Title: The Ugly Duckling
Bibliography: Pinkney, J. (1999). The Ugly Duckling. New York: Morrow Junior Books.
Annotation: Jerry Pinkney retells the classic tale of the ugly duckling in an eloquent manner and filling the pages with majestic color. The mother duck notices that one of her eggs is a bit larger and oddly shaped compared to the rest of her eggs but she paid no mind to it until it hatched, the duckling was not yellow and brown like its siblings but rather white and much larger. Despite the encouragement the duckling received from its mother, it could not help but droop its head in sorrow until he is eagerly accepted by those just like him, the ugly duckling transformed into a beautiful swan and was accepted by all.
Grade Level: 2-4
Readers who will like this book: readers who enjoy stories that include determination, triumph and ultimately a happy ending will thoroughly enjoy this account of the ugly duckling’s journey into a beautiful swan.
Personal Response and rating: 5; an instant favorite of mine from my childhood, this version proves to evoke the same such feelings. The detailed illustrations accompany the text perfectly.
Question: Have you ever felt like you didn’t fit in?
Title: Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!
Bibliography: Willems, M. (2003). Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!. New York: Hyperion Books for Children.
Annotation: The bus driver leaves us in charge of the bus, he gives us one instruction: don’t let the pigeon drive the bus! Who would have thought a pigeon would be persistent about driving a bus?
Grade Level: K-2
Readers who will like this book: Young readers who enjoy interactive books will find this conversation with a pigeon fascinating and fun!
Personal Response and rating: 3; Although Mo Willems puts a hilarious spin on learning to hold your ground, keep promises and be responsible through an interactive dialogue with a desperate bird it did not appeal to my interests.
Question: What do you do when someone asks you to do something you know you’re not supposed to do?
Title: Junkyard Wonders
Bibliography: Polacco, P. (2010). Junkyard Wonders. New York: Philomel Books.
Annotation: Trisha is excited to start the school year at a new school with new classmates, classmates that did not know she used to struggle in school; she wanted a fresh start! Unfortunately, Trisha is placed in a special class, yet again. She is devastated. Her new teacher, Mrs. Peterson, inspires what the rest of the school refers to as ‘junkyard kids’ into confident students who embrace their odd brilliances.
Genre: Realistic Fiction
Grade Level: 2-4
Readers who will like this book: Anyone who has been labeled a misfit, and let’s face it, who hasn’t, will enjoy Trisha’s story of self-discovery. It focuses on ideals that are easily relatable to elementary students
Personal Response and rating: 4; the message behind this story is very strong as well as relatable, making it impossible not to like. The illustrations evoke the emotions that Trisha feels as she transforms from a junkyard kid to a junkyard wonder.
Question: Have you ever been ‘the new kid at school’? Have you ever been misjudged? If so, what did you do about it?
Title: Mother Goose Remembers
Bibliographic information: Beaton, C. (2000). Mother Goose Remembers. New York, New York: Barefoot Books
Brief annotation: This book is a compilation of all the classic Mother Goose nursery rhymes.
Genre: Picture book, poetry
Grade level: K – 3rd
Readers who will like this: Children who like rhymes will enjoy this book.
Rating: 4 – This is a great book for an introduction to poetry. It is very easy for children to read because they are very short rhymes.
Question: What is a rhyme? Do you know any Mother Goose nursery rhymes?
Title: The Snowy Day
Bibliography: Keats, Ezra. (1962). The Snowy Day. New York: Viking Press.
Annotation: Peter wakes up to a winter wonderland outside of his bedroom window, he bundles up in a red snowsuit and heads outside. It is though he is experiencing snow for the first time, footprints, snowball fights, and snow angels. Before going home to take a bath and eat supper, he stores a snowball in his pocket that to his surprise is not there when he wakes up but luckily, the winter wonderland outside remained.
Genre: Realistic Fiction
Grade Level: K-2
Readers who will like this book: This book, although intended for a developing reader, can appeal to people of all ages as it tugs at memories of a first snowfall experience.
Personal Response and rating: 5; As a Minnesotan, I always appreciate books that focus on the positive aspects of winter and therefore loved Peter’s exploration of his winter wonderland. It brought me back to my childhood, discovering different ways to make designs in the snow. The colorful
Question: What kinds of activities do you like to do in the snow? Have you ever had a snowball fight?
Title: My Friend Rabbit
Bibliography: Rohmann, E. (2002). My Friend Rabbit. New York: Roaring Books Press.
Annotation: Mouse has a dear friend rabbit who means well but his brilliant ideas seem to always get them into trouble. Regardless, the two are inseparable.
Grade Level: K-2
Readers who will like this book: Young readers interested in the ideas of friendship, who also enjoy a good laugh will surely find pleasure in the tale of the mouse and the rabbit.
Personal Response and rating: 5; this simple yet moving story of two friends exemplifies the truest form of friendship and unconditional love with a side of comic relief, making it an instant favorite.
Question: What does friendship mean to you?
Title: City 1 2 3
Bibliography: Milich, Z. (2005). City 1 2 3. China: Kids Can Press.
Annotation: This counting book focuses on counting objects, addressing the process of counting up to the number 10, that can be found in a city. Accompanying the city images are the number written in letters as well as identified among a list of the numbers 1-10.
Grade Level: Preprimary
Readers who will like this book: As a fun alternative to traditional counting books I have encountered, young learners have a variety of ways to identify a number in a fun and interactive way.
Personal Response and rating: 5; as this book combines counting objects and identifying numbers that are represented in multiple forms I think this is a fabulous and effective way for students to learn the process of counting.
Question: Where do you see numbers everyday?
Title: Tomie dePaola’s Mother Goose
Bibliography: dePaola, T. (1985). Tomie dePaola’s Mother Goose. New York: Putnam.
Annotation: This collection of over two hundred Mother Goose nursery rhymes are accompanied by delightfully colorful paintings. Tomie dePaola highlights the common classics: Little Bo Peep who lost her sheep, Jack and Jill, Humpty Dumpty, the Three Blind Mice, and of course, Mother Goose.
Grade Level: 2-4
Readers who will like this book: This type of book, being a collection of short nursery rhymes, may appeal to a reader than enjoys poetry and short stories to chapter books and novels; fantastic for a young reader with a shorter attention span.
Personal Response and rating: 5; the Mother Goose nursery rhymes have always been a personal favorite but accompanied with Tomie dePaola’s vibrant, simple yet very animated paintings make it even more enjoyable.
Question: What Mother Goose nursery rhymes have you heard of?
Title: Alphabet City
Bibliography: Johnson, S. (1995). Alphabet City. New York: Viking Publishing.
Annotation: The author and illustrator, Stephen Johnson, transformed things he saw in urban areas into paintings and drawing that highlight the letters visual in city landscapes and architecture. For example, the letter ‘B’ can be found in a buildings’ fire escape stairs. His creativity makes finding some of the letters a treasure hunt of sorts.
Genre: Wordless Picture Book
Grade Level: All ages
Readers who will like this book: This book appeals to all ages but is particularly of value to children at their beginning stages of literacy. Instead of identifying what animals, objects or ideas start with what letter, Stephen Johnson makes identifying the letters an interactive process.
Personal Response and rating: 5; The combination of being a wordless and ‘ABC’ book was a concept I had originally written off but as to not judge a book by its’ cover I decided to give it a chance and I was pleasantly surprised. I think it is an extremely effective way for young readers to get directly involved with literature.
Question: Can you think of any shapes that you might find in a city that resembles a letter from the alphabet?
Title: The Hello, Goodbye Window
Bibliographic information: Juster, N. (2005). The Hello, Goodbye Window. New York, New York: Hyperion Books for Children
Brief annotation: Nanna and Poppy have a big house with a very special Hello, Goodbye Window.
Grade level: K – 2nd
Readers who will like this: Children who visit their grandparents a lot will really enjoy this book.
Rating: 4 – I loved this book. It had very cute illustrations and a great story. It reminded me of visiting my grandparents.
Question: What is your favorite thing to do with your grandparents? Is there anything special about their house?