Sunday, November 30, 2014

Picture Book Gift Ideas

2014 saw several  new picture books aimed at kids 4-7 years old by some honored picture book authors. The author and illustrator of a 2013 Caldecott Honor book, Extra Yarn, Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen have teamed up again on Sam & Dave Dig A Hole. A simple story about two boys digging a hole to look for something spectacular.   Some kids back in the olden days amused themselves during long summer days by digging holes either to bury or look for treasure or for the more ambitious, to dig their way to the other side of the world. While the story is told pretty straight, Jon Klassen’s illustrations are humorous. We can see what Sam and Dave cannot. Just as they are getting close to finding something, they change course. Fortunately, their dogs does dig his way to a spectacular find. The boys eventually fall down the hole and come out the other side. They decide that is a pretty spectacular way to spend the day.  The AR is 1.9.

sam and dave dig a hole

Mac Barnett came out with another book this year  illustrated by Jen Corace. Telephone is a play on that  another amusement from the olden days. One person whispers something to another, that person whispers what he heard to the next person and the last person who hears it repeats the message aloud. More often than not, it bears little relationship to the original. The whole story takes place on a telephone wire, the characters are birds. Peter’s mother tells a cardinal carrying a baseball bat  “Tell Peter: Fly home for dinner”. The cardinal tells a flyboy, “Tell Peter: Hit pop flies and homers”. Flyboy passes his version to the next bird on the wire and so on. Each bird adds a twist to the message until finally a very drenched bird relays a message that combines parts of all the versions to a wise looking owl who happens to be sitting near Peter on the wire. The owl thinks about what he just heard and says to Peter, “Your Mom says fly home for dinner”.



Tom Lichtenheld, illustrator of Exclamation Mark, has teamed up with Richard T Morris on This Is A Moose.


An unseen director is making a wildlife movie about a moose. Take one: the star of the movie wants to be an astronaut.  This will not do. The director yells, “Cut!” and says matter of factually that a moose cannot be an astronaut. Take two is interrupted by the star’s grandmother (yeah grandmas!). She wanted to be a La Crosse goalie and don’t tell her a moose can’t be one or you have a fight on your hands. Take three is interrupted by a  Regal Giraffe who always wanted to be a doctor. The director dismisses the giraffe because this is a woodland movie not a safari movie. At this point Grandma and Regal Giraffe take matters into their own hands and launch Moose into space. The director goes into a tirade about how that cannot happen because this is a movie about a moose doing moose things. Nonetheless the Moose is in outer space. Finally, we see the director, who happens to be a duck, yelling, “will somebody please find me an animal that acts like it’s supposed to!!”  We see the director pausing to  think and coming to the realization that if a duck can be a director then a moose can be an astronaut . The new movie is “This is an Astronaut” on location on the moon.

Great read-a-loud book. The AR is 1.9.

Katherine Applegate, the winner of the 2013 Newbery Medal for The One And Only Ivan, has written a picture book about the real Ivan called Ivan: The Remarkable True Story of the Shopping Mall Gorilla. The book is beautifully illustrated by G. Brian Karas.

Ivan The Remarkable True Story

The story tells of Ivan’s birth in a tropical forest in Central Africa, his capture by poachers and his arrival in Tacoma, Washington. He was raised like a human child for three years until he became too big.  Then a cage in the shopping mall became his new home. He lived in that cage for 27 years without the company of another gorilla. Some people thought Ivan should have a better life. After letters, petitions and protests it was arranged to transfer Ivan to Zoo Atlanta. There he lived out his days in “a place with trees and grass and other gorillas”. The AR is 3.7.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

More Schools of Hope Resources

The Five Finger Rule to help a child find the “just right” book.

Ten ways to help kids who get stuck on a word. 

Instructions for making a word game based on dominos. We are encouraged to play a game with our students at the end of a tutoring session. This is an easy one to make yourself.

Schools of Hope Tutor Resources

Welcome to the new and returning Schools of Hope tutors. For those of us who like instant gratification, this is a great way to spend an afternoon. Yulupa uses the PALS (Peer Assisted Learning Strategies) from Vanderbilt University. You can read about the program here. We use a slightly different version of PALS but the principles  are the same.

When many of us went to school, the most used reading method was Whole Word (the Dick and Jane days). If you would like to review the letter sounds, you can go to Alphabet Sounds. Spring Creek Elementary made a video of a tutoring session. They do no use the same materials as Yulupa, but it gives you some idea of the flow.

If you need some additional insight check out this  Advanced Tutor Training by MaryAnn Nichol. She is a professor at Sonoma State and is part of the team doing research on Schools of Hope.

Finally, for more ideas to help you with your students, just click on the Schools of Hope tag at the bottom of this post or in the left hand column on this blog.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Moldylocks and the Three Beards

My son-in-law asked  for a list of chapter books with pictures to share with my granddaughters who are emerging readers. While researching books on the Kirkus Review website, I ran across the highly rated Moldylocks and the Three Beards the first book in the  Princess Pink and the Land of Fake-Believe series written and illustrated by Noah Z. Jones. Since I have a weakness for fractured fairy tales, I checked it out.

Moldylocks and the Three Beards

Princess Pink does not like princesses nor the color pink, her parents named her Princess because they were so excited that after seven boys they finally had a girl. Their last name is Pink.  Princess falls into the world of fake-believe by opening the refrigerator door. She lands smack dab into a slightly twisted  version of Goldilocks and the Three Bears. Moldylocks has green hair and the bears have become beards, just a couple of letters make the difference. Princess accompanies Moldylocks to the home of the Three Beards where they look for the just right chair, taste chili and jump on the beds before they fall asleep. When the Beards return home, Princess escapes through the refrigerator to the safety of her home but decides to return and save Moldylocks.

The story will appeal to first and second graders but it might be a little snarky for younger kids. The reading level is second grade and the book is available through Scholastic Book Service. The Sonoma County Library has a few copies and one copy of the second book in the series Little Red Quacking Hood. The Yulupa Library has two copies.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Magazines for Kids

Magazines are a great way to get your kids interested in reading. Erica from the What Do We Do All Day blog has done the hard work of rounding up a list of 16 magazines for  preschool and grade-school aged kids. Our family has had experience with the Ranger Rick (and the preschool, My Big Backyard now called Ranger Rick, Jr.) and Highlights for Kids. One that I have never seen before is Ask, a science magazine for kids 7-9 or 10. For older kids, they publish Odyssey.

Kids love to get mail so magazines make great birthday or holiday gifts, especially since the gift lasts the length of the subscription.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

The Big Fat Cow That Goes Kapow

A couple of years ago, I came across at book for early readers called The Cat on the Mat is Flat by Australian author Andy Griffiths and illustrated by Terry Denton. I have been using it with some of my second graders because there is lots of rhyming and alliteration and the type is large and well-spaced.  The nine stories are only a few pages long,  and both the text and line drawings are funny. Kids seemed to like reading the stories. Rhyming helps kids increase their vocabulary rapidly.

The Cat on the Mat is Flat

Thanks to the Imagination Soup blog, I have discovered another Andy Griffiths, Terry Denton collaboration, The Big Fat Cow That Goes Kapow. The ten stories in this volume are less wordy but still very rhyme-y (and according to the cover, slimy)  and the text and drawings are again,very funny. 

The Big Fat Cow that goes Kapow

One copy of The Big Fat Cow That Goes Kapow and four copies of The Cat on the Mat is Flat are available from the Sonoma County Library. The Yulupa Library has one copy of The Big Fat Cow Goes Kapow and lists its reading level as 1.7.