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FEBRUARY (1)

May 9th, 2017 | Posted by etownsend in 2017-2018 | Primary (Grades K-2) | 2017-2018 Primary | February - (Comments Off on FEBRUARY (1))

The Quickest Kid in Clarksville by Pat Zietlow Miller.  Illustrated by Frank Morrison. Chronicle, 2016

Alta prides herself on being the fastest runner in Clarksville, Tennessee, hometown of Olympic star Wilma Rudolph. But Charmaine, of the new-shoes-just-like-Wilma’s, is fast, too. She may be even faster than Alta, although it’s hard to say: Alta is sure Charmaine tripped her when she won the race between them. Alta ended up with a hole in her sneaker. “Oh, baby girl,” says Mama. “Those shoes have to last.” On the day of a parade for Wilma Rudolph, Alta and her friends Dee-Dee and Little Mo make a huge banner, but getting the banner all the way to the parade isn’t easy, and time is running out. Then Charmaine shows up and suggests they take turns carrying it–a relay, just like Wilma ran for one of her medals. “Three people ran it with her, you know,” Charmaine says. “I hate to admit it, but she’s right.” A spirited story set in 1960 ends with an author’s note featuring a photograph of Wilma Rudolph at the real parade held in her honor in Clarksville. The energetic illustrations are full of movement and feeling. ©2016 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. If you were going to try out for the Olympics, what event would you choose?
  2. How and why does the relationship between Alta and the new girl change?
  3. How do the girls see Wilma Rudolph as a role model? How does she inspire them?
  4. “Shoes don’t matter. Not as long as we’ve got our feet.” — Do you agree or disagree with this quote?
  5. What role does the setting play in the story?

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JANUARY (2)

May 9th, 2017 | Posted by etownsend in 2017-2018 | Primary (Grades K-2) | 2017-2018 Primary | January - (Comments Off on JANUARY (2))

The Cow Who Climbed a Tree by Gemma Merino. U.S. edition: Albert Whitman, 2016

“Tina was a very curious cow. She had a thirst for discovery.” But forging a nontraditional path has its naysayers. Tina’s three sisters meet her dreams with a constant refrain: “IMPOSSIBLE! RIDICULOUS! NONSENSE!” They say it when she imagines flying in a rocket ship, and they certainly say it when Tina tells her sisters about the friendly, flying dragon she’s met. Still, when Tina isn’t at breakfast the next morning they go in search of her, venturing beyond their farm for the first time. They can’t help but notice the scenery is beautiful. And what they go on to witness is impossible, ridiculous, nonsense! But it’s true: Tina is flying (well, parachuting; so are a pig and a penguin), her new dragon friend soaring nearby. This absurd and inspiring story is full of humor (e.g., Tina’s stickler-for-tradition sisters are cows living in a house, eating their grass at a well-set table) and set against singular illustrations that are distinctive and lovely, combining abstract washes of expressive color with quirky and charmingly detailed characters. Highly Commended, 2017 Charlotte Zolotow Award ©2017 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. What are some ways Tina shows her curiosity and individuality?
  2. How do the illustrations help the reader make predictions?
  3. How do Tina and her sisters see the world differently? In what ways have the sisters changed at the end of the story?
  4. Have you ever been told that something you wanted to do is silly (similar to Tina) and how did you respond?

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JANUARY (1)

May 9th, 2017 | Posted by etownsend in 2017-2018 | Primary (Grades K-2) | 2017-2018 Primary | January - (Comments Off on JANUARY (1))

The Infamous Ratsos by Kara LaReau. Illustrated by Matt Myers. Candlewick Press, 2016

Two rat brothers, Louie and Ralphie, live with their hard-as-nails father in a big city. They aspire to be as mean as their dad, so they constantly scheme ways to prove their toughness. Each episodic chapter recounts a different mean thing they plan and execute; however, each ends up having the opposite effect. For example, when they snatch a big bully’s hat right off his head, they are lauded for doing so—it turns out the bully had stolen the hat from a much smaller kid. When they make a sandwich with all the gross stuff in their fridge to give to a new student, Fluffy Rabbitski, it turns out to be all of her favorite foods. The chapters are short and snappy, and each one has a funny and surprising reversal. © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. What are the differences between being a bully and being tough? Use examples from the story.
  2. What do you do to make life easier for your community?
  3. Have you done something differently than you expected?

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DECEMBER (2)

May 9th, 2017 | Posted by etownsend in 2017-2018 | Primary (Grades K-2) | 2017-2018 Primary | December - (Comments Off on DECEMBER (2))

Two Friends: Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglass by Dean Robbins. Illustrated by Sean Qualls and Selina Alko. Orchard / Scholastic, 2016

Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglass each had a significant impact on America in their own right, but the two also became friends when they were both living in Rochester, New York, in the mid-1800s. There is a statue in Rochester of the two of them having tea, and Madison author Dean Robbins has imagined what that meeting might have been like and what they might have talked about based on their mutual interest in fighting for civil rights. The text also serves as an introduction to both Anthony and Douglass as people and as change agents in American history. Mixed-media illustrations are at once playfully inventive and historically respectful. © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. Why were Susan and Frederick friends? What did they have in common? In what ways were they different? How did they help each other?
  2. How do the author and the illustrator show that words are important in this story?
  3. What do the two candles symbolize?

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DECEMBER (1)

May 9th, 2017 | Posted by etownsend in 2017-2018 | Primary (Grades K-2) | 2017-2018 Primary | December - (Comments Off on DECEMBER (1))

The Princess and the Warrior by Duncan Tonatiuh. Abrams, 2016

The princess Izta is known for her beauty but rejects all suitors until the warrior Popoca compliments her kind and beautiful heart. Her father admires Popoca’s bravery as a solider but hoped his daughter would marry a ruler. Still, he agrees Popoca may have Izta’s hand in marriage after defeating Jaguar Claw, ruler of a neighboring land. Jaguar Claw tricks Izta into thinking Popoca is dead and gives her poison. Popoca, finding his beloved in a sleep from which he cannot wake her, does not leave her side, even as the snows begin to fall. Their two snow-covered forms eventually become two volcanoes. This traditional Aztec legend of eternal love is also an origin story for two volcanoes, Iztaccíhuatl and Popocatépetl, located south of Mexico City. This spirited retelling weaves in original elements and Nuhaatl words—“the language Popoca and Izta would have spoken.” An informative author’s note places this version in the context of many others, and of various forms of art created to honor the two volcanoes. A glossary defining the Nahuatl words is also included. Tonatiuh’s singular illustrations, inspired by Mixtec codices, provide striking visual accompaniment. Highly Commended, 2017 Charlotte Zolotow Award ©2017 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. What is a legend? Connect the names of the volcanoes to the story. What are some other similar stories you know?
  2. How are Popoca’s words “music to Izta’s ears”? How are they different than her other suitors’ words?
  3. How does Popoca show that he is brave, courageous, and loyal to Izta?

NOVEMBER (2)

May 9th, 2017 | Posted by etownsend in 2017-2018 | Primary (Grades K-2) | 2017-2018 Primary | November - (Comments Off on NOVEMBER (2))

Maybe Something Beautiful: How Art Transformed a Neighborhood by F. Isabel Campoy and Theresa Howell.  Illustrated by Rafael López. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2016

Mira brightens up her own life and the lives of those in her neighborhood with the colorful pictures she creates. When she meets a muralist, they begin painting on walls around the neighborhood and soon the whole community is involved: shop owners and teachers, police officers and parents. And of course, children. Music blares and colors dazzle and the atmosphere—physical and emotional—is transformed. “Everyone painted to the rhythm. Salsa, merengue, bebop! Even Mira’s mama painted and danced the cha-cha-cha!” A buoyant picture book is based on the true story of painter Rafael López who, with his wife, organizer Candice López, brought public art to a San Diego neighborhood, creating the Urban Art Trail. Rafael López illustrates this fictionalized account of that effort with dazzling mixed-media artwork that showcases the vibrant transformation. An author’s note includes photographs of the actual murals and some of the young painters. Highly Commended, 2017 Charlotte Zolotow Award ©2017 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. In the beginning, how does Mira show kindness and make her neighborhood less gray?
  2. What does the painter see when he looks at Mira’s picture?
  3. “Art followed the man and Mira, like the string of a kite.” What do you think that means?
  4. What ideas do you have for ways you can work with your community to bring more beauty to the place where you live?

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NOVEMBER (1)

May 9th, 2017 | Posted by etownsend in 2017-2018 | Primary (Grades K-2) | 2017-2018 Primary | November - (Comments Off on NOVEMBER (1))

The Hole Story of the Doughnut by Pat Miller. Illustrated by Vincent X. Kirsch. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2016

Prior to 1847, little round cakes fried in lard were a dietary staple for sailors aboard ships. They were easy to prepare and easy to eat. But Hanson Gregory, a 16-year-old cook’s assistant aboard a schooner, listened to his fellow sailor’s complaints about the cakes, which they called “sinkers” because the centers were so heavy with grease, and he came up with a way to improve them: He took the top of a pepper shaker and cut the centers out of the cakes before he fried them. They were such a hit that Hanson shared the idea with his mother when he got back home, and she began to cook up dozens of “holey cakes” to sell on the docks to the sailors, and pretty soon, all the ships’ cooks began to adopt the practice, thereby spreading doughnuts far and wide. Gregory later became a ship’s captain, and tall tales began to develop about how he came to invent the doughnut, some of which are included in this book. A great deal of primary and secondary research went into recounting the doughnut’s—or, more accurately, the doughnut hole’s–entertaining history. Each whimsical watercolor illustration is framed within a circle, echoing the importance of the doughnut hole. ©2016 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. Captain Gregory spent a lot of time on large ships, what is the largest vehicle you’ve ever seen, and where were you when you saw it?
  2. Why is Captain Gregory considered a hero? What is he remembered for?
  3. In the book, what is the problem Hanson Gregory was trying to solve with his invention? How does his invention help the sailors?
  4. How do the sailors’ stories differ from Hanson Gregory’s story (How do tall-tales differ from non-fiction?)

OCTOBER (2)

May 9th, 2017 | Posted by etownsend in 2017-2018 | Primary (Grades K-2) | October | 2017-2018 Primary - (Comments Off on OCTOBER (2))

Little Cat’s Luck by Marion Dane Bauer. Illustrated by Jennifer A. Bell. Simon & Schuster, 2016

A small calico cat, Patches, lives in a loving home with a girl she adores, but when she suddenly feels the need for a special place she escapes through a faulty screen and ends up lost just three blocks from home. She spies what looks like a perfect special place when she sees a dog house, but it belongs to Gus, the meanest dog in town. Both a mouseling and a squirrel a bit more worldly than Patches warn her about the dog. Still, Patches slips in and gives birth to three kittens. It turns out Gus isn’t really scary—he’s just lonely. He falls hard for gentle, clever Patches and her kittens, and when it’s time for them to leave, he doesn’t want to let them go, growling, “Mine.” But Patches is determined to get her kittens back home. This companion book to Little Dog Lost is written in short verse lines with a humorous voice that speaks directly to the reader. The story ends happily, but not before Bauer builds narrative tension that keeps sweetness restrained and readers on the edges of their seats. (Ages 6–9)  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. How does the text, written like a poem, help the reader to visualize the story?
  2. How do Patches’ feelings about her home change by the end of the story?
  3. Explain how Gus, the humans, and Patches all say the kittens are, “Mine”. Why do you think they feel this way?

OCTOBER (1)

May 9th, 2017 | Posted by etownsend in 2017-2018 | Primary (Grades K-2) | October | 2017-2018 Primary - (Comments Off on OCTOBER (1))

When We Were Alone by David A. Robertson. Illustrated by Julie Flett. Highwater Press, 2016

A young Cree girl gardening with her kókom asks about certain habits she has observed: Her kókum always wears bright color and a long braid. She often speaks in Cree and enjoys spending time with her brother. There is a story behind each that is connected to kókum’s years in Indian Boarding School. The students were not allowed to wear bright colors, for example. “But sometimes,” Kókom says, “in the fall when we were alone, and the leaves had turned to their warm autumn hues, we would all roll around on the ground. We would pile the leaves over the clothes they had given us, and we would be colorful again. And this made us happy.” Each question and answer follows this same pattern, with Kókom describing small acts of resistance that helped her and her classmates survive emotionally. The beautiful, affecting narrative is accompanied by Julie Flett’s striking, culturally authentic illustrations that show the connection between the child and her elders. (Ages 5–8)  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. What is your favorite story from your grandparent or from an older community member?
  2. The grandmother in the story has kept many of her cultural traditions. What are some of your favorite family traditions?
  3. How do you think the illustrations in the book reflect the feelings of the grandmother?

SEPTEMBER (2)

May 9th, 2017 | Posted by etownsend in September | 2017-2018 | Primary (Grades K-2) | 2017-2018 Primary - (Comments Off on SEPTEMBER (2))

Excellent Ed by Stacy McAnulty. Illustrated by Julia Sarcone-Roach. Alfred A. Knopf, 2016

“All of the Ellis children were allowed to eat at the table and ride in the van and sit on the couch and use the indoor bathroom. Except Ed.” Ed is prohibited from these activities because he’s a dog, not that Ed himself makes any distinction between himself and his human family. But because each of the other Ellis children excels at something—Elaine at soccer, Emily and Elmer at math, Edith at ballet, and Ernie at baking cupcakes—Ed goes in search of what he’s best at. The search leads to answers that are satisfying for Ed and for readers and listeners, too. It’s hard to say which is more appealing in this sparkling picture book, Ed or the entire lively Ellis family, of which Ed is clearly a much-loved member. The wonderful narrative makes judicious use of repetition while the vivacious illustrations are full of humor and warmth. The Ellis family is Black, with children ranging from early-elementary-age to their teens, something typical for many families but not for many picture books. ©2016 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. What are some things that Ed does well? What are some things that members of Ed’s family do well? Have you found what you are “excellent at”? Or, are you still looking?
  2. What does Ed do when someone in the family is better than he is? How do you remind yourself to keep trying your best even though someone else does something better than you?
  3. How does Ed finally find what he is “excellent at”? What do you do when you feel left out?
  4. How do the text and the illustrations work together to tell this story?

SEPTEMBER (1)

May 9th, 2017 | Posted by etownsend in September | 2017-2018 | Primary (Grades K-2) | 2017-2018 Primary - (Comments Off on SEPTEMBER (1))

School’s First Day of School by Adam Rex. Illustrated by Christian Robinson. A Neal Porter Book / Roaring Book Press, 2016

We know about children’s anxiety on the first day of school but what about the school itself? Newly built Frederick Douglass Elementary is just as nervous about its first day as its students are. Before school starts, a man named Janitor mops and buffs the floors, and it’s nice when it’s just the two of them. But when the children start filing in—more of them than the school could have imagined—school begins to worry. It’s clear not all of the kids want to be there, while others are afraid. The kids are also noisy and messy (although school gets even by squirting a boy at the water fountain). But school discovers it can learn a thing or two in kindergarten class. By the time the kids leave at the end of the first day, school is eager to have them come back. Christian Robinson’s acrylic illustrations incorporate classic elements, like a flag, circle rug, and chalkboard with the alphabet above, in scenes showing a diverse, contemporary school in this perfect antidote for first-day jitters. Highly Commended, 2017 Charlotte Zolotow Award ©2017 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. What are some examples of the school acting like a person?
  2. What do the illustrations show the reader about how the school feels?
  3. How does the school change its mind about the freckled girl and other characters?
  4. How would the story be the same or different if told from the janitor’s perspective?
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