It was really tough selecting just a few really great books for this edition of the Book Bag. What I love about this collection is that there is a great diversity of topics: from folktales and humor to nature and science. We also highlighted a pair of illustrated chapter books great for sharing together AND reading independently (second/third grade). We don’t get many of those.
Bee & Me by Elle J. McGuinness, illustrated by Heather Brown. When a bee comes into his house, a young boy gets the chance to overcome his fear and learn about all the things bees do for us. Young readers will love the Ani-motion™ panels that help the bee move, the dog run, and other cool things. Kids who need sensory input while they are reading will particularly benefit from this book. (Accord Publishing, 2008)
Rabbit Cooks Up a Cunning Plan by Andrew Fusek Peters, illustrated by Bruno Robert. Mountain Lion made life miserable for all of the other animals. He spent his life hunting them for food, they spent theirs hiding. So the animals decided that in return for staying alive, the would cook a meal for him each day. When Rabbit forgot to cook his meal, he needed a plan. Would it work? “The story will remind you of a classic fable. The story is a clever (and tasty) twist on the outwit-the-bully theme.” (Child’s Play, 2008)
Roscoe Riley Rules #1 (Don’t Glue Your Friends to Chairs) and Roscoe Riley Rules #2 (Never Swipe a Bully’s Bear by Katherine Applegate, illustrated by Brian Biggs. Roscoe spends a LOT of time in Time Out. He means well, but life as a first grader just has way too many rules! “The story is so funny and moves so fast, it is hard to read just one chapter at a time. The author has pegged the age groups (first graders, older siblings, younger sisters) and their sense of humor.” This is a delightful read for rising first graders and third graders (Flesch Kincaid readability 3.0) alike. (HarperTrophy, an Imprint of HarperCollins Publishers, 2008)
Saturn for My Birthday by John McGranaghan, illustrated by Wendy Edelston. Jeffrey knows exactly what he wants Dad to get him for his birthday: Saturn. Not a model, the real thing. He even has a plan on how to care for it. “This is a truly clever story. The author did a wonderful job overlaying science facts in a light-hearted, non-technical story. The illustrations are wonderful, and the two-page spread of father and son pointing to the stars is just beautiful.” (Sylvan Dell Publishing, 2008)
When Dinosaurs Came with Everything by Elise Broach, illustrated by David Small. What a lucky day. Instead of balloons and stickers, when you go to the barber and the doctor you get a real, live dinosaur! “Kids will enjoy the fantasy and humor in this picture book about dinosaurs as pets. This is a book all kids (read: girls, too) will enjoy.” (Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2007)
Under the Night Sky by Amy Lundebrek, illustrated by Anna Rich. Everyone rushing to go outside. Why? It’s the middle of the night … and it’s cold. Then the show begins: the Northern Lights. Now it’s a night to remember. “We’ve read a number of books about Aurora Borealis, but this is a nice change from the run-of-the-mill story. I loved that the community celebrated together. The illustrations, like the story, offer the colors of the night.” (Tilbury House Publishers, 2008)
Barrington Bear Visits the Emperor – The Emperor Penguin That Is written and illustrated by Keith Szafranski. Other bears hibernate. Not Barrington. He’s heading to Antarctica to visit an Emperor penguin colony. “This clever picture book has two things kids love: a teddy bear and penguins. The story is packed with factual information and the photographs are beautiful, clever, and educational.” (Small Bear Publishing, 2007)
My Name is Not Isabella by Jennifer Fosberry, illustrated by Mike Litwin. When mom comes to wake Isabella, Isabella has changed her name to Sally. At breakfast, Sally becomes Annie, and through the course of the day changes to Rosa, Marie, and Elizabeth. Each one, a woman of accomplishment. “There are few books that so effectively introduce kids to important people at a level they can appreciate and a format they can understand.” For Book Bag readers who don’t subscribe to the Wash Rag, be sure to read our interview with Jennifer Fosberry. (Monkey Barrel Press, 2008).
Like us, Andrea and Mark had lots of fun stories for the 5 to 8 audience.
Putting Peckish in Perspective: The Butter Man by Elizabeth Alalou and Ali Alalou, illustrated by Julie Klear Essakalli. Mouth-watering memories of fresh bread and butter and the crawling gnawing of famine’s want make a father’s reflection on childhood hunger food for thought about patience, gratitude and luck. (Charlesbridge, 2008)
Loving Your Label: Patrick the Somnambulist written and illustrated by Sarah Ackerley. Quiet absurdity and understated text relay the hilarious tale of a unique young penguin who swaps stigma for stupendous in this inspiring invitation to embrace our traits. (Blooming Tree Press, 2008)
Of Vice and Mensch: Such A Prince by Dan Bar-el, illustrated by John Manders. Tabloid-style coverage, Looney-Toonesque illustrations and the feisty narration of a bohemian godmother transform the traditional tending of a love-sick princess into a comical read-again caper. (Clarion Books, 2007)
Contagious Creativity: Willow by Denise Brennan-Nelson and Rosemarie Brennan, illustrated by Cyd Moore. Seething stringency and constant condemnation prove no match for good-natured self worth in this uplifting story of creativity, individuality and respect. Maybe you can teach an old dog new tricks! (Sleeping Bear Press, 2008)