Archive for January 2012


January 30, 2012

I tell my classes that there has to be a conflict to have an interesting story.  I lied.  A HOUSE IN THE WOODS has no conflict, and it just became one of my favorite books.  True, not much happens.  Two pigs’ houses get broken accidentally by a moose and a bear, and together with some excellent beaver builders, they all build a new house that they can live in together.  Why do I like it so much?  The illustrations are beautiful;  it’s one of those books you just want to jump into so you can live there.  The expressions on the animals’ faces are humorous and expressive.  The fall scenery is gorgeous.  Everyone gets along. So, once in awhile it’s okay for a book to have no conflict, only cooperation and friendship, if it’s packaged this beautifully.  Everyone needs a cozy, feel-good story on their list of favorites.

Trey’s latest

January 30, 2012

Trey, a fourth grader in Mrs. Jerome’s class, has been really “wowing” me with his sleepover club projects. Last month his December book report was wrapped up as a Christmas present (check back a few posts to see it), and this month his Myth/Legend/FairyTale report was waiting for me on my desk in a TREASURE CHEST. He read ALI BABA AND THE FORTY THIEVES, and his written piece was every bit as showy as the package it came in; in other words, beautifully written.   In the picture below, you will see his report scrolled up and resting in a bed of jewels:

Another winner for Trey!  Such fun to be surprised every month!

2012 Newbery and Caldecott Awards

January 27, 2012

The big awards in children’s literature were announced this week by the American Library Association.  I immediately ordered both titles, as sadly I didn’t already have them on the shelves.  I can’t wait to read both, but I wanted to share the news even if I couldn’t give you a personal review.

The Newbery Award, given to the year’s most outstanding contribution to children’s literature,  was given to Jack Gantos for DEAD END IN NORVELT. (Jack Gantos is also the author of the “Joey Pigza” books, two of which were Newbery Honor books.)   Based partly on Gantos’s childhood experiences growing up in a small town in Pennsylvania, the reviews I have read describe it as full of humor, history, and charm.

The Caldecott Medal for the most distinguished American picture book for children was given to Chris Raschka for A BALL FOR DAISY, a wordless picture book about an excitable dog who loses her special red ball at the park.  This book was also inspired by  real life, as the author remembered his own son’s reaction to losing a ball when he was young and wanted to write a book about how the young deal with loss.   I was interested to read that Raschka wanted to tell his story in a wordless format so that all children could “read” the book.  The first grade teachers and I recently talked about this very concept, and I have added many wordless books to the CPS library to give our students more opportunities to tell stories using pictures.  This book will be added to the “wordless book shelf” next week, so look for it!


January 4, 2012

Introducing Mia, one of Mrs. Conrad’s awesome fifth grade readers, who is going to start sharing her book reviews on this blog.  Her posts will be called “Mia’s Book Shout Out.”  Mia loves to read and share her enthusiasm with others, so here’s her first post!  Thanks, Mia.


“The undiscovered series in the “M” section”

I know that this book is already on the library shelves, but this is a truly amazing series that nobody reads very often.  Although the book is very similar to the familiar book CADDIE WOODLAWN, readers tend to overlook this book by Kerry Madden and zoom by it to Wendy Mass, who is a “hot” writer.  So if you need a book, check out the “M” section in the library.

Livy Two is the second oldest out of nine siblings.  She has a banjo- playing Daddy and a hardworking mother.  Livy Two’s sister Gentle’s eyes aren’t so good, but that’s just what Livy Two’s mother says.  It was so amazing for me to read about this family living in 1956 with the newly invented telephone and tv.  Also, reading about how Livy’s family lives with barely enough food to feed the family and a father with no consistent job made me think of how lucky I am.  Maggie Valley, where the book takes place, is very similar to Gilead , Maine – a very rural village with just a few houses, a church, school, and lending library truck that travels all over the Smoky Mountains.

Will Livy find out what’s wrong with Gentle’s eyes, and what will that lead to?  Gentle’s Holler is a thrilling story of money worries and watching three generations in a  family learn to live together and deal with all their problems.  And, if you like this book, check out the other two, LOUISIANA’S SONG and JESSIE’S MOUNTAIN.

A late Christmas present??

January 4, 2012

Here’s what I saw on my desk when I walked into the library the first day after Christmas vacation:

I thought, “Oh, nice! How fun to get another Christmas present!” Upon closer inspection, it turned out to be one of my very clever fourth grader’s Library Sleepover Projects. The note reads “open the Lego box to find my December book project. From Trey”   Interesting!  Even better than a present!  Here’s the 3-D scene that Trey made at home to showcase AN ELK DROPPED IN, his December book:

(Click on the image to enlarge it and see the details.)

Nice job, Trey. You always keep me guessing what your next creative move will be. Can’t wait for January’s project!