Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Anything But the Ordinary

As a Mom of two young girls, we have an abundance of books at our disposal. I had an Aunt growing up who was a librarian and instilled the love of reading to me, and I always knew that I would continue that love when I had children. However, lately I have found myself bored with the selection of books at our house. Taking my daughters to the Iowa City Public Library is an excellent option, but alas, they continue to want to read the same type of book - Curious George, Berenstain Bears, to name a few. I wanted to change up this habit and that is what this weeks book selections are - anything but the ordinary.

When I was looking for books to read, I wanted the books to speak to me. I walked through the Curriculum Lab and found titles that made me snicker. I thought that if the title could make me laugh, that maybe the contents of the books would as well. Some of them did, some did not, and some confused me as to how the author came up with the title to begin with. Please enjoy my rantings about the books, let me know if the books sound interesting, or if you have read them.

Bubble-Gum Radar by Rosemary Wells (Hyberion Books, 2002); Illustrated by Jody Wheeler

The story was fairly predictable for the messages offered in books for children between the ages of 5 and 7. The authors message was for everyone to realize that their actions can affect those around them. The author and illustrator were smart to use animals to portray the characters in this book. The idea of animals brings the young readers attention into the book. I know that my oldest wants to be a veterinarian and devours books that have animals as the characters. I felt that the overall message was good but the use of a "bubble-gum radar" was not clearly established. I would consider using this book if I had students who appeared to be the class bullies, but would probably not have this book in my own class library.

Max and Mo's First Day of School by Patricia Lakin (Aladdin, 2007); Illustrated by Brian Floca
An easy read that gives an animals view of the first day of school. Max and Mo are hamsters who attend school with the Art teacher who brings them for inspiration. When they are called the wrong names by the "big ones" or students, they set off on an adventure to create a name tag.

This book is designed for students just learning to read and is considered a "Level 1" reading book. The story is simple and easy to follow and the illustrations are quite lifelike. What I liked the most about this book is that the author included the "name tag" project that Max and Mo completed. By providing the students a hands on activity to complete, I believe the author brought the message of getting to know everyone full circle. I would consider having this book in my classroom library, but will 100% be completing the craft project that was provided at the end of the book.

The Star Grazers by Christine Widman (Harper & Row, 1989); Illustrated by Robin Spowart
I stumbled across this book and was really drawn in by the illustrations. Spowart has an unusual "grainy" style to his art, and you feel as if you are being transported into a dream. As I was reading the book it appears that this was the image that the author was hoping to achieve. While the illustrations are amazing, the story itself is never fully explained. There appears to be no meaning to the story that I can find. This book is truly one that the illustrations and the story have nothing in common. I really enjoyed the artwork of Mr. Spowart and will hope to find more of his illustrations in the future.

Morris the Moose by B. Wiseman (Harper & Row, 1989); Illustrated by B. Wiseman

OK, I will admit that I have a little bit of a love for moose. That is the reason that I chose this book. Never judge a book by its cover. While the illustrations are cute, the book itself is ridiculously juvenile. The story of a moose who believes that everyone he meets is a moose because they look like him, the story lost interest for me after he thought the cow was a deer because it had four legs.
This book really would only serve a purpose in my classroom library to help support those who have reading difficulties because the text is simpler.

Hooray for Fly Guy by Tedd Arnold (Scholastic, 2008)
A cute story of a boy and his pet fly. Fly Guy lets the reader believe that it is not your size that matters but what you can contribute to the effort that does. It is also a good story of friendship. The illustrations are really cute and bold in color. The story was fun and easy to read. I really liked the overall appearance of this book as well. The illustrations drew you in (who wouldn't like a fly that looks like Fly Guy?), and the story kept you interested. The theme of the book is one that would mix well with a "Character Counts" unit.
** I am completing this blog entry with all of my pictures books together because that is how I was formatting it before we attended class this week. From now on the blogs with be done individually. I will be posting my response to my novel choice separately. Sorry for the confusion.**

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