Sunday, March 13, 2011

This Librarian's Quick Picks: Elementary Edition

book cover for Miss Lina's Ballerinas by Gracca Maccarone
Miss Lina's Ballerinas
by Grace Maccarone
Grades PreS-1

Ballet instructor Miss Lina has a solution when her eight students, who always dance in pairs, are distraught when a ninth girl joins the class.

Why You'll Love It:

  • Davenier’s free-spirited drawings and color washes add a sense of music as well as movement to the scenes.
  • It reminds me of the Madeline books.
  • Makes a great introduction to a math lesson on number groupings.

book cover for Rain School by James Rumford
Rain School
by James Rumford
Grades K-3

The children arrive on the first day of school and build a mud structure to be their classroom for the next nine months until the rainy season comes and washes it all away.

Why You'll Love It:

  • This book gives young children a glimpse into the school life of children in another part of the world.
  • The message of the story is clear-while the school structure may be temporary, education is permanent.
  • Rumford's illustrations make great use of color, dark brown skin and bright shirts, shorts and dresses against golden backgrounds, the hues applied in smudgy layers that infuse each scene with warmth-until the gray rains arrive. 

book cover for Emma Dilemma by Kristine O'Connell George
Emma Dilemma: Big Sister Poems
by Kristine O'Connell George
Grades 1-4

A collection of poems in which Jess explores the joys and aggravations of being Emma's big sister.

Why You'll Love It:

  • The straightforward, honest poems contain a whole range of feelings: embarrassment, fury, affection, and pure terror.
  • The poems and art tell an absorbing story -- complete with a few tense moments and a warm, believable conclusion.
  • Spring-colored line drawings in pen-and-ink and digital media are filled with engaging details, expressive characters, and lots of humor, and bring the family dynamics to life.

book cover for Gold! Gold from the American River! by Don Brown
Gold! Gold from the American River!
by Don Brown
Grades 4-6

Introduces young readers to the history of the California gold rush, describing the journey to California, the process of panning for gold, and the fortunes that this gold brought many different people.

Why You'll Love It:

  • The author does not hesitate to reveal the darker side of mining communities. One illustration vividly depicts the shotgun murder of an American Indian, with a description of the tragic fate of many Indians in the goldfields through violence, disease, and enslavement.
  • The inventive page compositions and scratchy watercolor cartoon figures carry small, telling dramas (the tiny grin that punctuates a successful panner’s face is priceless), and sweeping western landscapes come into full relief.

book cover for Encyclopedia Brown by Donald J. Sobol
Encyclopedia Brown and the Case of the Secret UFOs
by Donald J. Sobol
Grades 2-4

Ten brief cases allow the reader to match wits with ten-year-old crime-buster, Encyclopedia Brown, as he investigates such cases as whether a diary of George Washington's mother is authentic, or if a UFO picture supposedly taken by the army is real.

Why You'll Love It:

  • Each of the ten chapters is a brief, self-contained mystery; readers might choose to dip into the book, reading a case or two at a time, or they may devour the book in one sitting.
  • James Bernardin’s detailed illustrations enhance the stories, showing Encyclopedia Brown in action.
  • Young sleuths can consult the solutions at the back of the book—whether they’re stumped or to confirm their exceptional detective work.

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