All posts for the month November, 2012

My Weird School and My Weird School Daze, by Dan Gutman and Jim Paillot

Published November 29, 2012 by Dagmar

my weird schoolI can’t say enough about these very funny book series.  These books are among the most popular books in my library.  I bought them because my son read every single book in the two series in second grade.  This is great for second grade or for reluctant readers in older grades.  There are lots of books in the series, so plenty of material for students to enjoy.


Little White Rabbit, by Kevin Henkes

Published November 29, 2012 by Dagmar

littlewhiterabbitI had never read this book by Kevin Henkes and didn’t know what to expect.  I loved that the little white rabbit imagined himself as different things.  This gave me a great opportunity to ask my preschoolers to close their eyes and imagine with the little white rabbit.  The illustrations are beautiful, in a wonderful green and pastel pallet that is pleasing and soothing at the same time.

Synopsis: Little white rabbit wonders what it would be like to be green, to be as tall as a fir tree, to flutter like a butterfly and as still as a stone.  When he runs from a cat, he runs home.  “Little white rabbit wondered about many things, but he didn’t wonder who loved him.”

Big Red Barn, by Margaret Wise Brown

Published November 29, 2012 by Dagmar

big red barnThis is a wonderful pre-school read aloud.  The rhyming is very nice as are the illustrations.  It give you a great way to talk about farms (I work in an urban school) and to interact with students as they “help” me make farm noises.  Best of all, the book ends in such a peaceful way that all those wiggly bodies settle down and are ready for another book.

Synopsis: A day begins on a farm.  The people are away, so only animals are there to play.  There are horses, donkeys, roosters, hens, sheep, goats, mice, bats, cats, and even a scarecrow.  They all live and sleep in a big red barn.

One for the Murphys, by Lynda Mullaly Hunt

Published November 28, 2012 by Dagmar

oneforthemurphysWhat a book!  I read it in one night and was moved to tears by the end of the book.  Carley, the main character, has a wry sense of humor that I think middle schoolers and tweens can really relate to.  What really recommends this book, though, is the fact that the sixth grader I recommended it to didn’t want to return this book to the library but wanted to keep it because she loved it so much.

Synopsis: Carley Connors ends up in foster care while her mother recovers after being attacked by her stepfather.  Carley’s foster mom is Julie Murphy, is a a pretty suburban mom with three small boys.  Carley, who was also attacked by her stepfather is haunted by the memory of the attack and has a hard time liking the Murphys.  She says of her new home, “The whole place smells like dryer sheets.  Reminds me of the Lucky’s Laundromat back in Vegas, but it isn’t nearly as bright.”  Carley slowly starts to accept her foster family and even makes a friend at school.  Everything is going well until Carley’s mom wakes from her coma and Carley has to go home.

Over the River and Through the Wood, by Lydia Maria Child

Published November 28, 2012 by Dagmar

A timeless classic with beautiful woodcut illustrations by Christopher Manson.  Perfect for a Thanksgiving holiday read for younger students.  My students love to sing it with me (even if they don’t know all the words). 😉


The Garden of Abdul Gasazi, by Chris Van Allsburg

Published November 28, 2012 by Dagmar

This book combines wonderful black and white drawings with an element of magic that really works for older students, because there is just enough mystery to leave listeners wondering what really happened.  I love to read it to third graders.

Synopsis: Miss Hester owns a naughty dog named Fritz.  Alan is watching Fritz while Miss Hester is gone.  When Alan takes Fritz for a walk, Fritz tugs the leash and runs away – straight into the garden of Abdul Gasazi, a retired magician.  Unfortunately, Mr. Gasazi’s garden is clearly marked with a sign that says ABSOLUTELY, POSITIVELY NO DOGS ALLOWED.  When Alan meets Mr. Gasazi, he politely asks for Fritz back but is dismayed to learn that Abdul Gasazi turns naughty, straying dogs into ducks.  Convinced that Fritz is now a duck, Alan returns to Miss Hester’s house, only to find Fritz safely at home.

A Bad Case of Stripes, by David Shannon

Published November 28, 2012 by Dagmar

A bad case of stripesMy third graders were so happy when I read this funny book today.  It delivers a great message about staying true to yourself.  Written by a student favorite author, David Shannon, this book is full of great, full colorful illustrations that really capture my listeners’ attention.

Synopsis: Camilla loves lima beans.  But, admitting that she likes lima beans will make her unpopular at school.  So, Camilla doesn’t eat lima beans.  Unfortunately, one day, Camilla wakes up with her body covered with stripes.  Her doctor declares her fine to go to school; but, when she goes to school, Camilla’s classmates quickly realize that they can change her colors by talking about different things.  Her parents call in specialists and then experts.  All their prescriptions end in disaster until an old lady comes to the door with…you guessed it…lima beans.  Camilla decides that being unpopular because she likes lima beans is much better than the alternative.

A Sick Day for Amos McGee, by Philip C. Stead

Published November 17, 2012 by Dagmar

amosmcgeeA sweet story about friendship. Great for pre-school and kindergarten read alouds.

Synopsis: Amos McGee is a zookeeper who takes the bus each day to go to the zoo.  Although he has lots of work to do, he always finds time for his friends.  The elephant loves chess, the tortoise loves to race, the penguin loves to sit quietly, the rhinoceros always needs a handkerchief for his runny nose, and the owl likes to have stories read to him, because he is afraid of the dark.  When Amos is sick and can’t come to work, the animals get on the bus and go to see him.  One by one, they take care of Amos, just as he always takes care of them.

Lucy Dove, by Janice Del Negro

Published November 17, 2012 by Dagmar

lucydoveLucy Dove is terrific read aloud for 3rd-5th graders that will keep even those who think they’re too old for read aloud hanging on your every word.  I love the illustrations, especially when I turn the page and students see the picture of the bogle.

Synopsis: A superstitious laird hears that he’ll find good luck if someone can sew a pair of trousers in the moonlight in the graveyard at St. Andrew’s church.  Many men have gone to the graveyard at night and have disappeared.  Lucy Dove is an old seamstress who was fired from the laird household, because she stitches too slowly.  She wants to win that bag of gold, so that she can buy herself a house by the sea for her retirement.  She bastes together cloth into a pair of trousers and goes to the churchyard at midnight to sew the pieces together.  The monster (bogle) that appears in the moonlight is, indeed, scary and threatening.  But Lucy, in her very cool manner, lets him know that he’s no big deal.  The story ends in an exciting chase scene.

The Perfect Present, by Fiona Robertson

Published November 16, 2012 by Dagmar

perfectpresentWith messages about friendship and just the right amount of suspense this wonderful book really captured the attention of my 2nd graders.   The book is broken up into small chapters, which I think add to the suspense.  I enjoyed the simple illustrations.

Synopsis: It’s Henry’s birthday.  He is just about to open a special birthday present from his pet duck, Spot, when his grandparents arrive with a pet puppy.  Henry forgets all about Spot’s present and rushes off to play with his new puppy.  Spot is disappointed and thinks that Henry no longer needs him, now that he has a new puppy as a pet.  Spot runs away.  While trying to cross a river in a storm, Spot gets stuck in a tree.  Luckily, Henry’s new dog tracks Spot to the river.  Using the fishing rod Spot bought for him, Henry is able to save both his puppy and Spot.  Henry and Spot agree that the puppy can be their perfect pet.