Thursday, December 8, 2011




Summary: Miss Brooks Likes Books (And I don’t) is a story about a young girl searching for a book that fits her. Miss Brooks, the school librarian, has asked that all the students find a book that they enjoy and share it with the class dressed as a character from the book. Though there are many different stories to choose from, Missy can’t seem to find anything as opposed to the other children who love the assignment and present their stories in full costume. Finally, the girl discusses the issue with her mother and they, together with Miss Brooks, find a book that makes her want to read and even dress up.

Citation:  Bottner, B. (2010). Miss brooks likes books (and I don’t). New York, NY:

Knopf Books for Young Readers. 

Impression: This book really resonated with me, because helping reluctant readers find a book that they actually want to read is the best part of my job as a youth services’ librarian. The illustrations are fun and filled with small details just waiting to be explored. The reader can recognize the references to other beloved children’s classic books in the costumes and this can spark young readers to want to explore those books as well. The main character is slightly androgynous and this helps the impact not be diminished on either gender. The character is also delightfully real and makes the book the success it is.


Lukehart, W. (2010, February). Miss brooks loves books [Review of the book Miss brooks likes

books (and I don’t), by B. Bottner]. School Library Journal, 76. Available from School Library

Journal website:

All children need a librarian like Miss Brooks. Her love for reading flows from every fiber of her lanky, quirky self. When not happily immersed in one of the colorful choices from the mountains of books surrounding her, she is dressed as Babar, a Chinese dragon, or a groundhog her puppet-clad arm popping through a hole on the page. She shares stories with a diverse group of young people, and all are captivated except for one. This first-grade narrator believes Miss Brooks is a little too enthusiastic to the point of being "vexing." During Book Week's student presentations, the overall-clad girl with large, round spectacles and a woolen beanie finds the other kids' books "too flowery. Too furry. Too clickety. Too yippity." When her mother observes that she is as "stubborn as a wart," interest is aroused, Shrek is discovered in the pile supplied by the librarian, and the transformation begins. An ogre costume and stick-on warts for the whole class complete the conversion to bibliophile. Children will delight in Emberley's spirited watercolor and ink renderings of literary favorites from The Very Hungry Caterpillar to a Wild Thing. Bottner's deadpan humor and delicious prose combine with Emberley's droll caricatures to create a story sure to please those who celebrate booksand one that may give pause to those who don't (or who work with the latter).

Idaho has a family reading week each year and this book would be a great one to plan an early literacy event around. The program could begin with the book being read aloud to the group, many of which could reluctant readers, and then the librarian could have pulled the other books referenced in Miss Brooks, like Shrek. It could also be part of a display on themes of literacy, libraries or books in general. The display could consist of other simple and fun books that appeal to reluctant readers. This would also be a great book recommendation for any parent struggling to find a great read for a reluctant reader.




Summary: This picture book focuses on a lesson about giving of one’s self through the tale of Rainbow Fish, the most beautiful fish in the entire ocean. This fish swims along in its beautiful state but remains alone because it can’t be bothered with other fish that are not physically as attractive as it is. Other fish play and swim together, but the Rainbow Fish is alone and eventually lonely. However, other fish soon ask him to share his beautiful rainbow scales. At first the answer is a definite no; then on some advice from a wise octopus, the fish shares his beauty with other fish and receives the acceptance it has been looking for.

Citation:  Pfister, M. (1992). Rainbow fish. New York, NY: North-South Books.

Impression: This book is a beautifully illustrated moral tale that leaves me feeling two different impressions. First, the quiet watercolors are the perfect backdrop for the simple underwater tale. The point, as I am sure it was intended, is to promote sharing and giving of one’s self. In this way, the story is charming and a good read for small children. On the other hand, as an adult reader, I recognize the fact that the fish is not just giving its time or effort, but is physically removing a part of its self and these parts are worn as decoration of the other fish. I found this imagery to be slightly disturbing.

Fader, E. (1992, November). Rainbow fish [Review of the book Rainbow fish, M. Pfister]. School 
 Library Journal, . Available from School Library Journal website:

Children will be immediately drawn to this book that features an iridescent, metallic-looking main character whose ``scales were every shade of blue and green and purple, with sparkling silver scales among them.'' Adult suspicions of the gimmick overwhelming the story quickly fade as the plot unfolds: none of the other fish will have anything to do with the Rainbow Fish, who always swims by superciliously and refuses to give away any of his special garb. He is lonely and without admirers until a wise female octopus advises him to give away his scales. Rainbow Fish then discovers that sharing brings happiness and acceptance. The delicate watercolors of underwater scenes are a perfect foil to the glittering scales that eventually form a part of each fish's exterior. This is certainly a story written to convey a message, but in its simplicity, it recalls the best of Lionni. Besides, what three-year-old doesn't need reinforcement about sharing?

 I think that this would be an excellent book to use in a display about ocean life for younger readers. The illustrations are particularly well done and evocative.  This could also be used as a recommendation to a parent looking for a book to help a child understand sharing, especially in the instance of welcoming a new sibling into the family.




Summary: This book is the story of young Marco and the assignment his father has given him to look for interesting sites to and from school. Marco only sees boring things, like a horse and wagon. Fortunately, Marco also has an impressive imagination.  He imagines the horse to a zebra, then an elephant. He takes each boring site and imagines how much more interesting it would be if… and proceeds to fill in the blanks until he has seen such amazing things on such a mundane street.


Seuss, T. (1989). And to think that I saw it on mulberry street. New York, NY:

Random House Books for Young Readers.

Impression: This is a great story about the wonders of imagination and storytelling itself. The illustrations are typical Dr. Seuss, colorful and exciting correlating with the increasingly wonderful sites that Marco has designed. I love Dr. Seuss and this book is no different in its effect on the reader. It is also infinitely re-readable.

 [Review of the book And to think that I saw it on mulberry street, by T. Seuss]. (1989). Available

from Horn Book website:

As little Marco describes the horse and wagon he saw on Mulberry Street, they are transformed into an elephant and a band wagon with a retinue of police. "A fresh, inspiring picture-story book with an appeal to
the child's imagination.

Uses: This book would a great starter for a story time on imagination. It could be followed by an activity where children are given a mundane image and from that create an entire exciting story either through words or art. This is also a good book that could be used in a program for the celebration of Dr. Seuss’s birthday or as part of the display.




Summary: The Cat Ate My Gymsuit is the tale of young Marcy Lewis who desperately wishes to be normal. Verbally abused by her father, overweight Marcy has severe self-esteem issues. Just when she thinks this will be her life forever, she gets a new English teacher, Ms Finney. Ms. Finney is outspoken, opinionated and interested in helping her students really learn: about English, the world and themselves. When Ms. Finney is caught up in a school controversy that leads to her suspension, Marcy and many of her other students organize to fight against the administration for Ms. Finney’s position.  She starts makes friends and defies her abusive father’s will. In the course of their battle, Marcy begins to understand who she really is and to stand up for herself in her fight to save Ms. Finney.

Citation: Danziger, P. (1982). The cat ate my gymsuit. New York, NY: Laurel Leaf


Impression:  I enjoyed this book’s tale of the girl who overcame the obstacles in her life: her father, her school administration, and most importantly, herself. Marcy is portrayed as a typical teenager suffering from self-esteem issues and is accordingly a little depressed. The writing reflects this. Even when Marcy and her mother stand up to her father in the fight against the school administration, the father still is unchanged and degrades them both. I think that the father is an interesting plot device, rather than a dynamic character. Marcy begins to make friends; however, if she had just looked outside of herself she would have seen the people willing to befriend her long ago. This book is still relevant, but it has aged  and the young readers that would benefit most from the read will not recognize a world without the internet and cell phones.


 [Review of the book The Cat Ate My Gymsuit, by P. Danzinger.]. (1998, Semptember). BookPage Reviews. Available

from BookPage website:

Paula Danziger knows that being a kid is not necessarily the "best years of your life," and for almost 25 years, she's been helping kids get through those years with her humorous and realistic novels for 6-to-14-year-olds. The Cat Ate My Gymsuit first published in 1974, set the standard now expected by young readers with its story of Marcy Lewis, an overweight, somewhat shy, junior-high girl who takes up the cause of her suspended English teacher.
The marvel is that Danziger's stories are still so current - no out-of-date slang or situations.Kids may know Danziger's character, Amber Brown, best, but Marcy Lewis, Matthew Martin, and Aurora Berealus Williams also bring nods of recognition. Their popularity stems from the way Danziger treats their serious, at least to them, problems with brisk vigor and humor. Finding a pimple, breaking up with a best friend, and fighting with parents or a sibling happen throughout the years, and Danziger paints such catastrophes in a mix of sympathy and humor. Having been "a fat little girl who had a younger brother, hated school, and felt like a misfit at home," she has plenty of experience to draw from. For several years she was a teacher herself. Then two car accidents within a year forced her to turn to another vocation, and, lucky for readers, writing was it.
Danziger has mastered the craft of middle-grade novel as well as adopting the costume and manner that appeal to kids. She stays in touch with her regular visits to schools and book fairs. Her latest schedule calls for a visit to a very special school, the winner of the contest described at right.

Uses:  I think that this would be a good book to use in a book club for a comparison of a similar story set in modern times.  For example, The Fatboy Chronicles by Diane Lang could be a great contrasting book for the gender and time period. This book could also be used to discuss student’s rights as this is another issue in the book.




SummaryKitten’s First Full Moon is the tale of a very small kitten searching for an elusive bowl of milk. The bowl of milk is actually the full moon and its various reflections. The kitten attempts to lick the moon and merely gets a bug in her mouth for her effort. She follows the moon and eventually finds the reflection of the moon in the lake. In her attempt to get to the milk, she falls into the water and is very cross. Disappointed, she finds her way home and sees that there is an actual bowl of milk waiting for her.


Henkes, K. (2004). Kitten’s first full moon. New York, NY: Greenwillow Books.

Impression:  Kitten’s First Full Moon is an adorable tale that makes the reader cheer for the kitten as she finally gets the milk. The pencil black and white illustrations are amazing in their ability to convey a moonlit night. The kitten’s attempts to get her treat are sweet and amusing. The book is very simple but also worthy of its Caldecott title.


Beach, D. r. (2004, October) [Book review of Kitten’s first full moon, by K. Henkes.]. Library Media

Connections. Available from the Library Media Connections website:

Unlike any other book Kevin Henkes has written, this one stands simply but strongly on a single character, Kitten-no Lily, Owen, Julius, or Chrysanthemum here. Bold brush strokes give form to simple b&w drawings, contrasting the darkness of night with the whiteness of Kitten, the moon, and the milk. Henkes tells of Kitten's quest for a bowl of milk to drink and coming up short each time. The ending harks back to Max in Where the Wild Things Are (Harper & Row, 1963) when he arrives home and finds supper waiting. Preschool students will enjoy Kitten's episodic journey as they chime in "Poor Kitten" each time she can't get her bowl of milk. Readers addicted to Henkes' mouse community will find it hard to give Kitten her deserved space. Recommended.

Uses: I have used this book in a storytime about cats and kittens. It is always a great opener and the audience is simply charmed. It could also be used in a booktalk for younger readers about storytimes and programs at the library. It is funny, poignant and a quick read so it is perfect for many occasions in or outside of the library.




Summary: The Little House is the story of small house through the years and transitions of land surrounding the house. The house begins as the home for a family in the country filled with fields and apple orchards. As the seasons pass, the reader can see the city lights moving closer and closer to the little house. Roads appear as the apple trees disappear. The house gets older and the finally is surrounded by the city’s oppressive presence. Then the little house is recognized as simple, country home and is uprooted and moved back to the country where the house feels a sense of belonging.

Impression: This book is so simple in its telling but it delivers an impact to the reader. The environmental themes are very apparent but I think the more subtle story about family is interesting. The illustrations are again, simple, and quiet like the little house itself.


Burton, V. (1987). The little house. Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin Books for



 [Review of the book The Little House, by V. Burton]. (2002, October). PW Reveiws, 2. Available from

Publishers Weekly website:

The author of Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel and her works feature in a group of fall titles. Virginia Lee Burton's Caldecott Medal-winning The Little House, about a cozy country home that passes through the seasons, becomes engulfed by urban sprawl and is subsequently restored to a suitably rural setting, now appears in a 60th anniversary edition. A special bellyband bedecks the hardcover and a citation graces the paperback edition.

Uses: This would be a great book to pair up with Mo Willem’s City Dog, Country Frog in a discussion of the differences between the two areas. This story time could then have matching activity with several objects like a subway and tractor; then the children could match them to the area in which it belongs.  It could also be part of a program or a display about being green and environmentally conscious. 




Summary:  The Hero and the Crown is a coming-of-age story that details the life of the young Princess Aerin as she comes to terms with her destiny. Aerin is the only child of the king of Damar and her mother died giving birth to her.  Aerin struggles to fit in as rumors of her mother’s supernatural talents force her to lead the life of an unconventional princess. Unbeknownst to her, she has inherited her mother’s strange powers and will have to use them to defeat the evil that is threatening her kingdom. With the guidance of a supernatural being known as Luthe, Aerin will have to learn to use the Blue Sword and become the leader of a nation

McKinley, R. (1987). The hero and the crown. Logan, IA: Perfection Learning.

Impression: I thoroughly enjoyed this book and grew to love Aerin and Luthe as great characters. There is a reason that this book won the Newbery Medal; it is a bildungsroman that almost anyone can relate to, young or old. The reader can see themselves in the story and the tough choices that Aerin has to make. It is superbly written fantasy that had me looking for and reading the following book, The Blue Sword.

[Review of the book The hero and the crown, R. McKinley]. n.d. School Library

Journal. Available from the School Library Journal website:

Splendid high fantasy... filled with tender moments, good characters, satisfying action and sparkling dialogue... superb!

[Review of the book The hero and the crown]. n.d. Horn Book . Available from the Horn

Book  website:

Vibrant, witty, compelling, the story is the stuff of which true dreams are made.

Uses: The Hero and the Crown is a great book for many ages and could be used as a book club feature on fantasy books or Newbery winners. As part of the book club program bildungsroman or the coming age novel could also be the focus and the book could be discussed with that in mind. Also, many epic fantasy novels are being made into movies; the book club members could create a simply storyboards for their favorite scene in the book.