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

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March Teacher Advisor Reviews

HONEYBEE

Little Chick
Reviewed by Marilyn, PreK and Third-Grade Teacher, Houston, Texas

Little Chick is a board book just the right size for toddlers and preschoolers. It has bright, colorful, clear illustrations with rhyming text on each page. Little Chick hatches and can’t wait to explore his new surroundings. He invites other animals to come out and join in playing and exploring. Along the way they discover lambs, rainbows, butterflies, snails, mice, toadstools, hay and more. Quickly became a favorite retelling book in library center.

This book could be used for:

  • Introducing spring
  • A farm unit
  • Rhyming

 

Rain, Rain, Go Away! by Caroline Jayne Church
Reviewed by Stephanie, Kindergarten Teacher, Fort Mill, South Carolina

Rain, Rain, Go Away! is a perfect book for your small tot any day! A true “rainbows and sunshine with a splash of rain” story that brings to life one of the more popular children’s songs. This book is a great rainy or sunny day read. Church is known for her eye-catching text and endearing kid illustrations that bring a smile to any face. So grab your umbrella and your rain gear and you’re off to a day that turns out to be an okay day to play!

This book could be used for:

  • Rainy-day writing
  • Text-to-self connections
  • Punctuation game
  • Rhyming words
  • Weather graphing and experiments
  • Umbrella crafts and word families

 

FIREFLY

Baby Bear Sees Blue by Ashley Wolff
Reviewed by Patti, Kindergarten Teacher, Herriman, Utah

This was a delightful book with so many teaching moments embedded in it. From the first page you are introduced to hibernation and then oak trees and blue jays. Interlaced through the book are the colors of each of these elements of nature. You could use this book all year. First for colors, then seasons, then baby animals, then hibernation, and then habitats. The list just goes on and on. It is also patterned so would work very well for a shared reading. It could also be an introduction to a nature walk and children noticing things around them. Just delightful and the pictures were great and held the interest of my class to the last page.

This book could be used for:

  • Habitats
  • Hibernation
  • Baby animals
  • Nature vocabulary (oak, jays, trout…)
  • Colors
  • Beginning of the year

 

Underpants Thunderpants by Peter Bently, illustrated by Deborah Melmon
Reviewed by Jennifer, Kindergarten Teacher, Clarkdale, Arizona

Underpants Thunderpants is a fun and amusing rhyming book that every kid would love to read. My class laughed at this book on every page. When a dog loses his underpants in a storm you go on an adventure with his underwear. This colorful book takes underwear to many places such as the jungle, ocean, and even outer space. My class LOVED this book and I was asked to read it again. This book would make a great journal paper on where their underwear might go.

This book could be used for:

  • Rhyming
  • Easy read
  • Imagination

 

Revenge of the Dinotrux by Chris Gall
Reviewed by Lyndsey, First-Grade Teacher, Wake Forest, North Carolina

Dinosaur and truck lovers, this book is for you! It all starts in a museum where the Dinotrux are displayed for all to see. However, the Dinotrux are unhappy and bored in the museum. They never look forward to “Kindergarten Day,” when they are climbed on, screamed at, and covered in gum. So the Dinotrux decide to escape and go rolling through the city causing a ruckus! In the end you will see that the Dinotrux cause good in the city and end up becoming a place to visit to have fun and make friends.

This book is great for encouraging children to find the love of museums and to look deep inside at what they might learn. It allows for the making of lots of different sounds that the Dinotrux make as they move and speak. The pictures give you a comic-book feel, but are very easy to follow and fun to look at.

This book could be used for:

  • A fun book to share before a trip to the museum
  • Creating your own Dinotrux
  • Practicing sound words and effects

SEESAW

Snakes by Nic Bishop
Reviewed by Jill, First-Grade Teacher, LaGrange, Ohio

Nic Bishop is well known for his incredible photography in his nonfiction books, but I think he has really outdone himself in the book Snakes. The photographs in this book include a snake playing dead, a snake swallowing an egg four times bigger than its head, and so many other interesting shots! The pictures are remarkable and intriguing enough to get even the most reluctant reader motivated to learn more about snakes.

Nic Bishop has a very unique way of designing his text to pull his readers in to find out more information. On each page, he highlights an important fact in larger, bold text. More interesting details can be found in the regular text. This is a great way to differentiate instruction. Beginning readers may enjoy reading just the topic sentence on the page, while more advanced readers will benefit from the specific details included on the page. In addition, every page includes a caption with more interesting information about the photograph. These features allow a wide range of students to enjoy this book at their own level.

This book could be used for:

  • Teaching informational text features (captions, bold print, glossary, index)
  • Identifying main ideas and recalling supporting details
  • Unit on snakes or reptiles

 

Me Want Pet! by Tammi Sauer, illustrated by Bob Shea
Reviewed by Linda, Second-Grade Teacher, Oakdale, California

This is a cute book about a little cave boy who wants a pet. Just like any other child who wants something, Cave Boy tries to find an animal that will be acceptable to his parents, so he goes out looking for just the right pet. Along the way, he finds animals of which today’s school-aged children may have never heard, such as a woolly mammoth, a saber-toothed tiger, and a baby dodo bird. Each time he brings a potential pet home, there is a reason he is not permitted to keep it. Then, when the family finds itself facing a stampede, Cave Boy and his three animal friends come to the rescue and save the day! Feeling extremely grateful for their efforts, Cave Boy’s family allows the boy to keep all three animals! So, in the long run, Cave Boy gets more than the one pet he originally wanted!

This book could be used for:

  • Discuss the life and times of the caveman. Then compare and contrast with current times.
  • Research information about a woolly mammoth, saber-toothed tiger, and dodo bird.
  • Discuss why the book was written with improper English. Then rewrite it using proper English.
  • Teach the use of quotation marks.
  • Have the students write about a pet they have or would like to have. Perhaps the children could even have an adult bring their pet in for sharing, and the students could read the paragraphs they wrote and then share their actual pets. For those who don’t have pets, they could bring in a photo of an animal they’d like, or a stuffed animal they wish was their pet, and share it instead.

 

LUCKY

Penny and Her Song by Kevin Henkes
Reviewed by Kelly, Second-Grade Teacher, Sutton, Massachusetts

Penny has written a wonderful song and wants to sing it for her family members. Mama is too busy to listen, Papa is too busy to listen, and singing to yourself just isn’t as much fun! Will Penny ever get to share her song with her family? Kevin Henkes’s illustrations perfectly match this 32-page beginning chapter book, which will delight younger readers with its relatable situations.

This book could be used for:

  • Teaching younger readers about patience
  • Discussions about there being a right time and place for different activities
  • Fans of Kevin Henkes

 

Lost! A Dog Called Bear by Wendy Orr, illustrated by Susan Boase
Reviewed by Elaina, Third-Grade Teacher, Chicago, Illinois

Lost! A Dog Called Bear is a touching story about the bonds between pets and their people. From the first chapter, this story draws you in when you meet Logan, a young boy who is depending on his border collie, Bear, for comfort as his parents separate. On the way to his new home with Logan’s mom, Bear disappears from the car and seems impossible to find. We then meet Hannah, a young girl who has always wanted a dog of her own but isn’t allowed to have one. Hannah is surprised one day when her father unwittingly arrives home with a border collie in the back of his pickup truck. She names the dog Surprise but knows he cannot stay. The author, Wendy Orr, does a fantastic job making the reader care about these characters as their lives change and, ultimately, intertwine. I used this book as a read-aloud in my third-grade classroom and my students never wanted me to close the book!

This book could be used for discussing:

  • Responsibility
  • Pet care
  • Divorce/separation
  • Animal/human relationships

ARROW

The Templeton Twins Have an Idea by Ellis Weiner, illustrated by Jeremy Holmes
Reviewed by Leah, Fourth-Grade Teacher, Centerville, Ohio

The Templeton twins are as different as two individuals can be. One is a girl, Abigail, and the other is a boy, John. Abigail thinks about things very analytically while John is the creative thinker. When they put their heads together to solve common problems, like how to get their father to let them have a dog, they become unstoppable.

Strange things begin to happen when the family moves suddenly for a new job for their college-professor father. Tickridge-Baltock Institute of Technology (or Tick-Tock Tech as Abigail calls it) is a quirky college filled with clocks and oddities related to clocks and time. Before long, a problem from the past pops up and the twins find themselves in real trouble!

This book could be used for:

  • Writing narratives
  • Creative writing
  • Inventive problem solving

 

TAB

I, Emma Freke by Elizabeth Atkinson
Reviewed by Jennifer, Fifth-Grade Teacher, Orlando, Florida

I really enjoyed this book. There were some funny moments, but there were also some serious ones that would be great to discuss in a literature circle. Emma is a 12-year-old who doesn’t fit in at her school. She is taller than most kids and her name sounds like “Am a Freak.” Her best friend is younger than she is and she doesn’t have any other real friends. She has a tough time approaching new people and trying new things. Emma lives with her mom and grandfather and is usually left to fend for herself while being held responsible for the family beadstore. Emma feels sorting the beads is soothing and likes when the beads are in the “right bin.”She never met her father and when she asks about him, she is basically brushed off. Her mom gives her a birthday “present” that doesn’t get approved with the school that ends up causing some issues. Emma has a mini-meltdown and her mom tells her about a Freke family reunion in another state. Emma attends the reunion and bonds with Fred (and some other family members). She soon learns she isn’t the only “odd” one and finds out that structure, order, and lists aren’t all they are cracked up to be.

This book could be used for:

  • Lessons on predicting: Students can predict what is going to happen throughout the book. Students can also make predictions about what will happen to each of the main characters.
  • The story leaves us with an open ending. Have students write a possible ending to the story using details from the story to justify their reasoning.
  • A persuasive writing lesson: There are several moments in the story where Emma is presented with a choice. Did she make the right one? Students could also write about which is better, a structured life, an unstructured life, or a combination?

 

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March 13, 2013