Saturday, January 29, 2011

What They're Reading


When my middle school students come to the library each week, I like to pick their brains and see what they're actually reading for fun these days. It helps me keep up with what I need to have in the library collection and what I should be reading. Here's a sampling from some enthusiastic 6th grade readers...



Tuesday, January 11, 2011

This Librarian's Quick Picks: Elementary Edition

Welcome Home, Mouse
by Elisa Kleven

Summary:

Stanley, who is very clumsy, accidentally smashes Mouse's house, then promises to try to make a new one.

Why You'll Love It:
  • Lovingly detailed artwork will draw children back to the book again and again. Elisa Kleven’s collage illustrations are a rich tapestry of color, texture, and pattern.
  • The plot reads as a how-to for Kleven’s artistic process. Stanley collects small objects throughout the story, and pieces them together to make a beautiful new home for Mouse. Children, in turn, may be inspired to create their own collages or dioramas.
  • Kleven shows that good deeds matter a whole lot more than mistakes. Stanley’s clumsiness costs Mouse her home, but Stanley’s thoughtfulness gives her both a new home and a new friendship.

    A String of Hearts
    by Laura Malone Elliot

    Summary:

    Sam's friend Mary helps him make a special valentine for the girl he likes, but when that girl does not notice him Sam realizes he already has a special person in his life. Includes facts and information about the history of Valentine's Day.

    Why You'll Love It:
    • Laura Malone Elliott’s big-hearted story nudges Sam toward the realization that his friends are the people who appreciate him—which is why it’s important, in turn, to appreciate his friends.
    • Lynn Munsinger’s watercolor art is cheery and simple without being simplistic. Doing away with most background detail, Munsinger uses white space and light washes to draw attention to the characters and their body language. Mary Ann, for example, has an adorably oversized tail that often clues readers into her emotions; it perks up when she spots Sam, then sags when Sam admits his crush on Tiffany, a popular classmate.
    • Teachers can use A String of Hearts as a jumping-off point for Valentine’s Day history lessons—an end note explains the origins of the holiday—or craft and writing projects. As Mary Ann says to Sam, valentines are unique opportunities to reflect on “why you like a person” and “what’s special about her.”

      You Read to Me, I'll Read to You: Very Short Fables to Read Together
      by Mary Ann Hoberman
      Genre: Poetry/Fables

      Summary:

      A collection of short retellings of Aesop's fables, each told in two voices designed especially for young children and adults to read together.

      Why You'll Love It:
      • Mary Ann Hoberman and Michael Emberley combine talents to wonderful effect in thirteen clever retellings of Aesop’s fables.
      • An author’s note and a brief introduction explain the book’s concept and how to read the text in two voices: clear, color-coded typography and page design make it easy for readers to know when it’s their turn.
      • Begs to be read aloud! Hoberman uses an impressive economy of words for each fable; her brief lines of text brim with simple rhymes, alliteration, and repetition.
      • Readers will enjoy Emberley’s characters, which exude liveliness and humor in expression and body language.

        Elsie's Bird
        by Jane Yolen

        Summary:

        Young Elsie must find a way to adapt to her new home on the Nebraska prairie after she and her father leave their comfortable city life in Boston.

        Why You'll Love It:
        • A touching story about family, loss, change, and what makes a house a home.
        • Throughout her lyrical text, Jane Yolen refers to everyday noises including human voices, church bells, and bird calls, effectively drawing attention to the pervasiveness and emotional power of sound. “Sitting there by the burbling creek, in the green-gold grass, under the sun-washed sky, Elsie finally heard the voice of the plains.”
        • With striking beauty, David Small’s watercolor and pastel illustrations perfectly capture the contrasting city and prairie environments. The people, animals, and buildings of Boston give way to vast expanses of plains and sky. As Elsie comes to see Nebraska as home, greater detail and more color enter the artwork.

          The Taxing Case of the Cows: A True Story About Suffrage
          by Iris Van Rynbach
          Genre: Nonfiction

          Summary:

           Sisters Abby and Julia Smith attract the attention of women's suffrage supporters across the country when they refuse to pay property taxes on their cows because they are not allowed to vote--a case they say is taxation without representation.

          Why You'll Love It:
          • This engrossing true story highlights the importance of advocacy and community involvement in bringing about change. It also shows how the efforts of just a few people can affect many people.
          • Emily Arnold McCully’s richly detailed paintings reveal extensive historical research, accurately portraying the dress, technology, and customs of the time period.
          • A useful starting point for a variety of civics discussions, including women’s suffrage, tax law, and property rights.
          • An author’s note provides more information about the “"feisty and independent” Smith sisters and the rest of their remarkable family.