Our May ROW Ambassador, Arlene Mabie, the library director at Hawkins Area Library, shared May 2015 title, Max and the Tag-Along Moon by Floyd Cooper in a moon-themed story time.
From book displays for the Early Literacy and Preschool programs to read alouds to make it and take it activities, Arlene found clever ways to share this lovely and loving story about Max and his grandfather with her little library patrons. After enjoying the story, the kids made their own tag-along moon mobiles, complete with glow in the dark paint and glitter.
Thanks, again, to Arlene Mabie, her preschool storytime kiddos, and the Hawkins Area Library.
Are you using Read On Wisconsin books in engaging and educational ways at your library, in your child care environment or at home? We’d love to hear about you, your kiddos and literacy activities with Read On Wisconsin books! Contact Read On Wisconsin and share your ideas! You could be one of the next ROW Ambassadors!
The already tense atmosphere in Matt Foster’s house only tightened after his older brother, T. J., was killed in Iraq. Matt moves through the world like a clenched fist, ready to explode. His dad often does explode, with words, and sometimes physically. He also refuses to talk about T. J. or let Matt see any of T. J.’s things. Then T. J.’s footlockers arrive, and immediately disappear behind the closed door of T. J.’s old room. Matt secretly begins looking for his brother among the items inside. T. J. had made a real effort to connect with Matt on his last visit, and the brother Matt glimpsed then is echoed in some of what he finds. But there’s a surprise, too—a huge one. Correspondence and photos hint at T. J. having been in love with Celia, a fellow soldier, and the two of them having a child together. Celia’s letters are postmarked from Madison, Wisconsin, and Matt heads off on an illicit road trip—Pennsylvania to Madison—in hopes of meeting her and discovering more about T. J. What he finds when he arrives is wholly unexpected, and at first unsettling. But T. J. is there after all, in the memories of people who loved him deeply and understand how much Matt, too, loves and misses the older brother he was just starting to know as a man. E. M. Kokie’s intense and deeply moving debut novel is set in 2007 and rooted in wonderfully developed characters and the relationships among them. © Cooperative Children’s Book Center.
Connect with Wisconsin author, E.M. Kokie on Twitter: @EMKokie!
1. Identify points of acceptance for different characters in the book. What factors contribute to these changes?
2. What makes it difficult for Matt to trust people? How does he work through these issues? How do pressures from others along with a sense of urgency contribute to Matt’s challenges?
3. What are the multiple meanings of this title? How do these meanings relate to the plot?
Bluffton was an actors’ colony just outside Muskegon, Michigan, established in 1908 by Joe Keaton to give Vaudeville performers a place to relax during the summer months when theaters were too hot to draw an audience. For Joe’s son, Buster, Bluffton was a place where he could be a kid, pursuing his love of baseball and hanging out with kids his own age instead of starring in his parents’ act. A graphic novel spanning three summers is told from the point of view of Henry Harrison, a fictional boy who lives in Muskegon. He becomes Buster’s summer friend and dreams of being a performer himself. Life in Muskegon is anything but glamorous, but to be on the stage! Everything is wonderfully understated in Matt Phelan’s storytelling, from the color palette to the dialogue to the way he fills in Henry’s life between each of the summers with several brief, elegant, wordless page spreads. A handful of years can bring maturity and new depth of understanding, and just how Henry changes, and how his relationship with Buster affects and reveals that change, is gracefully told. © Cooperative Children’s Book Center
1. How does the author use pictures to convey Buster’s family and life situations? How does the use of text add to that?
2. What do you think Henry is trying to achieve by telling Sally that Buster has only been to school once in his life?
3. Buster Keaton was a real person who eventually went on to act in movies before they had sound and actors had to rely more on actions rather than words. Have you ever seen a silent movie? Explain how Buster Keaton’s physical talent of learning how to fall, flip, and roll would be important in silent movies.
Potions master Kyra is on the run after a failed attempt to assassinate Princess Ariana, heir to the throne. The fact that the princess is also her best friend doesn’t deter Kyra from wanting to succeed at her self-imposed mission. Krya’s had dire visions in which Ariana causes the complete destruction of the kingdom. With the princess now in hiding, Kyra ends up in possession of a pig with special hunting abilities to track her down. The small creature has an endearing disposition that Kyra tries to resist, not to mention a soft spot for dog biscuits. And then there’s Fred. Handsome and friendly, this wanderer Kyra meets in the woods is really the last thing she needs. But he did provide the dog biscuits, along with a name for the pig (Rosie), and a helping hand at a desperate moment. So when Fred is later accosted, Kyra comes to his aid, although she risks revealing her own considerable fighting skills, making it hard to maintain her disguise as nothing more than another wayfarer. She doesn’t want a traveling companion but seems fated to have found one in Fred—a proposition she finds both vexing and pleasing. Bridget Zinn’s buoyant novel brims with adventure, mayhem, intrigue, humor, and romance, along with surprising twists and revelations right up to the end. (Bridget Zinn, a former CCBC student employee and Friends of the CCBC board member, died at the age of 33 in 2011. Anyone who knew Bridget will sense her spirit on every page of a novel that is full of charm, exuberance, optimism, and plenty of pastry.) (MS) ©2013 Cooperative Children’s Book Center
2. What reason does each character have for concealing their identity? What does Kyra learn about herself from having two identities?
3. Throughout the story, Kyra resists an emotional attachment to Rosie the pig? What do you
think Rosie symbolizes in the story?
An introduction titled “Our Indigenous Roots” discussing the native peoples of Mexico and Central and South America is the entryway into a celebration of diversity within Latino culture in the United States. Thirteen fictional children then tell about their lives in verse narratives that are followed by short informational essays providing background on the cultural history the child represents. Each verse begins with the child stating who they are: “My name is Juanita. I am Mexican. I live in New York. I am Latina … My name is Santiago. I am Dominican. I live in Detroit. I am Latino … My name is Felipe. I am Panamanian and Venezuelan. I am black. I live in Chicago. I am Latino … My name is Lili. I am Guatemalan. I am Chinese. I live in Los Angeles. I am Latina …” The verse narratives are poems grounded in details of family and memories and desires. The essays provide facts about the history of the child’s country/culture of origin and migration to the United States. In truth, no single book can capture the incredible diversity within Latino culture in America. What this book does do is offer a sense of the breadth and depth of the culture and history, along with hopes and dreams, that can be represented by individual lives. Numerous resources for continuing to explore the topic of Latino diversity are suggested at book’s end. © Cooperative Children’s Book Center
1. The book begins with the introduction, “What makes someone Latino?” After reading this book, how would you answer this question?
2. Many stories are told in this book. Is there a story with which you identify or connect? Why? What makes you identify or connect with the story?
3. If you wanted a friend to read this book, how would you describe it?
Seven-year-old Billy Miller starts second grade with a mix of anxiety and excitement. By the end of the first day anxiety wins out. There’s a bossy girl at his table who doesn’t like him. Even worse, he’s worried his teacher, Ms. Silver, thinks he was making fun of her (he wasn’t). Billy lives with his stay-at-home artist dad, his high-school English teacher mom, and his three-year-old sister, Sal. In a novel divided into sections titled Teacher, Father, Sister, Mother, Kevin Henkes’s story follows Billy over the course of his second-grade year by chronicling events that illuminate these four important relationships in his life, with each section following its own arc while fitting seamlessly into the novel as a whole. Henkes skillfully relates details and events of Billy’s life that will hit young readers right where they are at both socially and emotionally. Billy wants to fit in and stand out. He wonders. He worries. He is loved, but doesn’t always like what the people who love him—and whom he loves—do. Sometimes he falls short on patience as a big brother, and sometimes he excels at being wonderful. A novel substantial in every way is completely accessible to young children reading independently or listening to it read aloud. There’s plenty of white space, and occasional spot illustrations in storytelling defined by rich characterizations and fine plotting in a book that is often funny, but also thoughtful and touching and serious. Life is like that when you’re seven, after all. (MS) ©2013 Cooperative Children’s Book Center
1. Billy is nervous about starting second grade. What are some things that happen in the story to show us why he’s worried?
2. What makes it the year of Billy Miller?
3. How do his relationships with his teacher, father, mother and sister change throughout the book?
Max discovers the moon is a constant companion on the drive home from his Granpa’s house. “The long ride home was swervy-curvy. This way and that, all the way. And the moon seemed to tag along.” Wonderful word choice chronicles Max’s journey home with the moon overhead, until “Dark clouds tumbled across the night sky.” The moon his Granpa said would always shine for him has disappeared. But as he’s falling asleep, the clouds fade and the moon returns. Floyd Cooper captures the magic of the moon and a grandparent to a small child in this picture book about a young African American boy. Cooper’s hallmark illustration style is especially adept at reflecting the wonder of moonlit landscapes. Highly Commended, 2014 Charlotte Zolotow Award © Cooperative Children’s Book Center
1. How does Max feel when he says goodbye to Grandpa?
2. Why can’t Max see the moon? Why does the moon disappear in the story?
3. Find the arrows on Max’s ride home.
A series of typical toddler encounters are captured in a few simple lines of text accompanying illustrations that excel at depicting both the fascination and frustration that are part of a toddler’s experience. The story is told in pairs of page spreads. Over the course of the picture book, the young child on the cover notices a butterfly, a lizard, and two pigeons. “Wait! Wait!” But just as the child gets closer, the creatures flutter or wiggle or flap away. Help finally comes in the form of a grown-up, who picks the child up to ride, shoulder-high. Hatsue Nakawaki’s art has a nostalgic but not sentimental feel, and masterfully reflects the physical relationship of small children to the world around them. There is rich word choice in the spare text. © Cooperative Children’s Book Center
1. Where did the animals go?
2. Point to the flowers.
3. Which animals can fly?
A young, masked, underwear-clad boy takes on one opponent after another as he imagines the toys strewn on his floor as full-size wrestling rivals. Luckily, Niño has a series of patented moves to guarantee victory. He does in the Guanajuato Mummy with the Tickle Tackle. Olmec Head is defeated by the Puzzle Muzzle move. And El Chamuco is ruined with the Popsickle Slick. But the ticking clock warns of coming dread: “His sisters’ nap is over. Time for Niño to tangle with Las Hermanitas!” Has Niño met his match in these two darling, diaper-clad girls? A vibrant picture book that integrates Spanish words and expressions into the English text is a dynamic and engaging portrait of a child’s pretend play. Full of energy and humor, Yuyi Morales’s words and pictures will have young readers and listeners cheering. An author’s note provides information about Lucha libre, a “theatrical, action-packed style of professional wrestling that’s popular throughout Mexico and many Spanish-speaking countries.” Niño’s story is rich with specific cultural references but universal in appeal. Among the elements adding to the fun are endpapers offering profiles of Niño and all his opponents. Highly Commended, 2014 Charlotte Zolotow Award (MS) ©2013 Cooperative Children’s Book Center.
1. How do you use your imagination when you play?
2. Do you pretend to be other people or characters? Who do you like to pretend to be?
3. The author attended the Lucha Libre wrestling matches with her dad when she was a little girl. Is there some special activity you like to do with a family member?
The Read On Wisconsin Literacy Advisory Committee will be meeting on May 9th to select next year’s titles for Read On Wisconsin! At this annual meeting, the members come together to discuss books and select titles for our upcoming year. Stay tuned to learn more about the selection process and be sure to check back in late May for the new ROW titles.
See You at Harry’s by Jo Knowles. Candlewick Press, 2012
1. Each member of Fern’s family responds differently to the tragedy they face. Pick any two of the family members and talk about what changes from before to after in terms of how they behave.
2. Guilt and grief are two powerful forces in this book. How does guilt affect various characters’ grieving?
3. Why do you think Holden doesn’t want Fern to know about the bullying he faces?
The Beetle Book by Steve Jenkins. Houghton Mifflin, 2012
1. Name at least three things that all beetles have in common based on what you learned from this book.
2. What are three ways that various types of beetles can defend themselves from predators?
3. What beetle in this book was most interesting to you? Why?
Happy Like Soccer by Maribeth Boelts. Illustrated by Lauren Castillo. Candlewick Press, 2012
1. Soccer makes Sierra both happy and sad. Why? Is there anything that makes you feel that way?
2. Why do you think it’s so hard for Sierra to call her coach and ask him to change the game? Why can asking for something we want or need sometimes be so hard?
3. What are some of the kind things people do to try to make Sierra’s experience playing soccer a good one? Are there other things you think people could have done?
Ask the Passengers by A. S. King. Little, Brown, 2012
1. Would you encourage Astrid to label herself and come out, or support her desire to resist labeling? Why?
2. Astrid resists the conformity and small-mindedness of her town. In what ways does she defy it? In what ways does she unintentionally participate in the culture she despises?
3. What do you think Astrid’s conversations with “Frank” (Socrates) do for her?
4. What purpose do you think the chapters in which Astrid sends out her love to the passengers of airplanes serves? What do they reveal about Astrid? What do they reveal about life beyond the confines of her small town
Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamine Alire Sáenz. Simon & Schuster, 2012
1. Ari considers himself a loner and is surprised by how much he enjoys spending time with Dante. Why do you think the two boys get along so well? In what ways do their characters differ? How are they similar? How do they complement one another?
2. How does the secret about Ari’s brother affect Ari and his family?
3. This book is set in the late 1980s. Are there things you can point to that make it feel different from today in terms of attitudes toward being gay? Are there things that seem the same?