Monday, November 28, 2011

Every Thing On It by Shel Silverstein

Every Thing on ItEvery Thing on It by Shel Silverstein

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

There are times when posthumous publication of an author's work is a bad thing.

But that is certainly not the case with Every Thing on It by Shel Silverstein. Hurray hurray!

I think it would be a great choice for Joliet Reads - definitely for grades 4 and 5, maybe for third graders.

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Friday, November 18, 2011

Is Everyone Ready for Fun? by Jan Thomas

Is Everyone Ready for Fun?Is Everyone Ready for Fun? by Jan Thomas

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

So. Much. Fun.

Excellent for toddlers, preschoolers AND early elementary. Fun fun fun!!!!!!

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The Quiet Book by Deborah Underwood

The Quiet BookThe Quiet Book by Deborah Underwood

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

An excellent (quiet) book for one-on-one sharing with preschoolers. Shhhhhhhh.

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Thursday, November 17, 2011


Laura has been very busy reading.

She recommended these chapter books: The Cheshire Cheese Cat by Carmen Agra Deedy, We the Children by Andrew Clements, Cat Found by Ingrid Lee, Chengli and the Silk Road Caravan by Hildi Kang, The Case of the Lost Boy by Dori Hillestad Butler, The Fantastic Secret of Owen Jester and Runaway Twin by Peg Kehret.

She recommended these picture books: Strega Nona's Gift by Tomie DePaola, Driscilla's Halloween by Sally Walker, Grace for President by Kelly Di Pucchio and Imogene's Last Stand by Candace Fleming.

She recommended these nonfiction books: Nic Bishop Butterflies and Moths, Never Smile at a Monkey by Steve Jenkins and Jim Henson: The Guy Who Played with Puppets by Kathleen Krull.

8 Class Pets + 1 Squirrel / 1 Dog = Chaos

I strongly recommend 8 Class Pets + 1 Squirrel / 1 Dog = Chaos by Vivian Vande Velde for Joliet Reads.

It is the funny story of what happens when a dog chases a squirrel into an elementary school after school. That would be... chaos!

I'll let the rest of you decide on the appropriate grade level....

Runaway Twin

Runaway TwinRunaway Twin by Peg Kehret

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

It was okay. I concluded it wasn't appropriate as a readaloud for grades 4-5 thanks to input from my sixth grade daughter and the age of the protagonist (13) who is running away from a foster home. I did not feel compelled to finish it just for fun. (So many books, so little time.)

The child's reaction was, "Why are you reading THAT?" when she saw it on our library book shelf. She then reminded me how much she had disliked it, especially the ending, and I remembered how much she griped about it at the time she read it.

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Tuesday, November 8, 2011


Jan suggested these picture books:

Utterly Otterly Night by Mary Casanova, Bear's Loose Tooth by Karma Wilson, Hampire! by Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen, Perfect Snow by Barbara Reid, Gonzalo Grabs the Good Life by Janice Levy and Strega Nona's Gift by Tomie DePaola.

She suggested these nonfiction books:

Balloons Over Broadway by Melissa Sweet, Christian the Lion by Anthony Bourke and Gifts from the Gods by Lise Lunge-Larsen.

She suggested these chapter books:

Eight Class Pets Plus One Squirrel by Vivian Vande Velde, Pie by Sarah Weeks, Nurk by Ursula Vernon, The Case of the Lost Boy (The Buddy Files) by Dori Butler and The Books of Elsewhere by Jacqueline West.


Joy suggested these picture books:

The Runaway Wok by Ying Chang Compestine, One Foot Two Feet by Peter Maloney, The Busy Tree by Jennifer Ward, Snowmen All Year by Caralyn Buehner, The Christmas Coat by Virginia Driving Hawk Sneve, Even Monsters Need Haircuts by Matthew McElligott, Interrupting Chicken by David Stein, and Where Is Home, Little Pip? by Karma Wilson.


Jane suggested these picture books:

Fortune Cookies by Albert Bitterman, Say Hello to Zorro by Carter Goodrich, Who Loves the Fall? by Bob Raczka and Chicken, Chicken, Duck by Nadia Krilanovich.

She also suggested this book of poems:

Bookspeak!: Poems About Books by Laura Purdie Salas.

Intriguing Chapter Books....

First of all, here's a book that fits into the "good so far, but I haven't read many pages yet category":

Secrets at Sea by Richard Peck

Here are some chapter books that committee members found intriguing but hadn't yet read:

The Secret Spiral by Gillian Neimark, The Ogre of Oglefort by Eva Ibbotson, Charlie Joe Jackson's Guide to Not Reading by Tommy Greenwald, Theodore Boone: The Abduction by John Grisham, Aliens on Vacation by Clete Barrett Smith, Chronicles of the Red King: The Secret Kingdom by Jenny Nimmo and The Lemonade Crime by Jacqueline Davies.

These books were ruled out: Hound Dog True by Linda Urban, The Unforgotten Coat by Frank Cottrell Boyce and Waiting for the Magic by Patricia MacLachlan. (Hound Dog True was a quiet book that might not appeal to a broad audience, The Unforgotten Coat had British phrases and situations that the kids might not understand, and Waiting for the Magic was a bit too quirky.)

Balloons Over Broadway by Melissa Sweet

Jan told us about Balloons Over Broadway by Melissa Sweet at yesterday's Joliet Reads subcommittee meeting.

How's this for a coincidence? It was featured in A Year of Reading blog today!

Here's the blog entry:

Nonfiction Read Aloud, Part 3: BALLOONS OVER BROADWAY by Melissa Sweet

Balloons Over Broadway: The True Story of the Puppeteer of Macy's Parade
by Melissa Sweet
Houghton Mifflin Books for Children, on shelves November 1, 2011
review copy provided by the publisher

There's so much to love about BALLOONS OVER BROADWAY for a nonfiction read aloud!

It is a true story that needs to be told. Tony Sarg, while famous to puppeteers (one of Sarg's apprentices was Bill Baird, who did the goatherd scene in The Sound of Music, and one of Baird's apprentices was Jim Henson), has fallen through the cracks of history when it comes to his association with the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. And yet, his creation lives on. I think a read aloud of this book would be a great opportunity to talk with kids about all the amazing things they might accomplish in their lifetimes...that will touch lots of lives, but never result in celebrity fame.

It is inviting. In the classic Melissa Sweet style, there are large, bright, engaging parts of each illustration to be seen from afar, AND there are lots of fun details to be examined on a close-up rereading. Plus, it's about the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, which has been known to (and loved by) generations of Americans. How many memories do YOU have of that parade?!?

It celebrates tinkering. Tony Sarg was lucky. He grew up in a day and time when toys were mechanical, and he could take them apart to figure out how they worked. Kids these days need experiences with tinkering. I was reminded of this recently when a wave of "fortune teller" making passed through my class. (You know -- those origami devices that you stick thumbs and forefingers into and pinch this way and that, giving the player the option to make several choices before you lift the flap that tells their fortune?) Nearly everyone learned to make them, then improved on the design in their own ways, either with innovative fortune choices, or by making the largest or smallest ones possible.

In our science curriculum, "tinkering" is know as The Design Process. As long as you PROMISE to make sure your students have the chance to USE the design process to create their own invention and then find ways to make it better, I will suggest that you read this book aloud in your science time in order to discover how Tony Sarg utilized the design process in the development of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. One more stipulation -- you are not allowed to do a first read of this book in science. You must first read it for enjoyment! Okay...pinky promise? Pinky promise. Now go get a copy of this book and share it with your class!

Here's the link to the blog entry: