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Reading File

20 Caldecott/Honor Books

The Biggest Bear

Author: Lynd Ward

Grade Level: K-2nd

Genre: Animal stories/Classic

Synopsis: Where it is normal to have bearskin on barns in Johnny’s valley his family does not have any. Humiliated, Johnny is determined to find the biggest bear in the woods. Instead Johnny finds a little bear and keeps him as a pet. The bear grew bigger and bigger as time went the bear caused trouble for the Valley. Johnny now understood that he needed to put the big bear back into woods. The bear loves Johnny so he would not stay in the woods. The last time Johnny takes the bear out to the woods they become trapped by the zoo. The zoo then becomes the bear’s home and Johnny gets to see his furry friend anytime he wants now.

Activity: Vocabulary sheet with pictures. Color the pictures and discuss the uses of each word and where we generally find these items.

Personal Review: ****(4) out (5) stars. I think this is a great book to promote friendship among diversity. It can really teach that even if your friend is different than the norm, love and friendship can blossom.

Mirette on the High Wire

Author: Emily Arnold McCully

Grade level: K-4th

Genre: Fiction

Synopsis: Fascinated by Bellini and his high wire, Mirette quickly learns how to master the tight rope. Once the little girl learns of “Great Bellini” and all his accomplishments Mirette is determined to be just as brave however Bellini refuses. As Bellini’s protégée, Mirette teaches Bellini that he must never let fear discourage him from crossing the tight rope again.

Activity: Who Are Our Heroes? As a mini research project ask students what their goals or interests are and have them find inspirational people in that genre. Focus on answering these questions: Why is this person a hero to you? What five questions would you like to ask your hero? What challenges did your hero face?

Personal Review: ***** (5) out (5) stars. I think this book is perfect for any student who has trouble learning to conquer a fear. Mirette teaches a lesson that if you have a passion or interest you must never let fear discourage you from continuing to do so. Heroism, bravery, friendship, and resolving fear are themes in the book.

The Garden of Abdul Gasazi

Author: Chris Van Allsburg

Grade level: K-3rd

Genre: Science fiction/ Fantasy,204,203,200_.jpg

Synopsis: Alan Mitz must watch Fritz, a bad mannered dog while Miss. Hester is away. On an afternoon walk, Fritz runs off into a magician’s garden and Alan chases after him. Unable to find Fritz, Alan asks the great magician Abdul Gasazi if he had Fritz. Gasazi makes Alan believe that he turned Fritz into a duck and he panics. Shocked and sad Alan returns to Miss. Hester’s home to find Fritz and later-his missing hat.

Activity: Color optical illusion pictures. Explain the difference between perception and reality. Another activity would be to have the children recreate Fritz and explain good manners and behaviors.

Personal Review: *** (3) out (5) stars. While this may not be a personal favorite I think the students would find Fritz funny and question if magic is real. However, the artwork is great.

The Egg Tree

Author: Katherine Milhous

Grade level: 3rd -5th

Genre: Realistic Fiction

Synopsis: On Easter day, Katy and Carl are on the hunt for brightly colored eggs. Katy comes across eggs that are painted beautifully by Grandma. Soon after all the kids start the tradition of making an Easter egg tree with pictures drawn on and gifts underneath. The next Easter, the little Red House is busy entertaining people from all over the world just because of the Easter egg tree.

Activity: Read this book in the Spring and create an art project dying eggs. Have each student draw a picture and hang it on a tree in the classroom.

Personal Review: ** (2) out (5) stars. Not a favorite of mine but this book shows that Easter happens in the Spring and usually brings together family.

Madeline’s Rescue

Author: Ludwig Bemelmans

Grade level: K-3rd

Genre: Comedy

Synopsis: As part of a series, Madeline falls into the Seine River and a brave dog rescues her. As gratitude, Miss Clavel takes the twelve girls and Genevieve, the dog, home to rest. All the girls fall in love with the heroic dog until she is kicked out by a trustee. The girls search for Genevieve all throughout Paris only to come home to find her. She has puppies and all the girls can now sleep with their own dog.

Activity: Recreate the main characters as puppets and have the children retell Madeline’s Rescue. Notice how the children bring aspects of community life into the story.

Personal Review: *** (3) out (5) stars. Genevieve clearly becomes an extended part of the family and the author shows humanity at its’ highest and lowest. He uses bold choices for words, strong emotions from the characters and realistic depiction of wealth and poverty.

Joseph Had a Little Overcoat

Author: Simms Taback

Grade level: K-2nd

Genre: Comedy joseph had a little overcoat

Synopsis: Joseph had an overcoat that got old and worn so he reinvented the use of it and turned into a shirt. As each of his inventions for this specific material he created a new use. One day he was down to a button and then he lost it.

Activity: Make a flip book of the different stages and uses of Joseph’s coat in order.

Personal Review: ***** (5) out (5) stars. I loved this book because of its simplistic plot and die cutout. It will hook the readers and make them curious on what more Joseph can do. This book shows that you can make anything out of nothing. Jewish culture, resourcefulness and creativity are some themes and subjects from this book.

The Hello, Goodbye Window

Author: Norton Juster and Chris Raschka

Grade level: K-2nd

Genre: Fiction

Synopsis: A little girl with a special relationship with her grandparents spends a great deal of their time near the Hello, Goodbye Window. The window serves as a viewing spot into a warm loving home. Laughter, stars, guest, and even pesky dogs can be seen through the window. The little girl hopes to have her own Hello, Goodbye Window and all the happy memories that come with it one day.

Activity: Draw pictures of where your family and grandparents like to spend the majority of the time and fun at. What is so special about that spot?

Personal Review: **(2) out (5) stars. This book’s purpose was a little lost on me. The only real theme that I picked up was a special bond with grandparents, and warmth.

Mei Li

Author: Thomas Handforth

Grade level: K-3rd

Genre: Fiction/ Cultural

Synopsis: Upon a New Year’s, Mei Li defies her parents and goes outside the city walls to reach the Fair with her brother, San Yu. Mei Li has an adventure at the Fair with the circus, Priest and pretending to be a Princess. Out of nowhere Mei Li is attack by an Eagle kite and finds her Uncle waiting for her. San Yu, Uncle and Mei Li must rush to get back into the city so they don’t miss the Kitchen God.

Activity: Follow up the book with asking the children a series of questions on the Chinese culture. What is different from our American culture?

Personal Review: *****(5) out (5) stars. I love this book and the artwork. A clear present of another culture is alive and Mei Li takes the audience on an exciting adventure outside the city walls at the Fair.

Grandfather’s Journey

Author: Allen Say

Grade level: 3rd -5th

Genre: Realistic Fiction/ Cultural

Synopsis: A Japanese grandfather begins a European journey to travel the New World. After falling in love with California, he longs for his childhood home. After many years of traveling back-in-forth between California and the tiny village, Grandfather and his Grandson have found that their hearts have found home on two different continents.

Activity: A Venn Diagram of California and the tiny village in Japan. Introduce what immigration is and family roots. A family tree can be done from the students to trace their family history.

Personal Review: ***** (5) out (5) stars. I absolutely love this book because of the cultural difference and that a man found that his heart is divided between the New World and Japan. Cultural heritage and immigration are a part of the story that is not often seen in other children’s books.
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