Many Books, Many Voices

Elementary School Librarians Sharing Great Books

Heinemann First Encyclopedia May 25, 2010

Filed under: Loved By All Grades — Colleen @ 3:37 am
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Well, I never thought I’d review an encyclopedia, but the Heinemann First Encyclopedia is such an excellent resource that I have to spread the word! Each entry gets a full page which contains images, captions and sometimes labels, fact boxes, “Did you know?” boxes, key dates when appropriate, and basic information written in a straight-forward style. Definitely basic information – World War II is one page.

I used the Heinemann First Encyclopedia to teach nonfiction text features a couple months ago and now the kids are creating riddle pages as part of a Big6 unit. I’m not sure what I would do if I didn’t have this set!

The majority of my library experience is at the high school level and I would think more than twice before I spent a lot of money on a printed encyclopedia for HS students when online encyclopedias are much more up to date and the students are very tech savvy. However, if a 1st grader is researching penguins, a book is an excellent tool – it’s much more efficient than using an online source, plus I don’t have a class set of computers in my library. This encyclopedia is the perfect book because the kids can quickly extract the information they need. The layout is easy to navigate and interesting. The text is written at a primary level and uses an easy-t0-read font. If a 1st grader can’t read all the text, they can definitely get good information from the fact boxes and/or labeled images. The volumes are only 48 pages, which is a great size for kids. It’s a user-friendly encyclopedia that won’t overwhelm kids.

The only drawback to the set is the limited number of entries.  I guess my drawback translates into – I want more of it! I wish there were more entries and more volumes! I wish they would expand the 10 volume set into a 20 volume set! Most of the topics are animals, plants and countries, but they are lacking people. It would be great if they included the most studied people, including world leaders, scientists and pop culture icons.  This review is based on the 1999 edition – Gulp! That’s old! Wait! This just in… The Heinemann website says the new edition published in 2006 has 90 new entries including US Presidents, US states and ancient civilizations and it’s 12 volumes instead of 10! They read my mind! Those are great additions. As a librarian in an international school, I wish they had a more multicultural approach in terms of people. Let’s add some world leaders with the next edition!

If someone asked me what were my top resources for an elementary library, the Heinemann First Encyclopedia would be at the top of the list. It’s a must-have for an elementary school library.


The Very Lazy Ladybug April 18, 2010

Filed under: Best for K-2 — Colleen @ 12:43 pm

The Very Lazy Ladybug by Isobel Finn

The Very Lazy Ladybug by Isolbel Finn & Jack Tickle

This book is perfect for preschool/kinder storytimes. The ladybug in this story is so lazy, she doesn’t even know how to fly. One day decides she wants to sleep somewhere else, but how will she get there? She comes up with a clever idea – hitchhiking on animals that go by. Unfortunately each animal poses a problem. She can’t sleep because the lions roars loudly and the monkey swings all day long, etc. When she lands on an elephant’s trunk, she thinks she’s found the perfect solution until the elephant sneezes which sends her flying and she learns to fly at last. The last page of the book folds out to show the long elephant trunk.

This is one of my new favorite books. The pictures are big and bright and are a great accompaniment to the whimsical storyline. I paired this with Ladybug on the Move by Richard Fowler and a fun activity with a ladybug spot counting song. “Ladybug see what we can do. We can count the spots on you.” I laminated different ladybug images – photos of real ladybugs, felt ladybugs, clip art, a brick ladybug, even a photo of a ladybug computer mouse – and the class counted the spots. Fun!


Willow February 9, 2010

Filed under: Loved By All Grades — tara @ 9:11 am

Willow by Denise Brennan-Nelson

Willow is an artist trapped in the art class of a stern, uncreative art teacher. When all the other kids draw the perfect apple tree (that all look exactly the same!), Willow creates blue apples and gets in trouble.

A sweet tale of being true and funky and artistic, Willow wins over the heart of her art teacher and gets her back in touch with her true artist self. 1st and 2nd graders just loved this book, and we had such great discussions about why Miss Hawthorn acted the way she did, as well as how on earth could there be a blue apple?!? The cherry on top was the website all about Willow found here. We drew our own apple trees and even sent the author a question via email. One more thing–perfect for any character unit, especially ones where the character changes.


Clancy with the Puck by Chris Mizzoni February 1, 2010

Filed under: Best for 3-5 — Claire @ 9:01 pm

Clancy with the Puck by Chris Mizzoni

Canadian kids love books about ice hockey, and Clancy with the Puck is a favourite of many of my students. Mizzoni’s picture book tells the story of Clancy Cooke, a player who had been watched from a very young age, and who, ‘once he’d scored, (would) stop to flirt and brush his flowing curls’. Clancy is  traded to the Hogtown Maple Buds, a ‘sorry desperate team’. Of course, Clancy revolutionizes the Maple Buds, and scores the goal that gets them into the play-offs.  However, in their Stanley Cup final game, Clancy fails to score a vital penalty, and finds his star diminished. As the book concludes, we find Clancy still at the rink, but he is no longer the star of the team; now, he drives the Zamboni.

I like this picture book because it doesn’t have the happy ending one would expect. Students are always surprised that Clancy doesn’t score the winning goal, and that he is not the hero at the end. We often discuss whether or not Clancy is happy in his new role as the driver of the Zamboni (my students tend to think he is), and whether fame and fortune, and the associated expectations, can be difficult to deal with. I recommend this picture book for older elementary students, particularly for those who are obsessed with sports.

Other picture books focusing on ice hockey include The Farm Team by Linda Bailey, The F Team by Anne Laurel Carter, Where’s my Hockey Sweater by Gilles Tibo and, of course, the much-loved Canadian classic by Roch Carrier: The Hockey Sweater.


A Fine, Fine Book! January 24, 2010

Filed under: Loved By All Grades — Colleen @ 11:22 am

A Fine, Fine School by Sharon Creech, Pictures by Harry Bliss (of Diary of a Worm fame).

I love Sharon Creech’s novels. I didn’t realize she also wrote picture books. (I’ve been a HS librarian until recently.) I read this book with grades 2 and 3 last week and every class loved it.

Mr. Keene is the principal of an elementary school. He loves the fine, fine students and fine, fine teachers at his fine, fine school so he decides to have more school! Students attend school on Saturday, but he realizes they could learn even more if they go to the school on Sunday. This continues until he discovers that some learning is done outside of school on our own time. The illustrations are perfect for the text and the kids loved to watch what the dog was up to next!

You can start numerous discussions about too much of a good thing, all things in moderation, balance in life (one of the ESLRs at my school), how we need a break to stay enthusiastic about things, how learning is done all the time, not just at school, etc.

I used this book as part of a lesson on Question-Answer Relationship to enhance reading comprehension. I found the lesson at this amazing website from FCPS Library Instruction Lessons. Check it out – it’s chock full of great lesson ideas! Thanks FCPS librarians! I’m not sure where you’re located, but I really appreciate your wiki site!


Pink! by Lynne Rickards January 22, 2010

Filed under: Loved By All Grades — Claire @ 6:18 pm

Pink! by Lynne Rickards

I work in a girls’ school where all things pink-related are popular, and this picture book is no exception… Patrick the Penguin wakes up one morning to discover that he has turned pink overnight. Patrick is distraught – boys are not pink! Browsing through a book with his father, however, he does realize that some birds (and boys) ARE pink – flamingoes – and decides to set off to Africa. The flamingoes are very welcoming when Patrick arrives, but when they all nap standing on one leg, and later fly to the nesting ground, Patrick realizes that maybe this is not the right place for him either…

My students thoroughly enjoyed this picture book about the penguin who doesn’t quite fit in. We had a wonderful discussion about what may have turned Patrick pink, and about what we could do to make people who might feel excluded feel better. Of course, when Patrick returns to the South Pole his classmates realize how much they missed him, and that his pink feathers really make no difference at all!


Grumpy Bird January 21, 2010

Filed under: Best for K-2 — tara @ 1:26 pm

Grumpy Bird by Jeremy Tankard
Cute, cute, cute! Grumpy Bird woke up grumpy and is stomping around, all the while meeting friends along the way who ask what he is doing. He gets snarky with them (“I’ll give you a hint! I’m putting one foot in front of the other!”), and none of them are bothered by this at all. Instead, they just join him in his walk and create a big line of happy animals following the grumpy leader. Finally, he forgets about his grumpiness when everyone begins copying his movements. 

The illustrations are amazing in this book. I read it with kinders last week and it was a hit. We then made a list of what makes us feel grumpy and then read the book again, looking deeper at the illustrations.