On the blog:
- A curation of the past week’s online reading in Links I Loved
- Recommendations for 16 Can’t Miss Nonfiction Picture Book Read-Alouds
- A Top Ten list of the books I can’t wait to read this fall
Little Robot is a graphic novel by Ben Hatke that is a must-have for children who struggle to read or who have limited English because so much of the story is told through wordless panels. When there are words, they’re either very simple or they represent sound effects or the robot’s attempts to communicate (“jonk” is pretty much the only word he uses). The story is simple: Robot Girl finds and befriends Little Robot, who—unbeknownst to both of them—is being pursued by an evil Big Robot. I absolutely love that the protagonist is a brown girl, but I absolutely hate what she’s wearing. I know that seems like a trivial complaint, but her outfit really infantilizes her—it’s a cream-colored shift that screams diaper or baby’s onesie. It actually makes the book a hard sell for me with my son because the story looks like it stars a baby. He is not going to want to take this to school and be seen reading it. Still, a great addition to most classroom libraries. Even my high school students would have liked this one (and probably have been much less concerned about Robot Girl’s babyish look than my 7th-grader will be).
As soon as I finished the first volume in Ellen Potter’s new early chapter book series, Piper Green and the Fairy Tree, I had to buy Volume 2, and Too Much Good Luck is just as good as the first book. There is a new discovery in the fairy tree, a lime-green bedroom that doesn’t turn out quite the way Piper imagines it will, a missing classroom pet, a new classmate, and just the right amount of trouble. Fans of Leo and his post-it wife Michelle will love the new development in their relationship: Michelle gets a tattoo that Leo doesn’t approve of! A really wonderful story.
I’m on a quest to read all of the books illustrated by E.B. Lewis, and Bat Boy and His Violin has much to recommend it. It’s a historical fiction about a boy who hopes to someday play violin in an orchestra. He spends all of his time practicing his violin, much to the consternation of his father, a manager for a baseball team in the Negro Leagues, who thinks his son should get outside and be more active. They compromise: the boy will travel with his father to games and work as the bat boy with the understanding that he can play his violin in between innings. It turns out that his music inspires the players, and his music becomes a valuable part of the baseball game. Father and son develop an understanding and closer bond over the course of the story as well. Well-written and of course beautifully illustrated.
Three Cheers for Catherine the Great is a new favorite. This one is about Sara and her grandmother, Catherine, a Russian immigrant who has never learned to read or write English. It’s Catherine’s birthday and she decides she wants NO PRESENTS. But everyone in her building finds a way to get around this dictum and give her something special anyway. Lovely language (“It is the early blue of Grandma’s birthday morning”) and a clever story, vibrantly illustrated by Gabrielle Potter.
I forgot to snap a photo of #ClassroomBookaday, but here’s what I shared: