Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Module 3: Song of the Swallows

Citation: Politi, L. (1948). Song of the swallows. New York, NY: Charles Scribner’s Sons.

Summary: A sweet story about a young boy named Juan who lives in a mission in California.  Through visiting with his friend Julian, the Mission Capistrano’s gardener, Juan learns how to garden and about the swallows that come back every spring around St. Joseph’s Day.  Juan enjoys the life in the mission which involves spending time with Julian and after learning about gardening, he plants his own garden with hope that his loved swallows will one day visit it.  Juan gets his wish when the following year some swallows make a nest near his garden.

Impression: Peace and a Mission Lover’s Must Read!
I was able to connect with this story being a native San Antonian who has taken many a field trip to the various missions. The illustrations of life on the mission grounds are very detailed and stunningly beautiful. It is interesting to think about how life living in a mission would be like.  The cultural elements within this story remind me of my own heritage and how generations before me lived. I must admit that this book is not for everyone, but being that I have grown up around the missions and have attended church masses in Mission San Juan, I truly appreciate the beautiful story.

Reviews: Another beautiful book from the author-illustrator of Pedro and Juanita. Again there is a great deal of charm and poetic sense of people and nature that text and pictures combine to convey. Juan is a small boy in Capistrano, who loves the tales of old mission days told him by the Mission bell ringer, Julian. Each year the bells ring when the swallows come back on St. Joseph's day. This is the story of the year Juan waited and watched for the birds, and prepared a garden to attract them to his rosevines. A simple story, which sensitive, beauty loving children will enjoy. And- as before- the exquisite pictures in muted tones are in key with the text.

Kirkus reviews. (n. d.). Song of swallows. Retrieved from https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/leo-politi-2/song-of-the-swallows/

Use in Library: - This book would be perfect to use as a read aloud to provide background information for a field trip to a local San Antonio mission or missions in California.  After the field trip a discussion follow up would be to compare the illustrations and changes that have occurred since people no longer live on the missions. Another history topic would be to discuss what types of daily activities occurred when people lived within missions.

-A read aloud as an introduction to a unit on the migration of birds or gardening.

Module 3: Kitten's First Full Moon

Citation: Henkes, K. (2004). Kitten’s first full moon. New York, NY: Greenwillow Books.

Summary: Kitten sees a bright night moon and thinks it is a bowl of delicious milk. This begins her adventure of trying to reach that bowl of milk as she leaps off the porch. Kitten even climbs a tree to try to reach the creamy looking bowl of milk. But with no such luck, kitten’s efforts are not successful and she returns home sadden.  Wait, that’s not the end of the story, she does find success upon her return home…she discovers a bowl of milk on her porch ready for her to consume.

Impression: Peace, Love and a Definite Read!

I love this book because you always want to see a one succeed after trying so hard to get something one wants so badly.  Being that this story is told in beautiful black and white illustrations, it makes me feel peace while reading about Kitten’s nighttime adventure. I have read and re-read this book many times and have enjoyed reading it with my class and own son.  It is a story that involves a good lesson of one’s determination ending with one being rewarded with cute funny moments and moments of sadness. But overall, you have to read it again to get that warm fuzzy feeling of being happy because of Kitten’s success.

Reviews: PreS-K-- An irresistible offering from the multifaceted Henkes. The spare and suspense-filled story concerns a kitten that mistakes the moon for a bowl of milk. When she opens her mouth to lick the treat, she ends up with a bug on her tongue. Next, she launches herself into the air, paws reaching out for the object of her desire, only to tumble down the stairs, "bumping her nose and banging her ear and pinching her tail. Poor Kitten." Again and again, the feline's persistent attempts to reach her goal lead to pain, frustration, and exhaustion. Repetitive phrases introduce each sequence of desire, action, and consequence, until the animal's instincts lead her home to a satisfying resolution. Done in a charcoal and cream-colored palette, the understated illustrations feature thick black outlines, pleasing curves, and swiftly changing expressions that are full of nuance. The rhythmic text and delightful artwork ensure storytime success. Kids will surely applaud this cat's irrepressible spirit. Pair this tale with Frank Asch's classic Moongame (S & S, 1987) and Nancy Elizabeth Wallace's The Sun, the Moon and the Stars (Houghton, 2003) for nocturnal celebrations.

Lukehart, W. (2004). Kitten's first full moon. School Library Journal, 50(4), 114. Available from

Henkes takes a break from his signature mice — and from illustrating in color — to tell this sweet story about a kitten who thinks the full moon is a bowl of milk. The black-and-white forms, with subtle gradations of gray, are larger and more solid-looking than Henkes's usual work, with less interior line. Nevertheless, the kitten, whose white fur glows against the charcoal-gray sky like the moon she desires, is sprightly and expressive as she fails repeatedly ("Poor Kitten!") to get at that milk. Small children, for whom the rhythmic, action-oriented text is just right, will appreciate the gentle slapstick of the kitten getting a firefly on her tongue when she tries to lick the moon and getting drenched in the pond when she tries to drink the moon's reflection. Anyone who has ever watched a cat spasmodically pounce and chase for no apparent reason will enjoy the imaginative, unpretentiously poetic method Henkes reads into this madness.

Heppermann, C. M. (2004). Kitten's first full moon. Horn Book Magazine, 80(3), 314-315.

Use in Library: -This book would be great to use when doing a Caldecott unit or perhaps an author’s study.  Another suggestion would be to use this as a supplement reading for a unit on space for early elementary aged students or as an introductory read aloud for a unit on the moon for older elementary students.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Module 2: Journey to Topaz

Citation: Uchida, Y. (1971). Journey to Topaz. Berkeley, CA: Creative Arts Book Company.

Summary: Through the young eyes of Yuki Sakane, the story and details are told of the way the Japanese and Japanese-Americans were treated through the times of the United States’ fear.  During the period of World War II and after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, begins the journey of Yuki’s family being imprisoned.  First her father is removed from their home by the FBI for being a suspected enemy alien and soon after it is discovered that all Japanese and Japanese-Americans are being taken to internment camps.  While in the Utah desert camps, Yuki begins to miss her American friends and her normal life, is confused through the changes that are occurring and soon learns how to go through the hardships of daily life within these camps with her mother and older brother.

Impression: Love and an Educational Read!

Of course while reading this story I became very curious to learn more details about this incident happening within the United States in the early 1940’s.  Thinking about living within the conditions described in the story is quite terrifying and contradictory to the freedoms our country has within the present.  It can be difficult to read about such an incident within history books and not get a true depiction told through a personal story. This book made me appreciate the freedoms I have and made me fully get a grasp on other’s hardships they have faced within the past.

Reviews: Journey to Topaz (1971) took twelve-year-old Yuki Sakane to a WW II concentration camp in the Utah desert; now, released, the Sakanes are in Salt Lake City where Papa is working as a shipping clerk, Mama is cleaning houses, Yuki feels uncomfortable, and all of them are lonely: ""Here. . . their world was made up only of hakujin--white people who were strangers to them in a strange city that wasn't home."" Then the order excluding Japanese from the West Coast is rescinded, and they head for Berkeley--where nothing is quite the same: best-friend Mimi has new interests, Papa's good job is gone, their house is occupied, their garden overgrown. But, by pooling their meager resources, the Sakanes, bossy Grandma Kurihara (whose granddaughter, Emi, is Mimi's replacement), and old Mr. Oka, touchy but steadfast, manage to buy back Mr. Oka's grocery store; and though hostile neighbors set it afire, sympathetic neighbors help restore it. Meanwhile older brother Ken, serving with the Nisei regiment, returns wounded and withdrawn; and in his reconciliation, the others also find a way to accept the divided past and the diminished present. Commendably blunt about the wartime misfortunes of the West-Coast Japanese, this is also hearteningly even-handed in treating of its outcome: it's staunch old-neighbor Mrs. Jamieson who best responds to Mr. Oka's grief when the atom bomb, obliterating Hiroshima, wipes out his kin. Uchida is not suggesting that many small rights--gestures or words--undo a monstrous wrong, only that each individual and each act counts.

Kirkus reviews. (October 1979). Journey to topaz. Retrieved from https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/yoshiko-uchida-9/journey-home-5/#review

The book Journey to Topaz is historical fiction. This amazing and powerful book was written by Yoshiko Uchida. She wrote this book to bring to people's attention how upsetting this event and time period really was.

This book took place in various places such as Berkeley, California; Tanforan, California; and Topaz, Utah. In 1942, the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. After that, most Japanese were sent to internment camps, even if they were U.S. citizens, because of their race. Many Japanese from places like Berkeley, CA and that area were sent to Tanforan, California where they lived in horse stalls. In these kinds of places, it was warm, they didn't have much privacy and they were only given a small place to live. From there, people were sent to Topaz, Utah. They had a bigger space, the children went to school, and there was a hospital. It was very dusty and there were dust storms often. People went through tough times and missed their homes. Others worried that they had lost almost everything. After about a year, Americans started realizing what was happening. The war had ended and many Americans apologized to the Japanese for their terrible mistake. Many people left Topaz and went to Salt Lake City to begin a new life.

While we were reading, I felt like the author really could make the reader feel the different emotions through her writing. The book also had very good descriptions. I think the author could have spent more time on each major event. For example, when Mr. Kurihara was shot Uchida could have written more about what happened at camp and how it affected everyone because it was a huge event.

I really enjoyed this book for several reasons. The characters really came to life in my head. I think this is a book that both children and grownups would find interesting. On a scale of one to ten for great description and a story of survival, I would rate this book an 8.5.

Altogether this book took me on a journey that I never knew existed. It captured me and made me want to read more. This book was incredible.

Hunt, D. (n. d.). Journey to Topaz. Retrieved from http://www.teenink.com/reviews/book_reviews/article/19846/Journey-to-Topaz/

Use in Library: - This book would be perfect to use as a supplement to lessons on 9/11.  Discussions could also occur about discrimination that has occurred out of fear, people’s right to freedoms, and one’s responsibilities as a citizen. 

Module 2: Little Engine That Could

Citation: Piper, W. (1976). The little engine that could. New York, NY: Platt & Munk.

Summary: The old tale of the little blue train that is helpful by trying it’s best to take toys and gifts to little boys and girls.  The story begins when a train that is carrying toys and gifts breaks down, it decides to ask other trains for help.  The problem is that those other trains, a mean one, an old one, and a tough one, all deny the request for help because they are discouraged by the big mountain.  The little blue train is not discouraged, as it takes on the challenge of towing the broken train and is self motivated by repeating “I think I can, I think I can”.  Through its unwavering attitude to climb the mountain and greet children with toys and gifts, the blue train is successful.

Impression: Peace and a Must Read!

Who doesn’t love a good success and motivating story? Of course my mind was at peace when the train with goodies finally reaches the little boys and girls.  I think this is a must read for everyone at least once in their life. You will forever remember the encouraging comments of “I think I can, I think I can”! Anytime someone needs a little push in the right direction I would encourage them to read this book.  This is an old, classic tale and seeing good qualities such as ambition and perseverance within this book reminds readers of what it takes to be successful in difficult or challenging times.

Reviews: PreS-Gr 2-- This classic tale has been re-released with updated illustrations and a larger format. The text remains the same. The art, done with acrylics, is stylized and still retains a bit of an old-fashioned flavor. Nevertheless, the '30s look is definitely gone. In its place, readers will find artwork suggestive of a retro '50s look. As with the original, the clown takes center stage. His outfit, however, has changed from green polka dots to red pants, yellow shirt, and a colorful stocking cap. The text, with it’s, "I think I can, I think I can" refrain, is a timeless piece of children's literature and so familiar that it needs no elaboration. It's hard to improve upon a classic, and one advantage that the traditional edition has over this one is that the quaint and sentimental text pairs nicely with the "antique" artwork. The modern illustrations undoubtedly work better with a group but they have a faux feel to them. As such they are a little out of sync with the prim and proper style of writing in the story about the "good little boys and girls on the other side of the mountain [who will be] without the wonderful toys to play with and the good food to eat...." Nevertheless, this is an acceptable purchase, especially for those libraries without a copy of the first edition or larger libraries wishing to collect all versions of classic tales.

Burg, R. (2005). The little engine that could. School Library Journal, 51(9), 184.

PreS-Gr. 1. The new edition of this American classic pairs the original (1930) text with artwork by Loren Long, whose previous picture books include Madonna's Mr. Peabody's Apples (2003) and Walt Whitman's When I Heard the Learn'd Astronomer (2004). Grand in scale but cozy in effect, the impressive acrylic paintings use subtle strokes of rich colors to create a series of narrative scenes large enough to be clearly visible back to the last row of storytime or classroom. The characters remain convincing as dolls, toys, and trains despite the slight changes in expression, position, and emotion that bring them to life. The most memorable elements of the artwork, though, are the fluid lines, rounded shapes, and warm colors of the lyrical landscapes, which are reminiscent of paintings by Thomas Hart Benton. Chances are the unassuming Little Blue Engine never expected such a handsome showcase, even for her finest hour, but this edition provides a brilliant new setting that many readers will prefer to the original picture book.

Phelan, C. (2005). The little engine that could. Booklist, 102(1), 145. 

Use in Library: -This book could be used to motivate and inform students about good character traits.  The traits that can be covered are perseverance, bravery, dedication, optimism, hard work, pride, kindness, and more.  Life lessons are learned through everyday experiences, but by providing background knowledge through reading a positive tale like The Little Engine That Could can arm young minds with good qualities to exemplify while struggling through life’s obstacles.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Module 1: Miss Malarky Leaves No Reader Behind

Citation: Finchler, J., & O’Malley, K., Miss Malarkey leaves no reader behind. New York, NY: Walker & Company.

Summary: Miss Malarkey is determined to get all the students reading books and to help them reach the principal’s challenge of reading 1,000 books through the school year.  The students are ready to take on this challenge because it means the principal will dye his hair purple.  Miss Malarkey also has a challenge in front of her because every student is different and it becomes her mission to discover what interests them and get them hooked on reading.  The story is told through the point of view of a young boy who is a reluctant reader.  Miss Malarkey spends all year long trying and trying to connect him with a title that interests him. It is not until she gains a better insight about the boy's interests that she finds the perfect book for him and he cannot put it down. The final book that worked for the boy included all his interests. By being patient Miss Malarkey finds success and is able to grasp the reluctant reader and helps the student body reach their goal.

Impression: Peace, Love and a Definite Must Read!

I love that the book portrays a reluctant reader because there are a lot of people out in the world who can relate to the main character.  Miss Malarkey is the perfect picture, determined educator who will not quit until she connects all her students to their perfect book.  Although this book is not your typical child picture book, it is a book I would like to keep in my library to help me when I have had one of those rough teaching days.  It is the little joys, you know, the happy moments when you see that light bulb go on in your students’ mind that keeps educators teaching and this book does a great job of reminding its readers of these special moments.

Reviews: K-Gr 2-- During the first week of school, Principal Wiggins promises that if the students read 1000 books by June 12, he will dye his hair purple and sleep on the roof. Miss Malarkey tells her class that they will be doing the Everybody Reads in America program and promises that all of the students will find books they love before the end of the school year. She picks some for each of them, engaging even reluctant readers. One boy remains unable to find a book he likes until June 10, when Miss Malarkey chooses one that has aliens, race cars, funny jokes, chewing gum, hot sauce, and cannonballs. It becomes number 1001 read by the students and the story ends with everyone wishing Principal Wiggins (whose hair is now purple) a good night on the roof. This title will resonate with those who choose math, video games, and sports over books. O'Malley's illustrations, done in markers and colored pencils, enhance the text with expressive pictures of the students and their teacher as they explore (or choose not to explore) the joys of reading. The illustrations lend humor and credibility to the reluctance of some of the students. A must-have for all libraries.  

Sheridan, R. (2006). Miss Malarkey leaves no reader behind. School Library Journal, 52(8), 81.

Gr. 1-3. Ace teacher Miss Malarkey returns in a picture book narrated by a reluctant reader. Although comfortable within his small group of video-game-playing buddies, a boy wants to contribute to the schoolwide goal of reading 1,000 books in hope of seeing Principal Wiggins dye his hair purple and sleep on the roof of the school. Trying one of Miss Malarkey's suggested books after another, he rejects them all--until she finds the perfect one to match his eclectic interests. Expressive cartoon-style illustrations, brightened with markers and colored pencils, create a series of lively scenes in which speech balloons record conversations and comments not found in the text. With an unstated moral, this is one volume that librarians won't soon forget. Short lists of recommended books, including a bibliography of adult books that recommend children's books, are appended. 

Phelan, C. (2006). Miss Malarkey leaves no reader behind. Booklist, 102(21), 65. 

Use in Library: -This book could be used as a read aloud to motivate students to read and you could collaborate with them in order to plan a reading goal over a period of time, for example a goal over a semester or school year.

-You could also use this book as a read aloud to re-motivate teachers mid-school year. Right around state assessment time a staff ends to become stressed. This book could be used as a reminder of the fact that if teachers have taught the students the necessary objectives, the assessments will come easy to students because they have a love of reading and learning.