Today's post is written by Connie Robinson, a National Board Certified Librarian. Connie has been a librarian for 11 years at Bramlett Elementary in Oxford, MS.
In Going Places by Peter and Paul Reynolds, classmates and neighbors Rafael and Maya were planning to enter the Going Places contest. Even though every participant received a standard go-cart kit, Maya chose to ‘think outside the box’as she was inspired by the bird in the tree. Rafael and Maya teamed up and amazed the others with their not so ordinary flying contraption. Despite the negative responses, the pair competed and won the contest. After crossing the finish line, Maya was inspired again from nature, as a frog leaps off the lily pad. Creativity and cooperation ring true throughout the story.
Another favorite book of 2014 is Betty Bunny Wants a Goal by Michael B. Kaplan. Energetic Betty Bunny plays soccer for the first time with high expectations. When Betty doesn’t meet those expectations, scoring ten goals in the first game, she quickly wants to 'throw in the towel.' But Mom and Dad enlist the help of Betty’s siblings to convince and encourage her to continue playing. Betty learns that practice, hard work and determination make her a better soccer player. As a matter of fact, she realizes there’s nothing she can’t do… even drive a car!?!?!
I also enjoyed Hot Rod Hamster Monster Truck Mania! by Cynthia Lord. With rollicking narration and speech bubbles, hamster and his friends visit the fair. They find boat rides, teacup rides, and cotton candy. All the while, the reader is a participant through each event when the question “Which would you choose?” is asked. The highlight of the fair is the monster truck show where hamster ends up being the star. Hamster comes to the rescue to drive Fearless Franco’s truck. Readers always enjoy action-packed stories and opportunities to participate as in this story.
In a simple, short story line, Kit Chase tells the story of friendship in Oliver's Tree. Three very different characters, rabbit, owl and elephant, stick together through tough times. In a familiar game of hide-and-seek, elephant gets discouraged because rabbit and owl can hide in and around trees but there is no tree for him. While elephant naps on an old tree stump, owl and rabbit devise a plan to get the perfect tree for elephant. They make a tree house around the tree stump so when elephant wakes up, he’s in a tree… big enough for all three to play together! A friend sticks closer than a brother!
I also enjoyed EIEIO: How Old MacDonald Got His Farm by Judy Sierra. Old MacDonald had a home in a neighborhood with a nice big green yard. After a hard day of mowing, he decided a goat would help. The goat was not effective, so a wise little red hen joined in. With the plan to convert the yard to a garden, the neighbors began to protest the process of mud and garbage. From dirt to mud, garbage to poop, and finally, seeds to a lush garden of fruits and vegetables… neighbors came to partake in the abundance of the harvest. Concepts of composting and raised-bed gardening are included along with honey producing bees and making cheese from goat milk. A take-off from the old familiar Old MacDonald will entice the young and old readers!
What if your box of crayons talked? In The Day the Crayons Quit, Duncan’s crayons did, and they told him just how they felt. Gray wanted to know why he always had to color the huge animals like elephants and hippos… yellow and orange argued over who was the color of the sun… and Peach, well he was just plumb embarrassed because he was NAKED! Each color has written a letter to Duncan to express their feelings. In the end, Duncan heeds their requests and colors a new picture. What a great way to introduce letter writing to young students! Students can then write their own letter to Duncan or to their favorite crayon.
All botany lovers will adore Dirty Gert by Tedd Arnold. Little Gert stays in the dirt from sun-up to sun-down. Her parents allow Gert to fulfill her outdoor desires. Then to everyone’s surprise Gert begins to ‘take root.’A vocabulary-rich, rhyming story lends itself to discussion and activities. This story could be paired with Daisy-Head Mayzie by Dr. Seuss for a compare and contrast exercise.
In Pig Kahuna Pirates! by Jennifer Sattler, baby brother Dink is in a grumpy mood after waking from his nap. Older brother Fergus invites him to swim and build a castle. Even though Dink does not contribute, Fergus continues to build his dream sand-ship. Once the ship is finished, Fergus continued to include his brother by making him pirate. Dink was now ready to play the part with his pirate hat, his stink eye and his expression ‘Aaarrrgh!’ The joys of brotherly love!