I read a boatload of books in January, mostly because I was on the Monarch Award committee for next year, and we had our meeting this month. Last month, I mean. Anyhow, I read 50 books for K-3 students - a nice mix of early readers/chapter books, nonfiction, picture books, and even a couple graphic novels. I won't list them all because that would be tiresome and possibly against the rules. I will, however, share some of my favorites and direct you to the 2013 Monarch Award List for the final 20 books we selected for next year.
K-3 January Favorites
Blackout by John Rocco (2011) --- It's the shape and size of a picture book, but I'd call it a beginning graphic novel because of the use of large panels. This book absolutely deserves the Caldecott Honor it was awarded this year. It's stunningly illustrated, with colors that pop right off the page, and the story is wonderful. A little boy just wants to spend some time with his family, but they're all too busy - until the power goes out on their block, and then everyone gathers together and actually socializes in person rather than through their techno gizmos. This blackout takes place in summer, but we've had our fair share of blackouts in the winter too. It's a gorgeous book with a great story, and I can't wait to share it with students.
Where in the Wild? Camouflaged Creatures Concealed... and Revealed by David M. Schwartz and Yael Schy, photographs by Dwight Kuhn (2007) --- Yep, a nonfiction book ended up in my favorites pile. But this one has some tricks up its sleeves. Because it's about camouflaged creatures, each page has a photograph and an accompanying poem/riddle that gives you a clue as to what's hiding in the photograph. Then! You fold open the photograph page, so you're looking at a trifold now - with the center page exposing the hidden animal in full color and the rest of the photograph dulled. And then we get to the nonfiction part of the book, where the animal and its camouflage technique are explained. So much fun! And there are two more books in this series!
Lulu and the Brontosaurus by Judith Viorst, illustrated by Lane Smith (2010) --- I LOVE THIS BOOK. Lulu is a spoiled brat, but you can't help but love her... eventually. Her birthday is coming up, and she wants a brontosaurus, end of story. No other pet will do. When her parents kindly tell her that she won't be getting a brontosaurus for her birthday, she takes off into the forest to catch one on her own. She encounters some ferocious critters that she is not so nice to and finally comes across a solo brontosaurus that thinks a pet is a very good thing. There are surprise twists and laugh out loud moments along with a wonderfully sassy song that Lulu sings on her way to and from the forest. Kids will love to sing along - I can't wait to read it to second grade students!
MG/YA Read in January
A Beginning, a Muddle, and an End: The Right Way to Write Writing by Avi (2008) ---