Tag Archive for first grade

Mango, Abuela, and Me

Written by Meg Medina
Illustrated by Angela Daminguez

Grandma moves from a far-away island to join Mia’s family so she won’t be alone anymore. But she can’t read or speak English. And Mia can’t read or speak Spanish. With their beds lined up side by side in their shared room, it is supposed to be a chance to get to know each other. Instead it is a frustrated time of quiet.

As the story continues, Abuela waits for Mia to come home from school and takes her for walks to feed the birds even though they can’t visit. Abuela is sad. She misses her island home, her birds, her husband. Mia is sad. She wants to tell about her day at school.

One afternoon as she is making an after school snack, she says the name of each ingredient in English. Abuela says its name in Spanish. Then Mia gets the idea to label every item in the living room with its English name. Mia and her Mom get a parrot at the pet store.

By the end of this touching book, they are understanding each other and even sharing a bedtime storybook.

Teachers, librarians and parents will enjoy using this read aloud to young students, while second grade readers will read it independently. It is a basic introduction to bilingual families and will give some English students a touch of Spanish.

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  • MangoTitle: Mango, Abuela, and Me
  • Author: Meg Medina
  • Illustrator: Angela Daminguez
  • Publisher: Candlewick Press, 2015
  • Reviewer: Elizabeth Swartz
  • Format: Hardcover, 32 pages
  • ISBN: 978-0-7636-6900-3
  • Genre: Picture Book
  • Grade level: PreK to 2

Can We Help? Kids Volunteering to Help Their Communities

Written by George Ancona

“I want to help.” It’s something kids say often and they really mean it. But sometimes it is hard for them to think of real jobs they can accomplish on their own.

Full color photographs of actual kids doing worthwhile jobs will help students find realistic goals. This book lists several jobs often overlooked. Bagging fruits and vegetables, as well as going along to deliver meals to shut-ins are things children are very good at accomplishing.

Various clubs take on the responsibility of cleaning certain sections of roadsides, but maybe someone in your class never thought of it. Seeing the kids clean up trash in this book might spark an idea for your local community.

Crafts kids can do that have a useful future are highlighted here as kids are shown making hats and scarves to donate to homeless shelters.

This book will meet the literacy skills of distinguishing fact from fiction, as well as main idea and picture clues. School and public librarians will want to display this book in a high traffic area as there are so few books like it to help kids contribute to their own communities.

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  • Can We HelpTitle: Can We Help? Kids Volunteering to Help Their Communities
  • Author: George Ancona
  • Publisher: Candlewick Press, 2015
  • Reviewer: Elizabeth Swartz
  • Format: Hardcover, 32 pages
  • ISBN: 978-0-7636-7367-3
  • Genre: Non-fiction
  • Grade level: K to 3

Ladybug Girl and the Best Ever Playdate

Written by Jacky Davis
Illustrated by David Soman

Ladybug Girl’s friend, Finny, has the neatest toys! Especially, this new Rolly-Roo that is just the perfect ride on top, climb inside or pull along pudgy horse. So when Finny comes over to play, of course, Ladybug Girl is excited to play with him. She plays hard with him, so hard in fact that his wheel falls off!

Only after this disaster, does it become clear just how hurt Finny has been all afternoon. She feels left out.

The girls decide to fix Rolly together and then plan other fix-it jobs they can do together. The rest of the afternoon becomes more and more fun as Rolly gets parked and the girls find things to do together.

A wonderful read aloud for all of the little folks just learning about other children’s feelings. Discussions about sharing and thinking about playing nicely will follow under the direction of teachers, librarians and parents.

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  • Ladybug GirlTitle: Ladybug Girl and the Best Ever Playdate
  • Author: Jacky Davis
  • Illustrator: David Soman
  • Publisher: Dial Books, 2015
  • Reviewer: Elizabeth Swartz
  • Format: Hardcover, 32 pages
  • ISBN: 978-0-8037-4030-3
  • Genre: Picture Book
  • Grade level: PreK to 1

Dilly Dally Daisy

Written and Illustrated by Mark Fearing

Getting out the door on time is a challenge for all of us, but especially for children engaged in playing. Mark Fearing uses lively, funny illustrations of Daisy as she is waylaid by activities as well as by her inability to make a decision.

As is natural, little episodes, like having a favorite shirt in the dirty clothes hamper can turn a day into a dismal disaster. Preschool, kindergarten, and grade one readers will giggle their way through pages even though, they recognize themselves in some situations.

Parents, and teachers can use this as a realistic and fun way to help children set a goal for themselves to be on time. Discussions about putting clothes out the night before or preparing a bag for piano lessons or swim lessons can follow each reading.

While this book would fit core curriculum standards for literacy, there are several basic life skills involved in getting to appointments on time that can relieve much family and personal stress whether it is on some educational standard list or not.

This is a good book that should be part of every child’s library collection where preschoolers visit.

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  • Dilly Dally DaisyTitle: Dilly Dally Daisy
  • Author/Illustrator: Mark Fearing
  • Publisher: Dial Books for Young Readers/ Penguin, 2015
  • Reviewer: Elizabeth Swartz
  • Format: Hardcover, 32 pages
  • ISBN: 978-0-8037-4065-5
  • Genre: picture book fiction
  • Grade level: PreK to 1

Max the Brave

Written and Illustrated by Ed Vere

In this adorable picture book with equally adorable illustrations, first graders learn what it’s like to face your worst fears and to be brave in facing them. It all depends on what name you put on it.

For all his blustering, small kitten Max doesn’t know what he has gotten himself into by saying he will chase mice. He is young and cute and has never encountered a mouse. He’s so cute, he gets dressed up with bows. And he doesn’t want to be cute. He wants to be brave. He discovered: no mice in tin cans, flies are not mice, goldfish are not mice, birds are not mice, elephants are not mice, and even mice are not mice. At least, that’s what mice will tell you. Mice are monsters and monsters are mice. So, mice are scary and Max should chase monsters instead.

Whether read independently or as a read aloud bedtime book, kids will see that bravery (and chasing mice) is not always desirable. Assessing the situation, however, is always a good idea. Small kittens should avoid large teeth and even large sneezes. The illustrations, alone, are laugh out loud funny.

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  • Max the BraveTitle: Max the Brave
  • Author/Illustrator: Ed Vere
  • Published: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky, September 1, 2015
  • Reviewer: Sue Poduska
  • Format: Hardcover, 32 pages
  • Grade Level: PreK to 3
  • Genre: Fiction, Humor
  • ISBN: 978-1-4926-1651-1


Such a Little Mouse

Written by Alice Schertle
Illustrated by Staphanie Yue

Mice are so cute and friendly in picture books! This nameless little mouse that lives way out in the middle of the meadow under a clump of dandelions is great fun to follow on his daily travels. With little text, but great rhythm, we journey through the seasons watching him put away food for the winter.

Preschoolers and grade one readers will love the short phrases and sentences as well as the action of their new little friend. The repetition of the one, two, three things he does in the morning will help children practice counting and giggling.

Beautiful, realistic watercolor pictures introduce children to the sights and neighbors in the meadow. Stephanie Yue’s cover in particular is fantastic. She not only shows the main character but clearly illustrates the title by placing this tiny mouse under some seemingly giant dandelions.

Literacy skills such as comparing and contrasting, sequential order, main idea and supporting details plus picture clues can easily be strengthened just by sharing the picture book and visiting about it. Librarians, teachers, parents, and most importantly, children will find this story charming over and over again.

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  • Such a Little MouseTitle:  Such a Little Mouse
  • Author: Alice Schertle
  • Illustrator: Staphanie Yue
  • Publisher: Orchard Books, 2015
  • Reviewer: Elizabeth Swartz
  • Format: Hardcover, 32 pages
  • ISBN: 978-0-545-64929-2
  • Genre: Picture Book Fiction
  • Grade level: PreK to 3

Eeny, Meeny, Miney, Mo and Flo!

Written and Illustrated by Laurel Molk

Familiar rhymes and lots of good times make up this story about four delightful mice. Long o is the sound and catching various animals by the toe is the game. Problem is, not all of the animals even have toes. The mice are active, adventurous and set to fulfill their task.

Throughout the story, the littlest mouse wants to go along and have a part, but the bigger ones say, no.  Suddenly when the little one seems to be gone, maybe even swallowed by an alligator, the story takes an interesting turn.

Preschoolers as well as grade one readers and grade two readers will love repeating this story over and over for it humor as well as its rhymes. Teachers and parents can use this book to practice various literacy skills.

Everyone will hope Laurel is hard at work on another book about this crew!

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  • Eeny MeenyTitle:  Eeny, Meeny, Miney, Mo and Flo!
  • Author/Illustrator: Laurel Molk
  • Publisher: Viking/Penguin, 2015
  • Reviewer: Elizabeth Swartz
  • Format: Hardcover, 32 pages
  • ISBN: 978-0-670-01538-2
  • Genre: Picture Book
  • Grade level:  PreK Up


The Jinni on the Roof: A Ramadan Story

Written by Natasha Rafi
Illustrated by Abdul Malik Channa

Complete with a recipe for parathas, this story about an eight-year-old enjoying the best parts of Ramadan is a great introduction to the people and culture surrounding Islam. The whimsical illustrations help make this a kid-friendly story.

Little Raza can’t wait to have parathas, a sort of pancake or flatbread, for sehri, the morning meal eaten before the daily fast begins. He climbs to the roof and plays a trick on his grandmother’s cook, Amina, who is already hard at work in the dark morning hours. He knows that if he calls down the chimney, she can hear him. He frightens her into thinking she is talking to a jinni, a fiery creature mentioned in the Quran. Raza is quite pleased with himself until Amina gets Grandmother involved. The jig is up. Raza must help Amina until the end of Ramadan.

First graders will want this read aloud the first time so they can master the terms introduced and learn about the traditions of Muslims and their religion. After that, they will be able to read this again and again. Rafi explains all the traditions surrounding Ramadan and Eid-ul-Fitr, the end of Ramadan festival.

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  • JinniTitle: The Jinni on the Roof: A Ramadan Story
  • Author: Natasha Rafi
  • Illustrator: Abdul Malik Channa
  • Published: Pamir LLC, 2013
  • Reviewer: Sue Poduska
  • Format: Paperback, 40 pages
  • Grade Level: Pre-K to 3
  • Genre: Fiction, culture, family
  • ISBN: 9780988864900



The Haunted Library: The Five O’Clock Ghost

Written by  Dori Hillestad Butler
Illustrated by  Aurore Damant

What happens to a ghost when its haunt gets torn down?  This is only of one the interesting questions readers will learn in this fourth book in the series of, The Haunted Library.

Parents or grandparents sharing these books will be reminded of Casper, the Friendly Ghost, as these ghosts and their “solid” friend go about solving mysteries together.

This particular mystery includes texting on phones by the teen-agers and operating an amateur radio by an elderly ham operator. Red herring clues will tantalize young readers as they try to predict the outcome.

Second grade readers and third grade readers will enjoy the story independently in most cases while first grade readers would love to have it read aloud to them. All the basic literacy skills can be strengthen using this book, with the exception of specific non-fiction text skills.

Children will have a great time getting to know these characters and watching as they invent and create their own ghost catching equipment.  The cartoon like sketches are funny while also being helpful in understanding the story. Lots of laughs in this one.

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  • Haunted LibraryTitle: The Haunted Library: The Five O’Clock Ghost
  • Author:  Dori Hillestad Butler
  • Illustrator:  Aurore Damant
  • Publisher: Grosset Dunlap/Penguin, 2015
  • Reviewer: Elizabeth Swartz
  • Format: Paperback
  • ISBN: 978-0-448-46248-6
  • Genre: Fiction
  • Grade level: 1 to 3

Bunny Roo, I Love You

Written by Melissa Marr
Illustrated by Teagan White

Bunny Roo, I Love You, is a beautiful, non-rhyming picture book that reads like a series of riddles. It starts off, “when I met you,” and uses descriptive terms like small and trembling, but moves on to things like howling, whimpering, and yawning. The soft water-colored illustrations show an animal as it is guessed.

Each page offers an individualized cause and effect common with the particular animal. For instance, when the narrator thinks it might be a thirsty kitten, because of the whimper, milk is offered. The use of the second person throughout is a good ploy for involving even the youngest reader. Obviously, this is about identifying the baby. It is reminiscent of Eastman’s, Are You My Mother, but in the opposite direction.

It is a fantastic read aloud for parents, teachers of preschoolers and librarians, but also a great example of the literacy skills of cause and effect, parts to whole and sequence of events. Beginning readers will enjoy following the clues on their own as well as guessing each animal and then studying its habitat in the illustrations.

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  • Bunny RooTitle:  Bunny Roo, I Love You
  • Author: Melissa Marr
  • Illustrator: Teagan White
  • Publisher: Nancy Paulson, 2015
  • Reviewer: Elizabeth Swartz
  • Format: Hardcover, 32 pages
  • ISBN: 978-0-399-16742-3
  • Genre: fiction picture book
  • Grade level: PreK to 3
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