Casey at the Bat

Casey at the BatThis book is about the Mudville baseball team, who is doing poorly at their baseball game – but then Casey steps up to bat! This book takes Ernest Thayer’s poem (originally published in 1888 for the San Francisco Examiner) but Gerald Fitzgerald’s illustrations bring this story to life.


This is an excellent book that could be used to teach about poetry, especially to younger grades (K – 4).


Mr. Popper’s Penguins

Mr Poppers Penguins

Mr. Popper’s Penguins (1938), written by Richard and Florence Atwater and illustrated by Robert Lawson, is a Newbery Honor Book. Black and white line illustrations accompany each chapter of this delightful book.

Mr. Popper paints houses, but he dreams of going on adventures to the poles of the earth. When he writes a letter to a Antarctic explorer, he receives a surprise package in the mail: a penguin! Soon, Mr. Popper has a family of penguins that he and his family train and tour all over the country.

This book could be read by a second or third grade student. It would be an excellent story to read aloud as a class. Several themes such as the Antarctic, habitats, or climates could be pulled out to incorporate it into a unit. Certain chapters could also facilitate activities such as economics.

Journey: Illustrated by Aaron Becker

JourneyA Wordless Adventure!

This wordless book takes its readers on a journey through the imagination of a young girl. Aaron Becker’s uses a combination of pen and ink and watercolor wash to illustrate the fine details of many different landscapes. The young girl’s adventure begins when she uses a red marker to draw a magical door on her bedroom wall. As she journeys through a forest she is stopped by a river. Using her imagination, the young girl draws a boat to help her float down the river. The plot sequentially flows into various other predicaments. Throughout the journey, Becker provokes a sense of wonder in his readers; “What will the young girl draw next?” It is no wonder that Journey was a 2014 Caldecott Honor Book. Anyone can be inspired by this young girl’s kindness and creativity.

I would recommend this text for any teacher in grades K-4. It would be a great supplementary text to inspire student’s writing skills by discussing the power of imagination and the need for plot sequencing.

Age: Grades K-4

Honors: Caldecott Honor Book

Flitting, Flying, Floating, Buzzing, Brilliant Bug Poems- Joyful Noise by Paul Fleischman

The winner of the 1989 Newbery Medal, Joyful Noise: Poems for Two Voices was written by Paul Fleischman and illustrated by Eric Beddows.

Each of the fourteen poems is about a different insect, from moths to digger wasps to cicadas, and all are meant to be read aloud. Divided into two columns, the poems require two simultaneous readers, each with their own part. The resulting harmony or cacophony is, in some places, evocative of the sounds the bugs make, or adds to the humorous tone of the poem. The book is full of beautiful black and white pencil sketches of the different insects.

This book of poetry would be a great addition to an insect unit, or a cross-curricular activity linking science, drama, and literature. Since they are meant to be read aloud, this would be a great introduction for students who have never performed in front of an audience before. With many excellent descriptive words, it would also be a great vocabulary building exercise for students in 3rd, 4th, or 5th grade.



The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey


This delightful story by Susan Wojciechowski, beautifully illustrated by P.J. Lynch, tells of a widow and her son who have lost their treasured carved nativity scene and ask the talented, though gloomy, local carpenter if he can make them another just like it. But will it look the same? And will it be finished by Christmas?

This book would be excellent for a classroom around Christmas time. It conveys the timeless lessons of the importance of family and friendship, the beauty of hard work done out of love, and the joy of the Christmas season.

Grade level: 2-5

Awards: Kate Greenway Medal 1995

The Invention of Hugo Cabret


Any third through fifth grade child would be proud of reading the incredibly thick book, The Invention of Hugo Cabret. Brian Selznick wrote and illustrated this book after much research about the origins of early film-making. The story tells of a young boy named Hugo Cabret, whose parents died when he was young. Unbeknownst to anyone else, he now works as a clock-keeper for the local Paris train station. His possession of a cryptic automaton and his newfound friendship with Isabelle, lead the characters to discover and come to terms with the tragic events of the past, involving Hugo’s family and the identity of one of the earliest producers of the moving pictures.

Since Selznick tells Hugo’s story primarily through the black and white pencil illustrations, he intentionally does not allow the words to repeat what the pictures tell. The result is a fluid story which engages the reader’s imagination and brings the characters to life. The mystery and intrigue that the story evokes makes it a book that is difficult to put down. The specific interest of mechanics as well as the adventurousness of the plot lends to attracting both a male and a female readership. The emphasis on the illustrations could be a great encouragement for a child who is intimidated by a large amount of text. The Invention of Hugo Cabret has been recognized for its superiority in its reception of the Caldecott Reward in 2008.


Miss Rumphius

Witten and illustrated by Barbara Cooney.


A young girl tells her grandfather that she wants to go to faraway places and when she grows up and to live beside the sea.

“That is all very well, little Alice,” said her grandfather, “but there is a third thing you must do.”

“What is that?” asked Alice.

“You must do something to make the world more beautiful,” said her grandfather.

Miss Rumphius is the story of Miss Alice Rumphius who had three goals in life: to travel the world, to live in a house by the sea, and to do something to make the world more beautiful. After reaching the first two goals, she has to get a little bit creative to meet the last goal, but she eventually does it by spreading the seeds of the lupine flower across the coast of Maine.

This story is based off of the life of Hilda Edwards, the real “Lupine Lady,” who imported lupine seeds from Europe to spread across the coast of Maine. But this adaptation by Cooney tells a deeper story of finding true happiness by bringing others joy. Miss Rumphius provides an opportunity to dialog with students about setting goals, doing good, and finding happiness. The cyclical nature of the book, which ends with Miss Rumphius as an old woman telling this story to her grand-niece, provides the reader with satisfying closure. Miss Rumphius could be used in the classroom to discuss acts of philanthropy and how we can make the world a more beautiful place in a physical way like Miss Rumphius did, and in so doing, we can make the world a more beautiful place by bringing joy to others.

Grade level: K-5

1982 American Book Award