The Wright Sister: Katharine Wright and Her Famous Brothers

Image

Title: The Wright Sister: Katharine Wright and Her Famous Brothers Author: Richard Maurer Illustrator:  n/a
Publisher: Brookfield; Roaring Brook Press

Genre:  Biography Level: Upper Number of pages: 127 Pub. Date: 2003

Summary:

This story tells the life of Katharine (Katie) Wright from her birth, through her brother’s success to her death at age 54.  Katharine was an extremely intelligent college graduate who became a teacher. Later she was an instrumental part of her brother’s success, believing in them and even becoming a part of their company for a period of time. She died young after coming down with pneumonia.

Critique:

This book is a factual portrait of Katharine Wright’s life. It even uses direct quotation from her. The book cites its sources and does a good job of portraying the facts without any biases. Another thing that adds on to this book are the pictures of Katie and her family and friends as she grows up. This makes the book both more visually appealing and adds some context to what it’s talking about. This book admits a small portion of Katie’s life but sums it up so that nothing is left out. The book also mentions many of the cultural and societal norms at the time to put Katherine’s life into context. Overall very well done.

Response:

Before finding this book, I didn’t even know that Orville and Wilbur Wright had a sister. After reading this book, I was surprised that she isn’t portrayed more in the history books since she actually worked for the Wright brothers for a while. Furthermore, she was a prominent figurehead in society and met two US presidents. When talking about women of history Katie gets left out and I think this is wrong. The bias of many history books keeps out these great women, which would be wonderful role models for young girls.  I hope that I will now be able to teach my future students a more well rounded version of history.

Assignments:

Before: Study the Wright Brothers.

Faithful Elephants: A True Story of Animals, People and War

Image

Title: Faithful Elephants: A True Story of Animals, People and War Author: Yukio Tsuchiya Illustrator: Ted Lewin Translator: Tomoko Tsuchiya Dykes
Publisher: Boston; Houghton Mifflin Company

Genre: Biography  Level: Intermediate Number of pages: 30 Pub. Date: 1988

Summary (Use your own words; 3-4 sentences; setting, characters, plot, conflict, resolution):

During World War Two, bombs were dropped every day on countries all over the world. Japan decides that they must put all of the animals in their zoo down so that if the zoo were destroyed the animals wouldn’t get out and destroy the city. They realize that starvation is the only way to put down the elephants because they couldn’t poison them. The elephants are hard to put down and their trainer suffers watching them. Today in the zoo there is a monument honoring the elephants that had to die for war.

Critique:

This book is a biographical fiction. There are no quoted sources and no way of knowing if this actually happened. Although it says it is a true story many question this. However, this story is based around a real zoo, a real time period and the author says it is a true story so we must consider it a biography.

Response:

This book is really sad. While reading this book I could not believe that they killed their elephants by starvation. It is so inhumane. I was horrified. I had never thought about how the zoos would be impacted so intensely by the war. Animals would be dangerous to people but it still seems wrong to me that they would have to be killed. Also this book has led me to wonder if animals in different areas also had to be put down because of the war.

Another thing to mention is that many question the truth of this story. Below is an article about this controversy.

elephant

Assignments:

After: Students will research how different zoo’s were effected by war through out history.

The Palm of my Heart

Image

Title: The Palm of my Heart Author: African American Children Edited by:  Davida Adedjouma Illustrator: Gregory Christie Publisher: New York; Lee and Low Books Inc.

Genre: Poetry Level: Beginner Number of pages: 29 Pub. Date: 1996

Summary:

This is a collection of poems written by African American children about their race. Each poem talks about why the child is proud to be black. Each student is proud of their culture and brings that to life with this poetry.

Critique:

The book uses bold words within the poem to bring the important part of the book out. These poems all start with the word black and go on to tell the students own story. This makes all of the poems seem like they belong together in one big book about the wonders of being black.

Response:

These poems would be a wonderful piece of literature to really empower young black students. The stories told in this book help to get across a point that differences should be embraced and black skin is beautiful. Also the fact that these poems are written by children helps the works be more relatable to students. I’m not surprised this book won a Coretta Scott King Award.

Assignments:

After: Students will write a poem about their race.

Waiting to Waltz: A Childhood

Image

Title: Waiting to Waltz: A Childhood Author: Cynthia Rylant Illustrator: Stephen Gammell Publisher: New York; Bradbury Press

Genre:  Poetry Level: Upper Number of pages: 47 Pub. Date: 1984

Summary:

This collection of poetry tells the story of a young girl growing up. The young girl’s story is set in a town called Beaver. Her story starts in elementary school and ends in high school. The poems cover many topics including living in a single parent home, death, religion, friendship, and romance.

Critique:

These poems use less rhythm and rhyme and rely instead on the imagery the poems create. This poetry is high quality and is very emotional. Unlike beginner poetry that may rely more on goof rhymes to teach children, this poetry is from the heart and tells the author’s story.

Response:

This collection of poems reminds me of my favorite poem by Margret Atwood called This is a Photograph of Me. Atwood’s poem like this collection tells a story. That is why I like it so much. Similarly, I enjoyed this collection of poems because they tell the reader a story.

It was taken some time ago
At first it seems to be
a smeared
print: blurred lines and grey flecks
blended with the paper;

then, as you scan
it, you can see something in the left-hand corner
a thing that is like a branch: part of a tree
(balsam or spruce) emerging
and, to the right, halfway up
what ought to be a gentle
slope, a small frame house.

In the background there is a lake,
and beyond that, some low hills.

(The photograph was taken
the day after I drowned.

I am in the lake, in the center
of the picture, just under the surface.

It is difficult to say where
precisely, or to say
how large or how small I am:
the effect of water
on light is a distortion.

but if you look long enough
eventually
you will see me.)

Margaret Atwood

Assignments:

Before: Students will talk about what they already know about poetry and what they expect when they read a poem.

After: Students will talk about how these poems differ from what they had previously read.

It’s Raining Pigs and Noodles

Image

Title: It’s Raining Pigs and Noodles Author: Jack Prelutsky Illustrator: James Stevenson Publisher: New York; Scholastic Inc.

Genre:  Poetry Level: Primary Number of pages: 159 Pub. Date: 2000

Summary:

This is a collection of silly poems by Jack Prelutsky. The poems tell silly stories and are joke about everything. These do very little other than just make the reader laugh.

Critique:

Jack Prelutsky uses just about every poetic element he can for these poems. In some of his poems, he uses shaping and spacing to make the words swirl around the page or make a picture. In some of his poems he uses rhyme to make the poem sing songy. In some of his poems Prelutsky uses rhythm to keep the poems going. Finally in some of the poems imagery and literary devices work to let the reader picture what he is talking about in his/her head.

Response:

My favorite poem is found on page 101 and is called ZIGZAG. I enjoyed how the words go from forward to backward at angles making it look like the words are zigzaging across the page. This poem created a challenge for me since half the words are backwards. While I enjoyed it, I could see it being to challenging for young readers that this book is written for.

Assignments:

After: Students will write their own humorous poems.

The Story of Aladdin or the Wonderful Lamp

Image

Title: The Story of Aladdin or the Wonderful Lamp Author: Barbara de Wilde, Carol Devine Carson and Peter B Willberg Illustrator: W. Heath Robinson
Publisher: New York; Alfred A. Knopf

Genre: Traditional Literature Level: Upper  Number of pages: 98 Pub. Date: 1993

Summary:

Aladdin is a young man who has grown up in a poor family. An African magician tricks him into going into a cave to get a magic lamp. But he traps Aladdin in the cave with the lamp and assumes him dead. Aladdin escapes with the help of a genie.  Eventually, Aladdin decides he wants to marry the princess, he uses the genie’s magical powers to get the money and gifts necessary to win over her father and eventually the two are married.  The African magician hears about this and is furious and plots to get the lamp and the princess for himself. At first successful, Aladdin eventually tricks the magician and gets back his wife and land. The magicians’ brother hears about this and plans to revenge his brother. Luckily the genie is able to warn Aladdin and he discovers the man before any harm is done.

Critique:

This story tells the tale of Aladdin’s struggle to overcome poverty and win his love. Although there is no one mentor both Aladdin’s mother and the genie from the lamp serve as mentors to help Aladdin over come his problems. Finally through out the whole story Aladdin is very brave and never gives up on his goals.

Response:

This story is nothing like the Disney version of Aladdin. I don’t know why I’m surprised, I know Disney takes liberties with their movies but I other than a genie in a lamp there are almost no similarities. First of all, this story takes place in China while the Disney version takes place in the Middle East. Next many of the characters are different between the two stories with only Aladdin, the sultan, the princess and the genie even coming close. Oh and there is no flying carpet. Finally this story covers a significantly larger period of time that the Disney movie. Sometimes you wonder how they could even be called the same thing.

Assignments:

After: Students will watch Aladdin and compare it to the book.

Johnny Appleseed

Image

Title: Johnny Appleseed Author:  Reeve Lindbergh Illustrator: Kathy Jakobsen  Publisher: Boston; Little, Brown and Company

Genre:  Traditional Literature Level: Intermediate Number of pages: 29 Pub. Date: 1990

Summary:

This is the classic story of Johnny Appleseed told through poems. It is told in the point of view of a woman whose family was visited by Johnny Appleseed during her youth. She tells of Johnny’s journey across the US to plant apple seeds.

Critique:

The story of Johnny Appleseed is a tall tale. Although he was a real man, his deeds are often stretched way beyond what he actually did. The interesting thing about Johnny Appleseed is that he was a real person and actually did plant apple seeds. In this version though, Johnny doesn’t break and walks constantly planting apple seeds. This would be impossible. This is what makes this story a tall tale.

Response:

I was interested about the real Johnny Appleseed so I did some research:

Johnny Appleseed, was born John Chapman in September of 1774. He really did plant seeds across America but what isn’t known is that he owned land in many of the states he planted seeds and made orchards. However, he did not plant all the apples like many people often claim.

Assignments:

Before: Have students each make their own apple tree and make an apple orchard in the classroom.

Water, Water

Image

Title: Water, Water Author: Eloise Greenfield Illustrator: Jan Spivey Gilchrist Publisher: New York; Harper Festival

Genre: Books for Infants and Toddlers Level: Beginner Number of pages: 19 Pub. Date: 1999

Summary:

This simple book follows a young boy as he sees water in his everyday life. The young boy is seen with his family. In the end the young boy drinks the water showing that water is good to drink.

Critique:

This book uses short sentences that are easy to read. This book uses sight words including: my, see, and the. Also the pictures show exactly what the text is talking about. There is only one sentence on each page. Another cool thing about this book is that the pages are thick and easy for small hands with little fine motor movement to turn.

Response:

I think this would be a good book for children who live in an area with lots of water because it would put names to the water they see everyday. This book is also good for children who aren’t exposed to water because it shows them a part of the world they are unfamiliar with. Also I like that the main character in this book is African American. This makes the book more multicultural.

Assignments:

After: Talk about where the child sees water in their everyday life.

Animal Action

Image

 

Title: Animal Action ABC Author: Karen Pandell and Art Wolfe Photographer: Nancy Sheehan
Publisher: New York; Dutton Books

Genre: Books for Infants and Toddlers Level: Upper Number of pages: 37 Pub. Date: 1996

Summary:

 The book talks about the different movements an animal makes using the ABCs. Each letter gets its own movement. Each action has a small rhyme to go with it. Also there is a picture of a young child doing the movement and a picture of an animal doing the same movement.

Critique:

 This is an ABC book perfect for school aged children. It uses different fonts making the letters look different than they normally would. Also the book has a theme of animal movements that begin with different letters of the alphabet. The best part of this book though is that the students can move along with the book learning the action for themselves.

Response:

I love the movement exercises that go along with this book. It will be very useful for students that have been in their seats for a long time to get up and move while still learning their ABCs and animals. This is especially important in the high stress-testing environment of today’s schools. Many schools are getting rid of recess and PE time so students need a chance to move around and get the wiggles out.

Assignments:

During: Do the actions along with the book!

 

A-    Arch

Image 

B-    Balance

 Image

C-    Crawl

Image

Mansa Musa

Burns Harcourt Children's Books 2001

Title: Mansa Musa Author: Khephra Burns Illustrator: Leo and Diane Dillon
Publisher: San Diego; Gulliver Books Harcourt Inc.

Genre: Historical Fiction Level: Intermediate/Upper Number of pages: 51 Pub. Date: 2001

Summary:

This is the story of Kankan Musa a young Malian boy who is kidnapped and brought across the savannah. There he is bought and freed by Tariq al-Aya who shows him how to survive in the desert and helps Kankan on his rode to discover himself. After many years journeying, Kankan comes across a city buried in the sand and discovers the truth about his ancestry. He returns to his homeland to find his brother is Mansa, the leader, of the great Mali nation. Eventually Kankan replaces his brother and becomes Mansa Musa.

Critique:

This book is a historical period piece that follows Kankan as he travels around Africa during the early 14th century. The reader learns about the customs, civilizations and people of the time. This book is based on research and the main character actually lived but the author makes much of the story.

Response:

When I read this book, I read it out loud to my roommate. I then asked her a few simple questions about her opinion of the book.

  1. What was your favorite part of the book?

Where he goes into the underground palace and discovers himself.

  1. What was the main idea of the story?

Self Discovery

  1. If you could change one thing about the story what would it be? Why?

I feel like it’s the combination of a storybook and a chapter book. But it was too long to really enjoy the beautiful illustrations.

I agree with her answers.

Assignments:

During: Have students research the facts behind this book using the resources in suggested in the back of the book.