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Author Archives: etownsend

Engage with Nature: May 2016 Babies, Toddlers and Preschoolers Toddlers

April 24th, 2016 | Posted by etownsend in Babies, Toddlers and Preschoolers | 2015-2016 | May - (Comments Off on Engage with Nature: May 2016 Babies, Toddlers and Preschoolers Toddlers)

mommy mommyMommy! Mommy! by Taro Gomi. Translated Icon_PreSchoolfrom the Japanese. U.S. edition: Chronicle, 2013.

A sweetly comical board book features a pair of chicks repeatedly searching for their mother. “Mommy! Mommy!” There she is, behind the fence. “Here I am!” Now she’s behind the shrubs, only her ruffled pink frill visible. But it turns out to be a flower. “Oops!” Is that her behind the rocks? Yikes! It’s something large and pink and frilly with gnashing teeth. How about peeking out behind the roof of the barn? No, it’s the rippled sun rising. But who’s that next to the sun? It’s mommy! Taro Gomi’s spare, repetitive text is funny, but the real charm is in the stylized illustrations featuring two big-eyed, boxy chicks with the suggestion of tail feathers, and their bigger boxy mother, not to mention the rectangular pink menace. Young children will enjoy the humor and drama both.  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Find resources at TeachingBooks.net.

  • Read: Mommy! Mommy!
  • Talk: What do you call the grown-ups you live with?
  • Sing: Sing “Where is Thumbkin?”
  • Play: Play hide and seek.

What Will Hatch? by Jennifer Ward. Illustrated by Susie what will hatchGhahremani. Walker / Bloomsbury, 2013.

Eggs of eight different animals are presented with a few carefully selected words (“Sandy ball”) paired with the question “What will hatch?” An equally spare answer (“Paddle and crawl – Sea turtle”) augments the illustration of the brand-new juvenile. A balanced array of animals goes beyond birds (goldfinch, penguin, and robin) to include a caterpillar, crocodile, platypus, sea turtle, and tadpole. Egg shapes are die-cut, with the page turn cleverly revealing the result of each hatching. A few pages of additional information at the book’s end introduce young children to the term “oviparous” and relate egg facts for each species (time in egg, parents’ incubation behavior, number of siblings). Simple gouache on wood illustrations, while not always strictly representational, are consistently lovely with a warm palette of gold, green, and brown.  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Find activities and ideas for What Will Hatch at TeachingBooks.net.

  • Read: Find other books about the animals in this book.
  • Sing: Put some dried beans in a plastic egg and create an egg shaker. Dance and sing along to your favorite songs.
  • Play: Take a plastic egg and hide something inside and have your child guess what it is. Now, have your child hide something inside the egg and you guess what is inside.
  • STEM: Name animals that hatch from eggs. Count all the eggs in the book.

see what a seal can doSee What a Seal Can Do by Chris Butterworth.  Illustrated by Kate Nelms.  Candlewick Press, 2013.

“If you’re down by the sea one day, you might spot a seal, lying around like a fat sunbather or flumping along the sand.” Lyrical, descriptive language and appealing mixed media illustrations highlight the characteristics and behavior of gray seals. Diving deep, catching mackerel, evading a killer whale on the hunt, and returning to the beach to sleep are some of the events in one gray seal’s day. While a large-font narrative tracks the seal’s activities, offset single sentences in a smaller italicized type add snippets of relevant factual information.  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Find out more about the author and illustrator at TeachingBooks.net.

  • Read: Take a look at the index at the back of the book and go back to the pages of the various topics. Visit the websites mentioned on this page.
  • Talk: Name things a seal can do and name things you can do.
  • Write: Seals eat fish. With your child, make a list of the things your child eats. Encourage them to draw a picture of the things they eat. Take this list with you when you go grocery shopping.
  • STEM: Talk about the seals’ habitat. Test what floats and what doesn’t float in your sink or tub.

Find more early literacy activities from the Youth Services Section of the Wisconsin Library Association’s 2015 Early Literacy Calendar created by Youth Services librarians across Wisconsin.

Naturalists, Artists, Dreamers: Ready for Adventure with ROW May 2016 Titles!

April 20th, 2016 | Posted by etownsend in Babies, Toddlers and Preschoolers | Primary (Grades K-2) | Intermediate (Grades 3-5) | 2015-2016 | Middle School | High School | May - (Comments Off on Naturalists, Artists, Dreamers: Ready for Adventure with ROW May 2016 Titles!)

mommy mommywhat will hatchsee what a seal can do

 

 

 

me janetiny creatureslook up bird watching

 

 

 

 

 

rules of summerbrown girl dreamingbird kingvango

story of owen

Click on any of these book cover images to learn more about that book! Read an annotation from the CCBC! Find discussion questions and activities as well as links to TeachingBooks.net and all of their fabulous resources!

Thought-provoking and Highly Discussable: April 2016 High School Title

March 24th, 2016 | Posted by etownsend in 2015-2016 | High School | April - (Comments Off on Thought-provoking and Highly Discussable: April 2016 High School Title)

silver peopleSilver People: Voices from the Panama Canal by Icon_HighSchoolMargarita Engle. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2014.

At what price progress? Margarita Engle follows four individuals involved in the building of the Panama Canal in the early twentieth century. Mateo is a fourteen-year-old Cubano whose dangerous work digging the canal helps him escape a cruel father. Henry is a Black Jamaican wanting to earn money for his family. His job is blasting through rock. Augusto is a Puerto Rican mapmaker who can’t ignore issues of race and class that mean he is treated better than laborers like Mateo and Henry, but worse than the white engineers who oversee the project. Anita is a local Panamanian girl, adopted daughter of the village healer, who knows all the flora and fauna in jeopardy because of the canal. These “silver people” (dark-skinned workers paid in silver rather than gold) are living and laboring under Colonialism, and their voices illuminate the impact of its arrogance. Engle also, strikingly, gives voice to elements of nature—trees, birds, insects, and the ever-present screaming monkeys—whose world is being brutally destroyed as work on the canal progresses, offering another critical perspective on “progress” in a stirring work that invites thought and discussion. (MS)  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Find resources for Silver People at TeachingBooks.net.

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. Silver People is an historical novel in verse. How would this story be told differently if it were a [prose] novel? A textbook?
  2. The story is told from the perspective of different people. How do the different voices add to the readers understanding of the story? Whose voice resonated with you and why?
  3. Hollywood called and they are doing a casting call for Silver People. Who would you recommend for the main characters and why? What elements of this story would lend itself to the big screen?

Explore Identity and Friendships in April 2016 Middle School Title

March 24th, 2016 | Posted by etownsend in 2015-2016 | Middle School | April - (Comments Off on Explore Identity and Friendships in April 2016 Middle School Title)

if i ever get out of hereIf I Ever Get Out of Here by Eric Gansworth. Books for Middle School AgeArthur A. Levine Books / Scholastic, 2013.

Lewis Blake is the only Tuscarora reservation kid tracked with the “braniacs” in junior high. Sixth grade was a social disaster—it turns out white kids don’t get Indian humor–so he starts seventh grade in 1975 determined to have a better year. He’s even cut off his braid in hopes of fitting in. George, a recent arrival to the nearby air force base in upstate New York where they live, becomes his first, and only, white friend. The two initially bond over a mutual love of music, especially the Beatles and Paul McCartney and Wings. Surprised that George’s military father and German mother genuinely welcome him into their home, Lewis knows he’ll never be able to reciprocate the invitation. Money has been tighter than ever since his grandfather died, and the house where he lives with his mother and Uncle Albert is literally falling down. So he lies about why George can’t come over, although in many ways Lewis has much more in common with George than with Carson, his closest friend on the reservation. In a narrative full of humor and rife with tender, honest, and unsettling truths, author Eric Gansworth explores identity, and what it means to find and be a friend. Gansworth’s first foray into young adult literature lovingly captures both time and place, and reveals characters whose complexities bring sadness, joy, and survival into full relief. In a novel that exposes racism both subtle and overt (seen most vividly in the subplot involving the school’s unwillingness to punish the son of a school donor who is bullying Lewis), Gansworth also portrays two very different but equally loving families. (MS) ©2013 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Find resources at TeachingBooks.net.

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. Lewis and George’s lives intersect for a brief period of time in their seventh grade year. How does the author chronicle their friendship as the plot develops? How does each one of them change over the course of the story?
  2. Identity and friendship are major themes in the story. Do any specific elements (scenes, interactions, etc.) stand out when you think of how either one of these themes was explored in the story?
  3. What role did music play in the lives of the characters? How is it woven into the story?

Try pairing this book with Sherman Alexie’s Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian.

Games Galore in the April 2016 Intermediate Titles

March 24th, 2016 | Posted by etownsend in Intermediate (Grades 3-5) | 2015-2016 | April - (Comments Off on Games Galore in the April 2016 Intermediate Titles)

african acrosticsAfrican Acrostics: A Word in Edgeways by Icon for the Intermediate (Grades 3-5) readersAvis Harley. Photographs by Deborah Noyes. Candlewick Press, 2009.

Animal lovers, poetry appreciators, and puzzle fiends will all find something to appreciate in this collection of poems about birds and animals of the African savannah. Most of Avis Harley’s clever descriptive poems are traditional acrostics, in which the first word of each line spells out a word relating to the poem’s subject. But some are more devious—there are double acrostics, which feature words spelled from both the beginning and end letters in each line, multiple acrostics—one poem has five imbedded vertical words—and other variations on the acrostic form. Accompanying each poem is full-page photograph of the animal subject. Photographer Deborah Noyes took most of the photos in Namibia and includes a note about that experience. Brief additional notes about each of the animals, and a more lengthy explanation of the acrostic form, round out this unusual volume. (MS) ©2009 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Find more resources at TeachingBooks.net.

Start conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. Before reading: Both of these books (African Acrostics and Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library) feature puzzles. What is your favorite type of puzzle?
  2. How do the text and pictures work together to add meaning to this book?
  3. How did the acrostic part of the poem add to the meaning of the poem?
  4. How does this book use puzzles? To enhance setting? To share information? To add detail?

Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library: A Puzzle Mystery bymr lemoncello Chris Grabenstein. Random House, 2013.

Check out this comprehensive list of resources for Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library and more on the author’s website: Chris Grabenstein: fast-paced fun reads for young(er) readers.

Find even more resources at TeachingBooks.net.

Start conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. Before reading: Both of these books (African Acrostics and Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library) feature puzzles. What is your favorite type of puzzle?
  2. Solving puzzles helped the characters win the challenge. What else helped them?
  3. Teamwork gave some kids an advantage. How did the book show this?
  4. How does this book use puzzles? To tell a story? To create tension? To enhance setting?

Pictures and Words Make Meaning Together in the April 2016 Primary Titles

March 24th, 2016 | Posted by etownsend in Primary (Grades K-2) | 2015-2016 | April - (Comments Off on Pictures and Words Make Meaning Together in the April 2016 Primary Titles)

benjamin bear's bright ideasBenjamin Bear in Bright Ideas! by Philippe Primary Icon of a White-Tailed DeerCoudray.  Toon Books/Candlewick Press, 2013.

An unusual entry in Toon’s comic series for beginning readers features one-page comic strips, each with a clever visual punchline. For example, Benjamin Bear says to a fish swimming in a bowl, “Let’s go play at your house” and, after dumping the fish in the lake, dons the upside-down fish bowl to wear as a diver’s helmet before entering the lake himself. Or, after seeing his rabbit friend jump over a stream, Benjamin Bear builds a bridge for the rabbit, who proceeds to jump over the bridge. It’s one laugh after another in this engaging easy reader. The humor is simple enough for new readers and sophisticated enough so that older children will enjoy it, too.  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Find lesson plans, book trailer and more for Benjamin Bear in Bright Ideas! at TeachingBooks.net

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. What are some of the problems that bear solves?
  2. How would you describe the relationship between bear and rabbit?
  3. Which of the stories is the most realistic and which is the least realistic? Show examples for your reasoning.

Meow Ruff: A Story in Concrete Poetry by Joyce Sidman. meow ruffIllustrated by Michelle Berg. Houghton MIfflin, 2006.

Plump / bright dome / of sugary white / sky muffin.” Joyce Sidman’s descriptive cloud poem will change shape, form, and content over the course of this intriguing picture book, just like the clouds themselves. If there’s a story here, it’s of small dog and a small cat at odds with one another until a sudden storm finds them sheltering beneath the same picnic table. But the real story is the way that tale is told—in a series of concrete poems that chronicle the storm’s rise and fall, the changing relationship of the two animals, and their surroundings. The rain is represented in falling words that convey both the sight and sound of the downpour: “sudden ferocious drilling” (the storm’s onset), “stinging ropes of water” (the height of its fury), “fat fingers tip tapping” (as the rain begins to subside). A series of lovely descriptive poems also describe the tree in the yard, the grass beneath the animals’ feet, and, of course, the clouds. While some of Sidman’s poems are true concrete verse, taking the shape of their subject, others are merely suggestive of a form. Illustrator Michelle Berg’s task was to draw the characters and complete the scene, and the bold, clear, graphic design of her illustrations provide a perfect complement to Sidman’s words.  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Find lesson plans and more for Meow Ruff at TeachingBooks.net

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. What story does the book tell about the dog and cat?
  2. Give some examples of how the print looks like what it’s describing or representing? Why do you think the author and illustrator chose to show the words this way?
  3. What are some of the different voices expressed in the poems?

Enjoy Nature with April 2016 Babies, Toddlers and Preschoolers Titles

March 24th, 2016 | Posted by etownsend in Babies, Toddlers and Preschoolers | 2015-2016 | April - (Comments Off on Enjoy Nature with April 2016 Babies, Toddlers and Preschoolers Titles)

baby animal farmBaby Animal Farm by Karen Blair. Icon_PreSchoolCandlewick, 2014.

A group of five racially diverse toddlers visit a baby animal farm in this board book sure to invite noisy participation from the toddlers with whom it is shared. On each page, the toddlers in the story interact with baby farm animals, their actions coupled with a matching sound. Throughout the farm visit, one of the children is looking for his missing teddy bear, which is obligingly returned by a playful puppy by story’s end. All of it is conveyed in a minimal, rhythmic text (“Follow the ducklings. ‘Quack, quack, quack.’ Chase the chicks. ‘Cheep, cheep, cheep’ ”) and tidy illustrations in cheery watercolors  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Resources for Baby Animal Farm available at TeachingBooks.net.

  • Talk: Talk about animals sounds and encourage your child to make some.
  • Sing: Sing “Old MacDonald Had a Farm”.
  • Write: Find some pictures of farm animals and have your child trace the outlines of the animals. Talk about the size and shape of each animal.
  • Play: Visit a farm. Enjoy a picnic.

Call Me Tree = Llámame árbol by Maya Christina Gonzalez. call me tree Translated by Dana Goldberg. Children’s Book Press / Lee & Low, 2014.

“I begin / Within / The deep / dark / earth.” A child imagines himself a tree, beginning as a seed that pushes through the earth, reaching and rising to discover other trees all around. Maya Christina Gonzalez pays tribute to both trees and children, affirming the beauty of each in a picture book that pairs a bilingual (English/Spanish) text with lush, colorful illustrations that convey something magical in their literal depiction of children embodying trees. Together, the text and illustrations work as a both an imaginative flight of fancy and as a stirring, strong statement about the importance of nature and value of all children: “All trees have roots / All trees belong.”  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Find excellent resources — video of author reading book as well as teacher’s guide – at TeachingBooks.net.

  • Talk: This book is written in English and Spanish? What other languages do you hear or speak. What is the Spanish word for tree?
  • Write: Practice writing with a tree branch in some sand or dirt.
  • Play: Try the yoga tree pose. What other yoga poses can you try?
  • STEM: Go for a walk and observe different trees.

wolfsnailWolfsnail: A Backyard Predator by Sarah C. Campbell. Boyds Mills Press, 2008.

Drama on a small scale unfolds in this introduction to the wolfsnail, a gastropod that feeds on snails and slugs. A sentence or two per page and large close-up photos document a wolfsnail as it follows a slime trail across a hosta leaf in search of prey. After a brief retreat into its shell when a bird lights nearby, the wolfsnail catches a small snail and uses its tooth-lined tongue to scoop the meat from the shell. A glossary, fact page, and additional information on wolfsnails are included at the book’s close.  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Educator and librarian resources for Wolfsnail available at TeachingBooks.net.

  • Talk: Reinforce new vocabulary by labeling the body parts on a picture of a wolfsnail.
  • Write: Take photos and write some words to describe them.
  • Play: Move slowly and crawl like a snail or a slug.
  • STEM: What were some interesting facts you learned about a wolfsnail? Drip some water on a leaf and watch it roll. Try other liquids like cooking oil, milk, juice and syrup. Find a recipe to make some slime.

Find more early literacy activities from the Youth Services Section of the Wisconsin Library Association’s 2015 Early Literacy Calendar created by Youth Services librarians across Wisconsin.

Wild Variety in the April 2016 ROW Selections! Check Them Out NOW!

March 23rd, 2016 | Posted by etownsend in Babies, Toddlers and Preschoolers | Primary (Grades K-2) | Intermediate (Grades 3-5) | 2015-2016 | Middle School | High School | April - (Comments Off on Wild Variety in the April 2016 ROW Selections! Check Them Out NOW!)

baby animal farmcall me treewolfsnail

meow ruff

 

 

benjamin bear's bright ideas

african acrostics

mr lemoncello

if i ever get out of here

silver people

Click on any book cover image to learn more about that book! Read an annotation from the CCBC! Find discussion questions and activities as well as links to TeachingBooks.net and all of their fabulous resources!

Our March Titles are Here! Check Them Out!

March 1st, 2016 | Posted by etownsend in Babies, Toddlers and Preschoolers | Primary (Grades K-2) | Intermediate (Grades 3-5) | 2015-2016 | Middle School | High School | March - (Comments Off on Our March Titles are Here! Check Them Out!)

socksifyouwereadogfirefly july

what forest knows

flora and ulysses

stubby the war dog

scavengers

falling into place

Click on any of these book cover images to learn more about that book! Read an annotation from the CCBC! Find discussion questions and activities as well as links to TeachingBooks.net and all of their fabulous resources!

Great Read from Debut Wisconsin Author! March 2016 High School Title

February 24th, 2016 | Posted by etownsend in 2015-2016 | High School | March - (Comments Off on Great Read from Debut Wisconsin Author! March 2016 High School Title)

falling into placeFalling into Place by Amy Zhang. Greenwillow / Icon_HighSchoolHarperCollins, 2014.

Popular Liz Emerson was trying to commit suicide when she ran her car off the road. But she’s survived, at least for now. With Liz in the ICU, flashback chapters from the perspective of her best friends, Julia and Kennie, her mom, Monica, and Liam, a boy who loved Liz without ever telling her, reveal what led Liz to the point of such despair. Liz, it turns out, was good to her friends, but not very nice to others. In fact, she could be quite cruel, and Liam was one of the victims of her cruelty. But the journey back in time also reveals that Liz wasn’t always this way. After her dad died in an accident for which she blames herself, Liz moved away from the kind person she once was. Self-hatred fueled her downward spiral, compounding itself because she also hated the person she’d become. The tension in Amy Zhang’s debut novel is revealed not only through the constant reminder of Liz’s devastating act (chapters are titled in relation to the event, e.g., “Five Years Before Liz Emerson Crashed Her Car,” “Fifty-Five Minutes Before Liz Emerson Crashed Her Car”) but also in Liz’s despicable behavior and genuine despair. Her survival, it is clear, depends on much more than her body healing. The novel concludes with hotline numbers for anyone needing help if they or a friend are considering suicide.  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Find educator resources at TeachingBooks.net.

Start some conservation with these discussion prompts:

  1. Why do you think Zhang tell Liz’s story in a non-chronological format? How would a different plot structure change the tension and pace of the story?
  2. What techniques does Zhang use to take an unsympathetic protagonist and make the reader care about her?
  3. How does Zhang’s inclusion of an unknown narrator influence the plot development?

Action and Adventure in this Survival Story from a Wisconsin Author! March 2016 Middle School Title

February 24th, 2016 | Posted by etownsend in 2015-2016 | Middle School | March - (Comments Off on Action and Adventure in this Survival Story from a Wisconsin Author! March 2016 Middle School Title)

scavengersThe Scavengers by Michael Perry. HarperCollins, Books for Middle School Age2014.

From the publisher: Jeanne DuPrau’s The City of Ember meets Louis Sachar’s Holes (or, as Mike puts it, Little House on the Prairie meets Mad Max) in this imaginative and hilarious middle grade novel from New York Times bestselling author Michael Perry.

When the world started to fall apart, the government gave everyone two choices: move into the Bubble Cities . . . or take their chances outside. Maggie’s family chose to live in the world that was left behind. Deciding it’s time to grow up and grow tough, Maggie rechristens herself “Ford Falcon”—a name inspired by the beat-up car she finds at a nearby junkyard…the same junkyard where Ford’s family goes to scavenge for things they can use and barter with the other people who live OutBubble. Her family has been able to survive this brave new world by working together. But when Ford comes home one day to discover her home ransacked and her family missing, she must find the strength to rescue her loved ones with the help of some friends–including one very feisty rooster.

The Scavengers is a wholly original tween novel that combines an action-packed adventure, a heartfelt family story, and a triumphant journey of self-discovery. It achieves the perfect balance of humor and heart in a world where one person’s junk is another person’s key to survival.

Read an excerpt from the book, hear a clip from the audiobook, read reviews on the Michael Perry’s website, SneezingCow.com.

Find resources for The Scavengers at TeachingBooks.net.

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. Why does Maggie change her name to Ford Falcon? What is the significance of her name change? What does it mean when her father calls her Ford Falcon at the end of the book?
  2. Why does Ford Falcon stay in the car instead of in the shack with her family?
  3. Why does Ford decide to stay out of the Bubble at the end of the book? Would you have the courage to do so? Would you choose to live InBubble or OutBubble? Explain.

Tales of Extraordinary Bravery: March 2016 Intermediate Titles

February 24th, 2016 | Posted by etownsend in Intermediate (Grades 3-5) | 2015-2016 | March - (Comments Off on Tales of Extraordinary Bravery: March 2016 Intermediate Titles)

flora and ulyssesFlora & Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures by Icon for the Intermediate (Grades 3-5) readersKate DiCamillo. Illustrated by K. G. Campbell. Candlewick Press, 2013.

Flora’s been pretty cynical since her parents’ divorce. She spends most of her time reading superhero comics while her self-involved mom works on her next romance novel and her dad, with his lack of confidence, flounders. But when Flora sees a hapless squirrel sucked up by a vacuum, she’s on the scene in an instant performing CPR (she learned it in the back of a comic book). “For a cynic I am a surprisingly helpful person,” she thinks. The squirrel not only lives, but is changed by the experience. He understands what Flora says. And he can write—poetry no less—plunking out deep, thoughtful verses on the typewriter belonging to Flora’s mom. Flora names him Ulysses (for the model of vacuum that was almost his demise) and thinks of him as a superhero in real life. Ulysses may not be able to save the world, but he just might be able to save Flora, restoring her belief in friendship and family. Kate DiCamillo’s witty, wonderful work of magical realism is patently absurd with its flights of fancy and wordplay, but that’s its charm. The lively prose narrative is punctuated by interludes of black-and-white panel illustrations by K. G. Campbell that showcase small vignettes of action while referencing the comic-book form.  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Find resources for Flora and Ulysses, including links to 8 lesson plans at TeachingBooks.net!

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. Before reading: Both stories (Flora and Ulysses and Stubby the War Dog) use headlines. What would be the headline for your life today?
  2. How do the text features affect the story? How do the illustrations affect your understanding of the story and the characters?
  3. How does the mother change throughout the story? Why does the mom want to get rid of Ulysses? What does the mom say that’s hurtful and why?
  4. Why do you think that the boy pretends to be blind? How would the story and characters change if the boy didn’t pretend to be blind?

Stubby the War Dog: The True Story of World War I’s stubby the war dogBravest Dog by Ann Bausum. National Geographic, 2014.

As he was training for duty overseas in 1917, Pvt. J. Robert Conroy bonded with a stray dog at the training camp. Conroy named the dog Stubby due to his stub of a tail, and smuggled him on board his ship when he headed for France. Stubby was so smart and so personable that he quickly became the unofficial mascot for Conroy’s division. On the battlefield, Stubby proved his worth by locating fallen soldiers and staying with them until help arrived, and warning the unit of poison gas. He earned a medal for bravery when he captured a German soldier. After the war, Stubby’s reputation and fame continued to grow. Author Ann Bausum did extensive primary research through documents, photos, and mementos at the Smithsonian, which has taxidermy Stubby in its collection, and one of the intriguing aspects of her narrative is occasional comments on the challenges of separating fact from fiction, since even stories written when Stubby was alive were prone to hyperbole. She also interviewed Conroy’s grandson, who shared memories of his grandfather and his stories about Stubby. Numerous photographs of Stubby, Conroy, and other memorabilia are an integral part of a volume that includes a timeline, extensive bibliography, and wonderful research notes.  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Check out the great resources for TeachingBooks.net!

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. Before reading: Both stories (Flora and Ulysses and Stubby the War Dog) use headlines. What would be the headline for your life today?
  2. Can you identify any primary sources in the book? How do the primary sources affect the story?
  3. Make a timeline of Stubby’s Story.
  4. How do animals help people through difficult times? What examples can you find in this book? Which of Stubby’s feats impressed you most?
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