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Secrets at Sea

Written by Richard Peck
Illustrated by Kelly Murphy

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Whimsical and unpretentious, this tale has the reader believing that mice really do think like humans. Set in the late 19th century, this is a story about a mouse family who know where their bread is buttered and who do their best to help their human family. When the humans plan a trip to Europe to help their daughter find a husband, three mouse sisters and their mouse brother decide their best chance for survival is to go along, even though they’re terrified of water. Poor Helena, the oldest, is stuck with the job of getting her siblings where they need to go, helping the humans, and dealing with some very bad incidents. She is nearly flipped into the ocean during a safety drill, thrown through the air into a man’s pocket during a royal reception, chased by a one-eyed cat, and squashed by the sweets in a young boy’s bed. Mousely romance dominates the end of the story, but it’s so well done, kids may not even notice. The fact that Helena survives all this is testament to her perseverance and heart.

Murphy’s illustrations are perfect additions to the tale, helping to give life to Helena and her family.

Third graders can easily follow the mouse adventures. As in his other work, Peck includes many plays on words and running gags, allowing kids to play with the language they are still learning. Meanwhile, teachers will recognize that reading activities related to the history of the Hudson Valley, the Victorian Era, and the British monarchy can develop from the pages.

  • Secrets at SeaTITLE: Secrets at Sea
  • AUTHOR: Richard Peck
  • ILLUSTRATOR: Kelly Murphy
  • PUBLISHER: Dial Books for Young Readers/Penguin Young Readers Group, 2012
  • REVIEWER: Sue Poduska
  • FORMAT: Hardcover, 238 pages
  • ISBN: 978-0-8037-3455-5
  • GENRE: Fantasy, Humor, Family, History

Pizza in Pienza

Written and Illustrated by Susan Fillion

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A young Italian girl professes her love for pizza in this bilingual (English/Italian) picture book. Told through a series of paintings, readers are introduced to the girl’s hometown of Pienza, where life is simple and sometimes old-fashioned, but everybody knows each other, and the constants are comforting: extended family, large midday meals, and, of course, pizza.

I love to eat pizza anywhere, anytime.
Even when it rains, I eat it walking in the street.

Whether cooked in a hot brick oven at her favorite restaurant, or made from scratch in her grandmother’s kitchen, the young girl thinks about pizza so much that she goes to the library to learn more. Here, Fillion offers readers a simple history lesson, easily digestible for a third grade audience.

Ancient Greeks and Italians ate flatbreads with onions, herbs, and honey.
…But pizza as we know it was really born in Naples Italy.

This book would work well as a classroom read aloud, as there are many opportunities to engage students in discussions about food, languages, and culture. Children of all ages will gravitate to Fillion’s illustrations, painted in acrylic with rich, warm colors. She has a sense of humor, too – look for surreptitious slices of pizza popping up in portraits of the Mona Lisa and World War II soldiers, among others. Back pages include an Italian pronunciation guide, a “Brief History of Pizza” (designed for parents, teachers, or upper elementary grades to dig in to), as well as a recipe for Pizza Margherita – a tasty finish.

 

  • PizzaTitle: Pizza in Pienza
  • Author/Illustrator: Susan Fillion
  • Publisher: David R. Godine, 2013
  • Reviewer: Lauren Abbey Greenberg
  • Format: Hardcover, 40 pages
  • ISBN: 978-1-56792-459-6
  • Genre: Picture Book, nonfiction, history, food

Here Come the Girl Scouts!

Written by Shana Corey
Illustrated by Hadley Hooper

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Girls of all ages will enjoy this true story about Juliette Low and her founding of the Girl Scouts. It is a fun read with great illustrations and quotes from Juliette, who was always known as Daisy.

Third grade readers will enjoy reading this story independently and especially will like the short grouping of text around the illustrated pages. It will be a great book to use for developing picture clues as that is where much of the humor is found.

Readers will be encouraged to be brave, courageous and hard working in all that they do in order to succeed. But none of these things are described in a negative or dull way. Oh no, excitement and adventure is what the Girl Scouts expect out of life whether it is when camping out under the heavens or earning badges on how to cure hams.

The art work supports how multicultural the Girl Scouts are in welcoming members from all over the world. It would also provide an art teacher with many examples of what can be done with images in a book as the actual quotes are in a kid-printing type font while the narrative is in a regular typed font. Many literacy skills can be practiced and enhanced through this fun nonfiction story.

This book could be the beginning of a great writing activity for individual girls to use as a model for writing about their own lives and what they enjoy doing.  It is an introduction to girls to develop spunk, gumption and initiative.

While some might consider this a biography of Juliette Low, it only briefly refers to her childhood in terms of her near complete loss of hearing and how she overcame it. Then her development of the Girl Scouts is explained. No other information about her later life is included so it is really the history of the organization.

The last two pages of the book show cartoon caricatures of famous women who were Girl Scouts. Women like Lucille Ball, Gloria Steinem and Hilary Clinton are included as well as an empty frame labeled only as “you,” meant for readers.

This is the kind of book that will draw even reluctant readers to the nonfiction section of the library.

Extras: Added information is included in the end matter, but the reading level is comparable and can be handled by the same readers enjoying the body of the book. It will take a longer time and more intensely interested reader.

  • Girl ScoutsTitle: Here Come the Girl Scouts!
  • Author:  Shana Corey
  • Illustrator: Hadley Hooper
  • Publisher: Scholastic Press, 2012
  • Reviewer: Elizabeth Swartz
  • Format: Hardcover/40p
  • ISBN:  978-0-545-34278-0
  • Genre: Nonfiction
  • Lexile: 720

Horrifa’s Magic Makeover: “Witch” Way to the Ball

Written by Susan L. Krueger
Illustrated by Nadia Komorova

 

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Horrifa’s Magic Makeover: “Witch” Way to the Ball is a laugh out loud story about a scaly, warty, young witch who dreams of becoming a pink-fleshed mortal wearing a lacey, sparkly dress to attend the prince’s ball. Although her mother, Dragunda is not crazy about her daughter, Horrifa’s wish to meet the prince, she helps her “downgrade” her look from a gorgeous, beautiful witch dressed in black to a dreadfully despicable and ugly “princess-like” mortal. Despite the chaos and pandemonium that ensue from her mother’s efforts and the disappointment Horrifa feels at not meeting the prince in this spin of a Cinderella tale, Horrifa learns to accept and love her scaly, warty self for who she is.

Susan Krueger’s language is rich and her descriptions are both funny and creative in a twisted kind of way that will make kids laugh. Nadia Komorova’s spooky illustrations complement the text and bridge the gap between those words that might prove challenging for some readers to understand. Aimed at both girl and boy readers between the third grade reading level through the fifth grade reading level, Horrifa’s Magic Makeover: “Witch” Way to the Ball is sure to entertain readers and send home a key message: accept yourself for who you are. Warts and all! Kids, even reluctant readers, will be hard pressed to put this book down and will certainly read Horrifa’s Magic Makeover in one sitting from start to finish!

Horrifa’s Magic Makeover: “Witch” Way to the Ball is Susan Krueger’s second book. To learn more about the author, please go to: http://www.fivestarpublications.com/book_detail.php?recordid=152&page=2&thistitle=About+Susan
Horrifa's Magic Makeover

  • Title: Horrifa’s Magic Makeover: “Witch” Way to the Ball
  • Author: Susan L. Krueger
  • Illustrator: Nadia Komorova
  • Editor: Jennifer Steele Christensen
  • Publisher: Little Five Star
  • Reviewer: Annemarie O’Brien
  • Paperback: 89 pages
  • ISBN: 978-1-58985-088-0
  • Genre: fantasy, fairytale

Ghost Buddy: Zero to Hero

Written by Henry Winkler and Lin Oliver

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Winkler and Oliver have an incredible feel for the underdog and an even more incredible feel for the humor in any situation. Third graders should be able to grasp most of the language and all of the action. And they should identify with the not-so-perfect-but-lovable characters. The story will hold their attention long enough to increase comprehension and learn a thing or two.

Billy Broccoli is just learning to deal with his new family. Mom has remarried and his new sister is no help. They all move to a new house so they can be together. This means a new school for Billy. Besides, there’s a ghost residing in his new closet. A ghost no one else can see. His family and friends think he’s talking to himself. Billy considers himself cool, but Hoover Porterhouse III, the ghost, is there to tell him otherwise. Billy doesn’t quite understand why sixth graders don’t appreciate his “Varsity Farting Team” T-shirt or the fact that he’s saved his tonsils in a jar. Of course, Hoove has problems of his own. After 99 years as a ghost, he’s still failing at helping people. So the two of them set out to make Billy really cool and to battle the next-door bully/eavesdropper. Turns out even the neighbor has secrets. With Hoove’s help, Billy is able to defeat him. Now, if he can just get his stepfather to stop talking about dental floss, his mother (also the principal) to stop babying him at school.

This first-in-the-series volume sets the stage for some wonderful hijinks in future installments. What else does Hoove have up his … er … sleeve?

Publisher Scholastic provides a free teacher’s guide at Scholastic Teacher’s Guide.

  • Zero to HeroTITLE: Ghost Buddy: Zero to Hero
  • AUTHOR: Henry Winkler and Lin Oliver
  • PUBLISHER: Scholastic Paperbacks, 2012
  • REVIEWER: Sue Poduska
  • FORMAT: Paperback, 176 pages
  • ISBN: 978-0545298827
  • GENRE: Fantasy, Humor

 

 

Click here for Zero to Hero book trailer.

The Mouse with the Question Mark Tail

Written by Richard Peck

Illustrated by Kelly Murphy

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With his signature gentle humor, Richard Peck hits another one out of the park. Or maybe out of the barn, to be more accurate. A mouse, small for his age and not quite grown, lives in the mews adjacent to Buckingham Palace. The time is September 1896, two days before the diamond jubilee for Queen Victoria’s sixty years on the throne. The mouse doesn’t know who he is or even what his name is. But he does know he was raised by his auntie Marigold after his mother died in childbirth. Mouse Minor, as he’s called by his classmates, has a distinctively shaped tail and a penchant for getting in scuffles with much larger mouse children. He learns that there is a mouse doing every job a human does, only the mouse does it better. Also, clothed mice must never be seen by humans. So, as a result of his latest scuffle with the larger boy mice, he sets off on adventure around the palace. He befriends and talks to a cat and a horse, rides in the horse’s ear, gets flicked out into a flower bed, and becomes a yeomouse of the guard. Eventually, he learns of his true identity and destiny.

Kelly’s illustrations are perfect additions to the tale, giving a real dimension to Mouse minor and his cohorts.

Third graders will get a big kick out of the many adventures of Mouse Minor. They will also love the plays on words and the little running gags. Mouse Minor’s stories about riding in the horse’s ear and swimming in a punch bowl are never quite believed. Everyone wants to know if he’s not quite grown or just small. And why is he pink with black flecks after a swim in the strawberry punch and ride in a pocket? Meanwhile, teachers can sneak in some reading activities related to the Victorian Era and the British monarchy.

 

  • Mouse with the Question Mark TailTITLE: The Mouse with the Question Mark Tail
  • AUTHOR: Richard Peck
  • ILLUSTRATOR: Kelly Murphy
  • PUBLISHER: Dial Books for Young Readers/Penguin Young Readers Group, 2013
  • REVIEWER: Sue Poduska
  • FORMAT: Hardcover, 223 pages
  • ISBN: 978-0-8037-3838-6
  • GENRE: Fantasy, Humor, History
  • LEXILE: NA

Just Behave, Pablo Picasso

Written by Jonah Winter

Illustrated by Kevin Hawkes

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This biography of the first modern artist is designed for third grade readers and fourth grade readers and is a beautifully full-colored picture book illustrated by Kevin Hawkes. It tells the story of his life in a chronological manner. When he was in school, he worked faster and better than any of his classmates. He was very good at painting landscapes but became quickly bored and wanted to try something new.

He had a blue period and a rose colored period, but he always felt the need to move on and experiment with new subjects and techniques in the world of fine art.

This is the story of a true creative spirit. As soon as Picasso had mastered one technique, he moved on to something newer and more exciting. Some of his ideas came from visiting other museums, like the time he saw masks in an African display and went home to create a painting of various faces that looked like masks taken apart and rearranged in wild new ways.

Many of Picasso’s actual works are shown in this pictures of this book so students will be able to recognize them at other times and places.

Pablo studied and worked in both Spain and Paris. Sometimes the critics didn’t like his work or his new ideas. It hurt his feelings, but he went on painting true to his heart.

This book would be a great read aloud for any elementary or middle grade students. It should be included in any study of art comprehension. Literacy skills like sequencing, part to whole, picture clues and reading for details can be strengthened by using this book in a small or large group setting.

Children who need to have confidence in themselves and their ideas bolstered will find that kind of support in this story. Hopefully, it will help them keep their curiosity and creativity bursting through with unbounded energy.

Extras: This book contains pictures of Picasso’s work and in the back lists the names of the paintings, as well as in what Art Museums around the world they can be found.

  • Pablo PicassoTitle: Just Behave, Pablo Picasso!
  • Author: Jonah Winter
  • Illustrator: Kevin Hawkes
  • Publisher: Arthur A. Levine Books, Scholastic
  • Reviewer: Elizabeth Swartz
  • Format: Hardcover
  • ISBN:  978-0-545-13291-6
  • Genre:  biography, nonfiction
  • Lexile: NA

Booker T. Washington: African-American Leader

Written by: Patricia and Fredrick McKissack

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When Booker T. Washington was a child, all he wanted to do was go to school. But he couldn’t. He was born a slave and put to work on a Virginia plantation as soon as he turned five years old. When slaves were freed during the Civil War, Booker and his family were left with no money and they didn’t know how to read or write. This book, part of the “Famous African Americans” series, tells the story of Booker’s determination to become educated.

When a school opened for black children, Booker jumped at the chance. He couldn’t go everyday because he had to work, too, but he read anything he could get his hands on. As he grew, he had a goal: he wanted to go to the first black college in Hampton, Virginia, even though it was 500 miles away. He walked, begged for rides, and hopped trains – it was a difficult journey, but he made it. He dedicated his whole life to education, first becoming a teacher, then principal, then community leader. In 1895, he landed on the national stage at the Atlanta Cotton Exposition and became a voice for a people that had to fight to be heard.

Themes of perseverance and overcoming all odds will leave a lasting impression with third grade readers. Authors Patricia and Fredrick McKissack present Washington’s story in short chapters mixed with archival photographs, mock-ups, and illustrations to support reading comprehension. The book fulfills common core standards for grades K-3 and provides a “Words to Know” section along with additional reading resources and age-appropriate websites. Other titles in this series can be found on the publisher’s website: www.enslow.com

  • Booker TTITLE: Booker T. Washington: African-American Leader
  • AUTHOR: Patricia and Fredrick McKissack
  • PUBLISHER: Enslow Elementary / Enslow Publishers, Inc.
  • REVIEWER: Lauren Abbey Greenberg
  • FORMAT: Paperback: 24 pages
  • ISBN: 978-1-4644-0194-7
  • GENRE: Non-Fiction / Biography
  • LEXILE SCORE: 490

 

July Titles

Pdf: July Titles 3rd Grade

 

Animal Tales by Terry Jones, ISBN 9781843651635

Animal Tales is a lovely collection of short stories, perfect for reading aloud to the third grade crowd.  …

 

Celebrating California: 50 States to Celebrate by Marion Dane Bauer, ISBN 978-0-547-89697-7

A new approach to state books in an easy-to-read format.  Mr. Geo is a hip geography teacher who explores new places and takes his young readers along. …

 

Children of the Tipi: Life in the Buffalo Days by Michael Oren Fitzgerald, ISBN 978-1-937786-09-0

A book of photos and quotes, the superb layout allows you to sneak into the camp with the Native American’s shown. …

 

Dozens of Cousins by Shutta Crum, ISBN 978-0-618-15874-4

… Most of us have experienced a family reunion where the adults enjoy each other’s company while the children are allowed a bit of freedom to run and roam and have “beastie delights”.  At least until the neighbors complain. …

 

Emma Dilemma, the Nanny, and the Wedding by Patricia Hermes, ISBN 978-0761462101

…What a shock when they found out, at almost the same time, that not only was Mom having another baby, but Annie was getting married.…

 

Let’s Visit Istanbul: The Adventures of Bella & Harry by Lisa Manzione, ISBN 978-1-937616-09-0

The Adventures of Bella and Harry series is … told through the eyes of two Chihuahua siblings, children of all ages will eagerly gobble up a big dose of geography without even realizing it’s good for them.…

 

Mister and Lady Day, Billie Holiday and the Dog Who Loved HererHer by Amy Novesky, ISBN 978-0-15-205806-7

… Mister and Lady Day has done an excellent job of grabbing the attention of young animal lovers and teaching them a little bit about the history of jazz.…

 

Nikki and Deja: Substitute TroubleerHer by Karen English, ISBN 978-0-547-61565-3

We are told … Nikki and Deja … are the best of friends. As in all satisfying series we see their friendship ripening as they grow in understanding. …

 

The Sleepwalkers by Viviane Schwarz, ISBN 978-0-7636-6230-1

A unique graphic novel for the younger set.  If you are plagued by nightmares, write a letter, put it under your pillow and help will come. …

 

A Squirrel’s Story: A True Tale by Jana Bommersbach, ISBN 978-1-58985-252-5

[This] is one of the best books for use in the 3rd or 4th grade classroom because of both the fun story line and the facts about squirrels the reader will absorb. …

 

Strange Foods by Michael J. Rosen & Ben Kassoy, ISBN 978-0-7613-8984-2

…  Do not read this review before breakfast!  Or any other meal for that matter! …

A Squirrel’s Story: A True Tale

Written by Jana Bommersbach

Illustrated by Jeff Yesh

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A Squirrel’s Story: A True Tale is one of the best books for use in the 3rd or 4th grade classroom because of both the fun story line and the facts about squirrels the reader will absorb. Teachers and parents will enjoy following the mama squirrel as she raises her babies and teaches them the values and the character traits that they will need to grow into responsible adult squirrels.

Student readers will be able to master the reading independently, but as a classroom addition to science and biology, this book will also work great as a group story. The author has taken observations about squirrel activity to weave a story about how a parent teaches a young one how to be independent, gain confidence, and be nurtured to healthy growth and development by telling The Squirrel’s Story. 

The author has done an excellent job with additional classroom activities in the last few pages of the book. The curriculum guide includes third grade vocabulary words and exploration, creative language activities, and writing guidelines. Also included for readers is a word matching game. Teachers are encouraged to allow students to be the reporter, the poet, or the researcher and to discover how to write their own true story based on observations.

Art is an extra bonus activity included in the curriculum addendum and teachers and parents will enjoy adding this to the fun when reading and teaching this book. The author offers several online sites for more activities and information to enhance the student. Activities address both visual and auditory learners making this book a great addition to the classroom. Other books by the publisher can be found at www.eStarPublish.com and specific additional information on this book can be found at the website www.SquirrelsStory.com.

  • A Squirrels StoryTitle:  A Squirrel’s Story: A True Tale
  • Author: Jana Bommersbach
  • Illustrations: Jeff Yesh
  • ISBN: 978-1-58985-252-5
  • Publisher: Five Star Publications, Inc.
  • Reviewer: Terri Forehand
  • Genre: Nature, Juvenile literature
  • Lexile 690

 

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