Tops & Bottoms

Tops-and-Bottoms-cover-lgStevens, Janet. Tops & Bottoms. San Diego: Harcourt Brace &, 1995.

Brief summary: Rabbit is in a bit of a jam, so he goes to Bear to make a deal. The Rabbit family will plant and harvest a garden on Bear’s land. Rabbit will split each year’s harvest with Bear 50/50. All Bear has to do is tell him if he wants tops or bottoms. Unfortunately, Bear keeps picking the “wrong half!”

Classroom uses: Ask classroom to discuss: do you think Rabbit was a good neighbor? Why or why not? Ask children to name vegetables and then decide together if we eat the “top” or the “bottom” of each plant.

Awards: 1996 Caldecott Honor

Borrowed book from the Knoxville Public Library


Yo! Yes?

20111207173738591_0001Raschka, Christopher. Yo! Yes? New York: Orchard, 1993.

Brief summary: An African-American boy and white boy meet on the street. They exchange only one (sometimes two) word sentences (yo! yes?) When the African-American boy figures out the white boy is lonely, they become friends.

Classroom uses: A great book to emphasize the importance of inflection and body language. How does the boy communicate that he is lonely? How does this change in the book’s resolution?

Awards: 1994 Honors Book

Borrowed from the Knoxville Public Library


Time Flies

51hpxmLVtgL._SY300_Rohmann, Eric. Time Flies. New York: Crown, 1994.

Brief summary: In this wordless picture book, a bird is trapped in a dinosaur exhibit at a natural history museum.  As the bird is transported through time, dinosaurs come alive. The bird escapes unscathed, but just barely!

Classroom uses: Would be a great addition to a dinosaur or evolution unit. Make sure to point out to students that many scientists believe that today’s birds are modern relatives of the dinosaurs.

Awards: 1995 Caldecott Honor

Borrowed from the Knoxville Public Library

In the Night Kitchen

Sendak-nightkitchenSendak, Maurice. In the Night Kitchen. [New York]: Harper & Row, 1970.

Brief summary: Mickey dreams he is in the night kitchen. He quickly finds himself in the mixing pot and three cooks put Mickey into the batter!  Just before he is put into the oven, Mickey jumps out and says he is not the “batter’s milk.” He flies in an airplane made of bread dough and helps the three bakers finish their morning cake.

Classroom uses: There is much controversy about using this book due to the nudity of Mickey, but I really do not see what all the fuss is about. Mickey’s genitals are not overly detailed, but as pictured in the story, they certainly would elicit some giggles. This is still a wonderful book for story time and could start a conversation about what we dream about when we are asleep.

Awards: Caldecott Honor 1971,Notable Children’s Books of 1940—1970 (ALA), Best Books of 1970 (SLJ), Outstanding Children’s Books of 1970 (NYT), Best Illustrated Children’s Books of 1970 (NYT), Children’s Books of 1970 (Library of Congress), Carey-Thomas Award 1971—Honor Citation, Brooklyn Art Books for Children 1973, 1975

Borrowed this book from the Knoxville Public Library


Saint George and the Dragon

imgresHodges, Margaret, and Trina Schart Hyman. Saint George and the Dragon. Boston: Little, Brown, 1984.

Brief summary: A sweeping fairy tale with beautiful traditional illustrations. This book tells the tale of how The Red Cross Night, Saint George, slays the dragon and comes to have Una, the beautiful princess, as his bride.

Uses: Fairy tales unit. Identify the parts of a knight (shield, armor, sword, etc).

Awards: 1985 Caldecott Medal.

Borrowed this book from the Knoxville Public Library.

Unspoken: A Story from the Underground Railroad

unspokenCole, Henry, Unspoken: A Story from the Underground Railroad. New York: Scholastic, 2012.

Brief summary: This is a wordless picture book. A farm girl discovers a runaway slave in her barn. She has to make a difficult choice: will she help him or turn him in?

Classroom uses: A moving story that can lead to many, many important classroom discussions. Among them: would you have the courage to help someone? What does it mean to stand up for what you believe in? Also a great introduction to a unit about slavery in America, Abolitionists and the Underground Railroad.

Awards: 2012 Parent’s Choice Gold Award and a New York Times Notable Book

Perused this book at Barnes & Noble


There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly

there-was-an-old-lady-who-swallowed-a-fly-illustrated-by-simms-tabakTaback, Simms. There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly. New York: Viking, 1997.

Brief summary: The old lady swallows the fly. Then she swallows a spider to catch the fly! You get the idea…but in this book, there are clever “cut outs” that show just what is in the old lady’s belly!

Classroom uses: Great art example of collage. I’d also ask students to listen carefully to the story and then ask them to see if they can remember everything the old lady ate at the end! A good exercise in paying attention and memory.

Awards: 1998 Caldecott honor, Named Best Illustrated by the New York Times.

Borrowed this book from the Knoxville Public Library