Thursday, April 7, 2016

#MMBBR Books in the Classroom with Yvonne


Looking for Bongo
By: Eric Velasquez

This book is picture-perfect in so many ways. The young Afro-Latino boy has the best facial expressions and gestures as he asks members of his family where Bongo is. Young readers can predict who Bongo is and where he could be. Readers will also infer why the boy is looking for Bongo by using the beautiful oil drawings. Just when Bongo is found he begins to wonder how Bongo ever left his side. The very resourceful boy has one last twist for the reader.

Looking for Bongo features a multiracial, extend family home. The use of Spanish phrases throughout by the mother and “abuela” highlights how some families speak more than one language without being over direct. Velasquez has crafted an entertaining and fun read aloud by taking on the role of the young boy and mimicking his facial expressions and gestures for young and old readers. I can’t wait to share this book with other primary teachers in by school building and district. 5 stars

Ballerina Gets Ready
By: Allegra Kent

Wow…being a ballerina is a lot of hard work! Ballerina Gets Ready walks the reader through a ballerina’s entire day of preparation for a ballet performance. The story line and beautiful watercolor illustrations naturally appeal to young dancers. As a primary teacher, I see many possible teaching points:
          * writing a personal narrative.
          * generating writing ideas for students that take dance lessons.
          * elapse time (Iris’s day is documented through the use of specific
          * using more advance punctuation in writing (-, :, …).
          * healthy eating habits.
          * theme (determination - to excel you need to practice A LOT).
          * dealing with the unexpected.
          * using some of the ballet poses for brain breaks with students.
          * working as a team.
Kent and Stock together build the excitement for the show to begin and on the very last page they eloquently end in the moment with one simple line, “The magic begins.” 5 stars


Just a Lucky So and So: The Story of Louis Armstrong
By: Lesa Cline-Ransome

Biography picture books are so much fun to read and Just a Lucky So and So does not disappoint. Louis Armstrong began life in what many would consider to be a rough start: living in poverty, working hard manual labor to help earn money for his family, and having a number of run-ins with the law causing him to be sent away to a home for boys. However Louis found the sound of jazz at a young age. He started playing a tin horn and then with a five-dollar loan he was able to purchase a second-hand cornet. Over time and with mentorship Armstrong’s musical ability opened doors for him. He traveled throughout the United States and Europe, recorded records in Hollywood, and performed on Broadway.

Lesa Cline-Ransome has packed numerous examples of figurative language throughout the story; while James Ransome has created illustrations that lift off the page. There are many famous musicians from New Orleans, musical instruments and terms mentioned in the book. Making this a great read aloud for elementary music teachers. After reading the book students would benefit from listening to Louis Armstrong play. Finally inside the back cover are additional books, places to visit, and websites for students to research. 4 stars


Zoom Boom
By: Joel Brown

Scarecrow helps keep the animals on Farmer Don and his wife Mattie’s farm out of trouble by making good choices. The animal’s names are each a play on words (i.e. Graham Quakers, he’s a Duck, and Harmon the bird loves to sing) making it fun for children to make the connections. The pesky crows are also Zoom-Boom’s friends but they don’t always seem to make the best choices. This story is packed with lots of good advice about how to be a good person. 3.5 stars


Be Tidy or Not?
By: Joel Brown

Before reading this book to my second grade class I shared the front cover and asked my students to predict what the book might be about. Everyone thought similar ideas about being neat or messy. They sure were surprised when at the end we discussed the theme of the book and what we could learn from it…excepting others, taking care of things you borrow, or how reading is something that can bring friends together. Teachers can easily use this book to compare and contrast characters by using a venn diagram. This book was a joy to read and discuss. 4 stars


Be Careful
By: Joel Brown

Zoom Boom the scarecrow is back. This time he is helping Carrie Careless stay safe. The story tells about being safe near traffic and stairs. Luckily for Carrie Careless she has Zoom Boom to rescue her in a flash since she doesn’t seem to pay attention. The story is very direct and can easily be used to discuss safety issues with your child. 3.5 stars


The Amazing A-MUSE-ing Lillian: A Play for the Page to the Stage
By: Maria Boundas Bakalis

Lillian is the Tenth Muse…The Muse of Inspiration and she is bound to help a young girl named Terrie begin a new experience. Terrie wants to try and write movies for Hollywood. King Favos and his sidekicks have a different idea. They want to crush her dreams by instilling doubt and the fear of failure.

I always have a soft spot for books that children are a part of creating. However, I fell in love with so many aspects of this story (play) and began thinking about how I could use it in my classroom, school, and district before I even realized the illustrator was a second-grade student.

The play:
·         Easily introduces young readers to the elements of a play.
·         Has simple text that can be read fluently and expressively.
·         Has an amazing message without being pushy.
·         Is perfect for a school-wide Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports presentation.
This grandmother and granddaughter duo is outstanding and I hope The Muse of Inspiration will be guiding them with additional plays for young readers. 5 stars


The Princess and the Dragon: A Fractured Fairy Tale
By: Marjorie Bayes

This princess definitely is self-assured and ready to tackle any problem that comes her way. Although she is tired of rescuing princes she is willing to help out a friend with a bit of persuading. What the princess finds out is that the dragon that captured the prince doesn’t really want to keep him so he is willing to negotiate the three tasks (element of fairy tales…groups of three) the princess must perform. In the end she rescues the prince but also begins a friendship with the dragon. The friendship continues throughout the next two chapters as the princess and dragon work together to stop air pollution and a war in The Next Town.

This fractured fairy tale brings to light real-world issues while maintaining fairy tale elements. The layout of the book helps young readers focus on reading the pictures first and then the words (picture on left page…words on right page). Reading the dialogue between the princess and dragon is very entertaining and encourages using character voices because the mood of the story is evident. A modern fractured fairy tale that would be fun addition to an elementary school classroom. 4 stars


Putter and the Red Car:  A Cross-Country Family Adventure
By: Kate K. Lund

A cross-country car ride with two children and a dog is definitely an adventure. This story is told in first person from the dog’s point of view. This book is easy to read (word choice and font choice). Location names may be a bit tricky for some of my students but it is an excellent opportunity for students to be exposed to places outside of their city and state. Although there is a map in the back, I think students using an atlas or map from the classroom provides additional learning experiences. Less experienced readers could use the map in the back to find the general area and then locate each destination on a classroom map. In additionPutter and the Red Car is a wonderful read aloud at the beginning of the school year to help young writers generate ideas from vacations they may have taken over the summer. I am anxious to share this book with my second grade students and add it to our classroom library. 4 stars


Place Value
By: David A. Adler

David Adler has a remarkable talent for teaching content vocabulary and concepts through picture books. He takes a complex concept like place value and breaks it down to understandable parts. Place Value begins by comparing a word and letter to a number and a digit. Adler sets the reader up for understanding by comparing the letters of the alphabet to the 10 digits that make up our number system. It is easy to see how letters and numbers can be rearranged to show endless words and numbers. Using concrete examples helps young learners comprehend ideas being presented while entertaining readers with a group of monkeys making one very large banana cupcake. Additional concepts taught are:
·         The use of commas in large numbers.
·         Place value up to the hundred trillions.
·         Using a decimal point and connection to fraction.
·         Money and using the decimal point.
·         Writing numbers with words.
·         The history of our number system.
The visuals throughout this book are exceptional. Although this is a picture book and geared towards readers in grade 1-3. As a teacher, this book can be used for grades 1-5 because of the content covered. Place Value is an outstanding way to bring literacy into content areas. 5 stars


The Orphan and the Mouse
By: Martha Freeman

Sometimes help and guidance comes from the strangest acquaintances. Carolyn (Caro) is a young orphan girl whose father died as a World War ll hero and her mother in a house fire that Caro survived. Caro is scared both physically and mentally from the fire. She is told by the headmistress at the Cherry Street Home that if she is really good she will be forgiven by God for her shortfalls during the fire. Caro is a determined to be well-behaved. She is a model child at the orphanage…even helping a young mouse (Mary) from the “predator”. This story is packed with twists and turns beyond what is behind the walls of the orphanage. Both Mary and Caro have hardships but working together they may just be able to save themselves while bringing some unexpected criminals to justice.

While reading this book the mood is definitely a 1950’s feel, but the characters are easy for students to relate to. I love this book for multiple reasons:
·         This book is perfect for teaching intermediate students about foreshadowing both regarding the children at the orphanage and the mice behind the walls.
·         The short chapters make it a great interactive read aloud and will spark endless dialogue for students.
·         Vocabulary that will require students to use decoding strategies and context clues.
·         Using internal thinking in writing.

Although this book is written for children in grades 2-6; I feel it would be more appropriate for intermediate and middle school students (grades 4-8) because of some of the situations with missing children. If using it with younger students, I think it needs to be a read aloud in which the teacher can provide explanations and guidance. 5 stars


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