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February 15, 2016 BOOKLIST
Find more Classroom Connections
Help children discover the power of books through, well, books with these engaging picture books, novels, and informational titles.
Lane Smith’s It’s a Book did more than shake up the world of children’s literature with its satirical humor about the endurance of books. It reminded us all that something as simple as words on paper (no batteries required!) still has the power to evoke magic for readers—no matter their age. Teachers, librarians, and other educators, however, don’t need any reminding. We’ve all seen how a read-aloud can quiet a room and draw listeners to the story at hand.
How do we show children that they can experience this magic time and again by selecting books of their own? Start with the books in this bibliography, which features picture books and fiction that show lives changed by books. Also included is a section of informational titles that detail how these agents of magic are crafted. All of the selections below prove that books still have a place in a child’s busy world.
Alfred Zector, Book Collector. By Kelly DiPucchio. Illus. by Macky Pamintuan. 2010. 32p. HarperCollins, $16.99 (9780060005818). K–Gr. 2.
Illustrated with bright, cartoonlike digital artwork, this rhyming picture book features Alfred Zector, who thinks owning all of his town’s books will make him happy. After reading every last title, the obsessive book collector discovers that he’s only really happy when sharing books and stories with friends.
The Book That Eats People. By John Perry. Illus. by Mark Fearing. 2009. 38p. Tricycle, $15.99 (9781582462684). Gr. 1–3.
The liveliness of books is seen in a new light here. With examples of unsuspecting victims and cautions galore, this hungry book warns that it will eat people. Detailed collage illustrations featuring simulated tears and bite marks and a variety of artistic styles set up the horror (and humor) in this tongue-in-cheek picture book.
Dog Loves Books. By Louise Yates. Illus. by the author. 2010. 32p. Knopf, $16.99 (9780375864490); lib. ed., $19.99 (9780375964497). Also available in an e-book edition. PreS–Gr. 1.
Dog loves books so much that he decides to open his own bookstore. At first he is disappointed by the lack of customers, but then he immerses himself in the books on the shelves, and the stories come to life around him. His adventurous reading allows him to recommend great stories when a little girl asks for a book. Charming pencil-and-watercolor illustrations make Dog an endearing fellow.
It’s a Book. By Lane Smith. Illus. by the author. 2010. 32p. Roaring Brook, $12.99 (9781596436060). Gr. 2–4.
A tech-savvy donkey (called a jackass) doesn’t understand an ape’s intense interest in a book. He asks, “Can it text? Tweet? Wi-Fi?” and even “Can you make the characters fight?” Then he gives the book a try himself, and much to his surprise, enjoys the experience. Smith’s expressive mixed-media illustrations enhance the satire.
Miss Brooks Loves Books (And I Don’t). By Barbara Bottner. Illus. by Michael Emberley. 2010. 40p. Knopf, $17.99 (9780375846823); lib. ed., $20.99 (9780375946820). Also available in an e-book edition. PreS–Gr. 2.
A stubborn first-grader fails to understand her spirited school librarian’s enthusiasm for books until Book Week, when everyone must choose a favorite story. Quickly dismissing her classmates’ choices as “too flowery” or “too furry,” she finally finds a match and a joy for reading with William Steig’s equally stubborn Shrek. Cartoonlike pencil-and-watercolor illustrations highlight the story’s humor.
The Perfect Gift. By Mary Newell DePalma. Illus. by the author. 2010. 32p. Scholastic/Arthur A. Levine, $16.99 (9780545154024). PreS–Gr. 1.
Despite help from her animal friends, a little lorikeet named Lori loses her strawberry, a gift for her grandmother, to a greedy crocodile. Together the friends create a book about their adventure with the strawberry and present the beautiful new gift to Lori’s grandmother. Bright and adorable acrylic paintings will attract young readers.
Up the Learning Tree. By Marcia Vaughan. Illus. by Derek Blanks. 2003. 32p. Lee & Low, paper, $8.95 (9781600604454). K–Gr. 3.
After walking young Master Simon to school and eavesdropping from a tree, child slave Henry realizes the power of books. When a northern teacher, Miss Hattie, notices Henry’s desire to learn, she begins secretly teaching him, despite his master’s threat to cut off Henry’s finger if he’s ever caught with a book. Accompanying oil paintings and an author’s note add period details.
The Wonderful Book. By Leonid Gore. Illus. by the author. 2010. 32p. Scholastic, $16.99 (9780545085984). PreS–Gr. 1.
A rabbit, a bear, a fox, and other woodland creatures take turns wondering what a red-covered object with lots of pages is, and they find useful ways of turning it into a hat, a table, and a bed. Only when a curious boy appears and begins reading it do the animals gather around and discover the book’s real use—and its wonderful qualities. Gore’s whimsical watercolor-and-ink illustrations add to the fun.
The Great Good Thing. By Roderick Townley. 2001. 240p. Aladdin, paper, $5.99 (9780689853289). Gr. 4–6.
In this imaginative fairy tale, Princess Sylvie lives in a book called The Great Good Thing. Her spiritedness takes her outside the book, where she befriends the Reader, a girl named Claire who is the granddaughter of the book’s first Reader. Years later, as Claire is dying, Sylvie must find a way to implant herself in Claire’s daughter’s memory so the characters of the book can survive.
Inkheart. By Cornelia Funke. 2003. 544p. Scholastic/Chicken House, $24.99 (9780439531641); paper, $10.99 (9780439709101). Also available in an audio edition. Gr. 6–9.
After a mysterious man named Dustfinger arrives at her house one evening, 12-year-old Meggie’s life becomes a complex series of twists and turns as she discovers that her bookbinder father can release characters from their books by reading the books aloud, and that one such character, villainous Capricorn, is on the loose from a book called Inkheart. The trilogy continues with Inkspell (2005) and Inkdeath (2008).
The Phantom Isles. By Stephen Alter. 2007. 244p. Bloomsbury, $16.95 (9781582347387); paper, $6.95 (9781599902197). Gr. 4–7.
Sixth-graders Courtney, Orion, and Ming break into the public library, where they discover The Compleat Necromancer, as well as ghosts captured years before on an island in the Indian Ocean and now magically confined as moving images within the pages of books. With the help of a librarian, the children research the ghosts’ history and try to set them free. Ghostly visages superimposed over pages of the book lend an authentic feel to the story.
The Stone Child. By Dan Poblocki. 2009. 288p. Random, $15.99 (9780375842542); Yearling, paper, $7.99 (9780375842559); lib. ed., $18.99 (9780375942549). Also available in an e-book edition. Gr. 4–7.
Strange phenomena occur after Eddie, 12, moves to Gatesweed, the former home of his favorite supernatural writer, Nathaniel Olmstead, who’s been missing for 13 years. After receiving one of Olmstead’s books written in code, the boy tries to decipher it with the help of new friends. A mysterious woman in black and the possible end of the world also come into play in this gothic mystery.
The Book Book: A Journey into Bookmaking. By Sophie Benini Pietromarchi. Illus. by the author. 2007. 128p. Tara, $19.95 (9788186211243). 686. Gr. 4–8.
Following a brief look at bookmaking in the past, Pietromarchi introduces inspirational and innovative techniques and exercises to guide children in writing and illustrating their own books. Her stunning collage illustrations are not only informative but works of art unto themselves. She concludes with completed examples from child authors.
From Idea to Book. By Pam Marshall. 2004. 24p. Lerner, lib. ed., $18.60 (9780822513858); paper, $5.95 (9780822521433). 002. Also available in an e-book edition. PreS–Gr. 2.
Using Nancy Carlson’s It’s Not My Fault! (2003) as an example, this Start to Finish volume shows the process of creating a picture book with simple text and full-page color photos. It begins with Carlson’s brainstorming and writing involvement, and continues with the roles of the editor, the designer, and the printer. Angela Royston’s How Is a Book Made? (2005) offers another look at the bookmaking process.
From Pictures to Words: A Book about Making a Book. By Janet Stevens. Illus. by the author. 1995. 32p. Holiday, $17.95 (9780823411542); paper, $6.95 (9780823412716). 741.6. Gr. 2–4.
Featuring herself, sketched in black and white, and helped by a colorful troupe—Koala Bear, Cat, and Rhino—author-illustrator Stevens demystifies the creative process of writing and illustrating a picture book in this now-classic text. From developing the characters, setting, and plot to designing a storyboard, dummy, and finished artwork, she gives children a visual representation of each step.
I Am a Book. By Linda Hayward. Illus. by Carol Nicklaus. 2006. 32p. Millbrook, lib. ed., $21.27 (9780761329053); First Avenue, paper, $5.95 (9780761318262). 002. Gr. 1–3.
After describing its physical attributes (e.g., cover, spine, and title page), a lively library book explains how it came to be. With simple illustrations and text, this Silly Millies early reader shows the book’s progression from paper mill to printing press, binding machine, publisher, and finally library shelf.
Pingpong Perry Experiences How a Book Is Made. By Sandy Donovan. Illus. by James Christoph. 2010. 24p. Picture Window, lib. ed., $19.49 (9781404857599); paper, $6.95 (9781404861060). 002. Gr. 1–3.
In this alliterative In the Library title, freckled Perry can’t find any books that combine his two passions—ping-pong and pizza—so he decides to write his own. From his inspiration to his savvy editor’s help to his book being printed on a giant press, Perry explains how his book is created and published. Sharp digital illustrations make the process exciting and easy to understand.
Angela Leeper is the director of the Curriculum Materials Center at the University of Richmond (VA).
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