Jen's Page

Picture Books
1. I Lost My Tooth in Africa. Diakite, Penda (a). Diakite, Baba Wague (i). Scholastic Press. 2006This book is based on a true story about the author's sister and is illustrated by the author's father. The father grew up in Africa and reularly took his family there. On one trip, his youngest daughter had a loose tooth. She was told that if she lost in Africa and put it under a gourd, she would get a chicken from the African tooth fairy. She kept hoping her tooth would fall out, until one day, it finally did, and she received her chickens. She took care of them and got to see their chicks hatch on the day she had to return to Portland, Oregon (kind of funny). Classroom connection: cultural comparison of traditions and daily life.
2. I Ain't Gonna Paint No More. Beaumont, Karen (a). Catrow, David (i). Harcourt, Inc. 2005This book seems like it would be best sung rather than read. It's about a little boy who gets into trouble for painting the whole house. HIs mama tells him, "You ain't gonna paint no more!" So she puts the paints in the closet, but that doesn't stop him. He paints the different part of his body until he gets to the part that rhymes with "nut" (interestingly, the former librarian paper clipped this page to another so as not to be read!), at which point he gets caught again an thrown in the tub. Discussion: what is something you're not supposed to do that you have a hard time controlling?
3. Dinotrux. Gall, Chris (ai). Little, Brown. 2009Dinotrux is set in a prehistoric time when large machinery roamed the earth, much as dinosaurs did. The machinery has, oddly, dinosaur-like names like dozeratops, dumploducus, and semisaur. The book elaborates on what they ate and how they lived until they became extinct and their remains were put into museums. It also shows how some of them evolved to work well with humans. This book is a parody of a dinosaur book. It's somewhat amusing. Classroom connection: compare and contrast the machinery in this book to dinosaurs in another book.
4. Leaf Man. Lois Ehlert (a). Harcourt. 2005Leaf Man is a book filled with leaves made into into different objects like ducks, vegetables, orchards, meadows, and more. Leaf Man is blown by the wind and the reader wonders where he has gone. Is he gliding over a lake breeze or following butterflies? The illustrations are made of photocopied leaves and are arranged in really fun and interesting ways. Classroom connection: an art project using leaves to make different objects.
5. The Hello, Goodbye Window. Juster, Norton (a). Raschka, Chris (i). Michael Di Capua Books. 2005The child in this book recounts what it's like to visit her grandparents house. She is especially enamored with the kitchen window, where she can greet, play games, and see the stars at night. She talks about all of the things in her grandparents house--the kitchen table, the jars. The illustrations are very child-like. This book was warm and reminded me of staying with my grandparents when I was young. I read a short review of it and discovered that Norton Juster also wrote The Phantom Tollbooth, which I loved as a kid. Theme: family, saying goodbye.
6. Zen Shorts. Muth, Jon (a). Scholastic Press. 2005Zen Shorts is about a panda bear who meets three siblings in his neighborhood and shares teaching stories with them. The stories are traditional buddhist stories (although I have seen these stories attributed to other religious/cultural teachings as well) and are meant to "hone our ability to act with intuition." Classroom connection: I would discuss the meanings of the buddhist stories with the students and ask for their interpretations.
7. A Sick Day for Amos McGee. Stead, Philip (a). Stead, Erin (i). Roaring Brook Press. 2010Amos McGee is a zookeeper who has special relationships with some of the zoo animals. He plays chess with the elephant, races the tortoise, and sits quietly with the penguin. One day Amos wakes up with a sniffle and is unable to go to work. The animals miss their friend, so take a bus to Amos' house, where they took care of their sick friend. I love the illustrations in this book. They are delicate and made using wood blocks and pencil. Theme: friendship, caring for others.
8. Amelia and Eleanor Go For a Ride. Ryan, Pam (a). Selznick, Brian (i). Scholastic Press. 1999This book is an account of an evening Eleanor Roosevelt and Amelia Earhart spent together. Earhart went to the White House for dinner and she and Mrs. Roosevelt decided to go flying together at night. The book recounts their dinner, their flight, and the joyride in Mrs. Roosevelt's new car afterward. At the end of the book the author clarifies which parts are true and which part of the story have been embellished. It is a historical fiction picture book. The illustrations are beautifully done in pencil, giving it a dated, black and white photographic quality, with bits of a rose hue added here and there. It is a good introduction to two historical figures. Themes: women's rights, early flight, friendship.
9. Scaredy Squirrel. Watt, Melanie (ai). Kids Can Press. 2006Scaredy Squirrel is afraid to leave his tree. He is afraid of spiders, poison ivy, sharks, killer bees, and more. He has a very boring daily routine. One day, he sees a killer bee, which forces him to drop his first aid kit. He jumps out of his tree to grab it and realizes he is a flying squirrel. This changes his life and he decides to incorporate a little flying into his routine every day. The illustrations are bold and graphic. The book includes graphs of his routines. This book could be used to help students overcome fears. To show that that small changes can improve their lives. It could be useful for kids who suffer from mild OCD.

10. Uncle Peter's Amazing Chinese Wedding. Look, Lenore (a). Heo, Yumi (i). Atheneum Books. 2006
Uncle Peter's wedding isn't so amazing to his niece, Jenny. She is sad he is getting married and not taking her to the park, as usual. She pouts, and plays a trick that makes the bride serve water instead of tea. In the end, her new Aunt Stella asks her to release the butterflies and she feels included and comes to terms with the changes taking place. The book is filled with information about traditional Chinese wedding and how they've changed over the years. It is an interesting look into a different culture (at least different from mine and the kids I teach). Themes: culture, tradition, changing family dynamics.

11. Once I Ate a Pie. MacLachlan, Patricia; Charest, Emily (a). Schneider, Katy (i). Joanna Cotler Books. 2006
13 dogs give the reader short, poem-like descriptions of themselves from very their own, very dog-minded points of view. The illustrations are beautiful oil paintings of dogs in various poses that portray the dogs disposition. Classroom connection: I might ask students to take the role of an animal--their own if they have one--and write a poem from that animals point of view. The poems could be illustrated and made into a book.

12. The Little Red Hen. Pinkney, Jerry (ai). Dial Books. 2006
This book is a teaching story about participating in the work in order to reap the rewards. None of the animals will help Little Red Hen with the work of planting, harvesting, and grinding the wheat, but they are all eager to eat her bread once it's been baked. Little Red Hen reminds them that they were unwilling to help, so she is unwilling to share, and she and her chicks enjoy the bread. The watercolor illustrations are warm and detailed. Theme: everyone should pitch in if they want to reap the rewards, those who do not will not share in the rewards.
13. Elephants Can Paint Too! Arnold, Katya (ai). Atheneum Books. 2005As soon as I finished this book I emailed my school's art teacher and asked her if she'd like to do a collaborative project and try to raise $300 to buy an elephant painting for the school. We'll see if she goes for it! This book compares and contrasts an art teacher's experiences of teaching kids and elephants how to paint. Photographs alternate between student and elephant artists. To connect it to technology, students could work with a venn diagram on the computer detailing the similarities and differences between themselves and the elephants as artists. This could also lead into a broader study of elephants where students work on research (Big 3 or 6), and writing skills.
14. Traction Man. Grey, Mini (ai). Alfred A. Knopf. 2005I loved Traction Man! It's one of my favorite books so far. I love how it is so seamlessly written from the child's point of view: it seems Traction Man is acting independently while his actions are narrated by the child--much as a child's mind works while at play. I like how the text f formatted differently depending on who is talking--the mom's speech is always displayed in a different font with a different background. I enjoyed the storyline--especially the green knitted onesy and how it comes to be useful. Classroom connection: I would use this book to introduce a writing assignment. Students could choose their favorite toy, write an adventure the toy goes on, illustrate it, and turn it into a digital story. I think I will do this!
15. Mercy Watson to the Rescue. DiCamillo, Kate (a). Van Dusen, Chris (i). Candlewick Press. 2005Mercy is a pig who lives with Mr. and Mrs. Watson. ALthough she is a pig, she is treated like a member of the family, like their child. The family is sleeping together soundly and dreaming when their bed begins to fall through the floor. Mercy hops off the bed in search of food, but the Watsons are sure she is off to get help and save them. Through Mercy's quest for food and a series of silly and fortuitous event, Mercy does manage to get the fire department to come and rescue the Watsons from their predicament. While Mercy's intention was not to save them but to get food, the Watsons give Mercy all the credit for their rescue and call her their "porcine wonder." She is rewarded with what she had been seeking all along: buttered toast. This is a very cute book, and one which the k-2 graders I read it to enjoyed a lot. The storyline is silly and engaging; the illustrations are the same. There are probably some themes and classroom connections to use here (when to go for help, do animals have feelings?) but it seems like a book best read just for the fun of it.
16. Mirror Mirror: A book of Reversible Verse. Marilyn Singer (a). Josee Massee (i). Dutton Juvenile. 2010. This is such an interesting book in that the text is read both forward and backward with different meaning in each direction. Sometimes the “backward” poems are like a response to the “forward” poems. It is a very clever concept and is presented very well. The illustrations also mirror the different readings of the poems. This must have been a lot of work to write!
17. What's for Dinner? : Quirky, Squirmy Poems from the Animal World. Katherine Hauth (a). David Clark (i). Charlesbridge Publishing. 2011 The poems in this book will educate kids about the food chain and what animals eat in an amusing way. The poems are short and to the point. The illustrations support the poems perfectly; they are graphic yet entertaining. Classroom connection: we have a strong farm to school program at out school and this book would be a good segway into talking about food, why it's important what we eat, food chain, etc.
18. Nabeel’s New Pants: An Eid Tale. Fawzia Gilani-williams (a). Proiti Roy (i). Marshall Cavendish Children's Books. 2010. This book is about a man who needs his pants hemmed. He asks all the women in his family and they all say ‘no,’ but they soon reflect and change their minds. Each woman, in turn, hems Nabeel’s pants. When he goes to wear them they have become shorts!. The women patch his pants back together. The book demonstrates warmth and kindness between relatives during the holiday. Classroom connection: learning about other religious holidays.
19. Mammoths on the Move. Wheeler, Lisa (a). Cyrus, Kurt (i). Harcourt, Inc. 2006Picture book. This book tells the tale of wooly mammoths heading south for food in the winter and the challenges they face along the way. The illustration appear to be bold, colored woodcuts and use different perspectives, making the images engaging. The book seems like it tries to rhyme, but much of the rhyming is off just a bit. It uses alliteration regularly. Classroom connections: prehistoric animals, migration, use of literary devices (rhyming, alliteration.)
20. A Splendid Friend, Indeed. Bloom, Suzanne (ai). Boyds Mills Press. 2005The illustrations are what stood out most to me in this book. There are not a lot of words in the book and much of the interaction between the two characters is conveyed through their facial expressions. It is about a goose and a bear. The goose continually interrupts the bear (like a younger, somewhat irritating child) and the irritated state of the bear is apparent through his expressions and lack of a verbal response. In the end, the goose wins the bear over by sharing a snack and claiming him to be a "splendid friend." I thought the bear turned to quickly from irritation to friendliness, but apparently the author and publisher didn't. Theme: Friendship
21. The Quiet Book. Underwood, Deborah (a). Liwska, Renata (i). Houghton Mifflin. 2010
The Quiet Book is a book about different kinds of quiet. There is story time quiet, sleeping sister quiet, lollipop quiet, and many more. The illustrations add a lot of context to the text. For example, lollipop quiet happens after a trip to the doctor's, invisible quiet happens when you're at the doctor's The illustrations are soft and war, with muted colors that go nicely with the theme. Classroom connection: I would tie this to another book on how to draw animals. While the animals in this book have complexity, they are based on very basic shapes. I think students would see how they might be able to improve their basic drawings.

1. Gone WIld: An Endangered Animal Alphabet. McLimans, David (a). Walker & Company. 2006
The author created an alphabet incorporating images of endangered species. Each page has the embellished letter taking up most of the space on the page; the name of the species at the top; and a small box on the bottom-right with class, habitat, and other information. There is further information on each species at the end of the book. I found the letters themselves to be very visually appealing. This book could appeal to a wide age range because it has different levels of information. Classroom connection: have students create an alphabet that relates to a topic, possibly their community, food systems, careers, etc.
2. The Accidental Zucchini: An Unexpected Alphabet. Grover, Max (ai). Browndeer Press. 1993
This book uses alliteration to match words together to create silly things such as octopus overalls, sailor salad, and vegetable volcano.Each of these are illustrated by the author in his bold, colorful style. Classroom connection: I would have the students use the first letter of their name to create their own "accidental alphabet" with text and a drawing. These could be put together in a book.
3. Eating the Alphabet. Ehlert, Louise (ai). Harcourt & Brace. 1989
This book has collage illustrations of fruits and vegetables that go along with each letter of the alphabet. The words are printed in both upper and lowercase letters.It is a very basic alphabet book. The back of the book has a glossary with more information on each fruit. Theme: the alphabet through fruits and vegetables.
4. 10 Minutes till Bedtime. Rathmann, Peggy (ai). G.P. Putnam's Sons. 1998
This book has the father counting down from 10 until it's bedtime. But while the father counts down, hamsters arrive and seem to be on some sort of sightseeing trip. They take pictures of each other, play games, and have a story read to them by a boy as he gets ready for bed. Every time the father says the number of minutes until bed, more hamsters seem to arrive! While it was a cute book, personally, it was confusing to me why all of the hamsters were showing up. Theme: counting.
5. How Many Seeds in a Pumpkin? McNamara, Margaret (a), G. Brian (i). Schwartz & Wade Books. 2007
This book was all about counting, and including the concept of counting by twos, fives, and tens. It also made the point that size doesn't matter; the smallest pumpkin had the most seeds. This related to the boy in the book who was also small--you can't judge what's inside by looking at the outside. Classroom connection: this would be a great introduction or reinforcement of counting by twos, etc. Multiplication could also be used.
6. One Witch. Leuck, Laura (a), Schindler, S.D. (i). Walker & Company. 2003
This was my favorite of the counting books I read. I liked how it counted up while gathering ingredients, then counted down as the bats delivered the invitations. The illustrations were very fitting: the ghosts were ghostly, the goblins were ghoulish, and I especially liked the owls. It is a great counting book for Halloween. Themes: counting and Halloween.
Traditional Tales
1. The 3 Little Dassies. Jan Brett (ai). G.P. Putnam's Sons. 2010This is a retelling of the three little pigs, so I won't go into great detail about the storyline. The difference is the pigs are dassies and the wolf is an eagle. The story takes place in Namibia. As always, Jan Brett's illustrations are very detailed and engaging. Each page has a main illustration with sidebars that further illustrate another aspect of the story. Themes: don''t be greedy, work hard for better quality.

2. Song to Demeter. Cynthis & WIlliam Birrer (ai). Lothrop, Lee & Shepard Books. 1987
This book tells the myth of Demeter, the goddess of the harvest, and how the seasons came to be. Her beloved daughter, Persephone, is stolen by her brother, Pluto, and taken to Hades. Demeter is grief stricken, the harvests suffer, and people begin to go hungry. Zeuss intervenes, and the culmination is that Persephone must spend some months of the year with Pluto in Hades, and the other with mother. When Persephone is in Hades, Demeter mourns, causing winter to come. Classroom connection: record students giving their synopsis of the myth, have them draw a picture to go with it, turn it into a podcast to share on the teacher's website.
3. Walter the Baker. Carle, Eric (a,i). Aladdin Paperbacks. 1998
This book tells the story of how pretzels came to be. It is a charming story of "long ago, in a town encircled by a wall." It is based on a story the author was told as a boy y his grandmother. It is also based on his Uncle Walter, who took over the family bakery from his father. Classroom connection: have students write a creation story of how something was invented.
4. Anansi Does the Impossible. Aardema, Verna (a). Desimini, Lisa (i). Atheneum Books for Young Readers. 1997
This tale tells the story of how a spider and his wife managed to outsmart the Sky God. The Sky God owned all of the folktales and Anasi wanted to buy them from him for the people on earth. The Sky God asked for a live python, a real fairy, and forty-seven stinging hornets. Through clever thinking, Anansi and his wife manage to complete this task and take ownership of the stories for the people. The Sky God is not happy, but concedes he's been outdone. Theme: another sort of creation myth of how folktales came to be.
5. Head, Body, Legs: A Story from Liberia. Paye, Won-Ldy & Lippert, Margaret H. (a). Paschkis, Julie (i). Henry Holt and Company. 2002
This is a silly story about how the body came to be whole. First there was a head who came across some arms and they joined forces. They came upon a body, and then some legs. They were all disjointed so decided to rearrange themselves into what we accept as the human form. Each addition of a body part allowed for something new: arms to reach, legs to make them taller, etc. Theme: parts of the body.
6. Tops & Bottoms. Stevens, Janet (a, i). Harcourt Brace & Company. 1995
This book is formatted to read like a calendar rather than a traditional book, so that each layout has a top and a bottom. It is about a lazy bear and a clever rabbit. Each time the rabbit planted crops, he asked the bear if he wanted tops or bottoms. Whichever bear chose, rabbit would plant a crop that would give him the best part of the plant. For example, when bear chose tops, rabbit planted carrots. When bear chose bottoms, rabbit planted broccoli, etc. In the end, bear decides to plant his own crops and stops being so lazy. Rabbit has worked hard enough to be able to buy his own land back. Themes: laziness vs. hard work.
Graphic Novel
Robot Dreams. Varon, Sara (ai). First Second Books. 2007
Robot Dreams tells the story of the relationship between a dog and a robot. The dog orders the robot through the mail, puts him together, and they become best friends. They take a trip the beach where the robot goes swimming, rusts, and gets left behind. The dog does go back to get him, but the beach is closed. The book shows the things that happen to the dog and robot after--the dogs new friends come and go until he finally orders a new robot. The robot lays on the beach dreaming, with various misfortunes happening to hi, including being taken to the scrap yard. Parts of him are salvaged and he find a new life with a new friend. It is both a happy, yet sad and touching book. Theme: friendship, transition. Classroom connection: create dialogue to go a long with the images.
1. Cork & Fuzz Short and Tall. Chaconas, Dori (a). McCue, Lisa (i). Viking. 2006Cork and Fuzz are friends. One day cork (a muskrat) realizes that Fuzz (a possum) is taller than him even though Cork is older. Cork and Fuzz try to remedy this problem, first by Fuzz trying to be shorter, then by Cork trying to be taller. None of their strategies work, and Cork decides they can no longer be friends. But Fuzz comes up with an analogy about nuts being different yet the same, and they decide they can be different and remain best friends. Themes: we can have differences and still like one another, we should accept each other as we are and not try to change someone to fit what we think they should be--it probably won't work. Classroom connections: teaching difference, acceptance, friendship, analogy. The illustrations do a great job of conveying the emotions and liveliness of the characters.
2. Henry and Mudge and the Great Grandpas. Rylant, Cynthia (a). Stevenson, Sucie (i). Simon & Schuster. 2005
In this book Henry and Henry's dog, Mudge, go with his parents visit Henry's Great Grandpa Bill. Bill lives in a house with many other Grandpas. While the adults visit, Henry and Mudge trek through the woods surrounding the house and come upon a pond. Henry invites the grandpas to go swimming and they follow along to the pond. After their long walk and swim, they return to te house where Henry's mom has made spaghetti, and everyone settles in for a restful evening. I found this book to be somewhat formulaic, but good practice for early readers. Classroom connection: this book could be used to introduce topics relating to family and extended families, visiting relatives, family titles and multi-generational families. It could also be tied to safety when Henry notes that he's not allowed to swim alone.
3. Hi! Fly Guy. Arnold, Ted (a). Scholastic, Inc. 2005This book is about a boy named Buzz who is looking for a pet to enter in the Amazing Pet Show. He comes across a fly, and because the fly buzzes, Buzz think the fly is smart and knows his name. Buzz keeps the fly as his pet and everyone tells him "flies can't be pets!" He tries to enter it into the show, but the judges also tell him "flies can't be pets!" By this point, the fly has decided he likes being Buzz's pet, Buzz feeds him and protects him, after all. So the fly does some tricks that wow the judges, they decide flies can be pets, and they award him with the "smartest pet" award. Buzz and the fly end the book with a beautiful friendship. Theme: friendship.
Early Chapter Books
1. Clementine. Penny Packer (a). Hyperion. 2006
Clementine Lives with her parents and her brother in an apartment that her father takes care of. She often calls her brother "lima bean" or another vegetable name, figuring since she was named after a fruit, he should have a similarly ridiculous name. Her upstairs neighbor, Margaret, is a perfectionist whose father is away trying to be an actor. In this first book of the series, Clementine tries to help Margaret but just keeps making things worse (at one point cutting Margaret's hair, and then her own to match). Margaret convinces Clementine that she is the "hard one" in the family and Clementine is convinced they're about to get rid of her, until she discovers her parents have something quite different in mind. This is a lovely book for students to get acquainted with chapter books. Classroom connection: great read-aloud.


A Wrinkle in Time. L'Engle, Madeleine (a). Farrar, Straus & Giroux. 1962
I read this book to a group of fourth and fifth graders who really enjoyed it. I also had it read to me in elementary school. It's the story of a family whose father is missing, essentially being held by an evil force on another planet. Two of the children, Charles Wallace and Meg, and their new friend Calvin, team up with threw mysterious women, one of whom was once a star, to save their father and fight against the darkness. In the end, they succeed, but with much difficulty. Themes: good vs. evil, power of love, conformity

1. One Crazy Summer. Williams-Garcia, Rita (a). Amistad. 2010Classroom This book centers on three children whose father has sent them from New York to Oakland to get to know their mother, who abandoned them when the youngest was born. The mother basically ignores the children, sending them to the local community center for breakfast and daily activities. The girls do not understand their mother's disinterest, but as usual, the eldest, 11 year old Delphine, takes care of the younger girls and makes sure everything is okay. This takes place during the civil rights movement of the sixties--the community center is run by Black Panthers--and the children are exposed to a whole new world, one their grandmother in New York watches on the news and does not think highly of. While it feels like the girls are treated poorly by their mother throughout the book, they are given a very unique education at the same time. Only at the end of the book does the mother begin to open her heart to her daughters and her seeming disinterest become at least a little more understandable. One is left with the feeling that there will be more summers spent together in Oakland. Themes: civil rights, racism.
2. Turtle in Paradise. Holm, Jennifer (a). Random House. 2010Turtle is the child of a single mother who woks as a live-in housekeeper. When her mom goes to work for a woman who won't allow kids (or cats), Turtle (and her cat) is sent to live with her aunt and her cousins in the Florida Keys. Turtle has to adjust to a life she is not used to where everyone has a funny name, kids don't where shoes, and her cousins aren't too welcoming (at first). Turtle and her cousins find a hidden treasure which has the potential to change Turtle and her mom's lives. Just when this seems what will happen, Turtle's new step-dad takes the money and leaves without a trace. In the end, Turtle is happy to be around the family she never knew, and she and her mom decide to stay, her mom returning to a life she left long ago, but also seems ready to return to.
Partner Book
Wildwood. Meloy, Colin (a). Ellis, Carson (i). Balzer + Bray. 2011
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Based in Portland and using Forest Park for the setting of the Impassable Wilderness, the main character, Prue, must find her brother who has been stolen by a murder of crows. He is taken to the Impassable Wilderness, a place where Prue's father has warned her never to go. It seems she has no choice, so she sets off on what turns into an adventure to rescue her brother from the terribly evil Dowager Governess, who will destroy the Woods and all who live there if she has her way. She is joined by her classmate, Curtis, who gets into his own bit if trouble but is helpful in the end. Classroom connection: a very fun read :)
Information Book
1. A Seed is Sleepy. Aston, Dianna (a). Long, Sylvia (i). Chronicle Books. 2007The larger than life watercolor illustrations in this book are very engaging and beautiful. The book is about the lives of seeds: the different stages, how they travel, how they grow, and more. Toward the end it shows a variety of seeds in different stages, from the seed to full grown bean, rice, pine tree, etc. WHile the information is good, I am continually struck by the beauty and detail of the illustrations. Classroom connections: my school is involved in farm to school and students grow a garden every year--this book can give them a primer on how seeds grow into vegetables. It could also be a nice introduction to an art project on nature.
2. Kakapo Rescue: Saving the World’s Strangest Parrot. Sy Montgomery (a). Nic Bishop (i). Houghton Mifflin Books for Children. 2010
This book is filled with real pictures relating to the endangered parrot it discusses. Many pages include both images and text. The images vary in size but show the beauty of the bird and its habitat. They also show researchers in the field. I think this book is important for introducing students to the idea of extinction, preserving natural habitats for animals, and for exploring career possibilities.
3. The Incredible Journey of Lewis & Clark. Blumberg, Rhoda (a). Lothrop, Lee & Shepard Boks. 1987
It is amazing how much adults can learn from children's information books--at least this adult. This book does a great job of giving an overview of the Lewis and Clark expedition without being overwhelming for a student. Blumberg does a great job of sharing with the reader the most important details of this great trip, especially how we related to the Indians. It's interesting to read in light of what happened with them. I was surprised at how often Blumberg referenced "women being offered." I think this could bring up some interesting, and important, conversations. I was sad to learn at the end that Lewis committed suicide. Themes: US history, Native Americans, colonization.
4. Frogs. Bishop, Nic (a,i). Scholastic. 2008
I learned so much about frogs! This is a great book on the topic of frogs with beautiful photographs and fun facts. It covers frog calls, how eggs hatch into tadpoles, poison dart frogs, and much more. Bishop also shares some of his process for creating this book, which is also fascinating. Classroom connection: a great book for research.
5. Shipwrecked: The true Adventures of a Japanese Boy. Blumberg, Rhoda (a). Harper Collins. 2001
I thought I was only going to skim this book, but I got so engrossed by it that I read every word! This is an enthralling book about, in the end, the opening up of Japan to the rest of the world. I knew Japan had been closed off, but I hadn't realized the extent of it. Manjiro, the central character of the book, lived such an amazing life for the time, having been shipwrecked for months, then rescued by foreigners and taken all over the world. His return to Japan, although quite difficult due to the restrictions the Japanese faced, was what ultimately opened the country to the outside world. They relied on his knowledge to help guide them (even though they didn't treat him well for a long time). Themes: Japanese history, development of culture, global melting pot.

1. Guyku. Raczka, Bob (a). Reynolds, Peter (i). Houghton Mifflin Books for Children. 2010This is a book of haiku made for guys. Thus the title, Guyku. The book is categorized by season, and each season has a set of haikus about things boys like to do. The author notes at the end that these are things he did as a boy or things his own boys do. I like that it is a book of poetry aimed at boys. Classroom connection: use during a poetry/haiku unit to get students, especially boys, interested. Students could also illustrate their haikus, as demonstrated in the book.
2. Button Up! Schertle, Alice (a). Mathers, Petra (i). These poems are written from the perspective of children's items of clothing, including galoshes, a swimsuit, costume, undies, bicycle helmet, etc. Each poem tells what it's like to be that piece of clothing with their owner. Ricky's wool sweater makes hime feel twitchy because wool is itchy, Tanya's old t-shirt has been turned into a rag that lives in a bucket under the stairs--only because Tanya outgrew it. I read these poems to kindergartners and they really enjoyed their silliness. Classroom connection: have students write a poem from the perspective of something they wear.