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Primary November 2018

August 1st, 2018 | Posted by schliesman in 2018-2019 | 2018-2019 Primary | Primary (Grades K-2) | November - (Comments Off on Primary November 2018)

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Phi, Bao. A Different Pond. Illustrated by Thi Bui. Capstone Young Readers, 2017. 32 pages (978–1–62370–803–0)

Ages 6-9

A Vietnamese American boy’s predawn fishing outing with his dad is the subject of a narrative shaped by an exquisite accounting of details. So much beyond the action is conveyed through beautifully weighted sentences (“I feel the bag of minnows move. They swim like silver arrows in my hand.”): The specific experience of this immigrant child (“A kid at my school says my dad’s English sounds like a thick, dirty river. But to me his English sounds like gentle rain.”); a hard-working family’s economic hardship (“‘If you got another job why do we still have to fish for food?’ I ask. ‘Everything in America costs a lot of money,’ he explains. I feel callouses on his hand when he squeezes mine.”); bittersweet memory as the boy’s dad recalls fishing at a similar pond as a child in Vietnam with his brother, who died during the war. And running through it all is the boy’s happiness in their time together, a pleasure that extends to feelings about his entire family when they gather at day’s end. The evocative art masterfully and movingly reveals details of character, setting, and action while superbly reflecting the warmth and intimacy of the story. At volume’s end, both the author and illustrator share memories of growing up in Vietnamese families that came to the United States when they were children. ©2018 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Primary October 2018 (2)

August 1st, 2018 | Posted by schliesman in 2018-2019 | 2018-2019 Primary | Primary (Grades K-2) | October - (Comments Off on Primary October 2018 (2))

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Denos, Julia. Windows. Illustrated by E. B. Goodale. Candlewick Press, 2017.  24 pages (978–0–7636–9035–9)

Ages 3-6

“At the end of the day, before the town goes to sleep, you can look out your window … / and see more little windows lit up like eyes in the dusk, / blinking awake as the lights turn on inside: a neighborhood of paper lanterns.” An early evening dog walk allows a brown-skinned boy in a red sweatshirt to observe all kinds of things in his neighborhood—a cat, an early raccoon, sleeping plants, but best of all, lighted windows, showing all sorts of life within. “Some windows will have dinner, or TV, / Others are empty and leave you to fill them up with stories.” But the best windows of all are those of the boy’s own home, with his mother waiting just inside, watching for him and waving. A beautifully lyrical text accompanied by quiet ink-and-watercolor illustrations capture the drama and appeal of glimpses into other people’s lives. ©2018 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Primary October 2018 (1)

August 1st, 2018 | Posted by schliesman in 2018-2019 | 2018-2019 Primary | Primary (Grades K-2) | October - (Comments Off on Primary October 2018 (1))


Butler, Dori Hillestad.
King & Kayla and the Case of the Mysterious Mouse. Illustrated by Nancy Meyers. Peachtree, 2017. 42 pages (978–1–56145–879–0)

Ages 4-7

King, a large dog,  narrates this appealing mystery story (part of a series). Here, he and  Kayla, the brown- skinned girl who is, he explains, “my human,” try to determine what happened to King’s ball after Kayla’s friend Jillian accidentally threw it over the fence. It’s nowhere to be found.  Kayla approaches the case by making lists of what she knows, and what she needs to find out. But King knows things he can’t communicate to Kayla, like the fact that the cat with no name says a mouse took his ball (which seems impossible to King). King is a hilarious narrator, in part because he is telling Kayla (and readers) what he knows, but of course all she’s hears is barking, and in part because he’s just funny.  Pencil and digitally colored illustrations accompany the narrative in each book. We look forward to more King and Kayla! ©2018 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Primary September 2018

August 1st, 2018 | Posted by schliesman in 2018-2019 | 2018-2019 Primary | September | Primary (Grades K-2) - (Comments Off on Primary September 2018)

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Derby, Sally.
A New School Year: Stories in Six Voices. Illustrated by Mika Song. Charlesbridge, 2017. 48 pages (978–1–58089–730–3)

Ages 5-10

Six children ranging in age from kindergarten through fifth grade walk us through the excitement, jitters, and small pleasures that accompany the first day of a new school year. Divided into four time periods—The Night Before, In the Morning, At School, and After School—each child voices four poems. Dimensions of identity, economics, ability, and experience are seamlessly integrated into the poems. Fourth-grader Carlos, for example, notices that there are not many other black-haired, brown-skinned students like him—but he notes that his teacher, Mr. Liu, seems fine, even though no one else looks like him either. Third-grader Jackie goes to school early, because her mom has a long bus ride to work every day. Fifth-grader Mia wears hearing aids and is pleased to be assigned a seat near the front of the classroom, where she’ll be able to hear her teacher. Such details ensure that each child remains a distinct individual, even as their poems reflect the familiar emotions of so many children on such a momentous day. ©2018 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Build a Better World/Construye un mundo mejor: Summer 2017 Primary

May 20th, 2017 | Posted by etownsend in Primary (Grades K-2) | 2016-2017 | Summer - (Comments Off on Build a Better World/Construye un mundo mejor: Summer 2017 Primary)

These Hands by Margaret H. Mason. Illustrated by Floyd Cooper. Houghton Mifflin, 2011

An African American grandfather tells his grandson about his own accomplishments and struggles while teaching the boy new things in an engaging picture book that gracefully traverses personal and social history. “Did you know these hands used to tie a triple bowline knot in three seconds flat?” asks the grandfather as he teaches young Joseph how to tie his shoes. “These hands” could also play piano, “pluck an ace of spades out of thin air,” and throw a fast curveball. But “these hands were not allowed to mix the bread dough at the Wonder Bread factory,” until they joined with other hands and voices in a movement for change. Margaret H. Mason’s story comes full circle as Joseph tells his grandfather all the things his own hands can now do. “Anything at all,” his grandfather affirms. Mason’s warm, lively narrative is set against Floyd Cooper’s sepia-toned illustrations, which show the passage of several years in Joseph’s life as well as an earlier era of social change. An author’s note provides more information on Black workers in bakeries in the 1950s and early 1960s. Highly Commended, 2012 Charlotte Zolotow Award  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Meet the Dogs of Bedlam Farm by John Katz. Henry Holt, 2011

Four dogs live on the Katz farm in Upstate New York, and all have important and unique jobs to do. Each dog is introduced in turn as the text describes a bit about its history, personality, and work. Rose herds sheep, Izzy visits sick people, and Frieda guards the farm. At the end of each animal’s section, readers are asked “What is Lenore’s job?” Eventually Lenore takes center stage: she “looks for disgusting things to eat, mud to roll in, and people and animals to love.” Lenore may not have traditional work in the same way as her canine companions, but she does have a job of “loving and accepting and having patience. And that may be the greatest work of all.” The personality of each dog shines through the excellent color photographs in a book that celebrates the value of all contributions to a society. Honor Book, 2012 Charlotte Zolotow Award  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Crouching Tiger by Ying Chang Compestine. Illustrated by Yan Nascimbene. Candlewick Press, 2011

A young boy is excited to learn tai chi when his grandpa, who’s visiting from China, explains it’s a martial art. But at the first lesson, all his grandpa tells him to do is stand with his arms out. This is the first of a string of disappointments that leave the boy feeling resentful, not to mention embarrassed: His grandpa insists on calling him Ming Da, his Chinese name, rather than Vinson, his American name. Things turn around with the arrival of Chinese New Year. His grandpa has been training the lion dancers, and now he has a role for Ming Da—one that all that standing with arms out has prepared him for! Ying Chang Compestine’s beautifully nuanced story is perfectly paired with Yan Nascimbene’s wonderfully composed pen-and-ink and watercolor illustrations. The art offers a great range of perspectives and many details to notice, while reflecting both the grandfather’s serenity and the excitement of the New Year festival.  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Quinito’s Neighborhood = El Vecindario de Quinito by Ina Cumpiaño. Illustrated by José Ramírez. Children’s Book Press, 2005

A bilingual book that will make a terrific addition to preschool storytimes or units about work and workers features a young Latino boy, Quinito, describing the jobs done by members of his immediate and extended family as well as others in his neighborhood. “My mami is a carpenter. My papi is a nurse,” begins Quinito. His abuela drives a truck, his abuelo fixes clocks. He has one cousin going to clown school, and another who’s a dentist. Various neighbors bake and sell bread, run a store, and work at the bank. Quinito knows them all. And his job? Well, his job is keeping track of it all, so he can tell his teacher that “My mami is a carpenter. My papi is a nurse . . . ” Puerto Rican author Ina Cumpiano’s busy story is accompanied by José Ramirez’s warm, vibrant acrylic paintings.  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

 

MAY (2)

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

Narwhal: Unicorn of the Sea: Unicorn of the Sea. (A Narwhal and Jelly Book) by Ben Clanton. Tundra Books, 2016

When Narwhal and Jellyfish first meet, neither can believe the other is real. “I can’t believe this! The thing I’m imagining is imagining that it is imagining me,” observes a somewhat disgruntled Jelly. Even once Jelly is convinced Narwhal is real, and agrees that Narwhal’s horn is awesome, Narwhal identifies Jelly as an imaginary friend. “We’re friends?” Jelly asks hopefully. “Sure thing!” They seal the deal by eating waffles (“Nom Nom Nom”). That opening chapter in this droll graphic novel is followed by two more stories, “Narwhal’s Pod of Awesomeness” and “Narwhal and the Best Book Ever.” Two brief interludes include “Really Fun Facts” about narwhals and jellyfish (e.g., a narwhal’s horn- like tooth can grow to up to 3 feet; a group of jellyfish is called a smack), and the “Narwhal Song” praising waffles and parties. Open-hearted Narwhal and dubious Jelly are a dynamite friendship duo. The simple, engaging line drawings are done with a limited, somewhat muted palette dominated by watery blue. © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. What are some ways Narwhal’s imagination makes the story funny?
  2. What information about Narwhals do you find the most interesting in this book?
  3. At first, Jelly did not understand Narwhal’s book. At the end, he wanted to borrow it. What changed?
  4. If you had a blank book like Narwhal, what story would you tell?

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MAY (1)

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

Whoosh! Lonnie Johnson’s Super–Soaking Stream of Inventions by Chris Barton. Illustrated by Don Tate. Charlesbridge, 2016

Lonnie Johnson once took an aptitude test that indicated he wouldn’t make a good scientist. Luckily he ignored it. As a teen he led his team to a science fair victory, and as an adult he worked for NASA. But perhaps the biggest impact his work has had on today’s children is as inventor of the Super Soaker. It was an accidental invention that occurred when he was working on a new cooling system for refrigerators and air conditioners. This picture-book biography shows Lonnie as an inquisitive, tinkering child who faced some obstacles growing up in Mobile, Alabama, in the 1960s. As Barton has done in previous books, he does not shy away from racial history, as he discusses some of the obstacles Lonnie has faced as an African American scientist. Tate’s appealing illustrations show Lonnie’s life-long determination as well as the technical details of his inventions. They include an amusing fold-out page that shows the blast of water from his prototype Super Soaker as part of a successful demonstration aimed at a board room full of toy company executives. (Ages 6–11)  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. How did Lonnie overcome the challenges in his life?
  2. Have you ever invented something or do you have an idea for an invention?
  3. If you had the opportunity to meet Lonnie Johnson, what questions would you ask him?

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APRIL (2)

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

Freedom in Congo Square by Carole Boston Weatherford. Illustrated by R. Gregory Christie. little bee, 2016

A potent narrative begins, “Mondays, there were hogs to slop, / mules to train, and logs to chop. / Slavery was no ways fair. / Six more days to Congo Square.” Congo Square, the essential Foreword explains, was a legal gathering spot for enslaved and free Blacks in New Orleans. The first 14 couplets count down the days to Congo Square, documenting the work of enslaved men and women as they labored in fields and in houses, in despair and in defiance, Monday through Saturday. “The dreaded lash / too much to bear …. Run away, run away. Some slaves dared.” The remaining 11 couplets mark the transition to Sunday, and the gathering in Congo Square, spinning out details of music and dancing, chanting and singing, lifting spirits and hearts. The words are set against spare, expressive paintings in which stylized, elongated figures with little or no facial details carry out the heavy work of Monday through Saturday. The constrained figures break free once Sunday comes, moving with fluid joy and abandon. A glossary and an author’s note providing more historical context conclude this rich and stirring work. ©2017 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. How do the illustrations help the reader understand the text?
  2. Using the text and illustrations, compare what the slaves are doing on Sunday versus the rest of the week?
  3. How does Congo Square represent freedom? What makes Congo Square unique?

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APRIL (1)

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

Daniel Finds a Poem by Micha Archer. Nancy Paulsen Books / Penguin, 2016

Each day leading up to “Poetry in the Park,” Daniel asks a different animal what poetry is. And each animal has an answer. Poetry is “when morning dew glistens,” says Spider. It’s “when crisp leaves crunch,” says Squirrel. It’s “a cool place to dive into,” says Frog. By week’s end, when the event arrives, Daniel turns the many things he’s heard into a poem that reveals how poetry is senses, and observation, and language, and feeling. “On the way home, Daniel stops to watch the sunset sky reflecting in the pond. ‘That looks like poetry to me.’” A quiet, purposeful story featuring brown-skinned Daniel features lovely, striking collage illustrations and invites children to notice the poetry in the small moments of their lives. Highly Commended, 2017 Charlotte Zolotow Award ©2017 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. How does Daniel show that he is curious?
  2. What did you learn about poetry from Daniel’s experiences at the park?
  3. What looks like poetry to you?

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MARCH (2)

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

The Sound of Silence by Katrina Goldsaito. Illustrated by Julia Kuo. Little, Brown, 2016

On the busy streets of Tokyo, Yoshio asks a koto player her favorite sound. She replies that the most beautiful sound to her is ma, the sound of silence. Yoshio tries to hear the sound of silence, but can’t find it. Noise seems to be everywhere: kids at school, traffic on the street, his family’s chopsticks and chewing during dinner. It’s not until Yoshi is engrossed in reading a book in an empty classroom that he realizes he’s hearing a moment of ma. “It had been there between the thumps of his boots when he ran; when the wind stopped for just a moment in the bamboo grove; at the end of his family’s meal, when everyone was happy and full; after the water finished draining from his bath; before the koto’s player music began—and hovering in the air, right after it ended. It was between and underneath every sound.” A picture book set in Tokyo is illustrated with detailed pen and digitally colored scenes that are both expansive and intimate, much like the story is full of both activity and quiet. An Afterword gives additional information about the Japanese concept of ma. Highly Commended, 2017 Charlotte Zolotow Award ©2016 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. What is your favorite sound and why?
  2. What words does the author use to describe the sounds in the city?
  3. Have you ever heard silence like Yoshio?
  4. Throughout the story, what is the connection between the setting and Yoshio?
  5. In what ways is Yoshio’s home similar and/or different from your home?

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MARCH (1)

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

When Green Becomes Tomatoes: Poems for All Seasons by Julie Fogliano. Illustrated by Julie Morstad. A Neal Porter Book / Roaring Brook Press, 2016

“just like a tiny, blue hello / a crocus blooming / in the snow” (march 22). A collection of poems full of lovely, often playful observations and turns of phrase moves through the seasons. In summer “you can taste the sunshine … ” (june 15). In autumn, “because they know / they cannot stay / they fade and fall / then blow away / because they know / they cannot stay / they leave / they leave / they leave” (october 15). Finally, there is winter, when “i would not mind, at all / to fall / if i could fall / like snowflakes …” (january 5). The poems are titled with a date, and are set in every month across the year. With the exception of pumpkin-carving on October 31 there are no references to either religious or secular observances, another refreshing aspect of a book featuring perfectly paired illustrations. The art features diverse children in scenes with a soft, cozy, almost nostalgic feel. (Ages 4–8).  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. What is your favorite poem in the story? How does it make you feel?
  2. What is your favorite season? If you were writing a poem about your favorite season, what would you include?
  3. Choose a poem and talk about what you see in your mind when hearing it. Ask others what they see in their mind when they hear your poem.

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FEBRUARY (2)

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

A Bike Like Sergio’s by Maribeth Boelts. Illustrated by Noah Z. Jones. Candlewick Press, 2016

Everybody has a bike but Ruben. He longs for one like his friend Sergio’s, but he knows his family can’t afford any kind of bicycle. So when Ruben sees a neighbor in the grocery store drop a hundred-dollar bill from her purse, he snatches it up and pockets it. It’s enough to buy him a bike like Sergio’s. Will he do it? Ruben thinks through this ethical dilemma over the next day or so and ultimately decides to do the right thing. “What you did wasn’t easy,” his dad tells him later, “but it was right.” Both text and pictures show a family living on the economic edge, facing realistic challenges in their day-to-day lives. Highly Commended, 2017 Charlotte Zolotow Award ©2017 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. How does the author let the reader know Ruben’s family does not have a lot of money?
  2. How do Ruben’s feelings change throughout the story? How does Ruben show empathy?
  3. What do you think Ruben would have done if he had not seen the lady again at the grocery store?
  4. What do would you do if you found something valuable like Ruben, but you did not know who had lost it?

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