Dust from the Book Fairy

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That Book Woman

That Book Woman

That Book Woman is both an account of the impact of the pack horse librarians that brought books to isolated Appalachian families, and the story of how one illiterate boy, Cal, becomes a reader.  As a librarian, this book made me tear up; I loved how Cal changes from resenting his sister’s love of books and wondering why “that book woman” is so persistent, to asking his sister to teach him to read and thanking “that book woman” by the end of the story.
This book was much better received by the adults in my school than the students (K-5).  The adults have uniformly loved it; the students gave it a lukewarm approval.  The vocabulary and dialect make it a difficult read for them, but it works as a heavily scaffolded read aloud–meaning, take the time to explain what’s going on as you read.

Posted at The Picnic Basket


The Day Leo Said “I Hate You!”
Robie H. Harris • Illustrated by Molly Bang
September 2008 •
Little, Brown and Company Books for Young Readers

I’ve been reading this book to my kindergarten through second grade library classes this week, and it has been a definite hit. An applause-after-the-story, read-it-again-now hit. It rates a 5/5 just on the students’ reactions. They are held rapt by Bang’s imaginative illustrations, which are a combination of drawing and Photoshopped objects, like the broccoli exploding around Mommy in one spread. They loved the crazy things Leo does and gets fussed at for, like squirting toothpaste down the toilet. The particularly observant ones have noticed that Leo’s stuffed dog and dinosaur react to his emotions by looking worried when he’s worried, etc. This book provoked a lot of conversation from the kids; I stopped just before Mommy’s reaction to Leo telling her “I Hate You!” and asked them what they thought.. Some of them were sure he was in BIG TROUBLE, and others admitted to doing something similar themselves. We talked a little about how angry words can hurt feelings, and especially about how it’s hard to take them back. The story ends with forgiveness and making amends, which relieved the students. Some of my teachers got to see it during Family Reading Night, and my behavior-assistance teacher decided to order her own copy, because it would be a great lead-in to talk about the hurtful power of words and the process of making amends with her students.

—posted as a comment at The Picnic Basket book review blog–

This week we’ve been reading Maybe a Bear Ate It! by Robie Harris with my little ones. (K & 1st). It is such a fun book, told just as much through the pictures as the minimal text. A little purple and green monster is reading HIS BOOK in bed. Then it disappears. He can’t live without it, and starts imagining all sorts of ridiculous things that might’ve happened to it. . .

“Maybe a bear ate it! . . . Maybe a elephant fell asleep on it!”

Then he starts hunting all over his house for it. . in the sink, in a shopping bag, even in the dryer! My observant children were edging off their seats, saying, “It was under his bed! It was under his bed!”

After reading it through once, we flipped back through it to talk about taking care of library books, and places to look when you can’t find your book

“Should you sit on your book like the elephant?” “NO!”

“How many of you have found something you thought you lost under your bed? (Lots of sharing time here. . .the best one was a little boy who found his puppy under his bed).

It’s definitely on my most recommended list, especially for librarians. . it’s a good lead-in to a book care lesson without feeling too didactic.

She’s celebrating her 10,000th hit by giving away one of the books she’s reviewed and liked this year to somebody who comments on her blog post here by Saturday.  So you might want to go check that out!  She does neat reviews of books.  I loved the review of The Hunger Games. It made me want to go get it RIGHT THEN.  (I literally started looking for my keys to get in the car and head to the library/bookstore).  So disappointed to realize it’ wasn’t out yet. Sigh. It’s out SOON but I am not a patient person.

Also Posted at The Picnic Basket.
This book is a definite winner.  I read it to all the second graders at my school, and it makes a great read-aloud.   When Judy Moody visited the art class and called it the “Naked Lady class,” she had them rolling with laughter.  The story moves quickly, and it’s full of humor that the kids loved.  Almost all of them know someone going to college, and it made for great real-life connections for them. Every single Judy Moody title in our library has stayed checked out ever since.  I’ve been recommending it to students who love Junie B. Jones by Park and Clementine by Pennypacker.

Judy Moody Goes to College

Judy Moody Goes to College

As a teacher, I thought it would be a great novel to build a curricular theme around—you could work in math by talking about the topics Judy Moody discusses with her tutor, art through the art class Judy attends in the story, and even some environmental science topics.  You might even take a field trip to a local college and see how it compares to the one Judy Moody visits in the story.

I read The Boy Who Cried Wolf by B.G. Hennessy to one of my classes today, since they’re studying fairy tales and fables in reading this week.  Before reading we talked about how a fable is a story that’s meant to teach a lesson, and I asked them to be thinking about what lesson this story was teaching while they listened.

Afterwards, I had the kids share their answers with a partner before talking as a whole group.  (Good way to get all to participate, and to eavesdrop and see how many in the class get it).  Then, anybody who wanted to could share their answer with the whole class.  My favorites:

“Don’t lie, ’cause nobody will believe you.”

“Don’t scam people, it makes them mad.”

“No pranking.”

Side note–I love this version of the story!  It has captivating illustrations (down to the lazy shepherd boy lying on the grass picking his nose!)  and fun text to read aloud.  Check it out on amazon.

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I’ve just finished The Lightning Thief, and its sequel, Sea of Monsters, and loved them. The basic premise of the story is that the main character, Percy Jackson, discovers that not only do all the ancient Greek gods exist, but he is the son of one of them. (Telling you which one would spoil the first book a bit, so I’m not gonna). He goes to Camp Half-Blood, a summer camp for heroes–children of gods and mortal parents. The camp director is Dionysus, or Mr. D. On his way, he is attacked by the Minotaur. The adventures get better and better . Lightning Thief book cover

I’ve been teaching a summer enrichment program for rising sixth graders, and I wish I’d discovered these books while planning! They’d be a great introduction to Greek mythology.