Archive for February 27, 2013

Gooney Bird is So Absurd

Written by Lois Lowery
Illustrated by Middy Thomas

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Gooney Bird is the “new” girl at Watertower Elementary school, but by January, Mrs. Pigeon’s second grade is mostly used to her unique ways. She still surprises them occasionally, like when the kids realize that her “brain-warming hat” is really a pair of frilly bottom underpants even though it seems made for her two ponytails. is ready for Mrs. Pigeon’s newest challenge: poetry. They have lively discussions about what poetry is and isn’t, even how many different kinds of poems there are. Their favorite part is when Mrs. Pigeon brings in poems written by her mother, a woman they call Mrs. X. And Mrs. X seems to have poems that demonstrate every type. They know Mrs. X is old and in a nursing home, but one day Mrs. Pigeon is absent because Mrs. X died. They were about to do poems in different voices so what do they do now? They make their own poem, in voices, as a tribute to Mrs. X. » Read more

Twelve Kinds of Ice

Written by Ellen Bryan Obed
Illustrated by Barbara McClintock

  •  A Junior Library Guild Selection
  •  A Winter 2012-13 Kids’ Indie Next List Pick
  • Kirkus Best Children’s Books of 2012
  • Booklist’s Editors’ Choice list for 2012
  • NYPL 100 Titles for Reading & Sharing, 2012

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Written in a lyrical, almost poetic style, Obed’s memories evoke a longing for the simple hopes of a quieter age. Back in the days before the first question asked was not about what liability insurance a family has, families could still afford to be the centers for activities such as ice skating. From the beginning of the book to the end, the importance of the ice is enjoyed by the entire kid-populated neighborhood. Anticipation of the first ice was like waiting for Christmas. Preparations began with that first icy film on the top of a bucket of water. Soon, the ice became an inch thick. After that, barring thaws, steady progression toward a rink in the back yard was the order of the day. The rink was so popular that schedules had to be set up and a referee, in the form of Mom, enlisted. Of course, Dad was involved in building the rink and in the actual skating. He was also the star of the neighborhood ice show. In fact, the author dedicates the book to Dad. At the end of the season, the kids say goodbye to the ice and dream of next year.

McClintock’s illustrations, charming and realistic, complete the depiction of the neighborhood project and aid in comprehension of the ideas.
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Bubble Trouble

Written by Margaret Mahy
Illustrated by Polly Dunbar

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What would you do if someone you loved was trapped in a free-flying bubble? Answering that question in response to reading Bubble Trouble sparks’ any student’s imagination!

This book – especially the Big Book edition – is a beloved read-aloud; Margarety Mahy’s laborious development of this rhythmic, alliterative book has paid off in dividends. An instant classic, this book twists the tongue and challenges readers’ fluency skills as they read aloud phrases like, “At the shops, a busy rabble, met to gossip and to gabble, started gibbering and goggling as the bubble bobbled by.”
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Noah Webster and His Words

Written by Jeri Chase Ferris
Illustrated by Vincent X. Kirsch

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SCBWI Golden Kite award for best NF book of 2012

The second most popular book printed in English ever? Webster’s Dictionary! Jeri Chase Ferris provides a clever biography for third grade readers and tells the details of Webster’s prolific writing without being too heady or verbose. Ferris highlights the most important and interesting facts of this key American figure. Readers will immediately recognize Webster’s name from the dictionary that nearly everyone owns, but Noah Webster and His Words highlights details that most have never learned. Students will delight to learn that Webster started out as a teacher, and was driven to write books because there were no American books for his students. His search for knowledge and correct information drove him to travel and speak broadly, and he played a key role politically in the early years of the United States. Noah Webster is an American Hero!

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My First Day

Written and Illustrated by Steve Jenkins and Robin Page

Steve Jenkins and Robin Page won New York Time’s Best Illustrated Book of the Year in 2006 for Move! and the 2004 Caldecott Honor for What Do You Do with a Tail Like This?

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We all know what human babies do on their first days: sleep, cry, eat, and fill their diapers!Buy on Amazon But what does a blue wildebeest, emperor penguin, or a golden snub-nosed monkey do on its first day? For succinct answers to those questions and more, My First Day is a must-read. Steven Jenkins and Robin Page do it again! For My First Day, they deliver a charmingly illustrated book packed with plenty of information to whet a young reader’s appetite for more information. The illustrations are filled with detail and texture. This book is a read aloud for a third grade class, and it would be amusing to have students read the text that accompanies each illustration and wait for the rest of the class to guess what kind of animal is described. Afterall, who would guess that any frog would be in his father’s mouth from tadpole to baby frog, even with the hint, “On my first day, I hopped out of my father’s mouth.”
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Desmond and the Very Mean Word

Written by Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Douglas Carlton Abrams

Illustrated by A.G. Ford

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Sticks and stones may break your bones, but words truly torture the soul. Bullying can be as overt as a mean word shouted across the playground, or as subtle as exclusion from a game. The setting for Desmond and the Very Mean Word is South Africa in the mid-1900s, but it may as well be America in the twenty-first century. The themes of racism, bullying, forgiveness, and friendship are challenging and inspiring, and great points for beginning discussion in a third grade class. Any young pupil can relate to Desmond, hearing ugly things and wanting to retaliate. Through the help of Father Trevor, Desmond learns the valuable lesson that retaliation does not satisfy the soul nearly as much as forgiveness and peace.
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Easy Desserts From Around The World

Written by Heather Alexander

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Easy Desserts from Around the World is a super fun cookbook aimed at third grade readers and up. What is unique about this cookbook is the assortment of recipes collected from around the world. Through this cookbook kids are exposed to eleven different desserts, such as Russian Strawberries Romanoff and Mexican Celebration Cookies to German Lebkuchen and Italian Lemon Granita to name just a few. Yum!

Each recipe features a photo of the dessert along with a picture of the country from where the dessert originates, as well as colorfully presented fun to know information relevant to the country and/or dessert. Kids will not only be motivated to make something sweet to eat, they will also experience another culture first-hand and see the world a little differently because of it.
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Infinity Ring: A Mutiny In Time

Written by James Dashner

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Oh what a swashbuckling tale of time travel, adventure and mutiny on the high seas.A smidgen of danger is thrown in: storms and volcanic eruptions, increasing crime, and earthquakes, and all of it because of the things that went wrong in the past. Time itself has gone wrong. The only way to set things right, then, is to travel to the past to correct those mistakes.

“What mistakes?”, the reader may ask. And the author tells us. This is the first book in a seven-book series and James Dashner creates the scaffolding on which this story, and all subsequent stories, will hang. He digs a deep foundation, taking us back to Aristotle’s time. Events back then took a turn they should not have when Alexander is assassinated. This leads to Aristotle seeing this as a mistake, a tear in the fabric of reality, and plans to make it right. He creates a secret society called the Hystorians, whose job is to track and document the Great Breaks through the ages, in the hope that someday time travel will enable the Hystorians to return to the past and mend the tears in the fabric.
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First Mothers

Written by Beverly Gherman

Illustrated by Julie Downing

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Who knew Andrew Jackson loved to run off and find mischief, or George W. Bush visited the principal’s office frequently, or Barack Obama’s spent many years in Jakarta with his globe-trotting mother? First Mothers offers entertaining, weird, and sad details about the lives of the United States’ 44 Presidents. It gives a unique look at the backgrounds of the presidents’ upbringing, shining light on the so-called backstage life of our nation’s Presidents. This book is much too long to read in one sitting, of course, but one can imagine a second or third grade teacher reading information about a different First Mother every few days. Beverly Gherman’s and Julie Downing’s research has paid off in dividends; First Mothers actually inspires students to do their own research to further understand our country’s leaders’ lives. Some of the facts are funny, such as Nancy Lincoln (Abraham Lincoln’s mother) used to be a wrestler in her hometown: “She wrestled many of the men in her town.” Other facts are sobering, like the First Mothers and Fathers who died when the presidents were young. This book humanizes the great leaders we tend to de-humanize with our criticism and awe.
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Ivy and Bean Make the Rules

Written by Annie Barrow

Illustrated by Sophie Blackall

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Hooray for Ivy and Bean!  The latest book in the series has Bean feeling left out as her sister Nancy goes to camp.  At Girl Power 4-ever, she gets to do so many cool things.  Bean has to sit at home.  Mom tells her she can go to the park by herself, if that helps.  It doesn’t.  But when Ivy comes over, Bean sees that they can make their own camp, a better camp, because they can do anything they want.  Ivy’s mom got new curtains so they use the old ones to make a tent (with the help of duct tape).  They make up a great name: Camp Flaming Arrow.  They set about doing camp things – like crafts.  A friendship bracelet craft turns into an escape trick as the strings get wrapped around both arms of both girls.  They have so much fun that some kids visiting their grandmother join them.  The nature study has them searching for the dangerous Komodo dragon which attracts another boy who is bored of soccer camp.  At the end of the week, Bean had way more fun than Nancy.
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