OTHER REVIEWS FROM PLAINS COUNCIL READERS

Myers, Walter Dean
Illustrations by Christopher Myers
HARLEM
Scholastic, 1997, 30 pp.
ISBN 0-590-54341-5
    In this free verse poem, Walter Dean Myers relates why African Americans first came to Harlem and how they have lived, worked, and played there.  Young readers may need help with allusions to famous citizens such
as poet Countee Cullen and boxer Jack Johnson.  Illustrations by the author's son Christopher are attractive, bold, and dynamic collages. Scholastic also markets an audio tape of Puff Daddy reading the text.

Terry C. Ley
Auburn University
Winthrop, Elizabeth
Illustrations by Alexander Koshkin
THE LITTLE HUMPBACKED HORSE: A RUSSIAN TALE
Clarion, 1997, 26 pp.
ISBN 0-395-65-361-4
    Ivan is treated as the fool of the family, but it is he, not his clever older brothers, who stays awake long enough to discover and tame the mysterious hay thief, a stallion, thereby earning the horse's admiration and the gift of a magical little humpbacked horse to guide and protect him through his many adventures.  Because of his way with horses, he becomes the king's stable master, but jealous courtiers have the greedy king send him on one impossible quest after another.  Proverbs such as "the morning is wiser than the evening" and the detailed and imaginative illustrations provide the Russian flavor for this traditional tale first recorded in the 19th Century.
Judith V. Lechner
Auburn University
Hopkins, Lee Bennett
PASS THE POETRY PLEASE.   3d ed.
HarperCollins, 1998,  277 pp.
ISBN 0-06-027746-7
    Divided into four sections, this valuable resource introduces the history and uses of poetry for children, provides brief biographies of children's poets from Adoff to Yolen, shows how to help children express themselves through their own poems, and gives ideas for how to weave poetry into the curriculum.  The biographies include newer poets, such as Nikki Grimes, and established favorites, such as Eve Merriam and Langston Hughes. The ideas for poetry writing are exciting as are the suggestions for incorporating poetry into the curriculum.
Judith V. Lechner
Auburn University
Behan, Brendan
Illustrations by P. J. Lynch
THE KING OF IRELAND'S SON
Orchard Books, 1997 (Text Copyright, 1962)
ISBN 0-531-09549-5
    Poor Art.  His father the king has sent him to find out where the heavenly music is coming from, and his brothers have lowered him into a deep hole in the ground, hoping never to see him again.  But Art's not quite at the end of his rope.  All he has to do is outwit a bloodthirsty giant!
    Brendan Behan is a master Irish storyteller, and he spins this folk tale with poetry and humor.  P. J. Lynch's realistic illustrations capture the action from startling angles; I nearly jumped at my first sight of the giant.
Bruce A. Murray
Auburn University
Martin, J. B.
Illustrations by Mary Azarian
SNOWFLAKE BENTLEY
Houghton Mifflin, 1998, 32 pp.
ISBN 0-395-86162-4
    The Caldecott Award for 1999 went to Mary Azarian for her illustrations in Snowflake Bentley, a biography of Wilson Bentley, the scientist and pioneer in microphotography who gave the world pictures of snowflakes, flowers, and insects. Bentley's patience, perseverance, and interest in the small wonders of life add realistic dimensions to the more limited, traditional roles portrayed by male characters in most of the previous Caldecott
winners. Bentley's mother, the only female in the book, is portrayed as the farmer's wife she was, but she brings strength and wisdom to images of adult females in Caldecott books by giving her son encyclopedias and a microscope and convincing his father to buy the camera with which he created his gifts to the world. This book can be used as a read-aloud for ages four to eight (the age range for which it is recommended by the publishers) and for independent reading in upper elementary grades and beyond. Because readers of all ages will learn new information from the scientific and historical content in the story, illustrations, and side panels of facts, this book is a great resource for integrating studies in science, history, and even mathematics.
Edna Brabham
Auburn University
Appelbaum, Diane
Illustrations by Holly Meade
COCOA ICE
Orchard, 1997, 32 pp.
ISBN 0-531-30040-4
    This book is actually two stories.  Set in the 1870's, one story takes place in Santo Domingo and the other in Maine.  The story opens in Santo Domingo and is told through the eyes of a young girl.  She talks of a schooner that comes once a year to trade ice for coconuts, cocoa beans, and bananas.  She has made friends with one of the sailors who shows her pictures of his niece in a faraway land where there is snow. This new friend gives her a small bag made of balsam that has an unusual smell to her.
    The second story is told through the eyes of a young girl who lives in Maine.  Her uncle owns a schooner and travels to hot countries in the summer months to sell ice that the family cuts from frozen lakes during the winter. As summer approaches and the schooner is prepared for the long sail, the little girl gives her uncle a balsam bag she has made for him to take on the journey.  She cannot wait for the voyagers to get back and bring chocolate for ice cream and hot cocoa.
    I believe this book could add cultural dimensions to a social studies class because it shows how people from different lands can touch each other's lives through commerce and good will.
Elizabeth Powers
Auburn University
Bunting, Eve
Illustrations by Chris Soentpiet
SO FAR FROM THE SEA
Clarion, 1998, 32 pp.
ISBN 0-395-72095-8
    Two American-Japanese children along with their parents visit their grandfather's grave at the former site of Manzanar (in eastern California), one of the 10 War Relocations Centers during World War II. This picture
book's illustrations switch between World War II events (black and white) and present day (colored). The issue of relocation is dealt with in a compelling and sensitive manner. This book will generate thoughtful discussion at many grade levels.
Susan Villaume
Auburn University
Shulevitz, Uri
Illustrations by Uri Shulevitz
SNOW
Farrar Strauss Giroux, 1998
ISBN 0-374-37092-3
    This is a beautifully illustrated picture book. The illustrations progress from drab buildings and gray skies to a glistening snow-covered city with vivid blue skies. This is a magical book in which characters painted on a bookstore come to life and romp through the streets with a boy and his dog as the city is transformed into a winter wonderland. The language is rhythmic and somewhat predictable. Interestingly, the author omits articles in many of the sentences (e.g., "It's snowing, I said boy with dog."). This oddity could be used to generate thoughtful discussion about language even among young children.
Susan Villaume
Auburn University
Levine, Gail Carson
ELLA ENCHANTED
Harper Collins Publishers, 1997, 232 pp.
ISBN 0-06-027511-1
    You thought they couldn't come up with another telling of the Cinderella fairy tale?  Well, it's been done and this one outshines them all.  Ella, the only daughter of a wealthy merchant, was cursed...er, blessed at birth by a well-meaning fairy.  Her curse is that she will obey every order given to her; to complicate matters even further, one of the first orders she received was never to tell anyone about her curse!  The story line follows fairly closely to the fairy tale, with her mother's death, her father's remarriage to a horrible woman, and a close brush with
romance with Prince Charmont.  In this version, however, Ella is a high-spirited, intelligent, capable character who doesn't wait for her prince to save her.
Mercy Pilkington
Sanford Middle School
Koscielniak, Bruce
HEAR, HEAR, MR. SHAKESPEARE
Houghton-Mifflin Company, 1998
ISBN 0-395-87495-5
    All objectivity aside, this is a fantastic book and a wonderful reference for introducing Shakespeare to school children.  Local villagers from Stratford-upon-Avon appear on each page asking Mr. Shakespeare questions.  The answers come from the animals on each page in the form of quotes from Shakespeare's plays.  Each quote is referenced with the title of the play and the act and scene numbers.  The book contains wonderfully rustic illustrations and page after page of quotations.
Mercy Pilkington
Sanford Middle School
George, Jean Craighead
JULIE'S WOLF PACK
Harper Collins Publishers, 1997, 192 pp.
ISBN 0-06-027407-7
    The third book in the series which began with JULIE OF THE WOLVES, this book chronicles the lives of the actual wolf characters from the previous books; the human presence is kept to a minimum, as it is the wolves who are the stars of this book.  Several wolf packs intermingle with the pack George originally introduced her readers to in JULIE OF THE WOLVES; Kapu is still the head of this pack, but he is forced to contend with power-hungry rivals and lone wolves looking for new families.  There are still humans shooting from airplanes to avoid, as well as the strange smell associated with some new wolves which signals danger to Kapu's pack.  George's first book offered a glimpse into the behavior of wolves, and this book offers even more insight.
Mercy Pilkington
Sanford Middle School
Temple, Frances
THE BEDUIN'S GAZELLE
Harper Trophy Publishers, 1996, 150 pp.
ISBN 0-06-440669-5
    Frances Temple has finally created a work of fiction involving a little-mentioned Middle Eastern desert culture.  The entire novel's events are founded in the intricacies of gender roles in this Arab culture; two cousins have been pledged to each other at birth and are eagerly looking toward their marriage when the girl is lost in the desert, only to be rescued by an enemy tribe whose sheik has demanded her hand in marriage. While the summary and the cover illustration are reminiscent of a trashy romance novel, the events of the story are deeply rooted in centuries-old traditions about men and women.
Mercy Pilkington
Sanford Middle School
Brook, Donna
Illustrations by Jean Day Zallinger
THE JOURNEY OF ENGLISH
Clarion Books, 1998, 48 pp.
ISBN 0-395-71211-4
    Tired of hearing students ask, "Why do we have to learn this?"  Here is the answer in one fascinating burst of history.  This book chronicles the development of the English language into a language we recognize today.  With beautiful illustrations and detailed maps of our language's travels around the world, this book will answer questions about where our language came from, beginning with Sanskrit!
Mercy Pilkington
Sanford Middle School
Gresham, Douglas
Illustrations by Pauline Baynes
THE NARNIA COOKBOOK
Harper Collins Publishers, 1998, 115 pp.
ISBN 0-06-027815-3
    The title says it all.  This is a cookbook full of recipes found in the Chronicles of Narnia.  As a middle school teacher any of the books in the Narnia series are often recommended to me for classroom texts.  I can think of no better way to introduce a text of this magnitude than a lively cooking party with the students.  By familiarizing them with some of the delicacies found in the series, the lines of understanding can be more fully opened.  Check out the recipe for Chock-A-Leekie Soup!
Mercy Pilkington
Sanford Middle School
Simon, Norma
Illustrations by Erika Weihs
THE STORY OF PASSOVER
Harper Collins Publishers, 1997
ISBN 0-06-027063-2
    In this beautifully illustrated children's book, the mysteries of Passover are at last explained in Gentile-friendly terms!  Seriously, this book would be welcome by children of any age and religion.  By bringing in the history of Passover as found in the Old Testament, children of various religions can bring some prior knowledge to the reading of the text.  At the same time, this text does not exclude anyone who has no prior knowledge of Passover by explaining the story in easy terms and with wonderful illustrations.
Mercy PilkingtonSanford Middle School
Porter, Tracey
TREASURES IN THE DUST
Joanna Cotler Books (of Harper Collins), 1997, 148 pp.
0-06-027563-4
    TREASURES IN THE DUST is Tracey Porter's first novel, and it was worth the wait from this middle school teacher and poet.  Drawing on John Steinbeck's GRAPES OF WRATH for inspiration, Porter's novel examines the fear and struggling of surviving the Depression in the Oklahoma Dust Bowl through the eyes of eleven-year-old best friends Annie and Violet.  As the daughters of farmers fighting to keep their farms despite drought and dust storms, the girls' views of their respective situations are fresh and realistic.  Adolescent readers may need some background information on the Depression and Dust Bowl, but they will not need any help identifying with the protagonists.
Mercy Pilkington
Sanford Middle School
Cormier, Robert
TUNES FOR BEARS TO DANCE TO
Laurel-Leaf Books, 1992, 101 pp.
ISBN 0-440-21903-5
    Cormier's blend of dark imagery and an overall sense of goodness in a frightened boy creates a work of literature that forces the reader to examine the act of making choices.  This book is riddled with opportunities to ask ,"What would you have done?"  Eleven-year-old Henry is forced to grow up too quickly by his brother's death and his father's downward spiral into depression and unemployment; when he befriends an elderly Holocaust survivor, Henry seems to have found an escape from the day-to-day responsibility he must shoulder.  However, Mr. Hairston, a man who has power over Henry, forces him to make a horrifying decision that seems to have no possible positive outcome.
Mercy Pilkington
Sanford Middle School
Fletcher, Ralph
SPIDER BOY
Clarion, 1997, 180 pp.
ISBN 0-395-77606-6
    Any seventh grader who has had to move to a new town or school, or any student who has felt "different" from the group, will identify with Bobby, who so misses his old friends and hometown that he leaves his watch set on Illinois time.  Bobby keeps a journal through which the reader learns about him and an amazing number of facts about spiders.  With the help of Thelma the tarantula and a girlfriend named Lucky, Bobby learns to accept himself and his new home.
Cathy Buckhalt
Opelika Middle School
Steptoe, John
Illustrated by E. B. Lewis
CREATIVITY
Clarion, 1997, 32 pp.
ISBN 0-395-687-06-3
    This book explains the challenges that come along with moving into a new area.  This is what happened to Hector.  Being Puerto Rican, it was difficult adjusting to a new life...until Charlie took Hector under his
wing.  A new friendship begins, and suddenly Hector feels right at home.  His differences begin to fade, and the children realize that although Hector is a little different, he is just a regular little boy.  Great to use when a new student enters the classroom or multiculturalism is present!
Amy Browning and Robin Vickery
Yarbrough Elementary School
Zemach, Kaethe
THE CHARACTER IN THE BOOK
HarperCollins, 1998, 26 pp.
ISBN 0-06-205060-5
    In this picture book, the Character gets an invitation to visit his Auntie.  There is just one problem--he runs into trouble trying to get out of his book.  Young readers can enjoy this simple text.  This book also helps young writers relate to character in a book.  Simple, but charming to young students.
Debbie Holt
Yarbrough Elementary School
Drawson, Blair
MARY MARGARET'S TREE
Orchard, 1996, 32 pp.
ISBN 0-531-09521-5
    Planting a tree turns into quite an adventure for Mary Margaret.  This is a fantasy that lets you see all that is happening among the leaves and branches of a tree.  The illustrations are appealing and add to the story.  This book could be used when teaching a unit on plants or when teaching the art of writing fantasies.
Debbie Holt
Yarbrough Elementary School
Bunting, Eve
Illustrated by Ronald Hilmer
A DAY'S WORK
Clarion, 1994, 32 pp.
ISBN 0-395-84518-1
    Eve Bunting does it again!  In this realistic fiction, a young Mexican boy helps his grandfather find work for the day.  The boy has to go with his grandfather to serve as an interpreter.  Even though the grandfather cannot speak English, he still teaches his grandson a valuable lesson.
Debbie Holt
Yarbrough Elementary School
Cameron, Ann
Illustrated by Lis Toft
MORE STORIES HUEY TELLS
Frances Foster Books (Farrar, Straus & Giroux), 1997, 118 pp.
ISBN 0-374-35065-5
    This is another book in the Julian series by Ann Cameron.  Huey is Julian's little brother.  This book of five stories is funny and appealing to students.  This one will be enjoyed, just like the others in this series.
Debbie Holt
Yarbrough Elementary School
George, Jean Craighead
Illustrated by Lucia Washburn
LOOK TO THE NORTH:  A WOLF PUP DIARY
Harper Trophy, 1997
ISBN 0-060443510-5
    The author's love of wolves is obvious in this beautifully illustrated children's book that integrates facts about wolf life and the story of Boulder, Scree, and Talus, wolf pups born in early spring.  The reader and the pups learn about the hierarchy of the pack, together.  Each section of the book is prefaced by a seasonal, interest-catching statement, for example, "When you are out trick-or-treating, look to the north.  Wolf pups are enrolled in the wolf kindergarten of hunting."  An excellent integration of science and story.
Cathy Buckhalt
Opelika Middle School
Stolz, Mary
Illustrated by Sergio Martinez
A BALLAD OF THE CIVIL WAR
HarperCollins, 1997, 54 pp.
ISBN 0-06-027362-3
    As twin brothers grow up, their attitudes toward slavery become very different.  When the Civil War begins, Tom joins the Union army; Jack joins the Confederate army.  Stolz based this novel on a Civil War ballad that her mother taught her.
Terry C. Ley
Auburn University
Gantos, Jack
JOEY PIGZA SWALLOWED THE KEY
Farrar, Straus Giroux, 1998
    You've met Joey Pigza before.  He's probably in your school, maybe in your class.  He's the kid that can turn a simple job like sharpening pencils into an accident requiring the school nurse and a fingernail fairy; the kid who during a doctor's visit ends up with all the stuffing from the padded chair inside his pants; the kid who swallows his house key but is confident that he can fish it out, only he forgets that the teacher had just removed the string so he wouldn't swallow it any more.  You don't even want to think about the field trip to the Amish farm where he gets so high on shoofly pie that he ends up on the roof-beam of the barn.
    Joey is lovable but a menace to himself and as Mrs. Maxy, his teacher, feared, to his classmates as well.  Can he make it in school?  In life?  This is a heartbreaking but funny and even hopeful story about a boy's struggle with ADD.
Judy Lechner
Auburn University
1999 Newbery, Caldecott, Coretta Scott King, & Mildred Batchelder Awards
Annotations by Judy Lechner, Dept. EFLT, Auburn University
 
 CALDECOTT
 
Caldecott MedalSnowflake Bentley.  Ill. by Mary Azarian.  Written by Jaqueline Briggs Martin.  Houghton Mifflin.  Grades 1-4. Caldecott Honor
 NEWBERY
 
Newbery MedalHoles by Louis Sachar.  Farrar Straus Giroux.  Grades 5-8. Newbery HonorA Long Way from Chicago by Richard Peck.  Dial.  Grades 4-7 (3rd as a read-aloud).
CORETTA SCOTT KING

Coretta Scott King Illustrator Awardi see the rhythm. by Michelle Wood.  Childrenís Book Press.  Grades 4-8.

Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor Coretta Scott King Author AwardHeaven by Angela Johnson.  Simon & Schuster.

Coretta Scott King Author Honor

MILDRED BATCHELDER AWARD

Mildred Batchelder AwardThanks to My Mother by Schoschana Rabinovici.  Translated by James Skofield.  Dial.  Grades 7+

 
Mildred Batchelder HonorSecret Letters from 0 to 10 by Susi Morgenstern.  Viking. 4-7