Monday, November 29, 2010

Skippyjon Jones and Imagination in the Classroom

image from Barnes and Noble

Skippyjon Jones is a character created by Judy Schachner.  He is a Siamese kitten who thinks he is a Chihuahua that is a super-hero.  His imagination is huge and he can help children tune in to imaginative play. 

Skippyjon is the star in a series of books about the adventures that take place inside his closet.  In Skippyjon Jones in the Doghouse, our hero is sent to his room for drawing Chihuahuas on Mama Junebug Jones' freshly painted walls.  When he enters the magical world he finds inside his closet, he discovers that he must save his friends' doghouse from the evil Bobble-ito.

Read the review of Skippyjon Jones in the Doghouse by clicking here.

Skippyjon is a lovable character that young children will love reading about.  He is highly imaginative, a trait that children need cultivated in today's society where video games, tv, and internet seem to do all the thinking for them.  Listed below are links to Skippyjon Jones activities and other suggestions for tapping into your child's imagination.

*Read any of the Skippyjon Jones books and then act out the story with your child.

*Discuss the story with your child and examine ways the story could have ended differently.

*Paint or draw Skippyjon Jones and his friends.

*Skippito Friskito Mask

*Curriculum Connection Guides for all the Skippyjon Jones books

*English/Spanish Language Activity

*What Do I See in the Mirror activity

*Where is Skippyjon Going Next? activity

Friday, November 19, 2010

The Lorax by Dr. Seuss; Lesson Plans for All Ages

image from wikipedia

The Lorax by Dr. Seuss is one of the most controversial of the many books written by the man born as Theodore Seuss Giesel.  It tells the story of greed, destruction, and hope that happens when one of the earth's natural resources is exploited. 

 As with Dr. Seuss' The Butter Battle Book, this story for children is more than just a tongue-twisting tale of contraptions and strange creatures.  This is the story of the Truffula Tree and how there were once forests of them.  The air was cleaner, different sorts of animals lived among and near these forests, and how they came to be destroyed.  Told by a Once-ler to a boy who must pay 15 cents, a nail, and a great-great-great grandfather's snail shell to hear the tale, it is a lesson that all who hear it will never forget.

From the first line of this book to very last one, the reader knows this is serious business.  The opening pages are dark and dreary, with shriveled and dead plants dominating the space.  The sky is clouded and smoky as the boy walks up to the lone structure that remains outside of town.  Only when the tale of what used to be is begun, do the pictures turn colorful and cheery.

Read a full review of The Lorax at where I write a column about children's fiction.

Although The Lorax is written for children ages 4 - 8, the lessons that can be learned from this book are appropriate for both children and adults of all ages.  Below are links to some of the various lesson plans available to both teachers and parents concerning this book.

Homeschool Share - social studies, language arts, math, science, art

TeacherLink - 3rd grade social studies - environmental science

Seuss Dude - reading comprehension

Seussville - take part in the Lorax Project

Other ideas

*Write letters to newspapers, public officials, and corporations in support of environmentally-friendly policies and business practices

*Plant trees

*Volunteer to help pick up litter in a park

*Design posters urging the community to care about the environment

*Put on a play about the Lorax to raise funds for an environmental organization

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Hush, Little Alien by Daniel Kirk

image from Barnes and Noble

Hush, Little Alien by Daniel Kirk is the sixth book of 365 children's books I will be reviewing.  It is a reworking of the lullaby Hush, Little Baby written for the extra-terrestrials among us.  It is both colorful and witty and children of all ages will enjoy hearing it read aloud and reading it themselves.

You can read a full review of this book at by clicking on the title of this post.

When children are fascinated with outer space and aliens, there are sometimes not many choices out there for well-written children's literature.  Below is a selection of children's books that are both factual and fantasy that deal with these very topics.

Larry Boy and the Fib from Outer Space!

God Made Outer Space

A is for Astronaut: Exploring Space from A to Z

The Outer Space Mystery: A Boxcar Children Mystery

The Magic School Bus Lost in the Solar System

Moon Walk: The First Trip to the Moon

Exploring the Solar System

Monday, November 15, 2010

Cornucopia of Blogs Hop

I'm linking up to another blog hop.  This one is hosted by Mama to 4 Blessings, Survey Junkie, Musings of a Stay at Home Mom,  and Fun Saving Money.  To read the rules of this blog hop, take a jaunt over to any of the four blogs and link up!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Book review of Corduroy by Don Freeman; book 5 of 365 children's books in a year

Corduroy is not just a fabric that makes a swishy sound when those wearing pants made from it walk.  It is also a beloved children's book by Don Freeman that has been around since 1968.  The book is about a bear named Corduroy and his search for a missing button and how is chosen to go home with a little girl named Lisa.

You can read a full review of Corduroy by Don Freeman by clicking on the title of this post.

There are lots of children's books out there about bears - real and otherwise - and I mentioned some of them in this post about Berlioz the Bear by Jan Brett.  Below are some ways to use Corduroy to teach various subjects.

University of North Carolina Charlotte - grades 1 and 2, various subjects

Teddy Bear Face craft from First-School

Teddy Bear Puppet from First-School

Kindergarten Writing Activity from Funding Factory

Cross-Curricular Corduroy lessons from Little Giraffes

Saturday, November 13, 2010

I Ain't Gonna Paint No More! by Karen Beaumont and David Catrow; book 4 of 365

image from Barnes and Noble

Every parent has walked into the room to discover their little angel has decided to use the wall as a canvas.  Using the song It Ain't Gonna Rain No More as the basis for the rhythm of her story, Karen Beaumont has written I Ain't Gonna Paint No More about a young budding artist and what happens when his mother discovers his artwork.

Kids will love the rhyming text of this story and David Catrow's illustrations are perfect for conveying the enthusiasm of the young artist.  Parents just need to make sure the paints are put away before reading this book or their walls may too become covered in all the colors of the rainbow!

The full review of this book can be read by clicking on the title of this post.

There are lots of ways to extend the learning with this book.

Colors: In the story the boy uses black to paint his back and red to paint his head.  Make a chart or a piece of artwork with the children in which they name things that could be painted with a color that rhymes with the item.

Body Parts:  Have children assemble a person using parts cut from different colors of paper.  Ex. Green Leg, Yellow Arm, etc.

Mixing Colors:  Using the three primary colors of red, yellow, and blue, have children combine two colors to determine which colors result.

Painting to music:  Play the song It Ain't Gonna Rain No More and let children paint freely in time to the music.

Alternate Endings:  Discuss with children how the book could have ended differently.  Perhaps the mother joined the son in painting or the son grew up to be a famous artist.

Please feel free to add your ideas or thoughts of this book in the comments section!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Friday Blog Hop sponsored by Home Grown Families and Mama to 4 Blessings

Hi and welcome to my blog!  As you can tell from the description under the title, this blog is all about children's books.  The reviews and how to use those books in the classroom, whether that classroom is in a public school, homeschool, or Sunday School.  Please feel free to add any suggestions to the titles you find here.  This is a new blog, so stay tuned for the rest of the story!

This blog hop is sponsored by Home Grown Families and Mama to 4 Blessings.  Make sure to get in on all the fun by visiting their blogs!

Now get hopping!

Join the Book Blog Hop!

Book Blogger Hop

Welcome to my blog about children's fiction!  This blog hop is sponsored by Crazy For Books and is for lovers of all genres of books.  If you would like to join the blog hop, head over to Crazy For Books, read the rules, and link up. 

This week's question is: 

"If you find a book that looks interesting but is part of a series, do you always start with the first title?"
My answer:  It depends.  If the series has a beginning and ending that is chronological, then yes, I always start with the first title.  If it something like Nancy Drew or some other series in which the stories mostly can be considered 'stand-alone,' then it doesn't matter to me.  Although, it might be interesting to read a series in reverse order.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

The Butter Battle Book; Dr. Seuss, the Cold War, and book banning, book 3 of 365

To read my full review of The Butter Battle Book by Dr. Seuss, click on the title of this post.

Everyone has a favorite Dr. Seuss book and most likely, it is one of his sillier titles that is your favorite.  Who doesn't love reading Green Eggs and Ham, Hop on Pop, or And to Think That I Saw it on Mulberry Street?  I can't say that The Butter Battle Book is my favorite Seuss book, but it certainly is thought-provoking.

The theme of this book is definitely anti-war and the ridiculous reasons countries often go to war.  In this story the ridiculous reason concerns which side of the bread should be buttered.  It doesn't matter that to butter either side is equally the same, the Yooks and the Zooks have declared war against one another over this very issue.

Although this book is written for children ages 4 - 8, the following lessons could easily be used with older children.

Learning to Give lessons - includes vocabulary, art, critical thinking

MAISK-6 Science - making butter

PBS/Independent Lens - Politics and Seuss for grades 7 - 12

Utah Education Network - 5th grade

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

A review of Berlioz the Bear by Jan Brett; book 2 of 365

Jan Brett is well-known in the world of children's literature.  Her books are always beautifully illustrated and the stories are timeless.  Berlioz the Bear is no exception. 

This is the story of a bear who is an orchestra leader.  However, there seems to be something wrong with his instrument; every time he attempts to play the double bass, a strange buzzing sound is heard.  When the wagon carrying Berlioz and the other animals to the town festival gets stuck alongside the road, they are rescued in a surprising way.  A full review of this book can be read by clicking on the title of this post.

This book provides a wonderful opportunity to introduce children to the composer of Romantic Classical music, Hector Berlioz.  One of his most well-known pieces is The Hungarian March.  Play the Hungarian March before reading the book.  Show pictures of traditional Hungarian clothing and have students compare to the clothing worn by the animals in the story.

There are also other books about bears that could be read to students studying real and imaginary bear characters.  Some of those books are listed below.

Black Bear: North America's Bear by Stephen R. Swinburne

Bear Wants More by Karma Wilson and Jane Chapman

We're Going on a Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen and Helen Oxenbury

Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? by Bill Martin and Eric Carle

Little Bear by Elsa Holmelund Minarik and Maurice Sendak

Ask Mr. Bear by Marjorie Flack

The Teddy Bear by David M. McPhail

Sleepy Bears by Mem Fox and Kerry Argent

Hush Little Polar Bear by Jeff Mack

Bears by Emma Helbrough

Bears! Bears! Bears! by Bob Barner

Where Teddy Bears Come From by Mark Burgess and Russell Ayto

The Bear by James Olver Curwood

It's the Bear by Jez Alborough

Grizzly Bears by Gail Gibbons

Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day; book 1 out of 365

Even though Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day was written by Judith Viorst nearly 40 years ago, it remains a favorite among parents and children alike.  Alexander wakes up on the wrong side of bed, so to speak, and the day just goes from bad to worse.  The three brothers in this family -  Alexander, Anthony, and Nicholas - are the names of the author's sons.  One can only imagine that those real children were inspiration for this fictional tale.  To read a full review of this book, click on the title of this post.

This is a perfect book to read to children when teaching about emotions and feelings.  There are several lesson plans available to those wishing to extend the use of this book across the curriculum.  I have included links to those I feel are the best.

MCE-K12 website

Franklin College 3rd grade Unit Study

Scholastic Lesson Plan

Etna Elementary School 2nd grade Lesson

Lesson Pathways Unit Study

365 Best Children's Books Ever wrap-up, titles T - Z

This is the sixth and final portion of the list of the 365 Best Children's Books Ever.  Click on the title of this post and be taken to the list at  From now on, posts at this blog will consist of information about each of the 365 books and links to the review of those titles.

N - S, more of the Best Children's Books Ever list of 365 books in 365 days

Part five of the 365 Best Children's Books Ever here.  Click on the title of this post to view the list at

J - M, more titles from the 365 Best Children's Books Ever

This is part four of a six-part an alphabetized list of the 365 Best Children's Books Ever submitted by readers of my children's fiction column.  Click on the title of this post to view the list.

G - I, the 365 BCBE list continues

Click on the title of this post to view the next section of the 365 Best Children's Books Ever list at  The book reviews are on their way!

Monday, November 8, 2010

The List - Part 2

This is a big list.  365 titles; alphabetized, with all the authors included, chapter books noted, a list like that takes a while to put together.  I used an alphabetizer, but I won't even mention which one because it was a giant pain in the hiney!  Suffice it to say, it took me hours when I know it shouldn't have.  But I never said I was a technological wizard.  So... if you click on the title of this post, you will be transported to the article in which part two of the list is made known.  Enjoy and you may even find one of your favorites on the list.