Sunday, February 3, 2013

Some Good Reading This Week!


It's Monday! What are you Reading? is hosted by Jen and Kellee at TEACH.MENTOR.TEXTSThere are so many books to find for future reading when you link up.  And, there is another meme hosted by Sheila at BOOK JOURNEYS that offers even more reviews of all kinds of books for adults and children.  Come Read!

      Don't forget to use the hashtag #IMWAYR when you share on Twitter!
                      One longer chapter book:  
The Marble Queen – Stephanie J. Blake
          This book tells about a wonderful young woman named Freedom who is growing up in the late 50’s, watching Lawrence Welk and his bubbles.  She is a fifth grader wanting to go to the drive-in movies, but her daddy drinks too much and wrecks the car on the night he has promised to take her.  She is a girl who likes to do things that girls in the times should not like to do, like playing marbles, and her mother tells her what young ladies do quite a bit.  Freedom’s little brother Higgie is always in trouble, and sometimes she is blamed.  The family is poor, and another baby on the way creates more tension, but there are many sweet moments, including those with an older woman neighbor that reminds me of the older women in To Kill A Mockingbird



At first rather gruff, she then begins a good friendship with Freedom, and finally between the two households. Stephanie’s writing took me back to this time with lovely images, like: “As the syrupy jam cooked on the stove, the air smelled so sweet, I wanted to take big bites of it.”   I chuckled at the realistic scenes described throughout the book like a mishap of Freedom’s that her mother asked why she had done it.  Freedom says (to herself):  “That’s one of the questions that grown-ups ask. I still don’t know the right answer.”  Stephanie J. Blake is a Colorado author and I’m glad to review a book from “my country”.  She should be congratulated for her debut novel.

Some Terrific Picture Books!


Rosa –  by Nikki Giovanni, illus. by Bryan Collier
      This is a treasure of a story, and the illustrations of collage show the layers of challenge faced, not only by Rosa Parks, but by the other nameless people who walked those miles and months with her.  The ending words are “The integrity, the dignity, the quiet strength of Rosa Parks turned her no into a YES for change.”  Another page is a paragraph of all the times people walked, in the rain, the hot sun, early and late, at Christmas and Easter, and so on.  For almost a year, they still walked.  It’s a story of legend, but in our time!  It’s a read aloud that will start great conversations with students who haven’t yet heard this story. 

Waiting for Winter – written and illustrated by Sebastian Meschenmoser
         Squirrel, the main character, is waiting for winter, but doesn’t know what snow is because he usually stays inside.  He is bored after waiting a while, so there is an explosive time when he runs around, trying to take in the fresh air and exercise.  The noise made awakens hedgehog who joins squirrel.  Hedgehog is finding it hard to stay awake, so they try singing.  Are you laughing yet?  This is a sweet and funny book, with different kinds of pages, some showing multiple images like when squirrel and hedgehog wait together on a tree branch.  Some of the book takes a wordless feel, and I loved it.  Soon bear joins the other two, and the rest of the story happens with equal excitement.  What delight to see the pages at the end, when winter arrives.  The illustrations are pencil sketches with sometimes a hint of color. I think you will love this book!


             I’ve also been reading several non-fiction books to learn more about what’s important to help young students access, and enjoy deeply, the texts of their research.

The Pizza Book – by Stephen Krensky, illus. by R.W. Alley
          This is a ‘how-to’ book, and also a narrative, with a father and daughter making pizza all along the story of pizza.  It includes cartoon-like characters with speech bubbles that add to the text.  The text tells the history of pizza, with background on the first and biggest pizzas, along with stories of the first pizza, an unusual kind of pizza for a visiting queen, and why the sauce came later.  The actual recipe is given at the back.  It’s a great book for early research. 

A Tree Is A Plant – by Clyde Robert Bulla, illus. by Stacey Schuett
This book has inviting illustrations and shows that trees grow, just like plants!  The book mostly follows an apple tree through early growth, then through one year of the four seasons.  The book is a good start to research for early readers.  There are directions at the back of the book for explorations about how trees grow. 

A Weed Is A Flower, The Life of George Washington Carver – Aliki
          This is an older book, 1965, reprinted in 1988.  I love the illustrations; Aliki’s realistic watercolors are good.  It includes basic information about Carver, born as a slave, his mother kidnapped, and thus raised by his owners, although no longer in slavery because slaves were freed when Carver was a baby. One important part I loved learning is that from the age of 12 onward, he kept moving to new places in order to find the best learning.  What an exceptional person he was!  The book is accessible for early readers doing beginning research in the life of George Washington Carver. 

George Washington Carver, The Peanut Wizard – by Laura Driscoll, illus. by Jill Weber
          I enjoyed this book for its creative approach to sharing good information.  It is supposed to be a report about Carver, answering various questions with both words, graphics and pictures, sometimes photographs.  I would call it a “scrapbook” report, and it begins with a letter from a teacher giving the assignment, which is about researching scientists. 

The Story of Snow, The Science of Winter’s Wonder – by Mark Cassino with Jon Nelson, Ph.D., illus. by Nora Aoyagi
          Clearly explained and beautifully illustrated with drawings and photographs, the book tells the story of snow crystals, which form snowflakes.  There are those usually imagined, the six-sided crystal shapes, but also explanations of the plates and columns that also form, all of which, when joined, become snowflakes.  It’s a great book, with two pages at the end that give instructions for catching your own snow crystals. 

NEXT:  About to finish Book Love by Penny Kittle.  It is wonderful, as important to re-read and savor as her other book, Write Beside Them.  And I'm starting The Ninth Ward, by Jewell Parker Rhodes.

19 comments:

  1. I'm waiting for The Marble Queen, and A Weed is a Flower is one that I always liked. The pictures are so lovely.

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    1. I liked The Marble Queen a bunch. Will look for the other one. Thanks!

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  2. I'm really excited about some of these picture books. Can't wait to get to the library. I have had Book Love on my list the last two weeks and then I get sidetracked having to read other professional books for trainings. I'll get it done sometime this month!

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    1. There's just a lot to read, and want to read, isn't there? Hope you can find the books, especially Waiting for Winter-so cute!

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  3. The Marble Queen sounds like a great title and interesting time period--thanks for sharing. I also love the idea of The Pizza Book. Accessible and relatable non-fiction titles are always great to have. For my next Book Fairy visits to my kids third and 4/5th classrooms, I'm doing non-fiction titles. Third grade: Nic Bishop's Snakes and Jenkins' The Beetle Book. 4th/5th grade: Amelia Lost and How They Croaked. I bet they'll all be hits!

    Lorna

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    1. Those titles sound very good, Lorna. There are so many to choose from that I'm glad to have some recommendations! Thank you!

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  4. I love the winter titles! I can definitely identify with Squirrel who's not seen snow. Snow is a special occasion and something we Floridians have to travel too. I think my son, even at 11, would like Waiting for Winter. I also like the Pizza and Rosa Parks books--both sound like must-reads for me!

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    1. Definitely good fun for everyone, Lee Ann! Thanks!

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  5. Rosa looks amazing - I am so glad to such a plethora of books about the civil rights movement these days. We have this as a topic for our nonfiction book clubs, and it's wonderful for my kids to have so much to choose from.

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    1. So glad I can show you a new one Tara. It is beautiful. Thanks!

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  6. OOO! I LOVE Waiting for Winter! One of my very favorite picture books.

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    1. Such fun! I might need to purchase that one!

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  7. I used Rosa in the classroom when I was teaching. It's an author/illustrator team you can't really go wrong with :)

    Maria @novalibrarymom.com

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  8. I loved Waiting for Winter! The frazzled looks on the animal faces cracked me up. They all had bed head and looked in desperate need of coffee.

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    1. I know, I know-so funny. I am going to have lots of fun sharing it! Thanks, Maria.

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  9. Waiting for Winter is truly a treasured book - I wish I owned it. May need to go on my must buy list. I'm so pleased you also enjoyed The Story of Snow. Curious to see how you enjoy The Ninth Ward - it is on my radar.

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    1. Yes, as I said earlier, it must be on the 'to buy' list, Carrie. A teacher at school is using The Ninth Ward for a book group. The class is visiting New Orleans this spring, & they are focusing on Katrina. He said it was great. Thanks!

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  10. Hi Linda, we reviewed Rosa a few years back during the Black History Month celebration, the illustrations are gorgeous, aren't they? The cover of Waiting for Winter just caught my eye - sounds perfect for your season. :) I haven't read much nonfiction lately, but my 11 year old daughter is preparing for a biography project - and she has chosen Amelia Earhart for her presentation - we borrowed quite a few good books, including Amelia Lost so I'm anticipating that I'd probably catch up on my nonfiction reading. :)

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Having a conversation is a good thing!