Childrens Book Reading Extravaganza 2010: Picture Book Party #s 21-17

Okay, my friends, it is officially back to school season for all of us, yes?  Some of us went back WAY before Labor Day and some of us are just getting into it, however I’m sure we are all EXHAUSTED!  Hopefully some Picture Book Love (fresh from the list of Top 100 Picture book over at the School Library Journal blog), will make you smile.  Or run to Barnsey.  Both are good in my book.

Getting this party started today at #21 is Bark, George by Jules Feiffer.  Seriously, the number of new titles I have come across never ceases to amaze me (or my debit card).

Bark, George (Click on the images for links or…if you are so bold…just run to Barnsey.)

Super cute!  I mean SUPER CUTE!  George’s mother wants him to bark, but all poor George can say are things such as “meow,” “oink” and “moo.”  Clearly not dog talk.  Concerned, his mother takes him to the vet.  The vet reaches in George’s mouth and pulls out a cat, a duck, a pig AND a cow.  All of a sudden George says, “arf!”  Thrilled, his mother takes him home and along the way, wants George to show off his new found skill to all the people on the street.  But this time when he opens his mouth, all that comes out is, “Hello.”

I mean, awwwwwwwww, right?  Probably better suited for the small fry version of our friends, this book would make a fun read aloud.  I’m thinking preschool when you work on animal sounds and even to tackle a bit of predicting what might come next. 

Watch out, because #20 is one of my absolute faves.  FAVES!!!  As in, I used this book every year and still love it FAVES.  It’s George and Martha  by James Marshall.  Ta-dah!!!!

George and Martha

George and Martha are perfect for a character study.  PERF!  I used to always use these babies in my mini lessons for modeling and thinking aloud because they are amazingly short and memorable.  Oh, and totally HI-larious.  

Number 19 is Miss Rumphius by Barbara Cooney.  I’m ashamed to admit that this book was in my classroom library (the one given to me, not the purchased one) for years and I always breezed right by it.  No time like the present to get this one under my belt, I guess.  I mean, girlfriend DID score an American Book Award for this one.

Miss Rumphius

I’m totally digging this book and regretting not reading it sooner.  It’s like I had a billion stacks of papers to deal with or something for eight long years.

Anyhow, the narrator is Miss Rumphius’ grand-nephew (??).  He tells us that when Miss Rumphius was a little girl, her grandfather would tell her stories about all sorts of far away places, prompting Miss Rumphius to someday want to travel herself.  However, he tells her that it is also important to do something in her lifetime to make the world more beautiful.  Miss Rumphius grows up, becomes a librarian, travels the world and finally settles down in her house by the sea.  She isn’t sure what to do to make the world more beautiful and before she can decide, she gets very sick.  She admires the flowers she can see out her window, lupines she planted the previous spring and hopes that she will be able to plant a garden again the next year.  After being sick for quite awhile, Miss Rumphius begins to feel better and discovers the seeds from her lupines have spread to another hill.  This gives her an idea!  She buys as many lupine seeds as she can and spends her days walking everywhere, sowing lupine seeds to make the world more beautiful.  Now very old, the children call her the Lupine Lady.  Her grand-nephew listens to her stories, wanting to go visit faraway places.  Of course, Miss Rumphius tells him that he must also do something to make the world more beautiful.

Sorry for the long summary, friends!  But I think that book deserved it!  It’s a lovely story that can be used in so many ways in your classroom.  I’m thinking Earth Day off the top of my head, but also if you were talking about the idea of giving back to a community or even about what children want to do when they grow up.  This is a sweet story with an important lesson, making it a perf read aloud for friends in first through third grades.  For sure.

At number 18, we have another book by the genius Maurice Sendak.  It’s called In the Night Kitchen.

In the Night Kitchen (Caldecott Collection) 

Okay, honestly?  First impression?  There’s a mini little penis on page five.  The little boy falls out of his clothes and into this mysterious kitchen in the middle of the night and yes, it is full frontal.  Full.  Frontal.  I know that personally, I was not ready, willing or able to deal with this in my classroom so I may choose not to use this one.  Am I being too judgey?

As the story continues, these bakers bake the boy into a cake, he turns some dough into a plane and flies into a giant bottle of milk.  ANNNNNDDDD…then there’s more full frontal.  (No joke.)  Full frontal once?  Shame on you.  Full frontal twice?  Shame on me.  And we’re just going to move along.

And at the end of our list today, at #17 is Caps for Sale by Esphyr Slobodkina.  A classic, but one I was never sure I was using well or in the right way.  Does that ever happen to you? You know everyone loves it, you feel like you should use it but somehow, it always seems to not be what you thought it would be.  Oh well, let’s give it a fresh look, shall we?

Caps for Sale Big Book (Reading Rainbow Book) 

Evidently this book is a folk tale (according to the info on the inside flap).  And since most of you have read this one before, we’ll do a quick summary. A peddler has a bunch of caps that he sells.  One day, no one buys any caps, so he walks to the country, sits under a tree and takes a nap.  When he wakes up, he sees that a bunch of monkeys have stolen his caps and begins to freak out.  As he is about to walk away, the monkeys give him back his hats and on he goes with his day.

I guess this book is funny?  Or funny to a five year old?  The thing I do see in this book is the simple, mostly repetitive text.  I think it would be great to work with readers on being careful as they read, since one or two words changes on each page in certain sections.  Definitely best suited for first grade friends, I can imagine using this book to teach various reading strategies…especially if I had it in big book form.  Maybe if they were shoes, I would feel more connected to this text….

Okay my fellow book nerds!  That’ll do it for this week!  (And August!)  Here’s to soaking up every last drop of summer!!


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  • I've never met a group of preschoolers who didn't love "Caps For Sale". They act it out, they chant, they laugh. You can use it as the basis of a simple color matching game. Or you can read it just for fun and dramatic effect. My only quibble is that in every addition I've ever seen the red hats aren'r red, they are orange red.

    September 10, 2010 at 4:26 pm
  • My six year old just brought up "Caps for Sale" at breakfast this morning, and I still remember having it read to me in grade school. It definitely stays with you!

    September 10, 2010 at 9:57 pm
  • Wow, Miss Rumphius sounds fantastic! I have never heard that story and it sounds like my kind of childrens book… Amazon here I come! Thanks so much for sharing!

    September 11, 2010 at 3:24 pm
  • I stumbled upon a very cool book in my local library last spring entitled, I Need My Monster. I've used it for a few interactive read-a-longs since then and it's always a huge hit! The author is Amanda Noll and the illustrations by Howard McWilliam are super cool! It's definately worth checking out!

    September 15, 2010 at 12:24 pm
  • In the Night Kitchen: agreed. The full frontal is more than I can deal with when I've got a bunch of kids. My own kids liked the book (grandma bought it at a library book sale) and never mentioned the anatomy. Not once. Weird?

    Caps for Sale was used by my kids' pre-K teacher. She had them put on a skit, most of the kids were monkeys. They did it in the spring when they could use the playground equipment as a tree. They certainly enjoyed it, though my son chose not to participate and decided to dig holes in the mud during the performance instead. It was cute, but I'm not sure how much literacy was involved.

    September 20, 2010 at 2:38 am
  • I love Miss Rumphius – when I was in elementary school I had an amazing librarian. She was a large and very cheerful lady and she read that to us. I always think of it when I'm picking out flowers at Home Depot. Happy reading!

    September 22, 2010 at 5:50 pm

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