Monday, May 15, 2017

Jabari Jumps

In 1956, I convinced my father to part with the princely sum of $7 so I could swim every summer day in our municipal pool. Like Jabari, it took me awhile to get up the nerve to jump off the diving board. Gaia Cornwall has perfectly captured the process of gathering the courage to jump the first time in Jabari Jumps. 

Jabari decides that today is the day, he has passed his swim test and he's good at jumping. He and his dad watch other kids climb, it looks easy. He starts to climb the ladder, it is very tall. He's a little tired, he climbs down to do some stretches first. Maybe tomorrow would be a better day. Dad tells him it is okay to be a little scared but sometimes it can turn into a little surprise, too. Jabari starts his climb again, all the way up and onto the board to the very edge. We see what he sees, his toes on the edge of the diving board and the water far below. He is ready, he loves surprises. Off he flies into the water. He did it! He is a good jumper! High fives from dad and he is off to jump again.



The Sonoma County Library will have twelve copies by the end of the month. This book was published May 9 so it doesn't have an AR level yet. Most of the vocabulary is accessible to kids who read at the end of first grade beginning of second grade level. The font is large and bold with just a couple of sentences per page.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

The Legend of Rock, Paper, Scissors

Drew Daywalt, author of The Day The Crayons Quit and The Day The Crayons Came Home has teamed up with Adam Rex to create The Legend of Rock, Paper, Scissors. It is such a genius idea, I am surprised it hasn't been done before.

This is the story of three great warriors, Rock who lives in the Kingdom of the Backyard, Paper who lives in the Empire of Mom's Home Office and Scissors who lives in the tiny village of Junk Drawer. Each warrior has beaten all who have challenged them in their realms and leaves their homes to find greater challenges. Rock and Scissors meet in the great cavern of the Two-Car Garage. Scissors asks Rock if he is wearing his battle pants, Rock agrees to fight her. An epic battle ensues, Rock wins. Scissors is grateful to be beaten. Rock is less happy because there is no one to challenge him. Enter stage right is Paper. Rock challenges him to a duel. Paper wins. Rock thanks Paper for beating him. This time it is Paper who bemoans the lack of a worthy opponent. Enter Scissors. A great battle begins with Scissors victorious. The three warriors dance for joy and become great friends. Then begins round after round of  three-way battles. Battles so epic that children today still honor the warriors by playing...Rock, Paper, Scissors.


The Sonoma County Library has seven copies. Several second graders have read this book to me and had very little problem with the vocabulary. It does not have an AR level yet as it was just published on May 2. I am looking for someone to explain to me why it is inevitable that Paper beats Half Eaten Bag of Trail Mix.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

The Value of Fairy Tales


Fairy Tale and Folk Tale recommendations at A Mighty Girl from picture books to chapter books including books with diverse characters. One of my favorites is Uni the Unicorn by Amy Krouse Rosenthal.


The Paper Bag Princess by Robert Munch is one of my go to books for baby showers. 


The Sonoma County Library has eighteen copies. The AR is 3.8.

The Princess in Black series by Shannon and Dean Hale is a favorite of my youngest granddaughter.


The Sonoma County Library has eighteen copies. Thr AR is 3.2.

The Whisper by Pamela Zagerenski 




Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy by Karen Foxlee


The Sonoma County Library has thirteen copies. The AR is 4.9.

This just a sample of the almost 200 books with mighty girls as heroines at A Mighty Girl. There are literally hundreds of articles and topics all with book recommendations, check it out.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

The Good for Nothing Button!

 The third Elephant & Piggie Like Reading book is out: The Good for Nothing Button! by Charise Mericle Harper. Red Bird and Blue Bird see Yellow Bird who has a button. What does it do they ask. Nothing says Yellow Bird and he demonstrates, nothing happens. Blue Bird wishes to try pushing the button. He pushes it and is surprised. Surprise is not nothing! Red Bird tries, but is not surprised, but then is sad because she wasn't. Sad is not nothing! Yellow Bird is frustrated with his pals. A button cannot make you sad. Blue Bird tries again, this time he is surprised again. The button makes them happy. Yellow bird is frustrated, the button does NOTHING! He presses the button again and again. Does it make him mad? Or calm? Or icky? No, the button makes funny. He likes being funny. The three birds press the button and frolic until they are exhausted, then head off to do more nothing. Elephant & Piggie introduce the book and end it with Gerald wanting to push a button, the only available looking one is Piggie's nose. She is im-press-ed.

All the words in the book are in speech balloons. the fonts are large and well spaced making it easier for beginning readers. The entire story is told using less than 75 different words. If your child does not know the words button or nothing, they surely will by the end of the book. They will laugh, too.



 The Sonoma County Library has twelve copies.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

The Bad Guys

Aaron Blabey, like his fellow Australian, Andy Griffiths, knows what kids like. He has picked characters that everyone knows are bad guys: Mr. Wolf, Mr. Snake, Mr. Shark and Mr. Piranha, but has them form a gang to do good deeds and redeem their reputations. Of course, they aren't particularity talented at doing good deeds but the job gets done one way or an other. 

The original idea belongs to Mr. Wolf. He's a good guy at heart; maybe he has blown down a house or two and dressed up like an old lady but he is really a nice guy deep inside. We get a peek at his rap sheet. There appear to be a few more incidents than he reported. He introduces Mr. Snake whose rap sheet includes a rampage at Mr. Ho's Pet Store. We are next introduced to Mr. Piranha who has come all the way from Bolivia. His rap sheet includes one crime: eating tourists. The last to arrive is Mr. Shark, Mr. Wolf covers up his rap sheet. About all we can see is a notation "Will literally eat ANYTHING or ANYBODY".

Over cupcakes, Mr. Wolf introduces the idea of the Good Guys Club. The others are a tad skeptical. After some coaxing the guys decide to try a small project: rescuing a cat stuck in a tree. The cat gets down from the tree by being scared to death by Mr. Piranha. But they still feel pretty good about helping the cat so they plan a bigger caper. This time it is freeing 200 puppies kept prisoner in the maximum security dog pound. The scheme is elaborate, not everything goes according to plan but the puppies are freed, terrified of their rescuers. Success! To be continued...

The story and pictures each tell part of the story, every page has just a few sentences with dynamic black and white drawings and the fonts are bold and easy to read. The series is a good transition to longer chapter books. Two of my second grade students read out loud all 138 pages in less than thirty minutes laughing all the way. There are two more books in this series, with a third due out in August.                             



The Sonoma County Library has six copies. The AR is 2.4.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

We're All Wonders

In 2012, R.J. Palacio wrote a book about a boy named Auggie Pullman who was born with severe facial deformities called Wonder. Auggie is finally going to a regular school in the fifth grade.He wants to be treated like everyone else but that is easier said than done. Over 5 million copies of the book have been sold. It inspired the Choose Kind movement. For years, teachers and librarians have wanted a picture book about Auggie. We're All Wonders is the result. 

Auggie narrates his story. He is an ordinary kid inside, he likes the same things kids his age like. But he doesn't look like other kids. His mom says he is a wonder but some others just see how different he looks. Kids staring, pointing and laughing at him hurt his feelings. When that happens, he and his dog Daisy put on their helmets and blast off to Pluto to see old friends. From there he looks back at the earth, it looks so small but he knows that billions of people live there. People who look different and speak other languages. The world is big enough for all kinds of people. Auggie can't change the way he looks but maybe people can change the way they see because everyone is a wonder.



The Sonoma County Library has fifteen copies. The AR is 1.5. There are thirty copies of Wonder.
The AR is 4.8 with 11 points.