Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Mirror Mirror

Singer, Marilyn. 2010. Mirror Mirror. Ill. Jose'e Masse. New York: Penguin. ISBN 9780525479017

Mirror Mirror by Marilyn Singer is an illustrated picture book of reversable verse.  Each two page layout presents a classic fairy tale told from two points of view with the second poem a mirror image of the first starting at the last word and ending at the first or the original poem. The unique format of reverse verse is entertaining and surprising.

The unique format of this work makes the poems both exciting and highly entertaining.  The familiar fairy tales told from two different perspectives give the reader an excellent from of reference to draw upon while reading.  Singer uses short poems full of imagery in order to paint a picture of a story and help to convey meaning. The language selection helps to tell the tales from both sides.  Careful consideration is paid to punctuation in each version of the poem to enhance clarity and meaning.

Enhancing Singer's poems are the wonderful painted illustrations by Jose'e Masse.  The use of light and dark to convey the two sides to the accompanying poems are lovely.  The bright colors enhance the pictures fairy tale appeal.

Starred review- School Library Journal
Starred review- Booklist
Starred review- Kirkus
2011 Bluebonnet book club selection
An ALA Notable
Cybil Award in Poetry
nominee for the Texas Bluebonnet Award

*Have children discuss point of view and two sides to each story
*Try your hand at writing a reverse verse poem
*visit the author's website
*explore point of view in fairy tales (lesson plan @
Read more books by Marilyn Singer
Rewrite a fairy tale from a different point of view either in verse or short story form.


The Llama Who Had no Pajama

Hoberman, Mary Ann. 1998. The Llama Who Had no Pajama: 100 Favorite Poems. Ill. by Betty Fraser. San Diego, CA: Little Brown & Co. ISBN 0152001115

The Llama Who Had no Pajama: 100 Favorite Poems by Mary Ann Hoberman is a collection of previously published works by the author on a variety of subjects.  The poems are rhythmic and rhyming in nature and are written specifically for younger children.  Topics range from birthdays to ducks to going to school.

Each poem in this collection varies in length and content.  However, all of the selected works have an establised rhythm and rhyming pattern that is easily discernable.  The language of the entire collection is appropriate for the intended audience and was selected for the connection to childhood.  Each poem paints a vivid image of a time, place, animal or event that helps to convey meaning and emotion.

The layout of the poems is simple and combined with the illustrations serves to gently guide readers from one work to another without overwhelming or cluttering.

The illustrations by Betty Fraser are minimal and were created using a process of gouache and watercolor on bristol paper.  The cartoonlike illustrations are reminiscent of older childrens books and cartoons and help to bring forth the emotions of childhood.

"Good for beginning or experienced readers of poetry, this should indeed become a favorite."--School Library Journal
"a charmer."--The Horn Book
Gold Award Winner - 1998 National Parenting Publications Awards (NAPPA)
Best Books of the Year - Child Magazine

*Have children select one of the poems to read aloud
*Children can select an activity or animal of their choosing and write a poem and illustrate it
*Read other poems by Mary Ann Hoberman
*Check out the author's website

What my mother doesn't know

Sones, Sonya. 2001. What My Mother Doesn't Know. New York: Simon Pulse. ISBN 9780689855535

What My Mother Doesn't Know is a novel in verse told from the perspective of 15 year old Sophie.  Sophie is a typical boy crazy teenage girl.  Sones writes as if Sophie is having a conversation with the reader and presents the emotional rollercoaster of adolescence in a way that is easily read and comprehended.  Sophie struggles with dating, friends, and her parents constant fighting until she finally finds herself drawn to the school social outcast.

Sones writing is simple and easy to understand.  Her honest and direct assessment of the confusion of adolescence is an emotional journey from start to finish.  Sophie is a likable and well developed character that struggles with understanding the difference between love and lust.  The plot of this free verse novel progresses through a series of short poems which show how a teenage girls mind works. 

Sones tackles topics of friendship and family with the same ease as those of young love.  The presented group dynamic between Sophie and her two best friends shows the struggle for acceptance that peer pressure puts on young people. 

The language selection of the novel helps to support the narrative in that it sounds and feels like the words are being spoken by a 15 year old girl.  Further, Sones uses emotion to connect the reader to the work.  Throughout, the verse the reader is presented with anger, shame, heartache, love, lust, happiness, surprise and confusion.

This book is a wonderful choice when discussing any number of topics including love, lust, peer pressure, family dynamics, friendship, and perspective. 

Winner of the Iowa Teen Book Award (2005–2006)
Michigan Thumbs Up Award Honor Book (2002)
Chosen an American Library Association Best Book for Young Adults (2002)
Chosen an American Library Association Top Ten Quick Pick for Reluctant Young Adult Readers (2002)
Named a Booklist Editor's Choice (2001)
Named a Texas Lone Star State Reading List Choice (2003–2004)

*Have students write from their perspective about a week in their life.
*Have students write in free verse
*Research Sonya Sones
*Have the class each create a free verse poem on the same topic to explore perspective. 
*Other books in free verse:
Sones, Sonya. What My Girlfriend Doesn't Know. ISBN  978-0689876028
Chaltas, Thalia. Becuase I am Furniture. ISBN 0670062987

Friday, June 15, 2012

Native American Folktales

Bruchac, James and Bruchac, Joseph. 2008. The Girl Who Helped Thunder and Other Native American Folktales. Ill. by Stefano Vitale. New York: Sterling Publishing.  ISBN 978-1-4027-3263-8

The Girl Who Helped Thunder and Other Native American Folktales by Bruchac and Bruchac is a compilation of Native American folktales. It is the second book in the Folktales of the World series published by Sterling Publishing Group.  The folktales are arranged by geographic area and then subdivided by tribe.  Each folktale explains how an event, activity, or natural phenomenon came into being. 

Each story within the collection shares the oral storytelling tradition that make folktales and Native American stories so powerful.  This may be more evident in this collection because the authors are members of the Abernaki tribe and are also award winning storytellers.

Helping to explain the story's is an introduction at the beginning of each section of the book which helps to establish cultural and historical reference points for the reader.

An extensive list of sources are listed at the back of the book to help readers delve further into the world on Native American folktales.

Minimal illustrations accompany each story.  Each picture by Vitale provides a cohesiveness to the book while still helping to immerse the reader in the Native American cultural experience.  Illustrations are reminiscent of cave paintings and decorative wall art. 

*Starred Review- School Library Journal

*Read other Native American folktales
*Include this selection as part of a larger unit on Native American People
*Have students select one tribe from the book and research them
*Have a Native American storyteller or group visit
*Have students read the stories aloud since they began as oral traditions
Other books:
American Indian Myths and Legends by Erdoes and Ortiz
Between Earth & Sky: Legends of Native American Sacred Places by Bruchac and Locker

Dust Devil

Isaacs, Anne. 2010. Dust Devil. Ill. by Paul O. Zelinsky. New York: Schwartz & Wade Books.  ISBN 978-0-375-96722-1

Dust Devil by Anne Isaacs is a tall tale and the follow up story to the Caldecott Honor Book Swamp Angel.  Angelica Longrider (aka Swamp Angel) has moved from Tennessee to Montana in order to have enough room to live because of her giant stature.  With a little landscaping by way of moving mountains, Montana is just about perfect until a giant dust storm comes along.  The dust storm is caused by Dust Devil, a Swamp Angel sized horse that once tamed helps Swamp Angel defeat a Backward Bart and his band of giant mosquito riding Flying Desperadoes. 

Isaacs received assistance from The American Folklife Center at the Library of  Congress in writing this book. As such, it conforms to traditional tall tale literary standards.  The characters are larger than life (literally) and are either very good or very bad.  The story elements are over the top and highly exageratted. 

The illustrations by Zelinsky were painted in oils on wood veneers.  This artistic technique perfectly fit the tall tale mold in that it is a style of folk art.  The colors were subdued to give a faded appearance making the artwork appear as if it was completed in the 1800's during the time the tale is set.

*A stunning tour de force and a satisfying continuation of Angel's saga - School Library Journal
*Starred Review- Booklist
*Starred Review- Kirkus

*Read other tall tales
*Include this selection as part of a larger unit on folklife (coordinating topics could include quilting, canning, square dancing, etc.)
*Discuss the role of a woman as the heroine
*Other tall tales:
Cut from the Same Cloth: American Women of Myth, Legend, and Tall Tales by Souci

Thursday, June 14, 2012

The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs

Scieszka, Jon. 1989. The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs! by. A. Wolf. Ill. by Laine Smith. New York: Viking Press.  ISBN 0670827592

The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs! by. A. Wolf by Jon Scieszka is a retelling of a classic fairy tale from the perspective of the Big, Bad Wolf.  Al (the wolf) claims that it was all just a misunderstanding about allergies and a cup of sugar.  Of course, there were still the two pigs that were eaten, but you don't let good food go to waste.  Do you?

Jon Scieszka uses the elements of traditional literature in a fun way to tell a classic tale from a new first person perspective.  The characters take on a dramatic shift with the pigs being evil and the wolf portrayed as a framed, misunderstood creature who was just trying to do something nice for his granny. 

The plot, while similar to the classic version of the story has twists and action which drive the story.  Unlike the original, Scieska has added a quest for a cup of sugar to help explain the wolf's motive for visiting the pigs. 

The setting is simply stated at "back in Once Upon a Time time" lending to the vague, generalization of traditional literature and allows for children to set their own time and place.

The illustrations by Lane Smith use dark colors including lots of brown.  Most illustrations are framed to create snapshots of story moments.  Further, Mr. Smith's illustrations depict elements of news stories and further the idea of the wolf being framed by the third pig and police.

Designed with uncommon flair, this alternative fable is both fetching and glib.- Publishers Weekly
It's the type of book that older kids (and adults) will find very funny - School Library Journal

*Read more fractured fairy tales
*Compare and contrast point of view and perspective
*Create a reader's theater or use the one found at

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Make Way for Ducklings

McCloskey, Robert. 1941. Make Way for Ducklings. Ill. by Robert McCloskey. New York: Viking Press.  ISBN 0670035386

Mr. and Mrs. Mallard search and search for the right place to build their nest in New York.  When they finally find the perfect spot, they lay eight eggs.  But, after the eggs hatch they face the problem of getting the ducklings to the pond.  With a little help from some kind policemen, Mrs. Mallard sees her babies safely to their new home in the park.

Robert McCloskey tells the story of finding a home and raising ducklings in the voices of Mr. and Mrs. Mallard.  The ducks conversations and worries about their babies are reminiscent of all new parents.  The journey to the Public Garden is depicted from a ducks viewpoint and helps to move the story.

Robert McCloskey earned the Caldecott Medal for his illustrations in this classic picture book.  The books sketches are done in brown on a cream background and do not use any additional color.  The ducks and background illustrations are lifelike.  However, people depicted in the book are cartoon like.

Make Way for Ducklings is a classic piece of children's literature that has been read to children since 1941.  Young children will delight in the journey of the ducks to their new home in the park.

1941- Caldecott Medal
The New York Times- "one of the merriest picture books ever.."

*Connect the text to a unit on animal habitats.
*Gather and share more books by Robert McCloskey or about ducks.
*Learn about the Peabody Hotel ducks (John Phillip Duck by Polacco is great for this)
* Other books for children about ducks:
Davies, Nicola. Just Ducks! ISBN 978-0763659363
Polacco, Patricia. John Phillip Duck. ISBN 978-0399242625

Kitten's First Full Moon

Henkes, Kevin. 2004. Kitten's First Full Moon. Ill. by Kevin Henkes. New York, NY: Greenwillow Books. ISBN 0439800560

In this Caldecott Award winning book, Kevin Henkes describes the thoughts of a small kitten on the night of her first full moon.  The kitten believes the moon to be a big bowl of milk waiting for her in the sky.  The story tells of her attempts to get to the big bowl of milk just waiting for her.  By the end, the kitten is tired, wet and hungry and finds exactly what she was looking for at home.

Henke's writing is simple and uses repetition as a way to transition the story from one attempt to retrieve the milk to another.  The story is a wonderful example of perseverance and problem solving as the kitten never gives up and finds new ways to reach her goal. 

The illustrations are done in shades of black, white, and grey to simulate the night of the full moon.  Henke's gave the kitten multiple facial expressions in order to convey emotional responses to the series of mishaps which befall her.  Even the end papers with their repeating pattern of polka dot full moons enhance the telling of the story and show the importance of the moon and the milk it represents to the small kitten in the story.

This would be a wonderful book to introduce problem solving and perseverance to small children.  Or, taking the moon concept to the next logical step in a science lesson.

Caldecott Medal Winner
Top 100 picture book selected by School Library Journal

*Discuss how kitten went about solving her problem.  How could student's learn from her efforts?
*Read other books by Kevin Henkes
*Use the illustrations to discuss shading and perspective.
*Use as an introduction to the phases of the moon for preschool children.
*Other books for children the moon:
Carle, Eric. Papa, Please Get the Moon for Me. ISBN 978-0887081774
Gibbons, Gail. The Moon Book. ISBN 978-0823413645 
Marino, Gina. Meet Me at the Moon. ISBN 978-0670013135  (while this book is not specifically about the moon, it does show love and trust and would fit in with a "moon" theme) 

Thursday, June 7, 2012

The Duckling Gets a Cookie!?

This is a review of The Duckling Gets a Cookie!? by Mo Willems.  This review was created specifically for LS5603 under Dr. S. Vardell.

Willems, Mo. 2012. The Duckling Gets a Cookie!? Ill. by Mo Willems. New York: Hyperion.
ISBN 9781423151289

In this latest addition to the pigeon series of books by Mo Willems,  the reader is introduced to a duckling that teaches the pigeon about sharing and manners.  The duckling asks for and receives a cookie.  Upon realizing that the duckling has gotten something he asked for, the jealous pigeon expresses his disappointment and anger about never being given what he wants even though the things he has asked for in previous books are unrealistic.  Mo Willems uses the duckling and pigeon to show realistic exprectations and the use of manners.

The use of a familiar literary character in the pigeon as well as a possible real life scenario make this book a simple and direct way to show young readers about manners and expectations.  The writing is done in conversation form which allows for ease of understanding by the reader. 

The illustrations will be familiar to anyone who has read any of Willems other "pigeon" books. The muted tones of the illustrations do not overwhelm the reader but enhance the overall character of the art.  Bold lines and dark accents help to bring emotional responses of the characters to the forefront and the suggestion of movement.

This book is a wonderful resourse for adults to share manners and expression of anger with young children.

BOOKLIST: "Fans will delight at another outing, and the protagonist’s indelible pigeonality will welcome newcomers to the club."

*Discuss good manners and the use of "please" and "thank you".
*Use the book as an opening to the concept of sharing and service to others.
*Read other books by Mo Willems
*Other books about manners:
Katz, Karen. Excuse Me: A Little Book of Manners. ISBN 978-0448425856
Keller, Laurie. Do Unto Otters: A Book about Manners. 978-0312581404

Monday, June 4, 2012

Just the Beginning

Hey.  Welcome to Library Envy.  You can get an idea of who I am by my profile so, I will not bore you with additional details that you probably do not care about.  Afterall, if you are reading this then you are here for a reason.  Hopefully, that reason is because you (like me) love books.  Specifically, children's and young adult books. 

Is there anything better than opening a new picture book with a child on your lap?  The correct answer, in case you did not know, is no.  Unless, it is finding the perfect young adult book for a wanna-be young adult (insert teenager here).  That is pretty awesome also.

So, for those of you that love literature and kids of all ages here is a quick glance at the latest mouse book by Kevin Henkes.  Her name is Penny.  And I love her.

Penny and Her Song by Kevin Henkes

Penny and Her Song

Written and illustrated by Kevin Henkes
When Penny comes home from school, she is ready to sing her song. But the babies are sleeping, and Mama and Papa are worried that Penny will wake them up. Oh, but it is a good song, a really wonderful song . . . and Penny wants more than anything to sing it.
What do you think will happen?

Now, I know that I should include all of the publication information.  But this time you are out of luck.  Because this is just a random thought and expression of love for Penny and  her creator.  If you do not know Kevin Henkes then on the link above and explore his world.  You will not be sorry.  Oh, and thank  you so much to Harper Collins and Greenwillow for giving me a stuffed Penny doll when I was at ALA Midwinter in Dallas.  My 7 year old daughter and I thank you from the bottom of our hearts.