Monday, March 21, 2016

Women's History Month: Alice Ramsey's Grand Adventure

What an absolutely fun biography! Don Brown wrote and illustrated with picture about Alice Ramsey, and it is a wonderful addition to your books to read for Women's History Month.

So what is her grand adventure? Alice is the first woman to travel across America by car. No big deal, you may say...but it happened in 1909!

Yes, I said 1909! Remember, there were no road maps, no interstates, and hardly any gas stations.

Alice traveled with her friend, Hermine, and her two sisters-in-law, Nettie and Margaret.

Overflowing creeks didn't deter her...neither did mechanical problems. In fact, she helped to repair some of the problems.

I think you and your students should sit back and enjoy our great country as they travel with Alice. The beautiful watercolor pictures will certainly make you want to travel yourself!

Teacher Resources:

Homeschool Share

Riding with Alice

Children's Literature and Social Studies

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Bat Loves the Night

What a beautiful mentor text! Bat Loves the Night is a narrative informational picture book. The information in the book is all true about bats, but it is written as the story of a mother bat going out at night to hunt for food.

Some pages also contains factual information about bats that links with what is in the narrative on that page. This is a beautiful way to share a "story" that is factual in nature with real facts.

Word choice...Nicola Davies uses language that makes you truly see what bat is doing as well as having glorious examples of figurative language.

                    She beams her voice around her like a flashlight, and the
                    echoes come singing back.

Or the page with the wonderful prepositional phrases...

                   Over bushes, under trees, between fence posts, 
                   through the tangled hedge she swoops untouched.

This is picture book will fulfill so many things in a mentor text. Check it out!

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Women's History Month: Thank You, Sarah-The Woman Who Saved Thanksgiving

So what is it with women saving things? First it was George Washington, and now it is Thanksgiving!

Laurie Halse Anderson has written several historical novels - Forge, Chains and Fever 1793. But I bet you didn't know about her picture books. This is one of her nonfiction picture books for young readers. But I think it would be a great read aloud for older students as well.

This picture book is wonderful in so many ways..but the one thing I like about it is the fact that it shows how important writing can be!

The book provides information about so many things Sarah Hale accomplished, but making Thanksgiving a National Holiday was very important to her. In fact, she worked for 38 long years until President Lincoln agreed with her and made Thanksgiving a National Holiday.

The book is also a great mentor text for persuasion. It is Sarah Hale who persuaded other women, who persuaded their states, and ultimately persuaded a president to make Thanksgiving a National Holiday! Good for you Sarah!

The back matter is really informational about Sarah, Thanksgiving and its celebrations then and now, the Civil War, and vintage America!

I truly enjoyed this book...I hope you do too! In fact, you can go to her webpage to find some questions and a teacher's section (

Monday, March 7, 2016

Women's History Month: Dolley Madison Saves George Washington

Now, you may be wondering as I was, how could Dolley Madison save George Washington? Well, Don Brown lets us know in this picture book.

The book provides the readers with some background information about Dolley Madison. She married James Madison and became the First Lady of the United States. She wore beautiful dresses, decorated her home, and threw grand parties. When the War of 1812 arrived, Dolley had challenges greater than she’d ever known. So when the White House was about to be invaded, Dolley did one thing she thought might make a difference: she saved George Washington.

This picture book provides a narrative story that helps readers understand Dolley and some of the struggles she lived through due to the war.

This is another great example of a story with a narrow focus. It also has a conclusion that connects us with the painting of George Washington.


Thursday, March 3, 2016


Talk about a narrow focus for a nonfiction picture book...this is a great example. And Sneed B. Collard III had me intrigued from beginning to end.

Teeth starts out by explaining the different things teeth can do...slice, stab, crack, grind, mash, and munch. A different animal is highlighted in each area to show how animals may use their teeth.

Then it goes on to let the reader know about how they can be the same and different, big or small, kinds of teeth, number of teeth...who would have known about all this information about teeth. 

The pictures of the animals, which have been illustrated by Phyllis V. Saroff, will certainly draw the reader in as well.

The conclusion is a great illustration of how to end with a question appropriately.

                      Teeth. Don't you wish you had more?

Don't pass up the chance to share this picture book with your students!

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Pale Male

Janet Schulman crafted a beautiful story of the red-tailed hawk, Pale Male, that became one of the most famous "citizens" of NYC.

Hawks do not usually remain in large cities...but Pale Male was different. He stayed in Central Park while most other hawks would have moved on. Then another red-tailed hawk came to the park and the two started a courtship. 

The book tells the story of how Pale Male started out in Central Park with one mate, failed, found a new mate, and started building in the high-rise buildings of NYC. Obstacles came to them every step of the way, but some legislation protected them for a time. Their family grew. The city loved their hawk family!

Then some of the legislation was relaxed...the hawk's nest was removed to add pigeon spikes when they migrated for the winter. Protests caused problems for the apartment on Fifth Avenue where Pale Male nested every year. Finally, the spikes to keep pigeons away were removed, and Pale Male rebuilt his nest.

Pale Male is a true citizen of New York City.

This is another great example of a narrow focus for a story that is nonfiction. Janet Schulman chose to write this story because of her love of the wildlife in Central Park...especially Pale Male.

Teacher Resources:

Random House

Monday, February 29, 2016

Black History Month: 28 Days: Moments in Black History That Changed the World

28 Days: Moments in Black History That Changed the World would have a been a great book for me to have posted at the beginning of the month. Sorry...

This book has a variety of formats that it presents the information in: narrative, poems, eulogies.

It includes not only people, but also events that affected all of us. Here are some examples:

Dred Scott
14th Amendment
Matthew Henson
Harriet Tubman - her death, but also tells what she did
Madam C J Walker's eulogy
Jesse Owens
Day Marian Anderson performs at Lincoln Memorial
Jackie Robinson
Brown vs. The Board of Education
Rosa Parks sits
Little Rock Nine attend Central High School

I hope you have enjoyed my review of picture books that can be used during Black History Month!