Review: Not Your Typical Dragon/ Introducing Max!

Screen Shot 2015-03-20 at 12.07.16 PMNot Your Typical Dragon

Written by: Dan Bar-el

Illustrated by: Tim Bowers

Viking Books for Young Readers, 2013, Imagination Library Paperback Edition

Target Audience: Ages 3-8

Genre: Fiction

Theme: Differences, Uniqueness, Humor

How We Discovered This Book: This book was an Imagination Library selection. The Imagination Library is such a wonderful program, and I am sad that just this month my daughter received her last book from the program (it ends at age 5).

Summary: A small dragon names Crispin turns 7, and is expected to breathe fire. But things work a little differently for Crispin – he breathes other things like beach balls and marshmallows. His parents are aghast, but Crispin eventually finds his way with the help of a friendly knight. Crispin’s unique talents come in handy when a problem threatens his family home.

What I Liked: Both the text and illustrations are so whimsical, and you are rewarded with something new to notice each time you read it. The author has provided some good thoughts about embracing your differences, but he does it with subtlety and humor.

What Did My Kids Think? My kids loved the illustrations – especially when Crispin breathes funny things. They couldn’t wait to turn the page to see what Crispin did next. They were very happy for him at the end of the story. This book is on frequent rotation at my house.

Resources:

ReadWriteThink has some companion activities for young children, working with each of the items Crispin breathes.

Activity Village has dragon-themed crafts, activities, and printables… even a video for making a dragon’s head from origami. I’ll have to try the dragon made from egg cartons.

Haven’t seen the movie How to Train Your Dragon or its sequel? Now might be the time!

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Today we’d like to introduce you to a new contributor to the blog. His name is Max, and he has his own YouTube Channel called Puppets Love Children’s Books. We’ve asked him to stop by every so often to give us his own unique perspective on picture books. Max loves reading children’s books, watching movies, and hanging out with his friends. His favorite books make him laugh, or surprise him.

Gather up your kids, grandkids, or the young at heart, and see what Max has to say!

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Author Review: Steve Jenkins

Recently, my son “adopted” a book for his school library. He chose Eye to Eye: How Animals See The World, by Caldecott Award winning Steve Jenkins. As part of the adoption, my son was the first one to check the book out. Not only was it filled with amazing facts about how animals see, but the artwork was stunning!

You see, Jenkins isn’t just an author–he’s an illustrator, too. His amazing paper collage illustrations first drew me to his work a few years ago, and I’ve enjoyed every title of his that I’ve read. His books, often collaborations with his wife, Robin Page, are all non-fiction books exploring animal biology with intriguing titles such as What Do Yo Do When Something Wants To Eat You? and What Do You Do With a Tail Like This? The topics range from prehistoric animals to skeletons, from beetles to Mount Everest. He’s also illustrated a number of books for other authors as well.

Jenkins’s newest book, also with Page, is Egg. It comes out this spring. His webpage shows an interesting slideshow of how they created the book, if you’re interested.

If you or whomever you’re reading to enjoys non-fiction about animals, then you simply must check out Jenkins’s beautiful and informative books. Learn more about Jenkins here.

Interview: Irene Drake, Third Grade Teacher at Rockwell School

This week, we have the pleasure of welcoming Irene Drake, third grade teacher at Anna H. Rockwell Elementary School. Irene discovered her calling as a teacher 14 years ago after serving as an accountant for 2 non-profit companies. She was a 6th grade Math and Language Arts teacher before becoming a 3rd grade teacher at Rockwell School 8 years ago. She holds a Masters of Science degree in Elementary Education and a 6th year degree in Educational Leadership.

KDC: Irene, thanks for taking time to give us your insights into educating children. Tell us what inspired you to become a teacher?

ID: There were many things that inspired me to become a teacher, but if I could choose one I would say it would be Mrs. Miller who was my 2nd grade teacher. The way she cared about us as individuals, pushed us to always exceed expectations, and used her love of music to make learning more fun was a huge inspiration to me and had me thinking about becoming a teacher like her at a young age. She was also the teacher who inspired me to learn how to play piano and take lessons.

KDC: What is your favorite picture book and chapter book?

ID: My favorite picture book is Strega Nona by Tomie DePaola because it reminds me of my family growing up. My favorite chapter book is Tales of A Fourth Grade Nothing by Judy Blume.

KDC: What are some techniques that you use to get reluctant readers engaged in reading?

ID: Some techniques that I use are:

  1. I use engaging chapter books that are part of a large series in order to hook the students and hopefully inspire them to want to continue reading more books in that series.
  2. I use technology to engage reluctant readers. Programs like Lexia and Raz-Kids are engaging for the students and provide those reluctant readers with a choice between fiction and non-fiction stories.
  3. I tap into the children’s interests to purchase books that might be engaging for those reluctant readers.
  4. I encourage them to try different types of books and I utilize our Media Specialist to help find engaging books for students who are reluctant readers.

KDC: You may have 3rd graders who read above their age level and are ready for more challenging texts, but still need developmentally appropriate content. If one of those children asked you to recommend a book, what would you tell them?

ID: There are a few series that are developmentally appropriate and meet the needs of students who need more challenging texts. I would lead them towards the 4th, 5th, and 6th grade texts that I have in my personal library and guide them towards series’ written by Andrew Clements, Madeleine L’Engle, Roald Dahl to start. All of the books in my library have been previewed by me and checked for appropriate content. Any book that is not developmentally appropriate does not appear on my shelf.

KDC: What changes are you seeing with the implementation of Common Core and a shift to more non-fiction reading?

ID: Non-fiction reading accounts for over 50% of the reading lessons, and non-fiction reading occurs in all subject areas like Science, Social Studies, and Math. Students are gravitating more to non-fiction books when making choices for independent reading. I have also seen more paired text options for students that include non-fiction texts. Students are now understanding that a map, graph, chart, etc.  is considered non-fiction reading.

Thank you Irene for your great perspective on education and the teaching of young readers! We appreciate your time.