Many thanks to Amélie of Amélie’s Bookshelf for recommending this terrific book. It provided a great opportunity to talk to my kindergarten students about authors and illustrators and whether illustrators always had to draw or paint the pictures to a book. In this case, Olivier Toppin has taken photographs of stuffed animals with real props in order to illustrate the book.
As I read this to my kindergarteners, they were held in great suspense, some said they were even scared as we read it. Trust me, this is a very gentle book with a kindergarten-sized villain and two really good guys, named Benjamin and Bumper.
When Benjamin’s mom goes off to do errands and doesn’t return, Benjamin and Bumper set out to find her. Luckily, they are very practical animals, packing lots of tools that they might need for their search and rescue mission, including: their scooter, ropes, ladders, a sewing kit, a fishing pool and some tools. When they discover that Mrs. Middlemouse has been captured by the terrible Sir Pouncelot, they’ll need all these various things in order to save her from becoming an ingredient in one of his dinner casseroles.
Will Benjamin and Bumper be able to save Benjamin’s mom? Will Sir Pouncelot learn a lesson? Tune in to this, the first of the Benjamin and Bumper Adventure series, to find out!
Quest is the incredible sequel to Aaron Becker’s 2014 Caldecott Honor Book, Journey. It, like Journey, is a wordless book with breathtaking illustrations.
I particularly like to use wordless books with my fourth graders. They are a restless bunch, usually wanting to talk amongst themselves rather than listen to a read aloud. With a book like Quest, I stand in front of my students and page through the book for them as they “read” it to themselves.
Even those students who were reluctant to pay attention quieted quickly. Quest held their attention so well, you could only hear the whispers as they “read” this book and said soft “aahhs” at the beautiful illustrations. At the end, my intractable group smiled and clapped. They loved it!
Quest begins at the end of Journey. (To be sure my students understood this, I showed them Journey first and then Quest.) The two children, a boy holding a purple crayon and a girl holding a red crayon, meet a king who gives them a written message, with multiple colors on it. The king is abducted by soldiers and taken away. The boy and girl use their crayons to try to save the king using the clues in the message he gave them. To see if they succeed, read this wonderful book and enjoy.
Here’s a great book that worked well with my pre-k through K students. They really enjoyed it. Susan Shea cleverly takes readers from things that are organic and grow and things that won’t grow with rhyming text and unfolding pages.
“If a duckling grows and becomes a duck, can a car grow and become (unfold the page) a truck?” “If an owlet grows and becomes an owl, can a washcloth grow and become (unfold) a towel?”
This is lots of fun to read to young students. When they see what (inorganic thing) the author thinks might grow, they laugh and yell (in their best library voices), “NO!”
Have fun with this one! Many thanks to my friend, Leona, a story teller at our school, for this wonderful recommendation!
For those of us who see ourselves as inventors, scientists, or just creative types, we know the frustration of trying to recreate the vision in our heads. So it goes for a “regular girl and her best friend in the whole wide world.”
The girl sets out to build the “most magnificent thing”, “easy-peasy”. She gathers materials, hires an assistant (her dog) and starts to build. When she is finished, she is “shocked to discover that the thing isn’t magnificent.” Determined to get it right, she tinkers, adjusts, examines and builds many things. None of them fit the image in her head; and, needless to say, none of them are magnificent. Finally, she gets MAD. Completely losing her patience with the creative process, she starts smashing, jamming and pummeling her creation and in the process smashes her finger. “It is not her finest moment.” Her assistant, the essence of calm, holding his leash in his mouth, suggests a walk to clear her head. She has a hard time calming down, but after a while, “the mad gets pushed out of her head.” She starts to see some good elements in each of her earlier designs and sets out to try again. Finally, she finishes her creation. It isn’t exactly what she imagined, but turns out to be a most magnificent thing.
I think everyone that reads this book will totally relate to this girl’s emotions as she creates her magnificent thing. Ashley Spires is not only a gifted author, but also a very gifted illustrator. I loved absolutely loved this book, and so did my students.
This is a very peaceful book about the changing seasons and the coming of winter. Beautiful illustrations by Jill Kastner are a great accompaniment to Cynthia Rylant’s words.
“In November, the earth is growing quiet. It is making its bed, a winter bed for flowers and small creatures.” “In November, some birds move away and some birds stay.” “In November, the smell of food is different. It is an orange smell. A squash and a pumpkin smell.”
The story talks about the animals, birds, trees and finally ends with a family joining in a special meal, presumably Thanksgiving. This is a wonderful book to share with your younger students as Thanksgiving approaches.
Here’s a fun read for your younger Halloween fans. This book is a perennial favorite at my school. I usually read it with kindergarten, pre-k and 1st grade students around Halloween and love to have them join in with me as I read.
There once was a little old lady who wasn’t afraid of anything. As she walks in the woods, she is followed, first by shoes that go CLOMP, CLOMP. Then, she is followed by pants that go WIGGLE WIGGLE, a shirt that goes SHAKE SHAKE. Each time, she turns and says “Get out of my way, I’m not afraid of you!”. When she gets home, who should knock on the door, but the shoes, pants, shirt and a pumpkin head all trying to scare her. When she says she’s not afraid, the pumpkin head looks so sad that she comes up with a great way for him to scare someone. Read the book to find out how!
Fletcher and the Falling Leaves is one of my favorite fall books. Fletcher is a little fox who discovers that his favorite tree is changing. He begins to worry about his tree when the tree’s leaves turn brown and then begin dropping off. Fletcher tries to fix his tree, trying to tie the leaves back onto the tree. He is distraught when a squirrel and porcupine make off with the fallen leaves. When the tree is finally bare, Fletcher takes the last leaf and makes a little bed for it in his room. The next day, winter has arrived, and Fletcher is amazed at the sight of his tree shimmering with icicles.
This story is very sweet, but what really makes it a keeper are the incredible illustrations of Tiphanie Beeke. Her water colors are beautiful, and my students always love the last “shimmery” page.
I love to read this to my K-1 students and talk to them about the life cycles of trees.