Thursday, November 26, 2015

Out of My Mind by Sharon M. Draper

Draper, S. (2010). Out of my mind. NY: Atheneum.

Out of My Mind is a book about growing up both physically and mentally. Melody is a young girl that is a prisoner of her own body. She was diagnosed with cerebral palsy shortly after her birth. Melody cannot communicate with the outside world until she is given a computer to help her. With the help of her communication computer she is able to join the rest of her regular education fifth grade class. Melody is a very intelligent girl that wins a spot on the schools trivia team. Although everything seems to be going well, she still encounters challenges in her journey of becoming a young woman.

Out of My Mind portrays the evaluative criteria of plot and theme very well. Melody is trapped in her own body when we begin the story. As we continue through the book she is slowly able to start communicating and be seen as the intelligent girl that she is. As the plot develops, we root for Melody’s success and although we are dealt heartache, the resolution of the story is one where the main character gets some satisfaction. The theme of the story is one of growth and heartache. We see Melody emerge from her struggles a much stronger person. The author then ends the story where she began it, therefore bringing the reader full circle.

How They Croaked by Georgia Bragg

Bragg, G. (2011). How they croaked: The awful ends of the awfully famous. NY: Walker

How They Croaked is classified as a children's book (just barely). Many students will find it highly entertaining as it includes the awful ends of the awfully famous. The author wrote this book in a very engaging way. This book approaches the medical histories of famous people and chronicles their last days in a scientifically accurate and witty way.

How They Croaked The Awful Ends of the Awfully Famous exemplifies the evaluative criteria of organization. Author Georgia Bragg has a table of contents that lists the name of the person as well as the title of the chapter for easy reference. She begins with the basic information of the person, and then she tells the story. She ends each chapter with interesting factoids and definitions for words the ready may not have understood. The end of the book also contains a great index that can be used to search for more specific subject matter. 

Sunday, November 8, 2015

It's so Amazing! by Robie Harris

Harris, R. (1999). It’s so Amazing. Boston, MA: Candlewick Press.

This book is full of "amazing" information. If you need a way of explaining where babies come from, this is definitely the book for you. There are illustrations and scientific facts that can help you to have "the talk" with your teenager. What makes this book very kid friendly is the bird and the bee that guides the reader through all the tough information and scientific facts that may be harder to understand.

Robie Harris, author of It's So Amazing! A Book about Eggs, Sperm, Birth, Babies and Families produced a great example of the evaluative criteria of organization. She wrote her book in sections and provided a table of contents so the reader can easily locate information. Each section is appropriately titled. There is a clear sequence of information and is very easy to use. The illustrations in the book add a great deal of important facts and help to organize the authors thoughts on a very broad and lengthy subject such as the beginning of life.

Balloons Over Broadway by Melissa Sweet

Sweet, M. (2011). Balloons over Broadway: The true story of the puppeteer of Macy's parade. NY: Houghton

Balloons Over Broadway is the story of the famous puppeteer, Tony Sarg. It begins as a young Tony shows an interest and curiosity for how things are made and how they move. As he grew up, he turned his hobby into a career as a puppet maker. Macy's asked him to create a puppet parade for their story and so the birth of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade came to be.

Balloons Over Broadway is designed in such a delightful way. The book is colorful and full of wonderfully odd illustrations. The illustrations really add to the information that is being provided. There is so much happening on each page that every time you read it you catch something different. The fun colors and layout will definitely spark interest in children. The font is clear and easy to read and the book is generally attractive.

Spiders by Nic Bishop

Bishop, N. (2007). Spiders. NY: Scholastic.

In Spiders, Nic Bishop gives us an up close and personal look into the world of amazing arachnids. The reader is provided with plenty of marvelous facts and beautifully taken photographs of dozens of different types of spiders. You will learn many interesting tidbits of information from the smallest little spider to the largest arachnid on Earth.

Nic Bishop's Spiders is an excellent example of design at work. He includes giant pictures of the spiders he is working with to fascinate the children. The illustrations brilliantly compliment the text. For example. when he talks about the jumping spider he includes a giant spread of a spider jumping. The font he uses gets bigger and smaller as he emphasizes information. The book is colorful and fun. Kids of all ages would find it interesting as well as informative. 

Primates by Jim Ottaviani

Ottaviani, J. (2013). Primates. NY: FirstSecond.

Primates is the story of three very brilliant and very motivated young women. Jane Goodall, Dian Fossey, and Birute Galdikas are all amazing women that by chance are set on a path to becoming pioneers and activists that changed the world. In this book, the reader is able to see the path these women walk on and the hardships they endure while chasing their dreams.

Primates The Fearless Science of Jane Goodall, Dian Fossey, and Birute Galdikas is brilliantly designed book. Jim Ottaviani and Maris Wick wrote this book in a comic design. The whole design of the book is in full color and creatively uses the layout to entice children. The font and illustrations are child oriented. The information is presented in story form to keep the children interested.

Rosa by Nikki Giovanni

Giovanni, N. (2005). Rosa. NY: Holt.

Rosa is tired. She is tired from working all day. She is tired of all the hardship her people must endure. During this time in history, African Americans were not treated well and experienced many injustices. Rosa decides to take a seat against the unfairness. She unwittingly becomes a civil rights crusader and this is her story.

In the book Rosa, Nikki Giovanni and Brian Collier exemplify the criteria of style. The authors often write about race and race issues so the subject of the book Rosa is very much in their field of experience. The way they tell the story is very interesting and clear. It almost feels like they are telling a story, but giving facts embedded in it. The illustrations add meaning and enthusiasm to the story. The vocabulary that the authors use is simple and easy to understand for children. The book inspires students to think about the past and remind them that injustice does occur and should be avoided in the future. Children should feel inspired by the great Rosa Parks and how she stood up (sat down) for herself. 

Dear Mr. Henshaw by Beverly Cleary

Cleary, B. (1983). Dear Mr. Henshaw. NY: Morrow.

Dear Mr. Henshaw is the story of a young boy, Leigh Bots, that is communicating by post with his favorite author, Mr. Henshaw, and then later in his journal. As the boy grows, his letters get more complex. The seriousness of the issues gets heavier as he matures and begins to go through hardships.

The book Dear Mr. Henshaw is a great example of the evaluative criteria of character and style. The main character, Leigh Botts, is portrayed as a very likeable kid with problems like any other child in America. We can see that he is coming to terms with his new reality (parent divorce) as he writes letters to his favorite author and later to his diary. He is highly relatable to readers in his age group. Beverly Clearly’s style in this book is very unique. Throughout the books we can only catch glimpses of Leigh’s life as he writes to the author and as he writes in his journal. We only see the most significant things in his life that he chooses to write about making it seem as though we as the reader are not omniscient and are only allowed to see what Leigh wants us to see.

Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson

Paterson, K. (1972). Bridge to Terabithia. NY: Crown.

Jess’ biggest dream is to win the race and be the fastest runner in the school. He is very close to becoming that until his new neighbor Leslie beats him. Leslie and Jess eventually become good friends and create a magical land where they are king and queen. When tragedy strikes their friendship, Jess must learn to live with loss.

Bridge to Terebithia is a great example of setting and gender/culture. The woods and farmland of the story play a big part in its development. The main characters use the setting as a place of wonder and imagination. They create a paradise called Terabithia where they are the rulers. They can make anything happen in their beloved woods. Without the excellent description of the setting, the plot of the story could not unfold. The main characters also challenge many gender roles. Jess and Leslie are not your typical boy and girl. Jess is a more sensitive and artistic type who finds himself having to hide his true self from everyone but Leslie. Leslie, on the other hand, loves to run and likes more traditionally male pastimes. She, however, does not hide who she is at all. She is able to show her true colors to the world, and with her example, Jess is able to do that as well.

Me... Jane by Patrick McDonnell

McDonnell, P. (2011). Me…jane. NY: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers.

Little Jane's whole world has revolved around animals for as long as she can remember. Her amazing imagination and brilliant scientific mind made her childhood an entertaining story. Patrick McDonnell tells the story of a little girl whose ambitions molded her. We see small glimpses into the mind of a little girl that had so much to give the world.

Patrick McDonnell represented the evaluative criteria of style. His book Me... Jane is beautifully written. He uses age appropriate vocabulary for younger students while not losing any of the informational quality. This book is non-fiction that looks like fiction. His work is meant to inspire children to follow their dreams by giving them a real account of a little girl that accomplished her goals. His use of watercolor/impressionist illustrations gives the book a whimsical feel that will appeal to children of all ages.