About SamiK

I'm a Library Director for a small(ish) Texas town with a desire to share my love of books and the library with my community.

Currently, I am working towards my MLS (Master of Library Science) from Texas Woman's University (my alma mater!).

When I'm not treading through a pile a school work and work work, I make precious memories with both my handsome men at home. Whether we are playing with the sand between our toes, making a campfire, or just taking in a movie at home, every moment is unique.



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December 3, 2015

LS 5603 - Genre 6 - Fiction and Fantasy

FLORA & ULYSSES


 

 

1. Bibliography

DiCamillo, Kate. 2013. Flora & Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures. Massachusetts: Candlewick Press. ISBN 978-0-7636-6040-6
DiCamillo, Kate. 2013. Flora & Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures. Listening Library.

2. Plot Summary

    Flora is strange. At least, that is what her mother thinks, and believing the squirrel, who survived a recent vacuum attack, can communicate only makes her more strange. Did...he...just...type...a...poem?! Holy bagumba! Could Ulysses really be communicating or even a superhero like Incandesto in Flora's comic books that she reads?  

3. Critical Analysis

     Flora Buckman, our ten year old protagonist, can be easily related to. What makes her stand out is what makes her loveable, and at an age when readers are becoming more aware of what others think of them, it is reassuring that our main character is proud to be herself. Women, young and old, can find themselves somewhere in Flora.
     The book is centered around good versus evil and depicts how things are not always what meets the eyes. It is a story of life, family, friendship, trust, and growth. Filled with an unforgettable cast of wacky characters, there are lessons to be learned from everyone.
     I could not help but fall in love with Flora's enthusiasm and love for her comic books. They influence the entire style of the book, from the language to the plot to the illustrations. Yet, it is her personal growth seen in her slow realization that maybe she is not such a cynic after all that makes her such a loveable character.
     This is the only audiobook I have listened to in its entirety, but it will not be the last! I downloaded it from Audible to my iPhone and listened to it on my daily trips to work. I will admit that I chose this book because it was only a four hour listen, and for an unabridged book, I was won over! At first, I thought reader Tara Sands had a voice that was too distinct to give life to all of the characters, but I was wrong. She had a different voice for each and was consistent in her telling. The only sound affects, heroic theme music, highlighted Ulysses moments as a superhero.
    I read the book after listening and was surprised to find the illustrations. They are something I would have missed if I had only listened to the audio. Cambell captured the characters and style of the novel perfectly!
      

4. Review Excerpts

  • Reviews from  Booklist, Washington Post, SLJ, Horn Book Guide, and Publisher's Weekly.
  • Bestseller lists : NYT, Amazon, PW, USA Today, and Barnes & Noble
  • PW Best Children's Book in 2013
  • ALA Notable Books for Children in 2014
  • Bluebonnet Award nominee in 2014
  • Newberry Medal in 2014.
  • "Sands's ability to create colorful, over-the-top characters is an ideal match for DiCamillo's quirky novel, and the voices she produces here are pitch-perfect.-PW, 2014

5. Connections.

  • Gather other Newberry Award winners to read such as El Deafo and The Year of Billy Miller.
  • Students create their own comic strip of a superhero.
  • Display with other books by Kate DiCamillo such as Because of Winn-Dixie and The Tale of Despereaux.

THE FAULT IN OUR STARS


1. Bibliography

Green, John. 2012. The Fault in Our Stars. New York: Dutton Books. ISBN 978-0-525-47881-2

2. Plot Summary

Hazel, survivor of Stage IV cancer, is diagnosed as clinically depressed. She has no excitement for life. Until she meets Augustus Waters.  Soon, the two find themselves on a journey to meet Hazel's favorite author while discovering life and love.

3. Critical Analysis

      I laughed. I cried. I laughed some more, and I cried some more. This novel captures a reality that most will never know yet many do too well.
     Main characters Hazel Grace and Augustus Waters are both easy to connect to. You have the survivor that has allowed the cancer to take everything from her, and you have the patient who continues to choose life and make the most of it. When the two meet, it results in a beautiful story of an unpromised life.
    Unfortunately I had watched the movie but never read the book, so the voices I heard were of Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort. Although there were differences, as all book to movie adaptations, I was not let down by any.

4. Review Excerpts

  • Reviews in Booklist, SLJ, Horn Book Guide, USA Today, Wall Street Journal and Publisher's Weekly. 
  • Bestseller lists : NYT, Amazon, PW, USA Today, and Barnes & Noble
  • SLJ Best Book of the Year 2012
  • PW Best Children's Book 2012
  • "Beautifully conceived and executed, this story artfully examines the largest possible considerations life, love, and death with sensitivity, intelligence, honesty, and integrity.." Booklist, 2012             

5. Connections

  • Display with other John Green books, such as the Paper Towns and An Abundance of Katherinces.
  • Have students pair up and write each others' eulogy.
  • Gather with other coming-of-age stories such as Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell and The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky.

BABYMOUSE: PUPPY LOVE


1. Bibliography

Holm, Jennifer L. and Matthew Holm. 2007. Babymouse : Puppy Love. New York: Random House.  ISBN 978-0-375-83990-0

2. Plot Summary

Babymouse has her goldfish, again. She wants a dog, but her mother refuses until she has tried pets that require less responsibility. One day she finds a stray dog, whom she names Buddy, and begins to train him. She soon discovers how much work a pet can be.

3. Critical Analysis

      The Holm siblings return with another installment of their beloved Babymouse. Young readers easily identify with. The graphic novel has simple yet appealing illustrations.  The language used is clear and an easy level. The simplicity of the pictures and storyline serve as a gateway to reluctant readers.
     The humorous dialogue between the adolescent Babymouse and adult narrator offers a comedic tone. Moments in the book that offered laughs were intended for older readers and adults (i.e. the Charlotte's Web reference). Kids love them, and now I see why!
      However, I personally was not a fan of the content. Babymouse is irresponsible (a new pet every day? Who does that?!) and has a bit of an attitude (disrespectful towards the obviously adult narrator on occasion) that, as a parent, I felt could have been avoided. This does offer an opportunity to parents to discuss these issues with their children in order build communication and trust between them.

4. Review Excerpts

  • Reviews in Booklist, Chicago Sun-Times, Horn Book Guide, and SLJ
  • WINNER 2006 - Gryphon Award
  • WINNER 2006 - ALA Notable Children's Book (first graphic novel)
  • WINNER 2006 - New York Book Show Awards

5. Connections

  • Display with other Jennifer and Matthew Holm graphic novels, such as others in the Babymouse series and Squish.
  • Use to begin a discussion on responsibility.
  • Have student create their own graphic novels in groups about a new pet.



November 12, 2015

LS5603 - Genre 5 - Historical Fiction

DEAD END IN NORVELT

1. Bibliography

Gantos, Jack. 2011. Dead End in Norvelt. New York: Farrar Straus Giroux. ISBN 978-0-374-37993-3

2. Plot Summary

    School's out and Jack is ready for an exciting vacation, until he becomes grounded for the entire summer. Allowed to help Miss Volker, the town's medical examiner, by typing obituaries, he soon finds is summer is more eventful than he could imagine.    

3. Critical Analysis

     Jack Gantos provides a different aspect of historical fiction than the other two books I reviewed for this genre. The book is set in historic Norvelt, Pennsylvania, where the wacky characters are abundant. The historical aspect of the novel, although present in the setting, is found more prevalent in the numerous literary and historical references throughout the book.
     What impressed me the most was the authenticity of the narrative. It is told from the perspective of 12 year old Jack. As zany as he was, it was easy to believe his character. From outrageous theories to his adolescent attitude, you can only sit back and enjoy the journey of this coming-of-age story like no other, in which learning from the past is central to the story.
    

4. Review Excerpts

  • Reviews from Kirkus, Booklist, Wall Street Journal, SLJ, Horn Book Guide, and Publisher's Weekly. 
  • PW Best Children's Book in 2011
  • ALA Notable Books for Children in 2012
  • Scott O'Dell Historical Fiction in 2012
  • Newberry Medal in 2012.
  • "This is a richly layered semi-autobiographical tale, an ode to a time and place, to history and the power of reading.-" -HBG, 2012

5. Connections.

  • Have students identify and research 5 historical/literary references from the book and their importance to the story. .
  • Students create their own short story autobiography using their home town as the setting.
  • Display with other books by Jack Gantos.

MAGGIE'S DOOR

1. Bibliography

Giff, Patricia Reilly. 2003. Maggie's Door. New York: Random House Children's Books. ISBN 0-385-90095-3

2. Plot Summary

In the sequel to Nora Ryan's Song, Nora and Sean escape the Potato Famine of the 1840s. Separated for the majority of novel, readers follow their journey from Ireland to America through alternating chapters.

3. Critical Analysis

      Giff does a wonderful job of centering her novel around perseverance and immigration. She brings attention of why people have immigrated to America, many for survival and without their families. Maggie's Door chronicles exactly this in a rough but accurate depiction.
     The story is personal for Giff. Her grandparents endured similar voyages to escape starvation due to the famine This personal connection holds her accountable for providing an authentic story.     
 

4. Review Excerpts

  • Reviews in Booklist, SLJ, Horn Book Guide, and Publisher's Weekly. 
  • Nominated for various state awards 2005-2007.
  • "Giff's descriptive language and detailed descriptions enable children to visualize the countryside and events along the way." School Library Journal, 2003             

5. Connections

  • Display with other Patricia Reilly Giff's books, such as the prequel Nora Ryan's Song, Lily's Crossing, and Water Street.
  • Begin a discussion of what would cause students to leave not only their homeland, but to leave without family.
  • Students create a piece of art to depict a part of the story, such as a model of the Samson or a drawing of the famine eaten countryside.


BETWEEN SHADES OF GRAY

1. Bibliography

Sepetys, Ruta. 2012. Between Shades of Gray. New York: Penguin Publishing Group.  ISBN 978-0-14-242059-1

2. Plot Summary

One night, everything changed. Lina, along with her mother and younger brother, are arrested by Soviet officers and put on a train sending them to work camps. Separated from her father, will her family ever be together again, let alone survive?

 

3. Critical Analysis

      Inspired by her family history, Sepetys's first novel is an outstanding piece of work that has introduced readers to a part of World War II history not greatly recognized. Focused around courage, love, and patriotism, Between Shades of Gray, has brings awareness to the experiences of millions of Lithuanian survivors and victims of genocide.
      The characters are easy to relate to, from Lina's calm and strong mother to artistic and fearless Lina. The inclusion of culture specific terms and descriptions provide readers with an accurate depiction of the country and its people.
      Although written to share a specific dark time in history, the novel brings to light universal themes that anyone can identify with. This thought-provoking novel deserves its comparison to Anne Frank's diary. This authentic tale leaves readers questioning human nature with statements like "have you ever wondered what a human life is worth? That morning my brother's was worth a pocket watch" (27). Disturbing but real, Sepetys has created a must read!
      

4. Review Excerpts

  • Reviews in VOYA, Booklist, WSJ, LA Times, Horn Book Guide, and SLJ
  • PW Best Children's Book, 2011.
  • SLJ Best Books of the Year, 2012.
  • ALA Notable Books for Children, 2012.
  • Golden Kite Award, 2012.
  • Carnegie Medal, Nominee 2012.
  • William C. Morris YA Debut Award, Nominee 2015.
  • "harrowing page-turner, made all the more so for its basis in historical fact, the novel illuminates the persecution suffered by Stalin's victims (20 million were killed), while presenting memorable characters who retain their will to survive even after more than a decade in exile"-  PW, 2011.
  • "Moving, edifying, and quietly beautiful, Sepetys's well-researched novel is an exquisite look at a devastating atrocity." - SLJ, 2011.
      

5. Connections

  • On a large map, track Lina's journey to depict the distance traveled..
  • Display with other historical novels about WWII, such as Number the Stars and Diary of a Young Girl.
  • Use to begin a discussion on the Holocaust.
  • Have student create their own handkerchief with drawings about their life. .


October 29, 2015

LS5603 - GENRE 4 - INFORMATIONAL

OUR ELEANOR: A SCRAPBOOK LOOK AT ELEANOR ROOSEVELT'S REMARKABLE LIFE

1. Bibliography

Fleming, Candace. 2005. Our Eleanor: A Scrapbook Look at Eleanor Roosevelt's Remarkable Life. New York: Atheneum Books for Young Readers. ISBN 978-0-689-86544-2

2. Plot Summary

     Candace Fleming returns again with another award winning biography of one of America's greats. Readers will get to know Eleanor as the person rather than the elegant former First Lady in Fleming's unique scrapbook layout. Filled with quotes, photographs, and anecdotes, this book is sure to entice readers of all ages.   

3. Critical Analysis

     Fleming did an excellent job by using a unique layout and style to stand out amongst the many biographies of Eleanor Roosevelt. It is the personal feel that allows readers to connect to Eleanor on a deeper level than similar works.
     The pictures with captions and short snippets of information allows readers to enjoy the history without being overwhelmed by unnecessary tidbits. The organization is easy to follow as it is a mix of chronological and thematic but done so in a clever way. Readers are greeted with a contents page, timeline, and family tree before diving into the interesting details of a legend.

4. Review Excerpts

  • Reviews from VOYA, Booklist, SLJ, Horn Book Guide, and Publisher's Weekly. 
  • SLJ Best Books of the Year in 2005
  • ALA Notable Books for Children in 2005
  • "Each page is indulgently browsable, with well-chosen photographs pulling the reader's attention from one snippet of text to the next...An impressive index and ample source notes also make this title an excellent resource for primary source materials.-" -VOYA, 2005

5. Connections.

  • Include in a unit discussing First Ladies and/or other female greats.
  • Use in History (or English) class project in which students would create a scrapbook styled project around a specific time period, person, or place.
  • Display with other biographies.

PREHISTORIC ACTUAL SIZE

1. Bibliography

Jenkins, Steve. 2005. Prehistoric Actual Size. Boston: Houghton Mifflin. ISBN 978-0618-63578-1

2. Plot Summary

Jenkins captured readers, young and old alike, in 2004 with his distinct style in Actual Size. He does it again with this sequel that connects the distant past and the present. New fans are sure to be made when they see just what dinosaurs and other prehistoric creatures may have looked like based on fossils and current similar animals.

3. Critical Analysis

      Although Jenkins does not give any reference to his sources, which would have been beneficial to those wanting to find more, the information contained is simple and clear.  It took a time or two to realize that the book is laid out chronologically. However, this does not necessarily affect the information provided.
    The illustrations, also done by Jenkins, capture the existence of creatures one could only imagine. I found the Saltopus (see picture below) most intriguing. The pronunciation of scientific names helped keep the work easy to read and understand.
 
This is my dachshund Evie. As you can see, she is not much smaller than the Saltopus. She was trying to outrun this quick runner. She wouldn't stand (or sit) still at all!
 

4. Review Excerpts

  • Reviews in Booklist, SLJ, Horn Book Guide, and Publisher's Weekly. 
  • "Chronologically from a dot-sized protozoan of 550 million years ago, Jenkins has chosen the animals and the portions of them to depict to great effect." School Library Journal, 2005             

5. Connections

  • Display with other Steve Jenkins books, such as the prequel Actual Size.
  • Include in a unit about dinosaurs.
  • For storytime, show children compare their height to those of some of the dinosaurs included.


KAKAPO RESCUE: SAVING THE WORLD'S STRANGEST PARROT

1. Bibliography

Montgomery, Sy. 2010. Kakapo Rescue: Saving the World's Strangest Parrot. Photographer Nic BishopBoston: Houghton Mifflin.  ISBN 978-0-618-49417-0

2. Plot Summary

Montgomery and Bishop share another one of their adventures through photographs and a first-hand retelling. In this book, readers are taken to the small Codfish Island off the New Zealand coast to recount the journey to save the nearly extinct Kakapo parrot.

3. Critical Analysis

      Despite my personal feelings toward the book, it was informative and unique. It is unfortunate that I did not like the story because I was intrigued by the concept. The duo had the makings for something great, but this one was a miss for me.
     As for accuracy, Montgomery and Bishop lived this experience. I don't know how you become a better authority than that! The organization of the book was easy to follow. Their enthusiasm was clear, but the attempt to include all the details overpowered the great story hidden inside
     What saves this book is the photographs. Bishop captured some beautiful shots of the landscape which helped to understand the isolation of the island. It is a highly recognized book, so it my personal preference of books that has hindered a positive review. My lack of interest in nonfiction, however, could be the reason that I was turned away by what I consider too much information.
     I commend the duo on the efforts to bring attention to such a need. It is their encouragement of future generations to be active and productive in the world that I give praise to this book.

4. Review Excerpts

  • Reviews in Booklist, Horn Book Guide, and SLJ
  • Robert F. Sibert Informational Book Award, 2011.
  • ALA Notable Books for Children, 2011.
  • Young Hoosier Book Award, Nominee 2012.
  • Grand Canyon Reader Award, Nominee 2015.
  • "This debut novel shows the capacity of poetry to record the personal and translate it into the universal." -  Booklist, 2010.
  • "Excellent photos and a readable, conversational text provide an intimate look at a concerted effort to save a drastically endangered species unfamiliar to most of the world outside Down Under." - SLJ, 2010
      

5. Connections

  • Use as a discussion starter for animal extinction.
  • Pair with other stories on animals, especially those in extinction.
  • Have students create donation boxes/jars to help raise funds to send to The Kakapo Recovery Programme.
  • Use in a unit to discuss animal life of New Zealand.

October 8, 2015

LS5603 - Genre 3 - Poetry

WE ARE AMERICA

1. Bibliography

Myers, Walter Dean. 2011. We are America. Ill. by Christopher Myers. New York: HarperCollins. ISBN 978-0-06-052309-1

2. Plot Summary

Walter Dean Myers takes a poetic stance on the history of America. Through powerful verses and complimentary illustrations, the Myers duo once again capture the essence of such an important time.

3. Critical Analysis

After reading We are America, a sense of pride began to swell up in my chest. Myers captured a variety of the different peoples - Native Americans, slaves, pioneers, etc - that have made and continue to make up this great country. Although written in free verse with no distinguishable rhythm, I could imagine the corresponding music to the characters. Myers uses alliteration and consonance throughout the poem but does so in a way that allows the reader to focus on the meaning rather than the style. To add to the emotion and power, quotes from historical leaders accompany the words and illustrations.

4. Review Excerpts

  • Reviews in Booklist, SLJ, Horn Book Guide, and Publisher's Weekly. 
  • Audiobook version won an Audie in 2013
  • "It's best appreciated by readers with some knowledge of American history, but few will be unmoved by this stirring and provocative collaboration." - Publisher's Weekly. 2011. 

5. Connections

  • Display with other patriotic books.
  • Include in a unit discussing September 11th, 2001.
  • Use in history class project in which students would choose one period covered in the poem to research.  

BOW WOW MEOW MEOW

1. Bibliography

Florian, Douglas. 2003. Bow Wow Meow Meow. New York: Harcourt, Inc. ISBN 0-15-216395-6

2. Plot Summary

In this humorous collection of poems, Florian captures the breeds of our favorite canines and felines, big and small. Readers will undoubtedly laugh as the see how well the animals have been portrayed.

3. Critical Analysis

Florian uses various meters and mostly the AABB rhyme pattern to create a fun collection of poems. Although simple, there is much truth that can be found in these short poems. He begins with the canines - dachshunds, pointers, and wolves - and follows with the felines - domestic and wild. Readers of all ages will enjoy reading the poems and the complimenting illustrations that justify the character of topic.
 
My favorite was the poodle. Florian captures the curls of the fur by using alliteration and assonance while the words twist in four curls. Using wordplay, Florian leaves readers with a good time!

4. Review Excerpts

  • Reviews in Booklist, SLJ, Horn Book Guide, and Publisher's Weekly. 
  • A definite contender for "best in show."- Susannah Price. School Library Journal. 2003. 
  • Black-Eyed Susan Book Award, 2005 Nominee.
  • Garden State Children's Book Award, 2006.
  • Young Hoosier Book Award, 2006 Nominee.                    

5. Connections

  • Display with other Douglas Florian poetry, such as Lizards, Frogs, and Polliwogs .
  • Pair with a visit from the local shelter pets for a storytime. 
  • Have students create their own animal poems using the simple AABB pattern using Bow Wow Meow Meow as an example. 

STOP PRETENDING

1. Bibliography

Sones, Sonya. 1999. Stop Pretending: what happened when my big sister went crazy.  New York: HarperCollins. ISBN 0-06-028387-4

2. Plot Summary

Sones shares her personal story of mental illness to bring awareness of the disease. Through this verse novel, readers follow the struggle of the main character as she learns to handle her sister's condition.

3. Critical Analysis

Sones breaks barriers as she discusses the affects of mental illness with such honesty. Readers will feel emotion from the first page. The novel opens with the nervous breakdown of the older sister and moves through the journey of the family to cope with mental illness.
Geared towards older middle school and high school readers, students will find vivid look inside a family shaken by manic depression. Simple yet powerful, Sones' use of alliteration and assonance allow the story flow with ease on a normally tumultuous journey of recovery.

4. Review Excerpts

  • Reviews in Booklist, Horn Book Guide,
  • Bluegrass Award, 2001 Nominee.
  • Maine Student Book Award, 2001 Nominee.
  • Christopher Book Award, 2000.
  • Evergreen Young Adult Book Award, Nominee 2000.
  • Beehive Young Adults' Book Award, Nominee 2002.
  • Garden State Teen Book Award, Nominee 2002.
  • Volunteer State Book Award, Nominee 2004.
  • "this debut novel shows the capacity of poetry to record the personal and translate it into the universal." - Michael Cart. Booklist, 1999.
      

5. Connections

  • Use as a discussion starter for mental illness.
  • Pair with Your Own, Sylvia by Stephanie Hemphill or other stories about mental illness.
  • Display with other verse novels by YA authors, such as Elizabeth Scott and Lisa Schroeder.
September 26, 2015

LS5603 - Genre 2 - Traditional Literature


SWAMP ANGEL

1. Bibliography

Isaacs, Anne. 1994. Swamp Angel. Ill. by Paul O. Zelinski. New York: Dutton Children's Books. ISBN 0-525-45271-0

2. Plot Summary

Angelica Longrider becomes one heroic frontiers woman after completing some enormous feats. One day she meets her match in another large character, Thundering Tarnation, the ravaging bear named for his victims' cries. This original tall tale coupled with the captivating illustrations makes for an intriguing tale of heroism with a splash of humor. 

3. Critical Analysis

Angelica is angel like no other. She does not have wings, a halo, or appear ethereal. Instead, she is a larger than life - literally - hero that uses her size to save the pioneers of Tennessee. Readers learn that perseverance and courage can lead to overcoming great obstacles, and they are encouraged to use their uniqueness to their advantage. Isaacs uses dialect to represent the historical elements of the time period and to make this a story worth sharing orally. 

Zelinski's illustrations complement this pioneer tale. The wood grain backgrounds provide a rustic look that accentuates the frontier elements of our characters. Through the pictures, readers can find added humor in serious scenes such as throughout the fight between Angel and Tarnation. To underline the size of our heroine, Zelinski portrays her bent over or laying down as if too large to fit the frames. 

4. Review Excerpts

  • Reviews in Booklist, SLJ, Horn Book Guide, and Publisher's Weekly. 
  • "It's an American classic in the making." - Wendy Lukeheart, School Library Journal. 2010. 

5. Connections

  • Combine with other tall tales, having students create their own hero/heroine. 
  • Use to initiate discussion of courage and overcoming obstacles. 
  • Talk about 1800s Tennessee and pioneers. 
  • Pair with the Oregon Trail.  

THE THREE LITTLE TAMALES

1. Bibliography

Kimmel, Eric A. 2009. The Three Little Tamales. Ill. by Valeria Docampo. New York: Marshal Cavendish Children. ISBN 978-0-7614-5519-6

2. Plot Summary

In this variant of the The Three Little Pigs, the Big Bad Wolf is hungry for some Mexican food instead of piglets. Instead of sticks, straw, and bricks, our tamales, who runaway out of fear of being eaten, settle into homes of sage, cornstalks, and cacti. This humorous rendition is expanded by Docampo's charming illustrations. 

3. Critical Analysis

Sprinkled with Mexican terms and set in Texas' rich Mexican culture, readers can be sure to end the story with a deeper understanding of the culture. Another of Kimmel's favorite characters make an appearance at the the fiesta thrown by the three tamales when the Senor Lobo unsuccessfully hunts the tamales. Kimmel provides readers with a culture filled tale about working hard and overcoming fear while capturing audiences with rhythm and a caliente story.  

Although Docampo used a cartoonish style to complement the fun tale, her illustrations authentically capture the Mexican culture. She uses the lines to move the story forward and add even more humor. Without the illustrations, the story would never have reached its success.  

4. Review Excerpts

  • Reviews in Booklist, SLJ, Horn Book Guide, and Publisher's Weekly. 
  • "An excellent addition to collections of fairy-tale retellings." - Shauna Yusko. Booklist. 2009.
  • Volunteer State Book Award (Tennessee) nominee, 2011. 

5. Connections

  • Display with other Three Little Pigs (or other folktales) retellings.
  • Use during Spanish Heritage Month for family/bilingual storytime. 
  • Have students build their own home out of household materials. 

THE FIRST STRAWBERRIES: A CHEROKEE STORY

1. Bibliography

Bruchac, Joseph. Reteller. 1993. The First Strawberries: a Cherokee Story. Ill. by Anna Vojtech New York: Dial Books for Young Readers. ISBN 0-8037-1331-2

2. Plot Summary

In this traditional Cherokee tale, readers learn about respect and friendship. When her husband comes home to find her picking flowers instead of preparing dinner, the Native American wife is hurt by his words and leaves with him following behind. As he grows increasing sorry the farther away she gets, her anger also increases. The Sun intervenes to reunite the couple in a way only nature can. 

3. Critical Analysis

Bruchac does an excellent job capturing the Cherokee culture. Readers find an accurate depiction of gender roles and a look at the spiritual elements of the tribe. The simple tale teaches readers the importance of friendship and respect.

Through authentic illustrations, Vojtech extends the tale into the actions of the characters and depiction of time. Although not over-the-top, the simplicity of the pictures accentuates the purity of the lesson.

4. Review Excerpts

  • Reviews in Booklist, Horn Book Guide, and Publisher's Weekly.
  • "The brief, readable story, accompanied by strong and spare illustrations, carries a valuable message about friendship and respect." - Horn Book Guide, 2010.

5. Connections

  • Read other Native American stories written by Joseph Bruchac. 
  • Have students create or decorate a traditional Native American craft. 
  • Pair with fresh strawberries (and blackberries, blueberries, and raspberries to depict all four tries of the Sun).
  • Read other stories about friendship. 
September 10, 2015

LS5603 - Genre 1 - Picture Books

For the next few genres I may post these separately, but for the first genre, I wanted to post these together. I read each of these to my 18 month old this evening. The only book we made it through completely was Leonardo the Terrible Monster


The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend

1. Bibliography

Santat, Dan. 2014. The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend. New York: Little Brown & Co. ISBN 978-0-316-19998-8

2. Plot Summary

Our protagonist becomes tired of waiting to be picked by is destined friend, so he sets out on the journey to meet his real world companion. He faces many obstacles only to find himself in a strange world until he catches sight of something familiar. After finding himself waiting just as before, our imaginary friends finally meets Alice and give him his name -- Beekle. 

3. Critical Analysis

Beekle, like many of the readers, is curious and impatient. Santat's unique voice is seen in the imagery and illustrations that capture the importance of imagination. Readers learn about courage, friendship, and finding one's self through the brave quest that Beekle embarks on. 

Santat uses the illustrations to show the contrast of the imaginary world and the real world that lacks imagination. The island of imaginary friends is vibrant, full of texture, and moves the story along. The real world is broken into two parts - adults and children. The adult real world lacks imagination, thus it is shown through neutral colors, flat surfaces, and straight lines. Once Beekle finds children using their imagination, the illustrations become colorful again. 

4. Review Excerpts

  • ALA Notable Books for Children - 2015
  • Caldecott Medal Winner - 2015
  • NYT and Booksense Bestseller
  • Reviews in Booklist, SLJ, Horn Book Guide, and Publisher's Weekly. 

5. Connections

  • Read other stories written and/or illustrated by Dan Santat.
  • Include in a friendship display. 
  • Have children draw their own imaginary friend after reading. 
  • Pair with Bedtime Stories movie screening. 

Leonardo the Terrible Monster

1. Bibliography

Willems, Mo. 2005. Leonardo the Terrible Monster. New York: Hyperion Books for Children. ISBN 0-7868-5294-1

2. Plot Summary

Leonardo is not scary, and a monster must be scary. So, he sets out on a mission to find just the right person that he can scare the "tuna salad" out of. But when he succeeds, he discovers that maybe there is more important things than being scary, like being a friend. 

3. Critical Analysis

This simple yet impactful tale teaches readers of all ages about friendship through its humor and engaging main character.  Willems emphasizes words by highlighting them in a different color. This unique technique is less distracting and allows for a continuous flow of the story. 

Leonardo and Sam are both easy to identify with. Both characters are smaller in proportion to the other characters, relating them to the audience. Much of the humor comes from the illustrations that visually complement the story. Mo Willems doesn't disappoint his fans with this guaranteed classic. 

4. Review Excerpts

  • ALA Notable Books for Children - 2006
  • SLJ Best Books of the Year - 2005
  • NYT Bestseller 
  • Reviews in Booklist, SLJ, Horn Book Guide, and Publisher's Weekly. 

5. Connections

  • Read other stories written and/or illustrated by Mo Willems.
  • Highlight during National Bullying Prevention Month for display, book talk, or discussion. 
  • Use for storytime for themes such as monsters, friends, Halloween, etc.
  • Pair with Monsters Inc movie screening. 
  • Personal connection: Used during summer teen outreach to local Boys & Girls Club third grade class. Discussions covered bullying, friends, self-esteem, and more. Great book for all ages and one of my favorites!

Are You My Mother?

1. Bibliography

Eastman, P.D.. 1960. Are You My Mother?. New York: Beginners' Books. ISBN 0-394-90018-9

2. Plot Summary

Baby bird hatches to find himself alone and unsure who is his mother. He leaves the nest to find her, to only find who she is not through humorous mistakes. The journey has a happy ending once he returns to find his mother waiting for him. 

3. Critical Analysis

Dr. Seuss fans will find similarities in the illustrations and style of the story. From the moment Baby Bird leaves the nest, readers will relate to his longing for his mother. Although longer than most picture books, Eastman's use of dialogue moves the story along with excitement. 

The illustrations date the story as they are limited to three colors --brown, red, and yellow -- and simple sketches. However, the story is made more clear by the complementing drawings.  

4. Review Excerpts

  • Bestsellers list
    • Criticas
    • Publisher's Weekly
    • NYT

5. Connections

  • Read other stories written and/or illustrated by P.D. Eastman or Dr. Seuss. 
  • Use for a Mother's Day storytime. 
  • Show Are You My Mother? film. 
  • Create and decorate a birds' nest. 
  • Pair with other books about featuring animals on a journey. 

Rating System

IT WAS AMAZING!!!! You should be at the book store right now buying it! :)
I really liked it. You should def check it out and give it a shot
It was ok. At least read the synopsis on the back.
Eh....It was alright. It's borrow from a friend material.
Leave it on the shelf!!

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Samantha has read 6 books toward her goal of 24 books.
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