Strega Nona

  • Title: Strega Nona
  • Author: Tomie dePaola
  • Illustrator: Tomie dePaola
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster
  • Publication year: 1975
  • Brief Summary: From Simon & Schuster-“Strega Nona—“Grandma Witch”—is the source for potions, cures, magic, and comfort in her Calabrian town. Her magical ever-full pasta pot is especially intriguing to hungry Big Anthony. Big Anthony is supposed to look after her house and tend her garden, but one day, when she goes over the mountain to visit Strega Amelia, he recites the magic verse over the pasta pot, with disastrous results.”
  • Ideas for using this book in classroom or library – I have covered many Caldecott winners and honor books in this assignment and I think it interesting which ones are kept in public libraries (I can’t speak on school libraries because I do not currently work in one). This one is an almost new copy from the public library I used. I think it is because there is still a valuable lesson that can be learned in this book. And the characters (though not diverse) are not blatantly stereotyping a culture or race. I found this lesson plan from Scholastic that includes using this book to help children understand cause and effect, and an understanding of texts.
  • Whatever additional notes you’d like to add about this book and why you liked or didn’t like it – The illustrations are done in subtle colors that I feel helps keep this book light and funny.

Just a Minute

  • Title: Just a Minute: A Trickster Tale and Counting Book
  • Author: Yuyi Morales
  • Illustrator: Yuyi Morales
  • Publisher: Chronicle Books
  • Publication year: 2003
  • Brief Summary: From Chronicle Books-“In this original trickster tale, Senor Calavera arrives unexpectedly at Grandma Beetle’s door. He requests that she leave with him right away. “Just a minute,” Grandma Beetle tells him. She still has one house to sweep, two pots of tea to boil, three pounds of corn to make into tortillas — and that’s just the start! Using both Spanish and English words to tally the party preparations, Grandma Beetle cleverly delays her trip and spends her birthday with a table full of grandchildren and her surprise guest. This spirited tribute to the rich traditions of Mexican culture is the perfect introduction to counting in both English and Spanish.”
  • Ideas for using this book in classroom or library –I think this book would be perfect for teaching young children how to count up to 10 in Spanish as they learning this in English. Not only that but this is a folk tale from another culture that can be taught as children are learning about “traditional” European fairy tales.
  • Whatever additional notes you’d like to add about this book and why you liked or didn’t like it –Morales’s vibrant illustrations are whimsical and colorful and each page keeps the reader engaged. And she has rendered Senor Calavera in a way that children can see the humor in the situation, and not be frightened by him.

Dust Devil

  • Title: Dust Devil
  • Author: Anne Isaacs
  • Illustrator: Paul O. Zelinsky
  • Publisher: Schwartz & Wade Books, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books
  • Publication year: 2010
  • Brief Summary: From Penguin Random House-“Swamp Angel has a reputation as the greatest woodswoman and wildest wildcat in all of Tennessee. But when she grows too big for that state, she moves to Montana, a place so sizeable, even Angel can fit in. It’s there that she wrestles a raging storm to the ground and, at its center, finds herself a sidekick—a horse she names Dust Devil. And when Backward Bart, the orneriest, ugliest outlaw ever known, starts terrorizing the prairie, seems like Angel and Dust Devil may be the only ones strong enough to stop him.”
  • Ideas for using this book in classroom or library – Much like in Swamp Angel, I think this created folktale would be great to use in relation with other folktales as children are first learning them. In fact, I think both books would be great read back to back.
  • Whatever additional notes you’d like to add about this book and why you liked or didn’t like it – I mainly wanted to read this sequel because this was mentioned during class and I had read Swamp Angel during my first 100 picture book readings. Once again, Zelinsky outdoes himself with the vibrant illustrations. I think really my favorite set of illustrations are the ones at the beginning where Swamp Angel wakes up in her new home in Montana and moves some mountains to get some shade.

Mirandy and Brother Wind

  • Title: Mirandy and Brother Wind
  • Author: Patricia C. McKissack
  • Illustrator: Jerry Pinkey
  • Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books, a division of Random House
  • Publication year: 1988
  • Brief Summary: From Penguin Random House-“In this Caldecott Honor and Coretta Scott King Award winning tale, Mirandy is determined to capture the best partner for the junior cakewalk jubilee. And who is the best partner? The wind, of course!”
  • Ideas for using this book in classroom or library –I found another blog, EDU 320 Children’s Literature Review, from Illinois Wesleyan University, that explains how this book could be used in a social sciences class and in a history class.
  • Whatever additional notes you’d like to add about this book and why you liked or didn’t like it – The watercolor illustrations from Pinkey lend to the dreamlike, fairy tale like quality of the story. According to the author’s note, this story was inspired by McKissack’s grandparents and cakewalks, a dance originating from enslaved persons. I think this and McKissack’s regional dialect in the text make this a uniquely diverse picture book folktale.

Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins

  • Title: Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins
  • Author: Eric Kimmel
  • Illustrator: Trina Schart Hyman
  • Publisher: Scholastic
  • Publication year: First Scholastic printing 1990
  • Brief Summary: From Scholastic-“Three-time Caldecott artist Trina Schart Hyman adds her splendidly animated illustrations to this award-winning tale about a traveler who outwits eight goblins to bring Hanukkah to a small village.”
  • Ideas for using this book in classroom or library – This book would be great to use for older children, although I think it could be read to younger children (but perhaps starting in kindergarten not earlier). This could could used while children are learning the major world religions, as a sort of fairy tale similar in nature to Saint George and the Dragon, which incidentally also includes artwork by Hyman.
  • 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 powerful, going from black and purple to vibrant color as the goblins appear and the menorah candles illuminate the scenes. My favorite (and perhaps the most moving to me) illustration is of the king of the goblins ripping through the synagogue but Hershel and the menorah and candles have not been moved, a powerful illustration showing that fear cannot own us.

Always Room For One More

  • Title: Always Room for One More
  • Author: Sorche Nic Leodhas
  • Illustrator: Nonny Hogrogian
  • Publisher: Henry Holt and Company Inc.
  • Publication year: 1965
  • Brief Summary: From Amazon-“Lachie MacLachlan, the generous hero of this enchanting tale, is the exception to the rule that the Scots are a thrifty lot. In his “wee house in the heather,” where he lives with his family of twelve, he welcomes to his hearth every weary traveler who passes by on a stormy night. “There’s always room for one more,” says Lachie, and how his grateful guests say a wonderful “Thank you” provides a delightfully warm and tender ending to this hilarious tale of kindness.”
  • Ideas for using this book in classroom or library – I think this is another picture book that could be used with other disciplines like music. This would also make a great book to use for a read aloud because of the rhyming and cadence.
  • Whatever additional notes you’d like to add about this book and why you liked or didn’t like it –The very simple watercolor and line drawings balance the lyrical text.