Review Policy

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Book Review: Hana Hashimoto, Sixth Violin

Author: Chieri Uegaki 
Illustrator: Qin Leng
Interest Level: Ages 5 and Up

From the Book Jacket: When Hana announces that she'll be playing violin in the school talent show, her brothers laugh so hard they nearly fall out of a tree. But Hana doesn't let that stop her - she practices and practices, inspired by memories of the time she spent in Japan with her ojiichan, a professional violinist. But when the day of the performance arrives, will she be able to overcome a sudden case of nerves? From the author of the bestselling Suki's Kimono comes a celebration of music, individuality and the very special bond between a child and her grandparent. 

Why It's On My Bookshelf: I love finding these stories. It's awesome to discover your talent. But it can be so defeating when you are mocked for that gift. Hana does not give up or give in to quitting. She continues to pursue her passion. I try and tell kids when we don't follow our hearts desires then how can we fulfill our purpose? That's our jobs as humans. To fill ourselves up with the things we love to do. What an inspiring read for children and adults. 

A Link to This Book:

Friday, September 19, 2014

Book Review: Moody Cow Meditates

Author/Illustrator: Kerry Lee MacLean
Interest Level: Ages 4 and Up

From the Book Jacket: It all started one stupid, rotten day when everything went wrong…
Peter the cow is having a BAD day. After missing the bus and wiping out on his bike he loses his temper and gets in trouble. To make matters worse all the other kids are teasing him, calling him Moody Cow. Peter’s day just seems to get worse until his grandfather comes over and teaches him how to settle his mind and let go of his frustration through a simple and fun exercise. This vibrant and funny children’s book is a playful way to introduce children to the power of meditation. With full color illustrations by the author, Moody Cow Meditates is a wonderful book for parents and children to share together.
Why It's On My Bookshelf: At the beginning of the school year I attended a district counselor meeting to share what successful resources we have been using. A few counselors gave praise to the book Moody Cow Meditates and how the use of Mind Jars in their schools was impactful with kids. I kept thinking - how can I not have this book yet?? 

I bought it after the meeting and can't wait to put it to use. This is a great book to teach kids calming skills through the use of a Mind Jar. Moody Cow is lacking the tools on how to deal with anger and frustration. He also says 'okay, maybe I overreacted.' I was really glad this concept was introduced because we have a lot of kids that treat small deals like huge ones. Moody Cow also says he does things on purpose. What a great way to open up the discussion about making good choices. Can't wait to make Mind Jars with our students!

I also love this video on Mindfulness. If you don't have time to make a Mind Jar....just use a glitter ball. Love!

A Link to This Book and Others You Might Find Helpful:

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Book Review: Emily's Blue Period

Author: Cathleen Daly
Illustrator: Lisa Brown
Interest Level: Ages 6 and Up

From the Book Jacket: Emily wants to be an artist. She likes painting and loves the way artists like Pablo Picasso mixed things up. 

Emily's life is a little mixed up right now. Her dad doesn't live at home anymore, and it feels like everything around her is changing. 

"When Picasso was very sad," says Emily, "he only painted in shades of blue. And now I am in my blue period." It might last quite some time. 

Why It's On My Bookshelf: This is a story of a girl who is struggling with her parent's divorce and living between two homes. As she is studying about Pablo Picasso, she relates to the sadness he once felt in his life. It's hard to cope with dark feelings when you don't know what to do with them. She is inspired through art to find her healing. 

Her art teacher gives the class an assignment to make a collage of their house. But since Emily has two homes she is not sure which one to make. Her mom and little brother remind her a lot of people have more than one home. "Home is where the heart is." Emily is inspired to create a collage that represents her home, not a house. She says, "It's the home of my heart."

That night Emily notices a purple blob in the middle of her collage. She is upset her brother scribbled on the collage. But he shares, "It's not a scribble. It's a purple heart. I think your collage is the home of my heart, too!" This was my favorite part of the story. Both children find healing through her artwork. 

If you are working with children going through family change and they are feeling torn or mixed up about going between two homes - I highly recommend this book. What I love as a counselor is the opportunity it gives me to create a heart collage as part of the healing process. This is bibliotherapy at it's best and great art therapy. 

A Link to This Book and Others You Might Find Helpful: 

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Book Review: If Kids Ran the World

Authors: Leo and Diane Dillon 
Interest Level: Ages 5 and Up 

From the Book Jacket: All roads lead to kindness in this warm, uplifting celebration of generosity and love. In simple words and fanciful illustrations, Caldecott Medalists Leo and Diane Dillon present a rainbow of children who lend a helping hand to make our global village a happier place. And who better to show the joy of giving than kids? With their boundless imagination and enthusiasm, children know that anything is possible - including building a peaceful world where food, shelter, medicine, and education can be had by all. If you ran the world, what would you do?

Why It's On My Bookshelf: This is a great community builder. I read it once and had all kinds of ideas of how I would do a lesson with it. You could bring the message of this book to the school and classroom and really narrow the focus to character traits you want to build. If Kids Ran the World is such an inspiring read aloud and will be impactful to your community of learners. I have such a desire to see kids grow during the school year - this is your kick start to that growth!

A Link to This Book: 

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Book Review: It's Okay to Make Mistakes

Author/Illustrator: Todd Parr
Interest Level: Ages 3 and Up

From the Book Jacket: It's okay to fall down. You can always get back up. It's okay to color outside the lines. It's good to follow your own path. 

In a colorful, kid-friendly way, Todd Parr shows reader that mistakes are okay - that's how you learn. 

Why It's On My Bookshelf: I've become so passionate about this message. Todd Parr does a great job of keeping it simple and understandable for the littles. I see this as a great read for the preschool -first grade kids. But really - you can use picture books for any age. I read this to our two year old daughter and I heard her later in the day playing and singing, "Making mistakes is okay...." She made up a whole song about it. So this will be in my library at school and home. We are moving this generation away from perfectionism and towards living a life free of anxiety and full of courage. Yes to that!

A Link to This Book and Others You Might Find Helpful: 

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Book Review: Two Bobbies - A True Story of Hurricane Katrina, Friendship, and Survival

Authors: Kirby Larson and Mary Nethery
Illustrator: Jean Cassels
Interest Level: Ages 3 and Up
Book Trailer: Two Bobbies

About This Book: During Hurricane Katrina, evacuating New Orleans residents were forced to leave their pets behind. Bobbi the dog was initially chained to keep her safe, but after her owners failed to return, she had to break free. For months, Bobbi wandered the city's ravaged streets-dragging her chain behind her-followed by her feline companion, Bob Cat. After months of hunger and struggle, the Two Bobbies were finally rescued by a construction worker helping to rebuild the city. When he brought them to a shelter, volunteers made an amazing discovery about the devoted friends-Bob Cat was actually blind! He had survived the aftermath of the storm by following the sound Bobbi's chain made as she dragged it along the ground.

At the shelter, the two bob-tailed friends refused to be parted, even for a moment. Could rescue workers find the Bobbies' owners? Or could they find a new home that would take them together? This remarkable true story of devotion and survival is a testament to the spirit that defined post-Katrina rescue missions, and is a perfect way to commemorate the this day in history. 

Why It's On My Bookshelf: This book was recommended on the Choice Literacy Facebook Page by 4th grade teacher Andrea Smith. She selects it as her first read aloud of the year. 

She says: "I love to use this book about a real cat and dog at the beginning of the year because it opens the doorway to conversations about friendship and loyalty. The characters also show kids how we each bring talents and strengths to our classroom, despite our challenges. These two unlikely friends also have a secret - one is blind and the other is deaf. Yet somehow they managed to find help during the difficult times after Hurricane Katrina, refusing to be separated. I love how this animal story invites children into conversations and makes them comfortable enough to discuss important topics."

After reading the book, I could not agree more! This is a great read aloud. You could use this to encourage kids to take care of each other during the school year. We all have emotional needs and we need to be mindful of how our behavior can hurt or help our school community. We all have differences but lets use those to strengthen our bonds - just like the Two Bobbies did. LOVE!

A Link to This Book: 

Friday, July 18, 2014

Book Review: Monday, Wednesday, And Every Other Weekend

Author/Illustrator: Karen Stanton
Interest Level: Ages 3 and Up

From the Book Jacket: Henry Cooper and his dog Pomegranate have two houses. On Mondays, Wednesdays, and every other weekend, they live with Mama in her new apartment, but on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and every other weekend, they live with Papa in his new house. 

Henry and Pomegranate are happy as they dance with Mama and sing with Papa, but Henry knows that sometimes Pomegranate gets confused and just wants to go...home. This gentle and accessible story about dealing with the many changes that come with divorce is beautifully brought to life by author Karen Stanton's vivid and memorable illustrations. 

Why It's On My Bookshelf: I haven't gotten any new bibliotherapy about divorce in quite awhile. This one is so great and will be such a comfort to kids who are getting used to being on a schedule between two homes. Henry's dog Pomegranate is experiencing anxiety and a little sadness. I thought this was a great way to mirror a child's feelings....through the pet. Even though Henry is happy in both homes, understands his schedule, and is obviously loved, it can still be hard at times.

A Link to This Book and Others You Might Find Helpful: 

Monday, July 7, 2014

Book Review: What If Everybody Did That?

Author: Ellen Javernick
Illustrator: Colleen M. Madden
Interest Level: Ages 5 and Up

From the Book Jacket: If you drop just one soda can out the window. It's no big deal ... right? But what if everybody did that? What if everybody broke the rules ... and spoke during story time, didn't wash up, or splashed too much at the pool? Then the world would be a mess. 

But what if everybody obeyed the rules so that the world would become a better place? This book shows how each person's small, everyday choices - good or bad - have consequences one way or the other. 

Why It's On My Bookshelf: This has been on my wish list for a looooong time. Decided it was time to buy it because I've had some PBIS ideas floating around in my head for back to school. This story is going to be part of our kick off for learning the school standards. What if Everybody Did That? is all about community and remembering we all play a part in keeping our school, neighborhoods, and homes safe and happy places. If we don't think of others our surroundings and daily routines can quickly become chaotic. 

There are fourteen examples showing cause and effect example of behavior. 

"During story time I had something important to say. I just couldn't wait till the end of the story. The librarian put her finger to her lips and said, "What if everybody did that?"

Just once I didn't hang my coat on the rack at school. Ms. Sanders made me pick it up and said, "What if everybody did that?"

The last example is a positive one. I was happy they ended on a good note and what a great way to start off your lesson and discussion. 

When I came home I gave my mom a hug. What if everybody did that?

If you need a new resource to introduce routines, procedures, and school standards this is such a great reinforcer! 

A Link to This Book and Others You Might Find Helpful: 

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Book Review: The Most Magnificent Thing

From the Book Jacket: Award-winning author and illustrator Ashley Spires has created a charming picture book about an unnamed girl and her very best friend, who happens to be a dog. The girl has a wonderful idea. "She is going to make the most MAGNIFICENT thing! She knows just how it will look. She knows just how it will work. All she has to do is make it, and she makes things all the time. Easy-peasy!" But making her magnificent thing is anything but easy, and the girl tries and fails, repeatedly. Eventually, the girl gets really, really mad. She is so mad, in fact, that she quits. But after her dog convinces her to take a walk, she comes back to her project with renewed enthusiasm and manages to get it just right. 

For the early grades' exploration of character education, this funny book offers a perfect example of the rewards of perseverance and creativity. The girl's frustration and anger are vividly depicted in the detailed art, and the story offers good options for dealing honestly with these feelings, while at the same time reassuring children that it's okay to make mistakes. The clever use of verbs in groups of threes is both fun and functional, offering opportunities for wonderful vocabulary enrichment. The girl doesn't just "make" her magnificent thing — she "tinkers and hammers and measures," she "smoothes and wrenches and fiddles," she "twists and tweaks and fastens." These precise action words are likely to fire up the imaginations of youngsters eager to create their own inventions and is a great tie-in to learning about Science, Technology, Engineering and Math.

Why It's On My Bookshelf: This was a charming book discovery towards the end of the school year. It is DIVINE and I will be heavily using it. A few months ago I talked about Mindsets in the Classroom which has really pushed me to find more books to help kids overcome challenges they perceive they have. Or if they get stuck and can't figure something out. School can feel hard. How many times have you seen a child just give up out of frustration? The little girl in this book represents this so well. She decides to quit her project and carries the mindset that she has no ability. Her trusty little dog helps her work things out and TRY AGAIN. Failure is a stepping stone to success. This is a message I will be working on next year with kids. I hope to find more books in this area. I noticed the new ASCA standards include Mindset. Exciting!

A Link to This Book and Others You Might Find Helpful: 

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Book Review: A Is For Awesome

Author/Illustrator: Dallas Clayton
Interest Level: Ages 5 and Up

From the Book Jacket: This is a book about the alphabet and all the wonderful letters it contains. It's also a book about possibilities, about all the possible words there are. Once you gather letters together, you can mix them  up in whatever order you choose; you can make up whatever words you like. Big words, small words, old words, new words - even words that no one has ever said before. Once you've learned this alphabet, think about all the other alphabets out there, and all the other languages and all the other words all over the world. Imagine how many great things you'll get to read and write and sing and say. It's going to be awesome!

Why It's On My Bookshelf: I run self-esteem groups throughout the year for students and we often do a name acronym activity. We choose a lot of uplifting adjectives. I came across A is for Awesome and am so excited to have this as part of my lesson. Reading it will help get some inspiration going as we start the activity. Plus it's such a cool book!

I is IMAGINE IDEAS all your own
J JUST remember you're never alone
K is for KIDS being KIDS (that's the coolest)
L is for LIVING LIFE up to its fullest

A Link to This Book and Others You Might Find Helpful: