Childrens Book Reading Extravaganza 2010: Picture Books # 61 – # 57

Happy Fourth of July friends!!!!  I hope you are somewhere at a cook out, in your bathing suit, reading a trashy mag on the beach with something fruity in a Solo cup.  I know at my house, we finish off this particular holiday weekend by watching my brother try not to light a finger on fire as he sets off some controversial (I dare not say “illegal”) fire works in our yard…ah, yes.  I can practically hear the banjos in my head now.  *sigh*  I love summer vacation.  

Perhaps you can tote these puppies (from the list of Top 100 Picture Books) to the beach with you to enjoy with your fruity summer cocktails…or not.  It’s up to you!

This morning, at #61 we have Lost and Found by Oliver Jeffers.  Seriously, I have discovered SO MANY new titles during this little project!!  Ha-cha-cha!

Lost and Found (Remember, click on the image for links…summer IS for stocking up!)

I know I’ve told you that I totally dig the theme of unlikely friendships before and this one fits the bill to a T.   One day, a penguin shows up at this little boy’s door and starts to follow him everywhere.  After some investigation, the boy discovers that the penguin belongs in the South Pole.  So they build a boat and row there together, telling stories all along the way.  When he drops the penguin off to the South Pole, the penguin looks sad, but the boy leaves anyway.  Soon he realizes that the penguin wasn’t lost, he was simply lonely.  He goes to look for the penguin but he is nowhere to be found.  Come to find out, the penguin had totally MacGyver-ed his umbrella into a boat and had set out on his way back to the boy.

*sniffle*  So cute!  The illustrations are just adorable!  This book has super simple text, but a great story.  I think it would be perf for friends in kindergarten through second grade.  Use it to talk about friendship across various texts or just enjoy the book together.  Either way, I heart this one.  Am going out to get it for Mini Mimi’s shelf stat.

At #60, we have Chicken Soup With Rice: A Book of Months by Maurice Sendak.

Chicken Soup with Rice: A Book of Months

I mean, it’s Maurice Sendak, so right there this book gets some serious street cred.  With a simple rhyme for each month of the year, this book is totally perf for our younger friends studying the calendar, looking at seasonal change across the year or just looking for a little rhyming in their life.  Of course, there is the lovely predictable piece at the end of each month, so this could also make a fab (although lengthy) shared reading.  

In 59th place is Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People’s Ears by Verna Aardema.  This book has totally been around the block – I know a LOT of you out there have seen this one before.  And, it’s yet another hot little Caldecott book!

Why Mosquitoes Buzz In People's Ears (Turtleback School & Library Binding Edition) (Picture Puffins)

I love this book.  Love, love, LOVE it!  It’s a West African folk tale with fantastic illustrations and a great story.  A mosquito bothers an iguana about some nonsense. Well, the iguana, annoyed by the mosquito walks away and unknowingly sets off a chain of events among the animals that ends with a baby owl being accidentally killed.  Mother Owl is so upset, that she can no longer find the energy to wake the sun, so it is dark for days.  The animal council tries to get to the bottom of Mother Owl’s troubles and finds it is the mosquito who set everything in motion.  And to this day, mosquito’s buzz in people’s ears because they are worried that everyone is still mad at them!

I mean, is that the perfect folk tale or what?  I say, grades one through three for sure!  Use it when you’re learning about folk tales, use it when you are studying other cultures, use it when you just want to enjoy a great story with your friends.  Bottom line, get this book and get it into your rotation.  You won’t be sorry!!

Three down, two to go this morning!  At #58 today is Flotsam by David Wiesner, another Caldecott Award winner…holla!

Flotsam (Caldecott Medal Book)

(I probably should just keep this to myself, but I LOVE the color orange and had fantasized about a tangerine bathroom for YEARS!  Finally got myself together to paint the guest bathroom and it turned out the color of this fish…a lot more Home Depot and a lot less tangerine.  *sigh*)

(Again, probably should keep THIS to myself as well, but noticed that the author spends his summer at the Jersey Shore, which most likely helped to inspire the book.  Sadly, when someone mentions the Jersey Shore, I know automatically think of people who are spray tanned the unfortunate orange color of my bathroom.  * bigger sigh*)

So, no words in this one.  It is all beautiful…and I mean BEAUTIFUL illustrations.  A little boy is at the beach inspecting hermit crabs and other sea creatures when he gets knocked over by a wave.  When the water recedes, there is an old camera with film.  The boy develops the film (A little curious – will kids even recognize a film camera anymore??) and finds all sorts of magical underwater pictures (think giant starfish, robotic fish and sea turtles with whole villages on their backs).  There are also pictures of other children holding the pictures that date years back.  The boy adds a few pictures of his own and then throws the camera back to delight another child.

There is just so much possibility here.  I would TOTALLY use this book with friends in kindegarten all the way up to fourth grade.  Because I am a Writer’s Workshop aholic, I can think of a million ways to integrate this text into the workshop.  I’m thinking some great oral storytelling and possibly some shared writing with kindergarten and first grade friends. Fabulous storytelling and maybe imagining some inner thinking with second grade friends.  Third and fourth grade friends could mine this book to practice generating some really descriptive action and/or setting.  It’s just all too much…too too fabulous!

Annnnnddddd #57 this morning is Diary of a Worm by Doreen Cronin – one of my FAVES that I discovered while prepping for a unit on plant life.  *nerdy sigh*  All those plants around the classroom.  All those fabulous read alouds.  It’s enough to make a grown teacher cry…

Diary of a Worm

First off, the scotch taped pics of the worm growing up in the front are hilarious.  Literally, this is a worm’s journal.  We watch the worm learn about how he helps the Earth, escape children after a rainstorm, eat his homework assignments and write about his adventures with his friend, the Spider.  Although very silly in places, the book ends with a lesson about how we (people) often forget about worms, but, as his Mother reminds him, the Earth never forgets how important they are. 

This is just a fun little read.  I used it to spice up units on plants and even as an introduction about keeping a personal journal / writer’s notebook.  The story is perfect for your friends in first or second grades and the cartoon-like illustrations are super fun.  Not a bad book to add to your collection.

Okay and back to your cook outs and cocktails!  Don’t forget to have one for me!!


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  • Hi Mrs. Mama Mimi! I have been following your blog for awhile, and I admire your determination to read and post with a newborn! When my little gal was born over summer "vacation" I was a mess! I love that some of the books that make your cut are ones that my parents read to me as a child. It just goes to show that reading to children is SOOO important!

    July 4, 2010 at 12:50 pm
  • Hi Ms. Mimi,
    Speaking of Chicken Soup with Rice, have you seen the animated Really Rosie musical based on the Nutshell Library of Sendak books with music by Carole King? Pierre, Chicken Soup with Rice, One Was Johnny and A Alligators All Around are all put to music.

    July 4, 2010 at 12:50 pm
  • LOVE these books! I have Lost and Found in my listening center in my pre-K class and the kiddos just about wore out the CD. Diary of a Worm became a staple during the Things that Grow unit and the kids noticed something new every time. Thanks for taking what little spare time you have to review these books for us!

    July 6, 2010 at 1:09 am
  • Flotsam is amazing 🙂 To answer your question, no, kids do not understand what film is or what it's for. It leads to some interesting discussions…but definitely doesn't render the book obsolete.

    I spent some time in grad school/student teaching working with two ELL boys (from Somalia). My case study inquiry focused on using wordless picture books to support the comprehension of ELLs. The boys were low level readers merely because of their knowledge of English. But take out the decoding and VOILA there were comprehension strategies well in place. By using wordless picture books (especially RICH ones like David Wiesner's) I was able to focus on helping them hone their comprehension strategies (predicting, monitoring for understanding, synthesizing, etc.) instead of watching them bang their heads again the wall because they don't know what "watch" means.

    Hooray 🙂

    July 12, 2010 at 3:21 pm
  • Laura – thanks for sharing your experiences! I know I could always use some ELL tips…

    July 12, 2010 at 4:16 pm

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