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The Extraordinary Music of Mr. Ives

Written and Illustrated by Joanne Stanbridge

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Extraordinary Music of Mr. Ives, written and illustrated by the talented Joanne Stanbridge, is aimed at readers at the third grade reading level and up. It is also the true story of an American composer who did not become famous for his work until well after he passed away. And, although his music was not understood in his day, Stanbridge shows us that it did not stop Mr. Ives from composing music that was often inspired by the hustle and bustle of New York City sounds such as: train whistles, traffic jams, honking cars, and noisy vendors selling their wares.

The piece that put Mr. Ives on the map of musical composers originates with a slice of 1915 American history when an enemy torpedo sunk the ocean liner, the Lusitania. The tragedy silenced Americans and hushed the sounds of New York City life, as well as the music that lived inside Mr. Ives.

Eventually New Yorkers in Hanover Square North began to express their feelings by singing an old tune, “In the street bye and bye, we shall meet on that beautiful shore.” These words stirred Ives to compose. He rushed home and spent the entire evening trying to capture the mood of that moment. He took their song, wove in city street sounds, and named his new piece From Hanover Square North, at the end of a Tragic Day, the Voice of the People Again Arose.

More than fifty years later, and thirteen years after Mr. Ives’ death, From Hanover Square North was performed and became a huge success. At long last, people began to understand Ives’ music and to listen to it. The biggest compliment to his work comes from other admiring musicians. They mimicked Ives’ boldness in their own compositions. Stanbridge dedicates a page of illustrations and text to three of Ives’ fans: Elliott Cook Carter’s Pocahontas, Aaron Copland’s The Tender Land, and John Adams’ On the Transmigration of Souls.

The Extraordinary Music of Mr. Ives is a nonfiction picture book that would be appropriate for third grade readers and up. It is also an ideal book to add to all school libraries and classrooms for discussions about events like 9/11. Stanbridge’s picture book is a compelling look at how people came together to mourn and offers a positive response to healing.

  • Mr. IvesTitle: The Extraordinary Music of Mr. Ives
  • Author and Illustrator: Joanne Stanbridge
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Reviewer: Annemarie O’Brien
  • Paperback: 32 pages
  • ISBN: 978-0-547-23866-1
  • Genre: Nonfiction, biography, music, picture book
  • Lexile Score: 790

How To Clean A Hippopotamus: A Look At Unusual Animal Partnerships

Written and Illustrated by Steve Jenkins and Robin Page

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Eew! That smell of dirty socks? It’s actually the hippopotamus hiding in the closet. Quick, how do we clean the hippo and get rid of that smell? Now we have a book that tells us. Young readers will be enticed by its unusual title: of course they want to know how to clean a hippo, and in reading the book they’ll learn all about symbiosis in the natural world.

The back matter tells us that there are many kinds of symbiotic relationships in nature. In this book we learn about mutualism: a partnership which benefits all the animals involved. The hippo, for example, spends most of the day in the water. Algae and water plants make its skin slimy. Enter the African helmeted turtle who nibbles away at the slime. In return, the cold blooded turtle rides on the hippo’s back, warming itself in the sun.

The book is filled with fascinating facts. Clownfish and sea anemone have a symbiotic relationship. But we learn how, to begin with, the clownfish are not immune to the sea anemone’s toxin. They build that immunity over time, slowly exposing themselves to the stinging tentacles till their body adapts to the toxin. Do they become immune to all sea anemone? No. Only to the anemone they interacted with. And if they are away from the anemone for more than 45 minutes they have to start the process of building up immunity all over again.

Third graders, even middle schoolers, will be enchanted by this collection of facts. Teachers can schedule reading activities and reading games — the graphic novel format lends itself to many activities. The book is rich in resources: in the back matter the authors provide additional information (size, habitat and diet) about all the animals mentioned in the book.

 

Additional Resources:

Fascinating look at book making: http://www.stevejenkinsbooks.com/makingbooks.html

  • Clean a HippopotamusTitle: How To Clean A Hippopotamus: A Look At Unusual Animal Partnerships
  • Author: Steve Jenkins and Robin Page
  • Illustrator: Steve Jenkins and Robin Page
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Reviewer: Anjali Amit
  • Paperback:  32 pages
  • ISBN: 978-0-547-99484-0
  • Genre: Picture Book/ Non-Fiction
  • Lexile Score: 950GN

The Adventures of Jo Schmo and Dinos Are Forever

Written by Greg Trine
Illustrated by Frank W. Dormer

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The Adventures of Jo Schmo and Dinos Are Forever is a fun, exciting, and engaging chapter book for 3rd grade level readers. It has an interesting character that will grab the reader, even a reluctant one, from the very first page because the action and adventure begin right from the start.

Third grade level readers will master the reading alone and advanced third graders may also find success with the assistance of wonderful graphic illustrations throughout to emphasize the scenes. The book is a great classroom book to read together because it offers the teacher an opportunity to encourage discussion and imagination with each student. A great additional activity would be to encourage students to write their own adventure chapter book with illustrations making this an extra opportunity to teach reading and writing.
The Adventures of Jo Schmo- Dinos Are Forever introduces the reader to fantasy and learning what is true and real and what is not, offering another great opportunity for teachers to instruct about fiction and nonfiction.

The story is a great example of a fantasy graphic chapter book for the third grader. Following Jo Schmo as she becomes a detective and tries to solve crimes in her city, and as she becomes a superhero saving lives and solving mysteries, will keep both boys and girls at this reading level engaged and turning the page. The illustrations serve to aid in reading comprehension making this a win- win for both students and teachers when added to the classroom selection.

As budgets get cut, it can be difficult to decide what books to include for third and fourth grade level readers but The Adventures of Jo Schmo would be one to include. It is both engaging and interesting and just plain fun for this reading level. Kudos to Greg Trine for writing a book that kids will love to read.

  • Dinos Are ForeverTitle: The Adventures of Jo Schmo- Dinos Are Forever
  • Author: Greg Trine
  • Illustrator: Frank W. Dormer
  • Publisher: Harcourt Children’s Books
  • Hardcover: 105 pages
  • Reviewer: Terri Forehand
  • Lexile: 580

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.

Additional Resources:
Author Bio: http://www.chriskurtzauthor.com/About/index.html
Illustrator Bio: http://www.jbreinhardt.com/biography/

  • 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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