Thursday, June 22, 2017

Summer Count Down

Before you know it, summer will be upon us. Picnics, vacations, and lazy days will be in effect.  But, within this wonderful time of the year lies a hidden danger.  It’s called the summer slide and it effects millions of our children. Studies have shown for years that students make great advances throughout the school year.  However, many students lose a portion of their gains over the summer months.  As the years progress, this can result in substantial reading grade level loss.  It is a perfect example of 2 steps forward and one step back.  I propose a two step forward and anchor process.  It is time to stop the summer slide.
Here are some of the steps I recommend for your child to help keep most (if not all) of their educational gains this summer:
  •               KEEP READING!!– encourage reading over the summer.  allow your child to read what they want for pleasure.  Magazines, graphic novels, how-to books, advanced and old favorites.  It’s all good in the summer time.
  •                Join a Public Library or Community center summer program. These programs are free and are well planned activities for your emerging learner.  Some programs even serve lunch.
  •               Incorporate math into your summer– Try a one a day review sheet with a few problems before the kids head out to play.  Have your kids help with baking and meal preparations. Measuring and counting help bolster math gains made during the  school years.  Older students can help plan outings and calculate mileage, fuel requirements and travel budgets.
  •                Try a new art or craft– Everyone likes to create and summer is a perfect time to get a head start on holiday decorations and gifts.  Acquiring a new skill (such as wood working, sewing, etc.) during summer is easier as the kids have more time to dedicate to mastery.
  •                  Grow a Garden–  You can plant a garden in a single pot or in a huge plot.  Growing food helps students understand science on a practical level  and the food tastes good, too.
  •                   Create a Vlog or Blog about your summer experiences– Help share your child’s experiences with the world while developing technical skills and your direct supervision.
Write a story, start a business, interview your relatives, and read read read.  These are just a few ideas to get the most out of your summer vacation. Remember to stop the summer slide.  Check back for more ideas and projects.


Ann Marie Rennalls

I am a veteran teacher and lover of projects that enrich the lives of children and their families.

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Set #5:A Big Man Took My Ball

Willems, M. (2013). A big guy stole my ball! New York, NY: Hyperion. The further adventures of Pig and Elephant find us in yet another moral dilemma. Pig finds a ball and some big guy takes it away from him. After voicing his frustration to Elephant, Elephant assures Pig that he will get the ball back. Consequently when Elephant returns, Pig is amazed that Elephant does not return with the ball. It seems that the holder of the ball is even larger than Elephant. After approaching Whale, our dynamic duo learn that it is indeed his ball. Whale longs for someone to play with and the best friends are delighted. This low fantasy book is filled with child like characters making the themes of this book accessible to the youngest readers. The exploration of ownership and preconceived notions are wonderfully dealt with in this book. This is just one book in the series of life lessons for Pig and Elephant. Mo Willem's style is as exuberant as any three year having a great day could be. The use of a blank setting allows the characters and text to leap from the page. This is another great read for beginning readers.

Set # 5:Lunch Lady

Krosoczka, J. (2010). Lunch Lady and the league of librarians.New York: Albert A. Knopf.
Dee, Hector, and Terrance ( the Breakfast Bunch) are awaiting the book fair when they suspect foul play.  The Librarian ( Mrs. Page) kicks everyone out of library as she heads to her League of Librarian meeting.  Clues are left, bullies are threatening and the Lunch Lady squad is on the case.  The League of Librarians are foiled in their devilish plot to destroy all the video games.  After a cataclysmic battle the world is made safe for both books and video games.  The text is filled with puns and super hero posturing.  The plot is classic with evil villains and heroes coming to the rescue.  The illustrations are hilarious and the action never flags.  This low fantasy novel handles new age themes of the place of technology versus traditional acquisition of knowledge.

Set # 5:Invention of Hugo Cabret

Selznick, B. (2007). The Invention of Hugo Cabret.New York, NY: Scholastic Press. Selznik's masterpiece chronicles the story of Hugo an orphaned boy living in a Paris train station. Hugo's uncle is supposed to be looking after him, but he has not been seen in sometime. Hugo is working in his place and keeping the clocks wound at the station. He has a mechanical automaton that his father left him. Alas the automaton does not work. Hugo steals a mechanical mouse from the old man who runs the curiosity shop in the station. The old man takes Hugo's beloved notebook left to him by his father. Hugo works for Mr. Melies in the hope that he will get his notebook bakc. He also makes friends with Isabel, Mr. Melies goddaughter. When Isabel steals the notebook from her godfather, Hugao takes a necklace from around her neck that looks like the key to the automaton. It works and the automaton draws them their next clue. During their adventures together they discover that Mr. Melies is a famous filmmaker that everyone thinks is dead. With the help of one of Mr. Melies' greatest fans (Mr. Tabard) they find one of his magical films and show it to the reluctant Mr. Melies. Eventually, Hugo comes to live with this small family and they attend a retrospective of Mr.Melies' work put on by the film academy. Illustrations are used to tell Hugo's story on a scale never seen before. The rich illustrations provide great insights into the story of Hugo's and Mr. Melies. Each plate could be used to create another story. It is arguable that this story could be considered historical fiction rather than light fantasy due to the actual existence of Georges Melies. The following websites are fun to explore. &

Set # 5: Skulduggery Pleasant

In the aftermath of her Uncle Gordon Edgely's death, Stephanie Edgely finds herself at 12 years the owner of substantial property and wealthy to boot. Stephanie also meets a mysterious character named Skulduggery Pleasant. Skulduggery appears to be a living skeleton and a detective as well. After an attempt on her life on the very first night staying in her new property, Skulduggery Pleasant introduces her to a world of magic. There had been peace between warring factions but it seems that the peace is about to be disturbed by the discovery of the Scepter of Power. The pair join forces to find her Uncle's murder. Along the way Stephanie learns of this magical world to which she becomes a part of. Deuling and fighting evil becomes Stephanie new path in life. Stephanie and Skulduggery become partners after triumphing over Serpine( the head of the evil caste). This is a wonderful light fantasy book filled with moral dilemmas and intriguing characters. The characterization of Stephanie as a strong, confident, and brave heroine is inspirational. Making Skulduggery shaded with good as well as bad adds dimensionality to the story. Themes of loyalty, family, and the triumph of good over evil are explored in this fast paced thriller.

Set # 5:Babymouse

Holm, J. L. &Holm, M. (2009). Babymouse: The musical. New York: Random House Children's Books. Filled with typical Babymouse antics, this novel follows our hero through the trials and tribulations of trying out for the school play. Henry Higgins , a newcomer to school, inspires Babymouse to go out for the lead. Babymouse becomes the understudy to Felicia Furrypaws (Babymouse's arch enemy). In typical Babymouse style the production is a disaster and Babymouse literally breaks a leg. Throughout this book there are constant references to plays and movie musicals. Due to Babymouses constant daydreaming we are treated to some wonderful acts. Reminiscent of "Walter Mitty", the plot is entertaining and our protagonist is the everymouse that struggles with belonging at school.

Rapunzel's Revenge

Hale, S., Hale, D., & Hale, N. (2008). Rapunzel's revenge. New York, NY: Bloomsbury. Rapnzel lives in a great castle with tall walls and every wish she could have catered to except one. She wants to see over the walls of her garden paradise. Her mothers says no, and as the years go by Rapunzel becomes more curious. Mother Goethe has the power to make things grow or shrivel up and die. On her 16th birthday she finally climbs to the top with the cowboy skills she learns from one of her well loved guards. Rapunzel learns that the outside world is a dry and barren landscape controlled by her witch mother. Outside of the walls she encounters her real mother and then remembers her past. Mother Gothel had stolen her from her actual mother years ago and now she orders Rapunzel to be encased in a magic tree tower. Everything grows magicall in the tree as well as Rapunzel's hair and nails. After 4 years Rapunzel escapes(with her miraculous hair) and then begins her quest to return to her old home and free her mother. Along the way she meets a new friend jack and gets out of various scrapes with the law and Mother Goethe's henchmen. Eventually, there is a big showdown at Mother Goethe's yearly ball. Rapunzel destroys her totem that she has been using to control the lands vegetation . Mother Goethe becomes encased in a tree and Rapunzel and Jack plan their next adventure: battling giants. The illustrations in this graphic novel reflect the old west while synthesizing the classic Rapunzel fairy tale. Rapunzel is courageous and stubborn; worthy traits in any teenager. Rapunzel's growth from a sheltered daughter into a braid whipping outlaw is believable reflects our modern expectations of what girls can do.

Set # 5:The Graveyard Book

Three people are murdered in their beds while they lay sleeping. The fourth, a baby escapes. So begins the story of Nobody Owens (Bod for Short). Bod finds sanctuary in an ancient local graveyard where he is rescued by the denizens. Bod's guardians (Mr. and Mrs. Owens) become a pair of ghosts and a being (Silas) that straddles the two worlds of life and death. Fantastical characters inhabit this world and as Bod grows he learns many valuable lessons, least of which is to avoid goblins. The threat on Bod's life is omnipresent and his guardians pursue the Jack's. The Jacks are a secret organization who wish to kill Bod. Bod learns how to navigate between the worlds within the graveyard and the world of the living. After the destruction of the Jacks, Bod leaves the graveyard to join the world of the living. In this low fantasy novel the setting and characters are engaging and thought provoking. The denizens come from different times and so each character has much to inform us of the life they led and how they die. Bods' story explores the themes of good over coming evil and the value of family which is present today.

Set # 5: The Underneath

Appelt, K. (2008). The underneath. NY: Simon and Schuster.

This wonderfully lyrical book is set in the swamps between Texas and Louisiana . This story flows back and forth between the present day lives of a dog, a cat, her kittens and ancient elemental creatures. An abandoned cat who is looking for a safe place to have her kittens is taken in by an injured hound dog who is chained to the front porch. They all form a pseudo family beneath the front porch. The house is owned by a nefarious character named Gar-Face. Gar-Face is a mean hunter who is obsessed with killing a hundred foot alligator that has eluded him for a long time. At the same time a force that has been trapped for a thousand years is waiting to get out. A storm unleashes all of the characters.
and Gar Face meets an ironic end.  The cotton moth Lamia is freed and finally is reunited with her spiritual Gran-daughter. This beautifully written novel deals with difficult subject. The themes of death, animal cruelty, and physical abuse are explored and made accessible by Appelt's lyrical text. Interwoven with glimpses of the Caddo culture and East Texas topograghy, this is an excellent companion  for social studies units.  The book Cd read by, Gabra Zackman is exceptional and would be wonderful on a family road trip.

Set #4:Good Masters, Sweet Ladies

Schlitz, L. A., & Byrd, R. (2007). Good masters! Sweet Ladies! Voices from a medieval village. Cambridge, MA: Candlewick Press.

Many roles are needed to run a village in any time.   Medieval England is examined through personal tales of the members of one village.  From "Will the plow boy" to  "Giles the Beggar", we are treated to insight into professions that are now extinct or remain today.  Schlitz' uses there inter- relatedness to examine how all these roles worked together for the benefit or detriment of the village.  Written in lively free verse, the period language brings the past to life.  The illustrations reflect the style of a bygone era. The author designed this multiple short story structure to provide multiple roles for reader's theater.  Side notes are provided on most pages defining medieval words and author insights on the practices of the medieval period.

Set #4:We Are the Ship

Nelson, K. (2008).We are the ship: The story of Negro League baseball. New York: Jump at the Sun/Hyperion Books for Children. The Negro Baseball League was the only arena in which African-American baseball players could compete from the 1920's until the integration of baseball by the magnificent Jackie Robinson in 1947. Negro baseball club owners brought a different style of baseball to the American public. The Negro teams were under funded, harassed, segregated, and tenacious. Eventually, with Jackie Robinson, major league baseball opened up for everyone and the Negro Baseball League dies. The behind the scene stories and player testimonials make this book an informative and accessible read for all sport fans. Nelson's breathtaking paintings of the stars of the colored league pay tribute to the diverse skin colors and uniforms. While prejudice and injustice was pervasive across the nation, courage and excellent play changed a nation. A wonderful book to inspire research on individuals and the role of baseball in America's race relations evolution.

Set #4: The Watson's go to Birmingham

The "weired Watsons" are an African-American family living in Flint, MI in 1963. Mr. and Mrs. Watson have 3 children: Kenny, Byron, and Joetta. Kenny is in fourth grade and having typical fourth grade problems: bullying, and finding friends. Byron is a bully and whose behavior is getting him in increasing trouble. When he is caught with chemically straightened hair his father shaves his head and decides it is time for the family to spend some time with his no nonsense mother:Grandma Sands. As the Watson family heads south they in counter the effects of Jim Crow. After a near death swimming experience where Kenny is rescued by Byron, things begin to turn around. Tragically, a bomb goes off at their church killing several girls. The family panics thinking Joetta is one of the girls. Joetta is spared as she had come home early. Kenny had ran home when he heard the explosion and is wracked with guilt over his apparent cowardice. Kenny finally comes to terms with his behavior and emerges older and wiser. This story has its roots in the actual bombing event that happened during the summer of 1963 and was one of the galvanizing events of the civil rights movement. Mr. Curtis paints a realistic setting of a different time that was not that long ago. His heartfelt depiction of this family reveal the similarities of all families without the use of stereotypes. While this story is set 50 years ago the events rival events happening currently around the world.

Set #3:Bridge to Terabithia

Peterson, K. (1972). Bridge to Terabithia. New York, NY: Harper & Row. Jess Aarons is a fifth grader who is looking to be the fastest runner in the fifth grade. After practicing in the early mornings all summer long, he is convinced he will win. Unfortunately, Leslie his new next door neighbor, beats him in race after race. An unlikely friendship begins and they create a magical kingdom for themselves called Terabithia. Jess ( who is a talented artist) goes on an unexpected journey with a beloved teacher. Tragically, Leslie falls to her death while trying to enter Terabithia while Jess is away. After grieving for a time, Jess allows May Belle (his sister) to become Queen of Terabithia. This novel is especially adept at addressing gender expectations and the courage it takes to live outside of cultural expectations. Each character is explored in a thoughtful manner. Mrs. Myers outreach of sympathy was wonderful in validating the feelings of her young student's loss. Thre are two movie versions currently available . I favor the one directed by Gabor Csupa.

Set #3:Rules

Lord, C. (2007). Rules. Waterville, Me.: Thorndike Press Catherine is a twelve year old artist who loves her brother David. David is a young man with Autism. Catherine is at an age when being socially acceptable is very important to her. Creating a set of rules for David to navigate through life with, has allowed Catherine to cope with demands that her brother requires. Catherine's best friends has moved far away and she is hopeful that the new girl who moves in will be a friend and accepting of David. While accompanying David to occupational therapy she strikes up a friendship with Jason ( a boy with word tablet). Through the use of her talents, Catherine add multiple new words to Jason's tablet. Catherine has to balance her feelings of insecurity and a desire for friendship, Eventually, she gains clarity with her family, friends, and most importantly herself. The inclusion of rules and introspection are very effective in portraying Catherine's point of view. The rising action of the plot climaxes at the school dance and Catherine's decisions are made in a powerful manner. Catherine's courage is a wonderful model for young girls. If you enjoyed this book, may I recommend, "Bud Not Buddy", by Christopher Paul Curtis. He has a set of rules he lives by also. Cynthia Lord has a wonderful blog at :

Set #3:Diary of a Wimpy Kid

Kinney, J. (2007). Diary of a wimpy kid Greg Heffley's journal. New York: Amulet Books.

The diary entries made by Greg chronicle the minefield that is the life of a middle school student. Greg is not popular or physically fit, but he is a great reader and artist.Greg and Rowely (his best friend)  spend   their days avoiding bullies, trying to be popular, and managing teacher expectations.  Greg struggles with doing the right thing in ethical situations. When Greg does not take responsibility for a poor decision , he loses his best friend. After a major altercation with some bullies, he regains his friend and life as a middle schools student goes on.  Kinney has created in a distinct style with the "Diary of a Wimpy Kid", series.  The graphic features add a comic book quality to his novels.  Everyone has doodled at one time or another.  The characters are well developed and authentic.  I feel that the themes of belonging, mischief, and friendship are universal themes.  Everyone can relate and that is what makes this book special.  The movie is good, but does not match the magic of Jeff Kinney's book.

Set #3:Out of My Mind

Draper, S.M. (2010). Out of my mind. New York: Atheneum Books for Young Readers.

Draper crafts a wonderful portrayal of Melody a young girl dealing with the limitations of her cerebral palsy. Despite her supportive parents and care-giver, Melody feels trapped in her body.  People doubt her intelligence because of her out word appearance.  In actuality, Melody is highly intelligent.  Technology eventually gives voice to that fact and she becomes involved in her inclusion class.  With study and support she makes an academic competition team.  Displaying remarkable smarts and courage, Melody helps advance her team to the finals.  Through a heartbreaking betrayal  and accident, Melody realizes her own worth.  I found this book to be a wonderful character exploration.  As an inclusion teacher i hope to understand the inner workings of my students.  I found Ms. Drapers' account inspiring and provocative.  The characters where multi-layered and presented realistic points of views.  The themes of acceptance , courage, acknowledgment where presented in an easily accessible way.  Sharon Draper has created wonderful book club questions on her site at: 

Set #3: Dear Mr. Henshaw

Cleary, B. (1983). Dear Mr. Henshaw. New York: William Morrow.

Leigh Botts begins a correspondence with author Mr. Henshaw after an assignment issued in sixth grade.  Leigh asked Mr. Henshaw a list of questions to which Mr. Henshaw replied with his own set of questions.  Through their correspondence over the years, Leigh comes to terms with his relationship with his estranged father. The letter format is a uniquely engage method of drawing the reader into the story. Through Leigh's often surly correspondence we are treated to an authentic experience of a young man's feelings. Setting the novel of a larger time span will allow students to observe Leigh's growth. They will be able to compare and contrast Leigh's tone over the length of the book.

Set #2:Hitler Youth

Susan Bartoletti has written a fascinating and informative book on the role of young people in the rise of the third Reich. Filled with photographs and text following the timeline of Germananys' march towards WWII, we follow the particular lives of Hitler's youth. Historically accurate and chilling to read, Bartoletti masterfully leads us into a bygone era. The author lets the facts speak for themselves rather than offering her point of view. A chilling account of manipulation and abuse is provided in an easy to read format.Free lesson plans are provided at this link:

Set #2: How They Croaked

A deliciously gruesome book on the expiration of 13 people of note. Lined up in chronological order O'Malley gives a mini biography as well as infinite detail about each death. In addition, reference as well as topical information is provided. The author illustrates in an etched black and white format; allowing humor and taste to be applied to squeamish material. Sources and an index are provided to allow for further study. Follow the link for an interview with the author Georgia Bragg:

Set #2: Balloons Over Broadway

Sweet, M. ((2011). Balloons over Broadway. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. The life of Tony Sarg is presented in this wonderful book about the origins of the Macys' day Thanksgiving parade. Through the use of collage as well as watercolor picture we see the evolution of Tony' marionette mastery develop into the enormous floats that have become a mainstay for the yearly parade. The book provides actual advertisements and pictures from the 1930's. The juxtaposition of photos and artwork is visually appealing.readers are able to access the information on many levels. This would be a wonderful book to pair with an inventors series. More information about the wonderful Tony Sarg can be found at  and

Set #2:Rosa

Giovanni, N., & Collier, B.(2005). Rosa. New York: Henry Holt. Rosa Parks contribution to the civil rights movement in America is presented through water color, collage art and personal narrative. Rosa's experience is presented in a style that is accurate, but additional personal recollection is included. This allows the reader to experience Rosa's day to day life throughout this turbulent time. The use of collage is very effective in conveying the experiences of the characters. The illustrator focuses on minute details such as Rosa's hand and the post bills to contrast how small she is in comparison to what she faces in her act of civil disobedience.

Set #2:It's So Amazing

Harris, R.H., & Emberley, M. (1999). It's so amazing!: A book about eggs, sperm, birth, babies, and families. Cambridge, MA: Candlewick Press. A wonderfully informative book covering the sensitive topic of human reproduction. Harris and Emberley use an engaging bird and bee to present accurate, concise, and well organized information. The character of the bird represents the point of view of the mature learner, while the bee is the voice of the uncomfortable and learner. The illustrations are graphic, yet non-threatening through the use of vibrant colors and cartoon like visages. The models come in every shape and ethnicity allowing accessibility for all. The voice presented is very matter of fact, friendly, and informative. A great tool to explain a difficult subject to young children. Robbie Harris' web site is presented in the same style: http://www.

Set #2:Magic Windows

Garza, C.L., Rohmer, H., & Schecter, D. (1999) Magic windows. San Francisco, CA: Children's Book Press. Carmen L. Garza uses the art of papel picado (cut paper art) to share insight into her family, history, and her community. Each art piece serves as a "Magic Window" into the flora, fauna, and, recollections of the artist. Each page contains cultural information as well as insight into how the panels are constructed.The panels are bold , colorful, yet simple.  Each page is presented both in English and in Spanish. Ms. Garza is an award winning author and painter whose works have been displayed in museums both nationally and internationally. More of Ms. Lopez' art can be found at :

Set #2: Spiders

Bishop, N. (2011). Nic Bishop Spiders.New York: Scholastic. Nic Bishop has compiled a visually dynamic exploration of our eight legged friends. Bishop categorizes his book into the history, anatomy, habitat, and behavior of spiders. All of the brilliant photographs are large revealing minute features of these fascinating creatures. Mr. Bishop has been studying spiders since childhood and has studied them in nature as well as in captivity.  This book is filled with awesome photographs and interesting facts. Follow Nic at to see his other award winning books.

Set #1:This is Not My Hat

This book is the hilarious tale of a small fish, a large fish, and a crab. The small fish has stolen a hat from the slumbering large fish and has made a hasty get away. Unfortunately, he underestimates the cleverness of his hideout and the motivation of the witness to his retreat. Consequently, the large fish retrieves his hat and we are left to draw our own conclusions on the fate of the small fish. The author uses earth tone watercolor to set an under the sea mood. The illustrations are large while the text is kept small and spare. The reader is engaged in deducing the outcome. This book would be effective in teaching inferencing, and character education. Themes of morality can be explored as well.If you loved this book, I highly recommend Jon Klassen's, I Want my Hat Back .

Set #1:It's a Book

Smith, L. (2010). It's a Book. New York: Roaring Book Press.
Lane Smith has crafted an amusing tale of Monkey trying to read a book with Jackass badgering him with questions. Monkey continues to read his book while Jackass peppers him with questions on how Monkey is processing the information in his book. Eventually, Jackass commandeers Monkeys book. Monkey heads to the library to get a new one. Lane Smith creates large scaled and richly colored characters against a neutral background. The simplicity of the pages allows the characters expressions and postures to speak volumes about their emotions. This would be a wonderful book to introduce all aspects of computer communication to young students. It's a Book, is also available in board book form for toddlers.

Set #1:The Three Pigs

Wiesner, David.(2001) The three pigs. New York: Clarion Books.
 This story is based  on the fairy tale of, The Three Little Pigs, with surprising and entertaining differences.  The wolf is hunting each pig in turn when the huffing and puffing blows the first pig out of his book page. Once freed from their scripted pages the pigs go on an adventure in the in between pages and visit other stories.  Along the way they rescue a dragon and a cat.  Finally, they decide to go home to the lovely brick home the third pig built.  They re-enter their story in time to change the ending. The pigs, the cat, and the dragon make themselves at home. The author engages us by revealing a behind the scenes world .  The illustrations carry us along as pigs flypaper airplanes and phase into alternative illustrative styles.  This book would be excellent to demonstrate alternative story endings and re-imagining  traditional stories.

Set #1:Mirror Mirror

Singer, M., & Masse, J. (2010). Mirror Mirror. Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated. Marilyn Singer has cleverly written fairy tales presenting two distinctly different points of view. Thirteen fairy tales are written in poetic form from top to bottom and are then written to be re-interpreted when read from bottom to top. Singer presents a collection of fairy tales that explore the different points of view from the main characters in classic fairy tales. For example Little Red Riding Hood rushes to grandma’s house while enjoying delicious berries along the way. The wolf also on his way to grandma’s house finds Little Red Riding hood delicious. The author uses split pages to show case the different perspectives of the major characters. The symmetry of the illustrations, sprinkled with story specific elements, uniquely present the two sides of every conflict. The pictures are bright, with an interesting use of tone to separate the two parts of each illustration. This book would be a wonderful tool to reveal how the use of proper punctuation can change the meaning of text. This would also be great to have students revise their stories using an antagonist point of view.

Set #1:Where the Wild Things Are

Sendak, M. (1963). Where the wild things are. New York: Harper & Row

Max has been sent to bed without his supper for his misdeeds.  Unrepentant Max begins an adventure as his room transforms into an exotic forest. Sailing across the sea, Max's boat beaches on the land of the "Wild Things" where Max is made king and much celebrating begins.  After a nap, Max decides that it is time for him to return to his home and those who love him best.  The magnificent illustrations by Sendak serve to differentiate the setting of Max's home and the Wild thing island.  The patina  and depiction of the Wild Things serves to emphasize the difference between Max and his fellow revelers.  The art work starts simply, swells with vibrancy, then returns to the original tone of the story.  This technique visually supports the reader through the story.  The wild thing was interpreted in film some what succesfully  by Spike Jonze.

Set #1:Legend of the Bluebonnet

DePaola, T. (1983).The legend of the bluebonnet: An old tale of Texas. New York: Putnam. She-Who-is-Alone is one of the children of the People. The rains have not come to the plains and the people are dying. The People's Shaman goes to commune with the Great Spirits for a solution to the drought. The Shaman returns and advises that the People must make a great sacrifice. She-Who-is-Alone decides to sacrifice her beloved warrior doll for the benefit of the tribe. After burning her doll the plain is covered with beautiful blue flowers and rain returns to the plains. Due to her sacrifice her name is changed to One-Who-Dearly-Loved-Her-People. DePaola explores the theme of sacrifice in a soft handed manner. She-Who-is-Alone is indeed alone in almost every illustration. Her sacrifice of her beloved doll is accented all the more due to the art work. Follow Tomie DePaola at

Set #1:Martina the Beautiful Cockroach

Deedy, C. A., & Austin, M. (2008). Martina, the beautiful cockroach: A Cuban folktale. Atlanta, GA: Peachtree.
Martina the beautiful cockroach has reached the age when she can marry. Because of her beauty, there will be many suitors. Her abeula advises her to apply the coffee test to all of her suitors. After many offers for her hand, Martina meets the mouse of her dreams. Cleverly written with liberal use of clever word play, Deedy writes an engaging romance. Set in old world Havana, this book takes us to a bygone era, which will be illuminating for students. Michael Austins’ illustrations are very engaging with his use of perspective, scale, and exotic patina. The book tape is delightfully read by the author. I would include this book in character education lessons, and fairy tale units.