Archive for October 25, 2013


Written & Illustrated By Elisha Cooper

Buy on Amazon

While this realistic fiction picture book reads like a nonfiction book, the illustrator does admit that the train station in San Francisco picture in the book is entirely fictional.

Tickets are purchased and passengers race to catch the train. The paintings are beautiful and realistic. Any child who has ridden a train will love revisiting the experience and those who have not will be daydreaming about it until they do.

All the buttons and gauges the engineer sees and touches are in the illustration as well as the beautiful countryside that they are driving through.

True life announcements are made on the intercom system as factories, cities and other trains go whooshing on by.

All different kinds of container cars are pictured and explained, but not overly explained. Readers are still left to wonder what might be in each ones as it flies on by. Then the train is chugging through the Rocky Mountains with all of its wonderful eagles, moose and deer outside.

The overnight train has a fancy dining car and a sleeping car with fold-out seats that turn into beds for comfy sleeping while the train continues through the mountains.

Second grade readers and third grade readers will enjoy reading this book of sparse text and detailed pictures over and over as they study the pictures and feel the excitement of the trip.

Literacy skills of every kind can be practiced in this story as well as core curriculum geography by providing a map for children to mark while reading about the trains travels. It would also work extremely well in a transportation unit as a read aloud for kindergarten or first grade readers.

  • TrainTitle: Train
  • Author/Illustrator: Elisha Cooper
  • Publisher: Orchard Books/Scholastic, 2013
  • Reviewer: Elizabeth Swartz
  • Format: Hardcover, 32 pages
  • ISBN:  978-0-545-38495-7
  • Genre: Realistic Fiction

Trouper: Based on a True Rescue Story

Written by Meg Kearney
Illustrated by E.B. Lewis

Buy on Amazon

The story starts with Trouper, a stray three-legged dog running with a pack of dogs on the streets until they are all captured and loaded up in the dog catcher’s truck.

The dog in this true story was taken first to a kill shelter, then rescued by another shelter. There is no mention of the kill shelter in the children’s book. It is only in the preliminary material so can be shared with readers, but doesn’t have to be. The full color illustrations show him as he waited and waited for someone to choose him and take him home.

Children will love this story of how dogs and puppies watch for new owners to come and pick them out.

This lovely book was developed together by the award winning poet, Meg Kearney and Caldecott Honor winner, the illustrator E.B. Lewis.

Second grade readers will be able to read the short text individually and will be able to use their newly developed literacy skills of context clues, predicting outcomes, and realizing the related cause and effects.


  • TrouperTitle: Trouper: Based on a True Rescue Story
  • Author: Meg Kearney
  • Illustrator: E.B. Lewis
  • Publisher: Scholastic Press, New York, 2013
  • Reviewer: Elizabeth Swartz
  • Format: Hardcover, 32 pages
  • ISBN:  978-0-545-10041-0
  • Genre: Nonfiction

Trick or Treat

Writtten by Leo Landry 

Buy on Amazon

Trick or Treat is a fun picture book for kids whether they have it read aloud or are able to read it independently.  Second grade level readers should have no problem reading independently and the illustrations and the twist at the end of the story will keep them engaged and turning the page.

Teachers will appreciate this addition to the first or second grade classroom library especially during the month of October because it is such a fun Halloween book with a hint of scary without being offensive to parents or too frightening to the reader.

Trick or Treat is a wonderful example of a story that has levels of comprehension and meaning told with few words. It is not just an ordinary Halloween party story but a party with unexpected human guests. The fact that the main character was not expecting two children to appear is just one fun twist to what the author shares throughout the story.

The book offers the teacher an opportunity to ask great questions of the reader to test second grade reader comprehension and also to encourage students to write their own fun Halloween stories. The ending itself offers much room for classroom discussion because it leaves the main character in a cliff hanging predicament, a perfect time to ask the students what they would do.

From the invitation on the jacket flap to the hysterical twist at the end of the story, the story will be enjoyed by adults and the young readers who master the pages.

  • trick or treatTitle: Trick or Treat
  • Author: Leo Landry
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Books for Children 2012
  • ISBN: 978-0-547-24969-8
  • Reviewer: Terri Forehand