Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Thank You, Miss Doover

Pulver, R. (2010). Thank You, Miss Doover. New York: Holiday House. 

Thank You, Miss Doover is about Jack who is trying to write a thank you note to his great aunt, and his teacher, Miss Doover, (get it? do over?) who is trying to teach the class how to write a thank you note correctly.

Even though this book would make a good introduction into writing thank you notes, I think any teacher of writing would appreciate it more than students at how frustrating it can be when teaching  the mechanics associated with letter writing. The end result as seen on the last few pages say it all for any teacher.

Emotions seen on the faces of the teacher are priceless! I would suggest this book to be read by any teacher after tackling a class of writing. It definitely would bring a smile after a frustrating day.

Be sure to check out Robin Pulver's website:

Children's Chapter and Picture Books July/August

Chapter books

    One Crazy Summer By Rita Williams-Garcia
Mudshark by Gary Paulsen
Twilight by Stephenie Meyers

The Hunger Games (Hunger Games Series #1)
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler
The Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler
by E. L. Konigsburg

The Giver
The Giver by Lois Lowry
Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe Read-Aloud Edition
The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis

Ninth Ward
Ninth Ward by Jewell Parker Rhodes
Holes by Louis Sachar

Number the Stars
Number the Stars by Lois Lowry

Where the Sidewalk Ends 30th Anniversary Special Edition: Poems and Drawings
Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein

The Witch Of Blackbird Pond (Turtleback School & Library Binding Edition)
The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare

Charlotte's Web
Charlotte's Web by E.

Dinosaurs Before Dark (Magic Tree House Series #1)Blizzard of the Blue Moon (Magic Tree House Series #36)
Magic Tree House series by Mary Pope Osborne
Book 1 and Book 36
Little Women
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

Product Details
Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing by Judy Blume
Picture books

Olé Flamenco!
Ole Flamenco by George Ancona
The Uglified Ducky: A Maynard Moose Tale
The Uglified Ducky by Willy Claflin

Surfer of the Century: The Life of Duke Kahanamoku
Surfer of the Century by Ellie Crowe

Sparrow Girl
Sparrow Girl by Sara Pennypacker

Tree Is Nice
A Tree is Nice by Janice May Udry

Interrupting Chicken
Interruping Chicken by David Ezra Stein

Always Room for One More
Always Room for One More by Sorche Nic Leodhas

Back of the Bus
Back of the Bus by Aaron Reynolds

Shadow by Suzy Lee
Mirror Mirror: A Book of Reversible Verse
Mirror, Mirror by Marilyn Singer

Dave the Potter: Artist, Poet, Slave
Dave the Potter by Laban Carrick Hill
Grandma's Gift
Grandma's Gift by Eric Velasquez

A Sick Day for Amos McGee
A Sick Day for Amos McGee by Philip C. Stead

The Polar Express
Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg

Magic Tree House

Magic Tree House series
Osborne, M. (1992). Dinosaurs before dark. New York: Scholastic.
                        (2006). Blizzard of the blue moon. New York: Random.

Awards: New York Times Bestseller

Dinosaurs Before Dark (Magic Tree House Series #1)Blizzard of the Blue Moon (Magic Tree House Series #36)

Having many of The Magic Tree House books in my classroom, and I’m afraid to admit, having read none of them I decided it was time to see why this series was, in its entirety, listed on the New York Times bestseller list. I read the first book and then, through a suggestion, the thirty-sixth book. I found the first book a rather easy-to-read book suited for first grade readers. If it had been the only one I would have been disappointed, as the plot was not something that I would say is a bestseller. But it is the first of the series and did a good job of introducing the characters and putting in place the setting for many books to come. Then I read book number 36 in the series and was pleasantly surprised at how the writing had changed to be a little more in-depth and of higher level. These two books reminded me of the series I had read and enjoyed as a child—Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys mysteries. I can see now why many of my students last year read one right after another as after reading the mystery that Jack and Annie had to discover in book 36, I wouldn’t mind going back and reading the books from the very start.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing

Blume, J. (1972). Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing. New York: Puffin.

Awards: Nine Children’s Choice Awards 1975–1982; on the Challenged Book list.

Product Details

This was the first time I had read Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing, even though I had seen it on library shelves for many years. I found it to be an enjoyable book and could definitely empathize with Peter as he was being bothered by his younger brother, Fudge. Like Peter I was the oldest, but I had three siblings instead of one, that tended to make life a little bit of an adventure. The antics of Fudge made for a fun read, and made me want to read more of the series to see what type of individual Fudge would grow into. However, there were moments when I was a little irritated with Peter’s parents at not maintaining Fudge’s antics, guess I was too much into the book to realize it was just a story. This book was listed as being on the challenged book list, something that I wasn’t sure why until I found an article in School Library Journal that stated a mother wanted it banned because “it included a scene with a dead turtle.” (Whelan, 2009) That made absolutely no sense to me. I could see the book possibly getting challenged due to Fudge’s behavior, but the death of a turtle (yes, he was swallowed by Fudge) was something I was puzzled by, as it was the death, not how the turtle died that was being challenged. Go figure.

Dirty Little Secret. (2009). Debra Lau Whelan. School Library Journal. Retrieved on 2 August 2011 from

Little Women

Alcott, L. (1868). Little Women. Boston: Roberts Brothers.

On the Challenged book list

Little Women

Like most women my age, when they were younger they read Little Women and most likely, Little Men. I not only read it, I still have the copy that I was given when I first read it in elementary school. So with that thought, I decided to revisit an old friend. Even though many years have passed, age has not diminished the enjoyment I remembered of learning about all of the March sisters and their blessings and burdens. I still cried when Beth died, even though I knew it was coming, and rejoiced when Jo found her soul mate in the Professor. Little Women, like Charlotte’s Web is an endearing classic that helps readers relate to themes that are familiar to them such as friendship and family. So with these thoughts, I was curious as to why Little Women was on the challenged list of books. I discovered that some feminist groups thought the book “diminished young women, played-up the “weaker sex” mentality and failed to empower girls to sculpt their dreams”. (Morton, 2004) I find it incredible that someone would find that element in this book as Jo struck out on her own during a time when women had no vote and were thought of as property. Thank goodness the book has survived and is still around to be enjoyed despite those who think otherwise.

A Woman’s Place. (2004).  Donna Morton. The Christian Woman. Retrieved 2 July 2011, from 

Charlotte's Web

White, E. B. (1952). Charlotte’s Web. New York: HarperCollins.

Awards: Newbery, 1953; Laura Ingalls Wilder Medal, 1970; Massachusetts Children’s Book Award, 1984.

Charlotte's Web

Charlotte’s Web is an all around classic children’s novel that even adults enjoy. The story of friendship and sacrifice are themes that are seen through Wilbur, Charlotte, and the animals on the farm. Without being didactic children seem to understand the importance of what constitutes true friendship. I remember reading this in elementary school and then reading it again to my children. After many years of not visiting the Zuckerman farm, it was a delight to reread Charlotte’s Web. Having been brought up with farm animals, and now being without them for the last nine years, it was a sweet reminder to me of how dear farm animals can really be and how much they can teach you about life and living.

The Witch of Blackbird Pond

Speare, E. (1958). Witch of Blackbird Pond. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.

Awards: Newbery, 1959; ALA Notable Children's Book.

As a young reader I always enjoyed reading historical fiction books and The Witch of Blackbird Pond was no exception. Reading it again I experienced the same enjoyment I remember when I had last read it over thirty years ago. The characterization of Kit and the details of her surroundings brought the book to life for me. Another reason I had wanted to read it again, as it seems to be one book that is not widely read by students in the schools where I've taught. I wanted to see why. The long paragraphs of detail were interesting to me and needed to build a foundation for the plot, but to young readers in this age of technology they may be too cumbersome. It is a shame as The Witch of Blackbird Pond is a good book to introduce the Salem witch hunts and the foibles of human nature and society when reason takes a back seat.