Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Brand new picture books!

It's surprising to me sometimes how big a message can come through in a little picture book.  As teachers, we can get caught up in making sure the kids are building stamina or that the books are on an appropriate level, but sometimes, a picture book can bring home a message in such a clear and concise way.

This first one is a book like that.  My big kids do a unit on social issues in the spring and this book is going to be perfect for that.  It's called "I Come From the Water" by Vanita Oelschlager.  It's about a boy named Moses who is found after a terrible flood in Haiti.  He is found floating in a basket and taken to children's village with other kids who lost their parents.  The children's village is run by a church and Moses has friends and can go to school so even though he doesn't have parents, he's happy.  The book has lovely, warm, inviting art work and the author emphasizes again and again how  Moses is happy.  It also has some photograps at the end of the book that show some of the flooding in Haiti as well as some of the real people who work and volunteer there.  We have a good sized Haitian population at my school and they are always interested in reading about things from Haiti.  Many of them have also visited relatives there or actually remember moving from Haiti so it's a strong connection to them.  I also think that the themes of social work and social justice will be great for them- asking questions like "How do we help people in times of crisis? or What kind of help can we as Americans offer to Haiti?".  This is going to be a great one in my library.


The second one is also non fiction and it's a biography.  I liked this one especially because it was someone I'd never heard of, but once I read it, I was surprised I'd never heard of him!  The book is called "Whoosh!" by Chris Barton and the topic of the book is Lonnie Johnson, a scientist and inventor.  Lonnie grew up in Alabama and loved inventing and building things.  After graduating from college, Lonnie went to work at NASA as an engineer.  He also invented one of my nephew's favorite inventions of all time, the Super Soaker.  The pictures are interesting and inviting and the text is short enough to keep almost anyone interested.  I think this one will make a great addition to my school library.  

This last one I picked up at Costco.  I started to read it and dismissed it.  It has quite a bit of text on some of the pages and that put me off.  But the title appeared on a list for a project we're doing called "March Madness" (details are here) and so I bought it and read it and was I glad I did.  It's really charming.  It's called "Imaginary Fred" by Eoin Colfer.  You might remember Mr. Colfer from a series of books he wrote about a completely evil genius named Artemis Fowl.  This one has the same smart, gorgeous writing style but goes in a completely different direction.  It's about an imaginary friend named Fred who loves being an imaginary friend (except for the waiting for a new friend and the end of the friendships).  One day he becomes Sam's new imaginary friend and they are PERFECT together.  He worries a bit about the end of the friendship but decides it's better to just enjoy it while it lasts.  One day, Sam comes home to tell Fred about his new real friend.  Fred is sad but resigned.  He tries to explain to Sam what's ahead but Sam isn't having any of it.  There's a bit of a surprise at the end (which I won't tell you).  But this one is going to be a fun one to compare to other books about imaginary friends that have come out this year and last, including "Beekle" by Dan Santat and "Crenshaw" by Katherine Applegate.  

Here's the book trailer.  





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