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Animal Helpers: Sanctuaries

Written by Jennifer Keats Curtis

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Animal Helpers: Sanctuaries is more than a picture book for the kindergarten to third grade level reader. This book is a fun and informative study of who and how animals can be helped and cared for. Many times exotic animals are purchased when they are tiny, but when they grow and become too big for their caregiver, who takes over the care? Animal Helpers: Sanctuaries is the book to launch those discussions and learning.

Educators and parents will appreciate the clear information presented in the book for the kindergarten through third grade reading level students. Whether the book is read aloud or students study it independently, the beautiful pictures will help tell the story of a bear, a lynx, two tigers, and a variety of other beautiful and exotic animals that cannot live alone in the wild.

The publisher has numerous resources for teachers on their website and the book includes four pages of activities to do at home or in the classroom. Readers will learn hands-on about sanctuaries and the care of animals, rescue and habitats, and how to identify domestic animals from those that should be wild. Many more free learning activities are available online at www.SylvanDellPublishing.com.

This is a great book to add to the classroom or the homeschool library but it also is a good book for parents to read and share at home. Summer reading can open discussions about animals, the environment, and even volunteer opportunities available for children who love to know more about helping animals. The additional pages for “Creative Minds” are a plus for parents and teachers offering a wide variety of fun learning experiences to share with the third grade student.

  • Animal Helpers SanctuariesTitle: Animal Helpers: Sanctuaries
  • Author: Jennifer Keats Curtis
  • Publisher: Sylvan Dell Publishing
  • Reviewer: Terri Forehand
  • ISBN: 978-1-60718-6236
  • Genre: Juvenile Nonfiction, Picture book
  • Lexile Level: 860

 

 

 

Escape from Silver Street Farm

Written by Nicola Davies

Illustrated by Katharine McEwen

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Three animal-loving children, Meera, Karl, and Gemma, get together to form a farm within the city. They love every aspect of developing a farm—even shoveling poop– alongside Flora MacDonald, a young Scottish farmer whose experience in farming is invaluable. As they prepare for the Grand Opening, they hear the results of the constant head-butting of their latest arrival, Kenelottl Mossworthy Merridale (Kenny, for short). Despite the noise, the children think everything is set until Flora announces that their prize attractions, the always-nervous turkeys, have flown the coop. As if that isn’t bad enough, Bobo and Bitzi, the Silver Street sheep—formerly known as poodle puppies—have also disappeared. Since the sheep are the newly arrived ram’s new wives, it is only sensible that the children use him to sniff them out. With the sheep in the grocery store and the turkeys about to take a frightening ride in a bouncy castle over the dam, life is exciting for all involved! But is the mystery solved? Not yet! There’s still the matter of the unexplained hole in the fence and the hidden tunnel. Enter Bish Bosh and Squirt for some additional entertainment.

As the sequel to Welcome to Silver Street Farm, Escape from Silver Street Farm is the second in a series of six books. Full of humor, the series should appeal to animal lovers at the third grade reading level. If teachers like the idea of teaching children the value of taking charge with the aid of a supportive adult or two, this book should definitely be added to their reading list.

About the author:  http://www.nicola-davies.com/

About the illustrator: http://www.katharinemcewen.co.uk/

Related video:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UNDTCL73SsE

  • Escape from Silver Street FarmTitle: Escape from Silver Street Farm
  • Author: Nicola Davies
  • Illustrator: Katharine McEwen
  • Publisher: Candlewick Press
  • Reviewer: Bonita Herold
  • Hardback: 80 pages
  • ISBN: 978-0-7636-6133-5
  • Genre: Humor
  • Lexile score: 810

 

The Deductive Detective

Written by Brian Rock

Illustrated by Sherry Rogers

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When a cake is stolen from a cake contest and there are twelve possible suspects, who do you call? Duck, the deductive detective! He assesses the situation and one by one eliminates suspects based on the evidence. The Deductive Detective is a charming read-aloud, but for a third grade class to really appreciate the puns, students may also read it individually. Brian Rock, a former educator himself, also writes allusions throughout his book. To understand puns like the Elephant’s statement, “I come from a long line of Tudors”, or cow’s recollection that her great-grandmother once “jumped over the moon,” students must remember who the Tudors were or a nursery rhyme.

As a comprehension activity, students may be asked to pick two puns and explain them as if teaching an English as a Second Language (ESL) student. This type of activity promotes comprehension of the text and empathy for ESL students. This book is also a fantastic book to bridge literacy and math concepts. The overlap of the math concept subtraction and the process of elimination are clear.  As another extension activity to help students understand the concept of deductive reasoning, students may play the games like “Guess Who,” “Battleship,” or “Twenty Questions.” Each of these games requires students to use clues and the process of elimination to reach the solution to a problem. Literacy and problem solving skills are two of the most crucial skills for students to acquire, and games along with The Deductive Detective are a fantastic way to learn.

  • Title: The Deductive Detective
  • Author: Brian Rock
  • Illustrator: Sherry Rogers
  • Publisher: Sylvan Dell Publishing
  • Reviewer: Sharon Schulte
  • Paperback, 32 pages
  • ISBN: 978-1-60718-6250
  • Genre: fiction/deductive reasoning/mystery
  • Lexile: 670

My Dad Thinks He’s Funny

Written by Katrina Germein
Illustrated by Tom Jellett

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My Dad Thinks He’s Funny is a delightfully sarcastic book that almost any kid can relate to. For any child who has a parent whose first response to a complaint about a sore finger or foot is “just chop it off,” this book will provide plenty of giggles and eye rolling. Katrina Germein perfectly captures the silly ways that many dads have of showing their love and humor. This book is a fantastic read aloud for a third grade class; it encourages skills in fluency and inflection to give more meaning to the text. This book seems like a natural fit in a unit about families or toward the end of year when students are thinking about Fathers’ Day. Teachers may have students fashion a card or gift for dads in a way that echoes the format of My Dad Thinks He’s Funny: recording an example of how their dads demonstrate certain traits or qualities. This book is a lovely gift for a special man at Father’s Day, bringing unity to the giver and receiver.

As an art extension activity for this book, students may create illustrations in the same style as Tom Jellett. His multi-media illustrations are a unique combination of simple drawings and real materials. Students may start with easy combinations like markers and colored chalks on paper, or more advanced artists may move to combining these and raw materials like fabric and natural elements. To bring art and literacy together, students may even write and illustrate their own book! Whether for home or class, My Dad Thinks He’s Funny is a great addition to a book collection.

  • My Dad Thinks Hes FunnyTitle: My Dad Thinks He’s Funny
  • Author: Katrina Germein
  • Illustrator: Tom Jellett
  • Publisher: Candlewick Press
  • Reviewer: Sharon Schulte
  • Hardback, 32 pages
  • ISBN: 978-0761461807
  • Genre: fiction/fathers
  • Lexile: 620

Balloon Trees

Written by Danna Smith

Illustrated by Laurie Allen Klein

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Where does rubber for balloons and tires come from? Balloon Trees follows the process of harvesting latex from rubber trees, to shipping, chemical processing, vulcanization, and distribution of balloons. Dana Smith’s simplified prose may be a bit deceptive, for the ideas within Balloon Trees are anything but “simple”; her research and collaboration with rubber manufacturers is combined in this book to make a non-fiction description of the route balloons take from beginning to end.  The extra information in the “For Creative Minds” of Balloon Trees also gives resources that allow teachers and students to take learning beyond the pages of Balloon Trees.  Laurie Allen Klein illustrations are nothing short of stunning; the colors and textures bring to life the process of balloon manufacturing. Each illustration has a beautiful green bird that seems to be observing the different steps of balloon manufacturing, and in many of the illustrations, the bird imagery is echoed subtly, almost as a bonus seek and find.

After reading Balloon Trees aloud with a third grade class, be prepared to research answers to more questions that students may have because this book provides just enough information to inform students about balloon manufacturing and to pique students’ appetites to understand the greater concepts of rubber use and manufacturing. In the back of the book, there are several ready-to-use resources, such as a sequencing game and a true or false comprehension quiz about rubber. Balloon Trees also gives readers access to myriad free online resources at Sylvan Dell’s website. These resources are an asset to any busy teacher who wants to give the best information and tools to students on their journey as life-long learners. This book is a natural fit in any third grade classroom library.

  • Balloon TreesTitle: Balloon Trees
  • Author: Danna Smith
  • Illustrator: Laurie Allen Klein
  • Publisher: Sylvan Dell Publishing
  • Reviewer: Sharon Schulte
  • Paperback, 32 pages
  • ISBN: 978-1-60718-6243
  • Genre: non-fiction/rubber/latex/manufacturing
  • Lexile: 730

Burton’s Friendship Garden

Written by V. A. Boeholt

Illustrated by Nathaniel P. Jensen

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Burton, the kind scarecrow, invites his friend Ribbon to watch as Farmer Green works the field with his tractor. First, the farmer plows all of last year’s growth to make natural fertilizer, and then he readies the discer. He follows that with dragging tied-together wagon wheels across the field to make it smooth. After he’s picked up the rocks, the farmer tells Burton that he’ll return tomorrow to plant the seeds. Imagine the scarecrow’s concern when he doesn’t show up. After two days of waiting, Burton finds out from the crow that the farmer has broken both legs. Now he’s even more worried. What will happen to Farmer Green’s family if he cannot grow crops? Burton, always kind and thoughtful, bands the animals together to form a plan to help.

Boeholt’s book, as Book 2 in the series called Friendship Tales from the Farm, is so much more than a book about farming. Teachers will surely appreciate the Resource Guide (included within the book), the page on the history of gardening, comprehension questions, the ideas for activities, and the glossary of words unfamiliar to many third graders. In addition, Burton’s Friendship Garden provides an opportunity to teach character development and service, as the scarecrow, alongside his friends, finds a way to work together to achieve a worthy goal. As Boeholt brings Burton to life, she’s able to reach children with that important message of friendship. Read aloud or silently, Burton’s Friendship Garden should be near the top of the third grade reading list.

Author’s Website: http://scarecrowstories.com/

Illustrator’s Website: http://www.natepjensen.com/#

Related trailer for the first book in the series, Burton the Kind Scarecrow: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JVUZrnZEehk

  • Burtons Frindship GardenTitle: Burton’s Friendship Garden
  • Author: V. A. Boeholt
  • Illustrators: Nathaniel P. Jensen
  • Publisher: Five Star Publications, Inc.
  • Reviewer: Bonita Herold
  • Paperback: 36 pages
  • ISBN: 978-1-558985-210-5
  • Genre: Picture Book
  • Lexile Score: 800

 

Barnaby the Bedbug Detective

Written by Catherine Stier

Illustrated by Karen Sapp

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Did you know “an adult bedbug lives about twelve to eighteen months”? Or that “adult bedbugs can go months, and in rare cases, more than a year, without eating”? You know a book is going to be a great read when even the inside of the cover pulls you in with such fascinating facts! Barnaby the Bedbug Detective highlights the life of a working dog unlike most we are familiar. Seeing-eye dogs, therapy dogs, and the canine unit for police stations are familiar to almost everyone, but dogs’ trained as bedbug detectives shows just how industrious and useful these furry creatures can be!

Students read about a pound dog, Barnaby, who is passed up as a family dog but is later hand-picked as a perfect candidate for canine training in bedbug detection. Author Catherine Stier weaves a fiction tale based on facts, which triggers readers’ curiosity about different aspects of Barnaby’s job and perhaps other unlikely jobs that dogs can perform. Karen Sapp’s illustrations are bright and cheerful, yet informative; one particular illustration shows the lifecycle of the bedbug. This book would be a perfect fit in a unit about pets, careers, health or as an addition to a unit on research. After reading Barnaby the Bedbug Detective, students may be encouraged to ask questions and find the answers through research in the media center. To promote comprehension, students may be assigned to research a canine job and present their findings in a multimedia presentation. If students are interested in learning more about bedbugs in particular, there are several resources listed at the end of Barnaby.  This book is well-suited for reading aloud in any second or third grade class; most students will relish in learning more about the gross facts and fascinating job of Barnaby.

  • BarnabyTitle: Barnaby the Bedbug Detective
  • Author: Catherine Stier
  • Illustrator: Karen Sapp
  • Publisher: Albert Whitman and Company
  • Reviewer: Sharon Schulte
  • Hardback, 32 pages
  • ISBN: 978-0-8075-0904-3
  • Genre: fiction/dogs/working-dogs

 

Shark Baby

Written by Ann Downer

Illustrated by Shennen Bersani

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Shark Baby is a picture book that bursts at the seams with facts and fun information for any grade level that enjoys picture books. Independent readers at a third grade level can easily master the language in the picture book text, although some may need assistance with pronunciation or comprehension.

The illustrations are fabulous and keep the reader turning the page. The illustrations also keep those being read to interested because they depict action with each page. Third grade level readers will enjoy the mystery of discovering what type of shark the new baby shark is. Students will be amazed at all the interesting facts they will learn about the sea, creatures who live in the ocean, and the habitats that are depicted as Shark Baby travels to find out what kind of shark he is.

This picture book is a treasure for the classroom teacher because along with a good story based on science facts, this book includes 4 pages of activities and additional lesson material to support information about sharks. Additionally, Sylvan Dell Publishing offers more teacher assistance on their web page at www.SylvanDellPublishing.com  making this a must to any third grade level classroom.

  • Shark BabyTitle: Shark Baby
  • Author: Ann Downer
  • Illustrations: Shennen Bersani
  • Publisher: Sylvan Dell Publishing
  • Reviewer: Terri Forehand
  • ISBN: 978-1-60718-6342
  • Genre: Juvenile/ Nonfiction

 

The Year of the Book

 Written by Andrea Cheng

Illustrated by Abigail Halpin

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Anna is a real American girl. Or is she? In a lighthearted and fun way, third graders can learn about Anna’s world. Her mother was born in China. Her father is Chinese-American. Like most third graders, Anna is feeling a little out step with the world and is trying to figure out who her friends are. Anything that sets her apart also makes her feel vulnerable. She doesn’t want to learn Chinese. She doesn’t want her friends to know her mother cleans for a living. She doesn’t want to get too close to Laura, in case Laura’s using her to make Allison jealous. The two things she does love are reading and painting. Eventually she finds out that other people have problems too. Helping others makes her forget her own issues and moves her toward greater understand and acceptance. Laura’s parents are separating, causing Laura to lean on Anna for support. Anna’s friend, Ray the crossing guard, breaks his leg, and Anna finds a way to help him. And one of Anna’s mother’s clients, Mr. Shepherd, is a widower confined to a wheelchair. He’s one of Anna’s best friends. Anna also helps another Chinese-American girl who is struggling in school and shows kindness to her teacher.

Reading activities are built right into the book. Anna makes her own lunch bag, and the illustrator shows us how. The reader learns several Chinese words and characters. Lessons on won ton folding are also included.

This is a welcome addition to a world in which more and more families combine multiple backgrounds. It’s sure to make many reading lists. The author’s website, www.andreacheng.com, contains a teacher’s guide and numerous ideas for more reading activities.

  • Year of the BookTitle: The Year of the Book
  • Author: Andrea Cheng
  • Illustrator: Abigail Halpin
  • Publisher: Sandpiper/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Reviewer: Sue Poduska
  • Paperback, 146 pages
  • ISBN: 978-0-544-02263-8
  • Genre: Chapter Book, Chinese-American Culture

Hero Mom

Written by Melinda Hardin

Illustrated by Bryan Langdo

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When you were a kid, did you ever wonder what the adults in your life actually do all day? Figuring that out is even more difficult for children whose mothers are deployed in the military. In this amazing picture book, seven kids explain from their perspective what their mothers are doing for their country and the people of the world. All these moms are superheroes, though none of them wears tights and a cloak. Instead of leaping tall buildings, one mom builds them. One girl’s mom literally flies in to save the day – in a helicopter. One mom works with animals to help find missing people and dangerous objects. A boy’s mother is not a Transformer, but she does keep machines running. Delivering supplies where needed keeps one mother rolling at merely human speed. As a healer, one mom may actually have super powers. As a commander, a girl’s mom leads other heroes.

Seeing the variety of jobs women perform is important for all third graders. The illustrations show not only the variety of jobs, but the variety of moms. The illustrator helps keep the subject light, yet realistic. The author and illustrator also demonstrate how the kids keep in touch through computers, phone calls, letters, and pictures and how the moms eventually come home to hugs.

Military families rarely get enough support, but organizations do exist to help. One such organization is the National Military Family Association (www.militaryfamilies.org). A quick internet search will provide many more connections and provide nearly unlimited opportunities for reading activities.

  • Hero MomTitle: Hero Mom
  • Author: Melinda Hardin
  • Illustrator: Bryan Langdo
  • Publisher: Amazon Children’s Publishing
  • Reviewer: Sue Poduska
  • Hard cover: 32 pages
  • ISBN: 978-1477816455
  • Genre: Picture book, Jobs, Women, Military

 

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