Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Perfect Square by Michael Hall

Perfect Square by Michael Hall

One perfect square is transformed over and over into a variety of creative pictures: a fountain, a park, a garden, and a mountain to name just a few of the transformations.

I ran across this book on a recent blogger hop. It was my "find" of the day.

This simple, yet beautiful book offers readers glimpse at art and inspiration. It inspires creativity with just a few simple changes. Hall's brief text allows the illustrations to tell most of the story. I especially like how the square reinvents itself rather than being transformed by a person or some other outside force.

Our school does not have an art program. I've set one of my goals for next year to include library lessons that will introduce the students to a bit of art. This book will be an excellent resource for an art project for Kindergarten through 5th grade.  Check back next school year to see what the Chinook Tigers create with their perfect squares.

Recommended for Preschool and up.

Mrs. Archer's rating:  5 of 5!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Night Flight Amelia Earhart Crosses the Atlantic by Robert Burleigh


Night Flight is about Amelia Earhart's 1932 historic solo flight from Newfoundland to Ireland.

Earlier this year, my third grade students had several lessons on historical fact vs. historical fiction.  One of the topics we covered was Amelia Earhart.  They became very interested in learning about this remarkable woman. As a result, I'm constantly on the look out for good books on Amelia Earhart to share with them.

Burleigh's book is a beautifully illustrated biographical picture book detailing Earhart's historic flight. Even though most readers will already know that Earhart's flight was successful, the text is written in a suspenseful manner that will keep readers on the edge of their seats.  Students will enjoy Wendell Minor's classically beautiful paintings and educators will appreciate the afterword, technical note, bibliography and listing of quotes by Earhart that Burleigh includes at the end of the book.  This is an excellent book to supplement lessons on historical fact vs. historical fiction or for celebrating famous women in history.

Night Flight is a must add for any school or classroom library collection.

Recommended for 3rd Grade and up.

Mrs. Archer's rating: 5 of 5!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The Pout-Pout Fish by Deborah Diessen

The Pout-Pout Fish by Deborah Diessen is a 2011 Colorado Children's Book Award nominee.

Early in the spring I had entered a contest to win The Pout-Pout Fish and it's sequel The Pout-Pout Fish in the Big-Big Dark.  I wanted copies for the Chinook Library as students had asked repeatedly to check them out.

I didn't win the contest, but towards the end of May I received an email from Ms. Diessen asking if I would like bookmarks for my students and letting me know that she would send me an autographed copy of The Pout-Pout Fish.  We were preparing to celebrate National Children's Book Week, so instead of sending an autographed copy to me, I asked that she send one for one of my students, as I like to give away autographed books as prizes during Book Week. She very generously sent two copies, one for a student, one for me and enough autographed book marks for the whole school.

I have spent these last days before the end of school sharing The Pout-Pout Fish and The Pout-Pout Fish in the Big-Big Dark with all the students as they visit the library. It has made their day. They love the pictures, they love the rhymes, and the love to giggle about the smooching.

These books are excellent read alouds.  It is easy to understand why children (and adults) love these books. The rhyming and repetitive story gets them engaged with the story. After a few pages, the students often start repeating the lines with me.The illustrations are delightful. There is so much going on in the pictures that students find themselves paying as much attention to the pictures as they do the words.

I know I will be looking for more books by Ms. Diessen. You can learn more about Ms. Diessen and her wonderful books by clicking here.

Book Summaries:

The Pout-Pout Fish
 Deep in the water,Mr. Fish swims aboutWith his fish face stuckIn a permanent pout.
Can his pals cheer him up?Will his pout ever end?Is there something he can learnFrom an unexpected friend?

The Pout-Pout Fish in the Big-Big Dark (excellent for using with children who have fears of the dark or the unknown.)

Mr. Fish wants to help his friend Ms. Clam when she loses her pearl, but though he’s fast as a sailfish, as smart as dolphin, and as strong as a shark, Mr. Fish has a secret: he’s scared of the dark! Very young children will swim along with Mr. Fish as he journeys deep into the ocean to new and mysterious places. They will discover, as Mr. Fish does, the power of friendship to light the way through the big-big dark.


 Recommended for preschool and up.

Mrs. Archer's Rating: 5 of 5!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The Goodbye Cancer Garden by Jane Matthies

Telling family members you have cancer is not an easy task.  Telling small children is even harder.  The Goodbye Cancer Garden  by Jane Matthies is a beautifully illustrated and heartwarming story about a very difficult topic.

Summary:  After Mom and Dad tell Janie and Jeffrey that Mom has Cancer, the whole family goes to the doctor to ask questions. "Is Mom better yet?" Jeffrey asked. "Not yet," she said. "But we're working very hard to make her better-probably by pumpkin time." That gave Janie an idea...the family plants a vegetable garden. As the garden grows, Mom's treatment progresses...surgery, chemo, head-shaving and other side effects, radiation...and when it's all done, there are healthy pumpkins and a healthly Mom!

I personally liked the way this story focused on the positive without taking away the seriousness of the situation.  This is a good resource for providing reassurance for young children (and maybe old ones like me) facing a similar situation.  

Recommended for preschool and up.

Mrs. Archer's rating:  5 of 5!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Summer Break Is Almost Here: Time for Summer Reading

School is almost out, but that's no reason to stop reading.  Summer vacation is a perfect time to read all those books you wanted to read, but didn't have time to read during the school year.

I have added new tabs to this page for Summer Reading lists for Kindergarten - 5th Grade. Just click on the tab that interests you.

Many public libraries will be hosting summer reading programs. You can find information on our local library's (Pikes Peak Library District) summer reading here.

Barnes and Noble is hosting a summer reading challenge. Children who read 8 books can earn a free book.  Click here for additional information or visit your local store.

At Borders, children who read 10 books can earn a free book.  Click here for more information or visit your local store.

Going on a long trip, visit your local library for some audio books to share with the whole family or visit the library's cybershelf for audio books to download to your MP3 player.

Have fun and keep reading!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The Shadows: The Books Of Elsewhere Vol 1 by Jacqueline West

Cover from Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Shadows-Books-Elsewhere-Vol/dp/0803734409/ref=cm_cr_pr_pb_i

Eleven year-old Olive and her somewhat distracted, mathematically inclined parents move into old Mrs. McMartin's house after she dies.  All of Ms. McMartin's things - including walls and walls of strange paintings are included in the purchase of the house.  Left to her own to explore, Olive finds a pair of old spectacles which she tries on - these are not just any old reading glasses.  They allow her to travel inside the odd paintings that fill the walls. This Elsewhere has a strange resemblance to her own world, but it is also full of dark secrets.  Soon Olive finds herself caught up in an adventure to save herself and the house from the dark shadows.

I read this book because I was looking for something to recommend to one of my students. Turns out it is a little higher reading level than the student has, but I do think they would enjoy the book if read with a buddy or perhaps as a classroom read aloud. I enjoyed this story so much that I am anxiously awaiting the second book in the series.

This is a spine tingling tale that is also surprisingly humorous.  Olive is a quirky yet very likable character - one that I look forward to learning more about.  It is rather spooky and younger children might find it a tad frightening, but is an all around good read.

Recommended for 4th Grade and up (good as a silent or read aloud)

Mrs. Archer's rating: 5 of 5!

June Jam by Ron Roy

Cover from Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Turtleback-Library-Binding-Calendar-Mysteries/dp/0606161147/ref=sr_1_8?ie=UTF8&qid=1305042004&sr=8-8

In the sixth installment of Roy's Calendar Mysteries (starring thee younger siblings of the A to Z Mysteries detectives) Bradley, Brian, Nate and Lucy are getting ready for Father's Day. Bradly and Brian's father misses the strawberry jam his mother used to make.  So the gang decides that strawberry jam from the Pintos' strawberry patch would be a great gift. But something or someone has been taking bites out of the strawberries! Polly the Pony, Pal and the dog, and the twins' brother Josh are all suspects. It's up to our four young sleuth's to solve the mystery without getting into a jam.

A to Z Mysteries are a favorite with my students and the Calendar Mysteries are quickly gaining in popularity as well.  The stories a quick read that offers younger readers an opportunity to use some deductive reasoning.  Of the six I've read so far, June Jam is my favorite.

Great read aloud for 1st and 2nd Grades.

Mrs. Archer's rating: 5 of 5.

Recommended for 1st through 3rd Grades.