Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Module 15: Uncle Bobby's Wedding

Citation: Brannen, S. S. (2008). Uncle Bobby’s wedding. New York, NY: G. P. Putnam’s Sons.

Summary: Young Chole, loves her Uncle Bobby dearly and always enjoys her time with him but she’s afraid that may all change when he gets married.  Uncle Bobby is marrying his boyfriend Jaime and Chole worries she will not be as special to him.  Will this family of guinea pigs be able to stay close after the wedding? Of course, Uncle Bobby and his new husband still spend time with Chole and she soon discovers that she is still special to her uncle.  She is very happy when he expresses this by asking her to be the flower girl in his wedding.

Impression: Peace, Love and a Warm Read!

It doesn’t matter that the true moral of the story is an introduction to a homosexual couple getting married, because sweet Chole is still special to her uncle and the peaceful and loving feelings shine through. The story gives you that warm feeling because the focus is on family and love.  This makes for a friendly way to introduce homosexuality.

Reviews: When her favorite uncle, Bobby, announces that he is getting married to his boyfriend, Jamie, Chloe worries that he won’t have time for her anymore. The characters are all guinea pigs in human dress, and the sweet, doublepage spreads in watercolor and graphite show the idyllic bond between the child and her uncle, as they walk together in the woods, row on the river, and more. In contrast are the scenes of her sadness and jealousy until she learns to have fun with both Bobby and Jamie together—even as they talk about their plans to raise their own kids. The climax is the joyful, exciting wedding—the couple in tuxedos, Chloe as the flower girl, and the big, extended family all together, smiling and teary. A celebration of same-sex marriage, this is about family happiness. Pair with Justin Richardson’s And Tango Makes Three (2005).

Rochman, H. (2008). Uncle Bobby's wedding. Booklist, 104(9/10), 96.

K-Gr 2-- This is a spare story about Chloe, a young guinea pig who is jealous of her Uncle Bobby's new friend, Jamie; however, that obscures the other main theme, which is that her favorite uncle is going to marry him. Everything happens too abruptly. Readers and Chloe meet him for the first time on the day that Bobby announces, "We're getting married." It seems likely that a special niece would have already met the man her uncle loves enough to wed. Michael Willhoite's Daddy's Wedding (Alyson Wonderland, 1996) introduces same-sex marriage adroitly when a little boy asks one obvious question, "Can men get married to each other?" The boy is reassured with an affirmative response. Chloe neither asks nor gets a direct answer; instead, her mother tells her that people who love each other "want to be married." The watercolor-and-graphite illustrations are sweet and tender. One scene shows Chloe, Uncle Bobby, and Jamie sitting on the floor roasting marshmallows at a fireplace. While the cover shows the two males dressed in formal clothing, the use of animal characters and a name common for both males and females may confuse and delay some children's comprehension. The themes of jealousy and gay relationships are introduced naturally in Pija Lindenbaum's Mini Mia and Her Darling Uncle (Farrar, 2007).

Cutler, K. (2008). Uncle Bobby's wedding. School Library Journal, 54(4), 103.

Use in Library: This book could be used as part of a banned book display during Banned Book Week. Another suggestion would be to include other books in similar content that it can be paired with it: Daddy’s Roommate, Heather has Two Mommies, and And Tango Makes Three.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Module 14: Crank

Citation: Hopkins, E. (2004). Crank. New York, NY: Simon Pulse.

Summary: This verse novel tells the story of Kristina, a perfect daughter who is smart and always does the right thing.  But the problem arises when this high school junior takes a wrong turn in her path in life. On a trip to spend time with her father, she gets introduced to crank through a boy she likes. This wild story is told through Kristina's verses and at times through her alter-ego "Bree".  “Bree” is not afraid to try new things, flirt with disaster and dance with the monster: crank. Now, the monster puts her is difficult situations and leaves her constantly wanting to get high but there are consequences that come along and Kristina is left having to fight her battle of being addicted.

Impression: No Peace, Love & A Teenage Must Read! 
Unfortunately, there was no peaceful feeling while reading this book.  I must admit I do love this book because of the potential it has to inform and sway a teenage mind to stay away from drug and alcohol abuse.  Teenagers are the targeted age group that could get intertwined within the poetic verses and use this as a lesson to take to heart whenever they may be faced with difficult decisions.

Reviews: Gr. 8–12. Like the teenage crack user in the film Traffic, the young addict in this wrenching, cautionary debut lives in a comfortable, advantaged home with caring parents. Sixteen-year-old Kristina first tries crank, or crystal meth, while visiting her long estranged father, a crank junkie. Bree is Kristina’s imagined, bolder self, who flirts outrageously and gets high without remorse, and when Kristina returns to her mother and family in Reno, it’s Bree who makes connections with edgy guys and other crank users that escalate into full blown addiction and heartrending consequences. Hopkins tells Kristina’s story in experimental verse. A few overreaching lines seem out of step with character voices: a boyfriend, for example, tells Kristina that he’d like to wait for sex until she is “free from dreams of yesterday.” But Hopkins uses the spare, fragmented style to powerful effect, heightening the emotional impact of dialogues, inner monologues, and devastating scenes, including a brutal date rape. Readers won’t soon forget smart, sardonic Kristina; her chilling descent into addiction; or the author’s note, which references her own daughter’s struggle with “the monster.”

Engberg, G. (2004). Crank (Book). Booklist, 101(6), 595. 

Gr 8 Up-- Seventeen-year-old Kristina Snow is introduced to crank on a trip to visit her wayward father. Caught up in a fast-paced, frightening, and unfamiliar world, she morphs into "Bree" after she "shakes hands with the monster." Her fearless, risk-taking alter ego grows stronger, "convincing me to be someone I never dreamed I'd want to be." When Kristina goes home, things don't return to normal. Although she tries to reconnect with her mother and her former life as a good student, her drug use soon takes over, leaving her "starving for speed" and for boys who will soon leave her scarred and pregnant. Hopkins writes in free-verse poems that paint painfully sharp images of Kristina/Bree and those around her, detailing how powerful the "monster" can be. The poems are masterpieces of word, shape, and pacing, compelling readers on to the next chapter in Kristina's spiraling world. This is a topical page-turner and a stunning portrayal of a teen's loss of direction and realistically uncertain future.

Jones, T. E., Toth, L., Charnizon, M., Grabarek, D., Larkins, J., & Korbeck, S. (2004). Crank (Book). School Library Journal, 50(11), 145. 

Use in Library: -This book is perfect to recommend to high school students as an individual read.  Of course you should warn the content because it includes some sexual content.  It could also be used with high school students who are walking a thin line between choosing a wrong or right path.  To do so, it is best to offer it to the counselor and possibly collaborate to provide resources that are similar in content. The counselor would have knowledge of which students are in need to such a book.  It could also be used while teaching poetry units to high schoolers.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Module 13: The Truth About Stacey: A Graphic Novel

Citation: Martin, A. M. (2006). The baby-sitters club: The truth about Stacey. New York, NY: Graphix.

Summary: Stacey is fresh from a recent move away from New York and her best friend.  It is before her move that she discovers she has diabetes and her best friend doesn’t fully know about her disease or why she’s sick. Because of this, they part on a strange note and this leaves Stacey apprehensive with sharing her disease with her new friends in her new town.  She is able to make new friends and even become part of a baby-sitting club. Trouble arises when her club suffers some competition from a new baby sitting club that is not of good quality.  Stacey and her friends struggle with finding a way to inform their old, regular customers of the unsafe situations their competition is placing children in. A fast, graphic novel read that using pictures to help tell Stacey’s story.

Impression: Peace and a Girl Read!
I think this graphic novel does a great job of targeting girls' issues. I was surprised at how quickly I was able to read this book and actually it is my first graphic novel I have read.  It is a peaceful read because it has a happy ending with the baby-sitters club outlasting their competition and Stacey being able to mend her friendship with her friend from New York.  Typical girl issues with friendship and competition makes this book a girl friendly read. Sorry, but I cannot say that I truly love this book, although I do feel it is a good one.

Reviews: Gr 5-7Stacey is the new girl in town, She has made three good friends in a babysitters club but her memories of her old friends still haunt her. Many of them, including Her best friend, Laine, ditched her after she was diagnosed with diabetes. Her parents aren't much help; they keep dragging her from doctor to doctor looking for a miracle cure. All Stacey wants to do is manage her condition on her own terms. An impending trip back to New York and a rival babysitting club has Stacey confused and nervous. Will she be able to reconcile with Laine? Will this new group, complete with sitters who can stay up late, end the club for good? The graphic adaptation of the hugely popular series has as much heart as the original. The girls" dedication to the kids they care for and to their friendship never comes off as hokey. The black-and-white cartoons capture each character's personality; the facial expressions say a lot. Each girl has her own style. The outfits have been updated but the skirts haven't gotten shorter. A solid purchase for both school and public libraries.

Mattox, S. (2007). The truth about Stacey. School Library Journal, 53(3), 238.

Use in Library: -This book could be paired with the counselor for him/her to use when completing individual or group sessions with students having problems with friends or having diabetes.  It could also be used with middle school aged girls reading club.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Module 12: Rosa

Citation: Giovanni, N. (2005). Rosa. New York, NY: Henry Holt and Company.

Summary: A book about Rosa Parks and the day that her life was changed.  That momentous day hardworking, seamstress Rosa Parks was on her way home early from work.  While on her bus ride home, she was asked to move to the back of the segregated bus.  After her kind and calm refusal because she was tired of being treated unfairly, she became arrested.  This sparks a movement toward equality and the story tells of how others followed by boycotting the bus systems. It also mentions a young boy named Emmett Till who was "viciously lynched" in which this event, as well as others, lay the beginnings for the movement.

Impression: Peace, Love and a Must Read!
A peaceful and informative read that I did love reading myself because I was able to learn more information about other events that took place around the infamous Rosa Parks incident.  Because I felt that I wanted to learn more about the lesser known events that did occur, I did some more research about young Emmett Till. I'm on the fence about this picture book being considered "user-friendly" with young children, simply because it mentions lynching, but none the less, I would definitely share the book with others. 

Reviews: Gr 3-5-- Rosa Parks's personal story moves quickly into a summary of the Civil Rights movement in this striking picture book. Parks is introduced in idealized terms. She cares for her ill mother and is married to "one of the best barbers in the county." Sewing in an alterations department, "Rosa Parks was the best seamstress. Her needle and thread flew through her hands like the gold spinning from Rumpelstiltskin's loom." Soon the story moves to her famous refusal to give up her seat on the bus, but readers lose sight of her as she waits to be arrested. Giovanni turns to explaining the response of the Women's Political Caucus, which led to the bus boycott in Montgomery. A few events of the movement are interjected-the Supreme Court decision in Brown v. Board of Education, the aftermath and reactions to the murder of Emmett Till, the role of Martin Luther King, Jr., as spokesperson. Collier's watercolor and collage scenes are deeply hued and luminous, incorporating abstract and surreal elements along with the realistic figures. Set on colored pages, these illustrations include an effective double foldout page with the crowd of successful walkers facing a courthouse representing the 1956 Supreme Court verdict against segregation on the buses. Many readers will wonder how it all went for Parks after her arrest, and there are no added notes. Purposeful in its telling, this is a handsome and thought-provoking introduction to these watershed acts of civil disobedience.
Bush, M. (2005). Rosa. School Library Journal, 51(9), 192.
Rosa Parks sat. "She had not sought this moment, but she was ready for it." When she refused to move out of the neutral section of her bus to make way for white passengers, she sparked the Montgomery bus boycott. She was tired of putting white people first. Giovanni's lyrical text and Collier's watercolor-and-collage illustrations combine for a powerful portrayal of a pivotal moment in the civil-rights movement. The art complements and extends the text, with visual references to Emmett Till, the Edmund Pettus Bridge and Martin Luther King, Jr. The yellowish hue of the illustrations represents the Alabama heat, the light emanating from Rosa Parks's face a shining beacon to all who would stand up for what's right. A dramatic foldout mural will make this important work even more memorable. An essential volume for classrooms and libraries. (Picture book. 5+)
Rosa. (2005). Kirkus Reviews, 73(14), 789.

Use in Library: - Everyone is pretty familiar with the name Rosa Parks, but are they clued into some of the details that surround her story? This book would be a great place to start to inform others of how the people were treated unequally and unfairly based on their race or color.  A guest speaker could also be invited into the library to discuss racism and inequalities.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Module 11: Now & Ben: The Modern Inventions of Benjamin Franklin

Citation: Barretta, G. (2006). Now & Ben: The modern inventions of Benjamin Franklin. New York, NY: Henry Holt and Company.

Summary: This informative book will show you the many inventions of the infamous Ben Franklin.  Told in an interesting manner of beautiful illustrations combined with an introduction to some of his inventions on how there were used many years ago and also within the present day.   It is uniquely described within two page spreads of how Ben came up with his ideas for problems, issues or things of his interest and how it affects our world now, thus the title “Now & Ben”.  Many inventions are mentioned like the library, hospital, daylight saving time, bifocals, and the lighting rod are a few of the significant contributions within this book.

Impression: Peace, Love and an Informative Read!
Who would love this book? The illustrations are so eye catching and can maintain little one’s attentions because you just want to stare at every page with great detail.  It also gives that peaceful feeling because you can see where many of the thought for Ben’s inventions began.  It’s quite interesting how many of his inventions came about because they were a common sense way to solve any problem he may have run into. Kids of all ages will appreciate this informative read.

Reviews: Gr 2-5-- A clever, concise introduction to the contributions of this colorful colonial figure. The first spread depicts Franklin standing proudly by his family home with his wife and children smiling from within. His various occupations-writer, printer, diplomat, musician, humorist, postmaster, scientist, inventor, humanitarian-are written on the cobblestones beneath him. Next is a spread of a busy city street today, which challenges readers to guess which modern conveniences are owed to the subject's creativity. Subsequent spreads take a closer look at each invention from political cartoons, bifocals, electricity, lightning rod, and Franklin stove to daylight saving time and more. Each spread features a "Now…", description of a modern concept or convenience facing an early "Ben…", idea. "Now every automobile has an odometer to measure the distance it travels. Ben… invented the odometer when he was postmaster general so he could measure his postal routes." The fanciful final spread depicts a futuristic scene with flying-saucer vehicles and robot servers, which encourages youngsters to imagine how today's inventions will evolve in time. Engaging and humorous watercolor cartoons depict just how Franklin's inventions were conceived and developed. The yellow mottled endpapers are filled with sketches of the inventions featured within. Both Aliki's The Many Lives of Benjamin Franklin (S & S, 1988) and Rosalyn Schanzer's How Ben Franklin Stole the Lightning (HarperCollins, 2003) offer more background and biographical information, though this lively offering is sure to inspire readers to learn more about its fascinating subject.

Auerbach, B. (2006). Now & Ben: The modern inventions of Benjamin Franklin. School Library Journal, 52(3), 206.

The jacket portrait of a serene, grandfatherly Ben Franklin belies his energy and myriad contributions, such as inventing the lightning rod, charting the Gulf Stream, and helping to shape the Declaration of Independence. Inside, however, the book covers twenty-two of his inventions, first by showing their use in today’s world (a pedestrian looks down through his bifocals to read a wanted poster and then looks up to identify the criminal across the street) and second by explaining Franklin’s role in their development (he designed bifocals to avoid switching between two pair of glasses). By organizing the contents in a compare/contrast pattern between “Now” and “Ben,” Barretta leads readers from what they do know to what they probably don’t. “Now we understand the benefits of vitamin C. Ben was an early promoter of eating citrus fruits to help prevent a disease called scurvy.” “Now” appears on the left page, “Ben” on the right, visually   reversing a traditional timeline but conceptually reinforcing the here and now before introducing the long ago. Read this one aloud; the busy cartoon illustrations might distract beginning readers, but they offer plenty for listeners to contemplate.

Carter, B. (2006). Now & Ben: The modern inventions of Benjamin Franklin. Horn Book Magazine, 82(3), 339. 
Use in Library: This would be an excellent book to use at the elementary level as an introductory read aloud for historical figures and their contributions.  It could also be used as a supplement to resources for students’ research projects if anyone has Ben Franklin as their topic.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Module 10: Henry's Freedom Box

Citation: Levine, E. (2007). Henry’s freedom box. New York, NY: Scholastic Press.

Summary: An informative, historical story about a slave named Henry Brown.  Born a slave, Henry doesn’t know his birthday because slave birthdays are not considered important and no one keeps track of that type of information.  After he marries and has children, something tragic occurs to his family and now even more than before, Henry desires to be free.  He decides to mail himself to Philadelphia in order to finally reach his dream and although he doesn’t get to see his loved ones, he now has a birthday which is the day he became free.

Impression: Peace, Love and a Definite Read!
This book is one of my faves because Henry does get his freedom he deserves.  It’s a little heartbreaking because of the trials he goes through because he is a slave. It does bring a peaceful feeling because he gets his wish to be free and I think it is a definite must read for everyone. I even read it aloud to three of my fellow co-workers because I thought it was such a great story.

Reviews: In a true story that is both heartbreaking and joyful, Levine recounts the history of Henry “Box” Brown, born into slavery. Henry works in a tobacco factory, marries another slave, and fathers three children; but then his family is sold, and Henry realizes he will never see them again. With nothing to lose, Henry persuades his friend James and a sympathetic white man to mail him in a wooden box to Philadelphia and freedom. Levine maintains a dignified, measured tone, telling her powerful story through direct, simple language. A note at the end explains the historical basis for the fictionalized story. Accompanying Levine’s fine, controlled telling are pencil, watercolor, and oil paint illustrations by Kadir Nelson that resonate with beauty and sorrow. When Henry’s mother holds him as a child on her lap, they gaze out at bright autumn leaves, and the tenderness is palpable, even as she calls to his attention the leaves that “are torn from the trees like slave children are torn from their families.” There is no sugarcoating here, and Henry is not miraculously reunited with his wife and children; however, the conclusion, as Henry celebrates his new freedom, is moving and satisfying.

Lempke, S. (2007). Henry's Freedom Box. Horn Book Magazine, 83(2), 186-187.

Gr 2-5Inspired by an actual 1830s lithograph, this beautifully crafted picture book briefly relates the story of Henry "Box" Brown's daring escape from slavery. Torn from his mother as a child, and then forcibly separated from his wife and children as an adult, a heartsick and desperate Brown conspired with abolitionists and successfully traveled north to Philadelphia in a packing crate. His journey took just over one full day, (hiring which he was often sideways or upside down in a wooden crate large enough to hold him, but small enough not to betray its contents. The story ends with a reimagining of the lithograph that inspired it, in which Henry Brown emerges from his unhappy confinement — in every sense of the word — and smiles upon his arrival in a comfortable Pennsylvania parlor. Particularly considering the broad scope of Levine's otherwise well-written story, some of the ancillary "facts" related in her text are unnecessarily dubious; reports vary, for instance, as to whether the man who sealed Henry into the crate was a doctor or a cobbler. And, while the text places Henry's arrival on March 30, other sources claim March 24 or 25. Nelson's illustrations, always powerful and nuanced, depict the evolution of a self-possessed child into a determined and fearless young man. While some of the specifies are unfortunately questionable, this book solidly conveys the generalities of Henry Brown's story.
Threadgill, C. (2007). Henry's freedom box: A true story. School Library Journal, 53(3), 176. 

Use in Library: -Pair this book with a theme unit of the slave time period which could lead into further research about other famous slaves and their successes after they gained freedom.  This could also be used as a read aloud to introduce a history lesson or read aloud during African-American history month.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Module 9: The Top Secret Files of Mother Goose!

Citation: Gosling, G. (2004). The top secret files of Mother Goose. Milwaukee, WI: Gareth Stevens Publishing.

Summary: The Queen of Hearts has a problem and Detective Mother Goose is who she calls to help her.  Her strawberry tarts are missing and with some clues Detective Mother Goose begins her investigation to discover who the culprit is.  She questions various suspects: Mary Contrary, Little Miss Muffet, Bo Diddle and many more until she finally figures out who’s initialed HM hankie got left at the scene of the crime.

Impression: Peace and A Kid-Friendly Read!
I can’t say that I love this one, L sorry. But I will say that it is a peaceful and cute mystery that reminds you of many fairy tale characters and their traits. Of course more of that peaceful feeling comes on when you reach the end of the story and the mystery is solved. This kid-friendly read is sure to please when the guilt one is forced to write lines on a chalkboard stating “I will not steal the Queen’s tarts”.

Reviews: K-Gr 4-- When the Queen of Hearts discovers her strawberry tarts missing, she calls in Mother Goose, "Chief Detective of Nursery Rhyme Crime." The clues include a trail of crumbs, a dish and a spoon, and a hankie with the initials HM. As Mother Goose questions each suspect, a full-page illustration of that individual appears opposite the text, which is printed on a manila-folder background. A handwritten note with humorous details about that particular character appears to be paper clipped to the file. Readers may question the detective's technique as she chases down alleged perpetrators who do not have the correct initials. However, logic aside, the comical rewording of familiar facts will appeal to those who are conversant with nursery rhymes. The vibrant cartoons pop off the pages, and the witty details will have youngsters studying the pictures with interest. Serving as a foil for the boisterous cast of characters, Mother Goose appears almost too charming and sweet to be pitted against this wild and wacky lineup of possible criminals, but that only adds to the comedy. With its retro artwork and imitation of hard-boiled detective speech, this text-heavy mystery is more appropriate for older children, but the story and its solution may be a bit too simplistic to hold their attention. Fans of Jon Scieszka's humor seem the most likely audience for this book's campy art and puns.

Edwards, L., & Mandell, P. (2004). The top secret files of mother goose! (Book). School Library Journal, 50(5), 112.

The Top Secret Files of Mother Goose belongs with Jon Scieszka's The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs and Rosalind Alchin's The Frog Princess as another excellent example of the fractured fairy tale. As a bonus, this slim picture book also contains the features of an adult detective novel: a crime, a number of clues, numerous suspects with motives, and a sleuth who ultimately deduces the perpetrator's identity. The crime in question is the theft of the Queen of Hearts' breakfast tarts, and, because of his previous criminal record, suspicion immediately falls on the Knave of Hearts. To solve the theft, the Queen enlists the assistance of Mother Goose, Chief Detective of Nursery Rhyme Crime, who narrates the rest of the book. Mother Goose can immediately eliminate the Knave for he has a solid alibi; he's on holidays in Hawaii; however, the Knave suggests that "Mary Contrary might have some information." As Mother Goose follows up on each individual, that person either suggests yet someone else who may be connected to the crime or Mother Goose simply follows the trail of crumbs which leads to yet another suspect. In addition to the Knave and Mary Contrary, Mother Goose questions Miss Muffet, Bo Diddle, Little Boy Blue, Miss Bo Peep, Patrick "Patty Cake" Buttermore, Peter Peter and Humpty Dumpty before recognizing the true significance of one of the clues which points to the real culprit's identity. Banks even follows one of the "rules" of detective fiction by introducing the thief early in the story while disguising the person's means and motive. As the crime genre demands, the "criminal" is punished but, in this instance, in a manner with which kids will be able to identify.

Jenkinson, D. (2003). The top secret files of Mother Goose. CM: Canadian Review Of Materials, 10(2), N.PAG. 

Use in Library: -This book would be perfect to use as a read aloud to the upper elementary grades.  A mock mystery theater could be set up in the library where clues will have to be discovered and a path has to be followed to find a guilty party. Another suggestion would be to have a reader’s theater because of all the various fairy tale characters