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.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Harry Potter and The Sorcerer's Stone

A: Harry Potter and The Sorcerer’s Stone
B: Rowling, J.K.
C: Grandpre, Mary
D: Scholastic, 1998
E: Fantasy
F: 4-5
G: Let me just say, summarizing this book will not be easy, but here goes. This story starts with a normal family living a normal life. They do not, however, have normal relatives. Their relatives are magical and they do not associate with that crowd. Harry is their nephew and when his parents die, he must live with his aunt, uncle, and cousin. Strange things happen to Harry as he grows up, like weird dreams and objects doing strange things. When Harry Potter turns 11 he finds out his parents were wizards and that he is invited to go to school at Hogwarts to become one himself. He accepts and goes with Hagrid to a place called Diagon Alley to buy supplies for school. He also finds out that his parents left him a lot of money and that everyone in the wizarding world knows who he is. He travels to school and a train that leaves from a platform that doesn’t exists and meets several neat people, including his future best friends Ron and Hermione and his enemy Draco Malfoy. Once at Hogwarts, he had to be sorted into a house by a hat. It told him that he would make a great Slytherin but placed him in Gryffindor. Once in class, Harry’s worst teacher turns out to be Professor Snape. He also has many friends on the staff and does rather well in school. Harry also finds out he is good on a broom and made the Quidditch team as seeker. He is very good and is the envy of many because first year students are not allowed to be on the teams. At Halloween, a troll gets in to the school and Hermione tries to get it out, but Harry some how saves her and they get away. At Christmas Harry got an invisibility cloak, which is very hand later on. Harry also found a mirror in which he cold see what he wanted most, it turned out to be his parents staring back at him. Later in the school year, strange things start happening and Harry and his friends start to investigate. It all comes down to them going after the Sorcerer’s stone. They go through many trials and only Harry makes it to the end to find that the person who is trying to steal the stone is a professor, Quirrell. It turns out that Voldemort has infected him and is controlling him. Harry kept Quirrell from getting the stone and he saved the day. He will be returning to Hogwarts in the fall.
H: The first time I read this book was when I was in 8th grade. I did not want to read it and I “suffered through it,” and then I read it again and again. I guess I have read this book 5 or 6 times now, and it gets better every time. My most favorite art of this story, and it goes for all of the books, is the complex and overlapping emotion. To me, this book feels more like real life than anything I have ever read. You experience more than one emotion in real life, and you do in this book also. The most overwhelming section of the book for me was when Harry finds the mirror. “He had a powerful kind of ache inside him, half joy, half terrible sadness.” It is so full of emotion when Harry is so close to his parents, but is so far away and will never meet them. If this does not spark emotion in you, you are a lost cause. The only thing that I do not like about this book is that dumb luck saves Harry more than his knowledge or skill. I also love how Harry has an anonymous helper who gives him a broom and a cloak. He has someone looking over his back to take care of him. This is a wonderful book, I recommend it to everyone, and I will use it in my classroom if I teach older students.
I: The teaching connections for this book for me are many. One of the most obvious would be to get students interested in reading. Students quickly fall in love with this book and it will spark their interest to read the others. I also think this book is a great way to introduce fantasy to young students. This is one of the most captivating and interesting fantasy novels to date.

Monday, April 7, 2008


A: Rosa
B: Giovanni, Nikki
C: Collier, Bryan
D: Scholastic, 2005
E: Nonfiction Picture Book, Multicultural, Caldecott Honor Book, Coretta Scott King Award
F: 2-5
G: Rosa was having a good day. Her mother was feeling better and her husband had just gotten more work. She went to work and even got off early enough that she might have time to make meatloaf. When she got on the bus to go home, she had to sit in the neutral section, not for blacks or whites. Well, the bus filled up and white people wanted to sit, but Rosa decided she had a right to sit there and she would not give up her seat. She was then arrested and the news spread very quickly and the women soon jumped into action. They made posters to ask people not to ride the busses and support Rosa. The walking protest lasted for almost a year with people donating things, Dr. Martian Luther King Jr. preaching, and people everywhere marching. Finally the Supreme Court said that separate was not equal and separate bus seats and other things was illegal. All of this because one woman would not give up her seat.
H: This book moved me. I was not expecting such a wonderful story of Rosa Parks when I opened this book. I thought it would be cute and get the point across, but it turned out to be much more. The biggest selling point of this book for me was the illustrations. I felt that the cut pictures, card stock, and construction paper added something that would not be able to be obtained with paint of pencil. It added an almost surreal feeling, while still looking similar to real life. I also loved how the story was presented. Nothing was sugar coated; Rosa was not some super hero. It showed how she was just a normal person who stood up for what she believed and what happened because of it. This was a great book.
I: I will use this book in any elementary grade level I teach. I think it will be a great story to read aloud to younger children and good for older students to read to themselves. This book will also be a great way to introduce civil rights into a social study lesson, or just moral character. This is a wonderful book with lots of potential.

All About Rattlesnakes

A: All About Rattlesnakes
B: Arnosky, Jim
D: Scholastic, 1997
E: Nonfiction Picture Book
F: 1-3
G: This book starts with a life size picture of an eastern diamondback rattlesnake. It then states some questions that will be answered by this book. The book describes what rattlesnakes are and the different types and where they live. It describes the different parts of the snakes from the types of scales to the rattles to their fangs and poison sacks. It then tells us about how the snakes maintain their body temperature and how and what they hunt. It then discusses how they eat and what eats them. The book ends by telling us that we are the main reason rattlesnakes are in danger and what we can do to help.
H: This book is everything I thought it would be. I was not amazed at the illustrations, but I did however think they are well done. I also really liked the content and think it will be very useful in a classroom, but I was not blown away. I do think that this will be a good book to use in a class and I have seen it used in the class I am in for block 1.
G: I have seen this book used for the study of animals and life cycles in 2nd grade science. This is what this book was made for. There are many way this book can be used to bring reading into science.

The Remarkable Benjamin Franklin

A: The Remarkable Benjamin Franklin
B: Harness, Cheryl
D: National Geographic Society, 2005
E: Nonfiction Picture Book
F: 3-5
G: Ben Franklin was the tenth generation youngest son of a youngest son and his father knew he would be special. He grew quickly and started working a printer. One night he decided to leave his home in Boston and runaway, he ended up in Philadelphia where he quickly started working again as a printer. He wished to open his own shop, but lacking money he took the offer of the governor to go to England and he would provide the needed money. Once in England, Ben found out that the governor had lied and he was stranded. He worked for a time and the returned home to find his girlfriend had married someone else. He had a son and did finally marry is lost girlfriend and together they had Ben’s second son and a daughter. Ben also led several clubs and opened his own printing shop. He also started making inventions and studying the world around him. He discovered many things about electricity and he printed the first political cartoon. Ben even traveled to England to try to resolve the problems between the colonies and England, but to no avail and he son sided with the Patriots. When he returned home, his wife had died and his daughter was married. He helped form the original government of the colonies and helped write the Declaration of Independence. He also traveled to France to ask for help in the war with England and was treaded like royalty. Once home he was happy with the newly free country and helped write the new constitution. He lived many more years, happy and always thinking about the world.
H: This book turned out to be much more than I expected it to be. It provided a much more in-depth look at Benjamin Franklin than I was expecting. I was impressed at how this book takes so much information and offers in a way that younger children can read and understand the importance Ben Franklin had on our lives today. I also really love the illustrations in this book. They use very vivid colors, but still look as if they are from the time period. This life like appeal really drew me into this book.
My most favorite part was, however, the quotations at the bottom of each page. Quotes directly from Ben and other sources of the time are provided to reinforce the text and they also include their own illustrations. I loved this aspect of the book.
I: This would be a great book for 5th grade history. It would provide vast amounts of information to them, in a format that they can read. I also think this would be good to use parts of in a science lesson in any grade from 3rd to 5th. We could recreate some of his inventions or make our own.

Ben Franklin


Wise, Witty, Inventive, Virtuous
Husband to Debbie, Father to William, Francis, & Sally
Lover of Peace, Knowledge, & Idealism
Who feels Happy, Content, & Appreciated
Who finds happiness in Industry, Frugality, & Order
Who needs Discoveries, Love, & Cool morning air
Who gives Himself, His Knowledge, & His Love
Who fears it won’t work, We won’t win, Nothing
Who would like to see William on his side
Who enjoys soaking naked in the cool morning air
Who likes to wear his spectacles when he thinks
Resident of The United States of America, Philadelphia, PA

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

I poem

Writing an I poem was a lot harder than I expected. I love to write poetry, but this one was hard. I found the hardest thing was to draw connections between the two books. After I got started, it did start rolling a bit better. I will publish it here shortly.