Thursday, April 21, 2011

the Storyteller's Candle/La velita de los cuentos by Lucia Gonzalez

Title: the Storyteller's Candle
Author: Lucia Gonzalez
Illustrator: Lulu Delacre
Copyright: 2008, Children's Book Press, San Francisco, California.
Grade: 2- higher elementary

This story is about Pura Belpre, the first Puerto Rican woman to become a librarian. It's a story about her inviting people into the library and letting them know the library is for everyone, even those who speak Spanish.

Pre-Reading Activity:Talk about importance of books. Have children write and illustrate their own book. Or create one book for the whole class that can be added to the schools library for everyone to see.

Post-Reading Activity:
Take a trip to the library with the students and have them pick out a bilingual book.

This is a great non-fictional story about a Puerto Rican woman who becomes a first librarian. I think it's a wonderful book that can teach children about this woman, and about the importance of the library. Since it's also written in Spanish, I think it's a great book for those who don't speak English or who are learning English.

About the Author:
Lucia Gonzalez was born in Havana, Cuba in 1957. Currently she lives in Miami, Florida. Lucia has always been fascinated by stories from other countries. Today, she is a published author of children's books. Some of the books she has written are The Storyteller's Candle/La velita de los cuentos and Bossy Gallito/El Gallo De Bodas.

 “My dream became to compile some of the most popular stories told to children throughout the Americas and retell them in English so that I could pass them onto our children in the U.S.A.”

About the Author

Young Pele: Soccer's first star by Lesa Cline-Ransome

Title: Young Pele: Soccer's First Star
Author: Lesa Cline-Ransome
Illustrator: James E. Ransome
Copyright: 2007, Schwartz & Wade Books
Grade: 2-5
Theme: Soccer, Winning, Fans.

This is a story about a young boy whose mind was always on the field. When he was sitting in class or doing anything, he was thinking about playing soccer. Whenever he had a chance he was out on the field playing soccer with his friends. He started playing for a team, and in the end he scored a goal at the youth soccer tournament.

* Pele grew up to be the greatest player of soccer the world has ever known.

Pre-Reading Activity:
Have children talk about their favorite sport. Have them draw a picture of them playing some kind of a sport that they enjoy.

Post-Reading Activity:
Have children use computers to research about Pele. Teacher can always pick a few websites that the students can look at.

I really liked this book because I am a big soccer fan. It was nice to see how much this boy enjoyed playing soccer. It seemed that all that mattered to him was being out there on the field, and trying his hardest. it's nice to see his dedication and love for this sport. This is definitely a book for soccer fans! I enjoyed all the pictures too; they were full of color. Also, Pele is from Brazil, so it's a good way to talk about Brazil in classroom : )  ... it's always been a dream of mine to go and visit there : ) : ) : )

About the Author:
Lesa grew up in Malden, MA. She is a daughter of two nurses, and she is the youngest daughter of three. her mother used to take her to the library all the time and read to her. She enjoyed reading books and decided to start writing children's books herself one day. She began writing stories one day when her mother gave her a diary as a present. After getting married and after the birth of their child, James E. Ransome encouraged Lesa to start writing children's books.

"The foot of the poor man doesn't have a size"
* this is an amazing quote from the book. I think it is so true, because when you're poor and you can't afford shoes you don't really have a choice to pick and choose. You take what you can get and you appreciate it.

No English by Jacqueline Jules

Title: No English
Author: Jacqueline Jules
Illustrator: Amy Huntington
Copyright: 2007, Mitten Press.
Grade: 1-6
Theme: Friendship, Language Barriers

Synopsis:This story is about a girl named Blanca who is from Argentina and who speaks no English. All Blanca does is draw pictures in class instead of doing classroom, and this does not seem fair to Diane. Diane tries to do the same as Blanca, but Diane only gets in trouble. Their teacher encourages them all to be friends, even though Blanca might not speak the same language as everyone else does. Diane finds a way to communicate with Blanca in the end.

Pre-Reading Activity:Teacher can talk a little bit about the Spanish culture. Maybe bring in some books from other countries too and talk about different cultures. Teacher can have students share what they have to say and also share something about their own cultures.

Post-Reading Activity:
Students will discuss in small groups what they would do if there was someone in their classroom that speaks no English.

This book reminds me of the time when I first moved to America and spoke no English. I remember some cruel kids who would make fun of me just because I didn't understand what they were saying. for the longest time, kids would come up to me and ask me if someone was my boyfriend and since I knew what "boy" meant and I knew what "friend" meant I always nodded yes. The fact is I never understood what boy and friend meant together. So, I definitely understand what this girl must have been going through, and I think this book should be read to younger kids to make them aware of this. It's hard being from a different country and not understanding the language, and it is important that people around you understand what you are going through. I would recommend this book to all teachers, because all students must be aware of cultural/language barriers.

About The Author:
Jacqueline Jules has always wanted to be a writer. When she was asked what she wanted to be when she grew up in third grade, she wrote "writer". She became a writer because she enjoys playing with words. Ever since she was young she enjoyed reading, and still enjoys a good book. In addition to writing books and poetry, Jacqueline is also a teacher and a librarian.

Authors website

Inchworm and a Half by Elinor J. Pinczes

Title: Inchworm and a Half
Author: Elinor J. Pinczes
Illustrator: randall Enos
Copyright: 2001, Houghton Mifflin Company, New York.
Grade: 2-5
Theme: math, measuring, fractions, teamwork

Synopsis: It's a story about an inchwork who measures everything by looping around it. Each loop she takes in one inch. One day, the inch worm had trouble measuring something because it involved fractions. So another worm came and helped out. Later, they ran into more problems with measuring and two more worms came and helped out.

Pre-Reading Activity:
Have students measure their desk or something in the classroom. Teacher can choose what children use for measurements or teacher can let students use what they want.

Post-Reading Activity:
Have children measure the length and width of their room when they go home. Have them draw a picture of their room and record the measurements on the picture. (Parents encouraged to help of course)

This book wasn't as fun as I thought it would be. It was all about fractions and measuring, and I think it should be directed towards higher elementary students. I don't think younger students would quite understand the point of this story, but maybe it could be used during a math lesson on fractions in older elementary classes.

About the Author:
Elinor J. Pinczes is a published author of children's books. She lives with her husband in Bozeman, Montana.

Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein

Title: Where the Sidewalk Ends
Author: Shel SIlverstein
Copyright: 1974, Evil Eye Music Inc., New York.
Grade: all ages
Theme: poems, life

Synopsis: This a wonderful collection of poems by Shel Silverstein for all ages. There's a variety of poems for everyone, along with goofy looking ink pictures.

Pre-Reading Activity:Have students write a poem.

Post-Reading Activity:
Talk about your favorite poems. Least favorite poems. Talk about pictures and what you liked or didn't like about them.

Reflection:I received a copy of this book from a teacher I was doing my practicum with one year, so it means a lot to me. All the children who were in the class signed the inside cover of the book, so it's very special and I enjoyed reading it. The poems are just beautiful. There are so many different poems, and I feel that they can be read by or to just anyone. The simple pen-and-ink drawings are also what draws my attention. They're not the bst drawings, and they have no color, but they usually represent the poem and it gives the book a little something. The first poem is called Invitation, and it's almost as if he is inviting his readers to coem in and read the book. He's calling his reader a dreamer, showing that they can use their imagination however they want. Just by reading this first poem I was sure enough that I'd like this book, and in the end I must say it's one of my favorites. I loved the poetry and it's something I would suggests to anyone who hasn't read it yet. What I also liked is that there is a variety of poems; something for everyone. I'm sure all peopel could find something to relate to in this book.

About the Author:
Shel Silverstein was born in Chicago, IL in 1932. He is divorced and he has one daughter. In 1950's he has served in the armed forces. He never planned to write or draw for kids, but one of his friends dragged him into it. Since 1981, he's concentrated on writing plays for adults. He also writes sogns, draws cartoons, sings and plays the guitar.

"When I was a kid - 12, 14, around there - I would much rather have been a good baseball player or a hit with the girls. But I couldn't play ball, I couldn't dance... So, I started to draw and to write. I was... lucky that I didn't have anyone to copy, be impressed by. I had developed my own style, I was creating before I knew there was a Thurber, a Benchley, a Price and a Steinberg. I never saw their work till I was around 30."

About the Author

Penny Loves Pink by Cori Doerrfeld

Title: Penny Loves Pink
Author: Cori Doerrfeld
Copyright: 2011, Hachette Book Group Inc.
Grade: PreK-K
Theme: Pink, Siblings, Childhood

This is a short story about a little girl who loves pink. She loves her pink sunglasses, her pink bike, and the pink flowers. She is obsessed with pink. But, soon enough her mother has a baby boy, and she notices that her new brother has everything in blue. Penny soon realizes that she loves her brother, even more than the color pink.

This is such a cute book. I think parents should read this book to their young ones, especially if they are having or planning to have another child soon. I think this book is for younger children, and it's very simple. I also like the use of color in this book. It is such a girly book, and I'm sure young girls would really enjoy reading it or just enjoy looking at the pictures.

Pre-Reading Activity:
Talk about different colors. Ask children what their favorite color is.

Post-Reading Activity:
Ask children what their favorite things are.

About the Author:
Dori grew up in Crystal Lake IL. and moved to Minnesota after completing high school. Currently she lives in Minneapolis with her husband and daughter. After working several years as a teacher and as a nanny, now she is a full time illustrator. Her husband, Tyler Page is also an artist and an educator.

  <------ Dori with her daughter

Authors website

Cock-a-doodle hooooooo! by Mick Manning

Title: Cock-a-doodle hooooooo!
Author: Mick Manning
Illustrator: Brita Granstrom
Copyright: 2007, Scholastic Inc., New York
Grade: K-3
Theme: Heroism

This is a funny story about an owl that walks into a farmyard one stormy night. When the hens notice the owl in the morning, they yell and get angry because an owl is not a rooster and they want a rooster. They have the owl peck, scratch and cock-a-doodle doo like a rooster, but the owl fails. One of the hens decides to teach the owl how to be a rooster, and the owl learns many things but in the end it still cannot cock-a-doodle doo like a rooster. The hens were not impressed. The owl tells them that he is not a rooster but he can still do many other things, and he catches a rat that tries to sneak into the hen house. From that day, the owl becomes their very own special google-eyed rooster and a hero.

Pre-reading Activity:
Talk to children about heros. Ask them what they think a hero is.

Post-Reading Activity:
Have students write down a list of what makes a person a hero. Ask them who their hero is and why. Have them draw a picture of their hero.

I really enjoyed reading this story. it was very funny and the owl is adorable in the pictures. It was funny because the hens were so chatty and they didn't accept the owl because he couldnt' cock-adoodle do like a rooster. The last page in the story shows the own walking and the hens following him in a line. I thought this was hillarious. I think it's a really cute book and kids would really enjoy it.

About the Author: Mick Manning was born and brought up in England, in 1959. He studied illustrations and animations at the Royal College of Art in London.

Mick Manning co-illustrates most of his books with his wife Brita.

Interview with Mick Manning
Their website

About the Author
Mick and Brita

Learning to Listen to Sounds

Thursday, April 7, 2011

How Big is a Million? by Anna Millbourne

Title: How Big is a Million?
Author: Anna Millbourne
Illustrator: Serena Riglietti
Copyright: 2007, Scholastic Inc., New York.
Grade: K - 2
Theme: Counting, Million

This story is about a penguin who wonders how big a million is. He goes through a journey and tries to discover how big a million actually is. In the end, his mother points him to the sky and tells him there's his million, and that he can make a wish on every single one.

I liked this book a lot. It is primarily for younger children, but anyone can read it and enjoy it. It's can also be used during a math lesson, because it focuses on numbers. First the penguin comes across ten fish, then a hundred penguins, then a thousand snowflakes and then a million stars. Teachers can use this book when teaching math.

Pre-Reading Activity:
Have a jar full or m-n-m's and have the children try and make an estimate of how many there are in the jar. Ask them how they came up with that number.

Post-Reading Activity:
Count the m-n-m's together, and split them between the students. Have them place their m-n-m's in groups according to color, and have them make a bar graph showing you how many of each m-n-m they had. (Everyone will probably have different bar graphs, because they'll have a diff. number of m-n-m's).

Froggy's First Kiss by Jonathan London

Title: Froggy's First Kiss
Author: Jonathan London
Illustrator: Frank Remkiewicz
Copyright: 1998, Scholastic Inc., New York.
Theme: Valentines Day

This is a story about a frog named Groggy who falls in love with another frog, whose name is Frogilina. He stares at her all day, sits with her at lunch and gazes into her eyes whenever he gets a chance. One day, Frogilina gives Froggy a kiss, and he runs away embarassed. The other frogs make fun of him and teast him on the bus. When he gets home, his mother asks him what is wrong but he doesn't tell her. When she asks him if he made a valentines day card for someone special, he tells her that she is that special someone in his life.

Pre-Reading Activity:
Have children make a card for someone special. Have them write one or two lines about why that person is special to them.

Post-Reading Activity:
After reading the book, give each child an envelope to decorate and help them send or give their cards/letters to whomever they wrote them for.

This is a very sweet book. Froggy has a crush and it's so cute, because he can't stop starring at Frogilina. Everyone has had a crush or a few in their lifetime, and reading this story makes me laugh because it reminds me of when I was a young child and having crushes on movie stars or boys in school. I'm sure everyone can relate to this book, and it's a fun book to read to younger elementary children. After I read this book to the Pre-Kindergardeners, they laughed and kept saying "eww" during many parts of the book, but they definitely enjoyed listening to the story. I would read this story during Valentines Day.

About the Author:
Jonathan London was born on December 5, 1978, in Brookyln, New York. He was a "navy brat". He is an American film writer and director. He lives in Northern California with his family. He writes about things he has seen and done, and things he's had dreams about. Most of his stories are about nature and wild things.

About the Author
Printable Valentines Day Cards = )

David Gets in Trouble by David Shannon

Title: David gets in trouble
Author: David Shannon
Copyright: 2002, Scholastic Inc., New York.
Grade: Preschool - 2
Theme: Always tell the truth

Synopsis: This is a very interesting book about a young boy who always makes excuses whenever he gets in trouble or does something wrong. In the end, he does admit to his wrong doing and he does say sorry.

Reflection: I really liked this book. It was short and to the point, and it was very colorful. It reminded me of some of the kids I have worked with and still work with. Usually children lie and make excuses and don't want to admit if they have done something wrong. But in the end, they love you anyways and some of them do tell the truth and appologize. I didn't really like the pictures because they kind of creeped me out a little. David's teeth look sharp and he looks evil in many pictures. I feel like some children might get scared when they see the pictures and they might understand the story differently.

Pre-Reading Activity:
Cut shapes out of construction paper, and have your child or students put together a person (David). They can identify the shapes as they go.

Post-Reading Activity:
Have your students create rules for the classroom and write them on a big piece of construction paper and put it up on the wall. Have all the students sign their names and/or draw a small picture of their rule.

About the Author:
David Shannon was born on October 5th, 1959, in Washington. He currently lives in Los Angeles, California. He's an award-winning artist and bestselling author, who has been a favorite among many librarians and teachers. He graduated from the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, Salifornia with a degree in fine Arts. He then moved to New York City where he continued doing his art work. He popularity started to skyrocket in 1998, after he published the book No, David! His inspirations came from home and family.

About the Author

Monday, April 4, 2011

Armando and the Blue Tarp School by Edith Hope Fine

Title: Armando and the Blue Tarp School
Author: Edith Hope Fine & Judith Pinkerton Josephson
Illustrator: Hernan Sosa
Copyright date: 2007, Lee & Low Books, Inc., New York.
Grade Level: 3
Theme: Education, poverty, scarcity, human resources, child work.


This story is about a young boy named Armando, who works at the dump with his father in order to support his family. Armando is very busy working each day, so he doesn't have time to go to Senor David's school. One day, Armandos father decides that education is important, and he lets Armando go. He learns to write, read and draw and he enjoys being at school. One day Armando draws a picture that ends up being published in a newspaper.

Pre-Reading Activity:
Have the students draw their own school; however they picture it.

Post-Reading Activity:
Ask them to add anything to their picture after reading the story. Also, talk about why school is important and ask the students what they want to be when they grow up. Have students draw themselves as "grownups" in their picture next to the school.


This is a wonderful book, that shows how passionate one child is about education. He seems very dedicated and he helps his father work to support his family, but he longs to go to school. I love this book, because it shows me why I choose teaching as my profession. It's nice to know that there are people out there wanting to go to school and learn. The book has beautiful illustrations as well; it's full of color.

      Edith Hope Fine

About the Authors:
The two authors are full-time writers of children’s books and stories. Fine’s Under the Lemon Moon, published by Lee & Low Books, was a Parents’ Choice Award Honor book. Josephson’s biographies of Walt Disney and Beethoven won first place in the San Diego Book Awards. Fine and Josephson met David Lynch—whose work in a colonia of Tijuana, Mexico, was the inspiration for this story—in 1985 while freelancing for the Los Angeles Times. Fine and Josephson both live in Encinitas, California. Their Web site is A portion of the proceeds from this book will be donated to Responsibility, Inc.

                     Judith Pinkerton
                 < --------------

About the Illustrator:
Hernan Sosa was "born in Argentina and raised in Paraguay, received a degree in visual communications from the Colorado Institute of Art. He currently works as an illustrator of children’s books and as a graphic designer focusing mostly on magazines. Sosa and his wife live in Denver, Colorado. "

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Russell and the Lost Treasure by Rob Scotton

Title: Russell and the Lost Treasure
Author: Rob Scotton
Copyright: 2006, Scholastic, INC., New York.
Grade Level: 2
Theme: Treasure Map, Little things count

Summary: This story is about Russell the sheep who gets distracted by a passing crow carrying a treasure map while performing his triple somersault. After much banging and scattering, Russell decides that he will look for the Treasure of Frogsbottom, and he sets out for an adventure. He searched everywhere. Up, down, and all around, and went into a hole at the bottom of a tree where he found a chest. Once he opened the chest, he found useless stuff in it along with an old camera. Even though he seemed very upset at first, he decided that he can have fun with the camera. He took pictures of everyone he knew and he put them into a book, that he called his Best Treasure Ever.

Pre-Reading Activity:
Draw a picture of a treasure chest. Talk about things you would want to see in there. What would you want in that chest that you would consider treasure.

Post-Reading Activity:
Add one more thing to your treasure chest picture, and explain why you chose to add this thing. Share with others.

I liked this book a lot because it showed that simple things can be nice too. Just because Russell the sheep didn't find the treasure he was expecting, does not mean he didn't find a treasure. The camera he found gave him an opportunity to take pictures of his loved ones and of his friends, and he was happy to put those memories in a book that he made. It's something anyone can relate to. People will always have high expectations, but it doesn't mean they won't get excited over soemthing simple and small. Simple things do count! I think this was a very sweet book, and it showed how little things can make some people very happy.

About the Author:
Robert Scotton is an author and illustrator of children's books. He lives in England, with his wife Liz, who is also an artist. He is also the author and illustrator of Splat the Cat.

More about the Author

Mrs. Watson Wants Your Teeth by Alison McGhee

Title: Mrs. Watson Wants Your Teeth
Author: Alison McGhee
Illustrator: Harry Bliss
Copyright:2004, Harcourt Books
Grade Level: K - 3rd grade
Theme: Teeth, First day of school.

Summary: A first grader is terrified when she hears that he new teacher is a 300- year old alien who steals baby teeth. She dicedes to miss out on all the fun activities and songs they do in class, because she was warned by a second grader to keep her mouth closed so the “alien” doesn't steal her wiggly tooth. She fears the treat box. One day when her teacher asks if anyone has a loose tooth, the young girl opens her mouth and her tooth comes out. Her teacher gives her a prize out of the treat box, and the young girl realizes that the teacher is very nice, and not an alien who steals baby teeth.

Pre-Reading Activity:
In Kindergarten, explain to kids what they should expect in first grade. Tell them all the exciting things they should look forward to and ask them if they have any questions. Also talk to them about their baby teeth and what happens. This way they will not worry and will know the truth.

Post-Reading Activity:
Have children illustrate Mrs. Watson, or their first day of school. Have them explain to you what they drew and why.

After reading this book I remembered all the emotions I went through before going into first grade. I was excited and nervous at the same time. This little girl is so nervous and scared because she hears stories from others = something we all have experienced before I'm sure. It's a funny book because she tries to hard not to speak or open her mouth and in the end her mouth opens and her tooth falls out. Any person who is a parent can appreciate this book, and especially teachers who usually have a few shy children in their class.

About the Author:
Alison McGhee writes for all ages and in all form. She writes poetry, novels, picture books, essays ...etc. Her books are very popular with critics, and she was also a Pulitzer Prize nominee and a number one New York Times bestselling author.
“Her many awards include four Minnesota Book Awards, the GLCA National Fiction Award, Friends of the American Library Award, Gold Oppenheimer Toy Portfolio Award, ALA Best Books for Children, and Parents' Choice Award, and a City Pages Artist of the Year award.”
She is an associate professor of creative writing at Metropolitan State University. She coordinates the creative writing program there. She has also taught at many other colleges and universities, and she also teaches privately with her fellow writer-teacher, Brad Zellar.

For more info on taking one of her workshops, please visit :

My Teacher for President by Kay Winters

Title: My Teacher for President
Author: Kay Winters
Illustrator: Denise Brunkus
Copyright: 2004, Scholastic INC.
Grade Level: 2-6
Theme: Elections, Presidents, Jobs

Summary: The book is about a boy who decides to write a letter to Channel 29 news to inform them that his teacher would be perfect for a president. He writes how his teacher is used to being followed around, and how she loves white houses and how she attends many meetings, just like she would have to if she was president. She's good when it comes to emergencies, and she deals with media every day he says, assuring them that she is perfect for the job of a president. But, in the end he writes “Just make sure she doesn't leave before the end of the year.”

Pre-Reading Activity:
Students will identify president's responsibilities and the teacher's responsibilities and compare them.

Post-Reading Activity:
Have an election in class and have students vote. This could be on anything (maybe classroom jobs), and after the students vote, the teacher can take those votes in consideration and assign classroom jobs.

This is such a cute book, I fell in love with it after reading it the first time. I think I like this book mostly because my dream is to be a teacher someday. I would absolutely love it if a child or one of my students someday felt this way about me. It would show that I am a good teacher and that children look up to me. What I really liked about this book is that it is true. Yes, teachers may not be presidents, but they do so much work that it 's almost like they are. Teachers do so much and they have so many jobs, and it's sweet that the student in this story sees this. This book could also be read during President's Day.

About the Author:
Kay Winters was born in Trenton, New Jersey. She learned to read when she was only four years old. She was an only child, and her parents read to her every night. They also moved eleven times, so books were her only long lasting friends at that time. She enjoyed going to the library and picking out books to read. She received her BS degree in Education at Arcadia University, her MS degree at Wheelock College and her further graduate work at Lehigh University. She taught second grade in the Newton Public Schools. She married Earl Winters, and three years later their daughter Linda Lee was born.  Now, they live in Pennsylvania, and she spends most of her time writing, visiting schools and speaking at conferences.

Love You Forever by Robert Munsch

Title: Love You Forever
Author: Robert MunschIllustrator: Sheila McGraw
Copyright: 1986, Firefly Books Ltd., Canada.
Grade Level: Preschool - younger elementary
Theme: Love, Family, Devotion, Heritage

Summary: This book is about a mother who rocks her baby and sings to him about how she'll love him forever and how he'll always be her baby. When the boy starts getting older, and starts causing trouble and not obeying his mothers rules, she says that she sometiems wants to put him in a zoo, and sometiems she feels like she is in a zoo. When the boy grew up into a man, he moved away and even then the mother snuck into his house and rocked him to sleep, singign the same old song. One day, she called him to visit her because she is old and sick and when he went to her house she couldn't finish the whole song because she was very ill. Her son then rocked her to sleep singing her song, and then he went into the room where his newborn was sleeping and he sang her the same song. It was passed on down by his mother.

Pre-Reading Activity:
Teach the song in the story to the children before reading the story, so that when you read the story they can sing along.

Post-Reading Activity:
Have the children draw a picture to their mother or father, showing them their love for them. Also, if children are in elementary they can write a letter to their parents saying why they love them or write a song for them.

This is such a touching story, that can be used with younger children. It's adorable to read about this son's devotion to his mother, and his devotion to his own child in the end. It's sweet to see how the song his mother sang was passed down from generations. This is such a heart-warming story, that shows the mother singing a song to her newborn son, simply out of love. We see throughout the story that her son becomes older, and sometimes doesn't act the way he should but she still reminds him of her love for him. I think it's such a powerful message, and that when reading this we are spreading the message of family love to the readers. It's a very sweet book with beautiful illustrations, and it can be read to almost anyone to pass a message of everlasting love.

About the Author:
Robert Munsch is the bestselling author and illustrator of Russell and the Lost Treasure and many more books. He lives in Rutland, England, with his wife Liz. His wife Liz is also an artist. He was born on June 11, 1945 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He grew up in a family of nine kids. He almost flunked every grade in elementary but somehow he survived al those years and the teachers kept passing him. He thought it was because his younger brother was a grade below him, and nobody wanted to see him in the same grade as him, so they just kept passing him to the next grade. He never learned how to spell, and he graduated from eight grade counting on his fingers, so academics were really not his thing. Although he stunk at school, he did enjoy poetry and wrote quite a lot of it. He studied to be a Catholic Priest for seven years, and then realized he was lousy priest material. He received an undergraduate degree in History and a Master's degree in Anthropology. The only reason he received this degree he believes is because he flunked his orals for his Ph. D. He worked at an orphanage, and enjoyed working with kids. He decided soon after that he'd like to work in a daycare. He realized he was good with hids and that his stories got the kids to fall asleep. He started making up stories at the daycare where he worked, and when he met his wife she told him to publish his stories. That's how he became a writer.

About the author

The Grouchy Ladybug by Eric Carle

Title: The Grouchy Ladybug
Author: Eric Carle
Copyright: 1977, Scholastics INC., New York.
Grade Level:
younger elementary
Theme: Sharing , Friendship, Feelings

Summary: The book is about two ladybugs, a friendly one and a mean one. They both see aphids, which are insects that ladybugs eat, and they both want them. The friendly ladybug decides that they can share them, but the mean ladybug says No Way! In the end, the ladybugs decide that they will fight for the aphids and the grouchy ladybug says that the friendly ladybug is not big enough to fight. So the grouchy ladybug flies away and throughout the night, the grouchy ladybug meets with eleven other animals, much larger than itself, and asks them to fight. Whenever each animal decides to fight, the grouchy ladybug decides they're not big enough to fight and flies away to another animal to ask the same question. In the end, the grouchy ladybug comes across a whale, who slaps the grouchy ladybug with its tail and makes it fly across sea and land back to where it started from. The friendly ladybug is still there waiting for the grumpy ladybug and offers it food to share. They share the food.

Pre-Reading Activity:Since time is one thing introduced in this story, students can make their own ladybug clock and practice teling time on it. Teacher can talk about the meaning of P.M. and A.M. and teach the students how to tell time.

Post-Reading Activity:Share feelings in a large group. Talk abotu the things that make you grouchy and things that make you happy.

This book is wonderful to use with younger elementary students when learning and talking about feelings. Although I liked the book a lot, I wasn't too happy with the ending. I didn't quite understand the ending at first, because it didn't really make sense, but I think I understand it a little better now, agter reading it over and over again. Still, this book is very fun to read, and when I read it to a preschool class they enjoyed listening to it very much. This book could also be used when introducing Time to your students. Since Time is introduced throughout the book, it's important to show that to the students and also talk about the time changes in the book.

* The book also offers a small paragraph about Aphids and what they are. Also, it explains that ladybugs eat these small insects, called Aphids. The book is dedicated to the ladybugs.

About the Author:
Eric Carle is an amazing illustrator for many children's books. I never realized this but one of the books he has illustrated was The Very Hungry Caterpillar, which is an amazing children's book with beautiful illustrations. That book has been translated into 45 different languages and it sold over 30 million copies. His work is very recognizable and distinctive.

Eric Carle was born in Syracuse, New York in 1929. He moved to Germany with his parents when he was six years old. He was educated in Germany and he graduated from an art school. His dream was to return to America, so in 1952, he packed his things and went back to New York. He has two grown-up children, a son and a daughter, with his wife Barbara.

With many of my books I attempt to bridge the gap between the home and school. To me home represents, or should represent; warmth, security, toys, holding hands, being held. School is a strange and new place for a child. Will it be a happy place? There are new people, a teacher, classmates—will they be friendly?”

More about the author

Flower Garden by Eve Bunting

Title: Flower Garden
Author: Eve Bunting
Illustrator: Kathryn Hewitt
Copyright: 1994, Voyager Books, Harcourt, Inc.
Genre: Realistic Fiction
Grade: 2 - 6
Theme: Spring, Mothers Day, Birthday , Flowers

Summary: This simple, rhyming book is about a young girl buying flowers and saying how these flowers would look beautiful no matter where they are placed, whether it be on a bus or in a shoppingcart. She carries the flowers up the stairs and she places these flowers in a window box high above the street, where all the peopel walking along can look at them and smile. In the end we find out that her flowers are a surprise gift for her mothers birthday.

Pre-Reading Activity:This book could be read sometime before mothers Day, and the kids could plant their own flowers for their mothers. (This should probably be done a week or two before Mothers Day).

Post-Reading Activity:Make a card for Mothers Day or write a poem for your mother. Also, do a theme on Flowers or Spring, and talk about different types of flowers we would see in our state or in the world. Talk about favorite flowers, their smells, the way they look ...etc.

This is a very simple book, and it can be read to just anyone. I would suggest reading it before or during Mother's Day or during a lesson on Spring. It's beautifully illustrated and written, and it's very short. When reading this story I can't help but feel happy, because happiness is portrayed through these flowers that this little girl is carrying for her mother. Also, I think it's a wonderful book to introduce in the Spring, and then go into a lesson about different types of plants and flowers.

About the Author:
Anne Evelyn Bunting, better known as Eve Bunting was born on December 19, 1928 in Ireland, and in 1958, she moved to California with her husband and her three children. She grew up with storytelling in Ireland. She is an American author who has writen over 250 books. Writing for Publication Class at her junior college is where it all started. She was eager to write, and she has to many tales to tell. She mentioned how she writes for all children and for all ages. She also offers a lot of diversity in her books. Eve Bunting has also taught many classes, and she has won numerous awards for her books. She has also been listed as one of the Educational Paperback Association's top 100 authors, due to her popularity of her books.

More About the Author

Flip and Flop by Dawn Apperley

Title: Flip and Flop
Author: Dawn Apperley
Copyright: 2001, Scholastic Inc., New York.
Grades: Kindergarten
Genre: Fiction
Theme: Friendship, Family

This story is about two penquins, Flip, who is five and Flop, who is two. Whatever Flip does, Flop wants to do it too. One day Flip decides he wants to play in the snow with one of his buddies, which leaves poor little Flop out in the cold. Flop wandered off and started playing Boomba, a made up game all by himself, when a little bear named Hop came along. They played this game together until they were reunited with Flip, Flop's brother, and Hip, Hop's brother. They made up a new game that they can all play together.

Pre-Reading Activity:Before reading this book, a teacher can play follow the leader with her students. Also, teacher can have students come up with their own game (maybe in the snow, during winter time). They can write down their story or orally present it to their classmates.

Post-Reading Activity:Students can share their stories about their siblings or friends and talk about what games they like to play in the winter. If they'd like they can draw pictures or write a story about it to share with the class.

This is  avery sweet book. It reminds me of my childhood and how my little sister would always follow me around and want to do everything I was doing. At first, I remember thinking it was pretty cool but then it started becoming more and more annoying, because I didn't want her to be just like me. I remember she used to repeat everything I used to say and she used to do everything I used to do, and sometimes I think it was only to make me angry. The reason I think this is because she used to tell me "I do it just to make you angry". Ha ha ! Anyways, this story is most likely written for younger children, but I'm sure it can be used in early elementary grades as well. It's sweet to see how to siblings get along so well, and that they are there for each other. it's also nice to see that they can have friends of their own, and that they can all get along so well.

About the Author:
Dawn Apperley wanted to generate some colorful and fun books for younger children. Her books are deep in color and very fun to look at and share with others. Dawn lives in London, and there she works full time as a creator of children's books. She writes and illustrates all of her books herself.

Contact the author at ----->

Authors Website

Monday, March 21, 2011

Coraline by Neil Gaiman

Title: Coraline
Author: Neil Gaiman
Illustrator: P. Craig Russell
Colorist: Lovern Kindzierski
Letterer: Todd Klein
Copyright: 2002, 2008 by Neil Gaiman
Genre: Fiction

Theme: Family

This story is about a girl named Coraline Jones, who moves into a new house with her parents and she discovers a locked door in the drawing room, which is all bricked up. Her neighbors Mrs. Spink and Mrs. Forcible warn her that she is in great danger after reading her tea leaves, but they cannot tell her why exactly. One day, while alone at home, Coraline decides to unlock the door and she finds a long passageway to a room identical to the one she just left. In this room she finds her Other father and her Other mother; replicas of her real parents, but with buttons as eyes. Even though this frightens her a bit, she decides to stay and explore the area. When her Other mother and her Other father ask her to stay with them forever, she leaves. Soon she realizes that her real mother and father have been kidnapped and she decides she must help them, even if it means going back through that passageway, and to her Other mother and her Other father. Searching for her real parents, Coraline meets three ghost children, a talking cat and things she only dreamed of before. Coraline experiences and sees many strange things throughout this story, and in the end becomes a hero.

At first I had no idea what to expect out of this story. I started reading it and I wasn't really into it, but once I got to the middle where Coraline realized her parents were missing I started getting into the book. I wanted to know what had happened and it made me keep reading. I read the book in a few hours because I couldn't put it down. Every page I turned made me want to read more to find out what happened next. I think it's a great book. Also, since I read the graphic novel, there were so many pictures to look at and it made the story that much better. Everything that was going on in the story had a picture to go along with it, which gave me a better idea of what was going on and what things looked like. I wouldn't recommend this story for younger kids, because I think some of them would probably have nightmares.

About the Author:
Neil Gaiman is a British author, born on November  10th, in 1960. He is one of the top writers in modern comics, and he writes books for readers of all ages. He was born and raised in England, but now lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He has lived there since 1992. Gaiman moved there to be close to the family of Mary McGrath, his wife at the time, with whom he has three children: Michael, Holly, and Madeleine. He learned to read at the age of four. He absolutely loved reading as a child. He wrote his first book in 1984. Neil Gaiman is the first author to win both the Newbery and the Carnegie medals for the same work.

More about the Author

The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender

Title: The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake
Author: Aimee bender
Copyright: 2010, Random House Inc.
New York
Genre: Fiction
Theme: Family, Secrets, Taste

“On the eve of her ninth birthday, unassuming Rose Edelstein, a girl at the periphery of schoolyard games and her distracted parents’ attention, bites into her mother’s homemade lemon-chocolate cake and discovers she has a magical gift: she can taste her mother’s emotions in the cake. She discovers this gift to her horror, for her mother—her cheerful, good-with-crafts, can-do mother—tastes of despair and desperation. Suddenly, and for the rest of her life, food becomes a peril and a threat to Rose. The curse her gift has bestowed is the secret knowledge all families keep hidden—her mother’s life outside the home, her father’s detachment, her brother’s clash with the world. Yet as Rose grows up she learns to harness her gift and becomes aware that there are secrets even her taste buds cannot discern.”
The reason I chose to read this book was because it was awarded the Alex Award, and my presentation was on that award. To be honest, it was a great book. It's not something I would chose to read, or pick out myself, but I'm glad I did. It's a wonderful book, and it's almost as if you can taste the lemon cake without actually tasting it. I enjoyed the character development and it was fun experiencing the things the main character, Rose experienced. It was almost as if I was her, and I was finding out all these secrets about her family members. This is a book anyone can enjoy.

About the Author:
An American novelist and a short story writer, Aimee Bender was born on June 28, 1969 in Los Angeles, California. She is very well known for her surreal plots and characters. She was the youngest daughter of the three, and she idolized her older sister and often tagged along after them. She is an author of three books; The Girl in the Flammable Skirt (1998), An Invisible Sign of My Own (2000) and Willful Creatures (2005).

Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst

Title: Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day
Author: Judith Viorst
Illustrator: Ray Cruz
Copyright: 1972, Scholastic INC., New York.
Grade Level:
2 - 4

Summary: This is a book about a young boy named Alexander who wakes up one day with gum in his hair and everything seems to go wrong for him that day. He tells himself that it's going to be a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day. Everything he does seems to be wrong. He goes from being his best friends best friend, to being only his third best friend. His dentist even finds a cavity in his mouth. The young boy keeps telling himself he will move to Australia.

Pre-Reading Activity:Talk about your morning routine. Make a daily calendar.

Post-Reading Activity:After reading the book, discuss what happened and talk about what Alexander could have done differently in each situation, or how he could have acted.

This is such a fun book. It's silly, and it's exciting to read to children because it makes them laugh. I've read this book numerous times, and I always enjoy it. We all know that there is always going to be an "Alexander" somewhere. I've worked with many children thoughout my life and I can definitely name a few Alexanders I've crossed paths with. It's a fun book, because it makes you want to keep reading and figure out what happens at the end of the book. I didn't really enjoy the pictures because they were very plain, but the overall story is great.

About the Author:
Born and brought up in New Jersey, Judith graduated from Rutgers University. She has lived in Washington D.C. Since 1960, when she married Milton Viorst, a political writer. They have three sons; Anthony, Nick and Alexander. Two of her sons are lawyers and the third does community-development lending for a bank. She writes in many different areas; science, children's picture books, adult fiction, poetry for children and adults ...etc. She also wrote three musicals which are still performed on stages around the country.

There is also a great unit plan for this book by Judith Viorst:
You can find it here ->

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Oh, The Places You'll Go by Dr. Seuss

Title: Oh, the Places You'll Go!
Author: Dr. Seuss
Copyright: 1990, Random House, INC.,
New York.

Grade Level:
any age
Theme: Success

This book is a graduation speech by Dr. Seuss. He talks about the ups and downs in life and how now you're on you're own and you decide where to go. You'll soon reach great heights, and see great things, and soon enough you'll take the lead. Basically the author is telling the reader that he or she will indeed succeed in life. This is the last book published by Dr. Seuss before his death.

Pre-reading Activity:
Talk about different careers and jobs. Have volunteers come in and talk about what they do. Invite parents to come in and listen or share their experiences.

Post-reading Activity:
Talk about and read some of the other books writen by Dr. Seuss. Talk about their similarities and differences. Create your own rhyming Dr. Seuss book.

The first tiem I read this book was during my student teaching. One of the teachers had this book and her parents gave it to her upon her graduation. I thought it was the sweetest thing and I thought the message in the book was great. It was such an inspiring book to me. I feel like this book is directed towards an older audience, instead of younger children, like most of the other books ariten by Dr. Seuss are. It's a great book to give to someone for any occasion really, and it can be such a nice gesture. After reading the book, I reminded myself of my graduation and wished someone would have given me this book for my graduation : )  -hint hint-

About the Author:
Theodore Seuss Geisel, also known as Ted by his family and friends is

 . When talking to the media, Dr. Seuss was always more focused on telling a good story, instead of the true story. He published his cartoons in his schools newspaper, where he first signed his work as "Seuss". He graduated from Dartmouth, and also went to Oxford where he studied literature. One of his friends, Helen Palmer looked at his notebook one day and told him he was crazy enough to want to be a professor, and that he should draw. So he married Helen and he went to the US and became a cartoonist. He believed that all children should be treated with respect, and he believed in treating kids as adults.

“You know you're in love when you can't fall asleep because reality is finally better than your dreams.”

“Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind.”

“Don't cry because it's over. Smile because it happened.”

“Sometimes the questions are complicated and the answers are simple.”
“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you'll go.”


Panda Bear, Panda Bear, What Do You See by Bill Martin Jr.

Title: Panda Bear, Panda Bear, What Do You See?
Author: Bill Martin Jr.
Illustrator: Eric Carle
Copyright: 2003, Henry Holt and Company, LLC.
Grade Level:
infants - children in preschool or 1st grade
Genre: Fiction
Theme: Endangered species, animals.

In this beautifully written and illustrated children's book, there are ten endangered animals presented in rhyming text. Different animals in this story answer the question "What do you see?", and it repeats.

Pre-reading Activity:
Talk about the animals in the zoo. Ask the children what their dreams are and what they see in their dreams. Share in a big group. Talk about the two senses used in the book - sight and sound.

Post-reading Activity: Children can choose their favorite animals and create their own book, with their own illustrations. Also, children can make masks of their favorite animal from the story.

The first time I read Panda Bear, Panda Bear, What Do You See by Bill Martin Jr. I fell in love. It was such a great children's book, and I absolutely loved the illustrations in it. I have read this book numerous times to toddlers and preschoolers, and they love it. The funny thing is after a while they start to memorize the book and they speak the words along with me.

About the author:
Born in 1916, William Ivan Martin, also known as Bill Martin Jr. was one of America's favorite children's authors, who wrote for over sixty years. His name Ivan was inspired by his mother, whose name was Iva. Kids in school called him Billy, and always made fun of his middle name, but his name soon changed when he started college. One day when he was called into the registrars office he was asked what his middle name was since he forgot to provide it, and being too embarassed to say Ivan, so he told them he didn't have a middle name. The registrar office told him that he must be a junior then, and not knowing what that meant he agreed and therefore a Jr. was added to his name. 

Bill Martin Jr. was a Kansas native, who graduated with a teaching certificate from Emporia State University. He taught elementary school in Kansas and was an elementary school principal in Chicago. In 1961, he moved to New York City where he developed the literature-based reading programs (Sounds of Language and The Instant Reader). Also, he wrote over three hundren books for children. Another book he wrote was Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, which is also a wonderful book for children of all ages. Unfortunately, Bill Martin Jr. passed away in 2004.

About the Illustrator:
Eric Carle has illustrated more than seventy books for children. Due to his beautiful illustrations, Eric Carle has been awarded numerous awards. His latest one was Laura Ingalls Wilder Award in 2003, awarded by the Association for Library Service to Children.