Archive for the ‘Good Read-Alouds’ category

WHAT THE MOON SAID by Gayle Rosengren

April 13, 2014

imgresI just read a great historical fiction book that I found touching and moving. WHAT THE MOON SAID is about an extremely likeable young girl and her family relocating from Chicago to a farm in Wisconsin during the Depression (1930’s) after Pa loses his job. Despite the harsh conditions – the farm is rundown, has no electricity or indoor plumbing – Esther loves the animals and responds to the adventure of living “pioneer style”.  Esther desperately wants her mother , a Russian immigrant who is very superstitious, seeing signs in everything from rings around the moon to the number of birds on the fence post, to show her some affection.  She wants her to be more like her best friend’s mother, but Ma is caught up in the grind of farm life. Through the course of the book, we see Esther respond to tough issues involving school, sickness, and a new best friend, yet she never loses hope or the willingness to try again. If you like the “Little House” books by Laura Ingalls Wilder, WHAT THE MOON SAID gives you the same feeling.  The past is brought to life as a charming, believable young girl deals with real life situations in ways that make you cheer for her.

Two CPS Teachers are now authors!

February 10, 2012

Heidi Bullen, Grade Five teacher, and Norma Salway, a Kindergarten and Grade One teacher who recently retired after many years at CPS, have each recently published books for children.  They presented a copy of their books to the CPS Library, along with an accompanying “toy”!

Heidi Bullen wrote EDDY THE YETI which tells the story of Sunday River’s mascot.  Eddy reportedly lives on Speck Mountain and often joins the skiers at Sunday River in search of fun and friendship.

Norma Salway’s book, TOUCHED BY A HUMMINGBIRD, which she also illustrated, tells the true story of her encounter with a hummingbird on the day of a special friend’s funeral.



The students and I are VERY excited to have these two special books in the CPS library.

Mia’s book shout out #2

February 2, 2012

Fifth grade book lover Mia shares her favorite books

“Happy 50th birthday,  Phantom Tollbooth!”

Do you ever think that a book can be really boring because there’s just something you can’t quite reach? Well then you won’t like the Phantom Toll Booth exactly for that reason. So after reading this, think about it, because if you read it at a younger age, you could still read it again and get more out of it.  But I’d still recommend reading it when you’re ten. It’s perfect – especially if you like words .  Or if you’re 7 and you are just into adventure and you can understand simple wordplay.

Have you ever wondered where letters, words, phrases, sentences, numbers, terms, expressions, and equations come from? When Milo finds a Phantom Tollbooth in his room, Milo decides to see what it can do, since he has nothing better to do. Milo hops in his little car and suddenly finds himself speeding along a highway, on his way to Dictionopolis. On the way, Milo encounters a trip to the Doldrums and Expectations and meets his journey companion Tock, a watch dog. Upon arriving in Dictionopolis, Milo discovers the silence between two regions, Digitotopolis and Dictionopolis. There, Milo is destined to rescue and return the fair Rhyme and Reason. Will Milo be able to save the fair Rhyme and Reason so fairness will return to the land?

I found that this story was so funny that I didn’t want it to end, but the great part of this is the wordplay and characters. Take the Which, for example, and look at how I spelled her name. She’s not dangerous, right? Only witches with the T are dangerous.

The Phantom Tollbooth is a hard book to know when to read because if you read it too early you won’t be able to understand a good part of this book, but it would still be a good adventure. If you are interested in reading this book it is located in the “J” section of the CPS Library. Have fun reading! The Phantom Tollbooth has been making people laugh for 50 years and hopefully many more!


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.

Oh, What a Christmas! by Michael Garland

December 17, 2011

I guess it’s time to talk about Christmas books! OH, WHAT A CHRISTMAS! by Michael Garland has been a huge hit in the three kindergarten classes this past week. After Santa takes off in his sleigh full of toys, the reindeer harness breaks and the sleigh falls to earth and crashes into a barn full of animals. Guess who’s going to pull the sleigh now? This book is illustrated in dramatic, humorous, illustrations, and the expressions on the faces of Santa and the animals makes the kids howl with laughter. The text is very funny, too. Check it out!

Where the Mountain meets the Moon by Grace Lin

March 16, 2010

Words that come to mind when describing this year’s Newbery Award runner-up: enchanted, elegant, exciting, timeless, beautiful…

Minli (whose name means “quick thinking”) and her parents live in the shadow of Fruitless Mountain, in China. They work hard in the rice fields yet they are still very poor, with barely enough rice to eat. Minli’s mother worries and complains about their hard life, but her father brightens their evenings with storytelling. One day Minli sets out to find the Old Man of the Moon, hoping he will tell her the true secret to good fortune. Along the way she makes new friends including a flightless dragon, an orphan, a group of greedy monkeys, and a king. Interwoven with Minli’s quest are tales told by her father and by those she meets on the way, which are drawn from traditional Chinese folklore. The author’s full-color illustrations are stunning. Grace Lin has created a strong, likeable heroine and a fascinating glimpse of another country.

I’ve heard your favorites: here are mine!

December 17, 2009

The Story of Holly & Ivy by Rumer Godden and illustrated by Maine’s own Barbara Cooney is one of my holiday favorites.  I remember reading it to my daughter when she was little, and this year I brought it in from home and shared it with a 2nd grade class.  It is a story about holiday wishing:  a Christmas doll wants a girl, an orphan girl wants a doll  and a home, and a childless woman wants a child.   Do wishes come true??

Addy’s Christmas by Samantha Porter is part of the American Girls series.  Addy is a young girl who ran away on the Underground Railroad, and in this second book in the series, she and her mother are celebrating their first Christmas “in freedom”, but without Papa, brother Sam, and baby Esther.  Have some tissues ready for the end of this one!

The Steadfast Tin Soldier, Hans Christian Anderson’s famous story of the proper toy soldier who loves a paper ballerina from afar, is one of my library read-alouds  every December.  Watching the look on the students’ faces as the beautiful dancer flies across the room to join the soldier at the end is always so powerful for me.

Christmas in Noisy Village by Astrid Lindgren (the author of Pippi Longstocking and other wonderful books) is the book that my children and I used to enjoy the most at this time of year.  It takes place in a tiny Swedish village with only three houses in it.  The children have so much fun preparing for Christmas and then celebrating the big day.  Every year my son and I say we are going to make the snowball lantern, which is basically a candle in the snow with a pile of snowballs around it. The light always looks so magical glowing through the snowballs.  Maybe this year we will do it!

The True Gift by Patricia MacLachlan

December 9, 2009

If you are looking for a Christmas story that celebrates the joys of family and community, look no further! The main characters in this short novel, siblings Liam and Lily, are spending time with their grandparents during December and Liam can’t stop thinking about the lone cow in his grandparents’ meadow. Is it lonely? Does it have feelings? How can he get a companion for the cow? The answer will involve some sacrifice, and the ending gave me chills. This is a feel-good Christmas story that explores what makes a true gift.

Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery

December 2, 2009

Mia, a third grader in Mrs. Lavoie’s class, would like to share this review of a series that she really enjoys.

Anne Shirley will not accept her name spelled without an “e”.  Anne lives in Prince Edward Island, Canada.  Half her life, Anne lived in an orphanage.  She despised the orphanage.  Anne also had no friends but a lively imagination.  Anne had red hair that was always in tight braids.  Anne Shirley despised her red hair.   Anne’s vocabulary was gigantic.  Two of the words that she used the most were:  kindred spirit and romantic.  Anne always said to her friend Diana Berry that she was a kindred spirit.  Anne didn’t think she was romantic until she was a teenager and met Gilbert.

I would recommend this series if you’re interested in old-fashioned times and adventurous strong girls.  There are nine books in the series.  They make a great read-aloud with your parents.  Check them out at the CPS Library!


September 23, 2009

September 21 was World Peace Day, a special day created in 2002 by the United Nations. On this day of global cease-fire and nonviolence, even young children can think about how they can make the world a more peaceful place. I have been reading these books in various classes to get our CPS students to think about the idea of peace:

imagesPeace One Day: The making of World Peace Day by Karen Blessen is about Jeremy Gilley’s desire to have a day dedicated to peace, and how he traveled the globe, meeting with world leaders and the United Nations, witnessing the reality of war in different parts of the world, making speeches, writing letters, and raising money until he finally achieved his dream. One person CAN make a difference!

images-1NO! by David McPhail. A little boy in a country at war mails a letter to the president, with profound results. This inspiring, worldless fable (except for the world NO!) makes a huge impact through its expressive pictures. The author explains at the end of the book that this is his “expression of hope – hope that playgrounds of the world will soon become safer, and friendlier, for all.”

images-4Wangari’s Trees of Peace: a true story from Africa by Jeannette Winter. The true story of environmentalist Wangari Maathai, winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, is a great example of how one woman’s passion and determination can inspire great change. When Wangari saw the forests of her native Kenya destroyed, causing many problems for the local people, she started planting trees. Twenty-five years later thirty million trees had been planted, eighty thousand people had better incomes, and thirty African countries were part of her Green Belt Movement. In Wangari’s words, “we are called to assist the Earth to heal her wounds and in the process heal our own…”

images-2The Peace Book by Todd Parker. In bold colors and happy childlike drawings, the author/illustrator explains the many ideas of peace, such as “peace is watching it snow”, “peace is helping your neighbor”, and “peace is being who you are.”

images-3 Can you say Peace? by Karen Katz. Learn how children all around the globe say “peace” in their own language.