Book Reviews - Books for Building Your Library

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Enjoy ten titles that deal with writing and teaching children to write. Help children think through the challenges inherent in writing as they encounter the writers in these stories. Reading about how other writers face the challenge of the "empty page" can help children quiet their own writing anxieties.


In this book by Peter H. Reynolds, readers learn that creative work doesn't have to be perfect. The main character Ramon's older brother questions the realism of Ramon's drawings. While Ramon draws everywhere and all the time, his brother's criticism throws him into writing paralysis. His sister's declaration that his work didn't have to be perfect frees him to experiment and reawakens his artistic drive. This is a great book for exploring the balance between enjoying the creative process versus focusing on the product.

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Click here to view this book in Amazon +

A Place Where Hurricanes Happen

Author RenéeWatson and illustrator Shadra Strickland introduce you to four children who live in New Orleans during hurricane Katrina. They show us Adrienne, Michael, Keesha, and Tommy as friends with individual and group characteristics that communicate their complexity before and beyond Katrina. This book is about community, change, and love for a place. It is both authentic and sensitive; poetic and beautiful. A Place Where Hurricanes Happenis neither trite nor brutal, but is a valuable starting place for the honest conversations children need.

The Wave

The wave appears to tease the young girl in this wordless book. At times she appears timid and at other times fearless as she plays in the sun on the shoreline. This is a "deceptively simple" story about taking risks. The illustrations exude an essence of something powerful, refreshing, and freeing. The moments and memories are detailed and readers can't help but vicariously experience the interplay between the girl and the wave. What happens when you don't retreat, and allow the wave to rush over you?

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Click here to view this book in Amazon +

Word Builder

Don your hard hat and grab your writing tools: it's time to construct "chapter cities" and "paragraph villages." The fundamental foundations of writing are presented using 3-D computer generated artwork and an appealing construction motif, a surefire combination to allure emerging writers. Author Ann Whitford Paul and illustrator Kurt Cyrus offer readers a linguistically and visually engaging metaphor for writing.

Gooney Bird Greene

Mrs. Pidgeon can teach the elements of a story, but it's Lois Lowry's Gooney Bird Greene who brings them to life through her astounding storytelling. She can spin a tale, and even if the stories seem implausible, she continuously reminds Mrs. Pidgeon and the students that they are "absolutely true." Gooney Bird eventually inspires her classmates to tell their own stories and will surely inspire your students, too.

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Click here to view this book in Amazon +

The End

Beginning with the end, The End turns a predictable story upside down. "And they lived happily ever after" appears on the first page, then we travel through a fantastical journey, which uses comical, vibrant images presenting familiar characters from folktales and fairytales in unfamiliar settings and circumstances. The End invites young writers to question narrative traditions and play with story elements in unconventional ways.

That Pesky Rat

Lauren Child wrote this unique tale from the perspective of a rat who desires a "real name" and a home with "creature comforts." Of course, nobody wants a rat for a pet" or do they? This self-assured rat takes it upon himself to head down to Ms. Trill's pet store, where he pens an ad placing himself up for adoption. Child's layered mixed media creations and expressive language provide educators with an excellent mentor text for persuasive writing, characterization, or point of view.

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Click here to view this book in Amazon +

Beginning, Muddle, and an End: The Right Way to Write Writing

Edward the ant provides sage advice to his dear friend Avon the snail, who aspires to be an author. Together, the two friends navigate writer's block and a host of other trials associated with writing. This book is loaded with dialogue, puns, and instructive advice about the art of writing, and the curiosity and intelligence of Edward and Avon is infectious. Simple, charming pencil drawings accompany the warmth and wit of Avi's clever tale.

The Plot Chickens

Henrietta knows the adage that good readers make good writers, so after a trip to the library she decides to give writing a shot. An excellent student of the trade, Henrietta "hatches a plot" but is rejected by the publisher after penning her story. Much too assertive to allow this to stand in the way of her ultimate goal, she self-publishes and heads straight to the local library, where a captive audience is waiting to enjoy her book. Chock-full of word play and laugh-out-loud moments, this text serves as a testament to remaining confident and focused as a writer.

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Click here to view this book in Amazon +

The 9 Rights of Every Writer: A Guide for Teachers

Using a conversational tone, Vicki Spandel asserts that high-quality writing entails taking risks and offering support to students. Reflecting, unearthing the power of each writer's voice, and finding personally important topics are just a few of the rights Spandel champions. She also includes practical instructional strategies and ready-to-use lessons for you to explore.