Children’s Book Reading Extravaganza 2010: Picture Books #86-82

Watch out!  More Picture Book fabulousness coming your way!  I am loving this Top 100 List of Children’s Picture books!  I may need a sponsor to break the addiction once this little adventure in reading is over.  Any takers? 

All right, friends, let’s get things started with #86, shall we?  At #86 we have Yoko by Rosemary Wells.

Yoko (Yoko and Friends-School Days) (Again, click on the images for links or check out my widget to the right of my posts…I’ll do anything to make a list and your life a little easier!)

I adore this story!  Yoko’s mother makes her sushi to take to school (Um, can she pack MY lunch?) but all the children make fun of her at lunchtime.  In an effort to help, Yoko’s teacher creates International Food Day so all the children can try the foods of their families native heritages.  There are enchiladas, mango smoothies, knishes…(Oh!  The temptation of reading this book while pregnant!) which everyone LOVES but no one tries the sushi until Timothy.  He loves it and plans with Yoko to open a “sushi restaurant” the next day at school.  The next day they have a lovely sushi lunch together.  I think this book would make a great read aloud in grades K through 2.  With an accessible lesson about tolerance for other people’s cultures and tastes, this book lends itself to great conversations.  Also, I always tried to incorporate a day where families would bring in traditional dishes (sometimes at Thanksgiving, sometimes for a Writing Celebration, sometimes during a unit on family or geography) and this book ties in nicely.  Bon Appetit!

In position #85 is Whistle for Willie by Ezra Jack Keats – another one of my favorite Author Studies for first grade friends.

Whistle For Willie (Live Oak Readalong)

Peter really wants to get his whistle on, but he can’t.  When he sees his dog Willie coming, Peter hides in an empty box on the sidewalk.  (I’m just hoping that the box was clean…I mean, gross, right?) He tries to whistle to get Willie’s attention, but he can’t, and Willie just keeps walking.  He goes home and dresses up like his dad to feel more grown-up and practices his whistling.  Peter goes outside to look for Willie again, hides under a box and…this time it works!  He can whistle and Willie comes running.  Later, when running an errand for his mother, Peter whistles all the way there and all the way home.

This book is fabulous for a number of reasons.  First of all, love the lesson that you shouldn’t give up, but rather practice until you can do it.  FAB!  I also love the illustrations – so colorful!  This book is the perfect mentor text for teaching how to use an ellipses. (One of my favorite marks of punctuation of… all… time… and one that I frequently overuse.)  If that wasn’t enough, Peter has a pretty hot little imagination and is able to entertain himself throughout the entire book (with out a Game Boy in sight)!

We have another appearance from Mr. Henkes (LOVE HIM) at #84 with Chester’s Way, which is one of my absolute faves.  Chester and Wilson are totally unafraid to fly their Nerd Flag and I LOVE IT!  Plus, who wouldn’t fall in love with a strong, female character like Lily?

Chester's Way

Chester is so fussy and particular – I freaking love him.  He and his boy, Wilson, are exactly the same and love to do everything the same way together.  Then Lilly moves into the neighborhood and rocks Chester and Wilson’s world.  Girlfriend is loud and unafraid.  (I heart her.)  They try to ignore Lilly and avoid playing with her.  One day, a bunch of bullies gang up on Chester and Wilson, but at the last minute they are saved by a mysterious person dressed up as a fierce-looking cat.  Guess what?  It’s Lilly.  Sisterfriend totally saved their behinds!  Before you know it, Lilly is showing Chester and Wilson new and different ways to do things and…(pause for dramatic effect) they like it. And theeeeen, Victor moves into the neighborhood.

Can you say cliffhanger? I don’t even know where to begin, this story is so wonderful.  It has a fantastic lesson about friendship, meeting new people and trying new things.  As I’ve said many times before, the strong female character is amazing.  Plus, if you are thinking about using this book to teach author’s craft, this book does a great job of re-using a refrain throughout the text.  Hard skill, yes, but perfect example.  I say it makes a fabulous read aloud for your friends in first and second grades.  You could also use it with second graders as an independent guided text – it’s a level K in the world of Fountas and Pinnell.
At #83 on our list is The Lorax by Dr. Seuss.  I have already waxed poetic about my love for this man (and my, possibly inaccurate, memory of having his cousin as a nursery school teacher).

The Lorax (Classic Seuss)

I mean, this book is BEGGING to be read during Earth Day festivities or any other curriculum promoting an environmental conscience.  A boy seeks out the Once-ler, the only creature who can tell him the story of The Lorax.  Evidently, a long time ago, The Once-ler discovered a wonderful land filled with magical animals and Truffula Trees.  He quickly chopped down several Truffula Trees to knit a Thneed.  The Lorax suddenly appears at his door, warning the Once-ler that no one will by his Thneed.  Sadly, The Lorax was wrong and soon business is booming, a factory is built and the Once-ler’s whole family comes to help.  The Lorax, who “speaks for the trees” begs them to stop but greed gets the better of the Once-ler and he doesn’t  Soon, all the fabulous creatures who lived amongst the Truffula Trees become ill or are hungry and begin to leave. The land turns dark and lifeless and, as the Thneed factory continues to chop down trees and dump it’s waste in the pond, all the animals are gone. The Lorax was the last to leave. At the end of the story, the Once-ler tosses the boy the last Truffula Seed and prompts him to love it in the hopes that The Lorax and all of his friends might someday return.

Phew!  I know that was a long summary but this book is MEA-TY!  Where to even start?  First of all, I don’t know many kids who don’t love a Dr. Seuss read aloud.  I think this one is perfect for first graders all the way up to third or fourth graders.  (Coming in at a level P, it’s probably just right for readers to check out independently in about third grade.) I know rhyming books may seem “lame” with the older ones, but this topic is way to juicy to ignore and will totes draw them in.  Of course, this book also has a fabulous rhyming pattern if you want to throw in a little word study on the side.  I just think the uses of this book are endless.  Use it to work on rhyme, talk about the environment, launch a unit on plant life, encourage creative characters…ENDLESS!  Dr. Seuss = a genius in my book.

And, as we wrap it up for the weekend, at #82 is Who Needs Donuts? by Mark Alan Stamaty.  Another new one for me.  (Seriously, I’m starting to question my devotion to all things picture book…definitely learning a a new title or two.)

Who Needs Donuts?

However, I’m not feeling so bad about my lack of knowledge regarding this particular title because it is next to IMPOSSIBLE to find.  I have looked at TWO local libraries and requested that they be placed on hold.  (Keep in mind, that I wrote this post about two to three weeks before you actually see it…so believe me, I am working it for y’all!)  At this point I’m still waiting.  Anyone out there have any thoughts they want to share about this title??  Please….enlighten us.

Hope you are having a fabulous weekend.  I am on pins and needles here waiting for Mini Mimi’s big debut…will keep you posted!!


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  • YOKO is seriously one of my favorite books! I first discovered it because it was one of the books we used with our reading series a few years back. The kids always love it, and it leads to some interesting conversations about food. Sadly, me students pretty much all eat the same (crappy!) food, so they have NO point of reference for the other foods that are mentioned. I try to always bring in a couple of things during the year for them to try. One of the biggest hits was prickly pears! 🙂

    May 29, 2010 at 7:31 pm
  • I just want you to know I would fight you for sushi if necessary. I love Mark Alan Stamaty. He used to write this really offbeat cartoon for the Voice years ago. I've no doubt his book is great.

    May 30, 2010 at 1:54 am

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