Saturday, February 27, 2010

Fanny & Annabelle

Fanny & AnnabelleI must confess, I love love love finding books that are so so perfect for Writing Workshop because you children see themselves in those stories. This is the case of Fanny & Annabelle by Holly Hobbie. This is the story of Fanny who decides that a drizzly and dreary weather day is a perfect day to make her own picture book. So first Annabelle decides that her main character will be her favorite doll: Annabelle. So when you open the book flat, you'll see Fanny thinking about the story, and when you turn the page, you will see "the story" itself. The author uses a different font to that readers can understand the difference and see Fanny's story as she is writing it. As Fanny thinks about the story, she runs into the problem. And this is where her imagination as a writer starts to bloom because of the choices she makes. There is always one part in the writing process where the writer feels stuck, needs to take a pause, and walk away from the piece of writing in order to find either inspiration or clarity. And Fanny soon encounters real problems in life as she is trying to define the problem in her story. A great book to model for children how the writing process is a long journey. Writing is a process that takes time and deserves to be given time. I hope that when you read this book, you can find its endless possibilities like I did. Enjoy the journey and Happy Reading!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Older Than the Stars

Older Than The Stars by Karen C. Fox is a must read book. So many readers are familiar with the traditional structure of accumulative tale used in several books like This Is The House That Jack Built. This book follows that pattern in order to teach the Theory of the Big Bang, how the stars were created and finally how planets and human beings appeared.
This nonfiction book is easy to read and love because Karen Fox's rhyming makes you want to keep on reading and turning the page. There is so much scientific information when it comes down to talk about the Big Bang but the author does such a brilliant job presenting all those pieces of information in the most creative way.
The vertical and colorful timeline synthesizes all the learning in an easy to follow, comprehendible way. The Glossary at the end of the book completes and wraps up this nonfiction way in a perfect way.
The illustrator Nancy Davis did an EXTRAORDINARY job balancing all those scientific facts with touches of vivid colors, splashes of paint, and playful typography designs.

Would you like to explore more? Head over to

Sunday, February 21, 2010

One Weighs A Ton

One Weighs a TonOh you will love this new lift the flaps an touch-and feel-book! Salina Yoon created One Weighs a Ton, a wonderful counting book which is an invitation to count while enjoying some rhyming and sensory details.
When you open the book, you'll see on the left hand side, the number written in a rhyme, and on the right hand side, you will see a picture resembling that number. But the picture is actually a clue to the rhyme, so when you lift the flap, you'll find the answer to the rhyme. But it does not end there, Salina Yoon included a question about the animal that starts with either WHY, HOW, WHICH, WHAT. The answer, which is of course a FACT about the animal, is shared in each page.
And for our little readers, who love to touch and feel, there is a small part of the picture that invite those little hands to "feel" the picture. I'm sure our young readers (Preschool-1) would enjoy this book over and over.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Meet this Writer from Ohio!

Coming Jan. 26, 2010

Are you ready for some sweet rhymes at night time? Are you ready for some sweet rhymes & Lullaby? Are you ready to enjoy them under a starry night? I hope so. Sweet Dreams Lullaby by Betsy Snyder is a sweet book filled with the most tender lullaby that will relax anyone, even the most reluctant little ones. When you open the book, you will find some fun illustrations made out of the constellations in the sky, encouraging imagination and creativity.

The first sweet lullaby on page one sets the mood for the rest of the book:

The day is done. It's time for bed.
Let the peaceful moments fill your head.
so cuddle up and snuggle in,
and let your happy dreams begin.

Each lullaby is kept within the four lines of rhymes keeping it short and sweet. Sensory details are hiding behind each lullaby and each one is supported with colorful illustrations. The sweet details in the pictures, like the dandelions and weeping pillows balance and complements the lullaby perfectly.
Please visit the author's blog. It is way way cool. I love reading the behind the scenes when creating a book, especially with Betsy being the author and the illustrator. Another great Ohio writer. Look at Ohio blooming with amazing writers! Let's keep the inspiration all around!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Slow Down for Manatees

Slow Down for ManateesI was so glad to pick up this book at our amazing Columbus Metropolitan Library. Slow Down For Manatees by Jim Arnosky is a fictional story but it was inspired by true events. Did you know that the most common danger manatees encounter are the sharp blades of boat propellers? This book relates the story of a manatee who got injured by such boat propellers. The manatee needed to be taken care of and heal properly before being released back to its habitat. It was a wonderful surprise for the people that were taking care of her to find out she was pregnant. And so it was that this gorgeous, huge, once free manatee gave birth to her little one in a small tank. Luckily, there are many people dedicated to rescuing injured manatees and who also respect their natural habitat. Signs were placed everywhere in shallow waters to warn boaters to SLOW DOWN for Manatees. I can see the endless possibilities for discussion in the classroom after reading this book. When we find powerful books like this one, it is up to us (teachers) to provide TIME for our students to share their questions, their wonders, their observations. Nothing is more valuable than giving opportunities for students to share their thoughts. Happy Reading Journey!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Bob Shea's New book

Race You to Bed Race you to Bed by Bob Shea might just be the book you were looking for if you want the little ones to hurry up and go to bed already. If you like Dinosaur Vs. Bedtime, then you know you will enjoy this one as well. Nothing will move a child faster than the word: RACE. And that is exactly what Bob Shea shares with us by writing a story about an adorable fluffy bunny who is ready for bed but one who will make his journey to the finish line a FUN one. On the way to bed, he will encounter adventures and paths that will make the journey such an spectacular one. And when he finally makes it to bed and you thought the race was over, he challenges you to one more thing...

Bob Shea's books are so much fun for the little ones. He knows how to make them beg for the story to be read "one more time!" Bravo for his new book, bravo, bravo!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Poetry Friday

An Egret's DayFriends & Family know how much I love poetry. Friends & Family also know how much I love photography. So when I see both of my loves in one book, I know I am in heaven! This is the case of An Egret's Day by Jane Yolen.
The book starts with Eight Words About an Egret followed by a Haiku about them. Browsing the table of contents gives you a clear picture of the poems you will read and the information you will learn about Egrets. I love the layout of this book: stunning photographs by photographer by Jason Stemple, the thoughtful poems by Jane Yolen and a paragraph with a short information about these magnificent creatures of nature. The glossy pages and the careful pastel color pages give it all a final touch.

One of my favorite poems in the book is title...
Measure Me
by Jane Yolen

I am a tower
of strength,
a bird
of great length.
I am tall,
of much height,
a long arrow
in flight.
My wings
almost span
the full length
of a man.

Look on me
and delight
if you will,
if you can.

Isn't Jane Yolen just incredible? She is just brilliant.

Some amazing facts about Egrets that I learned from this book include:

Did you know that in the late nineteenth century, an once of egret plumes was worth an ounce of gold?
Egrets are known as the best fishermen in the animal kingdom?
Did you know that there are different names for Egrets depending of where people come from? For example, in France it is called Greande Aigrette; in Spain is called Garza Blanca; and in English is also known as the Great White Heron? Love little fascinating facts.

Hope your Friday is filled with poetry. The round up for Poetry Friday is hosted by Lee Wind today at I'm Here. I'm Queer. What the Hell do I Read?

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Special Love Edition

Valentine's Day is coming up and why not share the Love with some adorable new books:

Product Details

Meet the adorable cat named Henry who has a crush on a cute bunny named Cloe. One day Henry's mom prepared blueberry muffins for school. Henry's saves them for snack time. In the meantime, Henry is at school trying to impress little Cloe by doing a forward roll. But Cloe is also special and she knows how to impress Henry by doing a spectacular cartwheel. What can Henry do to get closer to Cloe? Well, when the teacher makes some seat arrangements in the classroom, a great opportunity shows up for Henry. All love problems can be solved with a blueberry muffin, if you are lucky enough just like Henry and Cloe are. This book is one that the little ones will absolutely love (Preschool-1). I particularly enjoyed the illustrations which stands out against those color creme pages. Peter McCarty has chosen his colors very carefully on each page, the combinations are perfect. Peter McCarty has won a Caldecott Honor in 2003 for his book Hondo & Fabian.

Kiss Kiss
I can see the little ones laughing and making silly faces as this book is being read aloud. A great fun. So what is a kiss like? well it depends who is giving you a using similes, the author shares what a kiss might feel like if you get one from grandma or grandpa, or even the puppy.
For example, "My Grandma's kiss is noisy. Very noise! Just like she's enjoying a lollipop."
Using the sweetest adjectives, similes and comparisons, the author finds the right way to describe that a kiss can feel very different but the best kisses come from the ones you love. The illustrations in this book are very soft, and gentle, with many pink and red colors all around. It definitely matches the theme of the book perfectly!

The I Love You Book by Todd Parr
I am a big fan of Todd Parr. I think he is like Mo Willems, one of those great writers that understand children, and know how to get to them with their stories. I have used his books in my classroom for different projects, and I have used The Peace Book for my Cultural Festival project last year. In this new book, Todd Parr follows the pattern, "I love you when..." A great language structure that facilitates understanding and repetition. I love the presentation of one situation..."I Love You when you are scared" and then the opposite " I Love You when you are brave." The big colorful illustrations are always so much fun and the use of primary colors in all the illustrations stand out a lot. My students are very familiar with Todd Parr's books and honestly I can't wait to share this one with them.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Beautiful Language All Around!

Where Is Catkin?It is a treat to my ears and to my voice when I find books that captures language in a fun, playful way. They make you want to read aloud those books over and over. A while ago I wrote a post on Cathy MacLennan and her great work as a writer. Her books encourage children to listen to language carefully, to manipulate and play with it. The following new books fit under that category as well.

Where is Catkin? by Janet Lord is the story of a little cat named Catkin who jumps off Amy's lap to go after...

a cricket
a frog
a mouse
a snake
a bird

...until landing back in Amy's arms where Catkin belongs. Janet Lord keeps a predictable structure for each page by providing clues of the animals that Catkin hunts. The use of onomatopoeia throughout the book gives it a perfect touch and keeps the audience engaged.

Higgledy-Piggledy Chicks

Higgledy-Piggledy Chicks by Barbara Joosse. Oh the first page of this book catches my attention immediately...

Here's the barnyard
in the deep, dark night-
everything in its place, waiting.

So what are we going to find in this quiet barnyard? Well, Benty Hen along with the Aunties live in this barn. Benty Hen has seven perfect eggs, and when those 7 eggs hatched, the adventures in the barnyard begins. The seven little chicks scoot higgledy-piggledy all around the barn, curiously and playfully.
The author Barbara Joosse, just like Janet Lord, uses repetitions, and sound words to spice up her story. The repeating line: one, two, three, four, five, six, seven invites children to count along each time. And look at how she uses language with sound words to create a vivid picture:

What's out there? What's that? Zzzzip. She scoots away. Then, zzzzip... zzzzip...zzzzip...zzzzip...zzzip! Seven fuzzy chicks higgledy-piggledy. Mama clucks. Kuk! Come when I call. Kaak! watch out for danger.

Even without looking at the illustration, you can clearly picture this scene because of the amount of vivid details she uses.

As an ESL teacher, I am looking for so many different things before I share a story with my English language learners. Obviously, I look for stories with great story line and illustrations that support the story. But I also pay attention at how language is being used in the story. My dear ELLs need repetition, vivid details, sensory details because all those things will enhance their comprehension as they listen to a story in a foreign language. Please don't misunderstand me, I still read all the great stories available even if they don't include repetitions or sound words. What I AM saying is that as a language teacher, I need to be very intentional with the books I read aloud so that I can make the most out of my ELLs language learning experiences.

Reading as readers, reading as writers, and reading as language watchers...look at some of the many ways we read books depending on the purpose/goal. Either way, let's surround our students with the best literature, they deserve that much. Enjoy the journey and Happy reading time.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Punctuation Celebration


Punctuation Celebration
Punctuation Celebration by Elsa Knight Bruno and illustrated by Jenny Whitehead is a book that makes teaching Punctuation so much fun, teaching it through poems. You will find a total of 14 fun poems covering periods, quotation marks, parentheses and many others. The punctuation is marked in red in each poem, standing out, making it easier to spot and showing through the poem how is used. The author Elsa Knight Bruno is an Ohio writer who taught Kindergarten for 29 years. This is her first picture book! Congratulations!
The illustrator of this book is pure fun. She enhances each poem with illustrations that shows again the punctuation being used. For example, on the page explaining the use of quotation marks, there is a picture of Abraham Lincoln with his tall hat and the words "Four Score-and Seven Years Ago..." I can see the use of this book during Writer's Workshop mini lessons. I think children enjoy rhythm, language and patterns. And these punctuation poems have all that and much more.

Please head over to Great Kid Books for the round up of Poetry Friday. I am looking forward to get inspired by other poetry. Enjoy the weekend. I am looking forward to a weekend full of learning at the Reading Recovery Conference here in Columbus, Ohio.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Two great stories, One common problem.

I remember when I was a child being scared of the dark. I was definitely one of those kids that would call mom over and over. So, of course I saw a little bit of me in these two stories about being afraid at night and not being able to fall asleep right away.

There's No Such Thing As Monsters!There's No Such a Thing as MONSTERS! by Steve Smallman. I am very sure many of your students will relate to this book the way I did when I read it. This is the story about Little Bear who is so excited to finally have his very own room as all big bears do. But the first night at a new room is so frightened (I hope you are nodding your head with me), every noise you hear seems to "be something". That's what is like for Little Bear who is missing his Big Brother on this first adventure night. But good and protective brothers as Big Brother is never but a couple of steps away. I am sure that you will also enjoy the tender illustrations in this book, the great sound words and the suspense feeling all throughout the book.
One More Hug For MadisonOne More Hug for Madison by Caroline Jayne Church. In this story, the main character is Madison, an adorable little mouse who is very good at following the routine before going to bed. She knows what to do before bedtime: put the toys away, wash her whiskers, brush her teeth and put on her pajamas. Mom is always ready to read Madison one story before she sleeps, but right after Mom finishes her book, Madison needs one more thing...

her little Molly Mouse to keep her company...
another blanket to keep her warm...
another glass of water...

and pretty soon, all these back and forth that Madison's mom has to do, end up exhausting her. And so goes the story of a little frightened mouse and the endless love of a mom who would do anything so her little one can have a good night sleep.

Can anyone relate to either character in this book?? Oh, I am sure some of you do. :)
Happy Reading!.