1. Prized Possessions- I love that Ben's most favorite thing is his bicycle...not an iPod, or a tablet, or some other electronic device. Don't get me wrong, I LOVE my iPhone and think technology is a wonderful thing. It's just nice to see a child love something so "old school" if you will.
2. Adrian Underbite- I don't want to give away the story here so I won't say much, but this secondary character is fabulous!
3. Vocabulary- When books challenge kid's level of vocab, I'm all in, and this one does a great job. Words like devastated, revolved, peculiar, and perilously - all carefully picked by the author.
4. "How extraordinarily terrible" - Quite possibly my favorite page in the book. Such a true human reaction to the situation Ben stumbles upon.
5. Illustrations - Matt Davies nails each character's emotions perfectly, but it's the details he adds and connects throughout the book, like Ben's raven friend and Adrian's thundercloud on his t-shirt, that pack the extra punch.
Parents: This book teaches a great lesson about showing kindness, even to someone who doesn't seem to deserve it. Kids will easily relate to the main character and the ups and downs he experiences through the story.
Teachers: This book can serve as a mentor text for your student's own writing. Ben loves his bicycle but you could have your students pick their own prized possession and then write a story about it. Also, this book could be used to open a discussion about bullying. Last, a great text to use when teaching how to make predictions as a reader.
Writers: Great page turns, great secondary characters, voice, pacing
1. The Main Character: Princess Pinecone is not your normal princess, she is a warrior princess, and that is what makes her so endearing.
2. Pinecone's Facial Expressions: Kate Beaton does a remarkable job illustrating the entire story, but it's Pinecone's facial expressions that stand out to me. My favorite is when she fumbles for her spitballs.
3. Flatulence: Yup. It's in here. More than once. Your kids will love it.
4. The Message(s): It seems like there are so many messages that are touched on in this book...just do your best, teamwork, sometimes solutions are unexpected.
5.The Endpapers: Because I can't get enough of that adorable, plump pony.
Parents: Don't pigeonhole this story as "just for girls" because it is about princesses. She is a warrior princess, there is a fierce battle, and again, there is farting. Boys will enjoy this story, too.
Teachers: Great read-aloud-ability here; reading with expression; characterization; making inferences
Writers: How to take topics like birthdays and princesses and make them unique; pacing
Happy summer everyone! I'm diverging from our regularly scheduled blogging about books to give a quick PSA of ideas for making reading part of your child's daily routine. I promise to keep it short!
1. Morning Reading: Electronics are all the rage and thoughts of finding the next Pokémon is what many kids are waking up to today. Try scheduling morning reading first... right when they wake up. For kids who don't enjoy reading as much, it's a great way to get those reading minutes in and out of the way. Kind of like how I feel about exercise.
2. Mid-day Quiet Time: You're welcome for this one. It doubles and a mom/dad time-out, too. We all need to recharge to get through the day so after lunch schedule some time for your kids to have quiet reading time in their room. I know summer is busy so this one is for those days that you are home.
3. Secret Reading Spots: Have your child find a special secret reading spot. Maybe it's a closet and they need a flashlight to read? Maybe they build a reading fort or sneak behind a chair.
4. Magazines: Reading doesn't have to be just books! There are great children's magazines available that some kids may find more appealing or a nice change from a narrative story. Depending on the age of your child, High Five, Highlights, and Stone Soup are just a few my kids love.
5. Visit Your Local Library: Have a reluctant reader? Try to find a non-fiction topic they find fascinating and then take a trip to the library. Even better, try to make a library visit part of your weekly/bi-weekly routine.
1. Dueling Imaginations: I love how this story perfectly captures the way two kids interact when trying to decide what to play.
2. Illustrations: Both, the real-time illustrations and the imagination illustrations, are the real stars of this book and bring the story to life.
3. Personality: The personality of each main character really shines through when they use their imagination (and when they react to the other person's imagination) and it is the uniqueness of each that moves this story forward.
4. Circular Ending: With only a slight illustration change, this circular ending leaves the reader free to imagine what happens next.
5. The Conflict: Siblings and friends alike have all encountered the dreaded playdate stand-off, making this book easy to relate to for kids and the adults who usually have to intervene.
Parents: This story is a great way to show how compromise doesn't mean you have to give in completely. But when you meet in the middle, everyone is happier.
Teachers: Great book for morning meeting to talk about compromise and what it looks like- perhaps you'd like to pick a morning when you know you'll be facing the dreaded indoor recess and all the drama that can come with it! Also, a great book for reader's theater and characterization study.
Writers: Circular endings, voice, strong characters
1. Non-Fiction Element: A lesson on the phases of the moon is so elegantly woven into the story.
2. Wordless Spreads: By now you know how much I love wordless spreads and this story has a few of them. They are all perfectly timed to increase the drama for the reader. LOVE
3. Mae's Sidekick: This little fella doesn't speak at all in the story but his presence is important. Plus, he's adorable.
4. Illustrations: The color palette suits the content of the story and makes for a great bedtime read.
5. Glow-in-the-Dark Stars: As an adult, these bring me right back to my childhood bedroom. Such a fun memory for a parent-reader. They also make for a very cute final page in this story.
Parents: Great bedtime story, not only for the content but also the short word count (around 200 words)
Teachers: Great text to use when learning the phases of the moon.
Writers: Low word count, letting the pictures tell part of the story, page turns
1. Facial Expressions - The emotions expressed on little Hannah's face really help the reader feel what she feels throughout the story.
2. The Perfect Page Spread - The moment when Hannah changes in the story is simply brilliant.
3. Circular Ending - There is simply no other way to end this story and it is absolutely satisfying.
4. Bravery - I love the message this book conveys. Having a child who is fearful of dogs, I loved sharing this book with her to start a conversation about her feelings and how to begin to overcome them.
5. The Wordless Spread- One of my favorite elements in a picture book is a wordless spread when it is executed perfectly and this book has done just that. So much is said on this one page without any words at all.
Parents: If you have a child who is afraid of dogs, this is the perfect book.
Teachers: A great book for Morning Meeting to introduce a discussion on fears and how to overcome them.
Writers: How to write a simple story and a main character to sympathize with.
1. Chicken With Sass- Zoey doesn't ask a single question in the entire story, driving the story forward with each declaration. Everything she says is done with so much conviction and determination to reach her goal. Love this chick! (Do you see what I did there?)
2. Sidekick Sam- He tries to be the voice of reason and reality and he really loves pie.
3. End Papers- I love the subtle reminder here that Zoey isn't like the other chickens. Simple yet effective.
4. Imagination- What kid hasn't imagined him/herself flying into outer space? I love how this book captures how powerful the imagination can be.
5. Open Ending- Lehrhaupt leaves the ending open which hopefully means that we will see more adventures with Zoey and Sam.
Parents: Great book for expanding your child's imagination, friendship-themed
Teachers: Definite reader's theater opportunity here, reading with expression, characterization, extend the story (write the next adventure)
Writers: Voice, rule of three, using a repeated line throughout
1. Topic - If anything rivals a book about bacon it's a book about cake. Nom, nom, nom.
2. Moose - Such a loveable character who can't resist cake. Isn't there a little Moose in all of us?
3. Friendship - The theme of friendship in this story is genuine and sweet, as are the lessons of forgiveness and making amends.
4. The Confession - I won't ruin it for you but when you get to this page you'll know it!
5. Illustrations - Brightly colored sweaters, deliciously decorated cakes, and perfectly captured expressions by Rozelaar.
Parents: Have a kid's birthday party to go to? Trying to teach your kids about making amends? This book is a perfect match.
Teachers: Making predictions, reader's theater, reading with expression
Writers: Voice, multiple characters moving the story forward, pacing
1. Topic - Just as the title states, everyone loves bacon! Smelling it, eating it, and now reading about it!
2. Characters - Who knew food could have so much personality? It's the characters in this story that really drive the narrative forward.
3. Twist at the End - We, the readers, really should have seen this coming but it's so satisfying that we don't!
4. The Repeated Line - Everyone loves, everyone loves, everyone loves. Such a great choice by the author to use this repeated text throughout the story!
5. Illustrations - Wight's fifty's diner themed illustrations are the perfect match for this story and really bring each character to life.
Parents: Your kids will love the silly characters and hilarious story. Just make sure you have some bacon in the house to eat when you're done reading!
Teachers: Great text for Morning Meeting time. Brings up the topic of being a good/not-so-good friend.
Writers: Great mentor text for low word count, how to use a repeated phrase throughout the text
1. Layers - If this story was just a tale of Nina the Ninja Baby that would have been great, but the layers weaved throughout make it extra entertaining.
2. Vocabulary- I love books that use higher-level vocabulary and have my kids asking questions like, "what does obliterated mean?" Also, the illustrations help the reader infer the meaning if they are unsure.
3. Story Arc- The layers mentioned as the 1st fabulous thing really add to the satisfying story arc of Ninja Baby. The change we see in Nina from the beginning to the end is sweet, enjoyable, and believable.
4. Illustrations - I'm loving the pen, ink, and watercolor illustrations paired with the white space on each page. The colors are subtle, one might say ninja-like.
5. An Ending with a Twist- My favorite endings are circular, but coming in a close second is an ending with a twist and this one nails it!
Parents: You'll enjoy reading this story as much as the kids will. Easily relatable situations. Arrival of a new sibling.
Teachers: Inferring the meaning of new words using pictures and context clues. Teaching similes. Visualization using only the text.
Writers: Ninjas are a win with kids so if you can use them in your story, do it. Just remember to make sure your approach is unique. Twist endings. Adding layers to your story.