Miss Hunnicutt’s Hat by Jeff Brumbeau

HunnicutMiss Hunnicutt’s Hat, written by Jeff Brumbeau & illustrated by Gail de Mercken, was a wonderful book. I reviewed another one of the author’s book, The Quiltmaker’s Gift. I like this author/illustrator team. I am going to find more of their books. I like their style. N-e way, on to the review.

(From the book jacket) The prim little town of Littleton is in a tizzy preparing for a visit from the Queen. So when Miss Hunnicutt steps out in her fancifully fowl-ish hat, the stuffy townsfolk are scandalized. The chicken has to go!

But plucky Miss Hunnicutt stands up for her right to wear what she likes. And when the Queen’s arrival prompts a surprising turn of events, the townspeople learn to celebrate the silly eccentricities that make life interesting.

That was the summary from the book’s author. Now, this is my summary of the book.

I really liked this book. I asked my students what they thought this book was really about and they said, “being yourself, being individual, & unique, not being afraid to be yourself, etc.”. I was quite impressed. I guess I taught them well.

Miss Hunnicutt is very proper. She never does anything wrong or out of the ordinary. The only thing she likes out of the ordinary are her hats. A lady has to have something that makes her stand out, right?

Standing out is what Miss Hunnicut does! During the course of the book, you will see the transformation of Miss Hunnicutt. Although some of the jokes may go over kids’ heads, the book is full of laugh of loud moments. (It was for me anyway!)

This books makes for a great discussion about individualism, quirkiness, standing up for yourself, and loving yourself. I recommend it as a mother and a teacher. It would make a great personal gift for anyone who is different and embraces it. As always, you can pick it up at your local library or bookstore.

How Full Is Your Bucket? by Tom Rath

Dear Readers,

It’s time for a book review. I haven’t written one in a long, long time. Well, I have one that’s worth the wait. It’s actually more than a year overdue. I’d promised a review of this book in September ’11. I wasn’t sure if I’d made good on that promise so I had to peruse my blog to make sure I hadn’t already posted a review of it. I am ashamed to say that I did not.

I wrote briefly about the concept of bucket filling last year, but didn’t continue it. I guess I just got so busy with life that I completely forgot. For that I do apologize. Now that that’s out the way, on to the review!

How Full Is Your Bucket, by Tom Rath (2007) and illustrated by Mary Reckmeyer, is a must-have book. The theme at the beginning of the book is along the lines of Alexander and Terrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst. You can totally feel the child’s pain. But, by the middle of the book, readers are given useful tools to help turn that terrible, no good, very bad day around. Continue reading

Forgetting What Works…

Dear Readers,

I am so silly. I always forget what works for me. A couple of my students have been struggling. I’ve worked in Education for 10 years now. I should have pulled from my store of knowledge. But, sometimes we can become so overwhelmed that we forget (as I did) what works for us. Once I came to my senses, I quickly made fluency folders from pages I copied from Practicing Basic Skills in Reading & Practicing Basic Skills in Language Arts by Ray Beck, Peggy Anderson, & A. Denise Conrad.

At first I only made fluency folders for the struggling readers. Then I realized that almost every student needs help in some capacity. So, although there are 7/15 students working on fluency, there are 8 students that are at or above grade level in English. However, they still have deficits. I have 4 students who need to work on appositional phrases, commas in a series, and commas for parenthetical phrases. Yes, all of that is in the book. It’s not cheap though. I looked on ebay, Amazon, & a couple of other sites for inexpensive copies, but did not find it. These books are $100. Pretty steep, but worth it. You could run a whole language arts intervention program for lower to upper elementary with this book.

So that I won’t forget this for next year, I am going to keep a FORGETFUL folder where I record my ideas that work for me. Hopefully I won’t forget where I put it! : D!!!  It’s a fantastic book. Check it out!

Cowboy & Octous by Jon Scieszka

I have to say that this story, Cowboy & Octopus (2007), by Jon Scieszka and Lane Smith was not my cup of tea. I absolutely hated it. Why am I reviewing this book then? Well, I am reviewing this because Jon Scieszka, a former school teacher, writes books for reluctant readers (read boys), and he did his job with this one.

I recently bought this book for $1 D.W. Discount Books’ going out of business sale. The price was so ridiculously good, I did something I don’t usually do, I bought it without reading it. I figured since it was Jon Scieszka, it couldn’t possibly be bad. Well, I was wrong. I read it, hated it and passed it on to Phillise, thinking my “grownupness” was getting in the way. Well, Phillise hated it too.

So, bells started going off. Jon Scieszka writes for boys. Since that is the case, why don’t I give this book to a little boy and see how he likes it. I hit paydirt when I gave it to my neighbor’s 6 year old son. He laughed and laughed his little head off.

“What is he laughing at?,” I thought to myself. By golly, he was laughing at the book. I got a further thought to try it with the boys in my class. My theory= of the fourth graders, it was my belief that two of my students would like it, since they are a bit immature; the other one, since he already has sophisticated tastes, would hate it. While the last student I was  on the fence about. I figured he could go either way.

My theories were correct. The immature ones liked it. The one I was unsure of, who I was on the fence about,  despised it. The one with the sophisticated tastes, thought it was one of the worst books he’d read. None of my fifth graders liked it. So, my conclusion is that Jon Scieszka hit it out of the park with this one. I didn’t like it, but it wasn’t written for me. I am not the target audience- 5 & 6 year olds are the target audience and they love it.

So, go out and get it for your little reluctant reader. Apparently they love it!

Mind Your Manners B.B. Wolf by Judy Sierra

Mind Your Manner B.B. Wolf (2007), written by Judy Sierra and illustrated by J. Otto Seibold is a fractured fairy tale of sorts. The title character, Big Bad Wolf (B.B. Wolf for short, is retired and now lives in Villain Villa Senior Center. He is up to his neck in bills. He’s fed up. His day brightens once he receives an invitation for tea. He decides to go with his best friend, Alligator.

GETTING TO HAPPY! (Sequel to Waiting To Exhale)

WAITING TO EXHALE sequel “Getting To Happy” Tour dates:

I am so happy that Terry McMillan has written a sequel to Waiting to Exhale, called Getting To Happy. She is currently writing the screenplay to be made into a movie. She’s going to be in L.A. on Tuesday, September 28, 2010 @:
Eso Won Bookstore

4331 Degnan Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90008
(323) 290-1048 ***Offsite venue – DETAILS TBD Event free and open to public.

For more information, click on this link.

UNLOVABLE by Dan Yaccarino

Unlovable by Dan Yaccarino (2001) is a must have book. It’s the story of self-esteem & learning to love yourself the way you are.

The book begins:

Alfred was unlovable. At least that’s what the cat told him every chance he got. That’s not all, though. The cat taught the parrot to say “Unlovable! Squawk! Unlovable!” whenever Alfred walked by. The goldfish gurgled in agreement. Not only was it the cat & the parrot, but dogs wouldn’t talk to him either. Alfred tried to ignore the hurtful comments, but he couldn’t help but wonder exactly what it was that made him unlovable. Was it his snoring? The way he ate? His little curly tail?

All seemed lost until the new neighbors & what do you know, a new dog! Would this dog treat him the same as everyone else or will he be a much needed fresh breath? To find out that answer, I guess you’re going to have to read it yourself. Continue reading

Elizabeti’s School by Stephanie Stuve-Bodeen

Elizabeti’s School (2007), written by Stephanie Stuve-Bodeen & illustrated by Chrisy Hale, is the sequel to Elizabeti’s Doll (1998) & Mama Elizabeti (2000). It is the third installation in the Elizabeti series. This time Elizabeti is on her own. She’s a big girl now and it’s time to go to school. But she is worried that Mama won’t be able to get along without her.

This takes me back to my first day of school. I remember being so scared.

Why did I have to go to school?” I wondered. I was fine at home. I didn’t have to take care of my little brothers but I was wondering how I was going to get along without my mom. I was so sheltered. I’d never really been away from my mother for an extended period of time.

So many questions rushed through my scared little mind. How was I going to make it through the day? What was I going to eat? Did I have to stay there? Would my mother forget to pick me up? Would the others children let me play with them?

All of my questions weren’t answered that day, but they were answered. Anyone should be able to relate to this book. Whether it’s remembering your first day of school or this book is a gift for your child or niece’s first day of school, this book is really a good read. I was actually shocked that it made me remember my first day of school back in… (dare I say it) 1975.

As if  you couldn’t tell, I highly recommend this book. I’m going to put it on my list of books to read the first week of school. Pick it up  @ your local library or bookstore.

Mama Elizabeti by Stephanie Stuve-Bodeen

Mama Elizabeti (2000), written  by Stephanie Stuve-Bodeen & illustrated by Christy Hale is the follow up to 1998′s Elizabeti’s Doll which I recently reviewed.

I liked this book because it celebrates sibling love. In this sequel to Elizabeti’s Doll (1998), Elizabeti has a new sister named Flora. Now that her mother spends all her time taking care of Flora, Elizabeti needs to help take care of her little brother, Obedi. She soon finds out that taking care of Obedi is so different than taking care of her doll, Eva. Elizabeti goes through trials & tribulation as she tries to find a way to take care of her chores & responsibilities and take care of Obedi. How will Elizabeti get everything done & take care of Obedi???

As with the last book, I would recommend this book for big sisters. It tells the story of sibling love. I also love that it shows children helping parents, and a different culture. I will review the follow-up to this book (my most recent purchase), Elizabeti’s School, also. I love this series and its’ celebration of family & sibling love. I would recommend this book to young children when a new sibling is born. Also, I would even go so far as to say this book should be read to middle school girls for a sex education class. It definitely shows how much work taking care of a baby is.

As always, pick it up @ your local library or bookstore.

Elizabeti’s Doll by Stephanie Stuve-Bodeen

Elizabeti’s Doll (2002), written by Stephanie Stuve-Bodeen & illustrated by Christy Hale is the cutest little book. I would recommend it for little girls ages 6- 9. Phillise is 8 years old and she loved it.

“This is the best book, Mom,” she said. So, I asked her if she wanted to watch it on the Scholastic Treasury Collection (Is Your Mama a LLama?)  that we have. She did, so we watched that after she read the book. She was a little disappointed that it wasn’t animated like some of the other ones, but she liked it just the same. I would definitely recommend this book to little girls who are about to be big sisters, or for those who just want something to call their own.

This book, set in Tanzania, is inspired by the author’s own experience from her time spent as as Peace Corp volunteer in Tanzania. Elizabeti, the heroine of the book, is a cute little  5 or 6 year old who decides she needs a doll she can care for the way her mother cares for her new baby brother. She finds the perfect doll that she names Eva. Elizabeti cares for Eva as well as her mother cares for her little brother, Obedi.

When Mama gives Obedi a bath, Elizabeti gives Eva a bath. When Mama fed and burped Obedi, Elizabeti fed Eva, but Eva was too polite to burp. Mama changed the cloth wrapped around Obedi’s bottom and it was very messy! Elizabeti was very relieved that Eva’s bottom was still clean.

When Mama did her chores, she tied Obedi onto her back with a bright cloth called a kanga. When Elizabeti did her chores, she also tied Eva onto her back with a kanga. Mama had to help a little.

The trouble begins when Elizabeti sets Eva down so she won’t be lonely while she perform her chores. She can’t find her. What is she going to do? I guess you’re going to have to read it to find out. As always, visit your local library or bookstore to find it.

I thought this was the cutest little story. It’s especially appropriate for any little girl whose soon to be a big sister. Even though Phillise is not a big sister (and never will be), she still loved the book.

** Although the list price for this is $12.95, I purchased it for $5 @:

Smiley’s Bookstore

20220 S. Avalon Blvd., Suite D,
Carson, CA, 90746
(310) 324-8444
There’s a small used book section, where I purchased a couple of Magic Tree House books & one A-Z Mystery books. Check it out!

Mr. George Baker by Amy Hest

Mr. George Baker (2004), written by Amy Hest and illustrated by Jon J Muth. Can I just say that I loved, love, loved this book?
Age range: 6-100
Theme: You’re never too old to learn; Perseverance
See this man? This one here, sitting on the porch?
That’s Mr. George Baker,
and he’s a hundred years old,
no kidding. Continue reading

Fenwick’s Suit by David Small

Fenwick’s Suit (1996), written and illustrated by David Small is a funny, quirky little book. I love David Smalls as an author and as an illustrator. I’ve said this before about other books and I’ll say it again, “I could have written this book.” It is so silly. I mean, just look at the cover of this book. What do you see? You don’t know, do you? But, do you want to find out? Of course you do. That’s the beauty of a combination of a great illustrator, colors, and marketing.

I love the feeling of looking back at a cover once the book is read. That’s when I get a full understanding of the hidden meanings. It’s like it’s a secret the author lets you have access to once you’ve read their masterpiece.

I’m not going to tell you what the cover’s all about. You’re going to have to read it for yourself to find out. What I can tell you is a little bit about the book.

The book is fantastic. The illustrations are fabulous. They are what caught my eye in the first place. As you can see by the picture and can guess by the title, this book is about a suit. Not an ordinary suit though. This suit, Fenwick’s Suit, takes on a life of its’ own. Poor Fenwick. He has no friends, he’s ignored by all his co-workers. He thinks it’s because of the way he’s Continue reading

Testing Miss Malarkey by Judy Finchler

In honor of testing this week @ Phillise’s school, I thought I’d post Testing Miss Malarkey (2002), written by Judy Finchler & illustrated by Kevin O’Malley. I was introduced to this book during a staff meeting last year when the Title I Coordinator (Still don’t know what she did, btw!) got a kick out this as she read it to us. I found it amusingly accurate. It is the cutest little book. This book is a definite MUST READ during testing. It helps to lighten the mood. I’m definitely going to read this to Phillise this morning to get her in the testing mood.

I think I’m suffering from Literature Review withdrawal. If you’ll notice, this review is a little different from my other reviews. It just felt right to do it this way. So, let me include what someone from the American Library Association wrote. The reviewer thought the undertone of this book was sarcastic. REALLY??? Well, duh! Obviously Judy Finchler captured the essence of high stakes test taking. Of course it’s sarcastic. It’s because, for the most part, testing is a load of hooey. It doesn’t really prove anything. Sure it proves that some people can take tests. Some people are very good at taking tests. That includes my children. However, that is not a total measurement of who they are as a person. I’m not taking anything away from those who excel at test taking, but what about those who freeze up during test? Or what about those students who can’t read, but have great comprehension? Continue reading

Gooney Bird Greene by Lois Lowry

Gooney Bird Greene (2002), written by two-time Newberry Award winning author Lois Lowry, was a very nice read. I would say it’s for children as young as 1st or 2nd grade. It’s a nice beginning chapter book.
I was going to return this to the library, but I liked it so much so I’m going to save it for Phillise. Read this excerpt from the book and you’ll see why I liked it:

There was a new student in the Watertower Elementary School. She arrived in October, after the first month of school had already passed. She opened the second grade classroom door at ten o’clock on a Wednesday morning and appeared there all alone, without even a mother to introduce her. She was wearing pajamas and cowboy boots and was holding a dictionary and a lunch box.
… “Who are you?” Mrs. Pidgeon asked politely.
“I’m your new student. My name is Gooney Bird Greene-that’s Greene with a silent “e’ at the end- and I just moved here from China. I want a desk right smack in the middle of the room, because I like to be right smack in the middle of everything.

The title is as unusual as the main character herself. Gooney Bird Greene is an unusual name for a little girl. It’s such a strange name that everyone wants to know its origin. Since she’s such a great storyteller, she obliges and tells them in her own melodramatic way. She has a knack for telling story, that according to her are “perfectly true”. Although they do not seem to be true, they are. When she tells a story everyone stops and listens. Even her teacher.
I really liked this book because it introduces young readers to the concepts and elements of storytelling as soon as Pg. 4. I cannot wait to get another classroom so I can read this to my students. This would work well with another book I reviewed, The Plot Chickens by Mary Jane & Herman Auch.
As usual, check it out @ your local library or bookstore.

Building Wings by Don Johnston

Building Wings (How I Made It Through School)  by Don Johnston (2006) was a treat to read. I was contacted by the publisher  and asked to review the book and materials. I pored over the materials and read the book and was impressed with what I read.

It’s an inspirational story about overcoming obstacles and learning how to read. I would recommend it to ages 7-100. I loved it because there are many people in this world who could benefit from this book. I know someone, who @ 38 years old, never learned to read. She is functionally illiterate because of her dyslexia. When we spoke about her dyslexia, she was happy to learn that she wasn’t alone. She says she always felt “stupid” because she could barely read and as a result, she could never “keep” up with the rest of the class. She knows how to shop for her children’s clothes, go grocery shopping & manages to keep money in her bank account, but desires to read. I would definitely recommend this book to her. Maybe reading Mr. Johnston’s story would spur her desire to read.

Now, on to the review. I will begin my review by asking this question- Which came first, the chicken or the egg? Well,  in order to answer that you need to know the context of which I’m speaking. I’m talking about behavior problems in special education students. Did the disability cause the misbehavior or did the misbehavior begin because the child is trying to cover it up?** Chicken or the Egg?.

Usually children receiving special education services are known for their behavior issues. So to answer the question, which came first, the chicken or the egg, I’d say the chicken. Don answers that question also. He chronicles his attempts to hide his learning disability by misbehaving or becoming the class clown.

I was so moved when I read this book. I was near tears more than once. Mr. Johnston’s story reminded me of my former students. They misbehaved so badly because they would rather have been thought of as “bad” than stupid. I am so glad I understood them. Every child isn’t so lucky though. There was a teacher of his that really disheartened me, Mrs. Arnus. Instead of trying to see past the surface, she treated him so badly. Having the wrong teacher can be very detrimental to a child’s social & academic well-being ** (The Wrong Seasoning (My Teacher Hates Me). I had to keep in mind that this was long before I.D.E.A.; before there was more sensitivity to the subject of Special Education. However, I have to admit that Special Education is still the red-headed step-child. We’ve come so far, but there’s still a long way to go.

Mr. Johnston endured through it all. A trait I really admire about Mr. Johnston was that he learned how to learn by learning his own learning style. He knew that he had a problem that needed to be fixed, so he fixed it. He took ownership of his own education. I’ve found that once someone, especially a child, takes ownership or their own education, things improve almost immediately. The same thing happened with Don. He took ownership of his education by finding something to motivate himself; something that he liked. That something turned out to be the Space Program. Once Don’s dad found out, he encouraged him. As a result, he continued to learn more and more since he knew something his father didn’t. This spurred his desire to learn more.

Because of his rough start, Don’s story could have turned out horribly wrong. There were many obstacles stacked against him. Thankfully, things in life seem to balance themselves out. In response to his bad experiences with Mrs. Arnus (His teacher who treated him badly), God blessed him with Mrs. Tedesco. There is something to be said for teachers who believe that every student can & will achieve if given the proper motivation. For Don, that balance came in the form of was Mrs. Tedesco. She complimented him instead of criticizing. She let him know that the skills he was developing were valuable. This inspired him. He didn’t even know he was developing his critical thinking skills. Because of Mrs. Tedesco and teachers like her, he was able to succeed.

If you would like to know how Mr. Johnston’s story ends, pick up his book for your child or student. You won’t be disappointed. It’s a very heartwarming story. As always, pick it up at your local library or bookstore, or here’s the website if you would like to order it directly from Don Johnston @ Building Wings.

As Long As You Got A Good Book!

As the title states, as long as you got a good book, time passes by faster. I always have a book in my purse. It’s a good thing I carry extra-large purses (A habit left over from carrying diaper bags.). Today, as I was getting new brakes, I simply pulled out my book, the third in The Secret series by Pseudonymous Bosch. I really liked the series. I will be posting a review later on.

HERE’S TO 2010!

I Don’t Like To Read! by Nancy Carlson

I Don’t Like to Read!, written & illustrated by Nancy Carlson, is a book that I’ve book looking for. I am always on the lookout for amazing books; especially ones that deal with slow learners or those with learning disabilities. This book, my latest purchase, deals with slow learners. The hero of the book is a little boy named Henry. He’s now in first grade and he’s learning lots of new things. But there was one thing Henry did not like about first grade…READING!

This is a really good part. I know a lot of slow learners or special education students will really empathize & identify with Henry. He feels so left out. When his teacher Mr. McCarthy asks who wants to read, everyone volunteers. Everyone, that is, except Henry. Henry never volunteers to read. HE.HATES.READING!

“Reading is boring!” he said.

No matter what, whenever Henry was asked to read (@ school or @ home), he said, “No. I don’t like to read! It’s dumb!”

His teacher, being the wise soul that he is, asks Henry why he doesn’t like to read. Henry responds, “Because all the words and letters just don’t make any sense!” cried Henry. His teacher tells him that it’s okay, that everyone learns to read in their own way and that with a little extra help, he’d be reading soon. Henry still wasn’t so sure about that. But he started getting extra help with his reading at school.

Pretty soon letters and words around him started to make sense. (The book shows him reading another Nancy Carlson book, “I Like Me”.)

The pivotal part of the story happens when his babysitter is reading a brand-new book to him and his little brother. Just as she gets to the best part, her friend calls and won’t stop talking. What is Henry going to do? He really wants to know how the story turns out. Not to mention the fact that his little brother is begging him to finish it also. What do you think Henry does?

I guess you’re going to have to read it to rind out. As always, check it out @ your local library or bookstore. You’ll like it. I highly recommend it.

*** I had Phillise read this book and was quite surprised by her response. She said she felt the same way when she was beginning to read. We used to work on Starfall.com together. She told me she hated it. I didn’t know that she felt that way. I thought she loved it. I would never have thought my little read-a-holic felt that way. This lets me know that I really need to write my own book. Once again, go out and get this book.***

Halloween by Jerry Seinfeld

Since today is Halloween, I decided to review a book about Halloween, called Halloween (2003). This book is hilarious. Of course it is. It’s by none other than Jerry Seinfeld. He perfectly captures the spirit of Halloween. He begins the books by saying… When you’re a kid you can eat amazing amounts of food. All I ate when I was a kid was candy. Just candy, candy, candy. And the only really clear thought I had as a kid was get candy.

In the grocery store. In the mini-mart. At his grandparent’s house. Looking out the window. Alllllllll the time. That’s all he thought about was how to get his next fix of candy. So, imagine his glee over discovering Halloween where, for a whole night, people just give it away. His young mind couldn’t process that. Are you serious? They’re just giving it away. The fools!!!!

The first couple of years he made his own costumes. A ghost one year. A hobo the next. However, those were just the beginning. He was in training for the real thing- Superman. One day he was going to get the real Superman Halloween costume from the store. You know the one…The cardboard box….the cellophane top…mask included in the set.

He then reminisces about the rubber band on back of the mask…that broke almost as soon as you put it on. Then you had to get your friends to wait up as you tried to fix it. “Because”, he says, “when you’re little, your whole life is up. You want to grow up. Everything is up!

Wait UP! Hold UP! Shut UP! Mom, I’ll clean UP! Just let me stay UP!

So, the day finally comes when he convinces his parents to buy him an official Superman Halloween-store costume. Well, what do you think happened? Did it fit just the way he wanted it to? Did he get all the candy he wanted? I guess you’re going to have to read it and find out for yourself. You’ll like it. It’s too cute! As always, pick it up at your local library or bookstore.

***P.S. This comes with an audio CD, which is a live performance of the book. As I thought. As I was talking to Phillip, I thought about how this book read like a classic Seinfeld script. I listened to the CD and my suspicions were confirmed.***

The Plot Chickens by Mary Jane and Herm Auch

The Plot Chickens (2009) by Mary Jane & Herman Auch was the cutest little book.I really liked it because it can be used during English/Language Arts time to help children with the writing process. The illustrations were a very colorful mixed media mishmash. They were quite enjoyable to look at. Now, on to the review.

The story begins with Henrietta Hen who loves to read. She loves to read so much, she’s read all the books on her farm. There’s nothing more to read. Now, she must go into town to the library to get more. She goes into the library & gets in line. As she gets to the counter, the librarian tells her that they have nothing for chickens there. Henrietta indignantly clucks at the top of her lungs. BUK, BUK, BUK!

“Well, why did you say so?” says the librarian as she hands Henrietta three books.

Henrietta’s four aunts love being read to. Every day she reads to them and returns to the library for more. Now, this is where one of my favorite parts come in. Henrietta loves reading so much, she wonders if writing them is as much fun. She does what anyone is serious does. She researches it. She finds a book, goes home and reads it, and promptly begins writing a book. I love, love, loved this part. This part reminds me so much of Phillise. She is a read-a-holic. She loved reading so much that she has decided to write her own stories. She is constantly writing her own stories. One of her favorite things to do is to cross popular stories. She wrote one entitled, Fancy Nancy Meets Junie B. Jones. She inserted her own pictures in it and everything. As I write this, she has another one on the backburner. I’m not going to tell the name of that one until she finishes writing it. I am so proud of my little girl. I encourage her to write her own original stories as well. I’m just happy that she enjoys reading & writing. But, I digress. On with the review.

While visiting the library, Henrietta comes across an excellent book about writing that has eight writing rules.

Rule #1: You need a main character.

Rule #2: You need to “hatch” a plot.

Rule #3: Give your main character a problem.

Rule #4: Develop your plot by asking “What if?”.

Rule #5: Write what you know.

Rule #6: Build suspense.

Rule #7: Make your story come alive by using all five senses.

Rule #8: The main character must solve her (or his) own problem.

So, with the help of her aunts, she writes a story. What do you think happens? Did Henrietta’s research pay off? Does her book become the #1 bestseller? Well, I guess you’re going to have to read it to find out for yourself. I know you will like this. Especially if you’re an elementary teacher.

I can think of a few ways this book can be used in a writing center, after I’ve used it for a read-aloud. I would begin by photocopying the middle of the book that explains how to write a story, along with its explanations & make it into a mini-book for the children to refer to. That is, as soon as I get another class.

What would you do with it? Drop me a comment and let me know.

Miss Malarkey Won’t Be In Today by Judy Finchler

Miss Malarkey Won’t Be In Today (2000), written by Judy Finchler and illustrated by Kevin O’ Malley, gave me quite a little chuckle. In this 2nd installation in the Miss Malarkey series, Miss Malarkey is back and this time SHE is the one with the over-active imagination! Stuck at home, delirious and helplessly sick, Miss Malarkey can’t help but worry about which substitute Principal Wiggins has called in.

Will it be Mr. Doberman? A guy so tough he even scares Miss Malarkey. Or will it be Mrs. Ungerware, who the kids call Mrs. Underwear? Or will it be Mr. Lemonjello? He is such a nervous man. Miss Malarkey worries he’ll be scared stiff if they let the iguana out of its cage. Visions of myriad horrors dance in her head of what the students will do in music class because Mr. Lemonjello cannot control them.

They’ll crank up the volume, dance on the desks, and swing from the lights.

When they have art, OH MY, they’ll go crazy. They’ll paint the ceilings AND the floor. Mr. Lemonjello will be two shades of blue.

So crazed is Miss Malarkey that she rushes to school in her bunny slippers and bathrobe, lesson plans in hand. She gets to school, looks in the class, and can’t believe what she sees. What, oh what, does she see? Well, I guess you’re going to have to read it and find out for yourself.

I think teachers will get quite a chuckle out of this book. Although some didn’t. I read other reviews of this book. Someone thought it was, how did they put it, trite and banal. They thought the author made substitute teachers look bad. I can see their point. There were some inept subs, but you have to admit that that’s how it really is. I have worked with some bad subs in my day. I’m not saying all subs are bad. That would be a gross overgeneralization. However, some are as bad as the book portrays them.

Oh, does this book remind me of my own class when I took a leave of absence earlier this year. In a two month time period, my class ran away 9 subs. You read right, 9 subs. Just like Miss Malarkey says in the book, “My class can be a handful sometimes.”

As always, read it and decide for yourself.

Cornrows by Camille Yarbrough

Cornrows (1979), written by Camille Yarbrough & illustrated by Carole Byard, was a very nice book. It’s a tribute to braids or cornrows as they’re sometimes called. The book is beautifully & simply illustrated with charcoal, and/or pencil drawings. Can I just say that I love these drawings?

Since I my mother used to braid my hair and I braid Phillise’s hair, I had to get this book. Imagine how pleased I was when I found this book. I didn’t realize it was so old until I looked at the publication date. Whew, this is old! This book was actually published when I was 9 years old. I didn’t know of too many books that had brown people who looked like me when I was younger. It was readily available, I just didn’t have access to it. I wish I would have had access to this book when I was younger.

It wasn’t a problem for me to be proud of my braids when I was younger because I grew up in a predominantly black neighborhood in the ’70′s, so almost everyone wore braids at one time or another. Even though my neighborhood’s a little bit more diverse, it’s the same situation with Phillise. Not to mention that I, and 5 of my 6 sisters braid our children’s hair. Danielle is just learning with Moriah, but she’s getting there.

So, needless to say, this book took me back to a time when I was little. Back to when my mother used to braid my hair. Sometimes the styles would be simple; sometimes they would be elaborate. More often than not they were simple, just like in the book. So, on to the review.

Shirley Ann, otherwise known as Sister calls Mike, her little brother, otherwise known as Brother, MeToo because he echoes everything she says. They listen to the Mama & Great-Grammaw’s stories. They love listening to the stories. Yesterday, when they went in, Great-Grammaw was fixin’ Mama’s hair in cornrows. Great-Grammaw says the braids got that name because our old folks down south planted rows of corn in the fields that looked like the rows of braids they fixed in their hair.

Sister & Brother want their hair fixed too. They also want to know the name of the style Great-Grammaw is doing, but Great-Grammaw tells them to go outside & play. Before they do though, Mama stands up and turns around in front of the mirror like she was going to dance or something. Then she bent down and kissed Sister on the head. Then she said:

I delight in tellin’ you, my child–

yes, you please me when you ask it–

it’s a hairstyle that’s called suku.

In Yoruba, it means basket.

Then Brother looks at Sister and tells her, “You gonna’ be a basket head.”

Sister asks her mother what she’s going to put in the basket. Mama says she thinks she’ll put love in it. Brother asks Great-Grammaw what she’ll put in her basket. Great-Grammaw says she’ll put love in hers too. Brother then asks if he falls down, will the love go away.

“Oh, noooo, my darlin’! she said. “Because the love, like the basket, will be a part of you.” So Sister asks her again, what kind of love would she put in her basket. To which Great-Grammaw replies, “Hand-me-down love, baby.” Of course, ole’ MeToo asks Great-Grammaw too. She gives the same answer. Then Great-Grammaw picked MeToo up and hugged him in her lap and started humming just like she does when we’re in church. She said, “An’ if you fall down, that ol’ hand-me-down love won’t go nowhere. Because it’s gonna’ be a part of you. Just like the basket I’m fixin’ to braid in ya’ hair.

The story goes on like this really sweetly. Read it for yourself and see how it ends. It’s a sweet story. This story will pique your interest whether or not you got your hair braided. Either way, this review is just in time for Chris Rock’s new movie “Good Hair.”  As always, go pick it up at your local bookstore or library.

Lulu’s Hat by Susan Meddaugh

Lulu’s Hat (2002), by Susan Meddaugh, author of Martha the talking dog series, was my latest purchase from the .99¢ store. I could not believe it. It’s a chapter book. Since I have a middle school student, it’s high time that I begin re-familiarizing myself with chapter books. But, even though this is a chapter book, the chapters are short. So, I would say this book could be for someone as young as 3rd or 4th grade; 2nd in Phillise’s case. She’s currently reading this. N-e way, on to the review.

In True Magic Families, a single member of each generation was born with the magician’s touch. Real magic. It was a genetic quirk that no one could explain. Either you had it or you didn’t. (Reminds me of Highlander- “There can be only ONE.”) Continue reading

How To Eat Fried Worms by Thomas Rockwell

How to Eat Fried Worms (1972) is so gross. It is totally a little boy’s book. The author, Thomas Rockwell, is the son of beloved American painter Norman Rockwell, and he was the recipient of the Mark Twain Award, the California Young Reader Medal, and the Sequoyah Award for Worms.  He wrote several other young adult books (most of them seemed to start with How to…i.e. Fight a Girl, Get Fabulously Rich, etc.), but Worms is the only one that most people remember. Continue reading

A Wrinkle In Time by Madeline L’Engle

Taken directly from Wikipedia.

A Wrinkle in Time (1962) is a science fantasy novel by Madeleine L’Engle. The book won a Newbery Medal, Sequoyah Book Award, and Lewis Carroll Shelf Award, and was runner-up for the Hans Christian Andersen Award. It is the first in L’Engle’s series of books about the Murry and O’Keefe families.

Meg Murry is a teenage girl, regarded by her classmates and teachers as a bad-tempered adolescent. Her family recognizes her problem as a lack of emotional maturity but also regards her as being capable of great things. The family includes her pretty scientist mother, her mysteriously missing scientist father, her five year-old brother Charles Wallace Murry — a nascent super-genius — and her 10-year-old twin brothers, the athletic Sandy and Dennys. Continue reading

The Color Purple by Alice Walker

Taken directly from echeat.com

I did read this book. I just didn’t take the time to write a review. I can remember when I read it, way back in 1985. I was in 10th grade. It wasn’t for a class. I was just pleasure reading. I don’t remember who recommended it to me, but do remember someone recommending it to me, but cautioning me about the language and the situations in the book. I can see why it was initially banned. I’m glad it’s not now, though. It’s quite an intense read. On that note, I will let you read the review just in case you haven’t read it or seen the movie.

The Color Purple (1982), by Alice Walker, is a very intense book to read. By intense, I mean it is a book touching very difficult and hard aspects of life of a poor, black oppressed woman in the early twentieth century. Walker does social criticism in her novel, mostly criticizing the way black women were treated in the early twentieth century. Walker uses the life experiences of Celie to illustrate her social criticism.

The Color Purple is not written in the style of most novels. The author does not tell us everything about the characters, the setting, and why the characters behave the way they do. The novel is written in a series of letters, not dated. There are large gaps between some letters, but this is not revealed by the author; we have to figure it out ourselves. The letters are written in what Walker calls black folk language, which also reduces the easiness of the reading. Continue reading

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

Fahrenheit 451 (1953), written by Ray Bradbury, is an engrossing futuristic tale of a society where all printed material is banned. In this country of the future, officials believe that people who read and are able to think for themselves are a threat to the nation where individualism is strongly discouraged. The inhabitants of this society all seem to be suffering from sensory deprivation and their only link to news and entertainment is a large television screen on the wall where broadcasts are continually transmitted to the “family.” All the people are members of the Family. Even though they aren’t forced to watch the telecasts, they all do.

It is the job of firemen (this movie was made long before they were referred to as firefighters) to hunt down subversives and burn the caches of books they’ve secreted away. The title, Fahrenheit 451, is the temperature at which book paper catches fire and starts to burn.

Can I just tell you that this book used to scare me? I was so scared of this book actually coming true. This kinda’ reminded of that Twilight Zone episode with the man who goes into a bank vault to read when a bomb goes off. I guess it serves him right, that he’s so happy that everyone is dead and he can read all he wants without human interference, that his glasses fall off and break. How heartless. Now he can’t read. He’s left alone with all the books in the world, without any glasses to read them.

How horrible! But, which one is worse? Having all the books in the world and not being to read it or not having books to read at all???? Either way, it sucks! I hope we will never have to deal with this, ever!!!

Maxi’s Bed Magicians by Werner Blaebst

Maxi’s Bed Magicians (1990), written & illustrated by Werner Blaebst, was too cute. It reminds me of another book I reviewed, Snuggle Mountain, by Lindsey Lane. It celebrates one of my favorite subjects, imagination. This book can be used during the 3rd grade Imagination unit in OCR. I don’t know why I didn’t read this book during the Imagination unit, but if I have a chance, I will next time. I’ve had this book for a couple of years now. It’s actually falling apart. I’ve been trying to find another copy, but this book is pretty hard to find. N-e way, on to the review.

When Maxi’s parents get out of bed in the morning, he gets in and haves himself a ball.

He closed the door and said softly, “Hi, magicians.”

They also respond (in his imagination), “Hi, Maxi.”

Mondays meant fun-time. Maxi asks them if they’re ready. As anyone knows, you don’t have to ask bed magicians twice. So, he climbs on top of the t.v. and… Geronimo… he shots, he scores. He lands right smack dab in the middle of the bed, with the big fluffy pillows & the oh, so soft down comforter. From there he has a grand ole’ adventure. If you’d like to know what happens, I guess you’re just going to have to read it for yourself.

*** P.S.- The above picture has the German title, but it’s the same book.***

In the above picture, the white thing is the pillow. The orange polka-dotted thing is the comforter.

The Hello, Goodbye Window by Norton Juster

The Hello, Goodbye Window (2005), written by Norton Juster & illustrated by Chris Raschka, was a good read that left me with a nice feel good feeling. Winner of the 2006 Caldecott Medal, Chris Raschka really hit the ball out the park with this one. The illustrations are a type of watercolorish drawing. They are very beautiful with very vivid colors that’s sure to further spur the imagination of those for whom this book was intended.

The little girl in the story really enjoys spending time with her grandparents. She begins her story by explaining that: Nanna and Poppy live in a big house in the middle of town. There’s a brick path that goes to the back porch, but before you get there you pass right by the kitchen window. That’s the Hello, Goodbye Window. It looks like a regular window, but it’s not.

This is how we are introduced to the Hello, Goodbye Window. She tells you everything you can do at the Hello, Goodbye Window: climb up on the flower barrel and tap the window, press your face against the window, play Continue reading

25 Books To Read The First Weeks Of School

Dear Readers,

Just thought I’d share this. Even though this list is 4 years old, it’s still the list I choose from. Enjoy!

Here is a complete list of my pick of 25 books to read the first few weeks of school. Enjoy!

  1. A Very Full Morning by Eva Montanari
  2. Thank You, Mr. Falker by Patricia Polacco
  3. Ruby the Copycat by Peggy Rathmann
  4. I Like Myself by Karen Beaumont
  5. Just Like Sisters by Angela McAllister
  6. Stand Tall Molly Lou Mellon by Patty Lovell
  7. Secret of the Peaceful Warrior by Dan Millman
  8. Mr. Peabody’s Apples by Madonna
  9. The Color of Us by Karen Katz
  10. A Child is a Child by Brigitte Weninger
  11. Miss Malarkey Leaves No Reader Behind by Judy Finchler & Kevin O’Malley
  12. Is There Really a Human Race by Jamie Lee Curtis
  13. Take a Kiss to School by Angela McAllister
  14. Tightrope Poppy the High-Wire Pig by Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen
  15. I Hate to Read by Rita Marshall
  16. Chrysanthemum by Kevin Henkes
  17. Miss Bindergarten Gets Ready for Kindergarten
  18. Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst
  19. Listen Buddy by Helen Lester
  20. David Goes to School by David Shannon
  21. Roxaboxen by Alice McLerran
  22. A Fire Engine for Ruthie by Leslea Newman
  23. Stephanie’s Ponytail by Robert Muncsh
  24. When I Was Little (A 4 Year old’s Memoirs of Her Youth) by Jamie Lee Curtis
  25. I’m Gonna’ Like Me (Letting Off a Little Self-Esteem) by Jamie Lee Curtis

If you’re not seeing this from my blog, here are the individual links:

  1. here (Books 1-5)
  2. here (Books 6-10)
  3. here (Books 11-15)
  4. here (Books 16-20)
  5. and here Books 21-25).

Books To Read The Fifth Week Of School, Part 5

Here is the end of the list. I read to my class everyday. I highly suggest that you read to yours everyday. Your students will greatly benefit from it.

Roxaboxen, by Alice McLerran, is one of my favorite books ever. It celebrates one of my favorite subjects of imagination. This is the true story of the author’s mother and aunt’s play world in Yuma, AZ during the Depression. Money and toys were scarce, so they used their imagination and created a little town they called Roxaboxen, complete with a sheriff and a jail. This is the cutest little story. Read it. Your class will love it.

A Fire Engine for Ruthie, by Lesléa Newman, is a must read, especially for little girls. I’d have to a-fire-enginefor-ruthie.jpgsay this book is especially good for tomboys. The little girl in the book, Ruthie, goes to visit her grandma who has many activities all planned out for them; girly activities, that is. As it turns out, Ruthie isn’t interested in any of that. What Ruthie’s interested in are things that boys are traditionally interested in- fire trucks, silver ladders, blue trains, and a little red caboose and wheels that go chucka-chucka, chucka-chucka and a whistle that goes toot! toot! Although Nana doesn’t understand, she lets Ruthie be who she is. This book is about being true to yourself. Great story!

Stephanie’s Ponytail, by Robert Munsch, is so funny. The first time I read this, I kept laughing. It’s so silly. And you know, if you’ve been reading my blog, that I love anything silly. Stephanie, the title character, loves her ponytail. But she doesn’t want it to be like anyone else’s. She asks her mom to put her ponytail on top of her head where it looks like a waterfall. Initially her mother protests, but she does it anyway. A little girl tells Stephanie it’s ugly, ugly, very ugly. However, the next day, when Stephanie comes to school, everyone has their hair like that. Even the teacher. The story continues like that, until Stephanie teaches them all a lesson about being themselves. Although this book is silly, it still has a clear message- Be yourself; don’t copy anyone.

When I Was Little (A 4 Year Old’s Memories of Her Youth), by Jamie Lee Curtis is too cute. I would recommend this book for no older than 1st grade. My daughter loved this when she was in Kindergarten. She liked how the little girl was like her. She pointed out that she spilled things a lot like the little girl in the book, that she rode in a car seat, that she took a nap and made up songs. The part I like is the last page:

When I was little, I didn’t know what a family was.

When I was little, I didn’t know what dreams were.

When I was little, I didn’t know who I was.

Now I do!

This is just a cute little book. There’s no real big message here. The kids may be able to identify with the little girl and they might get a chuckle or two out of it. I think it’s for adults more than children, but it’s still cute.

I’m Gonna Like Me (Letting off a little self-esteem), by Jamie Lee Curtis, is good for up to 5th grade. I read it to my students (that ranged in age from 7-12) and they still thought it was cute. Of course, as the title states, it’s about self-esteem. The little girl in the story tells about how she’s going to like herself when she jumps out of bed, when she grins, when she looses her teeth, etc.

Books To Read The Fourth Week of School, Part 4

ChrysanthemumChrysanthemum, by Kevin Henkes, is about being proud of your unusual name. Before Chrysanthemum goes to school, her parents dote on her. They tell her how perfect she is and how they love her name; that it’s simply the best name EVER. The trouble begins when she goes to school and someone makes fun of her name. Why would someone say that her name is not perfect? Of course it is. Isn’t it? Chrysanthemum begins to have doubts. Now, she doesn’t want to go to school. Poor Chrysanthemum. Not even her parents can convince her that her unusual name is beautiful. Finally someone comes along and tells Chrysanthemum that her name is one of the loveliest names she’s ever heard of. This gives her her confidence back. A lovely little book.

Miss Bindergarten Gets Ready for KindergartenMiss Bindergarten is a book I’d recommend for, what else?… beginning Kindergarten. It’s too cute. I love the heroine Miss Bindergarten. In case you haven’t heard of it, there’s a series of books with Miss Bindergarten and her class. Most famously, Miss Bindergarten Celebrates the 100th Day of School. In this book, Miss Bindergarten prepares for the first day of Kindergarten.

Alexander and the Terrible

Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst, is about the worst day ever. It’s just one of them days! Everyone has them. This book captures that terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day perfectly. It is such a cute little book. It all centers on Alexander who is having one of the worst days of his young life. It actually began the night before when he fell sleep with gum in his mouth; now there’s gum in his hair. He tripped on his skateboard and dropped his sweater in the sink while the water was running. From then, he could tell that it was going to be a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day. His best friend is no longer his best friend, and his mom even forgets to pack his dessert in his lunch. He thinks that he’s going to move to Australia! The day just keeps getting worse and worse as it spirals out of control. The book ends with his mom telling him that some days are just like that, even in Australia.

listen_buddyListen Buddy, by Helen Lester, is about a little rabbit, named Buddy, who just doesn’t listen. He simply does not pay attention. This ends up getting him in trouble. Buddy’s mother sends him on different errands. This book teaches how to follow directions.

David Goes to School, by David Shannon, is one of my favorite books. TheDavid goes to school title is self-explanatory. It’s about the little boy, David, who goes to school. The author, David Shannon, wrote his first book when he was 5, called No, David, No! Those were basically the only words he knew how to spell, no, and his own name. This book picks up where the other one left off. It’s very good for pre-K or Kindergarten. It teaches about misbehavior & its consequences as young David misbehaves the whole day and makes a series of excuses as to why he’s misbehaving. At the end of the book we see David washing all the desks until they sparkle. However, all is not lost as David is given a pat on the head and a gold star. Even though we love David, we still see that there are consequences for misbehavior.

Books To Read The First Weeks Of School, Part 3

Miss MalarkeyMiss Malarkey Leaves No Reader Behind, by Judy Finchler, is a book I could have written myself. It’s about a teacher who loves to read trying to inspire the same desire in her students. The exciting part begins when the school enters a contest to read 1,000 books. However, Miss Malarkey doesn’t just want the students to read for the contest, she wants them to actually appreciate the joy of reading. The problem begins when four boys refuse to cooperate. One by one, Miss Malarkey finds three of them books they love. They now find themselves reading books instead of playing video games. Finally, Miss Malarkey finds a book for the last one. He wants to be the one to read the 1,000th book.

human race

Is There Really a Human Race?, by Jamie Lee Curtis, is a good book. (I’m running out of synonyms here!). I read it to my class to help them understand that, even though we look different, we’re all the same.

take a kiss to school

Take a Kiss to School, by Angela McAllister, will help those children who don’t want to go to school because they’re afraid their moms will miss them too much. So, the mom in the story comes up with a way to reassure her daughter that she’ll be okay while she’s at school. She fills her daughter’s pockets full of kisses so she can take them out and use them when she needs it. Somehow the mom manages to make it through the day without her daughter. It kinda’ reminds me of my separation anxiety from Phillise when she went to school. Cute! Very cute!

tightrope poppyTIGHTROPE POPPY the High-Wire Pig, by Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen, was a sweet little book about following your dreams. This book is a must read for anyone who dreams of a career path out of the ordinary. Poppy wants to be a tightrope artist. Even though this is not the typical thing that a pig does, she decides to leave home and follow her dreams. The circus owner welcomes her aboard and tells her to practice. She tells him that she doesn’t need practice. When her big day comes, she falls in front of everyone. She is so embarrassed that she wants to quit but she doesn’t. She takes the owner’s advice and practices. When she gets her chance again, she is the hit of the show. All of her practice and perseverance pays off. The message- You can do anything you want to do. Live your dream.

I Hate to Read by Rita Marshall,I hate to read was a book I received straight from the publisher to review in advance. I liked it. In the book the title character, Victor, is a good kid, but he was a victim of the “I Hate to Read” syndrome. He hates to read. That is until he meets the crocodile in the white coat who introduces him to the many adventures he can experience in a book. Trust me, your students will love it. By the time you finish reading the book, some of your students may very well learn to love reading. Check it out!

Books To Read The Second Week Of School, Part 2

stand_tallStand Tall, Molly Lou Mellon, by Patty Lovell, is a great book about self-esteem. Molly Lou Mellon has teeth nearly as big as her head, she sounds like a bull frog, and she’s the shortest kid in her class. However, none of that stops her from believing in herself. She learned it from her dear old grandma-LOVE YOURSELF NO MATTER WHAT! Some students will identify with Molly, who’s the underdog who triumphs in the end.

Secret of the Peaceful Warrior, by Dan Millman, was a fantastic book. peaceful warriorMy students loved it. One of my students even asked if I could buy him one (I did!). He wanted to earn it. Why did my students love it so much? Well, the book deals with bullying, friendship, and turning negatives into positives. The book begins as the title character, Danny, meets an older gentleman by the name of Socrates while he’s running from a bully. It’s kinda’ like a Karate kid book. Socrates teaches Danny about the peaceful warrior. A contradiction? I know. Read it and you’ll understand.

peabodyMr. Peabody’s Apples, by Madonna, was quite impressive. This led me to wonder if she wrote it, herself, or if she had someone ghost write it for it. Anyway!I loved this book. It deals with gossiping and its harmful effects. I read it to my students because of all the gossiping my students were doing. In the book, Mr. Peabody is the victim of vicious gossip. He teaches the perpetrator a lesson he’ll never forget.

The Color Of Us, by Karen Katz, is a book to read eventhe color of us in a homogeneous environment (I don’t know where that exists). Itcelebrates the different colors of everyone. It shows us how we’re alike, and how we’re different.

a child is a childA Child is a Child, by Brigitte Weninger, is a wonderful book to build a sense of community. It shows that you can love someone who doesn’t look like you. My students loved it. They almost didn’t get the point I was trying to make, at first. At the time I read this book, there was a lot of name calling going on in my classroom. Once I finished the book, the students were really quiet. I asked them if they thought the idea of a mouse, who’s gray, raising frogs that are green was silly. Initially they answered yes. However, after a discussion, they agreed that it didn’t matter what color everyone was, as long as the animals (kids) were taken care of.

Books To Read The First Week Of School, Part 1

I’ve compiled a list of 25 books that would be great to read the first week of school. Initially I only intended to make one list, but it got so hard to narrow it down to only one week. Since I read to my students everyday, I thought it would be nice to give some one, who is maybe unfamiliar with picture books, a helping hand. So, here is a list of books to read to the students the first week of school, with a list to follow each day this week. Except for this list, which I consider the best, these books are in no particular order. Enjoy!

first day of school

A VERY FULL MORNING, by Eva Montanari, is a book I reviewed last year ’cause I thought it was too cute. It’s the first day of school and the title character, Little Tooth, doesn’t want to go. She’s scared and doesn’t want to go to class. She procrastinates by taking the long way to school. She gets to school just in time. There’s only one seat left. She nervously walks in and takes it. As she quietly slips in, she decides she needs to say a quick hello to the class.

“Hello, class,” she says. This is my first day of school as well. I’m your new teacher.


Thank You, Mr. Falker, by Patricia Polacco, is one of my favorite books. When I first read this book, I thought it had to be the most beautiful book I’d ever read. It’s the author’s own story of her battle learning to read, which she didn’t do until she was 9 years old. This book has special meaning for special education students who are in 3rd grade or higher and don’t know how to read. When I read it to my students, they were tearing up. So was I, and my assistants. This book deals with learning disabilities and bullying. Do yourself a favor and read this on the first day. Especially if you’re a special education teacher.

rubyRuby the Copycat , by Peggy Rathmann, teaches about knowing who you are; about being an individual. Ruby copies everything her classmate does. That is until Ruby’s teacher helps her find her own niche, so she won’t have to copy anyone. A good read.

I Like Myself, by Karen Beaumont, is one of the cutest books ever. i like myselfI love this book because it teaches self-esteem. When I first read the book, it reminded me of my little girl, Phillise. There’s this picture in the book where the little girl in the book gets her hair washed and it’s sticking straight up. Kinda’ scary looking. It so reminded me of Phillise’s hair when I wash it. Although I love that the little girl is brown, your audience doesn’t have to be. The message is loud & clear- love yourself no matter what you look like.

just like sistersJust Like Sisters, by Angela McAllister, is the perfect book for fostering a sense of community. Even though the heroines of the book are completely different, they love each other like they’re family.

Just Like Sisters by Angela McAllister

Just Like Sisters (2005), written by Angela McAllister andjust like sistersillustrated by Sophie Fatus, is a nice little read aloud. I first came across this book when I had to review a series of books for my Children’s Literature class. For the assignment, I had to review 25 books, write a review on them, and make a page on them. My professor loved it so much, she gave me a 350/300. She said that it was the best picture book she’d ever seen. For this one, I photocopied the cover in color, cut it out, and embellished it. I cut little pieces of yellow yarn for the little girl’s hair, made a bow for the alligator’s hair, and cut teeth for her. It was too cute.

When I reviewed this book two years ago, I did not purchase it. Now, I’m happy to say that this book is part of my collection. I recently purchased this book from Food 4 Less for $5. Boy was I happy when I saw the price.

I chose this book because I liked the outside. It was so interesting it made me want to read the inside. From the cover I kinda’ guessed what the inside was about. I was right. This is a story about friendship, being different, and acceptance. I would recommend this book for children as young as 4-40. So, on to the review.

This way a cute, little story with charming illustrations about a little girl, Nancy, & her penpal, Ally, an alligator. Nancy & Ally are penpals. They have been writing to each other for a long time. They know each other so well.They read and re-read each other’s letters so much. Finally, Ally writes to Nancy to tell her that her plane arrives on Saturday morning. Nancy couldn’t be more excited.

Just like clockwork, Ally’s plane is right on time. They hug. Ally tells Nancy she’s exactly as she imagined.

“So are you,” said Nancy.

The got out and paint the town red. They have a fantastic time. They get to Nancy’s home and go right to Nancy’s room where they continue talking and sharing photos. Later, they try on her mom’s lipstick, watch videos, and finish two cartons of ice cream.

The next day they go shopping and buy exactly the same thing. They wonder if people will mistake them for twins. Finally, it’s time to go home. What do you think happens when it’s time for Ally to leave?

Well, I guess you’re going to have to read it and find out for yourself. It’s a cute little story. Check it out!

The Marshmallow Incident by Judi Barrett

The Marshmallow Incident (2009), written & illustrated by husband and wife team Judi Barrett and Ron Barrett, was a cute little book. It wasn’t hilarious. It was more of a thought provoking book. It’s an underlying theme of prejudice and silly feuds (a la The Hatfields & The McCoys). Star Trek's BlackWhitesneetchesThis book kinda’ reminds me of Dr. Seuss’s  The Sneetches & that Star Trek (original) episode where the black/white  and white/black people were feuding. In Dr. Seuss’ The Sneetches, the sneetches are feuding because some of them have stars on their bellies, while some do not. On the Star Trek episode, Enterprise finds itself in the middle of a civil war. Captain Kirk inquires as to what  two peoples are fighting about. To which he responds,”Why, can’t you see, Captain? I’m black on the left side and he’s black on the right side.


Silly, right? Well, that’s like this book. Only this time, it’s as simple as being left-handed and being right-handed. The Town of Left and the Town of Right are separated by a dotted yellow line, and no one on either side can remember how things got to be this way! Everyone in the Town of Right thinks that everything Right is the best. While everyone in the Town of Left think that everything Left is the best.

“How, oh, how did things get this way,” someone wonders. But, no one can answer that, so they go on with life as usual. Only separated by a big, yellow dotted line. They live side-by-side, yet totally separate. That is, until one day, an unlucky citizen crosses the line–and so begins the Marshmallow Incident, a tale of Left and Right, and Right and Wrong. (This is where the marshmallows come into play).

Okay, those marshmallows. What about those marshmallows? 50,000 cases of marshmallows! Where did they come from? Someone won them awhile back. Imagine that? What are they going to do with all those marshmallows? What do the marshmallows have to do with the feud and the yellow dotted line? Well,  I guess you’re just going to have to read it and find out for yourself.

I’ve also reviewed one of Barrett’s other books, Things That are Most in the World. BTW, she is also the author of the book (and upcoming movie) Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs. I read it a long time ago, but never thought to review it. I guess that’ll be my next review. Check it out!

Sometimes My Mommy Gets Angry by Bebe Moore Campbell

sometmes my mommy gets angrySometimes My Mommy Gets Angry (2003), written by the late Bebe Moore Campbell and illustrated by E.B. Lewis, is a wonderful book. As you know, if you’ve read a couple of my reviews, I am a great believer in bibliotherapy. This book is perfect for that. The author had personal experience dealing with mental illness with her daughter, actress Maia Campbell of In The House fame. Campbell says that she wrote this book for all the young children who have parents who battle mental illness. She, very much wanted this book to be used as an opportunity to develop resilience by introducing and/or reinforcing coping strategies.  This book is perfect for child psychologists, parents, guardians & teachers to read and share with any child who has a parent, caretaker, or family member who suffers from a mental illness. Shortly after this book, she wrote 72 Hour Hold, the story of a mother struggling to help her 18-year-old daughter, a victim of bipolar disorder. I love that Campbell wrote this book. I read how, in one interview, she discussed how the Black community  doesn’t like to talk about mental illness as if it’s a shame. It’s not. It’s just like any other illness. If you need to take medication to make yourself well, that’s what you do. That’s why I appreciated this book so much. Finally, someone willing to write a children’s book about it. I also wrote another review for a children’s book dealing with depression also, called Monster Mama.I wish that more people would see it for what it is, an illness, not something to be ashamed of.

maiaN-e way, on to the review.

I would recommend this book for someone as young as 4 years old. Even though this is a heavy subject, if someone that young is dealing with this scenario, then they need to know they are not alone. As the main character in the book, Annie, has to deal with her mother’s mental illness. As the book begins, Annie’s mother is in a manic state. She fixes her pancakes, helps her get dressed for school, and gives her a kiss and a big smile. She’s happy because she says sometimes her mommy doesn’t smile at all.

In class, she draws a picture of her and her mommy with pancakes and sunshine all around them. As she gets home, she knocks excitedly on the door as she tries to show her mommy her picture. However, her mommy comes to the door (in a depressed state) and tells her to, “STOP ALL THAT SCREAMING,” & “GET IN THIS HOUSE NOW!”

“Her morning smile has disappeared like the sun,” says Annie.

So, she calls her support system, her grandmother. She tells her grandmother what’s going on and her grandmother assures her that she didn’t do anything wrong, that her mother has problems, but hasn’t gotten the help she needs. Annie doesn’t think it’s fair that she has to take care of herself whenever her mother has “problems”. Her grandmother tells her that she knows it’s not fair, but congratulates her on remembering what to do when her mom has “problems”. She has Annie explain what to do. In an emergency, Annie is to: call her grandmother, go next door to the neighbor’s house, get her secret snack, and think happy thoughts.

I have to tell you that this book made me cry. As always, I won’t tell you how the book ends. You’re going to have to read it for yourself to find out. But, suffice it to say that it does not insult you with an unrealistic, syrupy ending. On the back cover, it simply says, Some days are good. Some days are not. I’d say that sums up the life of someone suffering from mental illness, as well as those close to them. Do yourself a favor and pick up this book, as well as some Kleenex. You’ll need it.

If you would like to learn more about Bebe Moore Campbell, click here.

The Big Elephant In The Room by Lane Smith

big elephant” Well? What is it? Is it the big elephant in the room?,” one friend asks another.

I loved this book. I thought it was cute. However, others…not so much! I read other reviews where the reviewers did not care for this book. I understand there’s an underlying theme in regard to one friend not sticking up for the other, but I liked it nonetheless. If the children pick up on that particular element, we’ll discuss it. If not, it will be just another silly Lane Smith book I’ll read to my students. N-e way, on to the review.

The Big Elephant in the Room (2009), written & illustrated by Lane Smith is a book I would recommend for children as young as 4-5. It’s a cute, silly little book. the book stars two donkey friends, one geeky and one cool.  The cool one keeps listing all these mean things that he thinks the geek is upset with him about. This is the part the other reviewers were not particularly fond of. The cool donkey rattles off a list of things he thinks the geeky donkey will be offended about. It turns out the cool donkey has “done” quite a few things to the geeky donkey. So, what is it? What could be the big elephant in the room? I guess you’re going to have to read it and find out for yourself.


ZOOM by Diane Adams

zoomZoom (2006), written by Diane Adams, and illustrated by Kevin Luthardt is a fun, rollercoaster ride of a book.

I actually meet this author. She’s a friend of my Children’s Literature teacher, Katherine, from APU. So, Katherine got her to come to the class, read the story aloud, and share her experience with us. That night in class was very laid back and relaxed. It was a welcome break from the intensity of the program. She was really nice and down to earth. I liked the book. The illustrations are colorful and the text is full of great rhymes. There were a lot of colorful little back stories. In fact, according to Diane, the illustrator actually put himself in the book. He’s the dad. Well, enough about that, on to the review.

The little boy in the story is finally tall enough to ride the DINO COASTER. He’s nervous but excited while he stands in line. He bravely climbs aboard and fastens his seatbelt. He’s a little scared, but his dad assures him that he’ll be fine.

“All aboard,” the crewman cries.

I lock my seatbelt, close my eyes.

The book describes what a child’s first rollercoaster ride would be like. The text fits together perfectly describing the ride. After reading this to my daughter (which the author personally autographed for her), she was curious about rollercoasters. If your little one is curious about rollercoasters and would like to see how it ends, you’re just going to have to read it for yourself. It’s a cute little book. You’l like it.

Carnival Of The Animals by John Lithgow

Carnival of the Animals (2004), written by John Lithgow and illustrated by Boris Kulikov, was quite a treat. It even has a music CD in the back of the book. The New York City Ballet choreographer, Christopher Wheeldon, wanted to create a new ballet based on Camille Saint-Saëns’s orchestral suite Carnival of the Animals. He asked John Lithgow to help him turn it into a children’s story with rhyming narration. Did it work? Yes, it did.

This was my latest purchase from the .99¢ store believe it or not. I got three to give away as presents for the Book Club. I’ve never seen the musical, but I did like the book. Now, on to the review.

carnival of the animals

As the book begins, we see young Oliver Pendleton Percy the Third, a mischievous imp of a lad as he stows away in the Natural History Museum. As he sleeps, once familiar folks become animals and invade his dreams.

For example, the students who went to his school

Were hyenas, determined to break every rule.

And in shabby brown tweeds with an old yellow tie on,

Professor McByrd was turned into a lion!

In his dreams exist the most dreaded of all species, The Greater New York younger sibling. Next are the twins, Aspidistra & Myrtle, who went to the park every Sunday where they’d sit and they’d stare. Recalling their years with the Follies Bergère. The book goes on to tell the story of Oliver Pendleton Percy the Third’s exploits in the museum. Wanna’ know how it ends? I guess you’re going to have to read it. Do yourself a favor and pick it up.

Bartholomew & The Oobleck by Dr. Seuss

bartholomew and the oobleckBartholomew & the Oobleck (1949), written and illustrated by Dr. Seuss, was a nice read. I don’t know how I never ending up reading this book, but I never did until this May. I read it to my class. We were supposed to make the oobleck but ended up running out of time. That’s okay ’cause I will make this one of my first science experiments when I return to work. I would recommend this book for children as young as 4 years old. Now, on to the review.

The story begins:

They still talk about it in the Kingdom of Didd as The-Year-the-King-Got-Angry-with-the-Sky. And they still talk about the page boy, Bartholomew Cubbins. If it hadn’t been for Bartholomew Cubbins, that King and that Sky would have wrecked that little Kingdom.

As usual, stories are about silly rulers who shouldn’t be rulers at all. The same holds true for this story. The king is so silly, he’s growling @ the sky. He’s actually mad about what comes down from the sky.

In the springtime when rain came down, he growled.

In the summer time when the sun shined, he growled at that.

In autumn when the fog came down, he growled at that.

In winter, when the snow came down, he became furious. So mad was he at those same four things that he commissioned his Royal magicians to create something NEW.

Does he really know what he’s asking for? Do the Royal Magicians create something new?

Of course they do. It’s called Oobleck.

What is Oobleck? This is oobleck (click here).

What happens with the oobleck is for me to know and you to find out. Go pick it up @ your local library or bookstore if you wanna’ find out.

The Quiltmaker’s Gift by Jeff Brumbeau

quiltmaker's giftThe Quiltmaker’s Gift (2000), written by Jeff Brumbeau and illustrated by Gail de Marcken, was a wonderful book. I plan on purchasing this and reading it to my class. As I sat in the bookstore, in the middle of the aisle, so engrossed was I in the story, I didn’t realize that I was blocking the way for other patrons.

I saw the front cover and just had to know what the inside held. This book is good for ages 3 yrs. -jr. high school. This book would be good for parents who have children who are having problems sharing or who like to hoard things, and it would also be good as a read-aloud for a classroom teacher. It would have to be over a couple of days ’cause it’s a little long.

Now, on to the review. I thoroughly enjoyed this book. The illustrations are wonderful. They are very colorful and full of life. The illustrations alone will capture your attention and make you want to purchase the book before even reading it. The text will let you know for sure you need to purchase this book. The message is priceless.

Here’s how the story begins. A quiltmaker, who happens to live in the clouds, makes beautiful quilts that she does not sell. She only gives them away to the poor & needy. This should not present a problem. However, it does because the king is a greedy man who expects everyone to give him gifts. The problem is he hoards the gifts he receives. He does not want to share. He has so many gifts, they are everywhere.

The king asks the quiltmaker for one of her beautiful quilts. She denies him, telling him that she only gives them to the poor & needy. Do you think that stops him? Of course it doesn’t. He’s the king. Furthermore, the quiltmaker tells the king that she’ll give him one of her quilts if he gives away the gifts he’s been hoarding.

“NO WAY,” says the king.

“Well, no way,” says the quiltmaker.

Through a series of situations in which the king tries to force the quiltmaker to give him a quilt, the king learns one of life’s most valuable lessons. What is it??? Well, I guess you’re just going to have to buy it at your local bookstore or borrow it @ your local library. Trust me, you’ll be glad you did!

Steve Harvey’s New Book

steve_harvey00-think-like-alady-book-cover-medSteve Harvey’s new book, “Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man” (2009), was a very good read. In fact, I read it in two sittings. I got it from Costco yesterday afternoon and finished it yesterday night. I would recommend it with a word of caution- Don’t read it if you get easily offended because if you know Steve Harvey, then you know that he does not bite his tongue. He tells it like it is. That’s what I really liked about it. I know the information in the book because I have talked to my husband about a lot of things in the book. So, most of the stuff in the book wasn’t new to me, but it might be new to some.

He talks about having standards, dealing with mama’s boys, and most importantly he talks about how to tell if a man is just not that into you. It’s like having an honest conversation with your daddy, uncle, or older brother. Trust me when I say that it’s well worth it. I would say that it’s mainly for single women, or women whose men won’t commit.

As always, go to your local library or bookstore. I did!

Max’s Dragon by Kate Banks

maxs-dragon51Max’s Dragon, written by Kate Banks and illustrated by Boris Kulikov, is the sequel to Max’s Words. Although it is not as well written as Max’s Words, it was still a good read.

Lovable Max is back and he’s still using his words to have fun. I like this book but it didn’t hit me like the first one. I think if I would have read this one first, I  probably wouldn’t have been so hard on this one. When something is just good, but not great like its predecessor (Max’s Words) it doesn’t go over quite as well. Even though I didn’t like this book as much as the first one, I would still read it to my students. The one thing I did like about this book is that it shows how to play with words to make a story more interesting. If you really think about it, this story (if I knew how to use it correctly) could actually be used as a tool to help students become better writers. It’s also good for helping to teach rhyming & imagination. I would love to use this for the Imagination unit in OCR. I am compiling a list of books to use for specific units. I’ll publish it when I’m finished. N-e way, on to the review.
Max and his brothers Karl & Benjamin are back. As the story opens, we see Karl & Benjamin playing a game of croquet. Max isn’t participating. Instead he is looking for words that rhyme.

“Look what I found on the ground, ” says Max as he picks up an umbrella. maxs-dragon-21

“Ready?” Max said, as Benjamin asks him who he’s talking to. Max tells him that he’s talking to his dragon. To which Karl replies that dragons don’t exist.

“Yes they do,” says Max. “There’s a dragon in my wagon.”

“We’re playing hide-and-seek, so please don’t peek,” says Max.

Suddenly Max starts running. Karl asks where he’s going. Why, he’s going to chase his dragon, of course! Just as in the first book, his brothers join in the fun as they become intrigued by his game of words. Where does this game take them? How much fun do they have playing with words? Well, I guess you’re going to have to read it to find out for yourself!

maxs-dragon-42I would say that this book is best for Kinder- 2nd. However, I know that my students would enjoy. So, go to your local library or local bookstore and pick it up.

Max’s Words by Kate Banks

Letters make sounds

Sounds make words

Words make sentences

Sentences make paragraphs

Paragraphs make stories


That is what I tell my students. This book basically echoes the same sentiment.
Max’s Words (2006), written by Kate Banks and illustrated by Boris Kulikov, was a real treat. My students totally got the concept of words making sentences. I have an activity planned for them that compliments the book. I cut up some sentence strips and placed them in a bag. Their task is to make sentences just as Max and his brothers did in the book. So, on to the review.

Max’s brother Benjamin collected stamps. He asked his brother for a stamp and his brother said no.
Max’s brother Karl collected coins. He asked his brother for a coin and his brother said no.
Max collected nothing. He wanted to collect something, so he decided to collect words.
He collected small words, big words, words that made him feel good, words of things he liked to eat, and words that he cut out of magazines and newspapers.
Max discovered that once he put the words together, he could make sentences. He discovered that if he changed them around, the sentences changed.
If he put the words this way, he got:
A blue crocodile ate the green iguana.
However, if he put the words this way, with the same words, he got:
The blue iguana ate a green crocodile.
He was intrigued. He began experimenting with the words. Soon, he didn’t want Benjamin’s stamps or Karl’s coins. He was happy with his collection. After awhile his brothers want to play with his words. What does he do?
Well, I guess you’re just going to have to read it for yourself and find out.
I highly recommend this book. It would be especially good for Kindergarteners to get the concept of words making sentences. I am on my way to the library to pick up the sequel “Max’s Dragon.” I hope it’s just as good as this one.

Punctuation Takes a Vacation by Robin Pulver

punctuationPunctuation Takes a Vacation (2004), written by Robin Pulver and illustrated by Lynn Rowe Reed, was a fantastic little book that I used with my class to really hit home how much they needed to use punctuations. When I read this, I also played the punctuation game. This is how it works- the students receive four index cards each, with which they write a period on one, an exclamation on one, a comma on another, and finally a question mark. When I read the book, I instruct the students to hold up the appropriate card. If I’m reading a sentence with an exclamation point, I exaggerate so they students understand that the exclamation point is used to show excitement. Similarly with the comma, I over exaggerate the pause. Finally, I created a worksheet with sentences from the book for classwork and from the OCR story we’re working on for homework.

Now on to the review. On the hottest, stickiest day the class had ever seen, right in the middle of a lesson about commas, Mr. Wright mopped his forehead and said, “Let’s give punctuation a vacation.”
The children cheered and headed for the playground to cool off as the punctuation marks stare at each other in disbelief. They feel so unappreciated. That is when they decide they should take a vacation and let everyone see how much they really need them.
What do you think happens after the punctuation take a vacation? Well, I guess you’re going to have to read it for yourself and find out.
I’d give this book ****/***** stars simply because I thought it could have been a little longer. I would have liked more examples for my students. I did remedy that by creating a worksheet to go with the book. It would have been much easier if the author had thought to do that, but you can’t have everything. I would say this book is appropriate for 2nd grade and up.

Quick As A Cricket by Audrey Wood

Quick as a Cricket (1982), written by Audrey Wood and illustrated by Don Wood is a cute little book. It’s been around forever. I’ve actually had it since the late 90′s when Sam & Dakota were little, but was not a teacher at the time, so, of course, I didn’t think about using it to teach similes and metaphors.
quick-as-a-cricketI read this book to my class. We are working on metaphors and similes, so this book came in very handy. The whole book is full of metaphors and similes. Once I read it, the students totally got the idea of similes and metaphors.

I took this review directly from Amazon.com. I was going to write a review of this book, but this just summed up exactly what I wanted to say.
Amazon.com Review
“I’m as quick as a cricket, I’m as slow as a snail. I’m as small as an ant, I’m as large as a whale.” Parents and teachers choose this big square book for the message of self-confidence. Toddlers love it for the singsong phrases and Don Wood’s large, silly, endearing illustrations, which feature a boy mimicking different kinds of animals. At one point, he is pictured sipping tea formally with a fancy poodle (“I’m as tame as a poodle”) and on the very next page he is swinging through trees (“I’m as wild as a chimp”). Whether brave or shy, strong or weak, in the end the young boy celebrates all different, apparently contradictory parts of himself. With a confident grin, he lifts his arms up and declares, “Put it all together and you’ve got ME!”
I found a site that had a crossword puzzle to go with this book. Here is the link.

Mr. Peabody’s Apples by Madonna

** Warning- This post is long**

Mr. Peabody’s Apples (2003), written by Madonna and illustrated by Loreen Long, was the perfect book for my class. Lately, I’ve been having problems with the students being little busybodies and starting stuff. So, when I found this book, I knew that it was simply a godsend. I am so impressed with Madonna’s writing. I read another one of her books, called The English Roses, and was quite impressed with that one also . She has written five books in all. I plan on reading them all, but for now, on to the review.


One of my students, Tag, is one of the nosiest little people I have ever met in my life. As a result, he is always in someone else’s business. I have been talking to him, but old habits die hard. So, I decided to use this book to communicate my message. Another one of my students, Nu, who I’ve been having much trouble with, of late, also has a bad habit of fabricating stories. I have been talking to him with little luck. However, he responded to this story. Whenever he said something that even sounded like he was going to tell an untruth, I reminded him about Mr. Peabody’s Apples.

The story begins with a very curious scene. You see a bunch of boys on the baseball field. They appear to be fighting. However, upon closer inspection, you can see that they are, in fact, playing baseball. I pointed this out to my students.

“What are they doing?” I asked.

“They’re fighting,” they said.

No. Look again! They’re playing baseball.

“You’re right,” they said, “they are playing baseball.”

After that, we are introduced to Mr. Peabody and his Little League team, who never really won a game, but no one cared because they had such a good time playing.

Readers are also introduced to Billy Little who loves baseball more than anything and also thinks that Mr. Peabody is the greatest. After each game, he would always stay to help pick up all the bats and balls. And when they were finished, Mr. Peabody would smile and say, “Thanks, Billy, good job. I’ll see you next Saturday.”

Then Mr. Peabody would walk home. On his way, he stopped, picked up the shiniest apple, dropped it in his bag and walked away with it. What? Tommy Tittlebottom watched as Mr. Peabody walked away. Without paying!

So, what did Tommy do? He got on his skateboard and rushed to tell his friends. This has to be a fluke. It cant’ possibly happen again, right?

Well, the same thing happened the next Saturday. On the way home, after Mr. Peabody waved to people he knew and they waved back, he went to Mr. Funkadeli’s fruit market, picked up the shiniest apple he saw and dropped it in his bag. That was all Tommy and his friends needed to see. They not only rushed home to tell all of their friends, their parents, and their parent’s neighbor. That was basically everyone in Hapville. So, what do you think happened next?

Next Saturday, no one showed up to the game, but Billy Little who told Mr. Peabody what Tommy, his friends, and everyone are saying about him. This was evident in the people’s attitudes as he walked down Main Street and waved to those he knew. The problem was that some of them didn’t wave back, while some pretended they didn’t even see him.

After Mr. Peabody straightens everything up with Billy & Mr. Funkadeli, Billy runs to find Tommy to explain everything to him. Mr. Peabody tells Billy to tell Tommy to come to his house when he’s finished.

Tommy comes to Mr. Peabody’s house, but Mr. Peabody has a curious request. He wants Tommy to bring a feather pillowcase. Tommy agrees, goes to Mr. Peabody’s house and… What happens after that, you ask! Well, I guess you’re just going to have to read it and find out for yourself.

This book is fantastic. The artwork is out of this world, and the message doesn’t just hit you over the head. It’s very subtle. I had to make my students think about it. You will too once you read it.

I would recommend this book to 3rd grade and up if you’re reading it to teach children about gossiping, being busybodies and such. I’m going to cheat a little on this one and give you a hint as to the ending. Look at the book cover above and think about what they’re doing. What do you think Mr. Peabody’s lesson to Tommy could possibly be?

Things That are Most in the World by Judi Barrett

things-that-are-most-in-the-worldThings That Are Most in the World (1988), written by Judi Barrett and illustrated by John Nickle, was a great book. It was really silly; which is exactly what I like. I used this book to introduce superlatives to my students and they totally got it.

The book begins by telling the readers what the wiggliest thing in the world is. Do you know what it is? Why, it is a snake ice-skating, of course. Next, we’re introduced to the silliest thing in the world, which, of course, is a chicken in a frog costume.

Then next thing that readers are introduced to is the quietest thing in the world. Why, it’s a worm eating peanut butter, of course. If you would like to know what other -est word is used, well, I guess you’re going to have to read it and find out for yourself.

My students got a kick out of this book. They thought it was kinda’ funny. I did too.  I would give this book *****/***** because it introduces superlatives in a funny, simple way. There is even a page at the end of the book that can be photocopied and used in class.

The _______________est  thing in the world is _____________.

If you’re introducing superlatives to your students, pick this up. If you like silly books that are also educational, you’ll like this one; your students will also.

Who Is Your Favorite Monster, MAMA? by Barbara Shook Hazen

monster-mamaWho is Your Favorite Monster, MAMA? (2006), written by Barbara Shook Hazen and illustrated by Maryann Kovalski is a cute little book dealing with jealousy & sibling rivalry.

There are three Monster children: Bruxley- the oldest, Harry- the middle child, & Bronwen- the baby. Bruxley knows that MAMA Monster loves him, Bronwen knows that MAMA Monster loves her. Oh, but poor Harry. He thinks that MAMA Monster likes his brother and sister better than she loves him.

Harry, the middle monster, was happy when his mama crooned, “Euuu, my cute little monster child, I love the way you warm my wild. I love your warts and baby bristles. I love your nails as soft as thistles. I love your fangs and furry nose. I love you, Harry, head to toes.”

Harry was happy when MAMA Monster catered to his needs; when she paid attention to him. However, he wasn’t happy when she told him to wait because she was busy with his big brother, Bruxley, or if she was burping his baby sister, Bronwen. When MAMA Monster didn’t pay attention to him, he played with his creepy beasties, Tiny, Slimy, & Whiny.

He wondered why his MAMA Monster always had more time for Bruxley and Bronwen than she did for him. He was jealous of everything his siblings did. Especially when it required MAMA Monster’s attention. MAMA Monster always liked everything they did better. So, finally, he asks: “Who is your favorite monster, Mama? Who do you love most???

Now, what mother can or would answer that question? Not one! Did Mama Monster answer that question? Nope, she didn’t. She did, however, turn it around by asking him which of his creepy crawlies he liked the best. He tells his mom that that is a silly question because each one is his favorite.

“Each one is my favorite because each is frightfully, delightfully different. I love each the most but not the same.”

His mother told him that that was just the answer she was looking for. Happy with that answer, Harry skips outside to enjoy the day.

What a cute little story. I would say that children as young as three years old would understand this book. I loved it. It reminded me of when Sam & Dakota were younger. One of them always thought I liked the other more and would often accuse me of liking the other one more. I think that anyone with more than one child should buy this book. It deals with sibling rivalry in an amusing & cute way. I think a smile will come to children’s face as they realize that the monsters in the story are just like them

So, do yourself a favor and go pick this one up! You’ll love it and so will your children.


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