Friday, February 26, 2010

This morning I read a wonderful interview with Elizabeth Fitzgerald Howard over at The Brown Bookshelf, and it inspired me to dust off our copy of Aunt Flossie's Hats (and Crabcakes Later) for the younger grades. All year they've been talking about how to recognize and write "small moments," and this story is a lovely example.

Aunt Flossie's Hats (and Crab Cakes Later) Aunt Flossie's Hats by Elizabeth Fitzgerald Howard

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
A sweet story about two girls visiting their elderly aunt, who has a story to go with each of her remarkable hats. A nice example of Calkins's "small moments."

This week we also spent some more time with poetry -- 811 in the Dewey Decimal System. Christopher Myers's Black Cat was a totally different style than the book we read last week, Meet Danitra Brown, but equally fun to listen to.

Black Cat (Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor Books) Black Cat by Christopher Myers

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
The mixed-media illustrations and the assonance and alliteration in the poems makes this story of a cat's journey across town a crowd-pleasing read-aloud for fourth and fifth graders. Neat to compare and contrast with Fly -- two very different, cool offerings from the same talented author/illustrator.

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Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Fancy footwork

This week in the library, we've read a few books that feature fancy footwork: Charles R. Smith Jr.'s Winning Words: Sports Stories & Photographs and Debbie Allen's Dancing In The Wings.

In Winning Words, we read a chapter about football, a mini-play about a team with no points and (needless to say) no wins for an entire season. Faced with their final game, can the few uninjured players left on the team score and win? You have to read it to find out!

Winning Words: Sports Stories and Photographs Winning Words: Sports Stories and Photographs by Charles R. Smith Jr.

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

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Dancing In The Wings Dancing In The Wings by Debbie Allen

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
We love the story of Sassy, a would-be ballerina with big feet and too-long legs -- not least because of her big, funny mouth! A fun read-aloud that's a crowd-pleaser with boys as well as girls, with a good reminder that being different isn't a bad thing.

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Thursday, February 11, 2010

Ms. Carlson's dream: coming true.

For years, Ms. Carlson has wished for All-School Meetings that were just like Reading Rainbow. Now, thanks to the third graders and their marvelous teachers, her dream can come true! From now until the end of the year, we will be featuring student booktalks at each All-School Meeting and here on the blog. If you would like to do a booktalk, come see Ms. Claire. Any student in any grade can prepare a booktalk on almost any book for Ms. Claire to videotape and put up here!

Today we heard Ryan and August talk about Two Days in May by Harriet Peck Taylor:

and Nick and Sefora, booktalking Jalapeno Bagels by Natasha Wing:

More booktalks coming soon!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Poetry and friendship: Danitra Brown, Class Clown

Some second through fifth graders had a chance to hear this book of poems this week. If you're looking for a book that shows how a really great friend can make life better, look no further than this sequel to Meet Danitra Brown.

Danitra Brown, Class Clown Danitra Brown, Class Clown by Nikki Grimes

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I love that these short rhyming poems create such a strong narrative about friendship and school. They offer a great opportunity to discuss character development. The watercolor illustrations complement the sweetness of the poems, while the rhymes make the narrative as catchy as it is realistic.

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Monday, February 8, 2010

Last week, first graders and kindergarteners heard a few favorites from Donald Crews; this week, we're reading a compilation of nursery rhymes photoillustrated by his talented daughter Nina Crews.

The Neighborhood Mother Goose (Ala Notable Children's Books. Younger Readers (Awards)) The Neighborhood Mother Goose by Nina Crews

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Kindergarten and first graders love this collection of old favorite and new (to most) nursery rhymes, and the photoshopped pictures are endlessly exciting. A fun and interactive read-aloud.

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Wednesday, February 3, 2010

February kicks off the African-American Read-In and third graders' African-American author reports. We read books by African-American authors and other authors of color all year round, but February is when we get to focus almost exclusively on these authors and our favorites of their books.

Parents, please remember that the library is here as you help your child select an author and book for their report! Ms. Claire loves matching readers with books, and we have hundreds of books at all levels to choose from. You can also check out TeachingBooks for fascinating interviews with contemporary authors and illustrators (see Ms. Claire for the password), or keep up with the February showcase of interviews over at The Brown Bookshelf.

Here are just a few of the books we booktalked in the library today. Head on over to our Goodreads page to see more!


Winning Words: Sports Stories and Photographs
Winning Words: Sports Stories and Photographs

The Cheetah Girls: Livin' Large (#1-4)
The Cheetah Girls: Livin' Large (#1-4)

We Love Herman Parish (and Amelia Bedelia)!

A few weeks ago, Ms. Claire got a call from one of our favorite community partners, Mrs. Dalloway's bookstore on College Ave. "Would Emerson students like to have a visit from an author?" they asked. When we found out that the author wrote books about one of our favorite fictional characters -- Amelia Bedelia! -- we jumped at the opportunity. And are we glad we did!

Yesterday afternoon, Mr. Herman Parish spoke to first, second, and third graders, as well as kindergarteners from Kids' World, teachers, and families. He told us about his aunt, Peggy Parish, the original author of the Amelia Bedelia books, and how she got her ideas. Then we learned how he continues the tradition; and we even saw the notebook where he keeps his great ideas.

Before his talk, Mr. Parish gave an interview to two writers from the school paper, Jasmine and Nataly. (Look for that article in the next Breaking News!) Here he is, answering their excellent questions:

Look at that eager crowd! All the students had read some new and classic Amelia Bedelia stories in the last week, so we had tons to say when he asked, "what would she do a situation like this?"

Mr. Parish even brought a very special guest. You might think she looks just like Ms. Carlson, but this Amelia Bedelia definitely took things more literally than Emerson teachers do: she "dusted" Ms. Davis and "dressed" two chickens! This is one assembly that students will remember for years.

After students cheered for Mr. Parish, he came to the library and autographed books for teachers and students.

When you have a chance to talk with your child about the presentation, see if you can come up with other literal interpretations of things that we all say! What do you think Amelia Bedelia would be like if she were a student here at Emerson School? Students and families can pop in the library to check out Amelia Bedelia books and enjoy them together at home.

Many, many thanks to Mr. Parish, Mrs. Dalloway's, and to Mr. Parish's publisher, HarperCollins, for this wonderful opportunity. We can't wait to read the next book, Amelia Bedelia Bakes Off, when it's published in April!