Tuesday, April 29, 2008

"A mouse with lioness's voice"

A: Becoming Naomi Leon
B: Ryan, Pam Munoz
D: Scholastic 2004
E: Multicultural Novel, Realistic Fiction
F: 4-6
G: Naomi Leon and her brother Owen live with their great-grandmother because their mother left them to “find her life.” They live in southern California in a trailer. They have their normal lives interrupted one day when their mother shows up on their doorstep. She says she has changed her ways, but they soon find out she has been drinking, in rehab, and back to drinking. Her and her new boyfriend want to take Naomi away. In order to stop this, Gram and the neighbors pack up the trailer and head to find Naomi and Owen’s father in Mexico. While down there, Naomi carves a lion for La Noche de los Rabanos. Her father finally shows up and they have a very tearful reunion. He writes a letter to the judge that the kids should stay with Gram, and he also want to see them once a year at least. Once back in the U.S. they go to court and Gram wins custody of Naomi and Owen after Naomi gives testimony against her mother. Everything ends the same as the beginning, only differently.
H: This was a book that I did not look forward to reading. I just did not wish to read another novel, but I am glad that I read it. This is a wonderful piece of multicultural literature.
The author of this book seamlessly weaves two cultures together through the use of believable situations. Naomi’s father was from Mexico, actually the state of Oaxaca, in a town on the coast. She weaves in traditional aspects of the Mexican culture such as La Noche de los Rabanos wile keeping the story flowing and believable. This culture does not feel forced on the reader and flows naturally throughout the story. One custom that is explained very well is Las Posadas. This is a parade were towns people go from house to house looking for a place to stay, reenacting the trials of Mary and Joseph. We get a first hand account of how candles are lit, how they are tuned away then the families join everyone in the street, how the little boys get firecracker, and how they are finally let into a house and have a big celebration. This is a wonderful look into true Mexican culture.
The perspective of this book could almost be described as an outsider how is brought in and embraced. I feel that the Mexican society in this book accepts Naomi and Owen, the opposite of many Americans. This gives a firsthand account of this girl's struggles to find not only her Mexican father, but also her Mexican self. We get to see her grow in this culture; she learns some of the language and many of the traditions.
I felt like this story did have a few stereotypes in it. When someone thinks of white trash, I see someone who fits the description of Naomi’s mother to a tee. On the other hand I think it breaks a lot of Mexican stereotypes. Many people think that all Mexican looking people can speak Spanish, but even a woman living in Mexico did not speak Spanish she spoke zapotec. I also feel that some people think Mexicans are all poop and uncivilized and mean. This book shows that the Mexican culture is very accepting and kind. It also revels the wonderfully rich traditions. This book does a great job of breaking down many of the stereotypes people have about Hispanics.
I also loved the used of Spanish by the author. Naomi knows no Spanish, but quickly picks it up. The author offers us the real words and the translation, such as pan dulce (sweet breakfast bread) or la catedral (the church). This, I feel, is a valuable pert of the story and it add another dimension to this book. I feel that it is worked in seamlessly and without it the book would be nowhere as good.
I: This book will be a wonderful tool for the upper elementary classroom. I will use this book in the 5th grade when we start talking about and studying Mexico. This will be a great way to work into Mexican culture and will show the connection that many people have to other countries. I also just think that this book will be a great instrument in snuffing out stereotypes. It breaks down many racial and cultural barriers and this is something that will be very valuable for kids to read and experience.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Diary of a Worm

A: Diary of a Worm
B: Cronin, Doreen
C: Bliss, Harry
D: HarperCollins, 2004
E: fiction Picture Book
F: K-3
G: Its not easy to be a worm. But there are some things to remember. Worm faces a lot of things. The earth needs him to dig tunnels, and he can’t bother Daddy while he is eating the paper. His best friend is Spider. He tries to teach Spider to dig and Spider tries to teach him how to walk upside down. Neither one works very well. When fishing season starts, they must dig deeper and after it rains, he must watch out for hopscotch players. Worm got hungry at lunch in April and ate his homework, and the sentences he had to write. Worm also likes to scare the girls on the playground and make them scream. He had a nightmare about birds playing hopscotch. Spider made him sad by making fun of him not having legs, but worm made him laugh and they were friends again. Worm even went to the dance. He insulted his sister and got in trouble and gave some bad thing about being a worm. In the end he reminds us that the earth needs them.
H: I really liked this book. I have heard a lot of good things about this about this book and I was anxious to read it for myself. The simple, yet descriptive artwork is what caught my eye from the start. It is not of the wall or over the top; it just provides a great backdrop for this story. I also like how the illustrator changes the spreads from small pictures to full 2 page spreads. The story can almost be told entirely from the pictures, they do that good of a job depicting the story. I also loved the format of this book. I have not had the chance to read a journal picture book. This is a great concept that students can really benefit from. This book is also not as simple as some other picture books. This journal form would make it harder for younger readers to understand, but is great for a bit older students. I also like the lessons presented in this book. It talks on manners, friendship, family relationships, and the importance of worms. Overall, this is a great book and I will be reading more from this author.
I: This book will be a valuable tool in many classroom settings. It can be implemented in a first or second grade classroom to introduce journal writing. This book will show them that your entries do not have to be very long, just say what is needed. I would also like to use this book near Earth Day to show how worms play a great part in the environment. Their tunnels help the earth breath. I also think that maybe this book could be used in a kindergarten class to talk about the relationship within families.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

The Blue Day Book for Kids

A: The Blue Day Book for Kids
B: Greive, Bradley Trevor
D: Andrews McMeel Publishing, 2006
E: Picture Book
F: K-2
G: This book starts by asking a question, “Have you ever had a blur day?” It then follows this by explaining that a blue day is a day where nothing goes your way, you feel bad, lonely, grumpy, shy, or pooped. It then explains that sometimes you have blue days and others don’t understand, pick on you, or hurt your feelings. It also brings up some causes of blue days such as being put in time out at school, having to share something, getting yelled at, eating Brussels sprouts, and you don’t fit in. After telling all about blue days and what causes them, it offers some solutions to your blue day. These solutions include taking a nap, singing, dancing, playing, standing on your head, talking to friends, or doing something crazy. By the end everyone is smiling and not having a blue day anymore.
H: This is a very cute book that conveys a great message. I will start by talking about the illustrations. This book is full of wonderful black and white pictures of animals doing some crazy things. I wanted to learn more about these pictures and found that were taken by various people and can all be found at www.btgstudios.com. This is a cool feature. I love how detailed these pictures are and them being in black and white really makes this book pop. It sets the mood as a blue day, but add flair at the same time. I also really love the message of this book; how to cheer you up. This is a skill that is hard to teach to children, but is one that they will need throughout their lives. This book offers it in a way that children will love and understand. I think this book will be a wonderful asset to not only a classroom, but also a home with young children.
I: This book will serve as a great resource in the elementary classroom. This will be a great book for early in kindergarten to help kids understand that everyday is not a great day, but there are things you can do to make yourself feel better. This will stay with them throughout school and life and will help them tremendously. I also think that this will make a great book for free reading in 1st grade. When students are feeling down, they can read this book and it will cheer them up.

Don't Let the Pigeon Stay Up Late

A: Don’t Let the Pigeon Stay Up Late
B: Mo Willems
D: Scholastic, 2006
E: Modern fantasy Picture book
F: K-2
G: This books starts by a very nice man asking if you will help him out and not let Pigeon stay up late. The Pigeon makes good and well that you know it is not sleepy. It says it is not sleepy; it actually wants to have a hot dog party. It goes on to mention TV shows, only 5 minutes. It then freaks out because you will not let it stay up. Pigeon also wants to talk about your day, count the stars, get water, and many other things to get out of going to sleep. It finally starts to yawn and get sleepy. Pigeon finally drifts off and falls asleep, and you get thanked for putting him to bed.
H: This is the first book my Mo Willems that I have read. I really like his style of writing and illustrating. My first impression of this book is that it is a very cute book and it would be a fun read. As I started to read I loved the fact that the story starts as soon as the book is opened, there are not tons of empty pages. I also like how this book talks to the reader and keeps you engaged the whole time. This aspect of the story is not something that has been seen much before now, but it a great way to write a children’s book. I also really like the artwork in this book. It looks like it is cut paper with crayons outlining the shapes. This is a simple style of art that is very effective in this book. The way Mo uses the words to express the emotion in the book is also really interesting. The emotion felt when the Pigeon yell that it is not sleepy is intense. I loved this book and look forward to reading more books by Mo Willems.
I: This book would be great in a kindergarten classroom to get kids started reading. It contains only small words and is predictable. It is also a story that can be figured out by the pictures only. This book will also be great to introduce kids into a lesson about the importance of sleeping. This would be a great book for the classroom.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Big Black Bear

A: Big Black Bear
B: Yee, Wong Herbert
D: Scholastic, 1993
E: Picture Book, Fable
F: K-1
G: Big black Bear smelled something in the woods. It made him hungry and he headed into the city. He found the house it was coming from and went in. The girl there was nice but the Big Black Bear was not and caused some problems and said he was going to eat the little girl. However, Big Black Bears mother showed up and set him straight and he apologized and asked nicely for food. They made up and became friends.
H: This is a very cute book. I liked the way that the book rhymed; it is like an illustrated poem. This rhyming gives the story a very good flow that is great for young readers. The colors of this book are very vivid. This is also a sign to me that this book is for young readers. The lines are simple and the pages are uncluttered, but the colors are bright and alive. The movements of both the girl and the bear are very life like and realistic. This story also has a moral to it. I loved how this story ended when the mother bear showed up and made her child make up for the trouble he caused. This lesson of treating people right is one that I think is important for kids to learn early.
I: This book would be great in a kindergarten or first grade class to teach how to treat others. The students would be drown in by the story then pleased with how it turns out. This would also be good to use when teaching about family in kindergarten. The relationship between mother bear and little bear will help show the relationships within a family. This book can also be used with beginning readers. They will be able to quickly figure out the text, it does not have large words and the rhyming makes it flow well.

Monday, April 21, 2008



How many slams in an old screen door?
Depends how loud you shut it.
How many slices in a bread?
Depends on how thin you cut it.
How much good inside a day?
Depends how good you live ‘em.
How much love inside a friend?
Depends how much you give ‘em.

This Poem is by Shel Silverstein and is in "A Light In The Attic."

I have been a fan of poetry since I was very young. I guess I was the odd child, by I think it is a lot easier to write than anything else. I have also been a fan of Shel Silverstein for a very long time.
This is one of my most favorite poems by him. This poem does not take a lot of pulling apart to understand the meaning. It tells all right on the page. This does not mean that you cannot read into it though. When I first read this poem, I was struck by how is changes from meaningless things to things that are required for life. I have always tried to live my live like I stole it and I think this poem does a great job of summing this up. Life is what you make it. I also think this is a great message for young readers to hear. They can do what they want in life, but it will only be as good as they make it.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Out Of The Dust

A: Out Of The Dust
B: Hesse, Karen
D: Scholastic, 1997
E: Realistic Fiction, Newberry Medal Winner
F: 4-6
G: Billie Jo was born to a family living in Kansas before the dust bowl. Her mom was pregnant with another child, around the same time as the worst of the dust bowl settled in. They had a rough time on the farm, nothing would grow and they were not doing well. One thing that helped Billie Jo was playing piano. Her mother taught her to play and she was good, she even got paid to play at times. One morning in July 1934, Billie Jo’s father left a can of kerosene next to the stove and her mother thought it was water, poured it into a pot, it caught fire, her mother ran out to get her dad, but Billie Jo tried to toss it out the door and it hit her mother. It burned her bad and burned Billie Jo’s hands when she tried to put it out. This killed her mother and newly born baby brother, this lead to a riff between her and her father. Billie could not play the piano well anymore and her father was pulled away from everything around him. All the while, dust storms were coming and going and rain was nowhere to be found. Eventually Billie Jo needed to escape and ran away, but she soon returned. When she got back, her relationship with her father became a lot better. He father also found a new lady and was falling in love. Billie Jo cam to like her and the story ended with them all happy again.
H: This is a book that has so much more in it that I first expected. I never expected a book about the dust bowl to include such happiness, arts involvement, tragedy, and so many other emotions. This book had some shock value to it also. Some emotions and situations just appeared suddenly, while others festered for a long time. I can defiantly say that nothing in this book was predicable.
It started slow and I took a long time to get settled into the story, free verse poetry does that to me. Billie Jo is a wonderful piano player; this is what first got me drown into the story. I was then shocked as this taken was taken as fast as her mother and brother. This was the turning point for me. The book went from a nice story about a bad time to a tragedy in a horrible time. I was engulfed in emotion when Billie Jo tossed the burning pail out the door and hit her mother by accident. This is an unfortunate even that could happen to almost anyone.
I was also wrapped up in the dealings between Billie Jo and her father after her mother died. A wall was built between them and neither one knew how to tare it down. The poetry added to the feeling. It provided just enough detail to give you a picture, but vague enough to keep you guessing and to let you add in some details. This made the book an easy read that also provided a wonderfully vivid story.
I thought this book was awesome and defiantly has potential to be used in a classroom.
I: I think this book would be a great way to teach what the dust bowl was and how it affected the people who lived at that time. I also think it would be a great way to help students see how families deal with tragedy and what it can do to a family. This book would also be a great way to teach free verse poetry. Most students are afraid of poems, but reading this book will help them to see that poetry is not a scary thing.