Sunday, March 30, 2008

THE SIGN OF THE BEAVER (Genre: Historical Fiction/module 6)

Bibliographic Information:
Title: The Sign of the Beaver
Author: Elizabeth George Speare/ read by Greg Schaffert
Publisher: Random House Children's Books
Publication Date: July 1984
ISBN: 9780440479000
Format: Audio Book CD 3 hours 10 mins (3 CDs)

This book about a twelve year old boy, Matt, is set in the wilderness of Maine during the late 1780s. Matt and his father establish a homestead for the family, including Matt's mother and siblings, however Matt's father must return to fetch the remainder of the family. Left to face the wilds alone with an heirloom family timepiece and a shot gun, Matt faces many challenges. Losing the gun to a drifter, the crops to local wildlife, and his rations to a bear, Matt takes opts to raid a bee hive in order to add honey to his diet. His failed attempt results only in multiple bee stings and during the attack, Matt sprains his ankle while diving into the river, only to be saved by the local savages, some Native Americans who offer him assistance. In return Matt offers his only book, Robinson Crusoe, but Attean, the young Penobscot native, does not know how to read English. In exchange for food, Matt offers to to teach Attean how to read. The two establish an unlikely friendship, which lasts several months. Forced to choose between his new found friends or waiting for his family, Matt must decide between guaranteed survival and his family. The book offers a very realistic view of the expectations for a young man in the late eighteenth century as well as an historically accurate portrayal of individuals in that part of the country at that time. The audio recording is entertaining; the reader truly puts enthusisasm into the book and encourages listening.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

BUD, NOT BUDDY (Genre: Historical Fiction/module 6)

Bibliographic Information
Title: Bud, Not Buddy
Author: Christopher Paul Curtis
Publisher: First Dell Laurel Leaf
Publication Date: September 2004
ISBN: 9780553494105

Bud is a foster child living in Depression era Flint, Michigan. His mother has passed away and Bud quickly discovers that the foster care system in which he has been placed is less than desirabel. Meeting up with a fellow foster child, Bud hops a train in search of the father that he has never known except through a newsprint advertisement. Bud narrates the story through life lessons or rules that he has learned, ways in which he copes with the uncertainty of his environment. Young adult readers will identify with the struggles that Bud faces daily, particularly those from lower income families or those from foster care situations. Additionally, Bud's insights into human and adult behavior offer a unique perspective of a youngster's mature view of the world and the way that it works. Young readers will identify with Bud's insights into the ignorance and general stupidity of the adult world and its workings.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

THE WRIGHT 3 (Genre: Contemporary Realistic Fiction/module 5)

This is a sequel to Chasing Vermeer and features characters Calder and Petra and the addition of Calder's friend Tommy, who moved away a year before, and who is jealous of Calder and Petra as they received recognition for saving the Vermeer. Tommy feels that he deserves something, as he is the "expert finder." On Tommy's first day of class, their teacher announces that the world-famous Robie House, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright is scheduled for demolition. The class takes a field trip to the house, and both Calder and Petra discover that there are many secrets concerning the building that they were not aware of. The trio, who call themselves the Wright 3, work to save the house.. Tommy finds a fish talisman in the Robie House garden and realizes it was worth a lot of money. Finally, after saving their own lives, they manage to save that of the house. As in Chasing Vermeer, the illustrations in this book help to give young readers something to look for, in this case a fish. As with much contemporary realistic fiction, this book deals with peer situations that will appeal to young adult readers and who can connect with characters of Calder, Petra, and Tommy who are social outcasts.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

CHASING VERMEER (Genre: Contemporary Realistic Fiction/module 5)

Bibliographic Information
Title: Chasing Vermeer
Author: Blue Balliett
Illustrator: Brett Helquist
Publisher: Scholastic, Inc.
Publication Date: June 2004

Petra Andalee and Calder Pillay sit in the same class but they would never associate with one another until a series of unusual events brings the two into a search for various pieces of art created by Peter Vermeer. However, nothing is as it seems and no one seems to be forthcoming with the truth. Instead the two young sleuths must solve an international art crime using nothing but what they are learning in school, their own skill of logic, and a bit of intuition. This book includes puzzles and various key elements in the illustrations which make it an ideal book for the child who has lost a bit of interest in reading and needs to be inspired to read between the lines - literally. The story is simply engaging and it brings to mind a young, gen X Tommy and Tuppence. Additionally this book offers information and insight into the world of classical art without being overly preachy or educational. 

JUNIE B., FIRST GRADER AT LAST! #18 (Genre: Contemporary Realistic Fiction/module 5)

Bibiliographic Information:
Title: Junie B., First Grader At Last!
Author: Barbara Park
Illustrator: Denise Brunkus
Publisher: Random House Children's Books
Publication Date: August 2002
ISBN: 978375815164

The unsinkable Molly Brown of the twenty-first century, Junie B. Jones has passed on to first grade. Junie anticipates this event with excitement and trepidation, however she struggles with her new teacher and with the challenges of first grade life. When Junie is asked to copy words from the blackboard, a new challenge arises - poor eyesight! Junie's desire to fit in and yet to be unique reflects the everyday experiences of youngsters today. This book is the eighteenth installation in the Junie B. series. Young readers who are just beginning to tackle chapter books will enjoy the simple text and contemporary themes of peer pressure, friendship, and surviving every school day without embarrassment. These books are also ideal for read alouds as they have short chapters. The illustrations occur often enough to engage readers who are moving out of picture books into more abstract literature and Brunkus' drawings reflect a cartoonish yet realistic character who is larger than life.

Thursday, March 6, 2008


Bibliographic Information:

Title: This Little Piggy with CD: Lap Songs, Finger Plays, Clapping Games and Pantomime Rhymes

Author: Jane Yolen (editor)

Illustrator: Will Hillenbrand

Publisher: Candlewick

Publication Date: February 2006

ISBN: 978-0763613488

Colorful and engaging illustrations accompanied by lyrics and sheet music set this anthology of sixty rhymes, finger plays, and songs for toddlers and their care givers apart. Familiar games and chants are accompanied by the not-so-familiar and the compact disc features thirteen of the various rhymes and finger plays in the anthology. Children will hop, dance, sing, and chant along with the bouncy rhythms and fun accompaniament of the CD. Yolen had previously featured some of these poems and rhymes in her collection Lap Time Song and Play published in 1989 but this collection is more comprehensive and cohesive, and the CD adds additional support for the preemergent reader. Parents will appreciate the small type instructions and children will enjoy the wonderfully entertaining illustrations.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

HONEY, I LOVE AND OTHER POEMS (Genre: Poetry/module 4)

Biographical Information
Title: Honey, I Love and Other Poems
Author: Eloise Greenfield
Illustrations: Diane and Leo Dillon
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication Date: May 1986
ISBN: 9780064430975

This collection of poems written from the point of view of a child discuss the "loves" in her life and the daily activities. From her observations at school "Miss Allen smiled/and blinked her eyes/and plinked the piano/and pushed the pedal/And the pdeal said/SQUEEEEEEEAK!/and we laughed/But Miss Allen didn't" to her expressions of enjoyment at the manner of speech of her cousin from the south "'Cause every wod he says just kind of slides out his mouth." The illustrations of childlike chalk or pencil drawings interspersed with the beautiful charcoals of the young narrator add to the realistic and fantastical elements of the poems. These poems will touch the heart of any child.


Bibliographic Information
Title: The Beauty of the Beast: Poems from the Animal Kingdom
Author: Jack Prelutsky (selected by)
Illustrator: Meilo So
Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf
Publication Date: March 2006
ISBN: 9780679870586

An anthology of various animal poems accompanied by beautiful watercolor illustrations discuss everything from insects to reptiles to fish to birds to mammals. Poems are written by a variety of authors including Margaret Wise Brown and Robert Frost as well as Marianne Moore and Jack Kerouac. The end pages are wonderful watercolors that evoke feathers and fur and the cover illustration predates the collection. Ideal for explanation as well as enjoyment, this collection is sure to grab the reader's attention for creatures great and small.


Bibliographic Information:
Title: !Pio Peep! Rimas Tradicionales en Espagnol/Traditional Spanish Nursery Rhymes
Author: Alma Flor and F. Isabel Campoy (selected by); Alice Schertle (English adaptations)
Ilustrator: Vivi Escriva
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication Date: February 2003

Even a non-native speaker of Spanish could enjoy this lovely collection of traditional Spanish nursery rhymes. Paired with the Spanish, the English "poetic recreations" offer a unique perspective on the native oral traditions of the Hispanic culture. The soft illustrations are enticing to young and old eyes. When read aloud, the Spanish poems are gently soothing and pleasing to the ear. The twenty-nine different selections express a variety of childhood activities from finger play type games to star-gazing to animal observations.