Monday, August 8, 2011


Title: Guts: Our Digestive System
Author:  Seymour Simon
 Publisher: Harper Collins
Publication Date: 2005
Genre/Format: Picture Book/ Nonfiction
Summary: A detailed explanation of how food is digested as it travels along the digestive system in the human body.
Personal thoughts: Simon’s books never stay in my classroom library. Both boys and girls will enjoy this book, although, I’ve had many a boy not want to put it back on the shelf when the bell rang. (Many of Simon’s books have disappeared off my shelves over a number of years.  If I didn’t own the book, I might be tempted to take it home and not return it either.) I’ve read several of Simon’s books and never cease to amaze me the quality of actual photographs included in his books.  
Read Together:   grades 2-7
Read without help: grades 4-7
Read With:  The Heart: Our Circulatory System,,Seymour Simon (1996); Muscles: Our Muscular System, Seymour Simon (2000)
Snippet of Text:  “When you swallow food, it doesn’t just fall down into your stomach. In fact, you can eat standing on your head (don’t try it, though; you might choke) and still get food to your stomach. Food is pushed along by two sets of muscles that line the esophagus. The muscles tighten and relax, pushing food along the tube—something like squeezing a tube of toothpaste. This movement is called peristalsis.” (Unnumbered page)
“Point to your stomach. Surprise! It’s not behind your belly button, but higher up, tucked just beneath the left side of your rib cage.” (Unnumbered page)
Connections to Reading:  Activating background knowledge, Making connections, Vocabulary, Author’s purpose
Connections to Writing: ExpositoryThe human body is an amazing machine that is made up of several body systems. Write a composition about the role of the digestive system in your body.
Connections to Writing: Narrative(1) Create a Top 10 list of why the digestive system is important to the human body; (2) You are a piece of bread and you love to travel to new places. Create a dialogue piece between two pieces of bread traveling along in the digestive system. 

 Connections to Art: Create an ABC book about the digestive system.
Topics Covered: Translated to Spanish:  No
Translated to other languages: No
Other formats: No

Thursday, August 4, 2011

The Pirate of Kindergarten

Title: The Pirate of Kindergarten
Author: George Ella Lyon
 Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: 2010
Genre/Format: Picture Book/Fiction
Summary: Ginny loves school, especially reading. Her eyes play tricks on her; in fact, everything she sees has a double. Ginny runs into chairs and tables and her classmates laugh at her clumsiness. It is only during a routine school vision check up that it was found she has double vision.  Her persona changes after the doctor prescribes an eye patch—the pirate of kindergarten.
Personal thoughts: I pulled this book from the library shelf because of the title. I have a grandson who just finished kindergarten, and he loves all things about pirates and pirate treasure. Thinking this might be a book I could read aloud, I pulled the book from the library shelf. It was not what I had expected; it was so much more! I love how the author bases this book on her own childhood experience and the colors the illustrator uses invites me to keep looking at the illustrations.(By the way, he and his younger brothers love the book; we even had to fashion an eye patch for all three boys to they could be pirates.) I think this would be a book to use in the classroom to talk about diversity.
Read Together:   grades K-3
Read without help: grades 2-4
Read With:  The Patch, Justina Chen Headley (2007); My Travelin’ Eye, Jenny Sue Kostecki-Shaw (2008).
Snippet of Text:
“Ginny loved Reading Circle. Getting there was hard, though, with all those chairs. She knew only half of them were real, but which ones? She always ran into some. Someone always laughed.” (Unnumbered pages)
“Then came Vision Screening Day. Ginny was a little scared when they lined up to go into the gym.  She did fine at first reading letters on the white chart. The nurse put a black spoon over one eye and asked her to name the letters. She could do that. With one eye, she only saw one. It was the same when he covered the other eye. But when the nurse said, Now use both, Ginny froze.” (Unnumbered pages)                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         
Connections to Reading: Prediction, Author’s Purpose, Questioning, Visualizing, Connections to the Text
 Connections to Writing: ExpositoryYour little brother or sister has just found out they need glasses. You can remember what it was like to wear glasses for the very first time. Write an expository composition to your brother or sister about the things you like about glasses and the things you don’t like about wearing glasses (pros and cons).
Connections to Writing: Narrative(1) Write a whole class Acrostic Poem describing Ginny.
Connections to Health: Eating nutritious foods is an important part of a healthy diet to in order to keep your eyes healthy and strong. Research ten (10) fruits, nuts, vegetables and fish that will keep your eyes strong.
Topics Covered:  Visual impairment, double vision, self-esteem, kindergarten, vision screening
Translated to Spanish:  No
Translated to other languages: No
Other formats: No

Monday, August 1, 2011

Piano Starts Here: The Young Art Tatum

Title: Piano Starts Here: The Young Art Tatum
Author:  Robert Andrew Parker
Publisher: Schwartz & Wade Books
Publication Date: 2008
Genre/Format: Picture Book/ Biography/Nonfiction

Summary: At a very young age, Art Tatum loved to play the piano. Musically inclined and born virtually blind in one eye with very limited sight in the other eye, he first plays at home, then in church, cafes, in bars, and eventually one the radio.  After being heard on the radio, Art travels all over the country to play as a professional jazz musician becoming one of the world’s most acclaimed jazz pianists.
Personal thoughts: I absolutely love this book. While in the bookstore, and looking for another book, I saw this book on the shelf and picked it up to read. Written and illustrated by the author, you can feel the music of Art Tatum through words and illustrations.  I immediately thought of other great musicians who are visually impaired:  Ray Charles, Stevie Wonder, and Roy Orbison.
Read Together: grades K-3
Read Without Help: grades 3-12
Read With:
Charlie Parker Played Be Bop, (Chris Raschka, 1997) and Ella Fitzgerald (Andrea Pinckney, 2002).
 Snippet of Text: “My father never says much about my music, but I know he’s listening. Sometimes he even dances. Though he hardly moves, I can feel his big feet shake the floor. His rhythm matches mine, and I imagine I’m playing with a bass player tap-tapping his feet and slap-slapping his fingers. When I start Memphis Blues, my father pulls my mother from the kitchen, throws her apron on a chair and swings her across the floor until she laughs in spite of herself.” (Unnumbered page)
“Now when I play, my fingers can do everything I want them to. I can make them whistle, I can make them sing. I can play one song and then weave another song in and out and through it.” (Unnumbered page)
Connections to Reading:  Activating Background Knowledge, Making Connections, Asking Questions, Visualizing, Author's Purpose
Connections to Writing: ExpositoryEveryone has that listens to music has a type that is their favorite. Think about the music you like to listen to and explain why you like listening to it. Be sure to include a few of your favorite artists and the songs you like to hear them sing.
Connections to Writing: Narrative—(1) Pretend you are Art Tatum and write several (2-3) entries in your journal/diary as you travel from performance to performance. (2)  Write a To-Do list of things that need to get done before your next musical performance.
Connections to Art: Create a collage about a famous musician
Connections to Social Studies:  Jazz music was an important part of the early 20th Century. Research jazz as it pertains to World War I and World War II, The Roaring Twenties and the Great Depression.

Topics Covered: Jazz, jazz musicians, family, music, self-esteem, overcoming physical disabilities
Translated to Spanish:  No
Translated to other languages: No
Other formats: None