Book Reviews - Books for Building Your Library

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This week Roberta assembled a wonderful collection of back-to-school titles for you. They explore names and identity, and will offer you opportunities to help your students get to know each other!

My Name is Yoon

Instead she writes the words of objects that signify her desire to escape her new and unfamiliar environment in America. Gabi Swiatkowska's soft surrealist illustrations are graceful and, paired with Helen Recorvits' text, provide an intimacy and emotional cadence that children can connect with and comprehend. Break out the markers so that students can practice writing Yoon using the "dancing" Korean symbols displayed in the book.

Click here to view this book in Amazon +
Click here to view this book in Amazon +

I Know Here

I Know Here by Laurel Croza and Matt James tells the author's story of her childhood experience moving from northeastern Saskatchewan to Toronto. Croza communicates the love she felt for the place she knew and the anxiety she felt about the unknown. Children will relate to the author as she expresses her angst in saying goodbye to the wolves and the woods, the "here" she knows, and saying hello to the city, the "there" which is foreign.

My Name is Not Isabella

The possibilities of whom she might become are endless thanks to the amazing progress by the heroines referenced. Mike Litwin's images are swirling, bold, colorful, and complement the spirit of the text. Isabella dons the hats worn by a variety of inspirational trailblazing women and they are of every hue and from various disciplines. Reading this, one can't help but be imbued with a sense passion for exceeding the remaining barriers for women. Isabella's exuberance reminds me of another old saying: Let's hear it for girl power!

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Click here to view this book in Amazon +


Chrysanthemum, Chrysanthemum... Chrysanthemum loves her name and is convinced that it is "perfect" until school starts and she is taunted about it by Victoria and her band of followers. "Thirteen letters," Victoria chastises, "that's half of the alphabet." A "wilted" Chrysanthemum gains some solace from her parents but she ultimately "blooms" when Mrs. Twinkle (Delphinium Twinkle) announces to the class that she plans to name her new baby with the most beautiful name she has ever heard: Chrysanthemum. Beyond its usefulness for discussing distinctive monikers and the cultivation of respectful character development, the icing on the cake lies in the skillful use of metaphor, complex adjectives, rich vocabulary, and fun repetition author Kevin Henkes uses throughout the book.

A My Name is Andrew

"Esperanza has an endless amount of endurance, she is an eyeful in her elaborately and exquisitely embroidered exercise outfits." Do you see what I mean? This book is full of flavors for your ear and a palette full of dreamy popsicle-colored images that playfully introduce you to twenty-six different boys and girls described using melodious vocabulary.

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Click here to view this book in Amazon +

My Father Knows the Names of Things

Soaring through the clouds or on a fishing expedition, this dad is all-knowing. He knows the names of nearly every bird and the "buzziest" bugs; why, he even knows the name of seven different blues, do you? Jane Yolen's rhyming couplets are told from the point of view of a young boy whose days with his dad are filled with discovery, joy, and knowledge. Watch out! This one's contagious! You'll walk about naming things long after you've finished this book.

My Name is Sangoel

After relocating to America, everything is foreign, except the familiar pleasure of soccer. When no one can pronounce his name, Sangoel conceives a clever solution: He creates a pictogram illustrating a beaming sun and a soccer goal, sun + goal = Sangoel. After he is able to clarify the pronunciation of his name, he and his classmate bond as they attempt to create pictograms using their own names.

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Click here to view this book in Amazon +

The Old Woman Who Named Things

This treasure-filled classic by master storyteller Cynthia Rylant is a heartwarming tale that is sure to spur conversations about the names we give to various accouterments. Artist Kathryn Brown breathes life into the tinted brush strokes of her illustrations depicting the old woman and all of the inanimate objects she names, some of which have human characteristics. What will the old woman do when a little nameless puppy comes into her life? Is she willing to give it a name?

Name Jar

Yangsook Choi creates striking images drenched in rich, earthy tones and writing that is full of depth. Eventually, the familial and personal significance of Unhei's name empowers her and she decides not to assume an American name after all.

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Click here to view this book in Amazon +

Oxford Dictionary of First Names

This comprehensive reference collection is written by linguists and includes over 7,000 names and their etymology as well as naming trends. It even informs readers about notable historical and fictional name-bearers and features appendices with Indian and Arabic and regional distinctions too.