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All posts for the month January, 2014

The Mountain that Loved a Bird, by Alice McLerran

Published January 24, 2014 by Dagmar

themountainthatlovedI was drawn to this book because of Eric Carle’s illustrations.  As I read The Mountain that Loved a Bird, I really fell in love with it, as did my students.  It’s a book filled with longing, friendship and dedication.

Joy is a bird that lands on the side of a mountain.  The mountain is lonely.  When it hears Joy’s beautiful singing it asks her to stay.  Joy says that she can not stay, because there is no food or water for her on the mountain.  She says that she’ll return every year to visit and sing to the mountain.  She also says that she’ll name her daughter Joy and her daughter will name her daughter Joy so that every year bird named Joy will visit the mountain to sing to it.  Each year, Joy returns and each year, the mountain begs Joy to leave and is sad when it’s time for Joy to leave.  One year, the mountain is so sad that it cries, and a stream of tears starts running down the mountain.  The next year, Joy brings a seed with her and drops it near the stream.  Over the course of years, the seed grows roots and draws water from the cracks deep within the mountain.  Soon, more plants grow, and the mountain’s tears of sadness grow into tears of happiness at everything growing around the mountain.  The book closes with Joy bringing a twig to begin her nest on the mountain. She tells the mountain, finally, that she is there to stay.

This is such a beautiful book.  I hope you enjoy it.

Rosie’s Walk by Pat Hutchins

Published January 20, 2014 by Dagmar

Rosie's WalkI do so love an oldie but goodie.  Rosie’s Walk was published in 1968.  Rosie, a hen, is going for a walk.  Little does she realize that there is a hungry fox following her everywhere.  As Rosie walks, fox steps on a rake, falls into a pond, falls into a haystack, has a bag of flour emptied on him and then falls into a wheelbarrow which rolls into bee hives. Rosie completely misses all of the action behind her.  She finally ends up at her chicken coop, just in time for dinner.  Every time I turned the pages, my students would shriek with laughter when they saw what happened to the poor fox.  They were very cute.

I read this to my TK (Transkinder) class, with students who just missed the cutoff for kindergarten.  They absolutely loved this book.  I then tried it with my preschoolers and found that they had a harder time following this book.  I’d recommend it for TK through 1st grade audiences.

So if you’re looking for a quick, funny read for your young students, here it is.

My Brother Martin, by Christine King Farris

Published January 17, 2014 by Dagmar

my brother martinI have some favorite books to read when celebrating Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday and his tremendous life.  One, is Martin’s Big Words, by Doreen Rappaport.  Like me, most teachers love Martin’s Big Words as well.  So finding something different but accessible to young audiences is a always a challenge for me in the library.

Here is a book that I discovered this year that I love for younger audiences.  Published in 2006, it provides a different perspective on this great man’s life that students haven’t heard before.  When I introduce this book to my students, I remind them that before Dr. King became “Dr. King”, he was a child just like them.  My Brother Martin was written by Christine King Farris, Dr. King’s older sister.

In My Brother Martin, Ms. King Farris tells of Dr. King’s childhood on Auburn Street in Atlanta, Georgia.  There are funny pranks that the children, Christine, M.L. (Martin Luther) and their younger brother A.D. (Alfred Daniel) played on neighbors and their piano teacher.  These stories made all my students smile.  Ms. King Farris also tells of the painful time when the children of a white store owner on their street were no longer allowed to play with Negroes (a word I had to explain to my younger students).  The white family sold their store and moved away.  After years of shielding their children from the injustice and cruelty dealt to black people, this episode brought all that home.  Christine, M.L. and A.D. were confused about why their friends would no longer play with them.  Their mother explained about all the “Whites Only” signs.  She also told her children that this injustice was there, “Because they just don’t understand that everyone is the same, but someday, it will be better.”  M.L. then replied, “Mother Dear, one day I’m going to turn this world upside down.”  And that he did.

M.L. and his sister and brother now were aware of segregation.  They watched as their father, a minister at Ebenezer Baptist Church spoke out against it and how he practiced what he preached.  Their father did not allow others to treat him differently because of his skin color and took his business elsewhere when store owners did.  Their parents’ example and the pain of their childhood friends’ leaving provided the inspiration for Dr. King’s pursuit of justice.

This is a heartening and inspiring story of Dr. King that provides insights other books don’t provide.  I highly recommend it to elementary school audiences.  The illustrations by Chris Soentpiet are wonderful.

The Name of this Book is Secret, by Pseudonymous Bosch

Published January 14, 2014 by Dagmar

the name of this bookHere’s a mystery that has never failed to please my students.  It’s not only a good mystery, it’s funny, quirky, a little dark, has an adventurous main character with a loyal and helpful friend.  Best of all, it leaves readers wanting more.  (Luckily, there are five books in this series.)

This book begins with the words, “WARNING: DO NOT READ BEYOND THIS PAGE!’  Even the only slightly curious would want to turn the page.  And, being more than slightly curious, I did turn the page, only to read the words, “Good.  Now I know I can trust you.  You’re curious.  You’re brave.  And you’re not afraid to lead a life of crime.”  🙂  The first chapter consists of all “x’s”.  Yes, there are no words; because, of course, the first chapter would have revealed the names of the characters, the place where the story takes place and the dates.  All those things are, well, secret.

I can tell you this: The main character’s name is Cassandra, and she is a survivalist.  She goes no where without her backpack of survival gear.  She lives alone with her mother and often visits her mom’s friends, Grandpa Larry and Grandpa Wayne.  Cass discovers a box called the “Symphony of Secrets”, learns that it came from the house of a dead magician.  She and her new friend, a boy named Max-Ernest, believe that the magician is actually alive and crying out for help.  This, coupled with the disappearance of a strange boy from school lead them on a chase to save the magician and the missing boy.

I read this book to my son years ago, and we absolutely loved it.  Since then, I’ve recommended it to countless students who never fail to come back to get book number two, If You’re Reading This, It’s Too Late.  Don’t miss this great book!

Red Sled, by Lita Judge

Published January 12, 2014 by Dagmar

red sledI’m a huge fan of wordless books for kids.  This genre has really grown.  It includes books for young students, like one of my favorites, A Ball for Daisy, by Chris Raschka, and complex and beautiful wordless books like The Arrival, by Shaun Tan, meant for middle schoolers.

Younger students and particularly students who aren’t reading yet get such a feeling of confidence when they can read a story on their own.  In the case of my library, students sit quietly and watch the story unfold as I turn the pages for them.  Sometimes I have them tell me the story that they just “read”.  This time, we just closed the book and smiled.

The Red Sled is not a completely wordless book.  The only words that appear are onamatopoeias. The book opens with a red sled sitting outside a house in the snow.  A bear wanders by and notices the sled.  He decides to take it for a ride, and what a wild ride it is!  Soon, a rabbit joins him, then a moose, then two raccoons, an opposum, a porcupine and a mouse.  The illustrations are wonderful, particularly the animals expressions as they tumble down the hill on the red sled. My students were so quiet as they read the book, then, they started smiling and soon they were laughing out loud.  After the animals finish their sled ride, the bear replaces the sled at the door of the small house.  The child who owns the sled walks out the next day, picks up his sled and notices bear tracks.  The book closes with the child swinging from the antlers of the moose as the animals go on another sled right that night.

This is a sweet, quick book that kids will really love.