Noisy Frog Sing-Along

Written & Illustrated by John Himmelman

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Frogs sing when they are together, but did you know that only the male frogs sing? Second grade readers will be thrilled to find out this and other fun facts about frogs and their loud singing voices. Second grade level readers will be able to read Noisy Frog Sing-Along independently yet the book will be enjoyed by younger readers who have it read
aloud.

Second grade teachers and parents will appreciate the scientific facts that will enhance lessons in the second grade classroom. The author also includes several activities that can be used to compliment lessons on frogs, nature, and the environment. More information on this book and other nature books by this author is available to parents and teachers at www.johnhimmelman.com  which includes a list of books and programs on singing amphibians and insects. What second grade teacher doesn’t appreciate additional information to enhance a lesson plan?

Noisy Frog Sing-Along is more than a silly picture book about frogs making throat noises. It is a great addition to any second grade classroom or home school collection. The text is
simple, the illustrations are interesting and engaging, and the additional scientific facts make this a great book for the second grade reader.

More information: www.nature@dawnpub.com

  • Noisy FrogTitle: Noisy Frog Sing-Along
  • Author/Illustrator: John Himmelman
  • Publisher: Dawn Publications 2013
  • Reviewer: Terri Forehand
  • Genre: Picture Book, Creative Nonfiction
  • ISBN: 978-1-58469-339-0

I Hate Picture Books!

Written & Illustrated by Timothy Young

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Max vows to throw away of all his picture books, because they do nothing but cause him trouble. He read Harold and the Purple Crayon, but when he drew on the walls like Harold, his mother sent him to his room. When he wished a boat would take him away to Where the Wild Things Are, nothing happened. He woke up in his same old room with his same old picture books – the ones he now hates.

Readers will relish being in on the joke as Max complains that picture books make no sense (“Cows can’t type… and caterpillars don’t eat salami or Swiss cheese…”). And they will laugh out loud at a hilarious bit about what happens when you take Dr. Seuss’ Green Eggs and Ham too seriously. As Max rants on and on, he realizes that he hates his picture books because sometimes they cause him to have strong emotions, like the time Are You My Mother? made him cry. Remembering that moment triggers something inside him to run to the trash and dig out the discarded book, and before you know it, he is lying on his floor with all his picture books around him, reading them again and again and again.

Perfect for second graders who may be advancing to early readers, Young reinforces how picture books stimulate our imaginations and stay with us long after we graduate from them. His skillful recreations of classic illustrations will have readers chanting, “I’ve read that one!” and will whet the appetite for those who haven’t.

Reading activities could easily stem from the hundreds of familiar book covers that appear within the pages.

  • i hate picture booksTitle: I Hate Picture Books!
  • Author/Illustrator: Timothy Young
  • Publisher: Schiffer Publishing, Ltd., 2013
  • Reviewer: Lauren Abbey Greenberg
  • Format: Hardcover, 32 pages
  • ISBN: 978-0-7643-4387-2
  • Genre: Picture Book, humor, contemporary, books

Train

Written & Illustrated By Elisha Cooper

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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

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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 

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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

 

 

Monkey and Elephant Get Better

Written by Carole Lexa Schaefer
Illustrated by Gaila Bernstein

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Every story of friends has an annoyance. The question is how do you get around the annoying tendencies of your pals. Monkey and Elephant are good pals. They do everything together. Monkey likes shiny rocks. So does Elephant. Monkey likes to sing. So does Elephant. Monkey is tired of Elephant copying, even to the point of sneezing after she sneezes. But Elephant isn’t copying, at least not with the sneezes. Elephant is sick. Now Monkey forgets about the concerns of copying in order to take care of her friend. Monkey thinks she knows exactly what will make Elephant feel better, but Elephant is different than Monkey and needs different things. When Elephant gets better Monkey gets sick and the roles reverse. The sweet, if not unexpected ending, is that both friends celebrate their own strengths and appreciate the strengths of the other.

 

Monkey and Elephant Get Better is an early chapter book, written for the emerging reader and answers questions every young elementary school student faces: What is copying, or how do we make ourselves unique? How can we feel better when we’re sick? And how can we show we care about our friends when they are sick? While later books will get into more details about these questions, Schaefer does an excellent job of paring down to the core issues that puzzle these young learners. Second grade readers will enjoy reading this on their own. While it is longer than most picture books, it is illustrated with bright and informative paintings that will help with the reading comprehension of those trying to match the image to the word.

 

  • Monkey and ElephantTITLE: Monkey and Elephant Get Better
  • AUTHOR: Carole Lexa Schaefer
  • ILLUSTRATOR: Gaila Bernstein
  • PUBLISHER: Candlewick Press, 2013
  • REVIEWER: Amy S. Hansen
  • EDITION: hardcover, 42 pages
  • ISBN: 978-0-7636-4841-1
  • GENRE: Early Chapter book, Fiction
  • LEXILE: 390

The Favorite Daughter

Written and Illustrated by Allen Say

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Yuriko is a Japanese name that causes embarrassment to a little girl at school when her new teacher pronounces it incorrectly. She wishes she has a plain regular name and decides to change her name for a day or two. During the story, though, she finds out why her name is part of who she really is. This is a wonderful story for all children to find out more about names.

The children tease and bully her about her name and the fact that Japanese dolls all have black hair, while the hair on her doll and on her head is blonde. It is a wonderful multi-cultural story about how we can all fit in while still being different.

As a read aloud, it will strength understanding of how some families have different backgrounds from our own. It will give an opening for parents, teachers and librarians to discuss how we treat those who might have a different name or different kind of family than our own.

Second grade and third grade readers will be able to read this story independently while younger ones will need to have it read aloud. It has beautiful illustrations and an interesting parallel story line about an art project that the author uses to strengthen the idea of individualism.

The core curriculum requirements for many areas can be met using this book. It compares Japanese bridges with the Golden Gate in illustrations, the use of chopsticks, eating sushi and differences between languages with the illustration of Japanese ink painting.

Extras: This book could be used in a geography or culture class when students are studying Japan and Japanese customs. The art project about the golden gate bridge can be changed to include any important structure in any community. The illustration of the Japanese ink painting can be used to spark projects of research or painting. There are also a couple of expressions in the Japanese language to intrigue students for future exploration.

  • Favorite DaughterTitle: The Favorite Daughter
  • Author/Illustrator: Allen Say
  • Publisher: Arthur A. Levine, Scholastic, 2013
  • Reviewer: Elizabeth Swartz
  • Format: Hardcover/32 pages
  • ISBN:  978-0-545-17662-0
  • Genre: Fiction, social studies, culture

Zoe’s Room (No Sisters Allowed)

Written and Illustrated by Bethanie Deendy Murgia

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This wonderful read aloud explores family dynamics as the little sister, still in a crib, is moved into Zoe’s room. Now Zoe cannot turn on the light and continue to play after she is sent to bed. At the same time it is listened to, it will be modeling voice inflection, fluency and dialogue.

Her play is wildly imaginative as she is the queen of the universe, explores uncharted territory and sets the table for morning royal tea. Until the sister arrives and every little thing wakes her up and sends Mom and Dad running into the room.

Finally, it is during a scary thunderstorm when the queen hops into the crib for safety and comfort. It is a good example of a main character solving her own problems, and in this case, it is with the help of an unwitting sibling.

Literacy skills such as picture clues, context clues and dialogue can be taught and strengthened for first grade readers, second grade readers and third grade readers just starting to enjoy books independently.

  • Zoes RoomTitle:  Zoe’s Room
  • Author/Illustrator: Bethanie Deendy Murgia
  • Publisher: Arthur A. Levine Books, Scholastic, Inc. 2013
  • Reviewer: Elizabeth Swartz
  • Format: Hardcover, 32 pages
  • ISBN:  978-0-545-45781-1
  • Genre: Fiction, family

Jo MacDonald Hiked in the Woods

Written by Mary Quattlebaum

Illustrated by Laura J. Bryant

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This delightful picture book uses a favorite children’s song to accompany a little girl and her grandfather on a hike through the woods. Each time they come upon a new animal, the song’s repetitive E-I-E-I-O ends with a fun twist related to the animal. For instance, the chipmunk ends the verse with chomp, chomp.

The active verbs in the story are related to different actions or sounds that people and animals can make, for example, walk, pad or shuffle, shuffle. A fun reading activity would be to have students “hike” around the classroom changing their steps to match their new vocabulary words.

Many literacy skills can be strengthened and practiced with this story. Rhyming words, sequencing, rhythm and reading for details are just a few.

The illustrations are correct so students will learn about the animal habitats and habits from the picture clues.  In-depth information about each of the animals can be found in the end notes and read aloud with explanations for the younger students.

Second grade readers will greatly enjoy reading this book on their own. Young readers will enjoy hearing it read aloud over and over as they sing the song along with you. Reading games will be fun to create using the information Mary included in the back of the book. There are nine animals included in the books and three of them are nocturnal. There is a great opportunity here for cross curricular activities and to meet the core curriculum science and nature requirements.

The information in the back, meant for grown-ups, provide activities related to science, being a naturalist, and being a courteous hiker.

This is the third in a series of books about Jo MacDonald. Her first two adventures included: Jo MacDonald Saw a Pond and Jo MacDonald Had a Garden.

Extras:  End pages provide multiple activities, more are available for downloading at www.dawnpub.com

  • jo mcdonald hikedTitle: Jo MacDonald Hiked in the Woods
  • Author: Mary Quattlebaum
  • Illustrator: Laura J. Bryant
  • Publisher: Dawn Publications, Nevada City, 2013
  • Reviewer: Elizabeth Swartz
  • Format: Paperback/32 pages
  • ISBN:  978-1-58469-335-2
  • Genre: Creative Non-fiction
  • Lexile: NA

Dodsworth in Tokyo

Written by Tim Egan

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Dodsworth in Tokyo is the newest installment in Tim Egan’s series about two characters, Dodsworth and a duck, traveling around the globe. Egan introduced readers to Dodsworth in The Pink Refrigerator, and though many fans consider the character of Dodsworth to be a mouse, the author himself is unsure. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly that can be found online, Tim Egan said, “I think he’s a mouse. I’ll never declare it.”

Whatever animal Dodsworth happens to be, he’s a delight in each of his books as he travels with his companion, a misbehaving duck. Prior to traveling to Tokyo, Dodsworth and the duck visited New York, Paris, London, and Rome in other books of similar names.

In the adventure in Tokyo, late first grade or second grade readers will delight and giggle as the duck bumps into a rickshaw while busily looking at the signs along the crowded street, and falls into a koi pond. The duck has to be rescued by Dodsworth. Who knew a duck couldn’t swim? This in turn, causes a lady to send a tray of wagashi (Japanese desserts) flying through the air. But the duck redeems himself by returning a little girl’s favorite toy, a kendama.

Author Tim Egan succeeds effortlessly in teaching readers about Japanese culture and introducing Japanese words, like, arigato, rickshaw, bonsai trees, karate, kendama, wagashi, sumi-e paintings, Zen temple, Taiko drummers, and sushi.

Because some of the words do not follow phonetic rules, this book would be best for skilled first or second grade readers if the children are reading the book alone. Even skilled readers may need pronunciation help with many of the words. However, this book would make an excellent addition to a geography lesson about Japan, as a read aloud by the teacher. A class might enjoy reading the Dodsworth books in order of completion, with a world map displayed on a board. Place flags on the map of the various places Dodsworth visits and encourage the kids to learn to recognize the cities and countries Dodsworth and his misbehaving duck visit.

  • Dodsworth in TokyoTITLE: Dodsworth in Tokyo
  • AUTHOR: Tim Egan
  • PUBLISHER: Houghton Mifflin Books for Children/ Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • REVIEWER: Julie Lavender
  • FORMAT: Hard Cover, 48 pages
  • ISBN: 978-0-547-87745-7
  • GENRE: Humor
  • LEXILE: 400
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