Tag Archive for reading lists

Boot & Shoe

Written and illustrated by Marla Frazee

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In this tale of two brotherly dogs, the author captures the beauty of routine and of knowing your best friend well. Boot and Shoe are dogs who live in the same house and have the same routine, but one likes to spend his day on the front porch, while the other naps on the back porch. A pesky squirrel decides to interrupt their happy equilibrium one day with a lot of chattering and running around. They chase him here and there until the squirrel gets bored. Naturally, the brothers end up at the wrong end of the house and cannot find their companion. The search goes on until both dogs have to pee on the same tree and find each other again, causing a kind of reset to their routine.

First graders can handle most of the language on their own, increasing their literacy skills, and will be delighted with the vivid illustrations that give many clues to the action, adding to their comprehension. They will certainly understand the ideas of frustration and wanting to be with a treasured friend. This gem received numerous starred reviews and appeared on many reading lists, including the 2012 ABC Best Books for Children and the 2012 Kirkus Best Children’s Books. The author’s website, www.marlafrazee.com, provides a wealth of information, including interviews and podcasts.

  • Boot and ShoeTitle: Boot & Shoe
  • Author/Illustrator: Marla Frazee
  • Publisher: Beach Lane Books/Simon & Schuster, 2012
  • Reviewer: Sue Poduska
  • Format: Hardcover, 32 pages
  • Genre: Picture book, humor, friendship
  • ISBN: 978-1-4424-2247-6


Picture a Tree

Written and Illustrated by Barbara Reid

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Not since The Giving Tree has an author explored so many ways we commune with trees. Reid approaches trees from a purely artistic direction and ends up imparting much more information about the subject than seems possible at first. Each illustration begins with plasticine and paint and focuses on some aspect of the tree’s physical appearance. The pictures nearly jump off the page. Another device the author uses is to progress the tree through an entire calendar year.

First grade readers will see that bare winter limbs make a sort of etching on the sky. The first hints of spring colors will remind the reader of tentative attempts to draw, then an explosion of color. Tree leaves can create a tunnel of green when driving down a street or an entire ocean when viewed from above. A tree next to an apartment building is home to a multitude of animals and a storage space for a kite. They often become pirate ships, caves, clubhouses, or friends. In the hot summer sun, trees can be umbrellas. Trees of different ages correspond to the ages of people. Playing in the falling leaves feels like a good-bye party. Trees can be spooky around Halloween. Later, trees put on snowsuits, just like kids. Then they sleep like a baby until spring.

This unique approach will hold the reader’s attention and increase comprehension for beginning readers. The author’s excellent website (http://www.barbarareid.ca/) provides more information about her methods and makes many suggestions for reading activities. This book has won numerous awards, won several starred reviews, and appeared on reading lists, including The Canadian Children’s Book Centre Best Books for Kids and Teens.


  • Picture a TreeTITLE: Picture a Tree
  • PUBLISHER: Albert Whitman & Company
  • REVIEWER: Sue Poduska
  • EDITION: 2013
  • ISBN: 978-0-8075-6526-1
  • GENRE: Picture book, Trees
  • LEXILE: 390