Tag Archive for second grade

Digby O’Day and the Great Diamond Robbery

Written by Shirley Hughes
Illustrated by Clara Vulliamy

A cat and dog can sometimes be best friends and are in this chapter book. Digby and Percy are headed off on for a seaside vacation in a posh hotel in this installment of the series.

On their way to the hotel dining room the first night, they were surprised by the arrival of a famous movie star with all her entourage and many reporters and photographers. Later in the evening they noticed a man swept off the jetty and into the sea. Working mightily together, they managed to rescue him from the sea.

After the famous star has her diamond necklace stolen, Digby and Percy manage to find it along with many other stolen gems. They saved the day and became heroes.

The chapters are short, the font large and the pages thick. Many grade two readers and grade three readers will read this independently. There are some unusually large words included for this age group, but literacy decoding skills and context clues should make the story manageable. The sketches will also help by providing picture clues. As a series for emerging readers, this offers a fun start. Teachers and librarians will know which students will benefit from being recommended to try this series.

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  • Digby O'DayTitle: Digby O’Day and the Great Diamond Robbery
  • Author: Shirley Hughes
  • Illustrator: Clara Vulliamy
  • Publisher: Candlewick Press, 2015
  • Reviewer: Elizabeth Swartz
  • Format: Hardcover, 106 pages
  • ISBN: 978-0-7636-7445-8
  • Genre: Chapter Book
  • Grade level: K to 3
  • Extras: map of the story world, maze, one page quiz of story, bios of author and illustrator

The Day the Crayons Came Home

Written by Drew Daywalt
Illustrated by Oliver Jeffers

Duncan’s crayons quit a while ago, but now they are headed back home. Well, some of them are supposed to be headed home. The title is a little confusing on this issue and kids will catch it for sure. One crayon is upstairs in Duncan’s room stuck to a sock, and one is down in the cushions in the couch. Another is standing in the hallway of Duncan’s house waiting for someone to open the door.

The first and last pages of the book are in normal font. However, as in the previous book about these crayon characters, the postcards supposedly written by the crayons are going to be hard for some children to read. They are in kid-like scrawl and in various colors.

Otherwise, it is a silly, fun kind of book destined to get giggles galore from young readers themselves and lots more when a literacy teacher or librarian reads it aloud. It would be great to use with older students when talking about character development. Writing curriculum standards will be met using this as discussion starters also in discussions of fact versus fiction and setting.

Art projects depicting crayons in touch conditions will be fun follow-up activities for classroom or story hour.

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  • CrayonsTitle: The Day the Crayons Came Home
  • Author: Drew Daywalt
  • Illustrator: Oliver Jeffers
  • Publisher: Philomel, 2015
  • Reviewer: Elizabeth Swartz
  • Format: Hardcover, 32 pages
  • ISBN: 978-0-399-17275-5
  • Genre: Picture Book
  • Grade level: K to 3

The Bingity- Bangity School Bus

Written by Fleur Conkling
Illustrated by  Ruth Wood

Fans of, The Poky Little Puppy, and, Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel, might also remember this Bingity-Bang School bus that sounds like a thousand tin cans. When Busby hears talk about how banged up and rickety he is becoming, he fears he is an embarrassment to the school children. He runs away, literally. After he goes flying down a hill he ends up rolling over and over crashing into a field. The children send out a search party and end up forcing the town to fix their pal, the school bus.

Today’s young readers will enjoy reading books that their grandparents read. But they will also be surprised at how many more words are in this picture book than in those they have become used to reading.

Literacy skills will be strengthened and this book can start interesting discussions about how the publishing industry has changed over the years. Parents, librarians and teachers can use this book to meet core curriculum standards in history and culture by talking about the community represented in this book. Do all children still ride busses? Do all children in a town go to the same school? Is it up to the town to pay for fixing the school bus?

Because of the heavier text, second and third grade readers are more likely to read this book independently than are first graders. The younger folks will love having it read to them while they study the brightly colored illustrations.

Favorite books from the Wonder Book line originally published in the 1940’s, 50’s, and 60’s are being reprinted by G & D Vintage, which is under the umbrella of Grosset & Dunlap. This is one of the reprints in the set.

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  • Bingity-Bangity School BusTitle: The Bingity- Bangity School Bus
  • Author: Fleur Conkling
  • Illustrator:  Ruth Wood
  • Publisher: G & D Vintage, 2015
  • Reviewer: Elizabeth Swartz
  • Format: Hardcover, 32 pages
  • ISBN: 978-0-448-48763-2


The Impossible Voyage of Kon-Tiki

Written and Illustrated by Deborah Kogan Ray

Publishers are starting to reveal fall titles, and fall is looking good!

Scientists agree that the people of the world began in one region and slowly scattered across the globe. But there is very little agreement how the scattering occurred. Just a lot of theories and speculation. After spending a year living among the Polynesians on Fatu Hiva, Thor Heyerdahl speculated that Polynesians crossed the vast Pacific on rafts from Peru. The folk stories and similar names were enough to make him wonder. Of course, few people believed such a journey was even possible. Heyerdahl and his crew proved it was possible. They lashed together balsa wood with hemp rope and fashioned a single mast and a bamboo cabin. Navigation was by sextant, and much of their food was from the sea. Rogue waves and a storm were nearly enough to cause them to issue a distress call from their radio, but they stuck with it and reached Polynesia. No one will ever know for sure that ancient people made this voyage, but Heyerdahl proved it could have happened.

The story so fascinates readers that Heyerdahl’s original account of the voyage was translated into seventy languages and is still in print sixty years later. Ray’s beautiful illustrations give the reader the feeling of being there for the voyage and encourage the desire to travel to the places mentioned.

Second graders will learn about anthropology, Polynesia, and rugged travel. They will also get a chance to hone literacy skills and learn that the seemingly impossible may not be.

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  • Kon-TikiTitle: The Impossible Voyage of Kon-Tiki
  • Author/Illustrator: Deborah Kogan Ray
  • Published: Charlesbridge, October 13, 2015
  • Reviewer: Sue Poduska
  • Format: Hardcover, 40 pages
  • Grade Level: 2 to 5
  • Genre: Nonfiction, anthropology
  • ISBN: 978-1-58089-620-7


The Whodunit Detective Agency: The Circus Mystery

Written by Martin Widmark
Illustrated by Helena Willis

Kids love to solve mysteries and this third mystery in The Whodunit Detective Agency series is a fun one. Circus tents and balloon sellers bring excitement to town that can only be topped by a backpack wearing money who bows at his costumers.

Stolen cell phones and lost wallets raise crowd tensions between shows and get the local sheriff involved. His friends and sometimes crime stopper helpers, Jerry and Maya, come to the show intent on solving it.

Newly independent grade three and grade four readers will enjoy this mystery they can solve on their own to solve the crime. Clues are cleverly placed and details explained. Large font on clean white paper make the book approachable. Full color sketches keep the readers entertained and take them right into the circus tents.

Readers will enjoy getting to know Jerry and Maya and will look forward to more crime solving with them in their town of Pleasant Valley as the series continues.

Maps of the town as well as a gallery of characters who will appear in the story are presented in the beginning pages inviting readers to jump in and get to know them even before the story begins. Parents, teachers and librarians can get reluctant readers involved in this series by reading a chapter or two aloud. Or by using the technique, you read a page and then I’ll read a page.

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  • Circus MysteryTitle: The Whodunit Detective Agency: The Circus Mystery
  • Author: Martin Widmark
  • Illustrator: Helena Willis
  • Publisher: Grosset Dunlap/Penguin
  • Reviewer: Elizabeth Swartz
  • Format: Paperback, 2015
  • ISBN: 978-0-448-48070-1
  • Genre: Fiction, Mystery
  • Grade level: 2 to 4

Sona and the Wedding Game

Written by Kashmira Sheth
Illustrated Yoshiki Jaeggi

Weddings are events surrounded by mystery for young children. We look forward to the excitement and fun, but sometimes feel a little left out. In this story, we learn how one tradition within the Eastern Indian community deals with that feeling. This is, after all, the first wedding Sona has ever attended.

The young sister of the bride is given the task of stealing the groom’s shoes during the ceremony. This seems like an odd task until you realize he will take his shoes off for the ceremony. If she is able to steal his shoes then he must bargain with her to get them back. This seems like a lovely tradition intended to help bring the siblings of the new family together.

Sona is nervous, of course. She can’t think of any way to steal his shoes during the ceremony for a long time. But, in the end, she is successful. Readers will wonder what she will want to bargain with the groom for to get his shoes back, some will already know what she wants.

Included in this story of tradition, is the painting of hands and the application of kumkum on the forehead of the groom for good luck. Parts of the wedding ceremony itself are included such as praying to Lord Ganesh and having the priest tie together the sashes of the bride and groom.

The illustrations of traditional clothing, garlands and surroundings are stunning. The watercolors are bright and authentic.  It is a truly beautiful book.

Teachers, librarians and parents of elementary children will enjoy this look into the wedding traditions of East Indian Americans. Second grade and third grade classrooms can fulfill the core curriculum standards for literacy, art, culture, history, and traditions by using this beautiful book. There are also several vocabulary words introduced in the text that would be familiar to some children of East Indian descent, although the author’s note is quick to say that India is a large country and not all the traditions are kept the same in every region.

Still, this is a beautiful look into a world we may not all have visited yet.

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  • SonaTitle: Sona and the Wedding Game
  • Author: Kashmira Sheth
  • Illustrator: Yoshiki Jaeggi
  • Publisher:  Peachtree, 2015
  • Reviewer: Elizabeth Swartz
  • Format: Hardcover, 32 pages
  • ISBN: 973-1-56145-735-9
  • Genre: Fiction – East Indian Customs, Weddings, East Indian Americans
  • Grade level: PreK to 4
  • Extras: Author’s Note further describes the wedding traditions and tells a little bit about how they are changing over time.

Toad Weather

Written by Sandra Markle
Illustrated by Thomas Gonzalez

Ally thinks because it is raining there is nothing to do. Wrong!  An outdoor adventure with her mother and grandmother helps her discover a whole new world. A colorful world swirling with the colors of umbrellas reflected in sidewalk puddles unfolds before her as well as the twisted rainbows caused by oil drops on city streets.

She discovers worms who love rainy days because their skin needs to stay wet all the time.

This isn’t just any story to entertain readers about a rainy day it is based in researched science. This book will fulfill the core curriculum standards in natural science, environmental science, climate changes and even migration.

When they find the traffic stopped and investigate further they see toads, toads and more toads in a mob trying to cross the highway. The police have a detour set up and people are even picking up the toads and carrying them across safely.

Sandra Markle does a great job of including all the senses that children use to learn about their surroundings, well, not taste this time. But the sound of rain pounding on buildings and umbrellas, as well as the sight, is important for children to notice.

The illustrations of Thomas Gonzalez mimic the colors and textures of a rainy day. It is amazing how the puddles on the front cover give the 3-D impression that once you touch the cover, your fingers will be wet. And the toad looks like you can reach out and pick it up.

This is a great book for teachers, librarians, and parents to use for teaching science skills as well as explaining how many things there are to enjoy on a rainy day. It is so much fun there is no way kids will only want to hear it read over and over again on only rainy days.

Second grade and third grade readers will be able to read and enjoy this book on their own.

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  • Toad WeatherTitle: Toad Weather
  • Author: Sandra Markle
  • Illustrator: Thomas Gonzalez
  • Publisher: Peachtree, 2015
  • Reviewer: Elizabeth Swartz
  • Format: Hardcover, 32 pages
  • ISBN:  978-1-56145-818-9
  • Genre: Nonfiction, Weather, Climate, Toads, Migration
  • Grade level: 1 to 4
  • Extras: The author’s note at the end of the book explains a real toad migration that happens each spring near Philadelphia, PA.

Seeds of Freedom: The Peaceful Integration of Huntsville, Alabama

Written by Hester Bass
Illustrated by E.B. Lewis
Lest the struggles for civil rights be forgotten, it’s important to look at the conditions along the road to freedom. Admittedly, we still have a long way to go due to hatred and prejudice. Many people fought and died for the incremental freedoms we now have. Riots and bombings happened many times. But, in Huntsville, a city that also saw the development of rockets for the space program, the movement forward was not marked by violence. Segregation was so strong that blacks weren’t even allowed to try on shoes. They had to carry outlines of their feet to the shoe store. For many weeks, blacks staged sit ins at lunch counters and left when asked or went to jail, sometimes with babies. Groups circled the courthouse with signs such as, “I Ordered a Cheeseburger, They Served Me a Warrant!” Finally, citizens remembered that white merchants relied so much on the revenue provided by blacks. For Easter 1962, a Blue Jean Sunday was declared. No money was spent on new clothes. Money was spent elsewhere whenever possible. Helium-filled balloons were released in the local parks. They carried messages of love and freedom. Rallies were conducted on both sides of the issue. At long last, schools were integrated. Many whites tried to prevent blacks from entering “their” school, but several white students also enrolled in the formerly black schools.
The story is greatly enhanced by the wonderful, action-filled illustrations of E.B. Lewis. The second grade reader can almost feel like she’s there, in the 1960s. A particularly poignant drawing of a young girl with impressions of her feet is memorable.

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  • Seeds of FreedomTitle: Seeds of Freedom: The Peaceful Integration of Huntsville, Alabama
  • Author: Hester Bass
  • Illustrator: E.B. Lewis
  • Publisher: Candlewick, 2015
  • Reviewer: Sue Poduska
  • Format: Hardcover, 32 pages
  • Grade Level: K to 3
  • Genre: Nonfiction, biography, history, civil rights movement
  • ISBN: 978-0-7636-6919-5
  • Extras: Detailed explanation of the events in Huntsville, bibliography

Pitter and Patter

Written by Martha Sullivan
Illustrated by Cathy Morrison

This colorful, creative nonfiction picture book traces the travels of two raindrops, named Pitter and Patter, throughout the narrative. Each raindrop follows a different path to the ocean.

Pitter lands in the valley and follows a stream. Patter plunks down in a meadow and follows the watershed. Each raindrop meets up with appropriate animals for the ecosystem being traveled through. All the sketches are detailed. Each double page spread is a look into one particular habitat. The text is sparse, readable, and complete. Readers will spend ample time studying the illustrations to understand the differences in how and where different animals live as well as how the water is moving always toward the ocean.

Pitter and Patter meet each other when they both reach the ocean. They are warmed by the sun’s rays, evaporate and return to the gray cloud above the sky. The diagrams as well as the story inclusion of the watershed and the water cycle clearly introduce, or reinforce these basic tenets of science, and therefore, definitely fulfill the core curriculum standards of elementary science. Literacy skills of reading for information standards will also be fulfilled in classrooms from kindergarten to grade 4 wherever this book is used.

Students can learn how to write about nonfiction topics and make their own diagrams to illustrate scientific facts from experiencing this book.

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  • Pitter and PatterTitle: Pitter and Patter
  • Author: Martha Sullivan
  • Illustrator: Cathy Morrison
  • Publisher: Dawn Publications, March 1, 2015
  • Reviewer: Elizabeth Swartz
  • Format: Paperback, 32 pages
  • ISBN:  978-1-58469-509-7
  • Genre: Nonfiction, water cycle
  • Grade level: K to 4
  • Extras: Explore More Endnotes include diagrams of the water cycle, the watershed, more information about animals included in the book

Cinderella’s Secret Slipper

Written by Alinka Rutkowska
Illustrated by Konrad Checinski

Written tongue-in-cheek, this lively speculation on Cinderella’s life after marriage necessarily dwells on the what-if factor. What if Cinderella and the Prince had a princelet? What if that child is quickly growing up and using his parents’ possessions for who-knows-what? What if he breaks one of the famous glass slippers shortly before a formal event to which Cinderella wants to where the glass slippers? Can the slipper be repaired? Should it be repaired? Is it replaceable? Can the shoe store help? What about a glass store? Maybe the fairy godmother is the answer. Maybe someone else has a firy godmother.

Checinski’s colorful illustrations follow the story well and show all the action and emotion.

This is a great lesson in problem-solving and provides a good starting point for discussion of the appropriateness the use of various substances, such as glass for footware. As a read-aloud, this book would provide a starting point for such discussions. As independent reading for second grade and above, it provides good practice for literacy skills.

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  • CinderellaTitle: Cinderella’s Secret Slipper
  • Author: Alinka Rutkowska
  • Illustrator: Konrad Checinski
  • Publisher: Capraro Press, 2015
  • Reviewer: Sue Poduska
  • Format: E-book, 36 pages
  • Grade Level: Pre-school to 4
  • Genre: Fiction, humor, family, folk tale
  • ISBN: 978-0983154754
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