you become.

Reviews: Booklist (Vol. 93, No. 4 (October 15, 1996))
Gr. 7-10. For Mexican American teen Manuel, the main challenge in life, whether he always realizes it or not, is to find a reason to survive amid the negativity and emptiness that pervade his growing up in a city project. His father, unemployed and often drunk, is a source of tension for the whole family, especially Manuel's mother, whose determination to keep them all together is at times superhuman. The novel, written in a fluid, poetic language, resembles a series of vignettes more than one connected story; and this structure not only leaves the character development of Manuel and his family uneven but also generates a disjointedness that is occasionally confusing. There is also a general lack of basic information, such as the exact setting of the story and the ages of Manuel and his siblings, that may make the characters and their environment difficult for readers to visualize. However, the stories themselves, from Manuel's sister's miscarriage to his initiation into a gang to his grandmother's death, are not easily forgotten, and the book is worth purchasing for its authentic portrayal of a Hispanic teen's experiences.

Impressions:While the Booklist review said that the appropriate age group for this book was grades 7-10, I would definitely not teach this book in middle school. The story line has very mature parts in it, especially the graphic scene of the miscarriage, I would not encourage this book for such a young audience. Personally, I found the story depressing, one bad thing right after another for Manuel.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Module 2: Caldecott Picture Books

Book Title: Flotsam

Author: David Wiesner

Bibliography: Wiesner, David. Flotsam. New York: Clarion, 2006. Print.


Summary: While playing on a beach, a boy finds a strange camera that has washed ashore. Curious about the camera, he takes the film to be developed and finds strange pictures of the undersea world. He finds pictures of cities made out of seashells grown on the back of sea turtles and octopi sitting in Lazy Boys reading books while being lit from lampshade covered lighting fish. He also finds pictures of other children holding a picture of another child. After examining the pictures with a magnifying glass, as well as a microscope, he finds pictures inside of pictures from very long ago. The boy takes a picture of himself and returns the camera to the sea.


Reviews: School Library Journal (April 1, 2011)
PreS-Gr 4-The properties and attendant framing shapes of the magnifying glass, camera, and microscope focus on photographs from a camera found on the beach. The watercolor sequence moves around the world and back in time, revealing a child holding a picture of the subsequent child (and an underwater fantasy) in this Caldecott winner. (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Impressions:I really enjoyed reading this book, even though there are technically no words to it. I loved how the pictures told the story. The illustrations were beautiful and creative and told the story easily with no questions about the plot.

Activities: The thing that I loved most about this book (besides the beautiful illustrations) was the fact that there was absolutely no text in the entire book. I could see using this book as teaching plot, and having students find the exposition, rising action, climax, falling action, and resolution to the story. I believe that since there is no text for the book that each student will get something different out of it.


Book Title: Pinduli

Author: Janell Cannon

Bibliography: Cannon, Janell. Pinduli. Orlando: Harcourt, 2004. Print.

Summary: Pinduli is a hyena that lives on the African plains. While her mother tells her she is beautiful, Dog, Zebra, and Lion tell her otherwise. The point out that her ears are too big, her mane is straggly, and her stripes are disorderly. Wanting to disappear, Pinduli rolls in the dust till her fur is white. The other animals mistake her for the Great Spirit and want to know what they can do to appease the Spirit for making fun of the young hyena. Pinduli orders the animals to make peace. Through the other animals' confessions we learn that they only teased Pinduli about her looks because they to had been teased by other animals.

Reviews: School Library Journal (October 1, 2004)
PreS-Gr 3-After sleeping through the hot East African afternoon, it is time for Mama Hyena and her child to go hunting. Pinduli promises to stay close by, but then trots off. She comes across a pack of wild dogs, a lion, and a zebra, and all tease her about her looks. She rolls in the dirt until her striped coat is a pallid gray and her ears are pinned back. The animals think that she is a "ghost" that has come for them. All of the creatures then confess that they teased the young hyena because another animal had made fun of them. The "ghost" understands and advises them to "find your tormentors and make peace-. And always leave a bit of every meal as an offering." By story's end, the animals have reconciled, and with all the food offerings left, Pinduli and her mother never have to scrounge around looking for meals. The animals' expressions and antics are hilarious and endearing; Cannon has pulled off quite a feat in creating a cuddly hyena protagonist. This touching book about personal growth and self-acceptance gently demonstrates how the actions of one can have far-reaching effects on many others. An appealing and worthwhile purchase.-Mary N. Oluonye, Shaker Heights Public Library, OH Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

Impressions:I have always been a big fan of Cannon's books, I love her stories and her illustrations. Her stories always have a definite theme to them. Even though I teach middle school, I can see using this book as part of a lesson.

Activities: I really enjoyed reading this book and the illustrations were beautiful (as are all of Janell Cannon's books). I liked that the book taught a good moral lesson and I could see using this story for teaching theme in the classroom. Not only does it teach children that you shouldn't tease, but also that everyone is different and people should be respected for how they are different.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Module 1: Classic Children's Literature



Book Title: The Story of Ferdinand

Author: Munro Leaf

Bibliography: Leaf, Munro, and Robert Lawson. The Story of Ferdinand. New York: Viking, 1936. Print.

Summary: In Spain, a young bull named Ferdinand would rather sit under a tree enjoying the smell of flowers than run and play with the other bulls. But one day when the vaqueros come to find the fiercest bull to fight in the ring, they see Ferdinand. Having been stung by a bee, his stomping and snorting convinces the men that he is the strongest and fiercest bull around. However, when Ferdinand gets to the ring, all he wants to do is sit and smell the flowers.

Reviews: From Barnes & Noble - Barnes & Noble Staff
Ferdinand, peaceful bull who loves to sit and smell flowers, is mistakenly carted off to a bullfight in Madrid, where he is believed to be the fiercest bull around. Ferdinand trots into the ring, only to sit and smell the flowers in the ladies hair. No matter what the frustrated matador and his helpers do, they cannot get Ferdinand to fight. Lawson's memorable black-and-white pictures speak volumes in this childhood classic.

Impressions: While this is an older book (1936) and on a normal day, I never would have picked it up, I really enjoyed the story and the lesson that went along with it. I thought that this book would be a great way to teach students to always be yourself, as well as "don't judge a book by its cover".

Activities: Students learn cause and effect through chronological order. The teacher runs copies of each of the pages of the book and the students are to recreate the story by putting the pictures in order.



Book Title: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe

Author: C.S. Lewis

Bibliography: Lewis, C. S., and Pauline Baynes. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. New York: HarperCollins, 1994. Print.

Summary: Peter, Susan, Edmond and Lucy are sent to live in the English country during World War I. During a simple game of hide and seek, Lucy finds her way through the back of a magical wardrobe into the mysterious world of Narnia. Encouraging her siblings to join her, the children spend several years as royalty, helping Aslan, the golden lion, defeat the evil white witch.

Reviews: From Barnes & Noble - Barnesandnoble.com
The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe was published in 1950, and it was the book that first introduced readers to the World of Narnia. Years later, in 1955, Lewis wrote a prequel to The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, entitled The Magician's Nephew. While The Magician's Nephew was the sixth Narnia book to be written, many readers prefer to begin the series with The Magician's Nephew.

Impressions: This book is always a classic, but after re-reading it after twenty years, I realized that this isn't the first book in the series. While it is the most popular of the Narnia series, I hate that fact that The Magician's Nephew is so easily forgotten. I think that it is imperative that the first book be read, because it includes the creation of Narnia.

Activities: Students have to create an imaginative story about an ordinary object in their home. Students must include how the object became magical, how they came to own it, what it does, and what adventures it creates for them.