This is a delightful book about animals in their habitats, told in the form of short poems. While the language is colorful and imaginative, it is the artwork that sets this book apart.
The little poems contain interesting facts about each animal (lions, elephants, giraffes, zebras, rhinoceros, sloth, etc.) This would be an excellent book to read to young classrooms of children. The pictures are engaging, the colors vibrant, and the story itself is not long in nature.
For this week’s Marvelous Picture Book Monday, I wanted to discuss one of my forgotten favorites, Owl Moon by Jane Yolen, illustrated by John Schoenherr. This Caldecott winner tells the story of a father and child going into the woods on a snowy evening to go owling for the first time. While Yolen tells a beautiful story of family bonding and adventure, what really stands out about this book are the pictures.
The colors and the details are so fantastic and capture the reader’s eye immediately, drawing children and parents alike to read this story over and over. In a classroom setting, this would be a great book to do a picture walk with. Giving the kids a chance to look through the pictures before hearing the story would help them to not only focus on the beauty of the illustrations but would help them to improve their skills in using picture cues to help with reading. It would also be a cool activity because at one point in the book the father explains how you don’t need words for owling, you only need hope, so giving the children a chance to experience the story without words at first would give them insight into the activities portrayed in the story.
I would recommend this book to children of all ages. It is a unique take on adventure and could open up so many possibilities for sharing and learning. I absolutely loved this book as a little girl, and can remember relating it to the snowy winters we experienced in New England and all of the activities I would do with my father. Definitely a great winter read!
For my last Sentimental Sunday post, I chose to discuss Corduroy by Don Freeman. As young children, my sister and I loved to read with book with our parents. It was one of our favorites, and we constantly asked to read it again and again. This story is about a teddy bear named Corduroy who is missing a button. As kids come to his home, the department store, to check out all of the toys, they often pass by him, claiming he is ‘broken.’ One night, Corduroy decides to go looking for his missing buttons, and discovers all of the other magical things in the department store! His adventure leads him to a mattress with buttons, so he decides to pull one off, but falls over, hitting a lamp. The night watchman hears the crash, finds Corduroy, and places him back on his shelf. The next morning Corduroy wakes up to an exciting day! His button is back in place and a little girl comes to buy him! He now has a new home to explore with his new friend Lisa.
This book is fantastic for kids. They really get a kick out of all the adventure! Freeman does a great job of taking things so ordinary as a department store and a teddy bear and making them extraordinary. This story teaches a lot of taking risks and fighting for what you deserve in a really simple and fun way, and the pictures are really beautiful. As a lower elementary school teacher I would definitely have this on my book shelf, and would probably do it as a read aloud at the beginning of the year. It would be a great way to open up discussion about creativity, bravery, and adventure, all things that I plan to encourage in my future classroom.
Dear Mrs. LaRue: Letters from Obedience School, is a wonderful picture book written and illustrated by Mark Teague. The book follows the story of Ike LaRue, a mischievous dog who is sent away to obedience school by his owner, Mrs. LaRue. While at obedience school, he sends letters to Mrs.LaRue describing the terrible conditions at obedience school. He describes it as “prison,” with mean guards, mean dogs, and no fun. Ike eventually runs away, and by the end of the book makes it back home to Mrs. LaRue.
The thing that makes this book so hilarious is the illustrations. Teague divides each spread of pages into two halves, Ike’s imagination, and Ike’s reality. On one page, we see Ike’s letter to Mrs. Laue describing how horrible obedience school is, with a giant thought bubble containing black and white images that reflect Ike’s misery. On the opposite page, we see obedience school as Ike is actually experiencing it, which is essentially a vacation resort. Ike has actually been spending his days sitting by the pool and eating treats, but spins a tale of woe Mrs. LaRue because he misses her and wants to come home. Ike’s letters are one giant guilt trip to let him get out of school early.
Kids will LOVE this book! I remember reading it for this first time in elementary school, and it’s continued to be one of my favorites. The text and illustration combination is hilarious. Whether you’re reading it for your classroom or at home, this one is a definite crowd pleaser!
P.D Eastman’s classic Go, Dog. Go! was first published in 1961, and over 50 years later it’s still a crowd favorite. This book was commonly requested as a bedtime story in my household, and I can recall countless nights reading this book with my father and sister.
I think part of why this book has aged well is that it’s so simple. These dogs do everything from drive cars, wear silly hats, ski, swim, and throw parties in trees. The book is hilarious and engaging, and the simple concept, repetitive text, and classic hand-drawn illustrations make it the perfect book not only for bedtime but also for young independent readers. It’s an excellent starter book to reinforce vocabulary, opposites, sentence structure, and rhyme. The book has become increasingly accessible over the years as well, with electronic and adapted versions readily available to meet the needs of diverse classrooms and students.
This book holds a special place in my heart as a key part of my childhood reading memories, and I have a feeling it will continue to hold it’s appeal when I have my own children or classroom. Here’s to another 50 years!
A recent book that is acclaiming much attention is As Fast As Words Could Fly, written by Pamela M. Tuck, and illustrated by Eric Velasquez. Set in the heart of the Civil Rights movement, the story is told from the perspective of a young boy, who is transformed as he begins to participate in social action. Loosely based of the childhood experiences of Tuck’s father, it is an honest and heartfelt journey of overcoming discrimination and unfair treatment.
Mason Steele is a young boy who spends his evenings writing letters for his father’s civil rights work in Greenville, NC. One day, his father’s friends give him a typewriter, as a gift for all the letters he has written. Mason quickly learns to type, and soon is one of the best typists in the county. After his father’s group wins a civil rights case at the local all-White high school, Mason discovers that he and his brothers will now be attending the newly integrated school. The book does not shirk from the harsh realities that the boys face as young men of color, but is gentle in its illustrations.
Mason goes on to set the record for typing in the county, but not a single person in the audience clapped. The disappointment in that moment is as tender as the pride and love demonstrated in family scenes.
The book is incredibly powerful—from themes of determination, hope, and family. Educators are excited about a new book that takes a different view on the Civil Right Movement. It’s not the story of Ruby Bridges—this one inspires a different feeling of hope. Written at a third or fourth grade level, the book is appropriate for use amongst children 5 and up.
For this Sentimental Sunday, I chose to write about one of my most favorite childhood stories, I Love You, Blue Kangaroo by Emma Chichester Clark. In this story, a little girl named Lily has a favorite stuffed animal that she sleeps with every night. Before falling asleep each night she says, ‘I love you, Blue Kangaroo,’ and Blue Kangaroo loves Lily too. As the days go on different grown-ups give new stuffed animals to Lily, such as Wild Brown Bear and Yellow Cotton Rabbit! But with each new addition Blue Kangaroo feels less and less loved. One night, after all the new animals have been added to the bed, Blue Kangaroo falls out of bed! He is so sad that he climbs into bed with Lily’s baby brother. The next day, Lily frantically searches for Blue Kangaroo, and, upon finding it with her brother, throws a fit. Her mother claims Lily should share, since she has so many stuffed animals to sleep and play with. Lily decides that Blue Kangaroo is more special than any of her other animals, and therefore gives her new animals to the baby, keeping Blue Kangaroo for herself. Blue Kangaroo feels loved again and falls asleep in Lily’s arms once again.
This story is great for children as many of them probably have a stuffed animal of their own that they love very much. When I was little, I was given a dog named Patchie, and to this day I sleep with it still. The pictures in this book are fantastic, and I love how each stuffed animal is named after their description (Wild Brown Bear, Two Fluffy Puppies). This book also teaches children about not taking things for granted and appreciating what you have. Even after all the new additions to her stuffed animal collection, Lily cannot handle losing her most precious Blue Kangaroo, and only realizes this once he is gone. While this is a great bedtime story, it would also be great to read in the classroom and introduce these ideas and ask children if they’ve ever gone through a similar experience to Lily.