Module 15: And Tango Makes Three

tango

APA Citation

Richardson, J., Parnell, P., & Cole, H. (2005). And Tango makes three. New York: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers.

Summary

This is the story of a penguin family at the Central Park Zoo. Two male penguins pair up and spend all their time together, just as all the other penguins do. The only difference is that when the other couples are hatching eggs, Roy and Silo don’t have one. They build a nest and sit on a rock that’s roughly the shape and size of an egg, but no chick. What will happen when a zoo keeper notices that the penguin couple wants a baby?

Impressions

This is a wonderful little story with the message that families come in all different forms. This is certainly a timely theme and one that children can easily understand. It’s a simple, sweet story that, nonetheless has caused upset in many communities. I appreciate that the story doesn’t get preachy about the rights of all people, regardless of their sexual orientation, even though this is a clear undertone. I think there is a lot of power in the story’s simple message of two penguins who wanted to have a baby. It’s diffuicult to make a reasonable argument that penguins could have a hidden agenda or be politically motivated. Rather than seeing this as an important book because it supports my particular political views, I think it is important because it supports a perspective that is respectful to all people.

Reviews

Jennifer Mattson (Booklist, May 15, 2005 (Vol. 101, No. 18))
Roy and Silo were “a little bit different” from the other male penguins: instead of noticing females, they noticed each other. Thus penguin chick Tango, hatched from a fertilized egg given to the pining, bewildered pair, came to be “the only penguin in the Central Park Zoo with two daddies.” As told by Richardson and Parnell (a psychiatrist and playwright), this true story remains firmly within the bounds of the zoo’s polar environment, as do Cole’s expressive but still realistic watercolors (a far cry from his effete caricatures in Harvey Fierstein’s The Sissy Duckling, 2002). Emphasizing the penguins’ naturally ridiculous physiques while gently acknowledging their situation, Cole’s pictures complement the perfectly cadenced text–showing, for example, the bewildered pair craning their necks toward a nest that was “nice, but a little empty.” Indeed, intrusions from the zookeeper, who remarks that the nuzzling males “must be in love,” strike the narrative’s only false note. Further facts about the episode conclude, but it’s naive to expect this will be read only as a zoo anecdote. However, those who share this with children will find themselves returning to it again and again–not for the entree it might offer to matters of human sexuality, but for the two irresistible birds at its center and for the celebration of patient, loving fathers who “knew just what to do.”

Rosemary R. Garza (The Lorgnette – Heart of Texas Reviews (Vol. 18, No. 4))
This book is taken from a true story about two male chinstrap penguins that live in the Central Park Zoo. The story starts out telling about different kinds of families that visit or live at the zoo. Then the story focuses on the two male penguins that do everything together, including wanting to have a baby penguin. They build a nest, and the zookeeper brings an egg for them, so they raise a baby penguin together. The book introduces the concept of homosexuality in a matter-of-fact way without dwelling on the fact that the penguins are two males. The last page explains that the family of three penguins is just like any of the different kinds of families there are in the city. The illustrations are realistic and beautiful with a great story to tell.

Use in Library

Let’s do some research on the real Roy, Silo and Tango. Can we find pictures or videos of them? Can we find out what is happening in their lives at the zoo these days?

Module 14: Yes! We are Latinos

yes-we-are-latinos

APA Citation

Ada, A. F., & Campoy, F. I. (2013). Yes! we are Latinos. Watertown, MA: Charlesbridge.

Summary

This collection of twelve poems tells the stories of thirteen people who live across the United States and who identify as Latino. After each poem, a short chapter follows with information about that person’s heritage.

Impressions

This is a comprehensive collection demonstrating the variety and complexity within the greater Latino community. I personally found it informative and enlightening. The authors Ada and Campoy chose well in formatting this collection. The poems have clear and relatable voices that communicate the heart of a person and her or his family concisely. The informative section that follows gives context to the complexity that is easily lost in cursory looks into Latino art. This book makes a useful tool in teaching diversity.

Reviews

Erin Anderson (Booklist, Sep. 1, 2013 (Vol. 110, No. 1))
This book celebrates the amazing and underappreciated diversity of the Latino community and makes great strides toward ameliorating one-dimensional stereotypes. Through 12 narrative poems, the authors explore the experiences of fictional men and women; Christians and Jews; immigrants, indigenous people, and second-generation Americans; professionals and farmers; all of whom identify themselves as Latinos. Each poem is followed by brief factual explanation of the major themes within, such as the Spanish Civil War, Asian influences in Latin America, and Cuba s relationship with the U.S. Black-and-white abstract art by Caldecott winner D az elevates each individual s story by illustrating major themes. While the authors include a bibliography of source material, they also acknowledge a lengthy list of people who provided inspiration for the topics discussed in the book. Perhaps it is the use of these real-life figures that gives the fictional vignettes such an air of realism and relatability for both Latino and non-Latino readers alike.

Seemi Aziz (Worlds of Words Review, April 2014 (Vol. 6, No. 3))
This book celebrates the differences in appreciation of Latino cultures and their diverse backgrounds. It questions rather than reinforces various accepted stereotypes that frame Latinos in the U.S. Alma Flor Ada and F. Isabel Campoy outdo themselves in finding and recording real-world experiences of Latinos and Latinas from all over the world who reside within the U.S. The authors further convey these experiences with narrative poetic renderings that explain the experiences in an artistic, personal, and deeper manner. The cultural identities of Latinos are explained further by informational pieces from historical contexts of each Latino/a. Through reading the 12 narrative poems and the informational pieces the reader can gain an intimate look at the cultural roots of each Latino/a. Readers will come away with the knowledge that Latinos are of varied colors and races.

 

Use in Library

Choose a character from one of the poems and find a piece of art that has been created by someone else from that character’s place of origin. This could be a song, a painting, a book, a movie, etc.

Module 13: Junie B. Jones Smells Something Fishy

junie

APA Citation

Park, B., & Brunkus, D. (1998). Junie B. Jones smells something fishy. New York: Random House.

Summary

Junie B. is very excited that Pet Day is coming up in her classroom. When she finds out that she can only bring a picture of her dog because he is too big to bring to school, she sets off on a mission to find a new pet in time to bring for Pet Day. Her grandmother offers to let Junie B. bring her bird to school, but that doesn’t work since she and the bird don’t like each other, due to an unfortunate potato incident. Will Junie B. find a pet in time to bring on the special day? Or will Pet Day be a bust for her?

Impressions

I can’t get enough of Junie B. Jones. I think Park’s diction is pure comic genius. This is an author who knows her way around a five year old. The way Junie talks sounds exactly like a 4 year old I used to teach named Nila. She and Junie B. share many personality traits; enthusiastic, stubborn, articulate and impulsive. The kind of kid who makes a teacher feel like she’s losing her mind and whom a teacher also completely adores. The criticism this series has received for improper grammar is some that I find misplaced. Something vitally important to the essence of these books would be lost without Junie’s imperfect voice narrating it.

I did a sad sigh. “Where’s the justice here, Helen?” I asked.

Grandma smiled very understanding.

Then she gave me a hug.

And said don’t call her Helen.

No kindergartener’s grammar will be worsened for reading these books. Literature needn’t always be a lesson, certainly not a grammar lesson. The Junie B. Jones books, as they are, provide young readers with a voice they can easily recognize and with which they can identify.

Reviews

Carolyn Phelan (Booklist, March 15, 1999 (Vol. 95, No. 14))
Readers who are getting into chapter books will find plenty to enjoy here, from Junie‘s antics to her fresh use of language to the expressive line drawings. A funny entry in a popular series.

Tracy Defina (Children’s Literature)
Junie B. Jones, the funny kindergartner, is back. It’s pet day at school, but she can’t just bring any pet. Junie wants to bring her dog, but the rules say caged animals only. Although she is allowed to bring a picture, she wants to bring a real animal. Will it be Grandma Miller’s bird she hates, a worm she can’t find, or a dead fly? When Grandma and Grandpa return from a fishing trip with a huge large-mouthed bass, Junie thinks her problem is solved. Then Grandma steals her new pet. Finally, in the freezer of all places, Junie finds the perfect pet: a fish stick. Young readers may enjoy this silly story about a demanding little girl, but be aware that her improper English doesn’t set the best example for writing and speaking.

Use in Library

Let’s do some animal classification. The students will identify the animals named in the book. Then we will classify them after doing some internet research.

Module 12: Miss Moore Thought Otherwise: How Anne Caroll Moore Created Libraries for Children

miss-moore

APA Citation

Pinborough, J., & Atwell, D. (2013). Miss Moore thought otherwise: The story of the lady who made libraries for children. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

Summary

This is the story of Anne Carroll Moore who pioneered children’s libraries. From her early life as a girl in Maine, Anne had her own ideas about what was appropriate for her to do. This continued throughout her life all the way to New York City where she moved as a young single woman to become a librarian. Miss Moore’s career helped to make it possible for children to have access to books and even to have a space in the library devoted specifically to them. Her influence spread to public libraries across the country.

Impressions

Well, naturally, I loved this book. The story is inspiring as a woman and as a librarian. It’s valuable for children to hear this story for several reasons. One, it serves as a reminder that women weren’t always allowed access to the same opportunities as men. Another reason is to teach that children were also not always allowed access to the resources they have today. Both these scenarios demonstrate the importance  of standing up when something needs to be changed. I love that, in the story, Anne didn’t wait for anyone to tell her she could do what she wanted; she just did it. What a great role model for children everywhere!

Reviews

Kay Weisman (Booklist, Feb. 1, 2013 (Vol. 109, No. 11))
Pinborough introduces young readers to Anne Carroll Moore, the strong-willed woman whose vision of library services for children shaped the standards and practices of the New York Public Library (and the world) for more than a generation. Moore grew up reading and hearing stories in an era when children were not welcomed by public libraries; she later became a librarian (one of the few jobs open to unmarried women) and worked tirelessly to ensure that all children felt welcome at library programs and were able to check out books. The author treads lightly on legends of Moore s formidable (and often forbidding) personality, playfully asserting that whenever Miss Moore thought otherwise, she got her way. Atwell s cozy, folk-art-style paintings brim with period details and depict a multicultural clientele. Appended with an author s note and sources, this makes an ideal addition to women s history units.

Elizabeth Bush (The Bulletin of the Center for Children s Books, April 2013 (Vol. 66, No. 8))
For most children listening to a story in a public or school library, the library setting itself is a pleasant but unremarkable part of life, and book borrowing an equally unremarkable entitlement. Pinborough s picture-book biography of early twentieth-century librarian Anne Carroll Moore may nudge them out of their complacency, describing the children s literacy advocate s innovations at a time when free public libraries were just coming into their own, and children s materials and services were a pretty radical concept. AlthoughMoore s story has its points of interest for a young audience studying law, putting her own career plans on hold to help raise her nieces, moving off to the big city to learn librarianship it s the nascent field of children s librarianship that will command interest. Locked bookcases and looming silence signs were giving way to more kid-friendly environs, and under Moore s watch, whole children s departments were designed and supplied, from child-scaled furniture to reading clubs and guest readers and entertainers. Atwell s cheery, doll-like figures and joyful colors are a good match for the woman who insisted that children s library space should be vibrant and stimulating. Expect giggles when kids spot the black-suited, bun-coifed, finger-wagging old-school harridan who did not let children touch the books, for fear they would smudge their pages or break their spines and hope you don t hear any unflattering comparisons. A historical note and list of sources is included.

Use in Library

Design a modern children’s library. What kinds of resources should there be? What else belongs in a children’s library?

Module 11: Our Family Tree

family tree

APA Citation

Peters, L. W., & Stringer, L. (2003). Our family tree: An evolution story. San Diego: Harcourt.

Summary

This picture book introduces the concept of evolution in terms of a family tree. It traces  human evolution using broad strokes and beautiful illustrations. Starting with single celled organisms and stretching all the way to modern humans, the book helps draw connections and gives dominant characteristics at each stage. The back pages include more detailed information as well as a timeline.

Impressions

I loved this book. Evolution can be a complex and challenging concept for young students to grasp. Our Family Tree ties together the broader elements in such a way that makes it digestible for elementary students. The beautiful illustrations alternate settings; either in the featured time period or the present, with a family playing on the beach. By the end of the book, the family has drawn a timeline of sorts in the sand that connects all the stages of evolution which the author chronicles.

I think the strength of the book is that it doesn’t overwhelm readers with in depth scientific language. Rather, it makes the concept relatable and gives students a place to begin building knowledge of the science of evolution. Moreover, it gives kids a sense of how we as humans fit into the nature of all things and how we are all connected.

Reviews

Hazel Rochman (Booklist, Mar. 15, 2003 (Vol. 99, No. 14))
It seems like a great idea: tell the story of the evolution of all living things by showing that “all of us are part of an old, old family” and that we can trace our roots back to “tiny round cells in the deep dark sea.” But it’s not that easy to explain the minutiae of DNA and the sweep of Earth’s geology and biology to a young audience. This oversize picture book, with chatty text and elaborate, packed, brightly colored, double-page illustrations, may look child friendly, but it’s sometimes confusing. Readers are told that the time line, which appears in tiny print, isn’t drawn to scale, but it certainly looks as if microscopic bacteria haven’t been around much longer than primates. The second part of the book works best, tracing the emergence of warm-blooded creatures right up to the excitement of walking upright. This is best suited to classroom use, where adults can turn to helpful notes at the back to discuss our connections with those first tiny round cells and how we’ve changed since then.

Vicki Arkoff (Midwest Book Review, “Vicki’s Bookshelf” column, May 2003)
This gentle family album of life on earth introduces the fundamental scientific concept of the evolution of species to young children. Vetted by anthropologists and geologists, the book’s science is accurate and expressed in simple, easy-to-understand language. An illustrated time line and glossary help expand the story for children and families. The book was released to coincide with the one-hundred-and-twenty-first anniversary of the death of British scientist Charles Darwin, the father of evolutionary theory. His “On The Origin of the Species” detailed the theory of natural selection. Modern children can now grasp the basics of Darwin’s once revolutionary theory through “Our Family Tree.” More than ever, intriguing science books like this are of vital importance to introduce basic scientific principles and to help children increase their scientific knowledge. In addition, author Lisa Westberg Peters worked with credentialed elementary and secondary school educators to create specific lesson plans based on “Our Family Tree”, to increase the book’s value as a teaching tool. Lush illustrations by Lauren Stringer (who previously illustrated the award-winning “Castles, Caves and Honeycombs” by Linda Ashman) sparkle, making this a fascinating visual feast for eager young learners.

Use in Library

This book fits so seamlessly into science curriculum, it would be great to collaborate with classroom teachers to coincide with their biology lessons. This book could be a starting point for teaching adaptation. Depending on the teacher’s plans, we could work together on a project for the students to research ecosystems and the animals that live there.

Module 10: Freedom Summer

freedom summer

APA Citation

Wiles, D., & Lagarrigue, J. (2001). Freedom Summer. New York: Atheneum Books for Young Readers.

Summary

Joe and John Henry are friends in the American South in the summer of 1964. They are great friends and have a lot in common. The only differences are that John Henry’s mom works for Joe’s parents and that Joe is white and John Henry is black. Joe notices that John Henry isn’t allowed in some of the places he is, one of them is at the town pool. Joe hears that a law has been passed making it illegal to keep anyone out of pools and shops and more based on their skin color. Joe and John Henry can’t wait to go swimming together the next morning. Will they get to have their swim together? Will they get to enjoy floats at the ice cream shop together? Will the new laws change anything about their friendship?

Impressions

The fight for Civil Rights in the United States is one of those important subjects that deal with right and wrong. Being such, there are many books written about them that are heavy with didacticism. While it is a subject that warrants this, it is heartening to see stories told on the subject that pack a punch without this added weight. Freedom Summer is one of these stories. Wiles’ storytelling from the perspective of a young boy awakening to injustice is effective. She saves any morality talk for John Henry as the boys sit on the diving board over the newly tarred-over pool. And it is understated at that; there is so much more that John Henry could say. However, with the boys sitting over the pool filled with tar, his words are heavy with meaning:

“I wanted to swim in this pool. I want to do everything you can do.”

Wiles shows readers the world through the eyes of a young white boy whose best friend is a young black boy. She chooses to keep a sharp and specific focus, rather than attempting the impossible task of taking on all that is the huge and complex issue of racism. In doing so, she wisely speaks of what she knows and this yields heart felt insight that can be gained from her excellent book by readers of all ages.

Reviews

Gillian Engberg (Booklist, Feb. 15, 2001 (Vol. 97, No. 12))
John Henry Waddell is my best friend,” begins the narrator of this story, set during a summer of desegregation in the South. John Henry is black and the narrator is white, so the boys swim together at the creek, rather than at the whites-only town pool, and the narrator buys the ice-cream at the segregated store. When new laws mandate that the pool, and everything else, must desegregate, the boys rejoice, until the town fills the pool with tar in protest and the narrator tries to see this town, “through John Henry’s eyes.” The boy’s voice, presented in punchy, almost poetic sentences, feels overly romanticized, even contrived in places. It’s the illustrations that stun. In vibrantly colored, broad strokes, Lagarrigue, who illustrated Nikki Grimes’ My Man Blue (1999), paints riveting portraits of the boys, particularly of John Henry, that greatly increase the story’s emotional power. Beautiful work by an illustrator to watch.

Dawn Cobb (The Lorgnette – Heart of Texas Reviews (Vol. 14, No. 2))
This touching story of friendship between two boys takes place in the South during the summer of 1964. Joe and John Henry, who are of different colors, see beyond their obvious differences and focus on their similarities. The author does an excellent job of portraying the social injustices and the boys’ reactions to the various situations. This book will likely inspire students to ask many difficult questions about our nation’s past.

Use in Library

This book would make an excellent springboard for a discussion about the problems of injustice and inequality.

Module 9: The Case of the Missing Marquess: An Enola Holmes Mystery

enola

APA Citation

Springer, N. (2006). The case of the missing marquess: An Enola Holmes mystery. New York: Philomel Books.

Summary

Enola Holmes is the much younger sister of the great Sherlock Holmes. When their mother turns up missing, Sherlock and her other brother Mycroft decide to send Enola to boarding school. Enola doesn’t want to go and instead decides to take off on an adventure to find her mother, using encoded clues and money her mother has left hidden for her. Once she leaves home, she is confronted with the mysterious disappearance of a child from a noble family. Can Enola solve both mysteries? What will happen when she gets to London? Was her mother right when she told her, “You will do very well on your own, Enola” ?

Impressions

The novel is written in an old fashioned style; for instance the chapters are labelled as Chapter the First. This, among other things, had me wary at first. I feared the story would be derivative and pretentious. I couldn’t have been more wrong! Springer manages to create a strong female detective who doesn’t apologize for being a woman. Instead, she takes advantage of her society’s ignorance to sneak in and get exactly what she wants. Springer doesn’t get didactic in preaching gender equality. Rather, Enola is a strong and complex character who discovers that she could use what she believed limited her (i.e. society’s expectations of women) to her advantage.

For instance, she feels constricted by the corset she is expected to wear. Instead of rebelling against it, she uses the corset as a tool to hide important items on her person. In fact, the corset protects her from serious injury when she is attacked and the corset blocks the assailant’s knife from cutting her.

This story is sweet and subversive in the best possible way. Its cleverness snuck up on me, much like Enola does to those who underestimate her. She is a wonderful character for young teens to look up to.

Reviews

Elizabeth Bush, Reviewer (The Bulletin of the Center for Children s Books, February 2006 (Vol. 59, No. 6))
Since the great fictional consulting detective Sherlock Holmes seems to have, at the pen of adult author Laurie King, improbably acquired a wife, it s not much of a stretch to find that his family now comprises a younger sister as well. Although Springer supplies a few messages to decode (and shows how to decode them), she spends far more time discussing Enola s family affairs and running her through London s seedier streets and docks than establishing her powers of observation or logic, making this more a tepid Victorian family tale than a mystery. She does, however, slyly explore Sherlock and Mycroft s chauvinistic side and, accepting Victorian mores on their own terms, demonstrate that Enola may have insight into an entire panoply of feminine concerns that are never openly discussed, giving her an edge over her renowned brothers, who regard women as unfathomable. The novel’s conclusion finds Enola opening her own detective service, and now that Holmes family relationships are established, perhaps subsequent adventures will show her skills to better advantage.

Mary Purucker (KLIATT Review, November 2006 (Vol. 40, No. 6))
Enola Holmes, age 14, is the much younger sister of Sherlock and Mycroft. Her 64-year-old mother has walked away from her privileged life leaving Enola to solve a series of profitable puzzles she’s left in her wake. When Mycroft arranges for Enola to go to a boarding school where her waist will be strenuously reduced from 20 inches to 16 inches through various body enhancers, embellishments, and whatnot, she takes the money her mother has hidden for her and runs off to find her. Encountering the kidnapping of the young Viscount Tewksbury, she deduces where he has gone and in pursuit is kidnapped as well. This is one of the better Sherlock spin-offs, and we will all want to know more of the brave, intelligent, adventurous, witty Enola

Use in Library

Let’s do some deciphering! I’d like to lead an activity providing students with a coded message and tools to decipher it. Maybe we could even write coded messages to each other. What if we used the code to include cryptic messages around the school; on the morning announcements, at lunch, on bulletin boards in the library and hallways?