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

June 1, 2016

April Teacher Advisor Reviews


The Grumble Bee by Kyle Mewburn, illustrated by Ingrid Berzins
Reviewed by Donna, PreK Teacher, St. Louis, Missouri

This book was very appropriate for my PreK class but not necessarily for a younger age group. A bee in the colony feels left out and is made fun of by the other bees. He ventures out to try and find pollen elsewhere and stumbles upon a “secret garden.” He does not want to tell the others about this and wants to feel important. Winter comes and all of the pollen is gone. The bees in his colony, including the poor queen, are sick, tired, and in bed. He decides to help out and fill up his bee socks with pollen from the garden and take it back to save the day. This book is educational as well and has many definitions on the back of the book for the terms used in the story such as bee socks, beehive, and colony. I would use it in a PreK to second-grade classroom for a science unit and for a spring/summer unit.


Book Fiesta! by Pat Mora, illustrated by Rafael López
Reviewed by Marilyn, PreK and Third-Grade Teacher, Houston, Texas

The story is written in English and Spanish and shows how books are used to learn about others, faraway places, and new items of interest. The beautiful, vibrant pictures and flowing verse should appeal to all ages. The book talks about reading in libraries and with families, listening to stories, and the fun that reading can inspire. At the end of the book, informational pages explain about the celebration of the child and offer a variety of ideas to celebrate children and books.


This book is good for:

  • Supporting multicultural instruction
  • Introducing Children’s Day/Book Day celebrations
  • Encouraging the use and importance of imagination



Splat the Cat: Fishy Tales by Rob Scotton
Reviewed by Patti, Kindergarten Teacher, Herriman, Utah

This is the cutest Splat book I have ever read! It is just perfect and portrays the kindergarten child to a T. I like the way Splat uses his tail to talk about his emotions. It really brings the children into the story. It also helps kids believe in themselves and realize that they don’t have to be like everyone else. It also addresses the fact that some things change over time and that it is okay to be different. It also touches on the emotion of fear and how you can conquer that, but uses a kid-friendly scenario. Just delightful. The words are kid friendly, the story is true to life and the story line is absolutely perfect for a child starting school or any other activity that he is unsure of or afraid of.

This book is good for:

  • Beginning of the year
  • Finding your place
  • Emotions—being afraid is okay
  • Friendship
  • Being yourself



Cow Takes a Bow by Russell Punter, illustrated by Fred Blunt
Reviewed by Jill, First-Grade Teacher, LaGrange, Ohio

Every child gets excited and hopeful when the circus comes to town, and Cow is no different. Cow has been looking forward to seeing the circus, but she never expected to be part of the show! Find out what crazy antics Cow gets herself into when you open the pages of this book.

This silly story will be motivating for young readers to pick up because of the simple rhyming text paired with a great story line. The book focuses on teaching the “ow” sound, but the story is still nicely developed, even with the simple vocabulary. The more challenging words are supported with great clues found in the illustrations, which will make even the most reluctant readers more confident when tackling this story on their own. Parents will benefit from the guidance note at the end of the book focusing on phonemic awareness skills.


This book is good for:

  • The “ow” sound
  • Quotation marks and speech bubbles
  • Rhyming words
  • Encouraging confidence and independence in beginning readers



Escaping Titanic: A Young Girl’s True Story of Survival by Marybeth Lorbiecki, illustrated by Kory S. Heinzen
Reviewed by Kelly, Second-Grade Teacher, Sutton, Massachusetts

Escaping Titanic is an account of Ruth Becker’s experience on the Titanic. In a story complemented by full-page illustrations, we experience the doomed ship’s fate through the eyes of 12-year-old Ruth. At the conclusion of the book, the author includes an afterword with rich additional details about Ruth and gives a code to access websites for additional information on the Titanic. Escaping Titanic takes a difficult topic and explores it in an age-appropriate manner.



This book is good for:

  • Studies of the Titanic
  • Lessons on sequencing events


Name That Dog! Puppy Names from A to Z by Peggy Archer, illustrated by Stephanie Buscema
Reviewed by Elaina, Third-Grade Teacher, Chicago, Illinois









Unlike books of poetry
We read when we were young,
Name That Dog!
by Peggy Archer
Really is more fun.

Puppy names from A to Z
For pooches big and small.
From dachshunds up to Saint Bernards,
She almost hits them all.

Stephanie Buscema drew
The pictures for this book.
And if you’re into puppy dogs,
It’s really worth a look.

Naming puppies can be tough
(It really is a fact)
But this book’s author shows us
Doggies named for how they act.

Queenie thinks she’s royalty,
Houdini can’t be found,
Jingles wears so many tags
He makes a funny sound.

Melody—she loves to sing,
And Bandit hides his stash.
Rex the pup is way too big,
While Puddles loves to splash.

So when it comes to poetry
This book is at the top.
I opened it to take a peek
But then I couldn’t stop!

My students loved the poems so much
They tried to write a few.
And recommend, if you love dogs,
That you should read it too!


This book is good for units on:

  • Poetry
  • Rhyming
  • Pets


Let’s Do Nothing! by Tony Fucile
Reviewed by Sharon, Third-Grade Teacher, Hartsdale, New York

Let’s Do Nothing! is a creative, engaging picture book that my four-year-old twins have loved to hear over and over since it arrived. For any parent who has heard those famous words from their child’s mouth: “I am bored; there is nothing to do,” then this book is for you. Tony Fucile facetiously expresses the essence of a child’s undisciplined mind. Two young boys named Frankie and Sal decide that they have done everything possible in regards to entertaining themselves, so they decide to do nothing. This is where all the fun begins. As Sal tries to get Frankie to do nothing, his creativity as well as his frustration begin to soar. Will they be able to complete the task of doing nothing? Will doing nothing be fun? Can you actually do nothing? You will have to read to find out what happens to Frankie and Sal.

This book is good for:

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.3.7 Explain how specific aspects of a text’s illustrations contribute to what is conveyed by the words in a story (e.g., create mood, emphasize aspects of a character or setting).
  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.2.3 Describe how characters in a story respond to major events and challenges.
  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.2.6 Acknowledge differences in the points of view of characters, including by speaking in a different voice for each character when reading dialogue aloud.
  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.2.7 Use information gained from the illustrations and words in a print or digital text to demonstrate understanding of its characters, setting, or plot.
  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.3.6 Distinguish their own point of view from that of the narrator or those of the characters.



Unlocking the Spell by E. D. Baker
Reviewed by Roxanne, Fourth-Grade Teacher, Antioch, California

Unlocking the Spell is a chapter-book fairy tale. It incorporates many characters and settings from well-known fairy tales. Annie, a new princess whose gift is to not be affected by any magic, is the heroine. Her quest is to find the dwarf who has turned her sister’s true love into a bear. Along the way she meets many other storybook characters who have also been bewitched. The book is written with all the characteristics of a typical fairy tale. Annie and her friends, including a “princess” sister, a handsome prince, and talking animals, have many adventures on their journey through the lands of the classic fairy tales. There is a very satisfying ending and fairy-tale enthusiasts will not be disappointed.


This book is good for:

  • Using as a reference text in teaching the genre of fairy tales
  • Reading aloud at the conclusion of a fairy-tale unit
  • Offering as a recommendation to students who love fairy tales


One Tough Chick by Leslie Margolis

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

Imagine being one of three students chosen to judge your middle school’s talent show! Now imagine the total chaos that is likely to follow. What’s a girl to do…be a fair and honest talent-show judge or give her friends and boyfriend a little extra edge? Annabelle finds herself suddenly in a position of power and popularity as student judge. How will she navigate through it all, keeping her friends on her side, her boyfriend by her side, and her judging fair to all? This fun novel has it all…drama, humor, and romance. It’s a book that any tween or middle schooler can relate to in many ways.

This book is good for:

  • A read-aloud leading up to a talent show or for discussing peer pressure
  • A novel for book clubs/literature circles about friendship
  • One of several texts used for a series book club (it’s the fourth in the series)



Chomp by Carl Hiaasen
Reviewed by Cindy, Sixth-Grade Teacher, Alma, Arizona

Wahoo Cray and his dad, Mickey, a professional animal wrangler, run a wildlife sanctuary in their backyard in the Everglades of Florida. Times are a little tough financially due to Mickey having been hit in the head by a frozen iguana (long story), so Wahoo convinces his dad to let them use some of their animals and skills for an upcoming episode of the reality television series Expedition Survival! with wildlife “expert” Derek Badger. Only problem is that Derek is a fake…a major one. In this satire of the non-realities of reality television (among other things), Carl Hiaasen again brings his colorful characters to life. Add another interesting character who is a friend of Wahoo’s, Tuna, and her abusive father, and you’ve got a great middle-school read.



This book is good for:

  • Strong voice of the writer who appeals to middle-grade readers
  • An example of satire, especially on the inconsistencies of reality television
  • Environmental issues, always a strong suit for Carl Hiaasen books


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April 12, 2013