Childrens Book Reading Extravaganza 2010: Picture Books #s 41-37

Well, hello end of July!  I can’t believe how quickly you sneaked up on us!!  Yet again, let me share with you my thinking about summer and how it is really like one long weekend.  June is like Friday.  You’re tired, you’ve worked a long day (month) and it’s finally time to really relax and unwind.  This can go one of two ways.  You either a) fall asleep at 9 p.m. or b) rage like a lunatic, stay out until 3 a.m. and wake up with a raging hang over.  July is Saturday.  You feel like there is so much time left in the weekend…the possibilities seem endless and Sunday (aka August) seem impossibly far away. So does your To Do List. And then wham!  August is like Sunday.  Your To Do List which has remained untouched all summer and is suddenly taunting you from it’s magnetized place on your fridge.  You feel like it’s all gone by so quickly and you may even have the Sunday Night Blues about it all coming to an end.  Monday (aka September) is looming large and in charge.

Have I gone and killed your summer buzz?


Let’s try to get our mind of things with some picture books!  Nothing like a trip to Barnsey…

At number 41 is The Relatives Came  by Cynthia Rylant.  I also like to refer to Ms. Rylant as Ms. Fabulous because I love her books.  Hence the Caldecott for this one.  (Have you READ The Old Lady Who Named Things???)

The Relatives Came (Click on the images for links and hold on to your debit cards!!)

I love this book.  A family sets out on a loooong drive to visit their relatives for the summer. Cynthia Rylant does such a rad job telling us about the drive, that you can almost feel it.  (Fab place for a little text-to-self connecting if you ask me.)  Then when the relatives finally get together there is hugging, and eating, laughing and sleeping, fixing and picnicking.  Until it’s time for them to go home and dream about the next summer.

I always used this book in my classroom.  Best suited for friends in kindergarten through second grades (in my opinion), this book is totally perfect for a unit on family.  I used it again when we did our Cynthia Rylant author study too.  Also, the illustrations are gorgeous…I say, slam dunk, Ms. Rylant.

#40 is an oldie but a goodie that I remember from my childhood book shelf.  It’s Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel by Virginia Lee Burton.

Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel [MIKE MULLIGAN & HIS STEAM SHOV]

Again, the theme of unlikely friendships is one of my faves and this book so hits that nail on the head.  I mean, we’re talking a dude and a steam shovel…I say that qualifies as unlikely.  Anyhow, Mike Mulligan and his steam shovel, Mary Anne are hot diggers.  They can dig anything for anyone. UNTIL…bigger and more efficient digging machines come along making Mary Anne and Mike a bit obsolete.  So they travel to a small town and offer to dig the basement of the town hall in one day or it’s free.  With the whole town watching, Mike and Mary Anne rock it, but forget to leave a way to get out of the hole.  A boy suggests they build the town hall around them and let Mary Anne be the furnace and Mike the janitor and that’s exactly what happens.

This story is such a classic.  It would totally fit in with a theme on friendship and loyalty.  But, I do think it’s also nice to save some stories for pure enjoyment and this one would be a great choice for that as well. 

#39 is another one of my faves…finally a group of books and I am familiar with all of them!  See, I told you I had an obsession!  #39 is The Napping House by Audrey and Don Wood.  (Also the authors of The Little Mouse, the Red Ripe Strawberry and the Big Hungry Bear  – which made an earlier appearance on this list – and one of my other faves, Silly Sally .)  I had this in big book form and it was pretty rad in addition to being a fan favorite.

The Napping House

Everyone in this house is taking a nap.  (Sounds kind of nice, right?)  There’s the snoring granny, a dreaming child, a dozing dog, a snoozing cat and…a wakeful flea.  Obvi, the flea is the issue…there’s a bite and everyone is suddenly awake and out of bed!  Funny and with a wonderful accumulating text, this book is fantastic to share with your small fry friends.  Plus, I love all the different ways of saying “sleeping” – it makes for the perfect opportunity to create a mini word wall of synonyms or to discuss ways to spice up your writing with word choice (with older friends that is). 

Friends.  I have to share with you a personal tale of nerd-dom when it comes to book #38.  I think we have reached the point in our relationship where I can make myself vulnerable and let you in on a nerdy little secret from nerdiness past.

#38 is Harry the Dirty Dog by Gene Zion.  And I love this book.

Harry the Dirty Dog

Harry, a white dog with black spots who may be the cutest dog ever drawn, loves everything except for baths, so he buries his brush in the backyard and runs away.  He then proceeds to play in some very dirty locales, quickly becoming a black dog with white spots.  Concerned that his family is worried, he runs home.  Needless to say, they don’t recognize him.  So, Harry has no choice but to dig up the scrubbing brush and run with it up to the bathtub. The children give him a bath and realize it’s Harry.  He’s so happy to be home that he falls asleep on his doggy bed and doesn’t even feel the scrubbing brush he’s already hidden underneath.

A cute dog AND a happy ending?!  Does it get any better?  Okay, so maybe this book isn’t changing lives, but it is a childhood fave of mine and is an adorable story to share with your friends.  As I have said many times before, there is definitely a time and a place to just enjoy a story with your friends and forget about higher order thinking skills, comprehension and text-to-self connections for just a moment. (But you didn’t hear that from me!)

Finally, at #37 is Eloise is Kay Thompson.

Eloise's What I Absolutely Love Love Love (Kay Thompson's Eloise)

I mean, is this girl the original Fabulous Girl or what?  Fancy Nancy from the 50s? 

Eloise is a from (evidently) a very wealthy family who lives in the Plaza in New York City.  She spends her days playing in the lobby, on the elevators and in her apartment with her dolls, dog and nanny.  Basically, girlfriend spends her day hopping all over the hotel getting into EVERYTHING.  However, Eloise rarely sees her parents and is home schooled by a tutor, which makes me feel a bit sad for her.  There isn’t another child in the book…just the adults at the Plaza, her nanny and her tutor.  Although she doesn’t seem to mind a bit and feels as if her days are super busy and filled with fun. 

While I enjoy this book, I’m not sure about it’s connections to your goings on in the classroom.  I guess it would totes work as emergency sub read aloud…and those always come in handy.  Or for those surprise extra ten minutes at the end of the day.  Or if you’re trying to get your friends to think about how their everyday lives can easily be turned into a story, this book could do the trick!

That’s it for this weekend lov-ahs!  Enjoy the end of your July!!!


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  • Eloise is my all-time favorite book but I don't have a copy in my class and I have never read it to a class of children. I don't think it's a great read aloud. HOWEVER, it's the best for a home read–I'm talking mommy reading it to her little squirt before bedtime and laughing endlessly! Especially great if you're from NYC.

    August 1, 2010 at 12:37 am
  • I think it is funny that I read almost the same thing about June, July and August on another teacher blog. I guess all teachers think alike. However .. for us NY teachers June really isnt like Friday b/c we work until almost the last week! LOL

    August 1, 2010 at 8:59 pm

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