Happy Birthday, Madame Chapeau

Written by Andrea Beaty
Illustrated by David Roberts

 

Madame Chapeau spends her days creating exquisite hats for her customers, but spends nights at home alone. Only on her birthday does she allow herself to go out for a special dinner. She dons a fancy dress and her favorite bonnet and walks the streets of Paris to the best restaurant in town (the tongue-in-cheek named Chez Snooty-Patoot).

 

On the way, a crow snatches her beloved hat off her head. As she runs after the bird, a variety of people, including a baker, policeman, and cowboy, offer up their hats. She cannot accept their kind offerings, because she knows the hats are not a perfect fit. She arrives at the restaurant feeling blue when a little girl approaches. The girl gives the lonely hatmaker a present – a fuzzy cap made from yarn. Even though it’s silly looking, it lifts Madame Chapeau’s spirits. A hat made for her with such love and care is cause enough to celebrate. She invites everyone to join her for cake and never dines alone again.

 

Educators and parents will have a ton of fun reading this aloud to young elementary school children. Beaty’s text rhythmically rolls off the tongue and bounces along in time.

Like the lady herself, all her hats were refined –
Brilliantly singular; one of a kind!
Each feather, each bauble, each bead, and each bow –
Painstakingly chosen by Madame Chapeau.

Third grade readers will love Robert’s illustrations, a feast for the eyes, as he pays homage to fashion editor Isabella Blow and milliners Philip Treacy, Stephen Jones, and Elsa Schiaparelli, among others. Fashionistas, big and small, will enjoy spotting some of the famous hat designs sprinkled throughout the book, such as Charlie Chaplin’s derby, Marcel Marceau’s crumpled top hat, and the unique hat worn by Princess Beatrice to the royal wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton.

 

Visit the author’s website (http://www.andreabeaty.com/happy-birthday-madame-chapeau.html) for fun links on hat making.

 

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  • Happy Birthday Madame ChapeauTitle: Happy Birthday Madame Chapeau
  • Author: Andrea Beaty
  • Illustrator: David Roberts
  • Publisher: Abrams Books for Young Readers, 2014
  • Reviewer: Lauren Abbey Greenberg
  • Paperback: 32 pages
  • ISBN: 978-1-4197-1219-7
  • Genre: Picture Book / Fiction

Four Famous Faces

Written by Jean L.S. Patrick
Illustrated by Renee Graef

Four beautiful Native American animals are pictured on the cover as a group of friends off on a hike. The story begins as a prairie dog pup sets off to find the “four famous faces” that all the tourists traveling past in their cars and campers are going to see. For so much traffic, they must be very important faces.

Young readers will giggle as the prairie pup asks first bison, elk, then bats and finally mountain goats if they are the four famous faces before finally reaching the welcome center to the real famous faces of Mount Rushmore. Along the journey, third grade readers will visit several fantastic National and State parks. At the back of the book, an in-depth section is presented for each of the parks as well as for each of the animals. This makes the book of particular value for teachers and librarians. The information section will fulfill the core curriculum and literacy skills of any school system.

The readers will be able to distinguish easily between the fiction and non-fiction sections of the books and can use this as an example when they are doing their own classroom writing. It is a great addition to the study of geography as well as a neat travel guide for families preparing to take their vacation in this region of our country. Otherwise, it would be a great reminder of a trip taken a couple of years ago. The story ends on a very satisfying note, as does every trip away from home.

Extras: Several non-fiction pages in the back of the book that each focus on a particular park: Devil’s Tower National Monument, Mount Rushmore National Park, Wind Cave National Park, Jewel Cave National Park, Badlands National Park, and Custer State Park. Each of these pages also include a non-fiction fact box about each of the animals who starred in the picture book story at the beginning of the book. (bison, prairie dog, elk, and big-eared bat)

A lengthy list of books for further reading and web sites.

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  • Four Famous FacesTitle: Four Famous Faces
  • Author: Jean L.S. Patrick
  • Illustrator: Renee Graef
  • Publisher: Stories in Stone, 2014
  • Reviewer: Elizabeth Swartz
  • Format: Hardcover, 32 pages
  • ISBN:  978-0-9798823-8-8
  • Genre: Fiction

The Fourteenth Goldfish

Written by Jennifer L. Holm

What if your grandfather found the Fountain of Youth and ended up a teenager barely older than you? Would you let him go to your middle school despite his two PhD’s? These questions and more are answered in Holm’s delightful new book.

Eleven-year-old Ellie comes home one day to find her mother with a thirteen-year-old boy in tow. Turns out the boy is Ellie’s grandfather, Melvin, who tested his anti-aging potion on himself. Ellie has to help him complete his research and adjust to middle school. When the potion works, Melvin is kicked out of his own lab by an enthusiastic guard. Denied access to his research, Melvin enlists Ellie’s help plus the help of Ellie’s friend. Absurd details such as Melvin wearing “old man” clothes, or whatever is clean, and using Ellie’s hair bands on his pony tail give the book kid-appeal. Ellie’s mom and grandfather experience a sort of incomplete role reversal, where she grounds him and he tells her to be in by a certain hour.

Although this book is pure fiction, the author manages to sneak in many scientific and historic facts and philosophical questions. Who was Robert Oppenheimer? Are scientific advancements inherently good or do they often carry elements of good and evil? What is the responsibility of the scientist to recognize those elements? Isn’t it important to maintain the circle of life? Third graders and above will enjoy the outrageous ideas in this story and gain literacy skills. Reading activities include research of the many topics introduced and discussion of other topics that might be explored.

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  • Fourteenth GoldfishTitle: The Fourteenth Goldfish
  • Author: Jennifer L. Holm
  • Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers, 2014
  • Reviewer: Sue Poduska
  • Format: Hardcover, 208 pages
  • Genre: Fiction, fantasy
  • ISBN: 978-0-375-87064-4
  • Grade level: 3 to 6

Words with Wings

Written by Nikki Grimes

This uplifting novel in verse focuses on a girl who loves to daydream. One word can carry her away to a memory or a place. Nikki Grimes does a wonderful job of illustrating how this is a child who does care deeply about her surroundings, lessons and chores, but also needs the release of daydreaming.

It is also a story with hints of divorce, missing the past, but accepting the present. The light touch makes it realistic without becoming dark or overbearing.

The seeming simplicity of the poetry makes the story approachable for readers, but was undoubtedly difficult to construct. Third grade readers and sixth grade readers alike will slide into this story and recognize themselves and other classmates.

What a wonderful teacher Nikki Grimes has put in her book. He is a real teacher from her past that was important in supporting her writing. Instead of daydreaming being forbidden in his classroom, Mr. Spicer recognizes its importance to the children and appoints it a special time. While this can’t and won’t happen in every classroom, it might be an idea that children will adopt on their own.

Literacy skills abound in this book as it emphases how just one word has the ability to transform and transport a person. The poetic form of free verse is part of the core curriculum and can be met through this book. As well as writing standards by having students study any one poem, or group of poems before writing poetry of their own.

 

  • Words with WingsTitle: Words with Wings
  • Author: Nikki Grimes
  • Publisher: Wordsong
  • Reviewer: Elizabeth Swartz
  • Format: Hardcover, 83 pages
  • ISBN:  978-1-59078-985-8
  • Genre: Fiction, Novel in verse
  • Grade Level: 3 and above

 

Mysterious Patterns: Finding Fractals in Nature

Written by Sarah C. Campbell

Patterns exist in the natural world, not easily divided into categories like circle, triangle or square. What are we do make of them? Things like branches in trees or bolts of lightning?

A mathematician named Benoit Mandelbrot noticed similar patterns in natural shapes. The kinds of shapes that make the fronds on a fern also continue to make the whole fern. The same can be said about the development of broccoli or branches on a tree.

The beautiful photographs in this book as well as the simple, yet clear diagrams make it easy to see the patterns described.

The afterword about Mandelbrot also tells readers that fractals are how the wiring of the Internet works and would be necessary to make something like Harry Potter’s invisibility cloak to work.

This beautiful book is a fantastic way to interest readers in mathematics, science and the natural world. Third grade readers will be able to read it on their own. Teachers and librarians will find it useful in fulfilling the core curriculum standards as well spring-boarding a student’s interest far and beyond anything they considered up to this point. Art teachers can use this volume to entice students to think about using fractals in their artistic endeavors. What a wonderful book this will be in every school library!

 

  • Mysterious PatternsTitle: Mysterious Patterns: Finding Fractals in Nature
  • Author: Sarah C. Campbell
  • Illustrator:  Photographs by Sarah C. Campbell and Richard P. Campbell
  • Publisher: Boyds Mills Press, 2014
  • Reviewer: Elizabeth Swartz
  • Format: Hardcover, 32 pages
  • ISBN:  978-1-62091-627-8
  • Genre: Nonfiction
  • Grade Level: 3 to 6
  • Extras: Step-by-step activity for making a fractal, afterword about the man who discovered fractals

Double Reverse

Written by Fred Bowen

Jesse and his brother, Jay, are both freshmen – Jesse in high school and Jay in college. Jesse is looking forward to being a wide receiver on the JV squad. Jay, star quarterback in high school, assumes he’ll be quarterback at Dartmouth too. The brothers spend the summer running football patterns. When practice starts, their dreams are quickly changed by reality. Jesse is a better quarterback than anyone else on the team, though he’s a bit small for the position. Jay is just an okay quarterback compared to his teammates. Jesse’s best friends also find hidden talents as the football season progresses. Without a decent kicker, the team flounders until the boys decide the best kicker they know is a girl named Savannah, who also joins the team. Both Jesse and Jay have found their niche, but not without some soul searching.

Third graders just learning about team sports will love the exciting games Bowen describes. The author presents great examples of real football plays. The reader doesn’t have to understand every play in order to enjoy the story, though studying the plays will increase comprehension and literacy skills. Reading activities include practicing the plays presented. This story of realizing one’s potential should speak to everyone. A Junior Library Guild Selection, it is fast-paced and thrilling.

 

  • Double ReverseTitle: Double Reverse
  • Author: Fred Bowen
  • Publisher: Peachtree Publishers, 2014
  • Reviewer: Sue Poduska
  • Format: Hardcover, 125 pages
  • Genre: Sports
  • ISBN: 978-1-56145-814-1
  • Extras: “The Real Story,” where the author discusses accomplished athletes who went beyond their apparent talents.
  • Release date: August 2014

The Case That Time Forgot

Written by Tracy Barrett

The third installation of the “The Sherlock Files” has the great-great-great grandchildren of Sherlock Holmes racing around London, literally racing against time. Their friend, Karim, is trying to find an Egyptian artifact before a certain date. The amulet is supposed to be able to stop time every fifty years, and the date is quickly approaching. Karim knows of their renowned ancestor and their past casework. His grandfather has told Karim of his ancestor, who hid the amulet. They begin only with the grandfather’s story and notes Sherlock left in his unsolved casebook. They have plenty of help from the Society for the Preservation of Famous Detectives (SPFD), but they are hindered by someone who seems determined to get to the amulet first. Their search takes them to museums and the clock tower of Big Ben. Can they find the amulet in time? Will it stop time if they do?

This book holds much fun for third graders getting heavily into chapter book series and developing their comprehension of language in general. The concept of pictographs, for example, should increase their understanding of written language. An excellent interview with the author and excerpts from another book are included.

It was named a 2011 Bank Street – Best Children’s Book of the Year.
Written by Tracy Barrett

The third installation of the “The Sherlock Files” has the great-great-great grandchildren of Sherlock Holmes racing around London, literally racing against time. Their friend, Karim, is trying to find an Egyptian artifact before a certain date. The amulet is supposed to be able to stop time every fifty years, and the date is quickly approaching. Karim knows of their renowned ancestor and their past casework. His grandfather has told Karim of his ancestor, who hid the amulet. They begin only with the grandfather’s story and notes Sherlock left in his unsolved casebook. They have plenty of help from the Society for the Preservation of Famous Detectives (SPFD), but they are hindered by someone who seems determined to get to the amulet first. Their search takes them to museums and the clock tower of Big Ben. Can they find the amulet in time? Will it stop time if they do?

This book holds much fun for third graders getting heavily into chapter book series and developing their comprehension of language in general. The concept of pictographs, for example, should increase their understanding of written language. An excellent interview with the author and excerpts from another book are included.

It was named a 2011 Bank Street – Best Children’s Book of the Year.

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  • Case that Time ForgotTitle: The Case That Time Forgot
  • Author: Tracy Barrett
  • Publisher: Square Fish/Henry Holt and Company, 2011
  • Reviewer: Sue Poduska
  • Format: Paperback, 158 pages
  • Genre: Chapter book, mystery
  • ISBN: 978-0-312-56358-5
  • Lexile: 700L

 

The Prairie that Nature Built

Written by Marybeth Lorbiecki
Illustrated by Cathy Morrison

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The inner workings of the wild prairie are on display in this engaging picture book. Written as a cumulative poem, it’s a celebration of a unique habitat.

 

This is the prairie that nature built.
These are the critters
That worm and squirm
Alive in the dirt so dark and thick
Under the prairie that nature built.

 

Young readers will gaze upon prairie dogs, ferrets, and snakes hiding safely in their burrows. They’ll see plant roots stretching deep underground to hold water long after the rains have gone. And they’ll learn how flowers, insects, birds and various mammals intermingle and benefit from each other. But on the prairie, there are dangers, too. Lightning can spark a fire, setting the ground ablaze and chasing the animals away. A pounding rain quenches the fire, leaving the blackened reeds to mix with the soil. Months later, from out from the ashes a green shoot sprouts upward. Life renewed once again.

 

Lorbiecki’s use of rhyme, cumulative verse, and repetition will enhance the literacy skills of young readers. Dramatic text and images capture the beauty and vulnerability of this disappearing habitat. Morrison’s artwork is full of fine detail, which allows third graders to find something new with each reading. Back matter includes in-depth information on prairies, vocabulary and terminology, reading activities and additional resources. This book is also available as an interactive book app.

 

  • PrairieTitle: The Prairie that Nature Built
  • Author: Marybeth Lorbiecki
  • Illustrator: Cathy Morrison
  • Publisher: Dawn Publications, 2014
  • Reviewer: Lauren Abbey Greenberg
  • Hardcover: 32 pages
  • ISBN: 978-1-58469-491-5
  • Genre: Picture Book / Creative Nonfiction / Science / Nature
  • Publication Date: September 1, 2014

Jesper Jinx

Written and illustrated by Marko Kitti

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Jesper may not be a jinx, but he sure has a difficult time making things come out the way he envisions them. The first several pages of the book provide an introduction to eleven-year-old Jesper and all his quirks. The author tells the readers they are sworn to secrecy about the fact that this book even exists. Jesper wouldn’t want his antic shared so widely. Then the reader hears two short stories about the workings of Jesper’s world. In the first story, Jesper and his snow white cat tangle over a water glass containing the leavings from a water color brush. A load of red laundry and yellow towel are also involved. (The cat wins the battle. Jesper is no longer bored.) Then the reader gets to hear from the cat. In the second story, Jesper and his friend plan and carry out tricks on their teacher. Turns out they are sharing their secrets with the wrong person. Reminding the reader things are not always as they seem.

The author does a lot of asides, speaking directly to the reader and thus drawing them into the conspiracy that is Jesper. This is a great device, especially for third graders, who are still getting comfortable with the chapter book concept. The silly and hilarious adventures are enough to keep kids engaged and will remind them to be kind and think about their actions before carrying them out. The familiar themes and quick pace should help with literacy skills and comprehension.

Find out more at www.jesperjinx.co.uk.

 

  • Jesper JinxTitle: Jesper Jinx
  • Author/Illustrator: Marko Kitti
  • Publisher: CreativeSpace Publishing, 2014
  • Reviewer: Sue Poduska
  • Format: Paperback, 150 pages
  • Genre: Chapter book, humor
  • ISBN: 978-1-4974-5822-2

 

 

The Grudge Keeper

Written by Mara Rockliff
Illustrated by Eliza Wheeler

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The town of Bonnyripple is a civilized place where no one ever holds a grudge. Why? Because any and all arguments are to be immediately delivered on a scroll of paper to old man Cornelius, the Grudge Keeper.

Ruffled feathers, petty snits, minor tiffs and major huffs, insults, umbrage, squabbles, dust-ups, and imbroglios – the Grudge Keeper received them all, large and small, tucking each one carefully away in his ramshackle cottage.

Over time, though, the grudges add up. They stack so high in Cornelius’ cottage that he can barely move. Then one day, a storm blows into town and causes quite a commotion. Items are ruined, neighbors bicker, feelings are hurt, and come morning the entire town is upset with each other. They march straight to Cornelius to drop off their grievances. But what do they find? A literal mountain of grudges and complaints and backhanded compliments all tossed together in a blown-about heap. And buried underneath it all is the poor grudge keeper. The townspeople must put aside their differences and work together to save him.

Wheeler does an excellent job creating the fairy-tale town of Bonnyville with her ink-and-watercolor illustrations. Watch how the color pallet shifts with the town’s mood, especially when the storm approaches – literally and figuratively. Rockliff uses plenty of alliteration and tongue-in-cheek wordplay to make the story fun to read and fun to listen to; this would work well as a third grade read aloud and could promote discussion on getting along and resolving conflict.

For a great interview with the author and illustrator and an insider’s look into the picture book-making process, visit The Making of the Grudge Keeper on the publisher’s website:

http://peachtreepub.blogspot.com/2014/04/the-making-of-grudge-keeper.html

 

  • The Grudge KeeperTitle: The Grudge Keeper
  • Author: Mara Rockliff
  • Illustrator: Eliza Wheeler
  • Publisher: Peachtree Publishers, 2014
  • Reviewer: Lauren Abbey Greenberg
  • Format: Hardcover, 32 pages
  • ISBN: 978-1-56145-729-8
  • Genre: Picture Book, Fiction, Humor
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