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Wonderful Stories for Cold Days: January 2017 Primary (K-2)

December 15th, 2016 | Posted by etownsend in 2016-2017 | Primary (Grades K-2) | January - (Comments Off on Wonderful Stories for Cold Days: January 2017 Primary (K-2))

Amazing storytelling, endearing characters and warm illustrations make these books favorites for many kids, parents, librarians and teachers.

finding winnieFinding Winnie: The True Story of the World’s Most Famous Bear by Lindsay Mattick.  Illustrated by Sophie Blackall.  Little, Brown, 2015

Honor Book, 2016 Charlotte Zolotow Award

Author Lindsay Mattick is the great-granddaughter of Harry Colebourn, the Winnipeg veterinarian who purchased an orphaned cub at a train station while on his way to service in World War I. Mattick’s unique perspective and engaging style (punctuated with plenty of humor) make for an irresistible narrative that includes herself and her young son, Cole, as characters as she tells what is clearly a familiar and much loved story to the little boy. Harry named the cub Winnipeg (soon shortened to Winnie) and she charmed everyone. Winnie was full of affection and exploits, and it was hard for Harry to imagine leaving her behind in England when word came his unit was leaving for the front. But he took Winnie to the London Zoo and it was there, years later, that a little boy named Christopher Robin Milne first saw her. The conversational style of Mattick’s narrative is finely crafted and utterly charming. So, too, are Sophie Blackall’s warm illustrations, which are finely detailed and emotionally expansive, emphasizing the bond between mother and son, and man, child, and bear. An album of photographs of Colebourn, Winnie, Christopher Robin, and Mattick and Cole round out this winsome volume. © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Start some conversation with these discussion questions:

  1. Pre-reading: What do you know about a bear named Winnie?
  2. What are the three different stories in the book?
  3. How do the illustrations add to the story? Do they add information, emotions, and/or movement to the story?
  4. In what ways, do the author and illustrator use the photos in the scrapbook in the text and Illustrations?
  5. Who would be on your family tree?

first caseThe First Case by Ulf Nilsson. Illustrated by Gitte Spee.  Translated from the Swedish by Julia Marshall. (Detective Gordon) U.S. edition: Gecko Press, 2015

An engaging, character-driven mystery begins with an aging toad detective investigating the theft of nuts from a very upset squirrel. Detective Gordon can’t move as quickly or as easily as he once did. Then he meets a nameless mouse who is young and spry and eager and she quickly becomes his able assistant. First order of business: give her a name. He suggests one he’s always loved: Buffy. The interactions between Buffy–so bright and optimistic and open-hearted–and Detective Gordon–slightly world-weary but wise and buoyed by her presence—are warm and wonderful in a story full of understated humor punctuated by brighter, laugh-out-loud moments (often involving the squirrel). The duo inspects the scenes of the crime, gathers clues, conjectures based on what they’ve observed (clearly the suspect can climb trees, for example), then lays a trap and eventually capture the thieves. Beautiful design, including charming spot and full-page color illustrations, embellish a winning, winsome short chapter book. Add it to your read-aloud repertoire! (MS) ©2015 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. Describe how Detective Gordon and Buffy are different from and similar to each other. Why do you think Detective Gordon and Buffy work well together?
  2. Why do you think Detective Gordon handed the squirrel the mirror?
  3. What rituals and routines does Detective Gordon eventually share with Buffy?

Find more resources for Finding Winnie and The First Case at TeachingBooks.net!

Revisit the Excitement of the Olympics: September 2016 High School Title

August 20th, 2016 | Posted by etownsend in 2016-2017 | September | High School - (Comments Off on Revisit the Excitement of the Olympics: September 2016 High School Title)

boys in the boat

The Boys in the Boat:  The True Story of an American Team’s Epic Journey to Win Gold at the 1936 Olympics by Daniel James Brown. Adapted for young readers by Gregory Mone. Viking, 2015

The personal story of Joe Rantz and the collective story of the University of Washington rowers who became the U.S. gold-medal winning team at the 1936 Berlin Olympics are interwoven in this captivating work. Rantz grew up in a family hit hard by the Depression and by tragedy. On his own at age 15, he worked his way to Seattle, was admitted to the University of Washington, and tried out for the rowing program as it was beginning to excel. Unlike members of elite rowing teams from the east coast, Rantz and his fellow rowers were primarily working class young men and some, like Rantz, could take nothing for granted. The contrast when they traveled east for big races was obvious and undeniable, but their hard work, and developing teamwork under coaches committed to making them the best, eventually earned them the right to represent the country. This fine adaptation of a book originally published for adults will be satisfying on numerous levels for middle and high school readers, not the least of which is as a sports story with riveting accounts of numerous races.  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Find resources for The Boys in the Boat at TeachingBooks.net.

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. What was the biggest challenge that Joe and/or his team mates faced? Financial, family, academic, athletic?
  2. If this story were to happen today, what do you think would be different?
  3. This book is the story of an underdog coming out on top. What is it about these kinds of stories that readers find so appealing?

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