picture book recommendations

All posts tagged picture book recommendations

Ninja Red Riding Hood, by Corey Rosen Schwartz

Published September 20, 2015 by Dagmar

Ninja Red Riding HoodI love fractured fairy tales. This one is one of my favorites. In Ninja Red Riding Hood, Corey Rosen Schwartz’s wolf is tired of struggling for his dinner. He’s decided that enough is enough. Time to go to the dojo for some martial arts lessons. He trains and he trains until one day, in the woods, he runs into Little Red Riding Hood. Perfect. Did someone say, dinner?

Wolf takes a short cut to Grandma’s house.  Grandma is not there, so Wolf slips into her nightgown and into her bed just in time to greet Red Riding Hood. Red Riding Hood, or Red for short, is suspicious. Why are Grandma’s eyes so big, ears so long, biceps to big, and teeth so sharp? Wolf leaps out of bed but is shocked to learn that Red went to Ninja school, too. Yikes. Evenly matched, wolf is still hopeful that he’ll have his dinner when in comes Grandma. She has been to Ninja school, too; and, Grandma looks fierce in her gi. In the blink of an eye, Red gets a grip on Wolf and flips him.

Wolf tries to give up and leave, but Grandma drives a hard bargain. If he wants to leave, he has to give up Red meat. (get it?) Wolf is stressed by this whole situation. He swears to give up red meat and decides to take up yoga. 🙂

Schwartz’s rhyming is great. Dan Santat’s illustrations are colorful and bold. The characters expressions are priceless. What a fun book. Lots of cheers from my second graders when I read this to them!

The Secret Shortcut, by Mark Teague

Published September 20, 2015 by Dagmar

Have you ever beSecretShortcuten late for school or work and no one believed your excuse? Wendell and Floyd have the worst luck.  The first day they go to school, they are nearly captured by space creatures.  Their teacher doesn’t believe them.  The second day, pirates are loose in the neighborhood.  The teacher does not believe them again.  On the third day, there is a plague of frogs.

Determined to finally get to school on time, they leave extra early one day and take Wendell’s secret shortcut.  This shortcut goes through a thick jungle, quick sand, sleeping crocodiles, a deep gorge and finally a big mud puddle.  It’s amazing, but they actually get to school on time, if a little muddy.  Their teacher, happy that they’re finally at school on time, decides that maybe she doesn’t really want to know why the boys are all muddy.

This is a fun read aloud that my second graders really loved.  It was a CA Young Readers’ Medal nominee in 2000.

Love Twelve Miles Long, by Glenda Armand

Published September 20, 2015 by Dagmar

This book is so touching, that honestly, it’s hard not to well up as I read it.  I shared this book with my third graders for African-AmLove Twelve Miles Longerican History Month in February.

Love Twelve Miles Long is the story of young Frederick Douglass, whose mother travels 12 miles each weekend to see him. She works in the corn fields. Frederick works in the Big House. The story begins as she is about to leave to return to her work. She is tucking him in to sleep. Frederick asks her about her long walk back to her home. She tells him that each mile has a special meaning and helps make the journey shorter. The first mile is for forgetting, the second for remembering, the third for listening, the fourth for looking up, the fifth for wondering, the sixth is for praying, the seventh is for singing, the eighth is for smiling, the ninth is for giving thanks, the tenth is for hoping, the eleventh is for dreaming and the twelve is for love. Each mile is another expression of love for her son and hope that they will be able to live together as a family when they are free.

Colin Bootman’s illustrations are beautiful and bring Armand’s text to life. My students study Frederick Douglass’ life and know that he learned to read, became a free man and a great leader. Now they have the opportunity to imagine his life as a child.

Blackout, by John Rocco

Published September 20, 2015 by Dagmar

blackoutIt’s summer.  It’s hot.  Everyone is busy – too busy to play a game with a little boy.  Mom is working.  Dad is cooking.  Older sister is on the phone.  So, the boy ends up playing video games by himself.  Until…the lights go out.

Huddled together with flashlights and candles, the family plays games.  When the apartment gets too hot, the family goes up to the roof and looks at the stars.  The whole neighborhood ends up on the rooftops – and down in the streets.  It may be a blackout, but it’s a party, too.  When the lights come back on, the family turns the lights right back off. 🙂

This book makes you feel good.  It has great colorful, playful illustrations and was a real hit with my students.  Enjoy!

Muncha! Muncha! Muncha! by Candace Fleming

Published September 19, 2015 by Dagmar

MunchaHave you ever really wanted to do something and then had the chance to do it?  Well, Mr. McGreely had just such a moment.  He’d wanted a garden so that he could plant vegetables and then gobble them all up.  Unfortunately for Mr. McGreely, there are very cute little bunnies who want nothing more than to gobble all those vegetables, too. (Muncha, Muncha, Muncha).  Mr. McGreely does NOT want bunnies eating his vegetables.  So, he builds a small fence around his garden.  “And the sun went down. And the moon came up. And- Tippy-tippy-tippy, Pat! Spring-hurdle, Dash! Dash! Dash! Muncha! Muncha! Muncha!”  Those bunnies ate those vegetables again.  Each day Mr. McGreely improves the fortifications around his garden.  And each day, “…the sun went down. And the moon came up,” and those bunnies got into the garden.  Finally, Mr. McGreely builds a wall that no bunny, no matter how clever, could ever defeat.  Mr. McGreely is happy.  Little does he know that those little bunnies crawled into his basket when he wasn’t looking!  When it’s time for Mr. McGreely to pick his vegetables, he picks up the basket and climbs a big ladder to get to his garden.  He picks his vegetables and places them in his basket.  As he reaches into the basket, “Muncha! Muncha! Muncha!” Oh no!

Thanks to a friend and volunteer at my school who recommended this book to me as a great read aloud for spring.  She was right!  My students loved it.

The Case for Loving, by Selina Alko

Published March 16, 2015 by Dagmar

I love looking for new books to share with my students during African-American history month.  This year, I found quite a few that I really enjoyed for all ages.  This book really resonated with my the case for lovingfourth and fifth graders.

The Case for Loving is the story of the marriage of Richard Loving, a white man, and Mildred Jeter, an African-American woman.  The Lovings lived in Central Point, Virginia.  In 1959, interracial marriage was illegal in Virginia and 16 other states; so, the Lovings went to Washington, D.C. to get married.  Upon return to their home in Virginia, the Lovings were arrested for illegal cohabitation and sent to jail.  (I heard gasps from my students.  It does make you gasp, doesn’t it?)  They were told to move out of Virginia if they wanted to live together.  The Lovings moved to Washington, D.C. and had three children; but, they were not happy with their new urban life.  The Lovings wanted to return to Virginia where they could live in the countryside.  “By now it was 1966, and the times they were a changin’.”  The Lovings moved back to Central Point and filed a lawsuit, Loving v. Virginia.  The Loving case went all the way to the Supreme Court.  Richard and Mildred did not attend the Supreme Court hearings.  Their lawyers read Richard’s words to the justices, “Tell the Court I love my wife, and it is just unfair that I can’t live with her in Virginia.”  These words were so plain and so honest, they resonated with all my students.

The Lovings were victorious in their battle and nine years after marrying, they were able to legally move back to Virginia to live.

When I finished reading this book, my students all asked if this book was true.  I found the author’s note at the end of the book particularly poignant.  Selina Alko, a white, Jewish woman, married Sean Qualls, an African-American man and one of the illustrators of this book, in 2003,  having benefitted from the Lovings fight for justice so long ago.

How to Hide a Lion, Helen Stephens

Published February 5, 2015 by Dagmar

I love it when I find a great book for my preschool and TK students.  How to Hide a Lion is a sweet book with endearing illustrations.

how-to-hide-a-lionLion comes to town looking for a hat.  Everyone is scared of him, so he runs away.  He ends up in the backyard of a strong and very brave girl named Iris.  Iris finds Lion in  her playhouse.  Lion is much too big to hide in her playhouse.  So, Iris takes him inside her house.  First, she grooms him and puts a bandage on his hurt paw.  Then, she tries to hide him.  Iris succeeds for a while, but while reading a story to Lion, he falls fast asleep.  It happens that lions are very hard to wake up.  Lions that are hard to wake up are unable to hide quickly.  Needless to say, disaster strikes.  Iris’ mom discovers Lion, screams, and Lion is on the run again.  He decides to hide in plain site, sitting still, between two statues next to the Town Hall.  Unfortunately for two crooks, and fortunately for Iris’ town, Lion’s hiding place is the perfect place to catch crooks leaving the Town Hall with the mayor’s candlesticks.  The towns people, no longer scared of Lion, honor him and present him with a …hat.  Of course.

I was charmed by this book as were my students.  Please enjoy.