Monday, August 29, 2011


Perhaps I should call this installment  "Off the 'Net". is a delightful site for children and adult Dr. Seuss fans of all ages.  Video clips, music, games, activities, and character sketches provide countless hours of fun on the website.  There is an author study and teacher lesson area, along with a tab for parents.  A visit to Seussville is a jog down memory lane!!!

Level:  all ages.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Joseph had a Little Overcoat

Joseph Had a Little Overcoat 
Penguin, 2000 Caldecott

Summary:  In this cut-out book, Joseph begins the story wearing a colorful overcoat.  As it becomes worn, with each page, he recuts the fabric to create a new, smaller garment.  From a vest to a scarf, he continues with each page until there is only enough fabric to cover a button. 

Lesson:  As part of Earth Day, we talk to the students about "Reduce, Reuse, & Recycle".  This is a great story to model how to reuse materials.  Instead of throwing away something when we are finished with it, we can find new uses.  A crafty follow-up would be to have them turn items into new products.  For example, with some string and the bottom half of a plastic bottle, they can make bird feeders.  Old cans can be decorated and turned into pencil holders.  Scrapped paper can be decorated into bookmarks.  Let your imagination sore!

Level:  K-2nd

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

AH, TO BE YOUNG AGAIN...The Definition of Retirement

As I was telling the students that their previous librarian had retired, I stopped to ask if anyone knew what "retirement" meant.  One brave fellow raised his hand and said, "It's when you are too tired to work anymore, so you don't go to work anymore."  Hello, ready for that retirement check already!  I hope everyone has a great Back to School and and a school year full of wonderment.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Austin Teen Book Festival

For all those fans of YA literature, the Austin Teen Book Festival will be taking place on Oct. 1 at the Austin Palmer Events Center.  It is Free and has tons of your favorite authors.  For more info, visit the website at

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Meet the Parents Night

It was billed as Meet the Teacher night, but really it was a chance to meet the whole family.  Tonight was my first glimpse of the community that attends my school.  I was so happy to see the kids peering in the windows at the books.  They brought their parents into the library and wandered around.  Many wanted to check out books right then!  I am excited to see such an eager group of kids.  The beginning of school is always such an exciting time.  I am really looking forward to working with these kids, and their parents. 

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

OFF THE SHELF -- An Egg is Quiet

An Egg is Quiet
Chronicle Books Llc, 2006

 The teacher had procured an egg and space heater so the kindergartners could watch the egg hatch a baby chick.  I suggested this book to her to help the children understand what was happening inside the egg.  Beautifully illustrated by Sylvia Long, a variety of eggs are described from birds to salmon. Children learn that eggs come in all colors and sizes. An X-ray perspective shows what is happening in the stages inside the eggs of several animals.  It's sister book, A Seed is Sleepy, likewise shows the many type of seeds and how they grow into plants and trees. 

level:  K - 5th

Monday, August 15, 2011

Hey, Al

Hey, Al 
by Arthur Yorinks , Richard Egielski (Illustrator)
Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1989 Caldecott

Summary:  Al's life is routine and plain, until he opens the door and is transported to a tropical island.  As he enjoys himself and relaxes, he becomes one with the island. 

Lesson:  A teacher was looking for a book to model word choice in replacing the overuse of  "he said".  In this book, Al squawks, croaks--anything but "says". 

Level: K-3rd

Sunday, August 14, 2011

OFF THE SHELF: Team Moon: How 400,000 People Landed Apollo 11 on the Moon

Team Moon: How 400,000 People Landed Apollo 11 on the Moon
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2006 Sibert Medal

This weekend, I accompanied a cub scout camp out at NASA.  The boys had so many questions about space, space flight, and the various missions.  I found myself recommending this book to them and their parents over and over again.  The book chronicles the Apollo 11 mission to the moon by showing all the work that went into building the rocket, capsule and limb; into the planning and training for the mission.  The book has authentic photographs and quotes from players at all stages.  The power of teamwork in achieving a goal is just important a theme of this book as learning about space flight.  A great book for kids and adults alike to learn more about what is involved in traveling to the moon. 

Level:  3rd and up

Koala Lou

Koala Lou
 Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 1994

Summary:  After his siblings are born, Koala Lou is feeling neglected by his mother.  He tries to gain her attention and affections by winning the Olympic Climbing contest.

Lesson:  After reading this story, which the children loved, we discussed Koala Lou's actions and motives.  Sibling rivalry for a parent's attention.  Pride from doing your best instead of winning.  The students made connections to real life and to movies/texts they had experienced.

Level:   K-2nd

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Air Show!

Air Show! 
Summary:  Children ride with their dad to an airshow, enjoying the feeling of flying in the small airplane.  Story is written by avid flier and flight instructor Treat Williams.  They then enjoy watching the stunt planes in the show.

Lesson:  During storytime, I read the book. The big pictures show flight from multiple perspectives.  Then I gave each student a sheet of paper.  By following my directions, they folded the paper into a paper airplane.  They then flew their planes.  On display, I had non-fiction books about flight and planes.

Level:  preK-2nd

Thursday, August 11, 2011

A Librarian's Dilemma: Separate, but Equal?

I am facing a dilemma as I begin my librarianship of a new library.  The retiring librarian had a collection of Spanish books (fiction and non-fiction) which she kept in a separate area from the English books.  When I see this, all I think of is "Separate but not equal".  The books are clearly labeled SP.  I am wanting to rearrange the library and to intermix the library collection so that a Spanish copy of Clifford sits next to the English copy. 85% of my population is labeled as Spanish being their primary language at home.   I would love some feedback from others about this dilemma:  to leave separate or to intermix the collection? 

Silly Tilly

Silly Tilly 
by Eileen Spinelli , David Slonim (Illustrator) 
Cavendish, Marshall, 2009

Summary:  Tilly is a silly goose, the silliest animal on the farm.  After the animals become too annoyed, Tilly starts to act seriously.  But then the animals realize how much they miss the silliness.

Lesson:  Sometimes you just have to be a little silly, especially in kindergarten.  It had rained for an entire week, and the students were very restless with no outside play.  I read this book and then we did silly physical antics like funny faces and jumping around.  It was a fun play day at the library.  Before sending them back to class, though, we talked about appropriate times for silliness, like Tilly had to learn. 

Level: PreK - 2nd

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

OFF THE SHELF -- Number the Stars

Number the Stars 
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 1989 Newbery Medal

Last year I had a fifth grader who was a ferocious reader.  She liked books that were realistic and gritty, but still was a Harry Potter fangirl.  I suggested Number the Stars, which is my favorite Lois Lowry novel.   This is not Anne Frank or The Book Thief: this is the story of a young girl growing up as she realizes that life is not a fairy tale.  Set against the Danish Resistance's drive to save the Jews from Hitler's machine, two 10-year old best friends see the world as a child where the Danish King lives well in his castle with his white horse and the Nazi soldiers are the big, bad wolves chasing small girls in red riding hoods.  As Annemarie's Danish family struggles to smuggle Ellen's Jewish family out of the country, the girls come to see the gritty underlying truth of war.  An excellent read for teens and adults.

Level:  4th and up

Monday, August 8, 2011

Officer Buckle and Gloria

Officer Buckle and Gloria 
Penguin, 1995, Caldecott 

Summary:  Officer Buckle's job is to give safety speeches to school staff and students.  No one really listens to him until he buddies up with a dog named Gloria.  What Officer Buckle doesn't know in the narrative text, but is visual in the pictures, is that Gloria is acting out the scenarios, capturing the audience's attention.  But when he finds out, can he handle being upstaged by his partner?

Lesson:  I use this book to talk about the powers of observation.  If you do not see the pictures, then the story doesn't make sense.   We also discuss the safety tips in the book.  Another topic is the power of teamwork. 

Level: PreK-2nd

Pink and Say

Pink and Say 
Penguin, 1994

Summary:  A true story handed down from the Civil War, a young injured white Union soldier is saved  befriended by a black Union soldier whose home is close to the battlefield.  As they hide out from the Confederate Army, they become fast friends. 

Lesson:  A 4th grade teacher was looking for books to use in her Black History month unit.  I suggested this one.  She held on to it, and referred back to it with her class when they reached the Civil War in Social Studies.  It could also be used to discuss tolerance.

Level:  3rd -5th

Sunday, August 7, 2011

You wouldn't want to be a ..... (Series)

You wouldn't want to be a ......(series)
various authors, Created by David Salariya
Children's Press

Summary: A fun look at a variety of jobs, lifes, and situations that humans have found themselves in throughout history:  16th Century whaling ships and germs, Egpytian mummies and American pioneers.  There's a book for just about everything, even Apollo 13 astronauts.  The books provide fascinating facts in an entertaining format.  There is a glossary of terms in the back.

Lesson:  One of my reading challenges asked the students to explore their world. To create a book display for this, I used several books that explored places, cultures and science.  I placed these books throughout the sections.  They were popular and often checked out.  The "Viking" book quickly became a classic, even after the challenge.

Level:  3rd - 6th

Thursday, August 4, 2011

OFF THE SHELF -- Joey Pigza Swallowed the Key

Joey Pigza Swallowed the Key
Harpercollins Childrens Books, 1999

Joey is a good-hearted, well-meaning child with ADHD and a single mom.  He explains life at school, home, and in between in this 1st person narrative.  He is just as perplexed by how things always seem to go wrong for him, and confused at how to control himself, as the adults are.  I feel reading this book made me a better and more understanding teacher/librarian.  As such, I often recommend it to other teachers.  The intended audience is adolescents, though.  Those with ADHD/ADD will find a kindred soul; those without will gain a better understanding of some of their peers.  A Finalist of the National Book Award, this is a must read book for anyone that works or spends time with children. 

Level:  4th and up

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

A Sick Day for Amos McGee

A Sick Day for Amos McGee 
by Philip C. Stead , Erin E. Stead (Illustrator) 
Roaring Brook Press, 2010  Caldecott Award

Summary:  The zookeeper Amos McGee gives all the animals special attention.  But when he takes a sick day, they come to give him special attention.

Lesson:  I used this book in a lesson about Fiction vs. NonFiction.  It was paired with the NonFiction title A Day in the Life of a Zookeeper by Nate LeBoutillier.  The book can also be used in lessons about animals and about compassion and caring for the sick. 

Level:  PreK-2nd

Ah, to be young again......

As I was typing up the book It's Christmas, David by David Shannon for the blog, I was laughing about the comments the students made as I read different pages.  They truly loved this book.  On one page, he writes his name in yellow in the snow.  Most of the kids thought he was using mustard (in their defense, it doesn't snow much in Texas).  They were properly scandalized when a classmate who knew better educated them.  There's always one in every class who delights in his sharing of his potty humor.  For once he got to shine! Also, no David book is complete without a scene where he strips down.  In this scene, the reader sees his hiney as he runs away.  Most of the kids were shocked and giggly.  One boy stated, "You shouldn't show that--there are girls in the room."  So glad to know that they've learned to keep their clothes on by kindergarten.  LOL.   Of course, it's always funny when someone else's kid does the shocking behavior instead of your own. 

It's Christmas, David!

It's Christmas, David! 
Scholastic, 2010 

Summary:  As usual, everyone's favorite bad boy, David, is up to his useful mischievous self.  As his curiosity lures him into trouble during the Christmas season, David learns what isn't socially acceptable.  

Lesson:  No one reinforces socially acceptable and unacceptable behaviors better than David.  Children love his books.  So I decided to read this one during December's storytime.  The kids laughed at David's antics and corrected his behavior.  Many of them made life connections between David and themselves.  This one stayed checked out for the rest of the school year. 

Level:  PreK-1st

Truckery Rhymes

Truckery Rhymes
David Gordon (Illustrator) , David Shannon (Illustrator) , Loren Long (Illustrator)
Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing, 2009

Summary:  Mother Goose meets Mater the Tow-Truck!  All of your favorite nursery rhymes have been taken down to the Trucktown body shop and given a major overhaul.  Be sure to wear your tool belt and hard hat while reading.  The illustrations by Gordon, Shannon, and Long add to the hilarity of this book. 

Lesson:  Previously, the Kindergartners had completed a unit on nursery rhymes.  It was wonderful to watch the students make the connections between that unit and this book, watching the light turn on above their heads with each one.  It was a great post-assessment tool.  Many of the teachers bought this book from the book fair after I showed them this. 

Level:  PreK-2nd

Monday, August 1, 2011

Hello Ocean

Hello Ocean
by Pam Munoz Ryan , Mark Astrella (Illustrator)
Charlesbridge Publishing, 2001

Summary: As a girl visits an ocean beach, she experiences it with all five of her senses. 

Lesson:  A teacher was looking for a book using imagery (sensory language) to show as a model for his writing unit on adding details.  I suggested this book.  Would also be a good book to pair with a lesson about oceans and beaches, especially for children who have never visited the ocean. 
Level:  K-3rd

Kid Tea

Kid Tea 
by Elizabeth Ficocelli , Glin Dibley (Illustrator)
Cavendish, Marshall Corp., 2007

Summary:  Each day the bathwater changes to a different color of tea as the colorful dirt (brown mud, purple popsicle juice, yellow paint) washes off.  A book that makes bathing fun instead of a chore for the kids.  Topics include colors, days of the week, hygiene, and beginning science (solutions).  
Lesson:  A teacher was looking for examples of writing using colors in his writing unit about adding details. I suggested this book.  It could also be used to teach colors to younger students, days of the week, hygiene, and beginning science (solutions). 
Level: PreK-2nd

Online Book: Edward and the Pirates

Edward and the Pirates
David McPhail
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 1997

Summary:  Edward loves to read; and when he reads, his imagination runs wild.  But when he reads a book about treasure maps, real pirates come to claim their booty.  Will Edward give up the book?

Lesson:  This online book is found on AOL Kids, along with several other stories.  As the narrator reads the story, the words are highlighted for the student reading along.  I chose this of all the stories because it showed the power of reading.  Afterwards, we made a list of the types of adventures it would be fun to read about.  Then the students used the online catalog to search for books about the subject they chose.  [I did this the week after teaching how to use the online catalog.]  This story is found at AOL Kids

Level:  PreK-3rd