The Totally Secret Secret by Bob Shea: This books guides young readers in this easy reader format book on how to get along with friends. Sparkles, the horse, is not completely fond of ballet and he finds a way to tell Ballet Cat without hurting her feelings.
The Curvy Tree by Chris Colfer: A lonely girl tells the tree her troubles. A sad little girl runs to the forest to cry under a tree which turns out to be the Curvy Tree. The tree talks to her. She tells the tree that children make fun of her glasses and her curly hair. The tree then tells her his story about how other trees made fun of his curvy trunk and loopy branches. Because he was different, the wood cutters left him alone. They didn’t see the beauty in him or how he could be used to make anything. He tells her that after he grew up, he was able to see lots of other curvy trees in the forest. The little girl climbs up and sees other children like her in the other curvy trees. The story is a good example of an extended metaphor comparing the girl to the tree, and how after they mature, they see the value in themselves and others.
Revenge of the Dinotrux by Chris Gall: This book shows how angry the mechanical dinosaur exhibit got after being mistreated by kindergartners on a field trip. They break out, but find their way to the school where the children teach them to read and to thank them, they build a playground for the children. They learn to help each other and become friends.
Finders Keepers by Will and Nicolas: When two dogs can’t get along and share a big bone, they ask the advise of several people and animals who make them decide that sharing is the best advice of all.
Hello, My Name is Ruby by Philip C. Stead: Ruby has never seen another bird like herself, but she does want to have friends. She sets out to introduce herself to every bird she meets. She gets to try things she has never tried before. This pattern book will delight young readers. There’s a text-to-text connection with Leo Lionni’s Swimmy when a flock of birds for themselves into the shape of an elephant to appear large. The last bird she meets takes her to a tree where a flock of birds like her are roosting. Friendship takes us places we may have never gone to alone.
Schema: Sharing, friendship
The story is set in a refugee camp in Pakistan. Two girls, age ten, meet as they both get one each of a pair of sandals dropped off by a relief truck. The next day, Lina gives Feroza the sandal. Feroza suggests they share taking turns each day. The girls share their experiences of losing family and the sacrifices of being refugees and develop a caring friendship. They shared their hopes for finding a new home. They recognize the beginning of Ramadan.
Characterization: Lina and Feroza were both compassionate and caring, and both have a desire to learn. Although they were not allowed to go to school with the boys, they would listen by the window and practice writing in the dirt.
Symbolism: The sandals represented hope for finding each other in America some day. Each girl kept one as they parted.
Realistic Fiction: The story is based on real experiences in a refugee camp and can help readers to feel compassion for others who are homeless and immigrating into another country.
Throckmorton S. Monkey, a great listener and narrator, tells the story about nine-year-old, Annaliese Easterling, whose mother ran away when she was only a baby. Her father is busy, and they are very wealthy, so she is cared for by a nanny. There is a secret about why Annaliese Easterling’s mother left, and Annaliese is determined to find out what it is. As the story begins, the sock monkey’s of the children and grandchildren of Grandmother Easterling receive a formal invitation inviting them and their owner to her 90th birthday party. Grandmother had made and named each of them a sock monkey when they were born. Talk begins throughout the family that if they do not have their sock monkey they might get excluded from Grandmother’s will. Annaliese and her eleven-year-old twin brothers, take to the attic to find their castaway sock monkeys and discover a suitcase filled with clothes that once belonged to their mother. Annaliese takes the clothes and begins wearing them in her room as she thinks about her mother.
The monkeys observe the humans and although they can not talk, they are always great listeners who love them. This story is like The Velveteen Rabbit, The Westingame, and Mary Poppins all rolled into one with a mystery and a surprise ending. I highly recommend it to readers of all ages who love a wholesome mystery with a happy ending.
What a creative and thought-provoking, rhyming book for both adults and children!
As an elementary school librarian who reads books aloud to children every day, I can see this one as a book that will capture their attention because there is substance here that will connect with their prior knowledge to make this book worthy of their time. I predict that this title will be on several award lists this year. Readers are challenged to use their imaginations to repurpose and recycle objects that they own or discover on their path.
The illustrations, created by Terri Murphy, and names of the characters are multi-ethnic featuring children of all races. The expressions show joy, contentment, and pure fun as they “ramble” around the neighborhood. Even the kid who makes fun at first is motivated to join in the fun.
Text-to-Self: Can you think of something you have re-used as a pencil container? Ever made a jewelry box from an egg carton?
Text-to-Text: Oliver by Birgitta Sif; Not a Box by Antoinette Portis
Compare and Contrast: How is each “find” similar and different from what they imagine it to be?
Mental Image: Can you imagine the “find” being what they imagine it to be?
Predicting: Try predicting what the items on the last page might be used for. There is an illustration, but no text so the reader has to use his or her imagination to infer or predict what these could be used for.
Synthesis: Can you think of other things their “finds” could be? Can you think of something you see that could be like something else? Think about the places you like to play and what you have played with there. I remember as a child playing house inside a group of Cedar trees where there was a small clearing in the middle of them. It was like nature made me my own playhouse.
Extension: Do a search on the Internet to find how people have repurposed what might be trash to some people into useful or artistic objects.
A review copy of this book was provided by the publisher.
Schema: animal friendships, pets that get along with each other
Text-to-Text Connections: Owen and Mzee: The Story of a Remarkable Friendship by Isabella Hatkoff. In both stories the animals feel a close connection with one another.
Summarizing: Students can sequence and summarize the events in the story.
Compare and Contrast: Compare the two stories animal events
Text-to-Self Connections: making new friends
Schema: original Goldilocks and the Three Bears story
Text-to-Text Connections: Both stories have a similar plot
Compare and Contrast: What are the differences about and similarities of the Goldilocks characters?
What are the differences and similarities with the houses?
Synthesis: Can you think of another place Goldilocks could visit that would teach readers about manners or books?
Goldie Socks is a great book for librarians to use with library orientation in elementary school. I love the part where the books were returned to the shelf upside down and backwards. If anything could help students learn to put the books back where they go, oh the joy!
Schema: bossy friends or siblings
Text-to-Text Connections: In both books the main character has to deal with being bossy and the consequences
Compare and Contrast: Compare the bossy action in each story. In Ladybug girl, Lulu apologizes and KiKi accepts. In Tony Baloney, when given the opportunity to be in charge, Tony begins to boss his younger siblings as he was treated.
Synthesis: I wonder if the readers of these two stories would follow KiKi’s model or Tony’s model after being bossed. Do you think kids that are bossy, have been bossed around by big sisters or brothers? What could you say to your friends who act bossy toward you?
Schema: Goldilocks stories
Text-to-Text: Goldilocks and the Three Bears
Drawing Conclusions: Find text evidence to support the conclusion that the dinosaurs were setting a trap for Goldilocks.
Synthesis: Can you think of any other morals for the story?
Compare and Contrast: the original story with this one.
Characterization: Find the text where Goldilock’s character is described.
Point of View: The dinosaurs point of view is not the innocent one of the bears, but one of calculating prey looking forward to setting a trap for delicious, chocolate-filled Goldilocks.
Schema: best friends being apart for summer vacation
Two doggie best friends who do everything together are separated when Jinx and his family go on a week long summer vacation. Trixie uses her imagination to entertain herself until Jinx gets back home by reading, eating, trying to play with a spider, a mouse, some ants, bees, and a snake but none can take the place of Jinx. Rhyming text and colorful illustrations will keep students interested.
Compare and Contrast what Danitra does while her best friend is on vacation.
Text to text connection: Danitra Brown Leaves Town by Nikki Grimes
Text-to-Text: Ugly Duckling
Drawing Conclusions: Guji Guji draws the conclusion that he would rather live with those who love him than the crocodiles who want to eat the ducks.
Compare and Contrast: The Ugly Duckling
Synthesis: Rewrite the ending of the Ugly Duckling as if the swans wanted to harm the ducks that raised her.