Saturday, February 28, 2009

Weekly Blog Plan, March 2-6

Here’s the weekly blog plan! Again, please remember this is subject to change and is dependent upon whether or not my materials come in from the library as planned. I realize that this may fall too late for you to use in your classroom this year, but the activities will definitely swing from year-to-year! If you see something you really wanted to incorporate into your classroom, leave me a comment on this post or send me an e-mail, I’d be glad to provide you with the links I have, if nothing more!

Monday, March 2 - National Sleep Awareness Month (Bedtime Stories)

* It's Time to Sleep My Love, Eric Metaxas
* K is for Kiss Goodnight, Jill Sardenga
* Don't Let the Pigeon Stay Up Late, Mo Willems

Tuesday, March 3 - Patricia MacLachlan's Birthday (71)

* Once I Ate a Pie
* More Perfect Than The Moon

Wednesday, March 4 - National Grammar Day

* If You Were an Adjective, Michael Dahl
* A Mink, A Fink, A Skating Rink, Brian P. Cleary
* A-B-C-ing: An Action Alphabet, Janet Beller
* Straight and Curvy, Meek and Nervy: More About Antonyms, Brian P. Cleary

Thursday, March 5 - Merrion Frances (Mem) Fox's Birthday (63)

* Hattie and the Fox
* Where the Giant Sleeps
* A Particular Cow

Friday, March 6 - Whooping Crane Migration

* Song for the Whooping Crane, Eileen Spinelli
* Saving the Whooping Crane, Susan Goodman
* Return of the Whooping Crane, Robin Doughty

Friday, February 27, 2009

National Tooth Fairy Day is Tomorrow!

Tomorrow, Saturday is Naitonal Tooth Fairy Day and because I've heard of so many cute books about teeth and tooth fairies, I just had to go with this one! I've got a couple reviews as well as some cute toys about the tooth fairy to share today!

Child, Lauren.
My Wobbly Tooth Must Not Ever Never Fall Out.
Grosset & Dunlap

Ages: 3-7
Genre: Fiction
Guided Reading Level: N/A

Charlie and Lola are back with another humorous adventure for their fans! Lola's got a loose tooth and she does not want it to fall out! However, big brother and mentor, Charlie, does his best at convincing Lola that her tooth is going to fall out whether or not she wants it to and tries to help her become excited about it by reassuring her that it's supposed to fall out and that it will make room for her grown-up teeth. It doesn't help much and Lola's not convinced at all... until her friend Lotta explains about the tooth fairy! Just as any child gets excited about the prospect of the tooth fairy visiting, Lola sets to work trying get that tooth out as quickly as possible so she can add a giraffe to her and Lotta's farm collection!

Faulkner, Keith.
The Mixed-Up Tooth Fairy.
Scholastic Books Inc.

Ages: 4-7
Genre: Fiction
Guided Reading Level: N/A

The tooth fairy has found a tooth and in doing her job, desperately wants to deliver a surprise to its rightful owner... however, she's not quite sure who that might be! Each page takes the reader on the Tooth Fairy's journey to deliver the surprise, as she tries to match it up to other teeth in the animals' mouths. Cut outs on each page show the tooth fairy attempting to determine if the tooth came from that animal and also explains how the teeth are used by each animal as they are presented. Finally, on the last page, a pull tab shows the tooth fairy as she matches the tooth to a sleeping little boy and is finally able to leave her surprise. The funny illustrations and use of animals, as well as the cut-outs and finally the pull tab at the end will have children begging to hear this story each time they lose a tooth!

Getting Kids Excited About the Tooth Fairy:

Poetry Friday

Some of you may have been wondering what happened to my posts for this week... well, it's winter, and that means I'm sick... yes, I did just get over one ear infection, and came right back down with something else... I think it's the flu - three day fever of almost 102, aches, all that fun. However, I think I'm the upside of this now, so I'm gonna try and catch up a bit! And to start, I've decided to participate Karen's "Poetry Friday," over at Mommy's Favorite Children's Books.

I'm not a HUGE fan of poetry... tended to struggle interpreting most of it when I was younger and just had a hard time focusing on reading it. However, as a teacher, I know poetry has to come into play at some point in time in my future classroom and since I was offered an ARC of Falling Down the Page: A Book of List Poems. The book, I must say, was truly wonderful! The poems are incredibly written - and children will hold them near and dear to their hearts as they will truly be able to connect personally with probably 75% of the poems in the book.

I think this book would make for a wonderful springboard to a writing workshop focusing on list poems. Because of that, I have complied a list of links relating to lesson plans for list poems or just more information regarding list poems. This book will definitely be on the shelf in my future classroom for sharing with students!

If you're interested in finding out more information about any of the books reviewed or if you'd like to purchase the books, click the cover image for a link to

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Mardi Gras!

It's Mardi Gras! Let's celebrate with some Mardi Gras - related children's literature!

Lionni, Leo.
The Greentail Mouse.
A.A. Knopf.

Ages: 4-7
Genre: Fiction, Holidays - Mardi Gras

Guided Reading Level: N/A

One day, a city mouse shows up in the country, and their curious nature makes the country mice inquire about life in the city. The city mouse explains that the city is sad and dangerous most of the time, but there's one day when it's a wonderful place to live - Mardi Gras, or Fat Tuesday, as the city mouse explains and then goes on to share details about a Mardi Gras celebration very similar to that which people celebrate! The country mice become entralled with the idea of Mardi Gras and decide to host their own celebration. However, they become so engrossed with the notion, that they forget that they are just celebrating and soon believe they are true to the role they are playing. It takes some time, but one mouse finally reminds the others that they are not ferocious animals but rather are mice.

This is a cute tail, told in true Lionni fashion that children are sure to love!

Monday, February 23, 2009

Mailbox Monday #2

I may or may not participate in Mailbox Monday (hosted by The Printed Page) every Monday, but I do have a couple of reviews for this week. However, the books did not arrive this past week... I've had them laying around for a couple of weeks, just didn't have the time to get to the reviews before then. However, here they are!

Brown, Jeff (Creator).
Pennypacker, Sara (Author).
Flat Stanley's Worldwide Adventures #1: The Mount Rushmore Calamity
Release Date: April 21, 2009.
HarperCollins Publishers.

Jeff Brown's original character, Stanley, created forty-five years ago, who was flattened by a bulletin board that fell on him in the middle of the night, makes an adventurous return as Sara Pennypacker continues his series, using the same schema of Brown's original Flat Stanley.

I can easily see how children will be drawn to this new series - not only is Stanley a young boy facing the daily trials and tribulations of life, he's also facing flatness, unsure of whether or not he will ever return to his normal being. Despite his flatness, the family continues to try and adapt a somewhat normal lifestyle for Stanley and his younger brother Arthur, by taking them on a road trip to Mount Rushmore in the Black Hills of South Dakota. Throughout the duration of their trip, the Lambchop family faces much adventure, all of which will keep readers captivated. The book does draw in portions of U.S. history.

I feel this book would best be used in an educational setting as a guided reading selection to complement a Social Studies unit on the Gold Rush, Native Americans and/or Mount Rushmore.

Brown, Jeff (Creator).
PennyPacker, Sara (Author).
Flat Stanley's Worldwide Adventures #2: The Great Egyptian Grave Robbery
Release Date: April 21, 2009.
HarperCollins Publishers.

Sara Pennypacker returns in the second of Flat Stanley's Worldwide Adventures - this time he's making the trip on his own, as no mention of his family being involved is mentioned in the letter that Stanley receives one morning before breakfast. Within just a few minutes, Stanley is ready to go, folded up inside the envelope (once again thanks to his being flattened by a falling bulletin board one night). After a long journey, Stanley arrives in Egypt, ready to embark on his adventures while trying to help out in an archaeological project involving deceased pharaohs and tombs inside the pyramids, all important aspects of Egyptian history.

This book reveals a great deal about Egyptian lifestyle and culture and is definitely a worthy read for children who are interested in history or who may be studying about Egypt!

This book is truly wonderful. At first, I thought I was going to have a hard time finishing it, but the farther I got into it, the harder it was to put down. I almost felt as though I was walking alongside Calpurnia in the summer of 1899 on her search for her identity among a family of six brothers and struggling for all intents and purposes, against fulfilling the traditionally female roles at the turn of the century.

Calpurnia is a young girl, eleven years old facing the brink of puberty and what that means for the remains of her life - grooming to be a housewife and mother, not something that Calpurnia is the least bit interested in. As she sets out in hopes of avoiding her mother and the never-ending array of chores set aside for 'girls', Calpurnia ends up taking to her grandfather and is gradually drawn in to his love of exploration and all things science. Soon, Calpurnia begins reading Darwin's Evolution of the Species and despite struggling with the text, continues to show an interest in the topic. Together with her grandfather, Calpurnia is slowing recognizing exactly what it is she's searching for in her life and by the end of the story is more determined than ever to break the stereotypical role inflicted on women by society and dreams to attend college to study science.

This is definitely a worthy read for girls in fourth-seventh grade, especially if they already show a budding interest in science or are struggling to appreciate science. The story would also fit well as part of an integrated unit on evolution, as the subject is highly touched upon in the story.

If you're interested in finding out more information about any of the books reviewed or if you'd like to purchase the books, click the cover image for a link to

I Spy... With My Little Eye

Today is Walter Wick's birthday. Wick is the award winning author and photographer of children's books, probably most well known for his "I Spy" series.

I was very much looking forward to reviewing one of these books, as well as several others of his, as "I Spy" was a game my family used to play all the time - on road trips, in doctor's offices while waiting for appointments, while eating dinner... However, the books I had on order from the local library did not receive and therefore, I am not able to do a review. I would ask that today, in honor of Wick's birthday, that if any of you readers have had any experience with these books, that you might post a comment, leaving your feedback on them - I know they are quite popular with kids and many of you have probably seen them before!

You can also honor Wick on his birthday, by checking out these websites:
If you're interested in finding out more information about any of the books reviewed or if you'd like to purchase the books, click the cover image for a link to

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Weekly Blog Plan, February 23-27

Here’s the weekly blog plan! Again, please remember this is subject to change and is dependent upon whether or not my materials come in from the library as planned. I realize that this may fall too late for you to use in your classroom this year, but the activities will definitely swing from year-to-year! If you see something you really want to incorporate into your classroom, leave me a comment on this post or send me an e-mail, I’d be glad to provide you with the links I have, if nothing more!

Monday, February 23 – Walter Wick’s Birthday (56)
o I Spy: Treasure Hunt
o I Spy: Fantasy
o I Spy a School Bus

Tuesday, February 24 – Mardi Gras
o The Greentail Mice, Leo Lionni
o Mardi Gras: A Cajun Country Celebration, Diane Hoyt-Goldsmith

Wednesday, February 25 – Ash Wednesday
o Seven Little Rabbits, John Becker
o The Little Rabbit Who Wanted Red Wings, Carolyn Sherwin Bailey
o The Country Bunny and the Little Gold Shoes, DuBose Heyward

Thursday, February 26 – Sharon Bell Mathis’ Birthday (72)
o Hundred Penny Box

Friday, February 27 – Saturday – National Tooth Fairy Day
o The Mixed-Up Tooth Fairy, Faulkner
o My Wobbly Tooth Must Not Ever Never Fall Out, Lauren Child
o You Think It’s Easy Being the Tooth Fairy?, Sheri Bell-Rehwoldt

Friday, February 20, 2009

Who's Ever Heard of Hoodie Hoo Day?!

Today, residents of the Northern Hemisphere are encouraged to celebrate the Hoodie Hoo Day! Hoodie Hoo Day is a little-known quirky holiday that acts as a way to chase away Winter and bring in Spring. If you're like me and many other people in the Northern Hemisphere (sick and tired of winter, going crazy being cooped up inside and facing a severe lack of sunshine), get outside at high noon, wave your hands over your head and chant "Hoodie Hoo!"

Today's reviews are books that will inspire kids to participate in Hoodie Hoo Day - books where the main characters are sick of winter or who are trying to bring on the Spring season!

Bailey, Carolyn Sherwin.
Miss Hickory.
Viking Press.

Ages: 8-12
Genre: Fiction
Guided Reading Level: L

Miss Hickory is a doll made of typical New England origins... the body of an applewood twig with a hickory nut head. During the warm seasons, Miss Hickory resides in a corncob hut. However, the residence where she usually spends winters is going to be leaving the countryside. Miss Hickory's friend Crow sets her up to live inside a warm nest of a shelter where she will ride out the long months of winter. However, come springtime, Miss Hickory is more than ready the change of weather and all that it will mean for her life!

This is a wonderful book that will surely fire up children's imaginations and have them laughing throughout. Vivid pictures can easily be created in the mind to supplement the illustrations that are provided sporadically throughout!

Wallner, Alexandra.
Strawberry Shortcake and the Winter That Would Not End.
Random House.

Ages: 4-8
Genre: Fiction,
Guided Reading Level: N/A

The children of Strawberry land are worried. The winter has gone on for entirely too long. And when this happens, it usually results in a bad berry crop, meaning that there will be a food supply shortage come the following winter. While the children gather for breakfast and to discuss the impending problems, Elderberry Owl shows up to inform the children of his discovery as to the reason why winter won't end - someone has stolen Snow King's magic Snow Crystal and he now has no power to stop the snowfall. The Strawberry Kids decide to take matters into their own hands and set out in search of the magic Snow Crystal thief.

Their findings may surprise you, just as they did me! But the story ends well, as the thief explains his reasoning and agrees to return the Snow Crystal. This was a cute story that all Strawberry Shortcake fans are sure to love. And it might even make a neat activity to do some snowy day with the kids - create a magic Snow Crystal of your own and send the kids on a treasure hunt. Sure, spring might still be several weeks away, but you can certainly find some way to show the kids that it's on its way even as we endure the last few weeks of winter!

Zolotow, Charlotte.
When the Wind Stops.
Harper Collins.

Age: 4-7
Genre: Fiction

Guided Reading Level: J

This is an incredible story! Reinforcing the idea that nothing ever really ends, Zolotow tells the story from the perspective of a little boy who is full of questions as his mother puts him to bed. Where do the clouds go as they move across the sky and disappear from sight? Where does the rain go as the storm ends? Surely he thinks that fall really ends... but his mother reminds him that the end of fall just means the beginning of winter.

Even though winter seems to go on and on, it too, will one day break and spring will appear!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

It's Sweet Potato Month!

February is Sweet Potato Month... and this is odd, at least to me! I'd have thought it might be maybe November? But, I guess since it's February, I'll share some "sweet" literature with you for today! Sweet potato books are somewhat hard to come by, but this one was definitely a sweet read!

Lindsey, Kathleen.
Sweet Potato Pie.
Lee & Low Books.

Ages: 4-8
Genre: Fiction
Guided Reading Level: N/A

Having faced a terrible drought that left unusable vegetables, one family is struggling to pay back the $75 they owe the bank in loans. As cool weather finally sets in, allowing some rain to fall, the sweet potato crop is the only spared by the summer's intense heat. With little else to do to raise the money to save the family farm, Mama sets about, sending children on errands to collect the necessary ingredients after Papa comments about how delicious Mama's Sweet Potato Pie is. The family settles on trying to sell Sweet Potato Pies at the Harvest Celebration. While sales start out very slowly, the family soon sells out of pies and leaves with an arm's length list of orders.

The story taught an important lesson about what teamwork allows a family or group of people to accomplish, as the family is able to pay back the $75 in loans!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Write-Up Wednesday

I've decided that I need some kind of a theme to get myself motivated to write reviews of the adult books I've read so that they actually get posted! So, to inspire myself, I'm going with the notion of "Write-Up Wednesday." The reviews will focus solely on adult books that I've been reading in between my picture book write-ups. I'd love to get others in the kid-lit world joining in on this, so feel free to steal the idea and link back to me!

So, to get started with Write-Up Wednesdays, I've got 2 adult reviews for this week! And by the way, my brother (who is not at all a reader) does a phenomenal job picking out books for me - for 2 years in a row he has picked out amazing reads for a birthday gift!

Pausch, Randy.
The Last Lecture.

It's a day most college professors live to look forward to. However, for Randy Pausch, his "Last Lecture" took on entirely literal meaning - this was to be his very last lecture. Pausch, in the summer of 2006 was diagnosed with Pancreatic Cancer. Having been diagnosed with this most deadly form of cancer, Pausch was given just months to live and decided to make the most of his opportunity to give one last lecture.

The Last Lecture takes readers on the journey of Pausch preparing for and finally delivering his "Last Lecture." While many last lectures tend to focus on academics, Pausch took this opportunity to share his appreciation and joy of life with readers. Fifty-three mini-lectures were recorded by Pausch during fifty-three bike rides as he spoke into the headpiece of his cell phone. Fifty-three lectures passing along strong messages for his children to remember him by, sharing the "honesty, integrity, gratitude and other things" he held dearest to him. Pausch passed away in July of 2008.

I honestly wasn't sure what to expect when I started reading this book. I had little, if any, prior knowledge about Randy Pausch and this isn't typically the type of book I would pick out for myself. However, being given the book as a gift, I felt obligated in a sense to read it and report back to my brother about it. I will be honest in saying that once I started this book, it was very difficult to put down - I felt as though I connected with Pausch on a personal level, in that the messages he was conveying could be pinpointed to my own life. Much of Pausch's "Last Lecture" will remain ever etched in my mind, as the story was not only inspirational, but full of words of wisdom - words that remind me not to take for granted the opportunities that I have been given and to appreciate my life for what it is. One of the best books I have ever read, this will be a permament fixture on my bookshelves!

Visit to find out more about Randy Pausch, the book, information about Pancreatic Cancer Research and Support and/or to watch "The Last Lecture."

Woodsmall, Cindy.
When the Soul Mends.
Waterbrook Press.

I don't think many of you know this, but second to anything by Karen Kingsbury, Amish-related books are my favorite to read, especially those that are part of a series, where I can follow the characters over time as they mature and develop, allowing me to see extensively (in a sense) the Amish lifestyle.

When the Soul Mends is the third and final book in Cindy Woodsmall's, Sisters of the Quilt series. I have followed Hannah Lapp over the course of several years as she has left her Old Order Amish family after a devastating rape and unwanted pregnancy. Finally adjusted and seemingly well-adapted into the Englischer world, Hannah is suddenly called home after a tragic event in her Old Order lifestyle. As she returns home, Hannah is confronted by her former fiance and it seems as though fate has brought them back together once again.

As could be expected with most Christian fiction, I was not at all surprised by the ending and found myself smiling and happy that Hannah found her true roots and was able to make peace with her life. Although I'm sad that the series has come to a close, I'm looking forward to the first book (The Hope of Refuge) in Woodsmall's newest series, Ada's House, set to be released in September.

If you're interested in finding out more information about any of the books reviewed or if you'd like to purchase the books, click the cover image for a link to

Happy Birthday, Barbara Joosse!

I'm a little disappointed... I had ordered what looked to be some wonderful books by Barbara Joosse from the local library, and not ONE of them came in so that I could review them. But it's still her birthday and from what I've heard, she's a pretty great author, so, today, I'm going to focus on recommend two, based solely on reviews I've read and my thoughts on teach-ability. I have also provided a lesson plan to go with each.

Lesson Plan for Mama, Do You Love Me?
Lesson Plan for Lewis and Papa: Adventure on the Santa Fe Trail
Great Companion Book: The Santa Fe Trail Activity Book

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

National Bird Feeding Month

February is National Bird Feeding Month, so somewhat on topic, I have a couple of reviews for today!
Martchenko, Michael.
Birdfeeder Banquet.
Annick Press Ltd.,: Toronto, CA
Ages: 5-8
Genre: Fiction - Birds
Guided Reading
This is a hilarious story that I was not familiar with prior to finding it in a search for books about bird feeding! Jenny notices all the birds outside the kitchen window at the family bird feeder. However, she feels that they dislike the birdseed because of the way it's flying around. Her mother insists its the finest birdseed available, but when Jenny tries it, she agrees with the birds! She concocts her own birdfeed mixture and feeds it to the birds daily. But as they eat more, they quickly gain weight until they are no longer able to even fly! The mayor and townspeople are disgusted and order Jenny to do something about the problem. She tries, but even her exercise program fails. Finally, the mayor calls in a plane, promises the bird a buffet and ships them southward. Little do the birds know, they're headed to the health spa!
This story was not only funny, but it does teacher readers that birds need to follow a healthy diet, just as people do!
Fromental, Jean-Luc.
365 Penguins.
Abrams Books for Young Readers.
Ages: 4-8
Genre: Fiction - Penguins, Math
Guided Reading Level: N/A
Uncle Victor decides to surprise the family with a special Christmas gift, set to start in the new year! Every day, the doorbell rings and a delivery man delivers the family a package - a penguin. By the end of January, there are 31 penguins living in the family home. With each penguin comes unplanned for expenses - namely feeding them all! Finally, the last day of the year has arrived, New Year's Eve, but there's still one last delivery to be made - one last penguin, the 365th one!
This book provides plenty of room for counting activities and also multiplication for older children, as they could be asked how much it costs to feed the penguins or how many pounds of fish are needed. The book itself is very funny and the illustrations are drawn using colors that we associate with penguins - black, orange, and white, adding to the story being told!

Monday, February 16, 2009

Mid-Winter Break in CNY

This week finds kids at home and schools closed across much of Central New York as a way of saving energy by cutting heating costs inside the schools, as this typically is the chilliest part of the winter season... I've got 5 books up for review today in the hopes that they might inspire you with some activities to keep the kids busy if they are indeed off school this week! Ice skating, cross country skiing, sledding, host a snowman building contest and having a snowball fight will certainly keep the kids busy... one for each day of the week!

Isadora, Rachel.
Sophie Skates.
G.P. Putnam's Sons.

Ages: 5-8
Genre: Fiction - Realistic
Guided Reading Level: L

Sophie is a little girl who dreams of being a professional ice-skater when she grows up. However, this is a dream that requires a huge amount of work. In this story, readers will hear of Sophie's efforts at practicing so she will become closer to reaching her dreams. However, along with the ficitional story, a whole host of informational text is provided regarding the sport of ice-skating: how to buy skates that fit correctly, different skating techniques, types of figure eights, preparing for jumps, the practice of ballet to improve skating, and the different programs in which ice skaters compete.

Why not read this book and then get the kids out there on the ice rink to practice or even just have some fun!

Calhoun, Mary.
Cross-Country Cat.

Harper Collins Publishers.

Ages: 5-8
Genre: Fiction
Guided Reading Level: M

Henry, a Siamese cat goes on vacation with his family to a camp deep in the mountains for a weekend of skiing. "The Kid" tries to teach Henry how to cross-country ski, but Henry couldn't be less interested. However, as the weekend draws to a close, Henry is left behind after discovering he forgot his mouse under "the Kid's" bed in the cabin. With no other choice, Henry must don the cross-country skis that "the Kid" built for him earlier that weekend. Luckily, Henry quickly figures out how to be successful with the skis and sets out on the adventure of a lifetime while trying to make it home. Luckily, he does! This was a very cute story and the illustrations leave the reader feeling as if they're in the midst of the mountains exploring with Henry!

If Henry can catch on to the notion of cross-country skiing, why not try out this activity with the kids?

Thomas, Patricia.
Red Sled.

Boyds Mills Press.

Ages: 4-8
Genre: Fiction - Realistic, Poetry
Guided Reading Level: N/A

Based on an ancient form of writing known as chiasmus , Thomas, in Red Sled, creates a mirror image using thoughts, words, and word sounds that flow towards a center point and then reverse to reflect in that same order while nearing the end. Along with this form of writing and the use of rhyming pairs, Thomas tells the story of a young boy and his father as they create happy memories of a winter day - going sledding on the red sled. This is a wonderfully written story that is appropriate for even the youngest readers. The text is very simple but creates a very vivid image of the feelings experienced by father and son.

Any child will enjoy getting out there making their own sledding memories with Dad, Mom, Grandma, Grandpa, a brother or sister or even the babysitter!

Mahoney, Daniel.
A Really Good Snowman.
Clarion Books.

Ages: 5-8
Genre: Fiction
Guided Reading Level: N/A

Why not have a snowman building contest one of these days? Kids are sure to love the activity and it can get everyone in the family (or neighborhood) involved! Jack wants his sister Nancy to just leave him alone, but like any little sister, Nancy just wants to be his side-kick, tag along and help Jack build the snowman with his friends. However, this snowman contest only allows parties of 3 or less, and Nancy would be #4. Reluctantly, she goes off and builds her own snowman, determined to win the contest. Even though she doesn't win, Jack sees her hard efforts and is proud of his little sister for her accomplishments and realizes what a wonderful snowman maker she really is! This is a really cute book that will keep children entertained!

This could a whole neighborhood activity - almost like a summer block party, just in the winter-time instead! End the day with hot chocolate!

Fallon, Jimmy.
Snowball Fight.
Dutton Children's Books.

Ages: 4-8
Genre: Fiction
Guided Reading Level: N/A

For those of you who aren't familiar with Jimmy Fallon, he's most known for his role on Saturday Night Live as actor and comedian. This book, his first, certainly allows his comedian side to show! Children are sure to love the idea behind the story - a good old snowball fight! But, these children don't enter the fight unprepared! They come dressed for battle, complete with collanders and pans for helmets so as not to be harmed! The rhyming text is just another added bonus to the story, allowing for an almost song-like text! It is a truly wonderful story and will certainly inspire children to get outside and burn some energy during winter break... if there's snow, that is!

Why not don the funny kitchen equipment and have a snowball fight of your own?!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Snapshot Saturday

Extremely unusual for a February day in NY is bright sunshine - sunshine so bright you need sunglasses! However, today we had one of those days and it made me long for summer! So, the snapshot I'm sharing today is one that I took over the summer at one of the local "Sunflower Acres" farms, a new growing trend here in CNY. I've titled the photo Sippin' Sun, as the honeybee is sipping in the sunflower's nectar.

Weekly Blog Plan, February 16-20

Here’s the weekly blog plan! Again, please remember this is subject to change and is dependent upon whether or not my materials come in from the library as planned. I realize that this may fall too late for you to use in your classroom this year, but the activities will definitely swing from year-to-year! If you see something you really want to incorporate into your classroom, leave me a comment on this post or send me an e-mail, I’d be glad to provide you with the links I have, if nothing more!

Monday, February 16 – Presidents’ Day
o Presidents’ Day, Anne Rockwell
o Presidents’ Day, David Marx

Tuesday, February 17 – National Bird Feeding Month
o 365 Penguins, Jean-Luc Fromental
o Common Sense and Fowls, Jane Cutler
o Birdfeeder Banquet, Michael Martchenko

Wednesday, February 18 – Barbara Joosse’s Birthday (60)
o I Love You the Purplest
o Snow Day!

Thursday, February 19 – Sweet Potato Month
o Sweet Potato Pie, Kathleen Lindsey

Friday, February 20 – Hoodie Hoo Day
o When the Wind Stops, Charlotte Zolotow
o Snow Is My Favorite and My Best, Lauren Child
o Miss Hickory, Carolyn Sherwin Bailey
o Strawberry Shortcake and the Winter that Would Not End, Alexandra Wallner

Friday, February 13, 2009

There Was an Old Lady...

Today is Simms Taback's 77th Birthday. He has illustrated over thirty-five children's books and is famously known for his retelling of the American Folk Tale, There Was An Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly. I was first introduced to this book when I was in kindergarten and it has been a favorite of mine for many, many years! I was sooooooo happy to discover there were other books (by different authors) that have mimicked the tale in many ways but added their own touch and changed what the old lady swallowed! So, in honor or Taback's birthday, I'm celebrating with reviews of several different versions of There Was an Old Lady...

Taback, Simms.
There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly!
Viking: New York, NY.

Ages: 5-8
Genre: Folk Tales
Guided Reading Level: L


I think most everyone knows this story! The old lady has swallowed a fly and now it's buzzing inside her. Somehow, she's got to get rid of that fly! But her efforts to rid her body of the fly result in another animal that her body must get rid of - a spider, a bird, a cat, a dog, a
cow, and a horse... She died of course!

It was a childhood favorite of mine, and this version, as well as all of the others definitely get the kids laughing (mainly due to the hilarious things that are being swallowed and the rhyming text) when I read to them aloud in any classroom where I might happen to be subbing.

The story actually makes for a really good sequencing and retelling activity, because it's predictable but complex enough that it makes students remember order. This book was really cool because you can see the woman's stomach growing and see each additional insect/bug/animal as it's being swallowed. The book is also very colorful and attractive to the eye, which is sure to capture the attention of children.

Sloat, Teri.
There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Trout!
Henry Holt and Company, Inc.: New York, NY.

Ages: 4-7
Genre: Folk Tales
Guided Reading Level: J


There was an old lady who swallowed a trout that spished and splashed and thrashed about... and many other sea animals (salmon, otter, whale, seal, just to name a few)! In this predictable tale, readers will delight in not only the tale of what the old lady swallowed, but also in the illustrations that depict the sea wildlife of the Pacific Northwest.

Colandro, Lucille.
There Was A Cold Lady Who Swallowed Some Snow.
Scholastic, Inc.: New York, NY.

Ages: 4-8
Genre: Folk Tales
Guided Reading Level: I


In this winter version of the popular tale There Was An Old Lady, Colandro takes us through the story of the cold lady who has swallowed some snow! She gets so cold from swallowing the snow that she goes on to swallow a pipe to warm her soul. But, in order to keep that pipe aglow, she has to swallow some coal! The cold lady goes on to swallow a hat, a stick, a scarf. When she's had enough she hiccups... Kids should quickly be able to tell what happens when she hiccups based on the illustrations! It's a snowman!

This story is not likely to disappoint children, as it follows along the same style of Colandro's other versions of There Was An Old Lady books, all of which are listed below. Click on the links for more information or to purchase the books!

Lesson Plans/Reading Activities:

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Safety for Children!

Today is SafetyPup's Birthday! Safetypup was created by the National Child Safety Council in hopes of bringing safety awareness and education messages to children in a positive, non-threatening way. Safetypup's main goal is helping children "Stay Safe and Sound." For more information about SafetyPup visit any of the following websites:
So, today, I'm focusing on a couple of issues that are hit upon through the Safetypup program - Bicycle Safety and Strangers.

Brown, Marc.
D.W. Rides Again.

Ages: 4-7
Genre: Fiction, Safety
Guided Reading Level: I


D.W. has finally gotten a new two-wheeled bicycle and is more than ready to give her tricycle to baby sister Kate. However, in learning to ride her new bicycle with training wheels, her big brother Arthur feels he must first teach her some simple bicycle safety - how to stop, always remembering to wear a helmet, keep to the right of the road, remember to use hand signals. When Dad finally thinks she's ready, the two set off on a bike ride and D.W. is very careful to make sure she's following the safety rules that Arthur taught her. However, Dad is so busy looking behind him at D.W., he winds up in the pond because he wasn't paying attention to where he was going - the final safety rule D.W. must learn!

This is a cute story of D.W. and her brother Arthur that easily doubles to teach children the most important bicycle safety rules.

Joyce, Irma.
Never Talk to Strangers.

Ages: 3-8
Genre: Fiction, Safety
Guided Reading Level: N/A


Once central message is repeated throughout this story and that is, never talk to strangers! A young child is learning about safety rules as he visits with a variety of animals - a camel, a bear, a spotted leopard, a bee, and tons more. The text itself rhymes and this will easily attract the attention of young children. I felt this story would be wonderful to use when trying to portray the importance of young children not talking to strangers.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Library Lover's Month!

Did you know that February is Library Lover's Month? I didn't either, but I'm here today, ready to provide to you some reviews for absolutely wonderful library-related stories!

McQuinn, Anna.
Lola at the Library.

Ages: 3-7
Genre: Fiction - Realistic
Guided Reading Level: N/A


This is a wonderful book if you're looking to introduce young children to the concept of the library - borrowing books, using a card to check out your books, library programs available... it's a very resourceful book about the library! What I like most about this book is that it also promotes bedtime stories, as the stories Lola gets from the library act as her bedtime stories!

Lola is a little girl whose favorite day of the week is Tuesday - Library Day! Lola packs up her book and remembers her card, give back the old books where the librarian checks them in, attends a special children's program and finally gets to pick out new books!

Deedy, Carmen.
The Library Dragon.

Ages: 5-8
Genre: Fiction, Fantasy
Guided Reading Level: M


Uh-oh! There's a new librarian at Sunrise Elementary - Miss Lotta Scales. Let's just say Miss Lotta Scales really does have lots of scales, she's a dragon! She takes her job too seriously though, thinking she's there to protect the books from the students and ends up turning the whole school anti-library. However, one daring little girl enters the library unknowingly and Miss Lotta Scales finally realizes what the library is really there for - to provide students with pleasure in reading! At the end of the story Miss Lotta Scales turns from the Library Dragon to Miss Lotty, the librarian and storyteller. This was an incredible story! There's even a Library Dragon Flip Doll to complement the story!

Knudsen, Michelle.
Library Lion.

Ages: 5-8
Genre: Fiction
Guided Reading Level: K


This book really teaches students a valuable lesson - library rules! Miss Merriweather is just like any librarian we're familiar with - she expects that patrons will follow the library rules: no running, being quiet, etc. One day, a lion shows up and everyone thinks the lion shouldn't be allowed. However, Miss Merriweather agrees to grant the lion access to the library, provided he can follow the rules! The story is told in a very cute, attractive manner and while the lion does challenge some of the rules, he ultimately succumbs to them and despite having broken one of Miss Merriweather's rules, lion learns that sometimes, during an emergency, it's okay to break one of the rules. This was a wonderful story!

Lesson Plan:

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Mark Teague's Birthday

It's Mark Teague's Birthday today, so I've got some reviews of several of his books. Here's a few trivia facts for you, as well though!
  • Mark Teague lives in upstate NY (very close to home for me, as I'm in central NY).
  • He is an illustrator of award winning books (How do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight?)
  • His books tackle common childhood fears and challenges.

Teague, Mark.
Scholastic Inc.: New York.

Ages: 4-8
Genre: Fiction
Guided Reading Level: M


Wendell, a young boy, just will not clean his room - he doesn't mind living in a pigsty, he reiterates to his mother. However, when the pigs start showing up in his pigsty, he begins to reconsider. Sure, they make for fun playmates, but they really make the pigsty more piggish! Wendell finally can't stand the mess anymore and decides to clean his room, but first, he enlists the help of the pigs who have moved in. Once the room is all cleaned up he sends the pigs packing, deciding they ultimately do belong on the farm, but promises to invite them over from time to time to play and have fun.

This is a humorous story that children are sure to love! It also would be a good teaching tool for introducing students to the idea of proverbs, as Wendell remembers a saying he once heard, "many hooves make light work." This proverb is what inspired him enlisting the help of all the pigs and their hooves to clean the room!

Lesson Plans/Book Activities:

Teague, Mark.
Dear Mrs. LaRue: Letters from Obedience School.
Scholastic, Inc.: New York, NY.

Ages: 4-10
Genre: Fiction, Writing Letters
Guided Reading Level: L


Ike has been sent to obedience school and is not happy about being there! He hates it so much, he goes as far as trying to be sent home, faking illnesses and writing letters to his owner, Mrs. LaRue.

From my own personal experience, kids love this story. It's humorous and the letters have the kids seeking more! Luckily, Ike LaRue has now become a series! Check out some of the other books in the series below!

Other Books in the Mrs. LaRue series:

Teague, Mark.
The Field Beyond the Outfield.
Scholastic, Inc.: New York, NY.

Ages: 4-12
Genre: Fiction, Fantasy
Guided Reading Level: L


Ludlow's parents have had enough of his fantasies and day-dreaming. They feel that if he's involved in something, he won't have so much time to imagine things, so they sign him up for baseball. Ludlow goes along with his parents' wishes but his daydreaming continues! He plays so far back in the outfield, he joins another baseball game as well as his own- a game played by monsters. His lack of action on the ball field enabled his imagination in new ways and Ludlow goes to bed that night, not worrying about the monsters that may or may not be in the closet!

This is a clever story that I'm sure will capture the attention of children who have a vivid imagination. Baseball players will also be drawn in by this title by Teague!

Monday, February 9, 2009

Mailbox Monday!

I've got a bunch of new books that have come in the mail in the past two, two and a half weeks, so I've decided to participate in The Printed Page's Mailbox Monday! Hopefully this will keep me more up-to-date on reviews of materials that I've been sent.

Halfmann, Janet.
Little Skink's Tail.
Sylvan Dell Publishing: Mt. Pleasant, SC.

Ages: 4-8
Genre: Fiction, Science - Animal Adaptations
Guided Reading Level: N/A


Most recently named 2009 Learning Magazine's Teachers' Choice Award Winner, Little Skink's Tail focuses on skink's (a lizard) ability to adapt to its surroundings and protect itself in times of danger. For those who didn't know, lizards break their tails when faced by an enemy as mean of protection. This book could easily be used in part of a science curriculum that focuses on ways in which animals survive and adapt in their environment(s). A learning guide to supplement Little Skink's Tail can be found here.

Little Skink has been spied by a crow. She has to escape and does so just as the crow snaps down to pluck her away. However, Little Skink has a trick - her tail can snapped off to protect her from danger. However, once her tail is gone, Little Skink realizes just how much she misses it and goes around imagining a new tail for herself. She tries on tail after tail - a rabbit's tail, a squirrel's tail... and many more. However, just as she decides that none of the other tails are right for her, she catches sight of a her shadow on a sunny rock. Lo and behold, her new tail has started growing and it's just right!

Maccagnone, Garasamo.
The Suburban Dragon.
Crate & Fly.

Ages: 4-8
Genre: Fiction - Realistic
Guided Reading Level: N/A


Maccagnone has written this story for his own children. One boring, rainy day when there's nothing to do. The children in the story, inspired by his own, settle down to listen to a story read to them by their mother. Soon, a dragon sneaks up behind them on the couch and snatches away mother. The children come up with a plan to rescue their mother and in doing so, eventually trap the dragon - who turns out to be their father!

This is a cute story that certainly seems like it's capturing one of those rare childhood memories that we all have experienced. It reminds me of playing Boogie-Man with my parents when I was a child! Very cute and well worthy of a read!

Dean, Laurie.
Baron Things Dogs are People TOO!
Big Tent Books: Savannah, GA.
Ages: 4-8
Genre: Fiction - Realistic
Guided Reading Level: N/A


Baron is part of the family. Isn't he just like a son? That's what he thinks! However, he's acting such like a child that Mom and Dad decide that Baron needs to learn some manners and send him off to obedience school. By the time that Baron's completed his schooling and returns home, he feels lonely - he doesn't have any friends. However, Baron quickly turns that around when he befriends Billy one snowy day.

Oh, how this book reminds me of my dog, Niko. She definitely thinks she's a human. Here are a few pictures of her in her most human poses! Kids will go crazy for this human-behaving dog!

Lesson Plans/Book Activities:

Schwartz, Corey Rosen.
Hop! Plop!
Walker & Company: New York, NY.

Ages: 3-6
Genre: Fiction
Guided Reading Level: N/A


My good blogging friend, Corey Schwartz over at Thing 1 and Thing 2 sent me a copy of her book!

This book takes us on an adventure with polar opposites, Mouse and Elephant. Finding themselves bored, this duo of friends set out to explore the playground! The rhyming text as Mouse and Elephant explore the playground makes for a great introduction to word families and the concept of rhyming. Together, the two explore the seesaw. Elephant hops on and as a result of his weight, Mouse bops to the ground! Mouse tries to gain weight by eating a watermelon, but as a result of all the slurping, he begins burping! When the duo decides that the seesaw is faulty, they move on to the swing and another adventure begins!

I would use this book not only for a read-aloud, but also as an introduction at the Kindergarten or 1st grade level, depending on the students, to several different word families: -op, -urp, -unch, -ip, -ing, -ush, and -ide. The book also introduces the concept of weight difference between Mouse and Elephant and the consequences of the varying weights at the playground. For example, Mouse is stuck at the top of the seesaw, Elephant breaks the swing! Cause-and-effect could also be explored using this book!

Worton, Barbara.
Too Tall Alice.
Great Little Books, LLC.
Guided Reading Level:
This book definitely belongs in any 4th grade and up classroom! It will indeed show the girls in the class the message that Worton dedicates to "all the too tall, too small, too skinny, too fat, too smart, too silly girls who deserve to see, really see, and love themselves" - that true beauty comes from within. While I think younger kids would get a kick out of the story itself, I don't think that kids younger than at the 4th grade level would take the message and really start to understand it. I also think that this could be a good self-esteem builder even for a teenager who is struggling to define herself and fit in - I think I would have benefited from this book as a teenager!
Alice is just 9 years old and already she's 4 inches taller than all the other girls in her class. All of the things that adults tell her to make her feel better have the opposite effect! But it gets worse... one night she hears her parents and the neighbors discussing how horribly tall she really is - she's going to be "a string bean, a bean pole, a twig, a long drink of water, a toothpick." That night, Alice cries herself to sleep and wanders off to dreamland - to the place where the tall girls live. Even though she's the shortest, she's also the youngest and has much time to grow. The older girls help Alice to find herself amongst the throngs on people that they have her look out on. When she takes this time to really look at herself, she sees all that she is... and all that she can be. Ultimately, Alice takes away the message that Worton wants reader to find... that you are special just the way you are and that your true beauty comes from within, not how tall you are, or how thin you are, or the color of your hair, but what's really found deep within yourself.
If you're interested in finding out more information about any of the books reviewed or if you'd like to purchase the books, click the cover image for a link to

February is National Cherry Month!

It's National Cherry Month, so I've got a couple of cherry-related books for you today!

Williams, Vera B.
Cherries and Cherry Pits.
Greenwillow Books, New York, NY.

Ages: 5-8
Genre: Fiction
Guided Reading Level: M


In another wonderful story by Vera B. Williams, we learn of Bidemmi. A person tells of her neighbor, Bidemmi who loves to draw. When going to visit, Bidemmi is always greeted at the door with a new kid or color of marker. We learn of stories that are important to Bidemmi through the pictures she draws. Eventually, we hear Bidemmi's own story - the story where she purchased cherries from a man selling them from the back of his truck. Bidemmi is warned not to eat the cherries to fast and she does just that, making sure to save each cherry pit. The cherry pits are eventually planted and Bidemmi draws out pictures to show the reader what will happen to the pits - roots, sprouting, growing a trunk and branches until we see the cherry blossoms appear and the pleasure people get from the cherry trees.

The perspective from which this story is told allows readers to use their imagination and be creative. Who lives inside the apartment where Bidemmi knocks on the door? Perhaps students could pretend to be Bidemmi and tell that person's story through pictures and words. The story could also be integrated into a unit on the life cycle of a plant.

Priceman, Marjorie.
How to Make a Cherry Pie and See the U.S.A.
Alfred A. Knopf: New York, NY.

Guided Reading Level: N/A


In this companion to How to Make an Apple Pie and See the World, Priceman takes readers on a journey across the United States in the hopes of collection all the materials needed to make a cherry pie.

I must be honest and say that I enjoyed How to Make an Apple Pie and See the World the best, but this would definitely be a great book to share with children who enjoyed the original! Of course, a map of the United States and a cherry pie recipe is included at the end!

Lesson Plans/Book Activities:

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Weekly Blog Plan, February 9-13

Here’s the weekly blog plan! Again, please remember this is subject to change and is dependent upon whether or not my materials come in from the library as planned. I realize that this may fall too late for you to use in your classroom this year, but the activities will definitely swing from year-to-year! If you see something you really want to incorporate into your classroom, leave me a comment on this post or send me an e-mail, I’d be glad to provide you with the links I have, if nothing more!

Monday, February 9 – National Cherry Month
  • How to Make a Cherry Pie and See the USA
  • Cherries and Cherry Pits, Vera B. Williams

Tuesday, February 10 – Mark Teague’s Birthday (46)

  • Pigsty
  • The Field Beyond the Outfield
  • Dear Mrs. LaRue: Letters from Obedience School

Wednesday, February 11 – Library Lover’s Month

  • Library Lion, Knudsen
  • Lola at the Library, McQuinn
  • L is for Library, Terry
  • The Library Dragon, Deedy

Thursday, February 12 – SafetyPup’s Birthday

  • D.W. Rides Again, Marc Brown
  • Never Talk to Strangers, Irma Joyce

Friday, February 13 – Simms Taback’s Birthday (77)

  • There Was An Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly
  • There Was An Old Lady Who Swallowed a Bat
  • There Was An Old Lady Who Swallowed a Shell
  • There Was An Old Lady Who Swallowed a Trout

Friday, February 6, 2009

Crayons, Crayons, Crayons...

DeRolf, Shane.
The Crayon Box that Talked.
Random House: New York.

Ages: 4-8
Genre: Fiction, Character Education (Tolerance and Prejudice)
Guided Reading Level: N/A


A little girl enters a toy store one day to find a crayon box that talks. However, what she hears the crayons saying upsets the little girl enough to make her want to teach them a lesson. She does just that, buying and taking home the box of crayons. By the time she's done drawing her picture, the crayons have most definitely learned their lesson and really and truly finally appreciate each other and all they have to offer!

This story teaches a powerful lesson in a very simple manner - accept and appreciate the differences and uniqueness of everyone! This would make for a wonderful character eduction lesson plan about diversity, prejudice and tolerance.

Lesson Plans/Book Activities:
Charles, Oz.
How is a Crayon Made?
Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers: New York, NY

Ages: 4-9
Genre: Non-Fiction
Guided Reading Level: N


This book details, step-by-step the process of making crayola crayons. The text itself is pretty simple and would likely capture the attention of children.

Lesson Plans/Book Activities:

Ryan, Pam Munoz.
The Crayon Counting Board Book.
Charlesbridge: Watertown, MA.

Ages: Infant - 3
Genre: Non-fiction, Board Book
Guided Reading Level: N/A


This is a wonderful book to use to introduce the concept of numbers and one-to-one correspondence to young children. For each number give, a certain colored crayon is used to draw a series of pictures that match the number shown, for example, a blue crayon is used to draw two blue fish for the number 2.

Another edition of this book is available for older readers, providing rhyming text and introducing the concept of counting by 2's.

Lesson Plans/Book Activities:

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Weatherman's Day

Today is Weatherman's Day! I have some weather-related books for review today!

Branley, Franklyn.
Down Comes the Rain.
Harper Collins Publishers: New York, NY.

Ages: 5-8
Genre/Subjects: Non-Fiction, Weather
Guided Reading Level: N

Young children tell the story of weather, most specifically, rain and how rain comes about. The text is simple and will likely easily be understood by even the youngest children. The dialogue bubbles showing the character's words in the illustrations connect these scientific concepts to children's everyday lives.
Lesson Plans/Book Activities:
Gibbons, Gail.
Weather Words and What They Mean.
Holiday House: New York, NY.
Ages: 5-8
Genre/Subects: Non-fiction, Weather
Guided Reading Level: R


As can be expected from any Gail Gibbons book, this is full of information that would be of interest to children. In this non-fiction text relating to the weather, children can gain a basic understanding of weather terminology and understand it based on the illustrations that match alongside the text. This would fit perfectly into a thematic unit on the weather.

Lesson Plans/Book Activities:

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Frances and More!

Today is Russell Hoban's 86th birthday - he's always been familiar to me because of his "Frances" series, but he's got several other books out there as well... so today, I've got one Frances review as well as two less popular titles.

Hoban, Russell.
A Birthday for Frances.
Scholastic, Inc.: New York, NY.

Ages: 4-8
Genre: Fiction, Birthdays
Guided Reading Level: K

Frances's little sister Gloria is having a birthday and Frances is jealous about the cake, ice cream, presents and attention that Gloria is receiving and angry about the trouble her little sister causes her. However, despite all her attempts to ruin Gloria's birthday, Frances soon realizes that Gloria idolizes her, as Gloria spills her birthday wish. Frances quickly realizes how important she is to Gloria and decides to let Gloria enjoy her birthday and to take part in the festivities as well!

Hoban, Russell.
Harvey's Hideout.
Parent's Magazine Press: New York, NY.
Ages: 5-8
Genre: Fiction
Guided Reading Level: N/A
Harvey and his sister don't get along. Rather, they try to get each other in trouble for everything! Over the summer, there are no friends around at all for Harvey to play with, so he builds a raft. Mildred is very unhappy about the noise he's making and causes a fight. They both get in trouble by father. Mildred tries to get back at Harvey later in the day by telling him that she's been invited to a party where brothers are not allowed. Harvey goes into the woods while Mildred goes to her party and begins building his own secret place. Both brag about their special meetings to each other, only to discover in the end that there is no secret club that they each belong to, but rather they're both using their imagination to make the lonely summer days escape more quickly.
This cute story shows kids that when you're lonely, you don't always have to put on a brave face to try and deal with the loneliness on your own.