Showing posts with label Book Report. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Book Report. Show all posts

Wednesday, March 26

BOOK REPORT vintage i can read books

Sometimes it's a familiar smell or taste that brings back a treasured memory.  Sometimes it's a photograph, note or drawing.  Yesterday it was a book. 

I came across a stack of books I remember from my childhood. Books like Danny and the Dinosaur by Syd Hoff and Little Bear by Else Minarik, with illustrations from the late, great Maurice Sendak.  The memories came rushing back!  

The ability to read, to read well, and, ultimately, to read for pleasure is one of the greatest gifts we can give our children.  It will help them succeed in school and in any chosen profession. And it will open worlds of thought and feeling to them as they mature into grown-up human beings.

What I loved about my "I Can Read" book find is that these little gems of literacy are accessible to children just learning to read.  The stories go well beyond those boring basal readers we all remember from kindergarten and the vintage illustrations are delightful.

Maybe you have some old childhood books stashed away in your closet, garage or attic. If not, hit up your local thrift store or log-on to Etsy and search for vintage children's books. Sharing your favorite books from childhood reminds your children that you were little once. You had to memorize your sight words and "sound-out" just like them. You struggled along sometimes, but, over time, you got better and better.

It's gratifying to reminisce and it helps us connect with our kids...who are growing up faster than spring weeds!  Hopefully this post inspires you to make time to share your childhood learning-to-read memories with your own children.

Image credit: Annie's Book Corner
Contributed by: Danyelle, Fairmont Private Schools

Monday, February 24

BOOK REPORT my friend flicka

One of the first books I fell in love with as a child was My Friend Flicka by Mary O'Hara. I have always loved animals and checked out reference type books about animals from the library. One day my mom encouraged me to try an animal novel. My mom grew up with horses so she probably had read My Friend Flicka before. We checked it out at the library and I just devoured it. 

My Friend Flicka is the story of Ken McLaughlin--a dreamer who lives on his family's ranch in Wyoming. His seemingly lazy ways anger his practical father.  Nothing seems to put Ken's feet on the ground until the day he sees Flicka, a filly owned by his family that comes from a bloodline of un-tamable horses. Ken is finally given the chance to tame Flicka and keep her. 

Over the course of a summer, Ken and Flicka develop a bond that teach Ken responsibility and gives him the respect of his father. It's a very touching and rewarding story that would appeal to both boys and girls.

And while we're on the subject of childhood classics, here are a few others I would recommend:
Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery
Old Yeller by Fred Gipson
Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls

Image credit: Pinterest
Contributed by Darcy, Fairmont Private Schools

Monday, February 3

BOOK REPORT love monster

Love Monster
by Rachel Bright

"You  might have noticed that everybody loves kittens and puppies and bunnies.  You know cute, fluffy things. But nobody loves a slightly hairy, I-suppose-a-bit-googly-eyed monster." 

So begins a not-so-average love story by author/illustrator Rachel Bright.  It reminds me a bit of Shel Silverstein's poem, The Missing Piece, for "Monster" is looking for love without success until one day...I won't spoil it for you. 

Suffice it to say, this is sweet story with fabulously witty illustrations that appeals to kids and adults--all of us--who at one point or another have felt unlovable.  It's a timely Valentine read, but I'd argue it's a book worthy of purchasing for the home library.  It's good for soothing the hurt feelings of a boy who didn't get picked for the team or a girl whose bestie has turned out to be a mean girl.  It lets kids know that it's normal to be dismayed by love, but encourages them that things can change in the blink of an eye.

Image credit:
Contributed by Danyelle, Fairmont Private Schools

Wednesday, November 6

BOOK REPORT milly and the macy's parade

Milly and the Macy's Parade
by Shana Corey
Illustrated by Brett Helquist

Treat your child to a festive story of how one small person makes a big difference. It's Thanksgiving, and spirited Milly sees that the whole town is in need of some cheer, so she comes up with a way to blend her family's old country traditions with their new American heritage, and thus the Macy's Day Parade is born. Inspired by the true story behind the first Macy's Parade in 1924, bright paintings and easy-to-follow text will captivate your child. Milly's story provides a glimpse into immigrant life in America in the 1920s and shows the value of a child's ideas and dreams.
Review provided by Scholastic

Contributed by Danyelle, Fairmont Private Schools

Monday, October 7

BOOK REPORT dark emperor and other poems of the night

Dark Emperor & Other Poems of the Night
by Joyce Sidman
Illustrated by Rick Allen
This October we are taking every opportunity to embrace the dark side, and no, we're not referring to The Force, Luke!  This exquisitely illustrated book of poetry celebrates the creatures that go bump in the night from bats and owls to mice and moths.  It's a great read for kids during this spooky month of Halloween and features both beautiful poetry and enlightening natural science facts about the featured animals.  It's an un-scary read for a cozy night around the campfire.  Oh, and did we mention that Dark Emperor is a Newbery Honor Book!
Contributed by: Danyelle, Fairmont Private Schools

Monday, September 23

BOOK REPORT johnny appleseed by steven kellogg

It's Johnny Appleseed time for most students this time of year. Kindergarten and early elementary school students get to hear about Johnny Appleseed for the first time. But if you have elementary-aged kids who want to learn more about Johnny Appleseed's life, Steven Kellogg's "Johnny Appleseed" is a great place to start. 

Your student will read about John Chapman's (Johnny Appleseed's real name) early life as a child picking apples in the fall to when he travels into the wilderness and meets native Americans. It is an entertaining biographical story that follows chronologically from childhood to the end of his life when he became a living American folk hero. Kellogg is great at melding fact and fiction while letting us know the difference. His illustrations are lively and help tell the story. If your 1st-3rd grader is interested in learning more about Johnny Appleseed, this is the perfect book. Enjoy with some apple pie, apple cider, apple fritters...!

Contributed by Darcy, Fairmont Private Schools

Monday, September 2

BOOK REPORT minimalist parenting

Ever wanted to slow down and smell the roses when it comes to your family life?  Modern parents are busier than ever balancing our own personal needs with the daily schedule of must-haves and must-dos when it comes to our children. Being the best you can be for yourself, your spouse, your can be exhausting, but according to Minimalist Parenting authors Christine Koh and Asha Dornfest it doesn't have to be this way.  It's possible to be human, do less, and enjoy the experience of parenthood without all of the craziness and guilt.  Turns out that kicking back a bit could actually be better for your kids in the long run.  Need proof?  Read all about it:

Minimalist Parenting: Enjoy Modern Family Life More by Doing Less
by Christine Koh and Asha Dornfest 

We're in the midst of a parenting climate that feeds on more expert advice, more gear, more fear about competition and safety, and more choices to make about education, nutrition, even entertainment.  The result?  Overwhelmed, confused parents and overscheduled, over-parented kids. In Minimalist Parenting, Christine Koh and Asha Dornfest offer a fresh approach to navigating all of this conflicting background noise. 

In Minimalist Parenting, Christine Koh and Asha Dornfest offer a fresh approach to navigating all of this conflicting background “noise.” They show how to tune into your family’s unique values and priorities and confidently identify the activities, stuff, information, and people that truly merit space in your life.

The book begins by showing the value of a minimalist approach, backed by the authors’ personal experience practicing it. It then leads parents through practical strategies for managing time, decluttering the home space, simplifying mealtimes, streamlining recreation, and prioritizing self-care. Filled with parents’ personal stories, readers will come away with a unique plan for a simpler life.

Contributed by Danyelle, Fairmont Private Schools

Monday, June 10

BOOK REPORT school's out! booklist

The count down is on--it's the last week of the 2012/2013 school year.  Get in the summer spirit with this upbeat collection of picture books we pinned to our Elementary Pinterest Board from Nyla's Crafty Teaching.  And don't forget to keep reading all summer long.  It's one of the best ways to stop summer slide and keep young minds sharp for the coming school year.

  • When It's the Last Day of School by Maribeth Boelts
  • Last Day Hooray! by Nancy Poydar
  • The Last Day of School by Louise Borden
Image from Nyla's Crafty Teaching
Contributed by Danyelle, Fairmont Private Schools

Monday, May 27

BOOK REPORT the whipping boy

The Whipping Boy
by Sid Fleischman

Finding appropriate reading for my 8 year-old can be hard. I want a book that she won't want to put down but I also want it to teach her something. Luckily, I have a wonderful children's librarian at our local library and she recommended The Whipping Boy by Sid Fleischman for my daughter to read. Little did I know upon giving it to her she had already read it. 

"Oh yeah mom I read that already. You should read it, it's really good!" To which I replied that I have read it too, just many years ago. But I thought that it would be the perfect book to re-read and share. 

The characters in the book are very colorful and even I was sucked in from the very beginning. We are introduced to Prince Brat and an orphan boy named Jemmy who serves as the "whipping boy" who is always punished in place of the prince. The book is about the transformation we see in the two boys once problems and adventures arise. 

It is very simply written so that a child can read it on his or her own, but it is also a perfect book for a parent to read aloud. It won the well deserved Newbery Medal Award in 1987. It's a great book to kick off your summer reading list.

For more age-appropriate books and reading lists, browse through Fairmont's Pinterest boards.

Book jacket image from wikipedia
Contributed by Darcy, Fairmont Private Schools 

Wednesday, April 3

BOOK REPORT fairy tales with a twist

Since launching Fairmont's summer program, we've all had fairy tales on the brain.  We love those "happily ever after" stories complete with princesses, dragons, and magical godmothers. But fairy tales are even more fun when they're told with a twist, like these five original takes on familiar tales. 

Kate and the Beanstalk
by Mary Pope Osborne

Bubba the Cowboy Prince
by Helen Ketteman

Cinder Edna
by Ellen Jackson

The True Story of the Three Little Pigs
by Jon Scieszka

Dusty Locks and the Three Little Bears
by Susan Lowell

Image from barnesandnoble
Contributed by Danyelle, Fairmont Private Schools

Wednesday, March 6

BOOK REPORT and then it's spring

Waiting around for spring is kind of like waiting for water to boil or the mail to come or your favorite aunt to come over for a visit.  Except that here in Southern California we have weather that seems almost like spring all year long. We're blessed with the mildest of winters, still there's something amazing about the first buds of springtime. That's what Julie Fogliano's book, And Then It's Spring, is all about.  The waiting...and the joy when spring shows up.  

In the story, a boy and his dog have had enough of the brown of winter and decide to do something about it. They plant a garden, seed by seed. Then, they and their animal friends wait, and wait, and wait to see what happens. The story is simple but made poignant by the distinctive illustrations of Erin E. Stead, recipient of the 2011 Caldecott Medal.  This award-winning book teaches patience and perseverance and it connects children with the comforting rhythm of the seasons.

It's the perfect prelude to starting a spring garden of your own!

Image from Macmillan
Contributed by Danyelle, Fairmont Private Schools

Wednesday, February 6

BOOK REPORT: president's day booklist for kids

President's Day may not rank high on your kid's list of the most looked-forward-to holidays of the year, but that's no reason to let it pass unnoticed.  President's Day is a great excuse to learn a little more about the highest office in the land and about all of the colorful characters who have held the esteemed position of President. Here are some of our favorite presidential reads with reviews from School Library Journal.

by Catherine Stier
Kindergarten-Grade 2
A simple explanation of the diverse duties of the president of the United States. Beginning with campaign speeches and posters, six children of varied racial backgrounds take turns posing as the president while providing information about the rewards and responsibilities of the position. Touching briefly on various topics including the White House, Congress, the creation of laws, the cabinet, veto power, Air Force One, and the Secret Service, Stier introduces the day-to-day activities of the commander in chief. 

Lives of the Presidents: Fame, Shame (and What the Neighbors Thought)
by Kathleen Krull
Grade 4-8
Who says biography can't be authoritative and fun at the same time? This briskly written book presents our presidents as human beings first, figureheads second. Krull asserts that her intent was to look "at our leaders with a cool, contemporary eye, respectful but definitely nosy." She succeeds admirably. This is the perfect antidote to encyclopedia articles and standard collective biographies. Krull is factual, but her writing has pizzazz and her details bring the heads of state to life. The most coverage is given to modern presidents and the best known leaders of the past, but for almost any of the 42 men, tidbits of information contain insight.

by Hanoch Piven
Grade 2-6
Beginning with its wordplay title, this book exhibits Piven's flair for creativity and whimsy. Focusing on 17 U.S. presidents, each single- or double-page entry begins with the same phrase ("Presidents are made of…"), includes an interesting anecdote showing the human side of that individual, and presents a collage caricature made of inventive bits of realia that extend the metaphors suggested in the text. For example, George Washington is "…made of good deeds." The narrative recounts how he helped extinguish a neighborhood fire at age 67. His "portrait" has eyes made of small resin-coated American flags that reflect enough light to make them twinkle. The last spread has official portraits of all the presidents, their birth and death dates, and their years in office. 
Grade 5-9
This skillfully abridged and adapted edition of O'Reilly's Killing Lincoln (Holt, 2011) retains the format of the adult title with brief chapters written in a present tense, "you are there" style. It opens in the often-chaotic closing days of the Civil War, capturing the jubilation following Lee's surrender, the events of Lincoln's last days, and Booth's obsessive hatred of Lincoln and his conspiracy to assassinate him. It then describes the shooting and Lincoln's final hours and death, the manhunt for Booth and his allies, Booth's death, and the speedy trial and execution of his co-conspirators. This thriller-like adaptation captures the excitement of the Union victory in the Civil War and the shock and horror that quickly followed as the country learned of Lincoln's death and sought revenge on his assassins. 

Grade 4-8
What stands out in this volume is the writing, which presents history as an engaging and informative story. Hollihan opens the narrative with a focus on asthmatic “Teedie.” His efforts to strengthen his body are accompanied by a list of bodybuilding activities. Following the chronology of Roosevelt's life, a positive picture emerges of the man and his family, his rise to fame, and his impact on history. Activities include making a journal, building a diorama, “hunting” with a camera, and even making a dessert based on Roosevelt's insult that McKinley had “no more backbone than a chocolate ├ęclair.” The projects are interesting and accessible, with cautions to keep an adult nearby when necessary. Numerous black-and-white photos, insets, political cartoons, and illustrations break the text into manageable and interesting bits.

Image from
Contributed by Danyelle, Fairmont Private Schools

Wednesday, January 9

BOOK REPORT over and under the snow

Over and Under the Snow
Written by Kate Messner, Illustrated by Chris Silas Neal

Over the snow, the world is hushed and white. But under the snow exists a secret kingdom of squirrels and snow hares, bears and bullfrogs, and many other animals that live through the winter safe and warm, awake and busy, under the snow. Discover the wonder and activity that lies beneath winter’s snowy landscape in this magical book. 

The beautiful mixed-media illustrations and poetic prose has made this picture book a winter favorite at my home! For other great winter picture book recommendations, check out this pin on Fairmont's Pinterest account.

Book cover image and book description from

Contributed by Danyelle, Fairmont Private Schools

Monday, May 7

BOOK REPORT you weren't always my mom?

Before I Was Your Mother
by Kathryn Lasky

My three young children are always fascinated when I tell them stories of my life before they came along. "You were a dancer?"  "You lived in Scotland?"  "Really, you used to suck your thumb?!"

Hard as it is for our kids to imagine, all of us mothers were once little girls--playing, laughing, getting into trouble and dreaming big dreams, perhaps dreaming of what it might be like to have a family of our own.  I love this book for allowing moms to stroll down memory lane a bit and remember what it was like before we had the weighty responsibilities of motherhood. 

Lasky gets specific, naming her dog and her best friend and recalling the magical Jello creations her own mother used to make.  It's inevitable that your kids will want to know more about your story and that's the real fun of this book.  As Lasky recollects, we are all encouraged to remember...and then to share our stories.

Pull out the old photos and scrapbooks.  Show off your wedding dress or college diploma.  Get inspired to tell your own story.  You might be surprised how reassuring it can be for your children who are inevitably experiencing some of the same joys and struggles that you did, back in the day.  And don't forget to acknowledge your own mother!

Image from

Contributed by Danyelle, Fairmont Private Schools

Tuesday, March 6

BOOK REPORT dr. seuss' sleep book

Sleep Book
By. Dr. Seuss

Kudos to my mother-in-law for introducing my kids and I to what has become one of my all-time favorite Dr. Seuss books.  It's a lesser known tome when compared to Cat in the Hat and Green Eggs and Ham, but it's really worth looking up at your local library if you haven't yet read Sleep Book.  What better time, considering that this month commemorates Dr. Seuss's 107th birthday!  All of the zany rhyming  and crazy characters you'd expect from Dr. Seuss are here, in spades.  The book starts off with a yawn...

A yawn is quite catching, you see. Like a cough.
It just takes one yawn to start other yawns off.

What follows is a run down of how that yawn spreads from "the County of Keck" to "Culpepper Springs" to "Finnigan Fen" and well beyond.  Hundreds and thousands and millions and billions of strange creatures are finding themselves very, very sleepy.  The hope is that this yawn will even spread to your own home by the conclusion of the book, bringing the "sleep number" to "Ninety-nine zillion/Nine trillion and three."  I've tried a lot of sleep training methods in my time, but this one is by far the most fun!

Book jacket image from Barnes and Noble

Contributed by Danyelle, Fairmont Private Schools

Tuesday, February 14

BOOK REPORT somebody loves you, mr. hatch

Somebody Loves You, Mr. Hatch
By Eileen Spinelli

Mr. Hatch woke up every morning at 6:30am and headed in to work at the shoelace factory. He went about his regular routine eating cheese sandwiches, drinking coffee, reading the paper, buying a single turkey wing for dinner night after night. He kept to himself. Nothing much was happening in Mr. Hatch’s life; until, one Saturday, when the postman arrived on his doorstep with a mysterious package.

This is a story about what happens when Mr. Hatch discovers that somebody loves him. And, in a larger sense, it’s about the power of love. Without giving the story away, things get a lot more interesting for Mr. Hatch once he discovers that somebody loves him. Kids (and adults) of all ages will enjoy this book as it appeals to the Mr. Hatch in all of us. And, it may just encourage you and your children to find ways you can extend love and kindness to the “forgotten” people in your own lives.

If you’re feeling a little jaded this Valentine season, check out Somebody Loves You, Mr. Hatch from your local library or watch this great video of actor Hector Elizondo reading the book. Unlike indulging in a heart-shaped box of chocolates, you won’t regret it!

Photo credit:

Contributed by Danyelle, Fairmont Private Schools

Monday, December 5

BOOK REPORT snowmen at night

Snowmen at Night
by Caralyn Buehner

Kids and snowmen go together like hot chocolate and mini marshmallows.  I'm not sure what it is?  I've had the opportunity to make a snowman a few times, as an adult, and it wasn't much fun.  It's cold, hard work.  And my snowmen were generally disappointing in both stature and symmetry, compared to the Frostyesque image in my mind.  But for a child, if there's snow, there's a snowman to be made.

My children love the snowmen who come to life in Caralyn Buehner's Snowmen at Night.  The book attempts to solve the mystery of why snowmen never look quite the same day to day.  Could it be that some funny business is going on at night?  Yes, indeed.  Kids love hearing about all the fun the snowmen have at night--ice skating, sledding, playing baseball--even "drinking cups of ice cold cocoa made by snowman mothers."

You won't regret purchasing this book or checking it out from your local library.  It's a delightful read-aloud and even engages the imaginations of older kids.  Just like The Grinch Who Stole Christmas and The Polar Express, Snowmen at Night deserves a spot on your holiday bookshelf.

Contributed by Danyelle, Fairmont Schools

photo credit

Monday, November 14

BOOK REPORT the giver

During this time of giving and thanksgiving, what better book to read by the fire than Lois Lowry's The Giver? An ideal read for young adults ages 11 and up, this Newberry Medal winner weaves the captivating tale of a boy named Jonas who lives in a controlled "Utopian" community. On his twelfth birthday, Jonas is assigned special training from The Giver. He soon learns that in order for the rest of the community to function so perfectly, The Giver alone must sacrifice and keep the memories of the true pain and pleasure of unregulated life. 

I first came across this novel in fifth grade when it was recommended by my favorite teacher and have since returned to it countless times. It's a story that provokes deep thought and appreciation for what might otherwise seem troublesome or challenging. Consider reading the story along with your son or daughter over the Thanksgiving holiday, and then reference these study questions to spark some great discussion. 

Contributed by Alyssa 

Tuesday, October 18

BOOK REPORT halloween night

Halloween Night
By Marjorie Dennis Murray
Illustrated by Brandon Dorman

Twas Halloween night and all through the house
Every creature was stirring including the mouse

The walls were aflutter with little brown bats
While hordes of black spiders crept out of the cracks

By the fire in the kitchen, the witch stirred her brew;
To make it more smelly, she threw in a shoe.

There's something irresistible about this Halloween take on everyone's favorite holiday read-aloud, The Night Before ChristmasHalloween Night twists the original tale of golly old St. Nick into a not-so-spooky ghost story complete with all the traditional Halloween fixins'--ghosts, witches, spiders... You'll love the lush illustrations as much as the imaginative text. Short and sweet, it may just become a Halloween holiday tradition.

Here are some other great Halloween book suggestions, all available online at

The Halloween Kid by Rhode Montijo
Room on the Broom by Julia Donaldson
Pumpkin Soup by Helen Cooper
Boo to You Too! by Elizabeth Rodger

Contributed by Danyelle

Thursday, September 29

BOOK REPORT madeline says merci

Madeline Says Merci: The-Aways-Be-Polite-Book
by John Bemelmans Marciano

The pages that follow offer advice
Oh how to be polite and nice.
As you read, please keep in mind
It all comes down to being kind.
Don't forget to think of others--
Parents, pets and little brothers.

So begins a charming spin-off of the original Madeline book by Ludwig Bemelmans.  Children won't mind learning to say "please and thank you" from Madeline and her friends.  This clever etiquette handbook helps children understand how to behave in a variety of social situations--from how to greet the Queen to how to properly express gratitude for a gift.  Both boys and girls can relate to the rambunctious Madeline and will enjoy the lively prose and witty illustrations.  This is a wonderful addition to your home library that will bear reading and re-reading as your children grow and encounter new people and experiences.

Related Activities:
After reading Madeline Says Merci, encourage your children to put their good manners into action.  Set up a special snack-time tea party for practicing table manners.  Reinforce reading and writing skills by having older children write thank you notes when they receive gifts.  Get theatrical and have your children act out some of the scenes from the book.  There are a myriad of ways to reinforce good etiquette and this book helps make it fun!

For an entire reading list of books about cultivating good manners, check out the recommended reads at Children's Books Guide including my personal favorite Dude, That's Rude.

Contributed by Danyelle