Children’s Book Reading Extravaganza 2010: Picture Books #91-87

Welcome back to the third edition of The Children’s Book Reading Extravaganza 2010 – the Picture Book List.

Starting us off today at #91 is Dinosaur Bob and His Adventures With the Family Lazardo by William Joyce.  I’ve seen this book in passing but never read it… and every time I discover a new book through this list, I am beyond excited.  Nerd out much?  Who, meee?

Dinosaur Bob and His Adventures with the Family Lazardo (Reading Rainbow Book) (Reminder: click on images for links.)

While the Lazardo family is on safari in Africa (Geez, tough life!), their son Scotty comes home with a dinosaur and they decide to keep him…you know, since he looks like their Uncle Bob and all.  (*eye brow raise*)  Bob loves the family and everyone in town seems to love him too, until Bob chases cars down the street after observing some dogs do the same thing.  Bob is arrested and the police decide to send him back to Africa.  Clearly people are upset.  Dr. Lazardo has a brilliant idea, and in the middle of the night, sneaks Bob out of jail with the help of the beloved local baseball team.  The next day, Bob is officially made a member of the baseball team, the team wins the big game (with Bob’s help of course…because OF COURSE the dinosaur is a whiz at baseball) and Bob no longer has to go back to Africa. 

I mean, bizaare, right?  Just strange.  But the illustrations are lovely, the story is…interesting and the ending is happy.  I would definitely use this in my classroom, but it might be one of those books that I put off to the side for those dreaded extra ten minutes after the assembly but before lunch that you weren’t planning on and/or for the old emergency sub plan.  What with the inability of most public schools to plan ahead (seriously, the calendaring skills can be SHOCKING), you never know when a sub will magically show up at your day and tell you you’re late for a meeting you’ve never heard about before.  Stranger things have happened.  So, totes tuck this one away for just such an occassion. 

Coming in at #90 is Not a Box by Antionette Portis – yet another new title for moi, although I have seen it many times as I glance longingly at the wonderful wall of picture books in the Children’s Section of Barnsey.  Interesting note about this book – it is a Theodore Seuss Giesel Honored Book.   (Talk about seal of approval!)

Not a Box

Dude!  Talk about CUTE!  This simple text (one sentence per page) and is accompanied by similarly simple illustrations.  But don’t let the simplicity fool you – this book is pretty hot.  Each page asks the bunny “Why are you in/on/next to the box?” And let’s just say this bunny has a fabulous imagination – he pretends the box is a burning building, a rocket ship, a race car, you name it!!  Great for your new readers, filled with kindergarten and first grade high frequency words, this book would make a great K-1 read aloud.  However, I can also see myself using this with slightly older children to inspire art projects.  One of my former Super Colleagues loves to do “trash” sculptures for Earth Day and I can imagine using this text to help children unlock the artistic possibilities of everyday objects.  And you KNOW how I loves me a good art project…

At #89 is A Hole is to Dig: A First Book of First Definitions by Ruth Krauss and illustrated by Maurice Sendak.  Seriously, The List is starting to give me a complex- why haven’t I heard of so many of these fabulous books?!

A Hole Is to Dig

Okay. I’m going to be honest with you.  (I say that like normally I’m a huge liar or something.)  Anyhow, I’m not sure how I feel about this one.  I want to love it.  Want.  To.  Tried.  To.  Am.  Struggling.  See, each page has super cute “definitions” such as “A castle is to build in the sand”, “A hole is to sit in,” “A dream is to look at the night and see things”  So, not really definition definitions, but sweet ideas.  No real story line or plot to follow.  And, as trivial as this may seem, no punctuation.  At all.  Capitals at the beginning of sentences, no periods.  I’m afraid I just don’t get it.  Anyone want to clue me in?  Change my mind?  PLEASE chime in!

Moving along, we have Stellaluna by Janell Cannon at #88.  I mean, has everyone read (and loved) this book, or what?

Stellaluna - Oversize edition

Stellaluna and her mother, both fruit bats, are attacked by an owl one night while looking for food.  The mother drops Stellaluna who falls into a bird’s nest.  Soon, Stellaluna learns to act more like the birds, who take her in as family, except she still likes to sleep hanging upside down.  She tries to teach the other birds to hang upside down, but upsets the mother bird who thinks this is dangerous.  Stellaluna promises not to hang by her feet anymore.  Soon Stellaluna and the little birds are ready to fly but Stellaluna is too clumsy to land like the other birds so she flies and flies and soon gets separated
 from the group.  Alone, hanging from a branch late at night, another bat comes along and Stellaluna tells them her story.  One of the bats thinks the story sounds familiar and realizes that she is Stellaluna’s mother!  Stellaluna goes to tell the birds about finding her mother.  They try to do things together but realize they are very different.  Despite their differences, they vow to remain friends.

This story is a total classic.  One of my fave themes to study is that of unlikely friendships.  This book is perfect for that kind of work!  I love the story and the pictures are absolutely amazing.  Clearly, this is great read aloud material for friends in grades K-2, but as an independent reading book would be perfect for grade three readers. (According to Fountas and Pinnell, it’s a level N.)   The end has some interesting notes and facts about bats too.  I say, two thumbs up.

Last, but not least, at #87 we have Kitten’s First Full Moon by Kevin Henkes.  Like most people, I have a special place in my heart for Kevin Henkes’ books.  (Although I feel like I’ve heard everyone pronounce his last name a different way…any consensus out there?)

Kitten's First Full Moon

*sigh* Love Kevin Henkes!  A super adorable kitten (I also have a thing for kitties, so watch out!) sees a full moon and believes it is a bowl full of milk.  She tries and tries to reach the bowl of milk to drink it without much success.  Poor kitten!  After several tries, she sees the moon reflected in a pond and thinks it’s an even bigger bowl of milk.  Clearly, our adorable friend dives in and gets soaking wet.  Eventually she goes home and finds a bowl of milk waiting for her on the porch.   Can you say CUTE with a capital C?  An adorable read aloud for kindergarten and first grade friends.  Adorable!  However, I would also use this book with children as old as second grade to illustrate Kevin Henkes’ fabulous ability to describe action.  You know, a lovely little mentor text for writer’s workshop?  He really stretches out the action and describes what the kitten does with her body like a pro- a perfect example for our friends who like to keep their writing…um, let’s just call it “succinct.”

Well, that’s it for this weekend, friends.  Interested in following along?  Check out the original list over at the School Library Journal.

Just FYI, Mr. Mimi is seriously living in fear that I will run out in a fit of Picture Book Mania and buy every single one of these books.  Every.  Single.  One.  And he should be afraid.  Very afraid.

Enjoy your weekend!

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  • I adore Kevin Henkes as well. Recently, in an attempt to find out how to correctly pronounce his name (after my little friends pointed out that I did not say it the same way that our librarian did), I found this amazing website:

    A whole webpage of recordings of authors and illustrators saying their own names. Pure brilliance.

    May 23, 2010 at 12:26 pm
  • You know I teach high school. Math.

    I have A Hole is to Dig in my office (I'm the programmer for another year, have an office) at school. My copy. Like as in printed in the late 50's, probably had it from one of my first birthdays, my sister's crayon scribbles in the inside cover.

    I find it amazingly cute. Though I do blame that book for me not knowing what a principal was for years and years.

    I think I like best "buttons are to keep you warm."

    I make my students read it.

    Jonathan jd2718

    May 29, 2010 at 4:44 am

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