Gaston

  • Title: Gaston
  • Author: Kelly DiPucchio
  • Illustrator: Christian Robinson
  • Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Simon & Schuster
  • Publication year: 2014
  • Brief Summary: From Simon & Schuster-“This is the story of four puppies: Fi-Fi, Foo-Foo, Ooh-La-La, and Gaston. Gaston works the hardest at his lessons on how to be a proper pooch. He sips—never slobbers! He yips—never yaps! And he walks with grace—never races! Gaston fits right in with his poodle sisters. But a chance encounter with a bulldog family in the park—Rocky, Ricky, Bruno, and Antoinette—reveals there’s been a mix-up, and so Gaston and Antoinette switch places. The new families look right…but they don’t feel right. Can these puppies follow their noses—and their hearts—to find where they belong?”
  • Ideas for using this book in classroom or library – I found this article from The Prindle Institute of Ethics that discusses how this book could be used to teach about adopted families and biological families. Perhaps this book would be better for a kindergarten class.
  • Whatever additional notes you’d like to add about this book and why you liked or didn’t like it – I think in this book especially, Robinson’s line drawings remind of Madeline, which I think is in the right spirit. DiPucchio’s text is both humorous and includes repetition and rhyme which I think would endear this book more to children.

Anansi the Spider

  • Title: Anansi the Spider
  • Author: Gerald McDermott
  • Illustrator: Gerald McDermott
  • Publisher: Square Fish, an imprint of Macmillan Publishing
  • Publication year: 1972
  • Brief Summary: From Macmillan Publishing-“Anansi the Spider is one of the great folk heroes of the world. He is a rogue, a mischief maker, and a wise, lovable creature who triumphs over larger foes. In this traditional Ashanti tale, Anansi sets out on a long, difficult journey. Threatened by Fish and Falcon, he is saved from terrible fates by his sons. But which of his sons should Anansi reward? Calling upon Nyame, the God of All Things, Anansi solves his predicament in a touching and highly resourceful fashion. In adapting this popular folktale, Gerald McDermott merges the old with the new, combining bold, rich color with traditional African design motifs and authentic Ashanti language rhythms.”
  • Ideas for using this book in classroom or library – While I think there are still school libraries that have this book in circulation, this is one that I think could easily be weeded (especially because of copyright) and replaced with something like Jambo Means Hello or Munfaro’s Beautiful Daughters.
  • Whatever additional notes you’d like to add about this book and why you liked or didn’t like it – This is another problematic picture book for me, in the same vein as A Story, A Story was. McDermott is neither an African American author nor did he list any references for his “tale.” So, while the colorful illustrations would be eye-catching for children, I just don’t think this book needs to be in school libraries nor will it be on my top 50 list.

Who Is the Beast?

  • Title: Who Is the Beast?
  • Author: Keith Baker
  • Illustrator: Keith Baker
  • Publisher: Voyager, Harcourt Brace & Company
  • Publication year: 1990
  • Brief Summary: From Houghton Mifflin-“A friendly tiger is confused by jungle animals fleeing from a beast, until he discovers he is the beast!”
  • Ideas for using this book in classroom or library –I found another great discussion guide from The Prindle Institute for the Ethics concerning the nature of fear, and what we call a beast. I do believe this would be great for younger children.
  • Whatever additional notes you’d like to add about this book and why you liked or didn’t like it –I think the two-page layouts of very colorful illustrations grab the reader’s attention. I enjoyed the twist in the book, that the tiger was afraid of all of these other, smaller animals, but of course, all of the other animals were afraid of him.

Alexander and the Wind-Up Mouse

  • Title: Alexander and the Wind-Up Mouse
  • Author: Leo Lionni
  • Illustrator: Leo Lioni
  • Publisher: Scholastic Inc.
  • Publication year: 1969
  • Brief Summary: From Scholastic Inc.-“Everyone loves Willy the wind-up mouse, while Alexander the real mouse is chased away with brooms and mousetraps. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to be loved and cuddled, thinks Alexander, and he wishes he could be a wind-up mouse too. In this gentle fable about a real mouse and a mechanical mouse, Leo Lionni explores the magic of friendship.”
  • Ideas for using this book in classroom or library –One idea from Scholastic was to bring up wind-up toys to demonstrate Willy the wind-up mouse. Another idea was to have the children make their own art after reading the book (this could be done in conjunction with the art teacher). I think this book would work better for young children.
  • Whatever additional notes you’d like to add about this book and why you liked or didn’t like it –I enjoyed the bright, almost collage like art of Lioni. Probably my favorite illustration is of the gray Alexander meeting the colorful lizard, with a bright background of green leaves behind him. I think the message of Alexander using his one pebble to not turn himself into a wind-up toy but to turn Willy into a real mouse is something children can use.

May I Bring A Friend?

  • Title: May I Bring A Friend?
  • Author: Beatrice Schenk De Regniers
  • Illustrator: Beni Montresor
  • Publisher: The Trumpet Club, a division of Bantam Doubleday Dell Publishing Group, Inc.
  • Publication year: 1964
  • Brief Summary: From Scholastic-“An imaginative boy graciously accepts an invitation from the King and Queen and then invites them to the zoo.”
  • Ideas for using this book in classroom or library – This book could definitely be used to discuss situational irony in a literature class.
  • Whatever additional notes you’d like to add about this book and why you liked or didn’t like it – I loved that Montresor took some liberties, especially in the beginning of the text with which “friends” would be making an appearance. I think it adds to the absurdity of this ironic situation.

Swimmy

  • Title: Swimmy
  • Author: Leo Lionni
  • Illustrator: Leo Lionni
  • Publisher: Scholastic
  • Publication year: 1963
  • Brief Summary: From Scholastic
  • -“Deep in the sea lives a happy school of fish. Their watery world is full of wonders, but there is also danger, and the little fish are afraid to come out of hiding . . . until Swimmy comes along. Swimmy shows his friends how—with ingenuity and team work—they can overcome any danger.”
  • Ideas for using this book in classroom or library – This would be a great book to use to teach children the importance of teamwork and additionally, for using creative ways to problem solve. I think this book could be used for young children upwards to 1st grade.
  • Whatever additional notes you’d like to add about this book and why you liked or didn’t like it –The illustrations in this book do a great job of marrying the text. Additionally, there is a lot of color, and because of the sort of watercolor lines and blotches, gives the illusion of movement for our little fish protagonist. One of my favorite illustrations is of the seaweed forest rising before our protagonist.

Millions of Cats

  • Title: Millions of Cats
  • Author: Wanda Ga’g
  • Illustrator: Wanda Ga’g
  • Publisher: Scholastic Inc.
  • Publication year: 1928
  • Brief Summary: From Scholastic-“This is a classic story about a gentle old man who looks for one cat for his lonely wife, and returns with ‘millions and billions and trillions of cats.'”
  • Ideas for using this book in classroom or library – Due to the age of this book (although Wanda Ga’g’s website says this book has never been out of print), I do not know if this would even be in circulation at a school library. I suppose it would once again depend on the school’s weeding policy, but perhaps for small school libraries this might still be on the shelf. I did find another great discussion guide on The Prindle Institute for Ethics discussing the nature of beauty and happiness that perhaps could be used for a librarian and or teacher.
  • Whatever additional notes you’d like to add about this book and why you liked or didn’t like it – The beautiful black and white line drawings resemble almost Old-Country folkloric illustrations, which I found interesting. I was eager to find and read this book after our many discussions about it, as I never read this book in my childhood. There is a also a sense of the absurd with of course the amount of cats, and that the cats can talk. I think this book is also great with the repeating phrases that a young child could easily pick up on and repeat back or with the reader.

Goodbye, Geese

  • Title: Goodbye, Geese
  • Author: Nancy White Carlstrom
  • Illustrator: Ed Young
  • Publisher: Scholastic, by arrangement with Philomel Books, a division of The Putnam & Grosset Book Group
  • Publication year: 1991
  • Brief Summary: From Amazon-“A father describes the coming of winter to his little girl.”
  • Ideas for using this book in classroom or library – This could be another book to use for young children when first mentioning the seasons. This is also a very lyrical book, and it personifies winter as a “she.” Perhaps this could also be used for older children as they learning different literature staples such as personification, and metaphor.
  • Whatever additional notes you’d like to add about this book and why you liked or didn’t like it – The illustrations in this book are almost abstract. The charcoal illustrations done by Ed Young allow the mind to make inferences. The use of color is interesting, with mostly cool tones such as blue, purple, and white (to symbolize snow). However, as the book continues to climax, as the geese start to take off, the illustrations include bright colors like yellow-orange, orange, and red.

The ABC Bunny

  • Title: The ABC Bunny
  • Author: Wanda Ga’g
  • Illustrator: Wanda Ga’g, hand lettered by Howard Ga’g
  • Publisher: Scholastic Inc.
  • Publication year: 1933, first published under Coward-McCann Inc., an imprint of Putnam and Grosset Group
  • Brief Summary: From Amazon-“Follows a little bunny as it scampers through the alphabet.”
  • Ideas for using this book in classroom or library –This book is, of course, perfect to use for small children in an elementary school and in a public library setting as a read aloud. Additionally, the music included at the beginning and end of the book could be used in a music class in accordance with a music teacher, perhaps the school librarian could introduce the book to the music teacher and together they could include both the book and the music as a learning exercise.
  • Whatever additional notes you’d like to add about this book and why you liked or didn’t like it – The black and white drawn illustrations offer a lot for a young child to look at while each small sentence is being read to them. Additionally, some of the vocabulary is great for small children so that they can learn “bigger” words at a smaller age. There are fun alliterations that the child can learn (which I would think would help in memory) such as “prickly porcupine” and “catnip-crazy.”

A Million Fish…More Or Less

  • Title: A Million Fish…More or Less
  • Author: Patricia C. McKissack
  • Illustrator: Dena Schutzer
  • Publisher: Dragonfly Books, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books
  • Publication year: 1992
  • Brief Summary: From Penguin Random House-“Hugh Thomas knows that the Bayou Clapateaux is a mighty peculiar place. Why, back in 1903, Papa-Daddy and Elder Abbajon caught a turkey that weighed 500 pounds…more or less. 500 pounds?! Hugh Thomas isn’t so sure about that, until he’s left alone on the bayou with only his fishing pole for company. Soon he catches three fish, and then…a million more! But after meeting up with raccoon bandits, thieving crows, and a hungry cat named Chantilly, Hugh Thomas returns home with just enough fish for breakfast…and a fantastic story, of course!”
  • Ideas for using this book in classroom or library – I have seen some articles on the web that explain how math and numbers is used in the book and how it could be helpful for children. For instance, the alligator, Atoo, essentially asks Hugh Thomas, our protagonist, a math word problem. Hugh Thomas actually solves the problem by doing, instead of answering the alligator.
  • Whatever additional notes you’d like to add about this book and why you liked or didn’t like it– The illustrations in this book are bright, colorful which I think would help a child to be visually interested in this book. The use of thick watercolor really brings a sense of the fantastical to the tall tales that Papa-Daddy and Elder Abbajon tell to Hugh Thomas. Lastly, I think this would be a great book to use for storytelling and for exploring regional storytelling in a classroom. I found this article from The Claremore Daily Progress interesting for exploring mroe of Patricia McKissack’s work and why it is important to use African American voices for African and African American stories.