I’m happily surrounded by stacks of new books – spring releases to read during Tuesday’s expected snow storm! Here are three favorites…
Life on Mars by Jon Agee — I read this to a group of 7th and 8th graders last week and they loved it. After our spring break, when I have a chance to read it to younger kids, I anticipate the same enthusiastic response. Agee’s picture books are witty and smart. In this one, a young astronaut lands on Mars (carrying a chocolate cupcake) determined to find signs of life. He walks all over the planet, but begins to think nothing could live in the cold and dark environment he encounters. Ultimately, he finds a flower growing among the rocks, but part of the fun here is that the reader sees more than the young astronaut! The story is interactive in the best way.
For Mars-like vistas, check out Jason Chin’s new picture book, Grand Canyon, especially the spectacular double gatefold. Like this one, Chin’s previous books Redwoods and Island, blend breathtaking illustrations with enough facts for kids who enjoy knowing the numbers. Here’s an interesting one: the Grand Canyon is 277 miles long and more than a mile deep. This book is both information rich and inspiring enough to make the reader want to plan a trip to Arizona!
A small book that could easily be lost on the shelf – Bertolt by Jacques Goldstyn – deserves to be on permanent display. The story opens with a young boy looking for his lost mitten and who, it is clear, prefers the company of “his” oak tree, Bertolt, to being with other people. The boy spends many happy hours with his tree, but one spring the tree does not grow any leaves, and he has to accept that Bertolt has died. I’m not going to tell you what he does next. It would not be fair to take the moment away from you. You have to see it yourself.
Our fourth, fifth, and sixth grade students recently completed their book projects – each of them read a book that is a “window” to a life different than their own. After reading the book, they were assigned a project with very few parameters other than it had to be hand-made, no 3D printing this time around.
The projects were all wonderful, but I’ll share three of them….
The picture below is a project based on the novel George by Alex Gino. George is about a boy who knows she is meant to be a girl. When George’s class presents Charlotte’s Web, George hopes for the role of Charlotte so that everyone, especially her mom, will see her as a girl. The Inly student who read this book decided to represent the process of transformation. It’s a lovely and thoughtful project.
The banner picture at the top of the post was taken during a middle school class last week. I gave the kids time to select books for their March break reading. We had stacks of books all over the floor, and they recommended them to friends, selected their own reading, and talked about their favorite books. It was a happy hour!