Sunday, August 25, 2013

Good Reading-From Your Recommendations!



Thanks to Lee Ann Spillane at Portable Teacher for this nifty Monday Reading badge!

It's Monday! What are you Reading? is hosted by Jen at TEACH.MENTOR.TEXTS.  And shared with Ricki and Kellee at UNLEASHING READERS.   
         And, also visit Sheila at BOOK JOURNEYS that offers more reviews of all kinds of books, adult and children. 
 Tweet! at #IMWAYR

Thanks to Ricki, Kellee, Jen and Sheila for hosting so we can find great books to read! And to everyone who joins in for the terrific recommendations!

My Name Is Parvana – written by Deborah Ellis
         This is book four in the Breadwinner series, just out last year. It mostly finishes the story of Parvana, yet there will be a part of me that wishes for more about this courageous young woman whose life has been filled with danger almost always.  Ellis used flashbacks to keep any new readers informed of the past events of Parvana’s life, although I wonder if it was helpful?  When Ellis referred to some happening or other, I kept thinking there were so many other details to the event.  The book captures the months of the school started by Parvana’s mother after their reunion. We read about this controversial school for girls along with the flashbacks and then parallel with Parvana in a jail cell being interrogated. The story is filled with one tense moment after another.  And the surprise is that this time the “jailers” are American.  The “bad guys” through all the books have changed identities, yet to have them become my own fellow countrymen is shocking.  Deborah Ellis has written still one more part of an intriguing story, one that students can discuss in comparison to their own lives, hopes and dreams.  I imagine quite a lot of “what if” questions during discussions of this book. 


Picture Books
Planes Fly – written by George Ella Lyon, illustrated by Mick Wiggins
        This book is about flying, especially in planes, from a variety of planes, and their parts, to the flight itself and finally to the landing.  It’s all in rhyme, and cleverly done with pages filled with colorful, gorgeous and energetic illustrations.

Building Our House - written and illustrated by Jonathan Bean
        This is such a learning story, how a house is built, but also about the author’s childhood story of his family living out on farmland in a little trailer while raising both the house and three kids!  Amazing to contemplate and children who read this, or have it read to them will learn just how houses are built.  The illustrations are full color and nicely detailed, of the construction and the people.

Andrew Drew and Drew - written and illustrated by Barney Saltzberg
         A clever book reminiscent of Harold and The Purple Crayon and Open This Little Book.  There’s a surprise on every page, all the way to the end!

Hidden – This is another verse novel by Helen Frost, about two girls when at age eight, one of the girl’s (Darra’s) fathers is part of a robbery and without knowing he’s done so, steals a car with the little girl, Wren, in the back seat.  Darra is at home with her mother when he shows up, quickly parking in their garage.  There are arguments and abuse, even scarier when seen from the eyes of the hidden Wren.  Through interesting clues, Darra figures out that Wren is hiding in their boat, and sneaks out sometime in the evening to leave some food.  Wren does manage to escape.  The real story, however is when at age 15 they end up at the same camp for weeks, and the events that help them both resolve the problems and questions of the past. With hidden information given at the ends of some of the lines, Frost has given the title a double meaning.   

On A Beam of Light, A Story of Albert Einstein – written by Jennifer Berne, illustrated by Vladimir Radunsky
        It’s wonderful to think that there is a book for younger children about Albert Einstein, so they can learn not only the beginnings of his important discoveries, but that he was a “late bloomer” and someone whose teachers said wouldn’t amount to much.  This book, with brightly colored illustrations, tells such a story, emphasizing more than once Einstein’s need to discover the “hidden mysteries” of the world.  It could be used as a springboard for further exploration of his life and discoveries, and as a mentor text for young children writing biographies.  It’s a fascinating tale, well told and shown!



Grandad Bill’s Song – written by Jane Yolen and illustrated by Melissa Bay Mathis
             “My childhood remains in my heart and my head, And nothing can change that, though Billy is dead.” are the words of Grandad Bill’s sister as his grandson Jessie asked family members about the day Grandad died. In poetry, Jane Yolen carries the story of the memories and the sadness of this loss of a dear grandfather, brother, and father.  The illustrations show the family sitting with Jessie looking at photos and remembering the good times and the strong, handsome man that Bill had been.  It’s a beautiful story of loss and goodbyes, how to carry someone in your heart when they are gone. 

The Bee Tree – written and illustrated by Patricia Polacco
             It’s hard to admit, but I have never read this book.  I think if I still had my own class I would use it for the beginning of conversations about reading, or for sometime in the first week of school.  A little girl named Mary Ellen says she’s tired of reading and her grandpa says that it must be time to hunt for a bee tree.  They find a few bees and collect them safely in a jar, let one out and the chase is on!  Others met along the way add to the hunt which makes the story so delightful.  They find the tree and you’ll have to read the rest of the story to discover the ending that circles right back to reading.  Polacco’s stories and her illustrations are so filled with joy and energy, I want to jump right into the action.  Sweet story!

Poetry
Pirates – written by David L. Harrison and illustrated by Dan Burr
              A book full of pirate poetry is just the thing to motivate anyone to discover the real scoop about pirates.  As the author says, “Gather ‘round ye scurvy mates,/I’m signing on a crew./You there! Can you tie a knot?/Ye’ll do.”  This poem is a favorite with its repetition and strong voice.  I can just hear the gravelly, sneery tone of the captain as he finds his crew!  David Harrison creates a “story” that takes us from those who seem destined to be pirates (“they slept in places/roaches would snub”) to the beginnings on board, the rules (“Don’t even think of mutiny, I promise you’ll be shot”) and the endless boredom instead of the gold conquered, and the horrible food when the cook can’t cook.  Blackbeard (“His name alone numbed men with fear: Blackbeard”) is here along with the young pirate who broke rules and is flogged with a cat o’ nine tails.  David Harrison does include some excitement in the battles, but there are few scenes or words that might entice anyone to join the ranks of these seamen.  The brief backmatter shares more information that’s interesting.  Illustrations are gorgeous, realistic depictions of the sailors as well as the ships and the sea.

Next!  
      I'm nearly finished with A Dog Called Homeless by Sarah Lean (company prevented me from finishing!), still reading Opening Minds by Peter H. Johnston and have a couple of books waiting from Net Galley-so exciting!

18 comments:

  1. Hi there Linda, I'm always on the lookout now for picture books that I can read aloud to my set of teacher-students, I have a feeling that The Bee Tree could be just that. I've read and reviewed Helen Frost's "Hidden" and simply loved it. I shared that during our novel-in-verse theme. :) Granddad Bill's Song also sounds perfect for our current theme! :) Thanks for sharing all these, Linda. I hope you're having a great week!

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    1. Yes, you should share The Bee Tree with your students, Myra. As I said, can't believe I've missed this wonderful book all these years! This is the week of students arriving, finally, & we're ready! Thanks-hope you have a good week, too!

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    2. Linda! I forgot to mention that you should also check out Don Brown's Odd Boy Out - also a picture book biography about Albert Einstein. :)

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  2. What a variety of books! I loved Helen Frost's Crossing Stones, so I'll be sure to look for Hidden. Nearly all of the picture books are still on my TBR list, but sometimes they drop off my radar. Thanks for reminding me of Andrew Drew and Drew and Building Our House. We build our house when our children were 5 and 2. It's not for the faint of heart, and we didn't live in a trailer for the duration!
    Catherine

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    1. I hope you write about your building that house some time, Catherine. What an adventure! You will love Building Our House!

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  3. The Bee Tree - what a joyous read about reading! And great to see My Name is Parvana. We used it as a book club selection last year - so many "what if?" discussions, as you predicted, Linda.

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    1. Yes, you are the reason I discovered Parvana, Tara. I have so enjoyed those books! Thanks!

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  4. Nice selection of choices. Pirates was a favorite for all kids in my school. Fun for poetry study.

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    1. It is delightful, I agree! Thanks Julee.

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  5. Can't wait to read Book 4- My Name is Parvana... on order now! Thanks for mentioning it...

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    1. It was good, although didn't give as much information as I might have liked. Parvana as a character is so interesting! Hope you enjoy it, Earl!

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  6. Building Our House is fabulous! I can see detail focused kids pouring over that title again and again. The Einstein book and Andrew Drew and Drew are on my hold list at the library! And thank you for sharing My Name is Parvana . . . sounds fascinating!

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    1. Hope you can get & read the Breadwinner trilogy, then My Name Is Parvana-I did enjoy them so much. And the Building Our House book is terrific, I agree, & fascinating! Thanks!

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  7. Wow, that is quite a varied group of books! I love Helen Frost & Hidden is one of my favorites since it has so much mystery embedded. I also enjoyed Building Our House. I want to use it in combination with Dreaming Up for a bit of a "building" unit with my first and/or second grade students.

    I have read so many Polacco books, but I haven't gotten to The Bee Tree yet. I will plan on it. :)

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    1. I'm relieved that someone else doesn't know The Bee Tree-I really thought it was such a good book for a reading conversation. I loved Hidden, don't know why I hadn't picked it up to read before now. Thanks Crystal!

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  8. I keep telling myself I am going to get to the Breadwinner series. That's it. I am doing it! Thanks for the push. The series looks really good!!!

    Hope you have a great week, Linda! :oD

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    1. Thanks Ricki-hope your first week of grad school goes very, very smoothly. The Breadwinner is not complicated, but is fascinating in the story of survival by young children. Hope you have time!

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Having a conversation is a good thing!