Monday, August 20, 2007

Lucky Jake, by Sharon Hart Addy

Illus. by Wade Zahares.

Jake longs for a dog and when his prospector father finds a nugget of gold, part of it goes to pay for a pig he names Dog. Thus begins a string of luck and hard work that ultimately results in father and son opening a restaurant and trading post. The refrain of "Yup. Lucky" throughout the sequence of events punctuates the storytelling. The illustrator's electric and surreal use of color, line, and perspective are a visual treat. Could be used to teach cause and effect or sequencing, this is definitely a title for read aloud.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Dogs and Cats, by Steve Jenkins.

Dogs and cats each deserve their own book and here the reader is given both in one package. Read about cats; flip the book and read about dogs. Lots of interesting facts are presented about each of these popular pets including descriptions of their variety, how they came to live with people, what makes each one special, and unique facts about each. The illustrator's trademark textured collage illustrations complete the package.

Grades 2-5

Me I Am! by Jack Prelutsky

There's only one me! as this lively poem emphasizes through the expressive illustrations of three young children each with a distinct personality: a girl who is active and imaginative, a boy who is a more contemplative young scientist, and another girl who performs as a dancer. This bright picture book celebrates individuality with a read aloud poetic text.

Grades PreK-1

Hurricane Force: In the Path of America's Deadliest Storms, by Joseph B. Treaster

A reporter for the New York Times engagingly presents the inside story of hurricanes, both the latest science and technology of forecasting and the impact on people of storms including the recent Katrina. Written by a journalist with excerpts from newspaper articles, the text draws in the reader with lots of human interest while presenting the latest technology used to describe, predict, and track hurricanes as they develop and potentially threaten populations in their path. The inside story from a reporter who was on the ground in New Orleans for Katrina and the aftermath is compelling drama.

Grades 5-8

It's Probably Penny, by Loreen Leedy

Lisa and Penny are back. This time the assignment concerns prediction and probability: what might happen, what is impossible, and what are equal and unequal chances. Will Penny want to go on a walk, bark at a squirrel, or see a shark? And who probably ate the missing peanut butter and jelly sandwich? Here's another mathematical topic that lends itself well to a picture book and the antics of Penny.

Here's a Little Poem: A Very First Book of Poetry

Collected by Jane Yolen and Andrew Fusek Peters.
Illus. by Polly Dunbar.

Exuberant poetry for the very young is presented in four sections: Me Myself and I, Who lives in my house?, I go outside, and Time for bed. The oversized presentation includes bright colored illustrations of a diversity of children and animals bound to appeal and appropriate for sharing with a group as well as individually. The unique selection of poems are on target for the audience.

Grades PreK-1

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

A Good Day, by Kevin Henkes

What starts out as a bad day for a bird, a fox, a dog, and a squirrel ends well for all and especially for the little girl who finds the pretty feather the bird lost. A very simple, repetitive text pairs perfectly with expressive illustrations. The rhythm and mood of this story are perfect for very young listeners.

Grades PreK-1

Monday, August 13, 2007

Sweet Land of Liberty, by Deborah Hopkinson

Illus. by Leonard Jenkins.

As a child, Oscar Chapman was expelled from school for hanging a picture of Abraham Lincoln in the school. As an adult he was Assistant Secretary of State when Marian Anderson was told she couldn't sing at Constitution Hall and he helps clear the way for her to sing in front of the Lincoln Memorial instead. Interesting back story to the Marian Anderson story presented in picture book format suitable for reading aloud.

Grades 3 up

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Animal Poems, by Valerie Worth

Illus. by Steve Jenkins

Selected posthumously, this collection of poems are all about animals familiar to most children for example the porcupine, snake, and gorilla. The poetry makes amazing use of language and imagery to portray the familiar in surprising and unfamiliar ways: a snail's house includes a spiral stairwell; a penguin is "cheerful as a housecat"; and the hummingbird, "flew like a spark from the earliest star." Each poem has its own doublespread with striking cut paper illustrations offset with plenty of white space.

Grades 3 up

Today and Today: Haiku by Issa

Illus. by G. Brian Karas

Haiku by the eighteenth century Japanese poet, Issa, are arranged by season and accompanied by illustrations that tell a quiet story of a family experiencing nature, togetherness and loss. Not so much a narrative as a string of moments encapsulated in spare haiku and evocative illustrations.

Grades 2-4

1607: A New Look at Jamestown, by Karen E. Long

Photos by Ira Block

On the 400th commemoration of the founding of Jamestown, this book looks at the newest archaeological findings about this early settlement including details about trade and conflict with the Native Americans. Traces many roots of our country's economy, government, and way of life to this early and tenuous settlement in all its complexity.

Shells! Shells! Shells! by Nancy Elizabeth Wallace

Buddy, a young bear and his mother visit the beach and talk about the many seashells they find. Photographs of the seashells interspersed with the brightly colored collage illustrations assist young readers in identifying their own beach finds. The text conveys numerous facts about mollusks along with some silly word play.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

A Seed is Sleepy, by Dianna Hutts Aston.

Illus. by Sylvia Long.

Sleepy, secretive, fruitful, naked, and adventurous are among the adjectives applied to a variety of seeds in cursive text while delicate watercolor illustrations depict a gorgeous selection of small and large seeds, their life cycles, and the plants they grow into.

Grades 1-3

A Second is a Hiccup: A Child's Book of Time, by Hazel Hutchins

Illus. by Kady Macdonald Denton

How long is a second, a minute, an hour, a day, a week, a month, and a year? These common units of time are explained relative to each other and to events in a young child's life. Watercolor illustrations depict young children from two families in this appealing introduction or summary to time lessons.

Grades K-2

Pictures from our Vacation, by Lynne Rae Perkins

On a road trip to visit relatives, a brother and sister are each given cameras that make instant photo stickers to put in notebook journals. The trip to visit grandparents includes a search for a lake dad remembers, a memorial service for a great-aunt, and numerous relatives. The photographs are child-like images of feet, clouds, and electric towers that fail to capture the words and stories that also linger in the mind of the narrator. Fun to extend to writing personal narratives.

Grades 2-4

The New Policeman, by Kate Thompson

There never seems to be enough time in Kinvara, a town in Ireland and as J.J. soon discovers, time is also a problem in the magical land of Tir na n'Og. The two are connected in many mysterious ways but particularly by traditional Irish music sprinkled throughout the text. A compelling and mysterious fantasy.

Grades 6 and up

Tracking trash: flotsam, jetsam, and the science of ocean motion, by Loree Griffin Burns

Dr. Curtis Ebbesmeyer is a scientist and an expert on flotsam and jetsam. He tracks loads of sneakers and plastic bathtub toys that have fallen from cargo ships and washed up on beaches around the world in order to understand the ocean's currents. Aided by amateur beachcombers and computer simulations, Ebbesmeyer's work is fascinating to read about. The discovery that there are "garbage patches" where currents have distributed loads of our trash is a cautionary reminder of our impact on the health of our oceans and our earth.

Connect: Flotsam, by David Wiesner (2006)

Grades 4-8