LME 518 Children’s Literature Book Reviews


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Song of the Water Boatman & Other Pond Poemsby Joyce Sidman

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Sidman, J. (2005). Song of the water boatman & other pond poems. Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin.
ISBN 13: 978-0618-13547-9
Caldecott Award Honor Winner – 2010
Summary: This text describes in both poetic and informational form the different plants and animals that make a pond their home. For each plant or animal, there is a poem and informational passage providing readers information in two forms. Large, beautiful illustrations and a glossary of content-specific terms are included.
Likes: What I love about this book and all those written by Joyce Sidman is her ability to mix poetry with science. On each double page of her books, you will find a poem and an informational text on the same topic. These books are excellent for use in the classroom. Information about each topic can be garnered from each text and then combined to build background knowledge. Her poetry may not as lyrical as some readers may desire, but they are well-written, prompt engagement for students, and relate information. The illustrations in the text are amazing and provide clues to the reader about the science content being described.
Dislikes: Since each two-page layout of the book is about a different pond animal, there is a lack of coherence from page to page. For example, the first poem/informational text describes tree frogs and the second describes the wood duck. These animals all live in or near the pond, but that seems to be the only thread running through the poems and passages.
Audience: K – 5th
Reading Level:  4.7
Genre: Poetry/Informational
Curriculum Connection:
* 4.RL.2 – Determine a theme of a story, drama, or poem from details in the text; summarize the text.
* 4.RL.5 – Explain major differences between poems, drama, and prose, and refer to the structural elements of poems (e.g., verse, rhythm, meter) and drama (e.g., casts of characters, settings, descriptions, dialogue, stage directions) when writing or speaking about a text.
* 4.RI.9/5.RI.9 – Integrate information from two texts on the same topic in order to write or speak about the subject knowledgeably.
* 5.RL.5 – Explain how a series of chapters, scenes, or stanzas fits together to provide the overall structure of a particular story, drama, or poem.
* 5.RI.4 – Determine the meaning of general academic and domain-specific words and phrases in a text relevant to a //grade 5 topic or subject area//.
Promoting Literacy Development:
Strategy 29: Connect It – Students use this strategy to connect prior knowledge to new knowledge gained through reading. Using this text to teach the strategy would allow students to gather information from both a poem and an informational text to add to their prior knowledge. A discussion could then occur about which text provided more information versus which text was more pleasurable to read. Regardless of the text they prefer, student will be adding to their schemas.
Song of the Water Boatman & Other Pond Poems Reading:  https://youtu.be/1zOZnSuJeEo
Song of the Water Boatman & Other Pond Poems Teacher’s Guide
http://www.joycesidman.com/books/song-of-the-water-boatman-/water-boatman-rg.pdf
ALSC. (2015). Songs of the water boatman & other pond poems./[digital image]. Retrieved from https://www.amazon.com/Water-Boatman-Caldecott-Ribbon-Nonfiction/dp/0618135472/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1477271518&sr=8-1&keywords=songs+of+the+water+boatman
Antonacci, P. & O’Callaghan, C. (2012). Promoting literacy development: 50 research-based strategies for K-8 learners. Los Angeles, CA: Sage Publications.

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When You Reach Meby Rebecca Stead

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Stead, R. (2009). //When you reach me.// New York: Yearling.
ISBN-13: 978-0375850868
Newbery Medal Winner – 2010
Summary: Sixth-grade Miranda lives in New York City and spends time with her best friend Sal. They go about their normal lives until Miranda begins to receive mysterious notes that very accurately predict future events. As the relationships Miranda has with new and old friends begin to transform, the secret of the mysterious notes begins to unravel. A tragedy occurs that may change Miranda’s life forever.
Likes: What I enjoyed about the book was the way in which the author brought the plot full circle. Beginning the book with a mystery immediately engaged me, and kept me reading. However, the author did an excellent job of revealing the mystery in a way that answered my questions as a reader. The characters were realistic and well-rounded and were connected in a variety of ways through different settings. Relationships were formed at school, in the neighborhood, at home, and from the future.
Dislikes: The book is geared toward intermediate and middle grade readers, however, without some background knowledge on time travel, many students may get lost in the plot. I found myself having to stop throughout to ensure that I understood the connection between the present and the future. Using this text as a read aloud may be more beneficial for younger audiences so that discussions can take place to better aid comprehension.
Audience: 5th – 8th
Reading Level: 4.5
Genre: Science Fantasy/Mystery
Curriculum Connection:
* 5.RL.2 – Determine a theme of a story, drama, or poem from details in the text, including how characters in a story or drama respond to challenges or how the speaker in a poem reflects upon a topic; summarize the text.
* 5.RL.5 – Explain how a series of chapters, scenes, or stanzas fits together to provide the overall structure of a particular story, drama, or poem.
* 5.RL.6 – Describe how a narrator’s or speaker’s point of view influences how events are described.
Promoting Literacy Development:
Strategy 25: Double-Entry Journals – This strategy will be helpful while reading this text as students will be noting text excerpts that stand out to them for a variety of reasons. If a passage is confusing, the student would note the excerpt and then respond about their confusions, make predictions, or pose questions to their peers. These journals could be used independently by the student to track their thinking or as a peer/teacher interactive journal to encourage collaboration.
When You Reach Me Book Trailer: https://youtu.be/3VlwnoQ7lVA
Rebecca Stead Interview: https://youtu.be/4ZTzzR4SToc
Amazon. (2015). When you reach me. [digital image]. Retrieved from https://www.amazon.com/When-You-Reach-Yearling-Newbery/dp/0375850864/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1477271477&sr=8-1&keywords=when+you+reach+me
Antonacci, P. & O’Callaghan, C. (2012)./Promoting literacy development: 50 research-based strategies for K-8 learners. Los Angeles, CA: Sage Publications.

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Bad News for Outlaws: The Remarkable Life of Bass Reeves, Deputy U.S. Marshalby Vaunda Micheaux Nelson

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Nelson, V. (2011). Bad news for outlaws: the remarkable life of Bass Reeves, Deputy U.S. Marshal. New York: Scholastic.
ISBN: 978-0-545-34255-1
Corretta Scott King Award Winner – 2010
Summary: This is the true story of Bass Reeves a slave turned Deputy U.S. Marshal who kept the peace in the Indian Territory from 1875 to 1910. Bass’ life was as remarkable as the stories about him were. In his thirty-two years as a Marshal, Bass arrested more than 3,000 people while only killing 14, demonstrating how extraordinary he was. His life story is told through beautiful illustrations and western dialogue that one might only hear on the Indian Territory. While Bass Reeve’s name may not be found in history books, his actions and conscientious efforts to keep the peace in an unruly territory should be shared as it is in this award-winning text.
Likes: This book immediately engages you and keeps you reading. I didn’t want the story to end and when it did, I wanted to know more about Bass Reeves. The text is illustrated using muted colors to represent the Indian Territory and helps the reader better understand what the “Wild West” looked like. I loved the way Reeve’s calm mannerisms were described using examples from his life experiences. Students will definitely be drawn to learn more about Bass Reeves after reading this text and will learn, without even trying, about the notion of someone having “character.”
Dislikes: I wish the author had included more primary source photos of Bass Reeves. There is one photo of him at the end of the text, but it would be interesting to see what the actual man looked like based on the description of him in the text. In addition, much of the text is written in a western-style dialect that many students may not understand. Context clues can be used to determine the meanings, but this can take away from the story. An example of this is as follows, “She trifled with the likes of Jesse James and didn’t cotton to lawmen” (p. 24). Students will know the meaning of cotton as a noun and not the verb used here. Vocabulary instruction will be a necessity for this text.
Audience: 3rd – 6th
Reading Level: 5.5
Genre: Historical Fiction/Biography/Picture Book
Curriculum Connection:
* 3.RL.3 – Describe characters in a story (e.g., their traits, motivations, or feelings) and explain how their actions contribute to the sequence of events.
* 4.RL.3 – Describe in depth a character, setting, or event in a story or drama, drawing on specific details in the text (e.g., a character’s thoughts, words, or actions).
* 5.RL.3 – Compare and contrast two or more characters, settings, or events in a story or drama, drawing on specific details in the text (e.g., how characters interact).
* 5.RL.4 – Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including figurative language such as metaphors and similes.
* 5.RI.3 – Explain the relationships or interactions between two or more individuals, events, ideas, or concepts in a historical, scientific, or technical text based on specific information in the text.
Promoting Literacy Development
Strategy 24: Character Mapping – Due to the extensive description of Bass Reeves’ character traits in the text, this strategy will fit perfectly. Students will be guided through the process of using text clues and close reading strategies to determine the character traits of the main character as well as how the character changes over time and/or responds to challenges. This text would be good for the introduction of character traits as there are so many examples provided.
Bad News for Outlaws Book Trailer: https://youtu.be/DyeUD1RkHgk
Antonacci, P. & O’Callaghan, C. (2012). Promoting literacy development: 50 research-based strategies for K-8 learners. Los Angeles, CA: Sage Publications.
NPR Books. (2015). Bad news for outlaws: the remarkable life of Bass Reeves, Deputy U.S. Marshall. [digital image]. Retrieved from http://www.npr.org/books/titles/195248918/bad-news-for-outlaws-the-remarkable-life-of-bass-reeves-deputy-u-s-marshal

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Amelia Earhart: The Legend of the Lost Aviatorby Shelley Tanaka
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Tanaka, S. (2008). Amelia Earhart: the legend of the lost aviator. Singapore: Abrams Books for Young Readers.
ISBN: 978-0-8109-7095-3
Orbis Pictus Award Winner – 2009
Summary: This text describes the life of Amelia Earhart from her childhood through her mysterious disappearance in 1937. Photographs of Amelia and her planes are mixed will colorful illustrations to better depict the adventurous woman she was. Throughout the text are quotes from Ameila supporting the equal rights of women. Her bravery, outspoken nature, and courageous style are well documented and described in this text.
Likes: This text is enjoyable as it provides background information on Amelia Earhart’s life, including her advocacy for gender equality. This text provides primary source photographs along with quotes from Amelia to help illustrate her drive to be the first female pilot to fly around the world on a solo flight. With all of the mystery of her disappearance, this text will provide the needed background knowledge for students so that they are able to then discuss, infer, and debate Earhart’s whereabouts.
Dislikes: While the text provides much needed background knowledge on Earhart, for intermediate readers, it doesn’t provide the colorful, engaging text so many of our students have grown to love. Young readers may not choose to read this text based on a book preview alone, however, reading excerpts or conducting a read aloud may be a better method for stimulating engagement.
Audience: 3rd – 6th
Reading Level: 6.4
Genre: Biography/Informational
Curriculum Connection:
* 6.RI.3 – Analyze in detail how a key individual, event, or idea is introduced, illustrated, and elaborated in a text (e.g., through examples or anecdotes.)
* 6.RI.9 – Compare and contrast one author’s presentation of events with that of another (e.g., a memoir written by and a biography on the same person.)
Promoting Literacy Development:
Strategy 27: Discussion Circles – This strategy allows students the opportunity to discuss and debate with their peers over a focus topic using text-based evidence as support. While reading this text, students can note the way in which Amelia is described (adventurous, daring, an advocate for women’s rights) and the text that supports their claims. They can then discuss these findings with their peers. In addition, other texts about Amelia Earhart could be read and compared with this text on their approach and elaboration of her life.
Amazon. (2015). Amelia Earhart: the legend of the lost aviator. [digital image]. Retrieved from
http://www.amazon.com/Amelia-Earhart-Legend-Lost-Aviator/dp/0810970953
Antonacci, P. & O’Callaghan, C. (2012). Promoting literacy development: 50 research-based strategies for K-8 learners. Los Angeles, CA: Sage
Publications.

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Fairy Tale Comics: Classic Tales Told by Extraordinary Cartoonistsedited by Chris Duffy
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Duffy, C. (Ed.) (2013). Fairy tale comics: classic tales told by extraordinary cartoonists. New York, NY: First Second.
ISBN: 978-1-59643-823-1
Bluegrass Award Winner – 2013
Summary:  Seventeen fairy tales, some familiar, some obscure are retold in graphic form through the eyes of talented cartoonists. This colorful, eye-catching edition of tales such as Little Red Riding Hood and Snow White will have booklovers engaged as if reading these stories for the first time. While the plots remain true to the original story, the illustrations prompt the reader to reinterpret the mood and tone of each. This text combines a love of classic tales with a new-age twist that people of all ages will enjoy.
Likes: I love the way the different cartoonists have altered the mood of each story simply by the illustrations they created. Some classic tales seem more dark and sinister while others are more humorous. The illustrations make the text engaging to students of the 21st century. Many students in today’s classrooms don’t want to read the classic fairy tales because they aren’t hip and cool. Reading this text makes fairy tales cool again.
Dislikes: In order to gain full appreciation of these fairy tale comics, students must have a general concept of the original story/plot. Since the tales are being told in comic form, many of the descriptive details are left out. Without the background knowledge of the original tale, some students may not fully understand the themes or lessons learned through classic fairy tales.
Audience: K – 3rd
Reading Level: 2.5
Genre: Fairy Tale/Graphic
Curriculum Connection:
* 2.RL.7 – Use information gained from the illustrations and words in a print or digital text to demonstrate understanding of its characters, setting, or plot.
* 3.RL.7 – Explain how specific aspects of a text’s illustrations contribute to what is conveyed by the words in a story (e.g., create mood, emphasize aspects of a character or setting.)
* 5.RL.7 – Analyze how visual and multimedia elements contribute to the meaning, tone, or beauty of a text (e.g., graphic novel, multimedia presentation of fiction, folktale, myth, poem).
* 5.RL.9 – Compare and contrast stories in the same genre (e.g., mysteries and adventure stories) on their approaches to similar themes and topics.
Promoting Literacy Development:
Two strategies that can be used to meet the standards above are as follows:
* Students would choose two tales from the text and compare/contrast them based on how the illustrations help convey mood, tone, beauty or meaning to the text.
* Students would choose one tale from //Fairy Tale Comics// and the original version of the same tale. Comparisons would be made on the illustrations, mood, tone, meaning, and understanding of each. Students would then discuss the significance of illustrations in classic fairy tales.
Macmillan Publishers. (2014). Fairy tale comics. [digital image]. Retrieved from
http://us.macmillan.com/fairytalecomics/variousauthors

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The Legend of the Bitter GourdAlamat ng Ampalayaby Augie D. Rivers
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Rivers, A. (2003). The legend of the bitter gourd. (A. Almario, Trans.). Philippines: Adarna House, Inc.
ISBN: 971-508-018-9
International Text – Filipino / Tagalog, English
Summary: The Ampalaya does not like the way he looks and is rather angry about it. In an attempt to transform himself to something more attractive, he secretly steals various colors, scents, and tastes from the other fruits and vegetables in his village. What happens to the Ampalaya becomes legend as to the bitter taste and unappealing color of the real Ampalaya vegetable.
Likes: I love the fact that this text is written in both languages. I found myself reading the English version and then looking back to the Fillipio version to “translate” it for myself. I definitely can see students doing this. The facial expressions on the various fruits and vegetables are awesome. It is very clear how the different fruits and vegetables feel without even having to read.
Dislikes: While students could determine that the author is describing various fruits, background knowledge of fruits that are native to countries other than the U.S. would be beneficial. In addition, the vocabulary used in this text is rather difficult while the plot is simple. Instructing students on using context clues might be necessary.
Audience: K – 3
Genre:  Folktale/Bilingual
Curriculum Connection:
* 2.RL.2 – Recount stories, including fables and folktales from diverse cultures, and determine their central message, lesson, or moral.
* 2.RL.7 – Use information gained from the illustrations and words in a print or digital text to demonstrate understanding of its characters, setting, or plot.
* 3.RL.2 – Recount stories, including fables, folktales, and myths from diverse cultures; determine the central message, lesson, or moral and explain how it is conveyed through key details in the text.
* 3.RL.3 – Describe characters in a story (e.g., their traits motivations, or feelings) and explain how their actions contribute to the sequence of events.
Promoting Literacy Development:
Strategy 22: Story Retelling – This strategy will assist students in their ability to retell folktales. Teachers should model all strategies prior to student’s independent work, but should include the following strategies: prediction, confirming, rereading, retelling, sharing, and comparing with others.
The Legend of the Bitter Gourd Reading (Bilingual)https://youtu.be/m4g9XcMFNGs
Amazon. (2015). The legend of the bitter gourd. [digital image]. Retrieved from
http://www.amazon.com/ALAMAT-AMPALAYA-Legend-Bitter-Gourd/dp/9715080189
Antonacci, P. & O’Callaghan, C. (2012). Promoting literacy development: 50 research-based strategies for K-8 learners. Los Angeles, CA: Sage Publications.
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Island: A Story of the Galapagosby Jason Chin511vpzvajxl-_sx388_bo1204203200_Chin, J. (2012). //Island: a story of the Galapagos.// [Kindle version]. New York, NY: Roaring Brook Press.
ISBN:  978-1-59643-716-6
Personal Library: Kindle eBook
Summary: This text describes the creation and transformation of the Galapagos Islands through illustrations and a timeline. The evolution of various animals and trees that make the islands their home are described in kid-friendly terms. To conclude, a statement about Charles Darwin’s research is provided as well as information of endemic species of animals.
Likes: The illustrations in the text make the text much more understandable and provide the reader with background knowledge they may not have. The eBook allows the reader to tap a picture to enlarge it, which makes reading an illustrated digital book more enjoyable. The process of evolution is also described to show readers how animals adapt to their environments or die. I think this would be a great text to begin a unit on animal adaptations.
Dislikes: I think the text would be more beneficial if the illustrations were actual photographs, when applicable. Images of the island obviously wouldn’t be possible, but if there were images of animals or plants living on the island and how they differ from the same animals and plants in other places would be helpful. The illustrations are very detailed, but photographs may be more telling.
Audience: K – 3rd
Reading Level: 5.8
Genre: eBook/Narrative Nonfiction
Curriculum Connection:
* 5.RI.3 – Explain the relationships or interactions between two or more individuals, events, ideas, or concepts in a historical, scientific, or technical text based on specific information in the text.
* 5.RI.5 – Analyze the structure of texts including how specific sentences, paragraphs, and larger portions of the text (e.g., a section, chapter, scene, or stanza) relate to each other and the whole.
* 5.RI.8 – Explain how an author uses reasons and evidence to support particular points in a text, identifying which reasons and evidence support which point(s).
Promoting Literacy Development:
To help students better understand informational texts, work together to help them note the sequence of events described in the text. After noting that the text described how the island changed over time, they will be better able to identify the text as sequential/chronological. Repeating the process used with additional texts, sequential and other structures, students will begin master the ability to interpret an author’s structure. Their comprehension will also benefit as a result of understanding text structure.
* Another strategy that can be used with this text is to determine the reasons and evidence the author provides to support the changes made on the Galapagos Island as well as the animals and plants living there. Students can use text evidence to find these reasons and the supporting details provided for each.
Chin, J. (2012). Island: a story of the Galapagos. [digital image]. Retrieved from http://jasonchin.net/books/island/
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The Day the Crayons Quitby Drew Daywalt51n2oeiwnql-_sx495_bo1204203200_Daywalt, D. (2013). The day the crayons quit. New York, NY: Philomel Books.
ISBN: 978-0-399-25537-3
Personal Library Text
Summary: Duncan, a young boy gets ready to use his crayons and finds letters written to him by the crayons. Each letter describes the crayons’ issues and what actions they’d like Duncan to take. The story is told only through the letters (epistolary style) but readers can still determine the dynamics of the crayon box just by reading each letter. In the end, Duncan does take some action to try and meet the needs of his crayons.
Likes: I love the humor that this book offers. The story is told through letters written by Duncan’s crayons and each crayon has its own personality. Students of all ages love this book as they can all remember a time when they hoped, or thought, their toys could come to life. This text provides numerous opportunities for teaching the Common Core standards regardless of the grade level. The illustrations are hilarious and help the reader gather knowledge about the text.
Dislikes: I wish Duncan, the audience of each crayon’s letters, would have responded back to each crayon after reading his/her letter. I think this would have shown students an example of the exchange of correspondence. Hopefully the author will write a sequel or other books using the epistolary style of storytelling.
Audience: K-3
Reading Level: 3.8
Genre: Epistolary/Picture Book
Curriculum Connection:
* K.RL.3 – With prompting and support, identify characters, settings, and major events in a story.
* 1.RL.6 – Identify who is telling the story at various points in a text.
* 2.RL.6 – Acknowledge differences in the points of view of characters, including by speaking in a different voice for each
character when reading dialogue aloud.
* 4.RL.3 – Describe in depth a character, setting, or event in a story or drama, drawing on specific details in the text (e.g., character’s thoughts, words, or actions.)
* 5.RL.6 – Describe how a narrator’s or speaker’s point of view influences how events are described.
Promoting Literacy Development:
* In order for students to meet the curriculum connections described above, the text needs to be read aloud. Allowing students to hear the text and read it on their own will help them determine who is talking, what they want from Duncan, and how they feel toward the other crayons. After students are familiar with the characters, they will then be able to analyze how their point of view influences the letter they wrote to Duncan.
* Students can also pose as Duncan and write a response letter back to one of the crayons, addressing his/her wants and needs. These letters can be shared with others and a class book can be created as a sequel to The Day the Crayons Quit.
Amazon. (2015). The day the crayons quit. [digital image]. Retrieved from http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51HoHYJv6TL._SX258_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg