Category Archives: 1001 children's books

Unusual Entree

Green Eggs and HamGreen Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

“Green Eggs and Ham” is a wonderful book for beginning readers. There are just 50 different words in the entire book, of which many are either sight words or rhyming pairs. The fact that there is a lot of repetition in the story also helps out the beginning reader.

The story is about Sam-I-Am trying to get an unnamed character to try some “green eggs and ham”. The unnamed character refuses to eat it and claims that he does not like it. Sam-I-Am is incredibly persistent and eventually convinces him to at least try it. The story ends with the unnamed character trying the dish, finding out that he indeed does like green eggs and ham, and finally thanking Sam-I-Am for encouraging him to try it.

The reason why I only gave this story 4 stars is based on the moral of the story. On one hand, I think that it is important for people to have the courage to try new things. On the other hand, I’m not much of a fan of peer pressure. When reading this story to young students, I try to focus on simple fact of trying new food, such as brussels sprouts (which I happen to love). Hopefully, students won’t automatically focus on the peer pressure aspect. Just imagine if “green eggs and ham” was a code for a type of drug and then re-read the story. Yikes! However, if you just focus on the surface meaning and the fact that it is a great book for beginning readers to read on their own, then this book is fantastic addition to a classroom library.

On a personal note, I LOVE the edition I have of this book! It’s actually a very LARGE edition that is about 1 and ½ feet tall and spiral bound. There is no barcode because it is a promotional copy that I got from working in a bookstore. On the back cover, there is even a section for “in-store activities”. I LOVE it!!

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A Tasty Classic

The Very Hungry Caterpillar The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This book is one of those quintessential books that every child should experience growing up.

As the title suggests, the majority of this book is about a very hungry caterpillar who eats and eats and eats. However, there is much more to this book. The first theme deals with the life cycle of caterpillars. The story begins with a single egg from which a tiny caterpillar hatches. The caterpillar has an ever increasing appetite and eats more and more each day. When he can’t eat anymore, he builds a cocoon where he stays for 2 weeks during his transformation. He finally eats his way out of the cocoon and spreads his new wings as a butterfly. This is a terrific way to introduce the wonder of science to young children. This book can be used as a springboard for parents and teachers to start a discussion of life cycles of various animals.

The concepts of counting and days of the week are also included in this book. The caterpillar is born on a Sunday, starts eating on Monday, and eats more and more food each day of the week until finally eating a leaf on the following Sunday. Since each day of the week is clearly represented, this book can help children learn the order of the days. Each weekday also showcases an increasing number; i.e. Monday shows 1 apple, Tuesday shows 2 pears, and so on. Children love counting out the pictures on each page and can even locate where the corresponding number word is in the text as they progress in ability.

Personally, I’ve always loved this book. The illustrations are adorable and incorporate bright vibrant colors in a mixed media form that is purely Eric Carle. The thicker and varying sizes of pages with hole punches invite the reader to truly experience and enjoy the book in a physical manner. Even though the caterpillar is not personified, it is still lovable and full of life. Whenever people are looking for a classic picture book to add to a child’s new bookshelf, I always ask if “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” is already on the shelf or not.

On a personal note, I LOVE my copy of this book because I was lucky enough to have attended a book signing of Eric Carle where he signed my book AND drew a little caterpillar next to his name!!! =D

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Say “Cheese!”

Flotsam Flotsam by David Wiesner

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I was in love with this book as soon as I laid eyes on it.

The book is about a curious boy who is at the beach with his family when he discovers an old underwater box camera washed up on the shore. He then examines it and takes it to the local one-hour photo lab where he gets the old 120mm film developed. The pictures he gets back are unbelievably fantastic. He also discovers a tradition linked with the camera that he takes part in. After sharing in the magic of the camera, he then returns it to the ocean. The story ends in a little girl in a different part of the world finding the camera.

First of all, I have to explain that I love photography, especially old film cameras that I sort of collect. I’m always looking for picture books that include photography of some sort and so this book was love at first sight. Not only does this book focus on photography, but it gives the camera a magical, time-enduring, and dream-like feel.

I also love the fact that the story is wordless. It really demonstrates the saying that “a picture is worth a thousand words.” The story flawless flows without words and yet contains an infinite amount of detail on each picture that could keep someone looking at a single page for a long time and still find new details to discuss. Teachers of any grade level could use this book and have students write their own story based on the pictures. Only the complexity of the stories differing between grade level.

The more subtle themes and ideas contained the the story are also worth mentioning. The boy in the story is exploring his world from even before the title page. That interest in the world around you is a great idea to instill in others. He also is very respectful. When finding the camera, he makes sure that it didn’t belong to anyone else on the beach by even going to the life guard. After discovering the tradition of the camera, he decides to keep it going instead of being selfish and keeping the camera. The story is full of discovery, responsibility, magic, tradition, and ultimately hope. I love it!

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Let The Wild Rumpus Start!

Where the Wild Things Are Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
For the next year, I thought I’d challenge myself to read as many books as I can that appear in the book “1001 Children’s Books You Must Read Before You Grow Up” by Julia Eccleshare. I decided to start with “Where the Wild Things Are” by Maurice Sendak.

The book is about a boy named Max who wears a wolf costume and gets into trouble. After his mom sends him to his room without his dinner, he embarks on a journey where he becomes “king of all wild things.” He soon realizes though that it’s lonely to be king and decides to go back home to his loving mother where he discovers a hot plate of dinner waiting for him.

First of all, I LOVE Sendak’s illustrations! I find it fascinating to stare really closely at the pictures and see all of the tiny pen strokes he did to create all the imaginative details. The fact that the picture sizes start out small and grow to cover a full double page spread during the height of the journey only to shrink back as the journey comes to an end is a wonderful enhancement to the story. As for the plot, some people argue that Max doesn’t learn a lesson about his bad behavior. However, I think he realizes that doing nothing but acting out isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be. He also realized that his mom still loved him even though she sent him to bed without dinner. Overall, I really liked this book and how it touched upon the themes of the power of imagination and unconditional love in a unique way.

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2010 Personal Challenge

1001 Children's Books You Must Read Before You Grow Up 1001 Children’s Books You Must Read Before You Grow Up by Julia Eccleshare

As soon as I saw this book, I knew I had to have it. Not only am I certified to teach elementary school, but I am also currently in charge of the kids’ department at the book shop I work at. I love how this book is set up in sections based on intended age level and gives descriptions of each book. After going through the book quickly, I realized that I have honestly read 100 books on the list in their entirety. That simply cannot do. Therefore, I have challenged myself to read as many books as I can in the next year. I’m excited to see how much I can accomplish. “And now, let the wild rumpus start!”

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