Archive for 2010

Bobby the Brave (Sometimes)

Written by Lisa Yee
Illustrated by Dan Santat

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Bobby Ellis-Chan has fourth grade down—except when he has to go to PE, or explain why he wears his shirt backward on picture day, or compete against his older sister, or face the neighborhood scary cat. His biggest fear is that someone – anyone – will compare him to his famous father, a former professional football player. Bobby has asthma and is just not good in football. Meanwhile his sister is a great high school quarterback. And Bobby is almost always chosen last for any team. When his PE teacher finds out about Bobby’s father, he wants to meet him and expects Bobby to show the class how to play football. Bobby’s little sister is a wonderful character, insisting on renaming everything from Wormy Worm Worm to Gnomey Gnome Gnome. She has her own princess view of the world. Bobby’s class is working on a production of Annie, adding to the tension at school. And Bobby’s father wants to learn to sew and make Bobby’s Sandy the Dog costume. Santat’s hilarious illustrations add a lot to the story.

Third grade readers will find a lot to identify with. Bobby’s class talks about fears and how to overcome some of them. Another day, they discuss asthma and other conditions that draw unwanted attention. But, mostly, Bobby is looking for a way to connect to his father, while his father wants to connect to him. A very universal theme. Many reading activities are suggested by the text. School musicals, more discussion of fears, Halloween costumes, and football games all could result. Literacy skills will be sharpened though enjoyment of the story.

Bobby appears in a number of books in the “Bobby Vs Girls” series. Check out the websites: and In them, Bobby lives on.

  • Bobby the BraveTitle: Bobby the Brave (Sometimes)
  • Author: Lisa Yee
  • Illustrator: Dan Santat
  • Publisher: Arthur A. Levine, Inc./Scholastic, 2010
  • Reviewer: Sue Poduska
  • Format: Hardcover, 153 pages
  • Genre: Chapter book
  • ISBN: 978-0-545-05594-9

Going Home: The Mystery of Animal Migration

Written by Marianne Berkes
Illustrated by Jennifer DiRubbio

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Stories surface from time to time about pets traveling hundreds or even thousands of miles to find their way back home. Even humans have an uncanny ability to find their way home. But what if you had more than one home? Your home could even be someplace you’d never seen before.

Going Home is told in pleasing rhyme. Readers may want to read aloud each page to get the full effect. This is listed as “A Share Nature With Children Book.” Berkes includes information about animals from loggerhead turtles to monarch butterflies to manatees. Other animals discussed are ruby-throated hummingbirds, Pacific salmon, Canada geese, California gray whales, caribou, the Arctic tern, and emperor penguins.
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The Wild Parrots of San Francisco

Written by Ellen Leroe

Illustrations by Kathy O’Malley

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“They flash overhead in a burst of color, bright as kites in the sky. They fill the air with joyous shrieks.” No, it’s not Superman and his buddies, it’s the wild parrots of San Francisco!

In her book, The Wild Parrots of San Francisco, author Ellen Leroe shares the story of this famous flock of cherry-red and blue-crowned conures. The flock, believed to have originated from six birds that escaped or were released after being imported from Ecuador decades ago, now numbers 200 or more. The birds have historically spent most of their time on Telegraph Hill, but current news articles suggest that they have moved into suburban areas of the city, too.
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In Black Bear Country

Written by Shaunda Kennedy Wenger

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“…my palms felt sweaty, my legs felt jittery, and my stomach felt queasy. I was nervous. This wasn’t a typical fall hike. We were going to ‘black bear country,’ a forest grove where black bear feed.” Once third grade readers hear this opening to Shaunda Kennedy Wenger’s book, In Black Bear Country, they will be eager for more.
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Astro the Steller Sea Lion

By Jeanne Walker Harvey

Illustrated by Shennen Bersani

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What do you do with a sea lion who refuses to live in the wild? That’s the problem facing scientists at the Marine Mammal Center in California after they rescue an orphaned Steller sea lion. Without their help, the sea lion, whom they named Astro, would not have survived. But after he was full-grown and released into the wild, Astro kept coming back. He was so bonded to humans that he could not live in the wild.
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The Boy and His Mud Horses and other stories from the Tipi

Written and Illustrated by Paul Goble

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At first glance, this lovely story collection is a bunch of random myths and legends that have nothing in common.  On closer inspection, magic is the common theme.  The foreword and introduction written by a tribal leader, Albert White Hat, and the author, Paul Goble, talk about the role that storytelling played for Native Americans.  White Hat emphasizes how stories teach about life, both the good and the bad.  Goble talks about how stories teach in a symbolic way that is meaningful in different ways during different times of a listener or reader’s life.  Goble urges readers to allow time to let the stories take hold in the imagination.  At the heart of all the stories, there is a mystical happening, an ever-present knowledge that there is more than what we humans can see.
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