This week I read a nice healthy stack, with several new authors to me, including the talented Tim Egan and Sharon Creech. The pile also included some books by favorite authors Patricia Pollaco and Chris Van Allsburg. Interestingly, most of the picture books that I read were written and illustrated by the same person, which isn’t always the case. Super gifted people! Hurray for reading as I head into the home stage of my reading challenge . . . less than twenty days left.
My Goal: 75 Books in 75 Days
Days so Far: 56
Read, so far: 54
Children’s, picture books
- The Z Was Zapped: A Play in Twenty-six Acts, written and illustrated by Chris Van Allsburg: A terrific alphabet book sure to appeal to older children because of it’s whimsical illustrations. The vocabulary used is also more advanced than your typical A to Z book. During my student teaching time, I used it as part of a vocabulary study with 5th graders.
- Two Bad Ants, written and illustrated by Chris Van Allsburg: Van Allsburg seems to have a penchant for spinning the usual, into the unusual. The two ants of the title are out collecting food for the group when they decide to stay at their collection site, rather than return with the group. We, the readers, realize where they are (inside of an apartment kitchen), but the ants don’t so the story and illustrations are told from their point of view as they venture into this foreign, often periloous adventure. Younger readers might need you to pull them along on some of the inferences, but older readers, 8 and up, should delight in the ants predicament.
- Ginger and Petunia, written and illustrated by Patricia Polacco: Pollaco is one of my favorite picture book authors, and while my favorites tend to be her books that celebrate the messages of family and acceptance, this book is pure fun. Ginger, the glamorous piano teacher, leaves her beloved pet pig, Petunia, alone while on a trip. The pig assumes the identity of her owner in several comical outings, all the while longing for her mud bath. My youngest gave this lots of gigles. Great for for ages 4-8 years.
- Jonathan and the Big Blue Boat, written and illustrated by Philip C. Stead: An imaginative tale of Jonathan on a quest to reunite with his beloved teddy bear. Charming illustrations take you on a journey across the sea where many new friends are met. Collage and bright acrylics are used to create very rich images that remind me in ways of Jack Ezra Keats’ work. This would be great for preschoolers, or early elementary aged children.
- The Pink Refrigerator, by written and illustrated by Tim Egan: My first Tim Egan book, but definitely not my last! This one stars a recurring character Dodsworth, who begins the book trying to “do as little as possible”. That changes however as he begins to receive secret messages via an old pink refrigerator at the junkyard. Will he change his ways? You’ll need to read it to find out. Very cute and I will certainly be looking for more Dodsworth adventures! I’d recommend it for kids 4-8.
- Distant Feathers, written and illustrated by Tim Egan: An oversized bird magically appears in town and Sedric befriends him. Once he learns that the bird just wants bread, they agree he can stay if he helps out. Often his help is more trouble than its worth to the townspeople. When Feathers gets swept away in a storm, however, the town realizes just how much they miss him. Good for readers aged 4-8.
- Beethoven Lives Upstairs, written by Barbara Nichol and illustrated by Scott Cameron: Written as a series of letters between a boy living in Vienna and his uncle. The great composer moves into the upper level of the boy’s house during his rather animated last years of life. The boy is often confused and even horrified by the musician’s behaviors, but the uncle tries to explain that what he is really seeing is pure genius. Good for kids ages 8-11.
- Jenny and the Cat Club: A Collection of Favorite Stories About Jenny Linsky, written and illustrated by Esther Averill: What a gem of a book! A perfect step-up from traditional “easy-readers” as the sentence length and vocabulary are slightly more challenging. The subject of animals will certainly appeal to emerging readers as will the tales of friendship, adventure, and courage. The book is filled with simple, but lovely illustrations. I’m so glad that Anita Silvey profiled this older book (the stories were originally published separately in the 1940s and 50s) this summer on her amazing resource website: The Children’s Book-A-Day Almanac. I highly recommend this book for emerging readers in K-2 grades.
- Love That Dog and Hate That Cat by Sharon Creech: These books blew me away. I kept thinking, as I was reading them with my second grade daughter, what a different appreciation of poetry I would have, if I’d been introduced to it in this way. I confess, I don’t like poetry, but maybe these books will change my mind. Both books are set up with the onesided correspondence between a boy, Jack, and his teacher as she teaches and he discovers poetry. Along the way, you learn about what a special kid Jack is, as well. Both books brought tears to my eyes. Probably best read by kids in grades 4-6, it could be used in a heavily guided and annotated way with younger kids.
- To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee: Yes, a re-read of one of my all-time favorite books. It did not disappoint, but only reaffirmed it’s place of honor on that list. I love it for the story, but mainly for it’s characters. Atticus Finch is a hero in my eye as the patient father, and as a just and courageous man. My kids are lobbying hard to get two kittens after our cat of 18 years makes his exit. I think I will agree to it eventually, but only if we can name the pair Atticus and Finch.