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The Adventures of a South Pole Pig

Written by Chris Kurtz
Illustrated by Jennifer Black Reinhardt

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Flora the pig is descended from a long and reputable line of porcine adventurers/philosophers. Just goes to show that dogs, smart and loyal as they are, are not the only non-human species with human-like thoughts and desires.

Flora, like Jonathan Livingstone Seagull, feels that there is more to life than searching for food. When Luna the cat comes by Flora is awestruck. Here is a creature who has seen the world beyond the confines of the pen. Flora badgers her for stories, and translates the stories into games she teaches her siblings.

Circumstances conspire to set Flora off on a grand adventure. The title reveals where Flora and her ‘team’ are headed — the South Pole! This book is a wonderful read aloud, a chapter at a time. It can lead to discussions about the South Pole and life in that remote frozen land, and talks about the adventures and misadventures of the famous explorers who journeyed to the Antarctic.

Flora is equal parts adventurer and philosopher. “Why aren’t farm pigs in control of their lives?” she asks Luna, her friend and mentor-cat. She is willing to learn, to ask questions. “Is that some kind of special blanket?” she asks, when she sees the men spread a square of canvas on the snowfield.

Things become as bad as they possibly can. Intrepid Flora rounds up her ‘team’- Sophia the cat, who had explained that cats are solitary creatures and do not work in teams; Oscar the lead sled dog; and Aleric the human, to effect an incredible rescue. “The Captain’s Gratitude” says the lettering on the special crate that the captain has ordered for her. The last illustration shows Flora facing the wind — “and all her adventures to come.”

Jennifer Black Reinhardt’s black and white line drawings add just the right note of whimsy. A great addition to any reading list.

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  • South Pole PigTitle: The Adventures of a South Pole Pig
  • Author: Chris Kurtz
  • Illustrator: Jennifer Black Reinhardt
  • Publisher: Harcourt Children’s Books
  • Reviewer: Anjali Amit
  • Hardback: 278 pages
  • ISBN: 978-0-547-63455-5
  • Genre: Fiction/Novels
  • Lexile Score: 760

Just Grace and the Double Surprise

Written and Illustrated by Charise Mericle Harper

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Just Grace and the Double Surprise is a joy to read for the third grade reader. It has many illustrations and the paragraphs are broken up on the page so the third grade reader will not get bored reading about the fun that Grace and her friend Mimi experience.
The best part of the book and throughout the story is that Grace and her friend Mimi talk about real feelings and emotions that third grade students feel. The author does a wonderful job of making the story real. She clearly gives descriptions of words that are new to the third grade reader, words like empathy and the difference between a surprise and a mystery. The text is written at the third grade level of comprehension yet would be enjoyed by those students a grade older who were at this reading level. » Read more

Discover Persian Cats

Written by Trudy Micco

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Discover Persian Cats by Trudy Micco is a fun and informative early reader book for third grade reading level and up aimed at readers interested in learning how to care for a Persian cat and/or determining whether a Persian cat is a right family fit. It is also the kind of book I wish had existed when I was a kid trying to figure out what kind of cat to welcome into our family.
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Calvert and the Battle of Baltimore

Written and illustrated by J. Scott Fuqua

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Historical fiction can be a terrific way to introduce young readers to the fascinating days of the past—as long as the history part of the book remains accurate and the story is captivating. Despite some occasionally weak writing, Calvert the Raven and the Battle of Baltimore succeeds in both areas and is an interesting look at one of the most important battles in American history.
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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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