Monday, January 28, 2008
Sunday, January 27, 2008
Three-dimensional illustrations accompany the story of how electricity flows from the power plant to homes through wires, step up and step down transformers through the service head and the meter box and into each house. This would be a great addition to the fourth grade electricity unit.
Friday, January 25, 2008
A variety of medieval young people from a lord's nephew to a falconer's son and a varlet's daughter speak in monologues (with two dialogues) about their work, roles, and lives in the village. Each has a distinctive voice, they sometimes reference each other, and all provide first-hand insight into life in the middle ages. This is a book distinguished by concept, text, and design. Many facts are provided in the margins and always anticipate the reader's curiosity along with a few longer explanatory passages.
When the class lines up by height, Charlie is always last. One day his teacher brings three pumpkins to class: big, medium, and small and students predict how many seeds will be in each. When the seeds are counted, the smallest pumpkin has the most and Charlie notes, "Small things can have a lot going on inside them." This book has a lot of mathematics going on; beyond predictions there is the problem of how to count a lot of seeds. The students agree to count by twos, fives, and tens. When Charlie groups the seeds from the smallest pumpkin by tens, he ends up with thirty five groups or 350.
The apple pie that papa baked came from apples "juicy and red" he picked from a tree "crooked and strong" nourished by rain, "cool and fresh" and the sun "fiery and bright" in a world "blooming with life." Told as cumulative verse, the story traces the interconnections of the sun, clouds, and life on earth. Black, brown, and red illustrations against a creamy background have an old-fashioned feel indicative of the influence of Wanda Gag and Virginia Lee Burton on the illustrator. Rich with vocabulary, this cheery book will find applications in the perennial apple units in primary grades.
Thursday, January 24, 2008
Turkey vultures soar high in the air, sniff and seek food in a simple text accompanied by striking cut paper illustrations. Two pages of notes follow about the vulture family including a list of turkey vulture festivals across the country. This is a very dignified treatment of these scavengers accessible to new readers but also an important source of information for curriculum up through fifth grade ecosystems.
The humorous text is a mixture of narrative, letters, and black and white illustrations by the author plus actual comic strips that move the story forward. It is a very light-hearted approach to science fiction and could even be used as a read aloud. It should be an easy sell to a middle school audience.
The tale is humorous and introduces Jewish culture and several of its frequently used words, yet Fleischman also paints a realistic picture of the horrors that befell the Jewish children during the Holocaust.
The story can be read on many levels and is an interesting addition to middle school Holocaust literature.
Monday, January 21, 2008
Cinderella has variants around the world and this gorgeous presentation melds them into one story with features from Appalachia, Ireland, Russia, Iraq, Zimbabwe, and Japan among others. The decorative illustrations also blend motifs from these many cultures into an attractive and appealing whole. Most library collections hold numerous and scattered variants of this familiar tale; this story offers a satisfying introduction and synthesis.
Grades 2 up.
Grades 2 - up
Sunday, January 20, 2008
Grades 4 and up
This is a simple telling of the story of Henry "Box" Brown, a slave who mailed himself to freedom in a wooden box. Rich, colorful, cross-hatched paintings complement the text. Henry had ample reasons to want to escape slavery. The story follows him from childhood up to the point that he emerges from his box. Any study of American history or Black history could include this title. It will work as a read-aloud.
Grades 3 and up
Wednesday, January 16, 2008
Most of the insects and spiders in this collection of poems are familiar to young readers. A variety of poetic forms are featured including several poems for two voices. The black and white illustrations and design is used effectively with some pages using white on black. For poetry and insect units.
Tuesday, January 15, 2008
Sunday, January 13, 2008
Saturday, January 12, 2008
Brave Beowulf fights against the evil ogre Grendel and his hag mother in this retelling for young readers of the famous Old English heroic poem. The pen, ink, and watercolor pictures support the story wonderfully with green and murky tones and menacing dragons. And as if the story were not brilliant in and of itself, the author, in an end note, introduces his young readers to a glimpse of the etymology of the English language.....and states that with the exception of only six words, all of the words used in his retelling are Anglo-Saxon. An exquisitedly re-told classic, certainly violent, but still within upper elementary school limits.
Grades 4-6, strong-hearted and up
Friday, January 11, 2008
Thursday, January 10, 2008
Wednesday, January 9, 2008
During the Civil War, Vinnie Ream, a young girl of fourteen finds employment at the Post Office but longs to create sculpture. She approaches Clark Mills, a famous sculptor who is impressed by her talent and hires her as his apprentice. Soon she is creating sculptures of congressmen and earns the chance to sculpt Abraham Lincoln. Following Lincoln's assasination, she wins a commission from Congress to create a statue for the Capitol rotunda. This is a remarkable true story of a young girl's talent and perseverance as well as a time period when women were gaining opportunities and recognition.
The Snow Baby: The Arctic childhood of Admiral Robert E. Peary's daring daughter, by Katherine Kirkpatrick
Thursday, January 3, 2008
Wednesday, January 2, 2008
Potential for him being a whiny slacker is avoided in the creative and always witty tales Jack weaves. The reader (and listener) understands completely and sympathetically exactly why Jack couldn’t possible take that job – what ever it may be. We have a slightly predictable but satisfying enough ending.
A short author’s note at the beginning says these are tales from Jamaica dating from 1720 but there aren’t any resource notes.
Illustrator: Kinney, Jeff
Publisher: harry n. abrams, inc.
ISBN (library bind): 0-8109-9313-9
Call number: 741.5 KIN
This book is a must have for all middle schoolers. Greh Heffley is a 6th grader who wants to make his mark in the school. In his attempts of making his mark his has tried weightlifting, creating the ultimate haunted house, trying for class treasurer, and trying to bet the World Record for the biggest snowman. However his attempts never work because he is always caught in the wrong place at the wrong time. Middle school readers can relate to the typical teenage problems. The author is clever is using cartoons to play up the humor of the book.
Recommended grade levels: 4 grade – 7 grade
Character Education: Middle School, Friendship, Diaries, Humor
Other: graphic novel/comic