Nonfiction Books – What To Do About Alice?

What To Do About Alice? 

Bibliography

Kerley, Barbara. 2008. WHAT TO DO ABOUT ALICE? HOW ALICE ROOSEVELT BROKE THE RULES, CHARMED THE WORLD, AND DROVE HER FATHER TEDDY CRAZY! Illus. by Edwin Fotheringham. New York: Scholastic Press. ISBN 9780439922319.

Plot Summary

Theodore Roosevelt has a small problem – his energetic, adventurous, determined daughter, Alice Lee Roosevelt. Alice’s mother died just two days after she is born, which makes everyone sad, except Alice. She wants to “eat up the world” and this delightful biography shows Alice doing just that throughout her life. Alice entertains visitors to the White House with her pet snake, travels the world, and sees every opportunity as an adventure.

Critical Analysis

Through the story and illustrations Kerley and Fotheringham depict Alice Lee Roosevelt’s energetic and bold approach to life. Whether demanding piggyback rides down the stairs from her father, or teaching herself “astronomy, geology, even Greek grammar” in her father’s library, Alice is a girl who knows what she wants. Readers may not be surprised at Alice’s adventurous ways when they read about her father “herding thousands of cattle across the Dakota badlands” and “leading the Rough Riders as they charged up Kettle Hill.”

Alice didn’t want to be known as “the poor little thing” when her mother died, or when she had to wear braces on her legs for a time. Kerley’s spirited words match Fotheringham’s delightful illustrations throughout Alice’s adventures from bouncing on the couch as a young girl to joining a delegation touring Asia as a young woman.

Fotheringham makes his book debut with this colorful portrayal of Alice Lee Roosevelt’s life. Using digital media and soothing colors, the action moves up, down, and around the large format pages with staircases, railroad tracks, bicycles, and cruise ships. Fotheringham’s bold illustrations successfully convey an energetic young Alice as she bounces on a couch, leads her siblings bounding down the stairs, and rides through town in her runabout. Fotheringham uses Alice blue throughout his illustrations, a color created to “match the color of her blue-gray eyes.” While the action is non-stop the illustrations also show the clothing, architectural, and even newspaper style of the time.

Award winning author, Barbara Kerley includes author’s notes and a list of sources in the back of the book, and shares an excerpt of a letter from the president to his daughter praising her help during a goodwill tour of Puerto Rico. Young readers will be fascinated reading about this exuberant daughter of a famous father.

Review Excerpts

PUBLISHERS WEEKLY starred review: “It’s hard to imagine a picture book biography that could better suit its subject than this high-energy volume serves young Alice Roosevelt. Kerley knows just how to introduce her to contemporary readers.”

SCHOOL LIBRARY JOURNAL starred review: “This book provides a fascinating glimpse into both a bygone era and one of its more interesting denizens as well as a surefire antidote for any child who thinks that historical figures are boring.”

Awards

ALA Notable Book

Sibert Honor Book

Best Books of the Year – Publishers Weekly

Best Books of the Year – School Library Journal

Best Books of the Year – Kirkus Reviews

Connections

  • Art Activity – Alice Roosevelt even had a color named after her, Alice Blue, that matched the color of her eyes. Using colored pencils or paints, create a color that personifies YOU and include the color in a self-portrait.
  • Language Arts – Visit the author’s Web Site, www.barbarakerley.com. Use her resources “Writing an Extraordinary Biography (According to Barbara Kerley) to help students write a biography about someone interesting in their family.
  • History – Have students work in groups to research more about President Theodore Roosevelt. Use the facts to create a newspaper article in the style included in the book.
  • Read other extraordinary biographies by Barbara Kerley: Walt Whitman: Words for America, and The Extraordinary Mark Twain (According to Susy).
  • Explore other books that depict growing up in the White House including First Kids: The True Story of All the President’s Children
  • By Noah McCullough, and First Children: Growing Up in the White House by Katherine Leiner.

Image from http://www.barbarakerley.com

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Nonfiction Books – Living Color

 

 

 


 

Living Color

 

Bibliography

Jenkins, Steve. 2007. LIVING COLOR. Boston: Houghton Mifflin. ISBN 9780618708970.

Plot Summary

 

Steve Jenkins uses every color of the rainbow in this beautiful book to teach children just why animals are different colors, and how they use their distinct color to survive in the animal world. This informational book is organized by color with bold, detailed illustrations answering children’s questions about dozens of animals. Readers can turn to the back of the book to read more detailed facts about each animal.

 

Critical Analysis

This is a gem of a book from award-winning author and illustrator Steve Jenkins, which invites children to explore and learn with each page. Jenkins begins the large format book with a two-page spread of a red frog’s eye’s encouraging children to look with their own eyes at the fascinating animal facts throughout the book. The white background of each page helps the brightly hued illustrations pop off the page.

 

Red can mean, “feed me” to a baby crow, or “stay away from me” to a Malaysian cherry-red centipede. The captions alongside each animal invite the reader to learn more. Of the leafy sea dragon, it says, “Look again…” and children are eager to know more about this oddly shaped green animal. Jenkins draws the reader in with cut-paper collage illustrations of animals in striking hues of red, blue, yellow, green, orange purple and pink. Jenkin’s descriptions explain just why each animal has that particular color, like how the bright yellow color of the deadly eyelash viper “warns other animals that it is armed and dangerous.”

Living Color is beautifully organized with large and small animals described in each of the color families. The book includes a section for readers to learn “More about animal color…” including “why mammals are so drab?” At the back of the book there is a thumbnail illustrations of every animal in the book including name, length, habitat, diet, and even more interesting facts. The colorful illustrations will draw readers in and the fascinating facts will leave them curious to learn more.

 

Review Excerpts

BOOKLIST: “It’s difficult to imagine a science topic better suited to picture-book form than this one, which offers a pageant of the most stunning, vividly hued creatures on the planet.

PUBLISHERS WEEKLY starred review: “Jenkins once again astounds…the combination of easy-to-understand language and gorgeous illustrations makes this a prime choice for any young animal enthusiast’s collection.”

 

Awards

 

Booklist Editor’s Choice

Publishers Weekly Best Books of 2007

 

2008 Orbis Pictus Recommended Books

 

New York Public Library 100 Titles for Reading and Sharing

 

Connections

 

  • Visit the author’s Web Site, www.stevejenkins.com and share with students the gallery of artwork that young artists have shared. Encourage students to write to the author and send their own original creations.
  • Have students work in small groups, choose a few animals from the book research the animals and share what they learn with the class.
  • Ask each child to choose an animal to learn about. Make a collage of  that animal and include interesting facts from research.
  • Visit the Web Site Animal Corner at http://www.animalcorner.co.uk/ to learn more about animal color.

 

Image from Houghton Mifflin Books


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Poetry – what my mother doesn’t know

what my mother doesn’t know

Bibliography

Sones, Sonya. 2001. WHAT MY MOTHER DOESN’T KNOW. New York: Simon and Schuster Children’s Publishing. ISBN 0689841140

Plot Summary

Sophie is a typical teenage girl who is interested in boys, girlfriends, boys, and every so often, her bickering parents. This novel in verse gives us a glimpse into almost-fifteen year-old Sophie’s life as she deals with first, second, and third love, school, friends, and a mother who isn’t quite ready for her daughter to grow up. The poems easily flow one into another throughout the book as Sophie discovers what’s really important in life and love.

Critical Analysis

Award winning author Sonya Sones weaves the themes of friendship, teen love, and growing up into this fast paced novel in verse. Told from Sophie’s point of view, the poems tell the story of creative, bright, funny Sophie finding love, then losing love, then finding and losing it again, and finally finding it in the place she least suspected. Teen girls will easily relate to much of the angst Sophie feels throughout the book, and which Sones so aptly captures “It’s not like I’m boy crazy. / It’s just that even though / I’m almost fifteen / it’s like / my mind / and my body / and my heart / just don’t seem to be able to agree / on anything.”

The rhythm of this novel in verse will especially resonate with reluctant readers, but teen girls of all ages will be drawn to the honest and insightful descriptions of growing up. When Sophie finds love the third time with the boy who seems to be just-right, Sones shares her delight in the perfect language of Winter Kiss, our cheeks / burning with the cold / the tips of our noses / numb / our icicled lips / bump clumsily / then suddenly / melt together / warming us better / than any cup of steaming cocoa every could.

Readers will have fun discovering the author’s bonus of a mini flip-book toward the end of the book, where she draws the characters from the Impressionist painting, Le Bal a Bougival, moving closer and closer to a kiss, just like Sophie and her true love.

Review Excerpt(s)

KIRKUS REVIEWS starred review: “A verse experience that will leave readers sighing with recognition and satisfaction.”

SCHOOL LIBRARY JOURNAL starred review: “Sones’s book makes these often-difficult years a little more livable by making them real, normal, and OK.”

Awards

ALA Best Books for Young Adults

ALA Top Ten Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers

Booklist Editors’ Choice

Connections

  • Encourage students to publish their poems in the school newspaper or literary magazine.
  • Explore the various types of poetry, including narrative verse, and have students write their own poem in each style.
  • Work in collaboration with the school librarian and other English teachers to host an open mic event in the library during National Poetry Month. Invite students to read a favorite poem or an original one. Work with the drama department to create a simple stage with twinkle lights, a fabric or poster paper backdrop and a microphone. Serve snacks, and have students snap their fingers in appreciation at the end of each poem shared.
  • Have students create a writing journal during a poetry unit and designate time to write original poems each day. At the end of the unit, students choose one poem to edit and publish. Encourage students to read their poem aloud to a small group or the class.
  • Explore other books by Sonya Sones including What my Girlfriend Doesn’t Know; and Stop Pretending: What Happened When My Big Sister Went Crazy.

Image from Barnes & Noble

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Poetry – A Dazzling Display of Dogs

A Dazzling Display of Dogs

Bibliography

Franco, Betsy. 2011. A DAZZLING DISPLAY OF DOGS. Ill. by Michael Wertz. Berkeley: Tricycle Press. ISBN 978582463438.

Plot Summary

A collection of thirty-four fun, concrete poems for dog lovers of all ages. A wide assortment of canine companions, from Pugs and Jack Russell Terriers, to Rottweilers and mutts, give us a glimpse into their furry lives. Through the bright, visual illustrations and the variety of poetry styles, Franco and Wertz truly show throughout the book just why dogs deserve the title of Man’s / Woman’s / Child’s Best Friend.

Critical Analysis

The award winning team who wrote A Curious Collection of Cats now bring their talents to the world of dogs in this delightful collection of poems, depicting various aspects of a dog’s life. Betsy Franco uses various forms of poetry throughout the book including haiku, rhyming, and free verse, to capture the fun and frivolity pets can bring to a child’s life. Michael Wertz’s bright, bold illustrations are a colorful complement to the poems.

Children will delight in the joy of bringing home a new dog in the poem Found at the Pound, “She trotted out, came straight to me, became a part of my family.” Emmett’s Ode to his Tennis Ball is an excellent way for teachers to introduce the style of concrete poems used throughout the book. Wertz’s lively illustration shows the profile of a smiling dog, with a ball hanging from his slobbering mouth. The ball is not drawn as a part of the illustration, rather it is formed from the poem’s words .  Any canine companion will appreciate Franco’s rhyming alliteration that begins this poem, “Slobbery, sloppy, slimy sphere – Oh tennis ball, I hold you dear.”

Wertz’s whimsical and whacky illustrations convey the playful nature of the poems and subject matter. He uses vibrant shades of yellow, orange, red, blue, and green in the monoprint collages throughout the book. As a bold font weaves the poems in, out, and around the illustrations, Wertz invites readers to explore the story of each and every dog.

The language used throughout the book will work well in reading the poems aloud. It will be helpful to share the illustrations side by side with one or two children, or using a document camera with a group of listeners, so they can appreciate the intricacies of the illustrations and words together. However it is shared, this book will delight dog lovers young and old, and is sure result in giggles and more slobbery stories to be told.

 Review Excerpt(s)

SCHOOL LIBRARY JOURNAL starred review: “The verses and the book’s design are beautifully matched. Overall, a delight for kids, their adults, and maybe even their beloved canine companions.”

PUBLISHERS WEEKLY review: “Franco and Wertz persuasively convey canine behavior, from devoted companion to inner wolf, as well as the trials and treasured moments familiar to many owners. Dog lovers won’t want to miss this clever, jubilant gem.”

Connections

  • Invite students to work in small groups, or pairs to practice and recite, in two voices, one of the poems: Tigger on his Back, Tigger on his Belly; The Words Waffle Hears; or Letting Gwen In and Out.
  • Use this book and Franco’s other book, A Curious Collection of Cats, to launch a poetry unit during National Poetry Month in April. Read a poem from one the books each day, teaching the various types of poetry – haiku, rhymed poems, and free verse. Then have children create their own concrete poem about a dog or other pet. Copy and bind all the poems for the class at the end of the month, display a copy in the school library.
  • Encourage students to write a poem in the voice of their favorite pet, or stuffed animal, and share it with class.
  • Have student memorize their favorite poem in the book and recite it for the class.
  • For an art lesson connection, have children copy and illustrate a favorite poem from the book as a mobile or poster.

Image from Barnes & Noble

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Poetry – Birmingham, 1963

Birmingham, 1963

Bibliography

Weatherford, Carole Boston. 2006. BIRMINGHAM, 1963. Honesdale: Wordsong. ISBN 9781590784402.

Plot Summary

Birmingham, 1963 is a book of free verse prose that tells the tragic story of the bombing of the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church and the subsequent death of four little girls. Told from the perspective of a fictional ten-year-old African American girl, the book juxtaposes typical childhood images with black and white photos of the heartbreaking event. Carole Boston Weatherford includes a memoriam to each of the girls killed, and gives more details of the event and the prolonged road to justice for the instigators.

Critical Analysis

Carole Boston Weatherford weaves the themes of family, faith, and the Civil Rights struggle throughout this simple book depicting the saddest day in Birmingham’s history. Written from the vantage point of a fictional African American girl, the book begins with “The year I turned ten…” and describe the girl’s participation and observation of the Children’s March, Dr. King’s I Have a Dream speech, leading up to a fateful Sunday. That stanza starts with “The day I turned ten” and depicts special moments in an exciting birthday: “But Mama allowed me my first sip of coffee / And Daddy twirled me around the kitchen / In my patent-leather cha-cha heels.”

The routine beginnings to a significant day in no way prepare the reader for the horror to come when “Someone tucked a bundle of dynamite / Under the church steps, / then lit the fuse of hate.” Weatherford’s use of prose and illustrations move from excitement of a girl’s participation in historic events, to graphic images of the brutality that would forever change the lives of all involved. The words evoke imagery first of hope “While King’s dream woke the nation from a long night of wrongs” then terror “Seconds later, a blast rocked the church. / Smoke clogged my throat, stung my eyes / As I crawled past crumbled plaster, broken glass, / Shredded Bibles and wrecked chairs.”

Historic black and white photos of Civil Rights events provoke feelings of fear, anger and humiliation. At the same time, the images displayed alongside the text are symbols of any little girl growing up in the 1960s: frilly socks, 45 records, and Barbie clothes. The contrast of these illustrations, shown across the page from each other on each spread, depict good versus evil as the tragic events unfold.

Weatherford ends the book with tributes to the four little girls who died in the church bombing: Addie Mae Collins, Cynthia Wesley, Denise McNair, and Carole Robertson. In the final page of the poem, Weatherford writes that Robertson was a girl, “who thought she might want to teach history someday / or at least make her mark on it.” But certainly not in the agonizing way she did.

Review Excerpt(s)

SCHOOL LIBRARY JOURNAL starred review: “An emotional read, made even more accessible and powerful by the viewpoint of the child narrator.”

KIRKUS REVIEWS starred review: “It’s a gorgeous memorial to the four killed on that horrible day, and to the thousands of children who braved violence to help change the world.”

Awards

Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award

Jane Addams Children’s Literature Honor Award, 2008

Jefferson Cup Award, 2008

Connections

  • Share this book with students as a poetry pairing with The Watsons go to Birmingham – 1963 by Christopher Paul Curtis.
  • Social Studies Connection – Research the different Civil Rights events mentioned in the book: the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church bombings in Birmingham; Dr. Martin Luther King’s I Have a Dream speech; the Children’s March, and Rosa Parks.
  • Explore picture books that deal with Civil Rights including Rosa by Nikki Giovanni, I Have a Dream by Martin Luther King, Jr., and Freedom on the Menu: The Greensboro Sit-Ins by Carole Boston Weatherford.
  • Read the book Marching For Freedom: Walk Together Children and Don’t You Grow Weary by Elizabeth Partridge as an example of ways children were involved in the Civil Rights movement. Discuss ways that children can make their voices heard in issues in their community.

Image from Barnes & Noble

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The Three Pigs

The Three Pigs

Bibliography

Wiesner, David. 2001. THE THREE PIGS. New York: Houghton Mifflin. ISBN 0618007016.

Plot Summary

Turning the tables, this whimsical book tells the story from the pig’s perspective. The book begins with the wolf looking down on the first pig building his house out of straw, but when the wolf huffs and puffs the pig exclaims, “Hey! He blew me right out of the story!” Indeed the pig is shown with his two hind hooves still in the story and the rest of him hanging outside the illustrated page. Before we know it the second and third pigs have been blown off the page too, and the story takes on a whole new adventure.

With the pages of the story at their feet they decided to “explore this place.” One of the pages is transformed into a paper airplane and the three pigs take flight, zooming across stark white pages until they crash land. They jump in and out of a Mother Goose rhyme, and a dragon tale, extracting the cat and his fiddle, along with a thankful dragon who exclaims, “Many thanks for rescuing me, O brave and noble swine.” Eventually they discover the pig’s brick house and decide to go home. After reassembling the scattered pages, they literally rewrite the end of the story with the pigs and their new friends happily back on the page of their clever comical story.

Critical Analysis

The cover of this book shows a close up of three pigs with clear eyes, smiling faces, and crisp, clear detail, and the reader knows he is in for a delightful twist on a classic tale. With the turn of each page Wiesner surprises the reader, leaving them wondering what could possibly happen next. Cleverly combining artistic styles and different fonts to travel in and out of the various stories, this award-winning author shows that amazing things are possible, using humor and creativity throughout to tell this tale. While this story offers an ingenious new tale, it also relies on the theme of a traditional tale as the three pigs travel in and out of three stories before creating their own happy ending, overcoming the evil, if clueless wolf.

Review Excerpt(s)

SCHOOL LIBRARY JOURNAL starred review: “Children will delight in the changing perspectives, the effect of the wolf’s folded-paper body, and the whole notion of the interrupted narrative. Witty dialogue and physical comedy abound in this inspired retelling of a familiar favorite.”

BOOKLIST starred review: “Wiesner has created a funny, wildly imaginative tale that encourages readers to leap beyond the familiar; to think critically about conventional stories and illustration, and perhaps, to flex their imaginations and create wonderfully subversive versions of their own stories.”

Awards

Caldecott Medal, 2002.

ALA Notable Children’s Book, 2002

School Library Journal Best Book of the Year, 2001

Publishers Weekly Best Book of the Year, 2001

Connections

  • Use this book and The True Story of the Three Little Pigs by Jon Scieszka to introduce fractured fairy tales. Compare and contrast the two stories.
  • Have children write dialog for the pages where the pigs are flying.
  • Invite children to share ideas of what other characters could have been added to the story and what their impact would be.
  • Use this story to launch retelling other classic tales. Students can work in pairs to write and illustrate their rendition and then share them with the class.

Image from: Amazon

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The Three Little Pigs

The Three Little Pigs

Bibliography

Galdone, Paul. 1970. THE THREE LITTLE PIGS. New York: Houghton Mifflin. ISBN 0899192750.

Plot Summary

This version of the famous tale opens with the mother tearfully sending her three young pigs off to seek their fortune because she has no money to keep them. One pig builds a house of straw, another of sticks, only to have a wolf destroy their homes and devoir each as a tasty treat. When the wolf comes upon the third pig in his brick house, he is expecting another easy meal, but the knowing pig has some tricks of his own. First the fox tries to lure the pig to a turnip field, but the clever pig asks the right questions, and outsmarts his predator. The cunning wolf tries to beguile the pig to follow him to an apple orchard, and then a fair, but each time the creative pig comes up with ways to deceive the wolf.

At this point in the story the wolf is so angry he decides to cast aside distractions and climb down the chimney of the brick house and end things for the pig once and for all. As the wolf is climbing up the chimney, the pig quickly gathers supplies to ensure the wolf will end up as his tasty treat instead. The lone surviving pig lives happily ever after.

Critical Analysis

Using narrative and visual elements Galdone tells his adaptation of this classic tale showing planning and perseverance prevail for the last of these three swine siblings. A shamrock motif on the flysheet and title page foreshadow something lucky happening in this story, which begins with the traditional line “Once upon a time.”  Colorful watercolor illustrations depict the cheerful pigs following their mother’s advice as they seek their fortune. Stalks of straw frame a picture of the first pig, as he puts the finishing touches on his house. But the scene turns from calm to chaos with straw flying everywhere, as the wolf makes good on his promise to “huff and puff and blow your house in” destroying the pig and his happy home.

As each subsequent house becomes sturdier, Galdone’s attention to detail increases. The house made of sticks shows a window framing the face of a worried pig. The brick house is introduced with a picture showing a plumb line and the pig using tools to build his home. For the first time in the story Galdone takes the reader inside the house. We see flowers and fruit on the table, framed family portraits on the wall, and a pig sitting reading a book, when the wolf first appears. Galdone’s drawing of the wolf shows him as big, bad, and mean with expressive yellow eyes, sharp teeth and a bright pink tongue. The contrast between the wolf and the cute, clever pig will make children cheer when he outwits his evil stalker and good triumphs with a happy ending.

Review Excerpt

SCHOOL LIBRARY JOURNAL review: “A very appealing edition of a beloved story.”

Connections

  • Transcribe the scenes from the story on cards, shuffle the cards and discuss story sequence with students.
  • Working in three groups, have students decorate a milk carton house with straw, sticks and paper bricks. Retell the story with these visuals.
  • Encourage older children to rewrite the ending of the story. What happens in their version when the angry wolf climbs down the chimney of the brick house? Have children read their alternate endings aloud to the class or in small groups.
  • Another art activity could involve children making masks of the different characters using paper plates and elastic cord. Have children reenact the story wearing their masks, encouraging the different animals to recite their famous lines.

Image from: Amazon

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