Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Professional Book Review-Final Project

Littlejohn, Carol and Cathlyn Thomas. 2001. Keep Talking That Book: Booktalks to Promote Reading, Grades 2-12 Volume III. Worthington, OH: Linworth Publishing.

Carol Littlejohn has created the third volume of her successful Professional Growth Series books, Keep Talking That Book: Booktalks to Promote Reading, Grades 2-12. Author and library media specialist Littlejohn “aims to help media specialists and others use booktalks or brief book chats to stimulate interest among individuals of all ages and ultimately match the right readers with the right books.” For Volume III, she has collaborated with school librarian and writer Cathlyn Thomas to produce a valuable booktalk resource.

This slim volume is jam packed with information divided into five parts. Readers will find a list of book awards, an alphabetical list of tips and strategies, genre and subject headings, sample booktalks, and indexes. The efficient, user friendly organization of the volume allows the reader to skim and access information instantly.

Part 1 includes a list of book awards arranged alphabetically. Most of the booktalks listed in the volume are based on books from recommended reading lists. Readers will find the background information on the various awards highly valuable.

In Part 2 booktalkers are treated to an alphabetical listing of tips and strategies, and yes, there is something for every letter of the alphabet. Take X, for example, “X-Files: Booktalk any topic related to the X-Files television series, aliens, telepathy, Bermuda Triangle, any conspiracy topics, the FBI, anything supernatural, fiction or nonfiction. Like magic, the books will disappear!”

Part 3 finds a list of Genres and Subject headings for beginners or those in need of an inspirational boost. This particular volume offers some subject headings like Bullies, Holidays, Mental Illness, Moving, Nature, Seasons, and Transportation that were not listed in the previous editions.

Dive in to Part 4 for a multitude of booktalks for readers of all ages. Arranged alphabetically by the author’s last name, they also include bibliographic information, age/grade appropriateness, various book awards, genre, subject, and related books. A section called “Notes” is included to give any additional information about the book, author, genre, or maturity content. If profanity is present in the book, it might be noted here. At times, the ending of the book may be revealed in the notes, but this is only information for the booktalker. The authors stress, “The ending of a book should never be shared with students since the purpose of booktalks is to encourage reading.”

The Indexes of Part 5 are a helpful listing of author, title, reading level, genre, and subject lists. The authors have made it easy to use the Genre and Subject indexes to reference books or booktalks that will assist them to further arouse interest in reading from a particular subject area. Designed to match related books for booktalking themes and recommendations, these indexes are an asset to any educator.

If you are thinking about implementing a booktalking program at your school or library and you would like to motivate students to read, this book provides a helpful framework for getting started. Littlejohn and Thomas have created awesome models to use and execute and mold into your own to inspire and stimulate a life long love of reading. The easy to use booktalk format will allow you to springboard ideas and create new and exciting booktalks for your readers, reluctant or not. In the words of Carol Littlejohn, “Let’s keep talking those books!”

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Module 8 NonFiction: Sports Illustrated Kids

Sports Illustrated Kids
Sports Illustrated April 2007

Sports Illustrated Kids is designed to provide sports entertainment and news to children and young adults. Sports Illustrated Kids is filled with full-color, glossy photographs in this 65-page magazine. The graphics are busy and varied with text, charts, lists and tables to represent a variety of sports information and statistics. There is something for every sports fan, girl or boy. In this particular issue, readers can find two full sized, pull-out posters, nine detachable sports cards featuring a variety of sports and teams, male and female, jokes, games and cartoons, in addition to the well written and informative articles. Perfect for reluctant readers and sports enthusiasts alike, this magazine is visually appealing with colors, graphics and texts making an exciting reading experience. This issue featured articles on NBA breakout stars, making a baseball bat, a college Lacrosse star, and Soccer favorite, David Beckham. Readers are encouraged to visit the Sports Illustrated Kids website at sikids.com and read additional articles and participate in other online events. Accurate and factual information, engaging interviews with sports favorites, fun and entertaining games and action packed photographs make this a magazine kids will be unable to put down. Winner of the Association of Educational Publishers and the Parent’s Choice Award, this is a magazine that parents and children can enjoy together.

Module 8 NonFiction: Quest for the Tree Kangaroo: An Expedition to the Cloud forest of New Guinea

Quest for the Tree Kangaroo: An Expedition to the Cloud forest of New Guinea
Montgomery, Sy. 2006. Quest for the Tree Kangaroo: An Expedition to the Cloud forest of New Guinea. Photographs by Nic Bishop. New York: Houghton Mifflin Company.

“A kangaroo, in a tree?” Sy Montgomery and Nic Bishop have once again teamed up to bring us an up close look at life in a cloud rain forest of Papua, New Guinea. Filled with facts and trivia, this award winning book is more than just information about another endangered species. The text and graphics bring the reader right into the heart of the expedition as Montgomery details the journey with an introduction to the team, an account of the supplies needed to survive and vivid dialog and descriptions of their unique and daring field trip in the wild. The story follows the passion of scientist and conservationist, Lisa Dabek, in her search for the endangered Matschie’s tree kangaroo. Montgomery’s narrative can be embraced by readers of all ages as she provides phonetic pronunciation guides after each scientific or difficult word. She even sometimes chooses to use more ‘kid friendly’ words to describe things (like drool for saliva when discussing the leeches numbing effects on the skin) without compromising the quality of the text. Themes of triumph over adversity and overcoming difficulty are found throughout this book. Lisa’s struggle with asthma does not deter her from her life’s work of saving the endangered tree kangaroo. The beautifully illustrated maps of the area, with a helpful glossary of the Tok Pisin language of the native New Guinea tribe, and websites for students to look up additional information about the endangered Matschie’s tree kangaroo make this book a fascinating resource for animal lovers and conservationists of all age levels.

Module 8 NonFiction: National Geographic Kids

National Geographic Kids
National Geographic April 2007

The children’s version of National Geographic magazine is much more exciting and inviting than the adult. This magazine is filled with fun and exciting activities from games to play that focus on attention to details, jokes to read and tell, and trivia and facts to entertain. The glossy, less than 50 page magazine will hold the attention of the most distractible reader. Even the advertisements looked like articles in the magazine. This particular issue was filled with information about albino animals, silly pet tricks, and behind the scenes food advertisement tricks and gimmicks. There was something for every interest. Readers can find a link to kids.nationalgeographic.com for more fun, including jokes, cartoons, amazing videos of penguins, sharks, lions and a lot of other animals. One article challenged readers to enter America’s most Amazing Pet Contest where ‘anyone can go online, see the finalists’ entries, and vote for America’s most amazing pet!’ Another advertisement, which read like an article, explained how to make comics about your pets and gave some examples. This magazine is the perfect gift for a young reader who is curious about the world around her and likes to imagine and invent. National Geographic Kids magazine’s numerous honors include EdPress 2005 and 2006 Periodical of the Year, a Golden Lamp Award, the Parent’s Choice Gold Medal, a Parent’s Guide Children’s Media Award, the Folio: Editorial Excellence Award, and an Ozzie Award for Design Excellence.

Module 8 NonFiction: A Voice Of Her Own: The Story of Phillis Wheatley, Slave Poet

A Voice of her Own: The Story of Phillis Wheatley, Slave Poet
Lasky, Kathryn. 2003. A Voice of her Own: The Story of Phillis Wheatley, Slave Poet. Illustrated by Paul Lee. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Candlewick Press.

Torn from her family in Africa and brought on a slave ship to America at the tender young age of seven, Phillis Wheatley was fortunate enough to be bought by a family who would teach her to read and write, unheard of for slaves at that time. Named Phillis after the slave ship on which she arrived in the colonies, the young girl quickly learned to read and write in many languages. Soon, she was writing poetry and became famous in both England and the United States as the first published Black woman poet. In the Author’s Note, Lasky compares Phillis’ enslavement to the Revolution and illiteracy, “To be voiceless is to be dehumanized. We are all diminished as human beings—not simply as a race but as members of a species—when we are silenced.” A facsimile of the frontispiece of Wheatley’s book, Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral, can be found in the book, but glaringly missing are references to her poems or where to find them. A few lines are interspersed throughout the story, but just enough to make the reader realize that there is much more to Wheatley’s work. A tender, poignant reference is made to Wheatley’s early life in Africa, but her life after about age twenty until her early death at age 31 is glossed over and the book abruptly ends. Paul Lee’s warm, detailed illustrations bring life and emotion to this otherwise bland tale. A rare look at an African American Pioneer.