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Sunday, March 5, 2017

Once Upon an Alphabet by Oliver Jeffers

AR Level: 4.1
AR Points: 0.5
AR Quiz Number: 228079
Page Count: 112 pages

Oliver Jeffers is back at it again. I pulled this book from our shelves the other day and sat down to take a quick look.... I ended up sitting there till I had ripped through the entire thing. Now typically, I am not a huge fan of ABC books. They seem simple and lazy to me, and of course I don't need help remembering the alphabet, so I am generally not interested. Once Upon an Alphabet is different.

While most ABC books, have one distinct word for the letter page it is on, in Once Upon an Alphabet a short story is told over around 3 pages per each letter. In the story the letter is used a number of times in the quirky little tale, before we move on to the next story. Each story is different, and yet occasionally characters and themes pop back up later in the book. Whimsical and fun, Once Upon an Alphabet is by far my favorite ABC book. Be forewarned, this is not a 26 page book. Stretching over 122 pages, this book might take more than one sitting to read through with your little ones.

For more information you can check out the web site below....

or visit me at www.facebook.com/mssmithreads/

Ben's Dream by Chris Van Allsburg

AR Level: 2.4
AR Points: 0.5
AR Quiz Number: 69055
Page Count:32

I can relate to this book... the kid is supposed to be studying and passes out instead, dreaming of the places mentioned on his pages. It feels familiar. This quick read relies mostly on the illustrations and not the text, which is just fine since illustrations are Chris Van Allsburg's strength. Once Ben enters his dreaming state, there is no text and simply an illustrated and watery trip around the world.

Van Allsburg likes to add little twists at the end of his stories to help tie things together, which sometimes works out for him and sometimes it doesn't. This one wasn't one of his stronger attempts. The children simply find out that they saw each other in their dreams. Soooo? Regardless, your kids and students will enjoy the book and it would make a fun brain break from studying or working hard on something.

For more information you can check out the web site below....

or visit me at www.facebook.com/mssmithreads/

Michael's Golden Rules by Deloris Jordan and Roselyn M. Jordan

AR Level: 3.1
AR Points:0.5
AR Quiz Number: 110634
Page Count: 32

In an attempt to find a good fit for some my choosy male readers, I stocked my media center with a few sports chapter books at the beginning of the year. Unfortunately, they weren't a big hit with the boys I had hoped them for. On the bright side, I've had a few girls actually pick them up and read them, then come in bragging that they now know a lot about football. Surprise twist! So I supposed they weren't a waste.

While the boys like the sports book covers in theory, the chunkiness of the chapter books scared them off. While I know that they could read a longer chapter book, they just don't want to have to focus and struggle through one thing for that long. In re-thinking my strategy, I am going to try and offer them more beginner reader sports chapter books, graphic novels, and even a few picture books. Michael's Golden Rules by Deloris Jordan and Roselyn Jordan might just be the perfect fit.

With an introduction written by Michael Jordan, and brilliant illustrations by Kadir Nelson, this book will definitely get the boys' (and girls') attention. Focusing on common tropes of sportsmanship, this book gives examples of a young boy on the baseball field working with his team and not coming undone with defeat.

When I started reading this, I was afraid that the arc of the book would be that after a little practice the boys are finally able to succeed at what they are trying to do, but I was happy to find that in fact, they do not win their big game in the end despite working hard and getting along as a team a little better. I like this ending because, so often that is how these things play out, and athletic and competitive kids need good examples of how to lose gracefully and not let it crush them. With all of the pressure we put on kids these days over games, it is not easy for them to understand and accept defeat in a mature way. In life we all eventually come up against someone who is better than us at something, so we need to learn how to handle that.

For more information you can check out this interview with the author done by NPR by clicking on the link below...

or visit me at www.facebook.com/mssmithreads/

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Du Iz Tak? by Carson Ellis

Page Count: 48 Pages

The Caldecott's and other awards were announced at the end of January, and this year on the Honor list was this little gem, Du Iz Tak? by Carson Ellis. Following a little colony of insects, the reader is taken on a whimsical journey over the course of several changing seasons, watching our little bug friends explore, build, have set backs, and then start over again.

The element of this book that makes it charming, also makes it a bit difficult. All of the text in this book is written in a non-sense bug language. It is cute, and attentive children and adults can definitely figure it out, but it does make the read aloud challenging, and I would imagine young readers might get frustrated because these are not words they know.

When planning a read aloud for this book, read it twice first. Your ability to inflect your voice appropriately once you've figured out what certain words mean, will help the students/ children comprehend what is happening better. In a way, this book provides for a us a good reminder of what it is like to look at a page full of words you do not understand. This book might contribute well to a lesson about using context clues.

If you recall, the Caldecott Awards are given out to books with outstanding illustrations, and in that way Du Iz Tak? does not disappoint. Something about it makes me want to see it animated, so let's get on that, Youtubers!

For more information on Du Iz Tak? you can visit Carson Ellis' website at http://www.carsonellis.com 
and as always, I would love for you to visit me at www.facebook.com/mssmithreads