Monthly Archives: February 2014

Free Fridays: Green


ImageIn honor of SPRING BREAK, I thought I’d post about a book, titled Green by Laura Vaccaro Seeger. Though it does not at all feel like it yet, springtime is coming! The sun will be shining, the birds will be singing, and flowers will be in bloom! In this book, Seeger talks about all things green, which gives me hope in this long and cold winter for what is to come hopefully soon! There is nothing I enjoy more than the look of fresh and bright green grass in the morning or green leaves beginning to grow back on trees. Green just seems to spring up everywhere in the spring!

Green, though not explicitly about springtime, beautifully illustrates many green things. I love this book for its unique features, but keep in mind that it does not tell a narrative story. On every page of the book, there is a depiction of something that is green–things from forests to ferns and caterpillars to limes. The text in the book only identifies the green thing, either by naming it or describing it; hence, there is not really a plot to follow or characters to keep up with. However, this book kept me intrigued on every page through its use of illustrations. There are little cut-outs on every page of the book of different shapes or animals that are in the illustrations on the page so when you flip the page, the preceding illustration becomes a part of the next one as the colors on the previous page create the images on the current page. For example, there is a cute little worm on one page, and instead of drawing out the worm, he is cut out in a way where you could put your finger through the hole where he should be. But, when the page is flat, the colors and illustrations from the page before create a texture and image in the hole. It is so cool! And Seeger uses this technique in the most fascinating way. 

For this reason, I would highly recommend this book. It is just a fun one to have. Although it doesn’t focus on the “norms” of comprehension and plot, this book could be used in creative ways because the illustrations are so engaging and intriguing. Enjoy and Happy Spring!Image

Traditional Thursdays: Cinderella (Janetra Gleaves)


Cinderella is a folk tale of a princess who was forced to live with her mean step sisters and her brutal step mother after the death of her father. Cinderella lived in very unfortunate circumstances and was forced to do everything she was told. She was not allowed to look pretty. Until one night this all changed. Cinderella meets her charming prince but had to get home before the clock struck 12 o’clock. On her way home, Cinderella loses the glass slipper, and was picked up by the prince that was not able to catch her. The prince went around and checked to see who’s foot fit the slipper perfectly. The prince finally gets to Cinderella’s house and discovered who his princess was, he did not care about the circumstances that Cinderella lived in, because he fell in love with Cinderella at the ball.They get married and live happily ever after. Though there are many different versions to this book, the meaning stays the same.This is a great book to read to every little girl that is beginning to read, because it gives them the notion of believing that everyone is beautiful. Books such as these also help expand children’s imaginations of wanting to be a princess and dance around in glass slippers.I would make a play out of this book with my students, and give every girl a princess role to help them understand the importance of their roles as little girls, which is that every girl is special and deserves to be treated like a princess.

Winner Wednesday: A Sick Day for Amos McGee


a-sick-day-for-amos-mcgeeHappy Winner Wednesday! It’s that time of year again where everyone and their mother has the sniffles. Luckily, A Sick Day for Amos McGee is here to bring a little bit of joy to having a cold!

This Caldecott Award winning picture book was written by Philip C. Stead and illustrated by Erin Stead. The book follows zookeeper Amos McGee, and elderly gentleman who takes care of the animals at the zoo. Each day Amos spends time playing with his friends. He plays chess with the elephant, keeps the penguin company, and tells stories to the owl, among other things. One day, Amos is too sick to go to work, and the animals miss having their best friend. They decide to leave the zoo and pay Amos a visit to make him feel better, and spend the day keeping Amos company with all of their favorite activities.

The combination of Philip Stead’s text and Erin Stead’s beautiful illustrations makes this book completely deserving of its Caldecott honor.  The story is sweet, simple, and imaginative. The illustrations are soft and expressive. I loved the use of woodblock prints and pencil to create beautifully crafted images. The woodblocks allow for soft pops of bright colors and the pencil work creates fine detail.

After reading this book in the library, I immediately went out and purchased a copy. A Sick Day for Amos McGee is perfect for all ages, and is a must-have for any bookshelf!

– Madeline Santulli

Sentimental Sunday: Today I Feel Silly by Jamie Lee Curtis (Adina Rosenberg)


For this sentimental Sunday I have chosen a book very near and dear to my heart, Today I Feel Silly by Jamie Lee Curtis. This lovely rhyming story follows a moody youngster throughout her week. As a child I was fascinated by this book for many reasons, the main reason being that I related an incredible amount to the protagonist. The main character has wild, curly red hair (not quite unlike my wild, curly brown hair) and goes through dramatic ups and downs. Always one for drama, I loved that this book justified my crazy emotions and even made fun of them a little! While back of the book is super fun to play with (there is a twisty dial that changes the mood/hair of the girl), it is the story that has really kept this book in my memory. Even as an adult this book never fails to make me giggle and sigh. The captivating pictures, enigmatic main character, and relatable story make Today I Feel Silly a book you won’t soon forget. Happy reading!


Series Saturdays: A Series of Unfortunate Events

The first novel in the series, "The Bad Beginning"

The first novel in the series, “The Bad Beginning”

A Series of Unfortunate Events follows the story of siblings Violet, Klaus, and Sunny Baudelaire after the mysterious death of their parents in a fire. Violet is the eldest and is an extraordinary inventor, Klaus is the middle child and avid reader, and Sunny is the baby with a set a strong teeth.

The children spend their time bouncing along from guardian to guardian, evading the nefarious Count Olaf every step of the way. The beginning books follow the same plot in which the children are place in the care of a new caregiver, the caregiver is tricked by Count Olaf, and the children have to save themselves again. The later books are much less formulaic, but luckily the essence of the series is never lost.

The series is unique from other children’s books, and as a child that is what drew me to them. The stories don’t always end happily: people get hurt and die. Horrible things happen to the Baudelaire siblings and their friends. As the author says, if you’re looking for a happy ending pick up another book.

That said, the macabre tone of the series reels children in, and the stories prove fascinating and thrilling for children. I remember in elementary school, we all would run to the library after the publishing of a new volume, hoping to be the first to read about the Baudelaires’ latest disasters. Unfortunate events aside, the series is a lot of fun for children and parents alike. Besides, how could you pass up a book authored by a man named “Lemony Snicket”?

-Sara Darbar

Free Fridays: Caps for Sale


Caps for Sale: A Tale of a Peddler, Some Monkeys, and Their Monkey Business ~ By Esphyr Slobodkina

For this fine Free Friday, I have chosen one of my childhood favorites, Caps for Sale. If you haven’t read it before, you are in for a treat! Esphyr Slobodkina is both the illustrator and author of this tale, and I must say, she did an excellent job! In print for more than 50 years, the book has sold more than 2 million copies.

Just like other classic children’s titles, such as The Story of Ferdinand and Corduroy, the book is both fun and whimsical. As it’s written for a younger audience, preschool to 3rd grade students would particularly appreciate the tale. It’s also a great book for early readers practicing their developing skills.

Slobodkina’s illustrations augment the text with colorful charm. The story features a peddler who stacks multiple caps atop his head, just so. He calls through the streets, “Caaa-aaps, caps for saaaale, 50 cents a caa-aap.” One afternoon he decides to rest underneath a shady tree during the heat of the day. When he wakes up from his nap, he is surprised to find himself in the center of monkey business!

The rest of story ensues in a charming monkey-see-monkey-do fashion. The antics leave the reader guessing if the peddler will be able to outsmart the monkeys or not. To find out how it concludes, you get to read it for yourself!

~ Hannah Gravitt

Traditional Thursdays – Curious George


Traditional Thursday: Curious George

By: H. A. Rey 

For this Traditional Thursday, I decided to pick one of my old favorites, Curious George.  While there are many versions of this silly story, the original has always been the best. This story of a curious monkey who finds his way into trouble, but always having fun, is a timeless, and traditional book. While I may not use this in my classroom since it is aimed towards younger readers, I feel that this book is one that every person should read when they are younger. Curious George promotes being curious and learning that it is important to find out new things and to try new ways. While George may be a little mischievous, he teaches us that we need to be curious in life! This book would definitely be on my bookshelf in my classroom, because it can brighten anyone’s day, and remind us of an important lesson.


By: Marlee Peck


Joseph had a little overcoat by Simms Taback Janetra Gleaves


ImageThis book was one of the Caldecott award recipients, and was mostly known for its illustrations and the variations of materials that were used through its illustrations.This amazing story about a man named Joseph explains the concept of “making the most of what you have,” even if its not much. In this story, Joseph recognizes the fact that his overcoat was beginning to look worn and nasty. Joseph then made a jacket of this overcoat. All in all to say that you can always make something out of nothing. The most ironic thing throughout this text I think is the fact that at the end of this book when Joseph had nothing to show, he wrote a book about his experience. The other interesting thing about the text’s meaning was that when Joseph ran out of cloth and material to make anything he had nothing, therefore he about it instead of being upset at the fact that he had nothing left of his favorite overcoat. I think another message the author was trying to prove was that writing can be used as a powerful tool to use when one feels like they have nothing. The illustrations throughout this book were very unique in how they were presented and collaborated well with other pictures, patterns, and objects to fit the next page’s illustrations and meaning.

I would choose to read this book to children between the ages of 8 to 10. I feel that this would be a perfect book to read to children, because its important for them to understand the concept of making a lot out of the little that one may have.Sometimes children don’t always understand that sometimes they have to make the most out of what they already have, and that their parents cannot always get them everything new. I think it is important for children to understand that many things that they already own can be reused and made for something useful instead of throwing it away. I would definitely recommend this book to children that are more wealthier than some, because most of the time these groups are the groups that have trouble understanding the concept of using what one already has instead of looking for parents to buy everything when they can actually use what they already have.

Winner Wednesday: A Ball for Daisy


A Ball for Daisy, illustrated but Chris Raschka, written by the reader

A Ball for Daisy

This award-winning wordless picture book is one of my favorite children’s books out there right now. It tells the heartbreaking tale of the destruction of Daisy’s absolute favorite ball by another dog and the heartwarming turn when the other dog’s owner surprises Daisy with a new ball and Daisy makes a new friend. Through this story, the author conveys messages about sharing, forgiveness, and friendship that every child – and adult – can benefit from.

As with most wordless picture books, A Ball for Daisy offers great benefits for children’s language development, especially English Language Learners. The book’s lack of text provides an opportunity for readers to construct their own story based on the vibrant illustrations. This is a wonderful exercise in language use and exploration of the storybook narrative, as well as an empowering opportunity to create one’s own story. By writing the words for a book, children learn that they are authors in their own right, regardless of whether or not they can write. This is empowering for ELLs as well, showing them that their language differences don’t have to be a barrier to literary exploration, creation, and success.

In my opinion, every elementary teacher should have this book in his or her classroom. Check it out yourself if you don’t believe me yet!


By Madeleine Jones

Daisy Interior 4

Trendy Tuesday: The boy who wouldn’t go to bed by Helen Cooper Janetra Gleaves


ImageThis book is about a boy who was very rebellious against anything that his mom asked him to do. The little boy in this story was a dare devil and hated going to sleep. All he wanted to do was play with his toys and pretend that he could talk to the animals in his room. The illustrator does a great job throughout this book by creating the illusion to the readers that we were a part of the little boy’s dream. The illustrations created imagery and room for readers to imagine places that were unheard of and unseen. The illusion was created that we as the readers were inside of a dream that the little boy imagined, because no one wanted to play with him. This characters throughout the book denied playing with the little boy, because they were all telling him that it was time for them to rest. The boy moved along his journey throughout his imaginary dream until he could find someone to play with, but everyone was winding down for bed. The little boy couldn’t understand why no one wanted to play with him, until suddenly he got sleepy and was getting a little scared because he wanted he mom. His mom picked him up and tucked him in bed. I thought it was interesting how the author and illustrator created the illusion that the little boy was in a dream or fairy tale when all along he was in his room , but the objects came to life in their own little world.

This is a great book for elementary school children who have trouble accepting when it is time to go to bed. This story is good to help children understand that sleep is good, and that everything needs rest. Children also need to know that sleep is a great thing not a bad thing.