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.
Here is a great, simple book about fall for young students. I like to read this with my pre-k and K students. The book begins with leaves in summer and then moves to how we know fall is here…leaves changing color and falling from trees. The simple illustrations show children catching falling leaves, collecting different leaves and comparing them, raking leaves and finally jumping in leaves! The children then drink warm cider and make pictures using the leaves they’ve collected.
Grouch, Grump and little Gloom ‘n’ Doom are monsters. They each think they are biggest, baddest monster. They spend their time arguing and trying to best each other. Then, they decide to settle their argument with tape, gunk, glue and a lightning bolt. The monster they create will be truly horrible and will scare everyone in the monster-fearing village just down the hill from their castle.
What a surprise when their terrible, giant monster doesn’t realize that he’s a monster. His first words are “Dank you!” He then proceeds to greet all the bats, snakes and other creatures in the room – much to Grouch, Grump and little Gloom ‘n’ Doom’s chagrin.
They are hopeful when their monster goes down the hill to town, sure that he’ll wreak havoc there. They are disappointed again as their monster goes inside the bakery and then leaves it with a “Dank you!” and a white paper bag. The monster goes to the beach and sits. The three little monsters sit next to him. When their monster hands them each a powdery jelly donut, they do something they don’t do often. They say, “Thank you.”
This is a funny, sweet book that my students loved. Enjoy.
I was drawn to this book because of the illustrations by Frederic Clement. They are beautiful. I was delighted that the story is beautiful as well.
Teiji is a famous painter whose paintings are sought after by people far and wide. One day, while he is painting, he sees a beautiful flock of birds fly by. The birds are the most beautiful that he has ever seen. So beautiful, in fact, that he cannot paint anymore. He goes off in search of the birds. He walks and walks until he finds an old man. The old man tells him that the birds are wild swans who come from Siberia and spend the winter on an island in the middle of the lake. The old man warns Teiji that it is dangerous to cross the lake in the winter, because of the ice. Teiji says that he can’t paint unless he sees that real beauty again. He feels such a strong need to see the birds that he sells everything he has, with the exception of his brushes and paints, and gives it to the old man for his boat. Teiji takes the boat across the lake. When the ice breaks the hull and the boat capsizes, Teiji is plunged into the icy water. Freezing, but determined to see the beautiful birds again, he drags himself to the island. There he sees the wild swans. He realizes that true beauty is impossible to capture in a painting and is grateful that he has had the chance to see the birds before he dies.
My students were very quiet while I read this book. I think they were taken in by the fact that Teiji would give away everything he had just to see the birds again. Although adults reading the book understand that Teiji has died at the end of the book, not all students do. We often spend time discussing the ending as so few books end this way. This is a thoughtful, beautiful book.
Interestingly, Claude Clement and Frederic Clement are not related. Please note that both their last names should appear with l’accent aigu over the first “e”.
Here’s a really fun read aloud. I read this to students from our transitional kindergarten, kindergarten and first grade. All of them LOVED this book.
Black Rabbit comes out of his burrow into the bright sunlight. He sees a big black rabbit behind him and is very scared. He runs from Black Rabbit, but Black Rabbit runs after him. Rabbit hides behind a tree but when he comes out from behind the tree there is big Black Rabbit. All my students yelled out, “It’s his shadow!”, but this book has a couple of great twists that kept them totally interested until the end.
My students all immediately said, “Read it again!” Don’t miss this great book. A Junior Library Guild selection.
This is one of my favorite books to read to my Pre-k – Kindergarten students. People constantly underestimate young children’s abilities, and in this case? Big chickens underestimate chicks, until they find out just how smart a little chick can be.
Every morning, Hen takes her three chicks, Big Chick, Middle Chick and Little Chick to go eat sweet itty-bitty beans and potato bugs. Until one day, when a dog, tied up near the garden, barks at them as they head to the garden. Hen decides they better go back home and eat chicken feed, but the chicks don’t want chicken feed. Big Chick tries to reason with the big dog. The dog barks, and Big Chick runs under his mother’s wing. The same happens with Middle Chick. Then, Little Chick, the hero of our story, realizes that if he makes the dog run around the tree, the dog will tie himself up. So, Little Chick runs, tippy-toe, tippy-toe, around the tree with the big dog chasing him until the dog ties himself up. Little Chick leads his family past the dog to the garden for sweet itty-bitty beans and potato bugs.
A great, fun read for all your small, clever chicks.
The beautiful princess kisses the frog. The frog becomes a prince, and the prince and princess live happily ever after. Right? Well, unfortunately, in Jon Scieszka’s fractured fairy tale, the marriage is not one made in heaven.
The Princess is annoyed that the Prince keeps sticking out his tongue and hopping on the furniture. She wishes the Prince would just go out and slay a dragon. The Prince, upset that the Princess won’t hang out at the pond with him, is miserable.
They need a change. When the Princess says she wishes the Prince would just turn back into a frog, the Prince has an idea. He leaves the castle in search of a witch who can turn him back into a frog. He finds plenty of witches in the woods. The first wants to cast a nasty spell on him so he won’t wake up Sleeping Beauty, the second wants to feed him a poison apple so he won’t bother Snow White, one invites him into her gingerbread house, the fourth turns him into a carriage. He escapes from all four witches and sits, lonely, in the dark woods. The Prince realizes that he really belongs at home with the Princess who took a chance and kissed him when he was a frog. So, the Prince goes home to his worried Princess and kisses her. They both turn into frogs and live happily ever after.
This is a fun read aloud for older students who will love recognizing familiar fairy tales, Steve Johnson’s creative illustrations and Jon Scieszka’s funny re-imaginining of the Frog Prince.