Tag Archive for first grade

Dragon and Captain

Written by P.R. Allabach
Illustrated by Lucas Turnbloom

Dragon (aka a young boy) is eating his oatmeal when he spies a possible pirate on the beach (aka another boy in the sand box). Of course, Captain is not a pirate. He’s a ship captain who’s been separated from his ship. Dragon and Captain set out to find Captain’s ship and re-capture it from the real pirates. First, they need things from Dragon’s cave (er, bedroom). They trek through the dark forest (bushes) and stop at a waterfall (sprinkler). They spot the ship and defeat the pirates. Then it’s snack time. All the while, the grownups lurk in the background abut never interfere. The interaction between imagination and reality is brilliant. It will show kids that anything is possible. The illustrations are vivid and colorful clearly show how each boy resembles his alter ego.

First graders will be able to tell the story from the pictures while still working on their literacy skills through the sparse text. The way the boys immediately get caught up in each other’s fantasies shows how easy friendship can be.

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  • Dragon and CaptainTitle: Dragon and Captain
  • Author: P.R. Allabach
  • Illustrator: Lucas Turnbloom
  • Publisher: Flashlight Press, 2015
  • Reviewer: Sue Poduska
  • Format: Hardcover, 32 pages
  • Grade Level: K to 2
  • Genre: Fiction, simple graphic novel, friendship
  • ISBN: 978-1-9362613-3-8

Peace is an Offering

Written by Annette LeBox
Illustrated by Stephanie Graegin

Peace might be a difficult concept to explain to the very young child. But not if you have this beautiful rhythmic, sometimes rhyming book. It is an explanation in poetry that meets children where they are every day. They will recognize the settings and characters. This book tells them what to do to make their friend or sibling feel better.

It is a calming book that still offers movement. The illustrations are colorful and show diversity of characters. They also offer dozens of details for children and adults to notice and discuss.

Timeless questions are included that will challenge the librarians, teachers and parents reading aloud to stop and think about their own busy lives.

Grade one students and younger will love hearing this book read aloud time and again.

Teachers can use this to fulfill core curriculum standards in the area of social studies, understanding others and solving problems with peers.

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  • Peace is an offeringTitle: Peace is an Offering
  • Author: Annette LeBox
  • Illustrator:  Stephanie Graegin
  • Publisher: Dial Books for Young Readers, 2015
  • Reviewer: Elizabeth Swartz
  • Format: Hardcover, 32 pages
  • ISBN: 978-0-8037-4091-4
  • Genre: Picture Book
  • Grade level: Preschool to 1

Spectacular Spots

Written and Illustrated by Susan Stockdale

Beautiful yet sparse language, both rhythmic and rhyming tells the story of how spots on the outside of some animals helps to protect them.

In the area of creative nonfiction, this book is an excellent example. First grade readers will enjoy hearing or reading this book repeatedly because of the musical quality of the poetry like text. The font is large and dark making it stand out from the beautiful illustrations. Her choice of words also helps hint at additional attributes, such as the “gliding snail”, and the “clinging frogs”.

Well-designed back matter increases the ability for this book to fulfill common core standards in science, for animal study, camouflage, biology and how animals adapt to the environment. Librarians and teachers will also use the book for literacy skills such as rhyming and use of descriptive language.

Children will be on the look-out for animals with spots after reading this book and when they find them, it won’t be any mystery why those spots are so important. It’s got nothing to do with fashion!

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  • Spectacular SpotsTitle: Spectacular Spots
  • Author/Illustrator: Susan Stockdale
  • Publisher: Peachtree Publishers, 2015
  • Reviewer: Elizabeth Swartz
  • Format: Hardcover, 32 pages
  • ISBN: 978-1-56145-817-2
  • Genre: Nonfiction, Animals, Camouflage, Biology
  • Grade level: PreK to 3
  • Extras: In the back are two pages with small squares showing each of the patterned spots for children to enjoy matching with the appropriate animal in the front of the book. There are also two pages that show mini-pictures of each animal accompanied by an explanation of how the spots protect those animals. The particular class that each animals belongs to and where to find it in the world are provided.

Rodeo Red

Written by Maripat Perkins

Illustrated by Molly Idle

Cowgirl Rodeo Red and her trusty sidekick Rusty (aka a stuffed dog) were perfectly happy until Sideswiping Slim (aka her new baby brother) came to town. Rodeo Red knew he was trouble the first time she laid eyes on him, but the Sheriff and Deputy (aka her parents) seemed to love the little varmint. As Slim grows he becomes more of a nuisance and begins to encroach on Red’s territory. When Rusty goes missing, Red knows there can be only one culprit. She tries to grab Rusty out of Slim’s clutches, but his loud cries get her into trouble. “Wouldn’t you know Slim would have the law on his side?” she thinks as she lands in the holding cell (aka the Time Out chair). When Red’s city slicker aunt sends her a new fluffy stuffed animal for her birthday, she comes up with an idea to settle the score. She gives Slim the new toy and gets Rusty back in exchange.

Parents and teachers, get ready to drum up a serious twang when reading this story aloud, which is chock full of entertaining similes and old west slang (“He looked as slippery as a snake’s belly in a mudslide.”) The soft pastel illustrations have a sweet, old-fashioned quality to them and are cleverly drawn to create a young cowgirl’s fantasy world. First grade readers can learn from Red’s example of coming up with a solution to a problem on her own.

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  • Rodeo RedTitle: Rodeo Red
  • Author: Maripat Perkins
  • Illustrator: Molly Idle
  • Publisher: Peachtree, 2105
  • Reviewer: Lauren Abbey Greenberg
  • Format: Hardcover, 32 pages
  • ISBN: 978-1-56145-816-5
  • Genre: Picture Book, Fiction, Sibling Rivalry

Otto the Owl Who Loved Poetry

Written and illustrated by Vern Kousky

Children will love Otto’s great big eyes as he looks straight at them from his perch on the crescent moon. Otto doesn’t like to roost in trees or hunt at night like the other owls. So the others all make fun of him. He likes to read books, make friends and recite poetry.

When the other owls continue to tease him, Otto decides to run away. On his way, he sees the moon and makes up his own poem about the moon. What he doesn’t realize is that there were dozens of mice listening to him recite the poem. When he finished they all cried, “More, more!”

What Otto, and eventually the other owls, learn is that poetry is to be shared aloud with others to be best enjoyed.

First grade readers being introduced to poetry will enjoy hearing this read aloud and becoming able to read it themselves. The contrasting colors of art work make it a stunning book with font that is clear and easy to read.

This book can be used to meet the common core standards of literacy in the areas of poetry as well as discriminating between fact and fiction.

The fact that the owls pick on Otto for being different can open a discussion between parents, teachers or librarians and children about how we treat one another. It is also an interesting twist to realize that the part of Otto that is different, his love of poetry, becomes understandable to all the other owls by the end of the book.  It is a very good thing that Otto didn’t run away, but stayed long enough to share his poetry with the others.

This beautifully well done book is Vern Kousky’s first, but hopefully not his last.

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  • Otto the OwlTitle: Otto the Owl Who Loved Poetry
  • Author/Illustrator:  Vern Kousky
  • Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap, 2015
  • Reviewer: Elizabeth Swartz
  • Format: Hardcover, 32 pages
  • ISBN:  978-0-399-16440-8
  • Genre: Poetry
  • Grade level: K to 3
  • Extras: The famous poem excerpts are included in the back of the book along with their citations.

Nobody’s Perfect

Written by David Elliot
Illustrated by Sam Zuppardi

So often we say, or hear this phrase as do our children. They strive to be perfect but it just isn’t always possible. This book helps readers understand how hard it is to be perfect in everyday fun ways.

Young readers will love the pencil drawings painted with acrylics on water-colored paper especially because they are reminiscent of how children draw with extra lines. The colors are realistic, vibrant, and smooth. The basketball looks ready to bounce and the blanket ready to snuggle under. The main character’s huge smile on the cover instantly wins you over.

This book uses only a few instances of misbehavior which helps to keep the story line simple and straightforward. The main character points out how sometimes it is someone else who is less than perfect: sister, pet, friend, even Mom. That distance from the reader allows the story to be told without becoming threatening or preachy. Actually, the illustrations allow readers to find humor in falling short of perfection. The conclusion is satisfying in every way.

The front and end papers of the book would make wonderful drawing lesson practice for the youngest artists as they make a drawing of all their own favorite toys, pets, and friends.

The words are sparse and easy as well as in bold, larger than normal font. First grade readers will enjoy reading this story over and over on their own. Literacy skills can be fulfilled in the classroom, the library, or the home. Discussions about mistakes can be begun or continued making use of this fun book.

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  • Nobodys PerfectTitle: Nobody’s Perfect
  • Author:  David Elliot
  • Illustrator: Sam Zuppardi
  • Publisher: Candlewick Press, 2015
  • Reviewer: Elizabeth Swartz
  • Format: Hardcover, 32 pages
  • ISBN:  978-0-7636-6699-6
  • Genre: picture book
  • Grade level: Preschool to 3

Noisy Bird: Sing Along

Written and Illustrated by John Himmelman

Different kinds of birds sing different songs. The sounds, habitats and diets of a few birds are told in simple direct sentences. The contrasting colors used by John Himmelman make each page an individual beauty. Correct details of each habitat and every bird described will provide young readers with things to find and study in each picture for a long time. This entertaining book will also draw teachers and librarians to seek out other books by the same author.

Second grade readers will be able to read the text independently, in many cases, but much younger children will enjoy having it read to them. Older children may use it for science reports or for ideas to use in building dioramas.

Children who love to draw or paint might be encouraged to try illustrating things from their own backyard after studying these realistic illustrations.

The sounds included provide teachers, parents and readers an opportunity to practice the literacy skill of onomatopoeia while learning about birds.  What fun it would be to have different children assigned to make the call of a particular bird.

This is a good introduction to reading nonfiction books and picking out important details. After reading it, students might write a nonfiction sentence of their own.

The activities and facts at the end of the book will encourage and aid young readers to broaden their knowledge of birds and birding.

This book will be a great addition to classroom, school, and home libraries for children ages 3 -8.

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  • Noisy BirdTitle: Noisy Bird: Sing Along
  • Author/Illustrator:  John Himmelman
  • Publisher: Dawn Publications, March 1, 2015
  • Reviewer: Elizabeth Swartz
  • Format: Paperback, 32 pages
  • ISBN:  978-1-58469-514-1
  • Genre: Nonfiction, animals
  • Grade level: Preschool to 3
  • Extras: Fun facts, birding activities, resources and related information

Noodle Magic

Written by Roseanne Greenfield Thong

Illustrated by Meilo So

Written in the tradition of a folktale this story tells of a Chinese Grandfather who is well known for his marvelous noodles. When his granddaughter asks for magic to help her make some noodles, he assures her that she has all the magic she needs already. By the time her story is complete it will be proven that all the magic she needs is right inside of her. It is a positive message for every child to hear.

As it becomes time for Mei to try making her own noodles, the birthday of the Emperor draws near. What a great opportunity to make something special. The emperor will need a perfect, magical long-life strand for his birthday celebration.

Grandfather and Mei slap and knead the bread. Then it becomes time to stretch and pull the noodles long and thin. Readers will enjoy the karate and kung fu language employed as well as the delightful illustrations of the pulling out process. The noodles seem endlessly long on some pages while on others they are rolled up as nicely as a neat ball of yarn.

Bright colors and swirling paint adds to the attractiveness and playfulness of the book. By the time readers finish this story, they will be anxious to make, or, at least, eat a nice big pile of noodles.

Near the end of the story when all the noodles are raining down from the sky, young children will delight in being able to find their own favorite type of pasta in the picture as well as the outline of some basic farmyard animals made from noodles.

A fun follow up activity for this book would be to have some already boiled spaghetti noodles ready for children to use to make designs or letters with on a piece of construction paper.

This book can be used in fulfilling make core curriculum standards for literacy, geography, cultures and nutrition.

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  • Noodle MagicTitle: Noodle Magic
  • Author: Roseanne Greenfield Thong
  • Illustrator: Meilo So
  • Publisher: Orchard Books
  • Reviewer: Elizabeth Swartz
  • Format: Hardcover, 32 pages
  • ISBN:  978-0-545-52167-3
  • Genre: Fiction PB
  • Grade Level: Preschool to grade 2

Ten Thank-You Letters

Written by Daniel Kirk

Rabbit comes over to see if Pig can play catch, but finds Pig working hard on a thank you letter for his grandma. This starts Rabbit wondering who he should write to and say thank you.

It is a charming collection of short, but appropriate thank you notes to folks like the crossing guard, the bus driver and the librarian. Grade one and grade two readers will delight in the notes as well as in the subtle way they see Rabbit using up all of Pig’s envelopes and stamps. They will also feel the frustration build in Pig as he keeps getting interrupted from writing his own letter.

Core curriculum standards will be met for literacy skills as well as for letter writing skills by sharing this book in the classroom or the library. The one missing part of each letter is the date, and kids will pick up on that. However, it will make them feel smarter than either Pig or Rabbit and will help to build confidence in their own knowledge. A good classroom or home follow-up to this story will be writing a thank you note to someone.

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  • Ten Thank You LettersTitle: Ten Thank – You Letters
  • Author/Illustrator: Daniel Kirk
  • Publisher: Nancy Paulson Books/Penguin, 2014
  • Reviewer: Elizabeth Swartz
  • Format: Hardcover, 24 pages
  • ISBN: 978-0-399-16937-3
  • Genre: Picture book
  • Grade level: 1 and up

Stanley’s Garage

Written and illustrated by William Bee

Stanley is an adorable golden hamster who has his own garage. The front pages are filled with colorful tools. They will be easily identifiable to children who have seen these things hanging on the wall in their own garages.

The art is completed in bold blank outlines and filled in with bright beautiful colors. Kindergarten readers and first grade readers will follow this story of fun characters while also practicing color words. There are also several great examples of cause and effect for children to think about. One car has a flat tire, another is smoking from an over-heated radiator, and one won’t work at all.

Literacy skills of sequencing, picture clues, possessives and cause and effect are easily strengthened throughout this book. The progression of time from morning to night is easy to follow and Stanley predictably gets ready for supper, a bath and bed after his busy day at the garage. Readers will relate to the comfortable ending of the day.

This is only one of the books about this delightful hamster.

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  • Stanleys GarageTitle: Stanley’s Garage
  • Author/Illustrator: William Bee
  • Publisher: Peachtree, 2014
  • Reviewer: Elizabeth Swartz
  • Format: Hardcover, 32 pages
  • ISBN: 978-1-56145-804-2
  • Genre: Fiction/Picture Book
  • Lexile: 200
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