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Peggy Howell, Retired Librarian FCPS
Ann Voss, Librarian Fairfax County Public Schools
This story is a fictionalized account of how a Dutch village repaid the kindness of an American town that had sent all kinds of things needed by the people in Oist, Holland, during a very cold winter shortly after World War II.
Boy and girl protagonists
Bird does not have a happy home or school life so she finds friendship with Miss Delphine, her neighbor who is home taking care of her ill father. Then Harlem Tate comes to school and she determines to make friends with him. At first he is not receptive, even though he is teased as much at school as she is. At last she persuades him to join her in preparing for a spelling bee, which she really wants to win in order to find “fame and glory”
and go to Disney World.
One of the longer books
1st in a trilogy
Boy and girl protagonist
Great for boys who like adventure stories
Gregor’s father has disappeared. While Gregor is tending his sister he falls through a graee in the laundry room of his apartment house and finds himself in a world populated by giants insects, spiders, and rats. He realizes that this may be where his father is and so begins an adventure and a quest to fulfill a prophecy.
Boy and Girl protagonist
Ben Watson has lived in a number of foster homes and finds himself happy in his new home, especially since there is a toddler as a member of the family. But then the toddler’s teen age mother tries to get her son back and Ben is sure that she will abandon the child again, just as his own mother had done.
Older readers might research the foster home program in their area, if there is one.
Chart the main characters
Why did Ben take Grover from the front yard?
What was the role of Tracey’s sister in the book?
Chart the events that lead to the final climax
Compare with other books on foster children including those by Betsy Byars and
When a class of Japanese students studying World War II discover a suitcase in a museum that had belonged to a little orphan girl they ask the curator of the exhibit to find out all she can about the girl. This is the story of her search for information about Hana interspersed with information about Hana’s life. This is based on a documentary and the books may include a CD.
Brief introduction to World War II and the Holocaust may be necessary as background knowledge for some students.
Locate Czechoslovakia on a map
Some students may want to do research on the war in Czechoslovakia or elsewhere in Europe
Analyze how the search for Hana is carried out and how this compares with the research students are doing and the research in The Mysterious Matter of I. M. Fine.
Review the elements of a biography. Does this book qualify as a biography? Why or why not?
Compare with other stories and biographies about the Holocaust especially comparing the characters and how they dealt with the events they faced. This is a good time to discuss what self vs. world means when discussing conflict in a book, even though this book is a biography.
Check bibliographies of books on the Holocaust for children such as Number the Stars
There is a wonderful website from Allen & Unwin with activities and information related to this book: http://www.allenandunwin.com/Teaching/trhanassuitcase.asp
FCPS Teacher Materials Preparation Center
Click on “Picture Tasks” tab of the Adobe file, and see the new features availabe including “How to use…”, and exporting pictures, editing, printing, and more. This tab has been enabled by TMPC to give us more options with these ballots. They are available for all four lists.
Good read aloud
Bit of history
Michael is washed up on a Pacific island along with his dog, Stella. He soon discovers that someone else lives on the island, as Kensuke provides him with food and water. At first the two are adversaries for Kensuke does not want Michael to alert anyone to him being on the island but after he saves Michael from an attack by men of war the two become friends and Michael learns the secret of Kensuke’s world.
Map the route that was taken by Michael and his parents on the boat
Research World War II and some of the Japanese who did survive after the war on the islands.
How did the experiences of the war in the Pacific differ from that in Europe? Compare with Hana’s Suitcase.
Select an island in the Pacific and research it’s flora and fauna.
Research the animals and plants found on Kensuke’s Island. Could Kensuke and Michael have survived? What were the red bananas?
Do people hunt animals on the islands as people did in this book?
I found this close to the Tom Hanks movie, complete with the soccer ball. Some older students might compare the book with the movie (although I don’t think was a “G”.
Compare the two main characters using a T-chart
What did you think of the ending? Should Kensuke have left the island with Michael and tried to discover the history of his family?
There is a packet available that you can see about on http://www.teachit.co.uk/index.asp?A=1&M=2&S=351
Grade 5 (more advanced)
Written in poetry
Dealing with family disaster
Lonnie’s life changed when he was seven years old and his parents were killed in a fire. Now four years later he is still trying to deal with the loss of his parents and also finding his place among his peers and with his foster mother. He looks back at events in his young life as well as describes the life he now leads.
Male and Female Protagonist
Books by I. M. Fine have become very popular with young readers. They are page turners with strange events, kind of Stein type books. Suddenly strange things start happening to the readers of the books, including hissing and crawling around the floor, and seeing ghosts. Fanny thinks that these strange events are related to the books and sets out to locate the author in order to stop the events. She and her friend trace I. M. Fine to a town in Pennsylvania and discover why she is placing mind games in her books and how she plans to end the world as we know it.
How to adjust to a move to a new city
How does one do research using the Internet and other sources, including human
Atlas Skills – Is there a Wimberly, Pennsylvania? There is one in Texas.
Children can use the Atlas to determine if there are other towns named Wimberly
Research the history of jelly worms. (some jelly worms are used as fish bait as well as food)
Why did the father make money on the stock market after he heard about the jelly worm craze? This could lead to a brief unit on the stock market.
Map skills - What is the best way to get from Baltimore to Pennsylvania?
Older students (if 6th grade read) might see connection between
the witch trials in Salem and the mass hysteria in this book.
Have children do research on their favorite author using books in the library as well
as author sites on the web
Compare book to Search for the Shadowman by Joan L. Nixon,
which also had a sample for doing research
Do author study of Diane Stanley, introducing her picture books and biographies s well as her novels.
Have children develop their own writing of a strange event that could occur because of reading a book.
Why would the end of reading change the world? Read Aunt Chip and the Great Triple Creek Dam Affair by Patricia Polacco for an example of what happens when people forget how to read.
How do children act against their move to a new city?
Compare with other books where children use their own persuasion to change things,
such as books by Avi.
Margaret Peterson Haddix
Boy and girl protagonist
Fun read aloud
Sukie and her brothers are concerned because their parents do not scold them for things they do which are wrong. Instead they make strange statements that are not related to what the children have done. How they figure out what is going on and how they handle it makes for a fun read by a author who often writes stories for older children.
Students might ask their parents if they read
any books or articles about how to raise children.
Children can write what parents might have correctly said
when the children did something wrong.
Children can come up with own funny statements about things
that go wrong at home or at school.
Character study of members of the family
Compare with other Haddix easier books
Older readers might want to read some of the more adult Haddix books and see what differences in style there could be.
Sukie has a problem encouraging her brothers to join with her. Other books in the list present a similar problem as Fanny must persuade Beamer that something is wrong with the Chiller books, and Bird must persuade Ham to participate in the bee with her.
Compare how this is carried out in the three books or any similar title where persuasion is necessary.
This could lead to a persuasive writing lesson.
Brief read aloud
Ruddy does not like his grandmother as she seems so stiff and formal, but when he is snowed in with her one winter he finds that she can be a different person.
Would be good to read during snowy weather and make connections to snow, its effect on your community, weathermen, etc. Can also make connections with other natural disasters, such as the hurricanes
and how the preparation, etc. might compare.
How does grandmother change in the story?
List the different things she does to show how she changes.
Does Ruddy’s opinion of his grandmother change and why?
List the things which Ruddy and his grandmother
do during the storm
Have children had a similar experience such as no electricity. How did they deal with it and what were some of
the things they had to do?
Children might imagine what life might be without some of the things they now have and
what they would do without television, electricity, etc.
Timber Lane Library
to take a quiz!
by Lynne Cherry Squirrel teaches Little Groundhog how to create a garden and grow his own food so he will stop stealing from his friends' gardens. The Groundhog and the reader learn about gardening from seed gathering to planting to sharing the bounty of the harvest. An introduction to how plants grow.
This part of the author’s webpage lists books to link with Groundhog’s garden, how she researched this book, and describes her passion for children and gardening. Wonderful connections to life cycles, environmental issues,
and good health habits.
Check this out on her website! How Groundhog's Garden Grew
SCHOOL GARDEN WIZARDhas been created for America's school's K through 12 community through a partnership between the
US Botanic Garden and Chicago Botanic Garden. Click here to read everything
you need to know to create a garden at YOUR school!
CLICK to hear Kids Growing Food director Margaret Barker, Beth Reese (Tuckahoe elementary) and Lynne discuss benefits of school gardens & the TOOL KIT for school garden advocates (scroll down to see below) on the Kojo Nmamdi Show on WAMU, Washington DC
Josh insists on wearing a paper bag over his head all day long until his sister finally questions him and reveals the reason. His sister helps Josh solve his problem and the story ends on a happy note.
In this nonfiction book, the author cleverly illustrates the actual size of a variety of animals. Each animal illustration is accompanied by interesting facts and physical dimensions. Some animals fit on the page, only a part of others will fit on a page spread or fold out. The index includes a scaled down illustration of each animal, and more information.
“All the animals in this book are shown at actual size, so you can see how you measure up to both creatures great and small.”
What an invitation is the opening paragraph to students to measure themselves, animals, bugs, and life around them! Could a class build one of the creatures, such as the moth? And, what an invitation to make cut tissue paper collages. Math, art, science SOL cross curriculum opportunities abound.
Other measuring books:
Measuring Penny by Loreen Leedy
How Big is an Ant? by Mara Rockliff
How Big is a Whale? by Jenny Johnson
Also by Steve Jenkins for measuring and comparison:
Hottest, Coldest, Highest, Deepest
Biggest, Strongest, Fastest
Big and Little
And, have you seen Prehistoric Actual Size?
“There once was a very hungry little hen, and she ate and ate, and grew and grew, and the more she ate, the more she grew." And so the greedy fox sitting upon the hen house watches each day as the hen eats and grows. He thinks to himself, I will just wait another day because there is more of her everyday. As the hen grows, the fox gets thinner and thinner. How big will the hen get, how long can the fox wait?
A great site with activities, songs to complement this title
Mrs. Chicken and the Hungry Crocodileby Won-Ldy Paye and Margaret LippertCrocodile is hungry and Mrs. Chicken looks like a good choice for dinner. To save herself, Mrs. Chicken tells crocodile they are sisters. Mrs. Chicken doesn't have much time to prove they are related because crocodile is getting hungrier and hungrier!The Rooster's Giftby Pam ConradYoung Rooster thinks his Gift is making the sun rise, until one morning when the sun rises without him.
Bobwritten and illustrated by Tracey Campbell PearsonBob the rooster is big, bold, and beautiful, but he doesn't know how to crow. How he finally learns, after several false starts, to use his talents to save the day, and outwit the predator.
In northern Michigan Holly wants to start school. Her mother knows she will need a warm coat, but her father reminds her there is no money for one. But, through the mother’s determination, she and Holly gather juneberries, strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, and blackberries from summer to fall. They make jams, jellies, pies, and muffins to sell and earn enough for a new coat for Holly.
This book is an economic lesson in wants and needs, natural resources, and scarcity. How would your class handle this problem?
How does northern Michigan plants, and weather compare with your students’ environment?
Click on the author and artist links for more scenes of Michigan.
The author’s homepage with pictures of her home in northern Michigan, and her many books
The artist’s home page with lots of photos of his environment
Ten titles are read to all Kindergarten through 2nd grades. Upper grade students vote if they have read/listen to 4 of the 10 titles on Elementary or/and Middle School lists.
Then it is time to vote—using the one marble, one student, one vote method. Each student drops their marble in a plastic cup in front of their favorite title. The most votes wins! We chart votes per class, per grade level, and for the entire school.
After the winners are announced on April 15th,
we chart the state winners as well. Ann Voss
Virginia Readers Choice 2005-2006: Elementary Titles
Name ___________________________ Teacher _________________
After you read or listen to a book read aloud, write your initials next to the author's name. In order to vote for your favorite book, you must read yourself
(or have listened to) four books.
Initials Title Author Passed Quiz Boxes for Katje Candace Fleming
_____ Fame and Glory in Freedom, Georgia Barbara O’Connor
_____ Gregor the Overlander Suzanne Collins
_____ Grover G. Graham and Me Mary Quattlebaum
_____ Hana’s Suitcase Karen Levine
_____ Kensuke’s Kingdom Michael Morpugo
_____ Locomotion Jacqueline Woodson
_____ Mysterious Matter of I.M. Fine Diane Stanley
_____Say What? Margaret Haddix
_____ Snowed in with Grandmother Silk Carol Fenner
When Uncle Ray in South Carolina cannot visit his niece in California, he makes Oliver K. Woodman, a carved life size, hinged wooden man. Ray puts Oliver by the road with a note asking travelers who pick him up to send postcards of their trip with Oliver. He receives a variety of cards from people who happily give Oliver a ride to California and Tameka's house. Tameka and her parents return with Oliver, by airplane, to South Carolina.
the sequel Searching for Oliver K. Woodman
These are pdf files filled with LOTS of activities, including a pattern for making Oliver!
The book is based on a true story of a pot bellied pig that saved its master's life. The lovable Little Flower is not just another pretty face! She is a good companion to her owner, and a pig that uses her head in an emergency.
A young boy agrees to give a disgusting monster first his soccer ball, then his bike in return for eating the boy’s peas. When the monster asks for his puppy, the boy makes a surprising discovery.
Diary of a Wombat by French
Diary of a Worm, and
Diary of a Spider by Cronin
will be saying this next spring:
Virginia Readers' Choice