The Amazing Bone

Title: The Amazing Bone

Bibliographic information: Steig, W. (1976). The Amazing Bone. New York: Square Fish

Brief annotation: Pearl makes a new friend, a talking bone. Follow their adventure as they try to outwit a band of robbers.

Genre: Realistic Animal Fiction

Grade: K – 2nd Grade

Readers who will like this: Readers who enjoy adventure will enjoy this book.

Rating: 3 – I enjoyed this story. I think that it is a story that children would really enjoy.

Questions: If you could make any object talk, what would it be?


Brave Irene

Title: Brave Irene

Bibliographic information: Steig, W. (1986). Brave Irene. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Brief annotation: Irene’s mother is a dress maker. She needs to deliver a dress to a very important client but becomes sick. Irene decides to make the journey to deliver the dress herself but comes upon many obstacles along the way.

Genre: Realistic Fiction

Grade: 1st – 3rd

Readers who will like this: Readers who enjoy adventure will enjoy this book.

Rating: 4 – I really enjoyed this story. I liked that it showed bravery in such a young girl and showed that you can do anything if you don’t give up and just keep trying.

Questions: Can you think of a time when you were brave?


The Amazing Bone

Bibliographic Information: Steig, W. (1976). The amazing bone. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

Brief Annotation: On a particularly lovely day, Pearl encounters a magic talking bone, who helps her out of some serious scrapes on her way home.

Genre: Fantasy (Animal)

Grade Level: K-3

Readers who will like this: Children who like stories about animals; children who like stories with magic; children who like stories with danger.

Rating/Response: 3; Pearl has an effervescent joy for life. Her relationship with the bone is one of mutual respect and fascination. However, the story promotes a subtle ageism as the bone implies that that he left the witch because she was old and that Pearl is of greater value to the bone simply because of her youth. This is particularly distressing as it is the bone’s time with the witch that ends up saving Pearl from the fox. Some children will find this story delightful, but others may find the elaborate descriptions of the fox’s preparations to eat Pearl to be a little overwhelming.

One question you would ask before a read aloud: Have you ever made a friend in an unexpected or unusual way?



Bibliographic Information: ‪Steig, W. (1990). Shrek! New York: New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

Brief Annotation: An ugly and terrifying ogre goes on a journey, where he encounters a witch, a donkey, and a princess, and finds his happily-ever-after.

Genre: Fantasy

Grade Level: Grades 2-4

Readers who will like this: Children who enjoy a “gross-out” factor; children who are familiar with the movie version; children who like fairy tales and fantasy.

Rating/Response: 5; Shrek! will appeal to children by tapping into their desire to hear and use words that grown-ups often tell them are “naughty.” Many children will have seen the movie, providing an opportunity to talk about similarities and differences between print and film versions of stories. Shrek is unapologetically confident about who he is, and it is a powerful lesson for children that they never have to sacrifice who they are in order to be worthy of love.

One question you would ask before a read aloud: What is something that you really like about yourself?


Abel’s Island

Bibliographic Information: Steig, W. (1976). Abel’s island. New York: Bantam Skylark Books.

Brief Annotation: A mouse named Abel becomes a castaway when a sudden rainstorm interrupts his picnic with his wife.

Genre: Fantasy (Animal)

Grade Level: Grades 3-5

Readers who will like this: Children who like stories with animals as the main characters; children who like stories about survival; children who like nature stories.

Rating/Response: 4; This book never talks down to children. The vocabulary is challenging in a developmentally appropriate way. Abel encounters many difficulties and a full range of emotions during the year that he is separated from Amanda. In the midst of his forced solitude, he finds a strength he didn’t know he had, confronts some aspects of himself that he doesn’t like and resolves to change them, and discovers his vocation.

One question you would ask before a read aloud: Have you ever been far away from someone you love?

Reading Strategy: Character Quotes (Yopp & Yopp, 2010). The Character Quotes activity encourages students to make inferences and predictions before reading (or being read) a text. The teacher assembles a variety of quotes from one character. The students are split into small groups and given a selection of the quotes. The students are then asked to discuss the quotes and make inferences about the character. The teacher then brings the large group back together and asks each group to report on what they have inferred about their character. After all groups have reported, the teacher reveals that the quotes are all from one character. The students then discuss how this information changes their beliefs about the character, and makes some predictions about the book. This strategy would work well for Abel’s island because so much of the story focuses on Abel when he is on his own, and because Abel undergoes a great deal of character growth. Character Quotes could help the students notice the changes Abel undergoes during his time on the island.


Brave Irene

Bibliographic Information: Steig, W. (1986). Brave Irene. New York,Straus, Giroux.

Brief Annotation: Brave Irene, in an effort to help her mother, treks through a nasty snow storm in order to bring the duchess a gown. For taking on such a selfless deed, no matter how difficult it may have been, Irene is given much praise and thanks for her generosity.

Genre: Fiction

Grade Level: K-2nd Grade

Readers who will like this: Children who enjoy stories of courage, children who enjoy stories about heroes, children who enjoy solving problems and challenging situations.

Rating/Response: 4; I really loved reading this story. Although it is a simple book, I think that the selflessness Brave Irene shows is a quality that all children should learn and possess. This book shows children the importance of helping others without expecting a reward, and would be a great book to start the year off will. I think that with guidance, children would have an easy time making the connection between this book and classroom expectation around respect and generosity. This, in my opinion, was a good read.

One question you would ask before a read aloud: When is the last time you did something nice for someone and did not expect anything in return? What are our classroom rules about helping others?


Sylvester and the Magic Pebble

Bibliographic Information: Steig, W. (1969). Sylvester and the magic pebble. New York: Simon & Schuster.

Brief Annotation: Sylvester finds a pebble that can grant any wish he wants- but in a moment of danger, he learns the perils of wishing recklessly.

Genre: Fantasy (Animal)

Grade Level: Kindergarten-2nd Grade

Readers who will like this: Children who like animal stories; children who like stories about magic

Rating/Response: 2; While there were many delightful aspects to this book, Sylvester’s long absence from his parents could be distressing for children, particularly if there are stories about abducted or missing children on the news at the time of reading. While Sylvester’s wish can be seen as a lesson in being careful what you wish for, it could be interpreted by children as “making a mistake means that you will be separated from your family.” There is also a hint of victim blaming, since Sylvester is portrayed as the responsible party for his long absence even though he was only trying to protect himself from a predator.

One question you would ask before a read aloud: When do you make wishes? What do you like to wish for?