The Marshmallow Incident

61w1h01pxulHave you ever thought that a tradition had gone too far? In the book The Marshmallow Incident by Judi Barrett is a story about just that. There are two towns, the town of left and the town of right, you can only live in the town of whichever hand you are dominant with. Someone along the way painted a line between the town and no one crossed it, somewhere along the way they for got the purpose for the line so they had a meeting to remove it. Once the line was moved the two towns were friends and celebrated together. I like this story due to the fact that it segregated a place based on the had that you wrote with and they didn’t know why. This just goes to show you that if no one can remember why the rule was put there or it’s purpose then maybe it needs to be reevaluated. I would use this as a class read aloud for theme or sequence or even to talk about differences and that separating people who have a difference is silly and serves no real purpose.

This is simple read and the students enjoy looking at the silly pictures and discussing why they follow this ‘law’ that no one knows about. It was a fun read to do with my 4th grade students.


Miga, Quatchi and/et Sumi


Miga, Quatchi, and Sumi are all Vancouver 2010 Olympic mascots but don’t know it yet. This is a cute story of how each of the character’s interest in the Olympics leads them to be invited to the opening ceremonies and there they are announced as the Olympic mascots for 2010. Apparently there is a book like this for other Olympic years that introduces that mascots for that year.

This would be a fun way to talk about Olympics and to introduce unique characters. It would be a good book to use for sequencing since it is a linear story. Throughout the book, the text is in both English and French to allow for more people to read the book. It could be used as a book for French speaking students to help transition. The book address the Paralympics as well which I thought was very inclusive, it also has characters that are unique like Miga is a “sea bear” which means she is a killer whale that can turn into a bear and go on shore, but she gets tuck in between and can no longer change back.

Here is a cute link to a video that also introduces these characters.

Echo & Echo


Echo & Echo by Marilyn Singer is an interesting take on mythology and poetry, two things I typically don’t like or enjoy. The way that these poems are written is interesting and has you intrigued by reading two perspectives of the same tale. I enjoyed this by seeing how the author used the same words to create two different points of view of the same myth. I also have her book Mirror, Mirror. This is a great book for all people who are reluctant to poetry or mythology.

I would use this in class to talk about allusions, such as the golden tough, Pandora’s box, and the different sayings that allude to the stories because these are simple representations that get the allusion across more simply. I would also put it in my poetry unit as well as mythology and even perspective unit.

Discussing El Deafo with a student

I41v58xl9-ll-_sx332_bo1204203200_ chose to read El Deafo with a student in my class and have a discussion after reading the book. I gave the student 3 books to choose from and she chose El Deafo. In the interview I ask her why she chose this book out of the three. I chose to read with this student because she is always reading and will pick a random book off the shelf and check it out and read it. I wanted to see what she thought of this book and what she actually gets out of the books she reads. She is an ELL and considered a “bubble” kid because she is right on the edge of grade-level depending on the test/task at hand.

Here is her interview: El Deafo Interview

Diary of a Minecraft Zombie

D51kznsnkycl-_sx311_bo1204203200_iary of a Minecraft Zombie by Zack Zombie is a quintessential Hi-Lo book. It details the daily life of a Mincraft Zombie boy. He goes to school and wants a pet for getting good grades, he deals with friend drama. The next book in the series is about bullies and friends. This series is good for for students to be engaged in a story and be able to relate to the content. It is a very quick read that is set up like a diary with only the day of the week at the top. The  students pick up these books because of Minecraft, Diary of a Wimpy kid, and Zombies. I feel that this book is useful for getting students reading and with social-emotion education. It does not have a large benefit to the classroom curriculum but good to have in a classroom library for reluctant readers.

Sam and Dave Dig a Hole

512zmgzsb5l-_sx370_bo1204203200_Sam and Dave dig a Hole by Mac Barnett is a little too simplistic. Yes it has won awards, but it did not satisfy my reading needs. This book did not contain usable content for my classroom, when I read it to my students they looked at me like I was crazy… So, they dig a hole, now what? The students were intrigued by the illustrations and almost yelled at the characters to follow the dog. This frustrated my class, but they noticed some interesting things in the illustrations including the tree at the beginning is an apple tree and when they fall through “space and time” it becomes a pear tree.

I don’t see the purpose in this book, and would find it difficult to use in a classroom other than kindergarten. If you took off the words and let the students come up with the story I think it would be more interesting and thoughtful.


Space Case

7bf5739e2c-bb5a-4af1-b45e-7d0f74ae415c7dimg400The book Space Case by Stuart Gibbs is an exciting mystery told by a boy about 12 years old. The boy Dash and his parents who are scientists have moved to Moon Base Alpha. Dash has few people his own age to spend time with on this moon base. Throughout the the story Dash is trying to figure out who killed Dr. Holtz, even though everyone believes he just went out in space with his helmet not on correctly. Dash is convinced otherwise because he overheard a conversation in the bathroom the night before Dr. Holtz’ death. The book is a thrilling mystery and funny for all ages.

I would recommend this to anyone especially intermediate teachers for guided reading. I have done this book with my high group of students this semester and they love the book and can’t wait to talk to me about what is happening in each chapter. It is great for character relationships and how the characters change throughout the book. This book could be used as a read-aloud and have students track the clues that have been found.

Curriculum guide for Space Case has questions and activities that can be used with the book and it shows the common core standards with each set of activities.


9780060877170Volcanoes by Seymour Simon is an engaging nonfiction text that educates students on the various volcanoes in North America. It starts off talking about how the Romans believed in Vulcan the Roman God of Fire. It then goes on to tell about how different volcanoes are formed and happens when they erupt.

This book also describes what happened when Mount St. Helens erupted and destroyed a large amount of forests.

This is a highly engaging nonfiction text that would interest and inform students of all ages. It could be used as an intro for landforms or physical features of the United States. The pictures that are high-quality photographs make it more appealing to read and keep interested in the content.

For You Are a Kenyan Child

for-you-are-a-kenyan-childFor you are a Kenyan Child by Kelly Cunnane is an award winning children’s book with some broad important themes. One of those themes being responsibility.

The child in this story is told to take his grandfather’s cows to the hill to graze and he is to stay there and watch over them. Like many young children he gets distracted by  the man in the tea shop, or the black monkeys, or grandmother putting dishes out to dry. He goes exploring through the village and occasionally remembers that he is supposed to be watching the cows.

The book focuses on how this village is in Africa. There is a phrase in the book that is repeated that feels like an excuse almost. “for you are a Kenyan child.” I know it is the title but the way it is used in the text makes it feel like ‘well you can’t help it, this is just part of who you are.’ I think this would be a bad message to send to kids but I do think that the descriptive language that is used really paints the picture beyond the artwork in the book. I think this book could be used to teach responsibility, as well as how other places are different to the United States. This could include how they dress in the pictures or even the jobs that they do, including having to start at a young age.

Here is a digital story that was created based on the book that you could use with your class. It gives more background to living in Africa and putting yourself in the character’s shoes.

Fortunately, The Milk

51uqnte6qxl-_sy344_bo1204203200_       Fortunately, the Milk by Neil Gaiman is a fun book to read. This book was a fun read because the words are written in different fonts to help distinguish between the characters as well as emphasis onomatopoeia. I chose to read this book more for the illustrator Scottie Young because I read the OZ comics that he wrote and illustrated and fell in love with his art style. This book was definitely the same in that aspect, the creative way that he draws characters gives them a true personality.

This is a story of a father who leaves to get milk for his kids to eat their breakfast cereal and ends up on an adventure. The father walks down to the corner store and gets the milk but is then sucked up by what appears to be a flying saucer. He meets some green snot-like aliens, some pirates, and a stegosaurus named Professor Steg. This stegosaurus is who he spends the majority of the book with travelling forwards and backwards through time. Professor Steg is an inventor who time-travels in his hot air balloon that he calls “Floaty-Ball-Person-Carrier.” He does return home to tell his children about his adventure and give them the milk.

Within this story I feel that all the creatures and characters were portrayed as equals and were not categorized or stereotyped in any way. I think that because this dinosaur is an inventor makes you laugh and gives the reader some perspective. Throughout most of the book the father thinks that the dinosaur is male but it does not say until the end when the “space dinosaurs” recognize her as a book author that the father is embarrassed that he thought she was a male stegosaurus. this part bridged that gender stereotype for me because it allows for females to be writers and inventors but it also shows the reader that we often associate those professions to be male dominated.

In the classroom I would use this book to talk about figurative language, specifically onomatopoeia and the way that the author signifies it in the book. (This would be impacted if you got the UK version.)

Tftm06-349x500here are two versions of the book that
have different illustrators and I think this impacts how well the story is told. Here is the same page in both versions…Which do you think is more engaging to students?