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Every month, TAB editor Kristin will be sharing her thoughts on five titles from our… Read More

June 1, 2016

January Teacher Advisor Reviews


The Magical Snowman by Catherine Walters, illustrated by Alison Edgson

Reviewed by Donna, PreK Teacher, St. Louis, Missouri

Little Rabbit makes a snowman complete with a scarf and a hat. This snowman is different though because he has no carrot nose or sticks for arms. He has two black eyes and a black nose. His arms are also made of snow but hang down like real arms. The bunny’s daddy asks his son to go collect berries. Little Rabbit does not want to leave his snowman alone because he is afraid he will be lonely. He tries to convince his daddy that the snowman is real but then goes to collect the berries. He eats some of the berries and then sees a robin. He does not notice the snow falling and follows this robin. Finally, the robin flies away and Little Rabbit realizes he is lost. He starts to cry and then the snowman he made appears through a light in the trees. He has snow legs and tells the rabbit he has always been there for him. He takes Little Rabbit’s hand and takes him on the journey home where his daddy is waiting for him. Little Rabbit tells Daddy that his friend the snowman brought him home safely. Daddy just hugs his son and as Little Rabbit looks over Daddy’s shoulder, he smiles at the snowman who is now back in place. The snowman smiles back.

This book could be used for:

  • This book has beautiful illustrations but they are soft and not too bright. The children will be able to see simple expressions on the faces of the characters in the book.
  • This book is great for preschoolers and preK children. It is a great addition to a winter theme.
  • A teacher can use this story to explain imagination.


Old Bear and His Cub  by Olivier Dunrea

Reviewed by Marilyn, PreK Teacher, Houston, Texas

Old Bear and His Cub has simple, clear pictures that children can easily relate to. The story is repetitive and simple with a lot of meaning. The old bear asks his cub to eat, stay warm, play carefully, and take a nap—all to the answer of “No, I won’t.” Each time Old Bear says “You will” and Little Cub does. Later in the story, it is Little Cub who tells Old Bear to take care so he won’t get sick, to crawl into bed, to drink tea, and to go to sleep. Throughout the story Old Bear and Little Cub reiterate that they love each other with all their heart. A great story about caring for the ones you love.

This book could be used for:

  • Discussing caring for one another
  • As an introduction to writing a conversation using correct punctuation
  • As a bedtime story


Princess Baby, Night-Night  by Karen Katz

Reviewed by Stephanie, Kindergarten Teacher, Fort Mill, South Carolina

Princess Baby is back for another story filled with questions, fun, and a little girl drama! Bedtime is at hand and Princess Baby is having too much fun for night-night. Katz invites young readers to follow Princess Baby through her nightly routine with illustrations that are bright, inviting, and relatable. This is a perfect bedtime story that offers a touch of imagination and a cheerful spirit. Pick up the toys and wash up, a princess must not forget her teeth must be brushed! A quick sip of water, some books, and almost ready for a kiss and the “I’m Not Tired” Princess is off to dreamland bliss.

This book could be used for:

  • Sequencing events
  • Text-to-self connections
  • Print conventions
  • Fluency (repetitive text)
  • Dramatic interpretations
  • Intonation (tone)




 Snow! Snow! Snow! by Lee Harper

Reviewed by Patti, Kindergarten Teacher, Herriman, Utah

Kindergarteners will love this book! They think they are flying when they swing in a swing, so flying while sledding is not a jump for them. I like that there are just a few words on each page. I am always trying to get my students to look at the pictures for word clues. This book is perfect! Great pictures that match the words exactly. This book is also great for introducing or reviewing emotions. The dad has different emotions than the kids and it is nice to see the contrast. The word SPLOOMPH is new and very descriptive! We have added it to our vocabulary list. It also loaded with Zeno sight words. A delightful book, with a great story about sledding! A home run for littlest readers with high interest.

This book could be used for:

  • Picture clues to figure out words
  • Increase vocabulary
  • Make-believe or real
  • Emotions


The Biggest Kiss by Joanna Walsh, illustrated by Judi Abbot

Reviewed by Jennifer, Kindergarten Teacher, Clarkdale, Arizona

Who doesn’t love a kiss??? In The Biggest Kiss by Joanna Walsh and Judi Abbot kisses are everywhere. You get to learn all about the different ways animals can kiss. The book makes you wonder how frogs, worms, and even elephants kiss. The book also shows the many types of kisses, like rain kisses and eye-dry kisses. My class LOVED and giggled with this book. We even started talking about how our family can show affection in many ways. With its colorful illustrations and wonderful rhyming this book is a hit during Valentine’s Day!


Little Pea by Amy Krouse Rosenthal, illustrated by Jen Corace

Reviewed by Lyndsey, First-Grade Teacher, Wake Forest, North Carolina

Little Pea loves life and everything that goes along with it. He loves his mom and dad, playing with his friends, and snuggling. The one thing that Little Pea does not love is dinner time because every night for dinner Little Pea is forced to eat…CANDY! Little Pea does not like candy and struggles to eat it each night, but for Little Peas who eat their dinner there’s always dessert!

This book is a cute and funny way to introduce a nutrition unit. It can open up many conversations about eating healthy and enjoying foods that are good for us. When teaching with this story the teacher could stop before the author shows what is for dessert and students can write or draw their own ending to the story and come up with what they think Little Pea has for dessert. Children could use this story to stem an imaginative conversation on what they wished they could eat every night for dinner. I thought this book was adorable and fun.

This book could be used for:

  • Nutrition
  • Changing the author’s ending
  • Imaginative writing
  • Predictions





 Howard B. Wigglebottom Listens to His Heart by Howard Binkowillustrated by Susan F. Cornelison

Reviewed by Jill, First-Grade Teacher, LaGrange, Ohio

The Howard B. Wigglebottom books are all incredible for teaching valuable life lessons of self-esteem and confidence to children, and this book is another must-have to add to your collection. In this story, Howard stops doing what he truly loves because his friends are making fun of him. He tries to fit in with others by doing things that they like to do, but he finds that he isn’t very good at the other activities. By talking to his grandpa and listening to his heart, Howard gets his “wiggle” back by the end of the story.

As educators and parents, we are all trying to instill confidence and self-esteem in our children. This book encourages confidence in children, and the story empowers them to stay true to themselves. I appreciated reading an inspirational story with a powerful message that the students could easily relate to.

This book could be used for:

  • Self-esteem and acceptance
  • Discussing feelings
  • This book comes with a wonderful teaching guide on the last two pages that educators and parents can both use to start valuable discussions focusing on listening to your heart and being proud of who you are!


Amelia Bedelia Makes a Friend by Herman Parish, illustrated by Lynne Avril

Reviewed by Linda, Second-Grade Teacher, Oakdale, California

This story depicts the well-known Amelia Bedelia character as a young girl. It highlights the special relationship of close friends Amelia and Jen, who happen to be next-door neighbors. Midway through the book, Jen moves away, leaving Amelia missing her best friend. As a new neighbor moves into Jen’s old house, Amelia’s mother names the things she sees coming out of the moving truck. This is when the reader starts to see the same kinds of literal interpretations Amelia Bedelia is so well-known for in the other books in the series. You see, since Amelia isn’t looking to see what the items are that her mother is mentioning, she simply uses her imagination and draws pictures of what she believes they look like. For instance, when Amelia’s mother mentions a fancy footstool, Amelia draws a stool with feet and painted toenails! Later, when Amelia and her mother go next door to meet their new neighbor, they find that they enjoy each other’s company. As luck would have it, Amelia and Mrs. Adams, the older lady next door, become friends and end up doing many of the same activities that she and her old friend Jen did. At the end of the story, Amelia has had the best day ever when Jen comes back for a visit and Mrs. Adams takes them to a real bowling alley! Now there are three best friends!

This book could be used for:

  • Read Amelia Bedelia prior to reading this book. Then have the children predict what kinds of silly things young Amelia will do in this story.
  • While reading the book but before showing the pictures, have the students orally share predictions of what they believe Amelia thinks the different pieces of furniture look like. You could also have them draw what they think Amelia will draw.
  • Compare and contrast young Amelia to older Amelia, after reading other Amelia Bedelia stories.
  • Compare and contrast the two friends, Jen and Mrs. Adams.
  • Do a word web for the word friends, listing characteristics of what makes a person a friend.
  •  Have students write about their personal best friend and things they like to do together.
  •  Have students write about an older person with whom they enjoy spending time, and describe what makes that person special, as well as things they enjoy doing together.
  •  Host a “Best Friends” luncheon in class where each child is allowed to invite his/her best friend to eat in class with him/her. Prior to lunch, each child could introduce his/her best friend to the kids, and read the paragraph that they wrote about their best friend to the class.
  • Create a “Best Friends” bulletin board with photos of the kids with their best friend, as well as the paragraphs they wrote. Later, save these items to include in an end-of-the-year keepsake memory book.




The Puppy Place Guide to Puppies by Ellen Miles

Reviewed by Sharon, Third-Grade Teacher, Hartsdale, New York

The Puppy Place Guide to Puppies is a great reference book to have before making that all-important decision if you and your child have what it takes to raise a puppy or dog. This book is a step-by-step guide that begins before the decision is made and follows all the necessary steps to add a puppy or dog to a family. The book is filled with lots of adorable dogs as well as author Ellen Miles’s lovable characters. As children read this book they will learn all of the necessary information needed for pet care in a simple and easy-to-understand format. I especially liked the chapters on basic training and body language (how to talk to your dog). You can’t go wrong reading this book before making the decision to own a puppy or dog. Various websites are also included in this book for those who desire even more information.

This book could be used for:

  • Exploring text features in a nonfiction book
  • Using context clues to understand unknown words
  • Sequencing activities




Hound Dog True by Linda Urban

Reviewed by Roxanne, Fourth-Grade Teacher, Antioch, California

Hound Dog True is a story that many students will be able to relate to. It is a story of a girl who is suffering the after-effects of a bully and a mother whose main focus is herself. Mattie Breen is a sensitive girl who loved to write stories until a bully at her previous school ripped up her notebook. She has moved to a new town and lives with her mother and her wonderful Uncle Potluck. She has decided to become her uncle’s “custodial apprentice” in order to avoid dealing with other students at recess. I like Mattie Breen because she is self-aware and knows that she really does want to have a friend. Through working with her uncle, taking a risk with the girl visiting next door, and her mother’s awakening, Mattie learns to trust again. And best of all, there is a happy ending.

This book could be used for:

  • Vocabulary
  • Figurative language
  • Life lessons about overcoming fear


 All the Wrong Questions #1: Who Could That Be at This Hour? by Lemony Snicket

Reviewed by Elizabeth, Fourth-Grade Teacher, Richmond, Virginia

Lemony Snicket wins readers over again in Who Could That Be at This Hour?, the first of four books in this new series. Lemony is surrounded by nothing but intrigue and mystery as he apprentices for the fairly unlikable but still fascinating (think train wreck) S. Theodora Markson. The reader goes along for the ride with Lemony and Theodora, wondering the very same wrong questions that Lemony dares ask aloud. I love Lemony’s common-sense approach and unflappable nature as he works under Theodora trying to do what he does best: narrowly escape danger and disaster while uncovering the truth. This mystery/adventure has it all and is sure to be hit with Lemony lovers everywhere.

This book could be used for:

  • A mystery and/or adventure book club/literature circle
  • An author/series study of Lemony Snicket
  • A mentor text for use of illustrations—the book’s illustrator created amazing woodcuts that add to the plot
  • Students who like mysteries and other Lemony Snicket books

I, Funny by James Patterson and Chris Grabenstein

Reviewed by Leah, Fourth-Grade Teacher, Centerville, Ohio

Jamie Grimm has one big dream: to become a stand-up comic. His major

problem? He is “stuck” in a wheelchair! Jamie’s wild imagination and genuine humor help him cope with his many difficulties: adjusting to life in a wheelchair after a tragic car accident, dealing with his adoptive family, and a seriously nasty bully. He puts a humorous spin on his life and creates a comedic act that helps him meet his goals.

This fast-paced narrative story kept me laughing from the beginning. I appreciated Jamie’s perseverance through his difficulties. His unique outlook on life and what can happen unexpectedly is definitely a “glass half-full” approach. I think that he could be a great inspiration for many kids!

This book is good for:

  • English: narrative writing
  • Art: illustrating novels
  • Character education: bullying


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January 7, 2013