Little Red Riding Hood

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Little Red Riding Hood is a timeless tale written by the Brother’s Grimm. The edition that I read is retold and illustrated by Trina Schart Hyman. The illustrations really add to the overall comprehension and interest of the book, and the story is told in a manner that introduces key vocabulary words to young learners. Additionally, the story contains important morals and lessons for children to learn.

little red riding hood_2.jpgAt the beginning of the story, Little Red Riding Hood’s mother gives her a loaf of fresh bread, some butter, and a bottle of wine to take to her grandmother, who is sick in bed. Little Red Riding Hood promises her mother that she will not stray off the path or run, and that she will use her manners when she gets to her grandmother’s house. During the half hour walk through the forest to her grandmother’s house, Little Red Riding hood encounters a wolf, with whom she interacts with her best manners. What she doesn’t know, however, is that the wolf believes Little Red Riding Hood will be a “plump morsel” for dessert after he eats the old woman. He thinks cleverly about the best way to trick the duo.

little red riding hood_3.jpgThe wolf distracts Little Red Riding Hood by enticing her with the beautiful flowers in the forest. Meanwhile, the wolf scurries to the grandmother’s house and pretends to be the granddaughter. When Little Red Riding Hood finally arrives at her grandmother’s house, the wolf has already eaten the grandmother, put on her nightgown and gotten into her bed! After the classic interactions of “What big, hairy ears you have grown!” and “Why do you have such big, sharp teeth?” the wolf gobbles up Little Red Riding Hood! The story ends with a huntsman coming across the home and cutting open the wolf’s stomach to save the grandmother and her granddaughter.

little red riding hood_4.jpgThis story might definitely frighten some young readers, but it also teaches a lesson about following directions and staying on track. Little Red Riding Hood becomes distracted in the forest, and as a result, she gets eaten! It is very unrealistic, but contemplative nonetheless. Additionally, at the end of the book the author explicitly states that Little Red Riding Hood is comforted by the fact that she was polite and used good manners with the wolf.

little red riding hood_5.jpgThe vocabulary in this book is important to note, because many words might need to be further explained to young learners in order to teach them and broaden their vocabulary breadth.Words such as “ferns,” “latch,” “shawl,” and “huntsman” are examples of specific words that children might not be aware of before reading this book.

Lastly, the illustrations in the story are beautifully drawn and come across as sketch-like. The wolf is depicted in a scary way, which might contribute to the fear that children have of him. Each page of the story that contains text has a border with a grandmotherly, classic pattern. The illustrations contain many details that children could spend lots of time focusing on while they digest the story.

Little Red Riding Hood is truly a classic, traditional book to introduce to young children. It not only teaches a lesson about strangers and who not to trust, but also contains themes of familial love and devotion.

By Emma Cohen

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Click, Clack, Moo

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Click, Clack, Moo is a Caldecott Medal Winner written by Doreen Cronin and pictures by Betsy Lewin. The book is about various types of farm animals and their interactions with the farmer, Farmer Brown. Farmer Brown’s problem is that his cows are clicking and clacking away at a typewriter. However, his real problem comes when they begin to start leaving him notes. Screen Shot 2017-09-20 at 4.49.31 PMThe cows find a typewriter and communicate with Farmer Brown by writing him notes. The notes demand that the cows receive electric blankets, as it is cold at night and it would help keep them warm. When Farmer Brown says no, the cows go on strike and refuse to give him milk.Screen Shot 2017-09-20 at 4.50.24 PMThe cows get the chickens to also go on strike with them so Farmer Brown is unable to get milk and eggs from them. The choice of farm animals is particularly interesting because the books deems as the cows and chickens to be the worthiest in terms of what they provide.Screen Shot 2017-09-20 at 4.50.39 PMOnce Farmer Brown is put in this situation, he grabs his own typewriter to write back to the cows and chickens. He says that demands that they provide him with milk and eggs as he is their farmer. The cows afterwards offer him a deal that if Farmer Brown gives them their electric blankets, then they will give him their typewriter which would be no more notes from the farm animals. Upon this, Farmer Brown decides to take the offer and uses the duck as a messenger to bring home the typewriter. However, at the end of the book, we see that the duck has taken the typewriter and has demands of its own. The ducks want a diving board in the pond because it is boring. The last page of the book shows the duck jumping into the pond off of a diving board. Screen Shot 2017-09-20 at 4.50.55 PMThis book takes a very socialist turn when the cows begin to demand that they receive blankets to keep them warm at night. They are not content with their way of life that they currently have and demand for more from Farmer Brown. When Farmer Brown realizes this, he is not able to control the situation as the cows have recruited the chickens as well. Rather than shutting the situation down, he also continues to use their method of communication, giving them ultimately more power over him and falls into their trap. For being farm animals, they sure knew how to negotiate!

Tushita Shrivastav

She Persisted

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She Persisted

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She Persisted spotlights 13 women who were game changers and trailblazers in different fields throughout American history. The book also discusses the adversity that girls face, even today. This book would be a valuable addition to any classroom as its characters are diverse in race, socioeconomic background, and influence, it depicts accurate historical experiences of women, and it is inspiring to young girls throughout our society to fight for their passions and to make a difference. Author Chelsea Clinton and illustrator Alexandra Boiger succeed in compiling beautiful, timely stories of women that need to be shared.

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The story begins by showing a young girl in a museum, which is exhibiting portraits of important women in American history (notice Hillary Clinton in the background). The book emphasizes that even though these women where often told “no”, they were able to persist and follow their dreams. This message shows the importance of celebrating strong females who may become important role models in the lives of young women.

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This story highlights both women who we often learn about in school and women who are less known and celebrated. For example, one featured woman is Virginia Agpar, who became a doctor despite her superiors discouraging her and created a critical test for infants. Each woman’s story is depicted with a stunning image showing their amazing feats and hinting at the time period in which they lived. In addition, the book features a powerful quote from every woman.

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My favorite section highlights Ruby Bridges because it shows that women do not need to be adults to make a difference. Ruby persisted when she was just a kindergartner, a pioneer for her educational rights. The other women featured in the book are: Harriet Tubman, Helen Keller, Clara Lemlich, Nellie Bly, Maria Tallchief, Claudette Covin, Margaret Chase Smith, Sally Ride, Florence Griffith Joyner, Oprah Winfrey, and Sonia Sotomayor.

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The story closes on a scene where 3 young girls have discovered a favorite pioneering woman and a call to action for the future female leaders of our nation and the world. Our society often puts women down and many times powerful female role models are not brought to the forefront in discussing history in the classroom. This is discouraging for young girls, but this book proves that women of all races and creeds have fought against this societal repression and have made huge strides that we are all thankful for, making it both an educationally and an inspirationally necessary work for children.

Rachel Platt

Imagine That! How Dr. Seuss wrote The Cat in the Hat

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Imagine That! Is a new picture book by Judy Sierra, illustrated by Kevin Hawkes. The way it is written reminds me of Balderdash!, the story about John Newbery. Imagine That! describes how the now loved children’s book, The Cat in the Hat, came to be.

The story begins by introducing the year 1954, and talking about why it was a great year to be a kid… unless you wanted to read! During this time, there were few books for young children to enjoy as they learned how to read. While books like Charlotte’s Web were being released during this time, there were few interesting books that would help a child make the transition from knowing a few words to being able to read more challenging books. The books they used in schools were boring.

A writer named John Hersey agreed, and he wrote in an article for a magazine that Dr. Seuss would be the perfect author to write a book for children that they would actually enjoy. The only problem was that he had to use words that were on the official list, not the made up words he loved to use in his stories. Dr. Seuss sat down and decided to write a book for a younger audience, but it was harder than he expected. He was limited to short words that first graders learning to read would understand. Finally, he saw the words “cat” and “hat” on the list and started from there.

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Dr. Seuss believed that rhyming words and comical drawings would get a young child’s attention. Using 236 different words, Dr. Seuss wrote a book that became popular all over the United States. Motivated by his success, Dr. Seuss continued to write rhyming books for young children first learning to read. When his friend challenged him to write a book using only 50 words, Dr. Seuss came up with Green Eggs and Ham.

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Imagine That! is well written, and the illustrations are colorful and lively. The story is informative and provides historical details, but it is interesting to read. The writing style and illustrations play off of and seem to be inspired by Dr. Seuss’s own creations, which are most likely familiar to the readers. Many of the pages even include doodles from Dr. Seuss’s books.

Some of the words in this book would be challenging for students first learning to read, but this book would be helpful for expanding and deepening the vocabulary knowledge of more advanced students. In addition, this book discusses the writing process of Dr. Seuss, which would be helpful when teaching students how to create their own stories. Brainstorming, challenge, and creativity are all highlighted in this book. The end of Imagine That! even includes writing and illustrating tips from Dr. Seuss. I would recommend this story for teachers who are working with students in the early stages of writing.

Teresa Heckman

The Apple Pip Princess

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apple pip princess_1The Apple Pip Princess by Jane Ray tells a seemingly classic story of a young princess, shedding light on the importance of self confidence and philanthropy. Similar to many original fairy tales, The Apple Pip Princess contains many elements that one would expect –– a palace filled with sadness ever since the queen passed away; a king bestowing his kingdom upon one of his three daughters, who must compete to determine who is the most worthy; two boisterous and egocentric older sisters; and a young princess who remains introspective and serene.apple pip princess_2The youngest princess is named, quite fittingly, Serenity. As her older sisters bustle about, concerned about their levels of admiration and considering themselves quite “clever,” Serenity is drawn to a simple wooden box left for her by her mother. She thinks to herself, “My sisters are clever and pretty, but I am no more important than this little apple pip. What can I do to make Father proud of me?” and slowly but surely, a seedling of an idea begins forming inside her mind.

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While Serenity’s sisters occupy themselves by building towers to reach the moon and stars, Serenity sets to work with her apple pip, digging in the ground to begin to plant the seeds. For a while, she does not see any indication of progress, and becomes worried that her idea of a beautiful forest will not be fully grown by the time her father makes his decision.

apple pip princess_3However, a young boy named Joseph finds Serenity in the fields, and sets about helping her plant seeds. Together, the plant pear seeds, olive seeds, orange seeds, lemon seeds, and, of course, the apple pips that the title of the book is named after. Their patience pays off, and after the King becomes overshadowed by one sister’s tower, and blinded by the other’s, he puts his arm around Serenity and peacefully watches the village come to life, all because of her dedication to planting seeds. As “the old king felt his poor unhappy heart fill with warmth again as all of his sadness drifted away on the breeze,” the reader can truly understand and share in the feelings of satisfaction and content.apple pip princess_5The message of this story is quite simple, yet it stands the test of time: greatness does not always come from being the best or brightest. Sometimes, all it takes is dedication and a desire to improve the world, in order to make a difference. The beautiful illustrations and vivid details in this story contribute to its success.

By Emma Cohen

Traditional Thursdays: Olivia

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Olivia follows the adventures of a lively and determined piglet named Olivia. This endearing picture book introduces readers to Olivia’s family, including her pesky little brother, and her daily routine, as well as some of her favorite activities. Specifically, the book follows Olivia to the beach where she builds elaborate sandcastles and gets an unfortunate sunburn. Olivia also takes readers to the art museum – her favorite place to spend a rainy day. While there, she sees two famous paintings: one of Degas’ ballerinas and another that she “just doesn’t get” – a Jackson Pollock. Including these references to famous art not only allows adults to feel connected to the book as they read it with children, but also opens up an avenue for conversation about art with young kids.

 

 

Perhaps the most memorable aspect of this book is its original illustrations. Olivia’s pages are filled with noteworthy illustrations that use a unique color scheme and varied composition.The illustrations include lots of negative space with delicate grey scale drawings accented by red objects, like her many outfits and beach ball. These illustrations are so memorable and unique, in fact, that the book was named a Caldecott Honor Book in 2001.

 

 

The simple language and short sentences of this book make it ideal for beginner readers. This, coupled with the book’s entertaining plot line, make it a great choice for reluctant readers as well. Olivia is especially relatable to feisty youngsters with lots of energy of their own, but I think even the quietest kids can see a little bit of themselves and who they want to be in the famous Olivia. I know I sure did.

Anna Schellhorn

Flora and the Flamingo

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Flora and the Flamingo

Flora and the Flamingo is a beautiful wordless picture book by Molly Idle. Flora and the Flamingo was a Caldecott Honor Book in 2013. Molly Idle illustrates a stunning book in which two unlikely characters learn to become friends and dance as one. The book starts off with a young girl wearing flippers and a graceful flamingo. The young girl copies the flamingo’s ballet, but is quick to look away when the flamingo catches her. The flamingo does a flip and makes the young girl, Flora, flop. As Flora is upset, the flamingo reaches out to her and they begin to dance. They begin by doing the same dance apart, but soon the unlikely friends join together to dance as one. The picture book ends with a splash and a bow!

I think there are so many special features in this picture book. First, I love how the picture book is wordless. It allows the readers to create their own stories. A lot of the book is left up to interpretation. For example, one could read the beginning of the book as the flamingo purposely trying to make Flora fall, or as a dance battle between the two characters. I interpreted it as Flora copying the flamingo’s dancing because she want to be like the flamingo.

I also love Flora’s character. Flora is a little girl that doesn’t fit the typical standards of being pretty. I admire that Molly Idle did not create Flora to be a perfectly skinny ballerina. Flora is a character that kids can look up to. She is realistic. If Flora could learn to dance than so can any other young girl.

The best part of the book is the illustrations and the interactive features. Idle nailed the illustrations in Flora and the Flamingo.  The drawings contain simple, yet very detailed watercolors. The consistency of color thought the book makes it very visually appealing. Even without words, Idle finds a way to give Flora and the flamingo personalities. The interactive flaps in the book are a fun touch for reading with children. They also allow for the book to speak even though there are no words.

Overall, I really enjoyed reading this book. Molly Idle tells a story with personality and fun without using any words. The illustrations are simple yet stunning, and the soft colors engage the eye. Flora and the Flamingo’s friendship is inspiring, and I cannot wait to share this book with a young person.

 

By Aliya Meadows