The Hundred Dresses

Title: The Hundred Dresses -Newberry Honor Book

Bibliography: Estes, E. (2004). The Hundred Dresses. New York: Scholastic Press.

Short Annotation: Wanda wears the same faded blue dress every day to school, although she claims to have 100 more beautiful dresses. None of the girls in her class believe her and all begin to tease her. Although going along with the teasing, a girl named Maddie in the class knows it’s wrong but can’t come up with the courage to speak up for Wanda. Soon enough, Wanda is pulled from the class and all of the girls realize they were wrong in teasing their classmate and Maddie decides to from then on, speak up rather than say nothing.

Genre: Fiction

Grade Level: K-4

Readers who will like this book: Children who deal with bullying

Personal response and rating: I have always wanted to read this book and I’m glad I finally got the chance. In my opinion, it brought up a subject of bullying which will always be relevant. I thought the not-so-happy ending was very effective, in the sense that being mean is something you will regret and may not be able to take back, although I thought it was a little depressing too. Rating: 3

Question: What does a bully do? How do you think you’d feel if you were being bullied?

Reading Strategy Connection:

a. Reading strategy: Quick Writes

b: This strategy involves letting students explore a topic by responding to a specific question.

c: I think this strategy would work with this book because students could be prompted to answer how they would feel if they were being bullied and possibly give a scenario when they saw something happening that they felt was wrong and either spoke up or didn’t and wish they would have.


Niño Wrestles the World

Bibliographic Information: Morales, Y. (2013). Niño wrestles the world. New York, NY: Roaring Brook Press

Brief Annotation: This delightful book chronicles the many epic battles of Niño. This book incorporates words and phrases in both English and Spanish, as well as an excellent array of onomatopoeia, making it particularly accessible for English learners with a Spanish language background.

Genre: Contemporary Realistic Fiction/Fantasy

Grade Level: PreK-3

Readers who will like this: Readers who enjoy lucha libre (Mexican wrestling); readers who enjoy stories with action and adventure; readers who enjoy humor.

Rating/Response: 5; When I heard about this book at the Booked for the Evening event, I knew I had to read it. I adored it! The illustrations are beautiful and vibrant. I loved the combination of English and Spanish words, along with the comic-book style onomatopoeia. What I loved most, however, was Niño. Niño is exciting, relatable, and imaginative. His battles with the Guanajuato Mummy, Chamuco, and La Llorona (who is quickly becoming one of my favorite folktale characters) are all solved with Niño’s wit and creativity. The conclusion was surprising, and an excellent illustration of familial love. I adored this book, and am excited to read more of Ms. Morales’ work.

One question you would ask before a read aloud: Who (or what) do you pretend to be when you are playing make-believe?

Reading Strategy: Internet Investigations (Yopp & Yopp, 2010, p. 121)

In internet investigations, readers use the internet to research some unfamiliar terms or concepts presented in a book, with teacher guidance. The class brainstorms a list of questions they have related to the text, and with teacher guidance, generate search terms to use. Students are then encouraged to research the answers to the questions individually or in small groups, using the search terms the class generated. This would be an excellent strategy to use with Niño Wrestles the World, because of the number of concepts and characters presented that many children may by unfamiliar with or would be interested in learning more about (such as La Llorona and lucha libre).


Amelia Rules!

Title: Amelia Rules! By Jimmy Gownley


Bibliography: Gownley, J. (2006). Amelia rules: The whole world’s crazy. New York, New York: Antheneum Books for Young Readers.


Annotation: Amelia is an energetic fourth grade girl. She and her mother just moved in with her former rock star Aunt Tanner because her parents got divorced. This story accurately captures the rollercoaster ride of being somewhere between childhood and adolescents as exhibited by Amelia’s tomboy and yet girlie preteen personality. Accompanied by her eccentric friends, Reggie, Pajamaman, and Rhonda, she takes on the world and finds that she has a lot more control over her life than she though.


Genre: Contemporary Realistic Fiction  


Grade Level: 4-7


Readers who will like this book: This graphic novel may intrigue your typically reluctant readers as the animated illustrations and format make Amelia rules: The Whole World’s Crazy a quick read! Graphic novels may also appeal to struggling and beginning readers because the overflow of images may make deciphering the story a bit easier.


Personal Response and rating: 4; I instantly fell in love with Amelia, never afraid to speak her mind; watching her character develop throughout the story was amazing. My ability to relate, when recalling on my adolescents also made this story a fun read, I often caught myself thinking, “Oh yeah! That was a BIG deal in fourth grade!” Despite a difficult adjustment to the format, it was great.


Question: What might be some difficulties you might have after moving cities? What challenges do “new kids” face?


Reading Strategy:

a.) Double Entry Journals   

b.) Instruct the students to write down quotes in one column and make connections to the quotes in the other column.

c.) Using the ‘double entry journals’ reading strategy for Amelia rules: The Whole World’s Crazy allows students an opportunity to work on his or her comprehension and writing skills as well as a great summative assessment for teachers to use. It works because students can make connections to contemporary realistic fiction. 


Peppe the Lamplighter

Title: Peppe the Lamplighter by Elisa Bartone


Bibliography: Bartone, E. (1993). Peppe the lamplighter. New York, New York: Lothrop, Lee & Shepard Books.


Annotation: Peppe lived in Italy, before there was electricity. His father was ill, his mother was dead, and had eight sisters. They all lived with his uncle and Peppe wanted to help support his family so he looked for work. The butcher, the bartender, and the candy maker all turned him away. Through the grapevine, the town’s lamplighter heard that Peppe was looking for a job. He asked Peppe if he would light the town’s lamps while he was away fetching his wife. Peppe was thrilled! After disagreements with his family, one night, Peppe did not light the streetlamps and one of his sisters was lost in the darkness of the town. Once Peppe learns this, he rushes to light all of the lamps and finds his sister!


Genre: Realistic Fiction


Grade Level: 2-4


Readers who will like this book: Peppe the Lamplighter would be a great tool for teachers to use for teaching about the importance of jobs that keep a society running, as well as a great way to show students what life was like before electricity and the technology we have today!


Personal Response and rating: 4; I felt that this book’s message that no part is small was fabulously exhibited. Peppe’s struggle between helping his family financially and keeping them happy is an unfortunate reality in today’s world, so I really appreciated the cultural relevancy it provided as well as the historical context.


Question: Before electricity, do you think a lamplighter’s job was important to a community?


Reading Strategy:

a.) Quickwrites

b.) Instruct the students to complete a ‘quickwrite’ summarizing the moral of the story. What did Peppe and the rest of the town learn?

c.) Using the ‘quickwrite’  reading strategy, the teacher can evaluate the students’ comprehension of the story as well as addressing writing and content area.


Owl Moon

Title: Owl Moon by Jane Yolen


Bibliography: Yolen, J. (1987). Owl moon. New York: New York: Philomel Books.


Annotation: Owl Moon is a story about a young girl and her father, who share a whimsical adventure late on a cold winter night. The young girl is finally old enough to go owling, but she must keep quiet if she wants to accompany her father as he imitates an owls’ “whoo-whoo-who-who-who-whoooooooo” as they trudge through the forest. Suddenly, they hear rustling in the trees and the father flashes his light right at a huge owl. In that moment, time froze, as they stared at in amazement at the owl’s beauty and grandeur.


Genre: Realistic Fiction


Grade Level: 1-3


Readers who will like this book: This book highlights a loving father-daughter relationship as well as exhibiting characteristics of growing up, and may be appealing to young girls and boys alike for both reasons. The illustrations also reminded me quite a bit of Minnesota during the winter and that may attract young readers as well because it makes the book relevant to things they know.


Personal Response and rating: 5; Owl Moon was an instant favorite. As I am extremely close to my father, and he practically lives outside, most of our time spent together is outside in Northern Minnesota; this book brought back many found memories of my childhood. This book also brought up a strong feeling of nostalgia for me; I wish I had more time to spend exploring the world with my father, like the young girl in the book.


Question: What other animals might you see in a forest? Why must the ‘owling’ be done at night? How would you react if you saw a giant owl staring at you?


Reading Strategy:

a.) Choral Reading

b.) Instruct the students to repeat each line of the story, after the teacher reads it aloud.

c.) Using the reading choral strategy addresses oral language, fluency, comprehension as well as supporting English language learners. It applies nicely to Owl Moon because it is written in stanzas and will emphasize the overall mood of the story.


King Midas and the Golden Touch

Title: King Midas and the Golden Touch


Bibliography: King Midas and the Golden Touch. (1964). New York, New York: Platt & Munk Publishers.


Annotation: King Midas was an extremely rich king and had an extremely beautiful daughter named Marygold and yet, he was greedy for more. A stranger passing through King Midas’ kingdom saw how much gold the king had but King Midas explained that he did not have as much wealth as he wanted. The stranger said that King Midas’ wish of an even greater wealth would be granted to him when he awoke the next morning. Once the king woke up, he quickly realized that everything he touched turned to gold. Unfortunately, he forgets this when his daughter runs towards him! Marygold turns to gold but the same stranger that granted him the gift of a golden touched advised him to fetch water from the river and pour it over his daughter’s golden statue, and she came back to life! King Midas no longer spent his days counting money on his throne but rather playing in the garden with his daughter.


Genre: Fable


Grade Level: K-3


Readers who will like this book: Young readers who enjoy a story with a valuable lesson learned will love this book! Despite its rather unhappy ending for King Midas, the strong moral lesson prevails and leaves the reader satisfied.


Personal Response and rating: 5; the overall message of this story is concrete: be grateful for what have because the grass is not always greener on the other side and for that I think this classic story belongs in all libraries!


Question: (Intended for post reading) What lesson did King Midas learn? What could he have done differently to save his daughter from becoming a gold statue?


Reading Strategy:

a.) Reader Theatre 

b.) Put students into small groups and have them work together to create a dramatic performance of the text.  

c.) The ‘reader theatre’ reading strategy is a great fit for the story of King Midas and the Golden Touch because it addresses comprehension in a fun and interactive way. 


The Red Thread: An Adoption Fairy Tale

Bibliographic Information: Lin, G. (2007). The red thread: An adoption fairy tale. Morton Grove, IL: Albert Whitman & Company.

Brief Annotation: The king and queen are struck with a sudden pain in their hearts that nothing can cure, until a peddler reveals that there is a red thread leading out of their hearts. They make a journey to discover where the red thread leads, and their lives are changed forever.

Genre: Fantasy/Contemporary Realistic Fiction

Grade Level: PreK-3

Readers who will like this: Readers who enjoy fairy tales; readers who are adopted; readers who enjoy stories about families.

Rating/Response: 4.5; I am a bit of a weeper, and this book definitely resulted in tears. The reveal at the end that it was a baby holding the red threads that were connected to the king and the queen’s hearts was the most beautiful metaphor for adoption that I’ve ever read. The story was framed by a young Chinese-American girl asking her parents to tell her her favorite story again, providing students with a direct correlation to transnational adoption. The only thing I didn’t love about this book was the illustrations, which I found to be sub par compared to the text.

One question you would ask before a read aloud: This story is about a king and a queen. What other stories do you know that start with a kind and a queen? As the king and queen are on their journey: What do you think the king and the queen are going to find? Turn to your neighbor and make a prediction. After the read aloud: Was your prediction correct?

Reading Strategy: Feelings Chart (Yopp & Yopp, p. 87-89)

To make a feelings chart, teachers write events in a book on the left side of the chart, and the characters along the top of the chart. As the read aloud (or read along, depending on the grade of the students) progresses, students are asked to pause, write what one or more character is feeling, and place that feeling on the appropriate place on the chart. This helps students analyze a character’s reactions to an event, as well as developing the skills of comparing and contrasting. This strategy would work well for The Red Thread, as the attitudes and beliefs of the king and queen changes as they make their journey.


How Anansi Obtained the Sky God’s Stories

Title: How Anansi Obtained the Sky God’s Stories, from the Ashanti Tribe


Bibliography: How anansi obtained the sky god’s stories. (1991). Chicago, Illinois: Childrens Press.


Annotation: This exquisite wordless picture book vividly tells us the story of how a witty spider obtains the sky god’s pouch of stories. First the spider tries to prove himself by tricking a bee, then a snake, and even a leopard. Finally, the sky god feels that the spider has proven its worthiness and shares the many stories with the spider. But then, the sky god realizes that the stories are too valuable for only the gods and the spider to know! The sky god takes a deep breath and blows the stories across the villages below.


Genre: Myth


Grade Level: K-3


Readers who will like this book: This Ashanti myth of how their people’s stories were spread will peek the interests of anyone interested in one version of how things came to be. This book is especially interesting as it is a myth that explains how myths in general are spread for this culture.


Personal Response and rating: 5; this wordless picture book leaves room for some interpretation but the illustrations carry a strong message, leaving the reader enlightened by this culture’s explanation of how myths and stories are spread around the world.


Question: Have you ever wondered where stories come from? Are there any myths in your family?


Reading Strategy:

a.) Story Retelling 

b.) Instruct the students to retell the story, How Anansi Obtained the Sky God’s Stories using his or her own words.

c.) Almost identical to conducting a ‘Literary Lab Memo’, this is a great way to assess comprehension; retelling the story of this wordless picture book assesses the student’s comprehension of the content exhibited by the illustrations. 


Love is a Family

Bibliographic Information: Downey, R. (2001). Love is a family. New York, NY: HarperCollins.

Brief Annotation: Lily is nervous for Family Fun Night at school. Her family isn’t like her friend Melissa’s- it’s just Lily and her mom. Lily reluctantly attends Family Fun Night with her mom, and learns that a family isn’t defined by its size, but by the love that holds the family members together.

Genre: Contemporary Realistic Fiction

Grade Level: PreK-4

Readers who will like this: Readers who are children of single parents; readers who are interested in family dynamics; readers who enjoy stories with messages of acceptance.

Rating/Response: 4.5; There are so many positive aspects of this book. Lily is a relatable and believable character, and her relationship with her mother is both loving and conflicted. Lily’s fears are expressed and resolved respectfully. The families portrayed at Family Fun Night include other single mothers, single fathers, children with stepparents, children who have been adopted, and children who live with grandparents, hitting a wide variety of family structures. The closing message is lovely and heartfelt. The only thing I would change about this book would be to correct the glaring omission of a family with LGBT parents.

One question you would ask before a read aloud: No two families are exactly the same. What do you think makes a family a family?

Reading Strategy: Quickwrites (Yopp & Yopp, p. 51-52)

In a quickwrite, students are given a prompt before a read aloud or lecture, and asked two write their response to the prompt in a journal or on a piece of paper. This introduces students to the topic about to be discussed. It can also serve as a form of pre- or formative assessment for the teacher. A quickwrite would work well for Love is a Family, as the students could record their definitions about what makes a family prior to and after reading or being read the text. This could help students identify ways in which they did or didn’t change.


The Egyptian Cinderella

Title: The Egyptian Cinderella by Shirley Climo

Bibliography: Climo, S. (1989) The Egyptian Cinderella. New York, New York: Harper Collins Publishers.

Annotation: As a baby, Rhodopis was stolen from her home in Greece and sold as a slave in Egypt. The servant girls teased her, for she looked very different from them, and she was a slave. One day her master saw her dancing in the garden with her animal friends and declared that she would no longer go barefoot. The servant girls continued to tease her, saying that she could not sail to Memphis to see the Pharaoh because she had chores to do. While washing linens, a falcon, the symbol of the God Horus, grasped one of her slippers and flew away. Meanwhile, in Memphis, the Pharaoh grew bored until the falcon dropped the slipper into his lap. The Pharaoh took this act as a sign from the gods that he should marry the maiden whose feet fit this slipper. The Pharaoh journeyed to distant cities in search of his bride, finally Rhodopis was able to try on the slipper and the Pharaoh declared her the most Egyptian of all for her eyes were as green as the Nile, her hair as feathery as papyrus, and her skin as pink as a lotus flower.

Genre: Folktale

Grade Level: 1-4

Readers who will like this book: Young readers interested in ancient Egyptian culture and how it may influence folktales will love this book! It also teaches the reader the valuable lesson that diversity should be celebrated, not pushed under the rug.

Personal Response and rating: 5; this book, while capturing a fabulous version of Cinderella, also promotes embracing diversity. The Egyptian Cinderella is a symbol of loving yourself for who you are and not changing to fit in.

Question: What might be different about an Egyptian Cinderella, compared to the Cinderella(s) we have discussed before?

Reading Strategy:

a.) Story Board

b.) Storyboards are a sequence of cards on which the illustrations from The Egyptian Cinderella have been attached. Ask the students to create a timeline of events from the illustrations.

c.) Using a storyboard for this book will help the teacher evaluate the comprehension of the students pertaining to the book. If being used in a unit on comparing different versions of Cinderella stories, this would be a great first lesson, a great foundation for scaffolding.