Pieces of Property…

freedomovermeFreedom Over Me

By: Ashley Bryan

Genre: Historical Fiction

Published: Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Books – New York, NY, September 13th, 2016

Awards: Newbery Honor Book – 2017, Coretta Scott King Author Honor Book – 2017, Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor Book – 2017

Theme: As documents from an estate fall into the hands of the author, he takes a spin on them in a very interesting way. The documents he uses as the premise of this book are real slave auction papers and an appraisal from a plantation that each of these eleven slaves were apart of. The author explores the over arching theme of value – both monetarily and through life experience and dreams of becoming free.

Summary: The story is told through the perspective of eleven slaves, apart of the Fairchilds Estate, which is soon to be sold. Each individual has an incredible skill and talent, but one that is not valued as they are only seen as property. However, the text gives a voice to the voiceless and their dreams are heard through free verse writing.

Response: How did the book make you feel? How does it relate to your own experiences? Did you make any connections to other books you have read?

This book was very emotional for me as I was reading. The author created a story for each of these individuals and gave them a craft, a story, and a voice through their dreams of freedom. It was truly marvelous the way the words fell on the page – written in free verse form. At the end however, it is where it all began to sink in – the small glimpse of reality that I can gather from all of this, when the real documents were put into the book.

Ironically, I just finished reading Brown Girl Dreaming. These texts were related in ways they shouldn’t have been – African Americans, 100 years later, still struggling to find their place in the world and remaining voiceless because of fear.


“But on paper, things can live forever. On paper, a butterfly never dies.”

Brown Girl Dreaming

By: Jacqueline Woodson brown-girl-dreaming

Genre: Poetry – Free Verse

Published: Puffin Books – New York, NY, August, 28th, 2014

Awards: Coretta Scott King Award – 2015, Newbery Honor – 2015, National Book Award for Young People’s Literature – 2014, NAACP Image Award – 2015, Sibert Honor Winner – 2015, and the E.B. White Read Aloud Award – 2015

Theme:  This free verse poetic tale covers many themes, as a young girl battles being African American in the South – where freedom is supposed to be real. As the aspect of freedom is explored in this book, other themes such as: family, equality, racism, friendship, and belonging.

Summary: Jacqueline Woodson lives in a world of uncertainty. Plagued by the narrow mindset of many white Americans in the south – “Jackie” struggles with the move to South Carolina and subsequent visits as she and her family later move to New York. Jackie attempts to come to terms with the narrow mindsets, but also battles an internal battle of finding her own personal identity away from the strict mindsets of her teachers and family. Jackie views the world in a way that no one seems to understand – and attempts to find her way through one particular avenue.

Response: What elements of the author’s style and language drew you into the book? Explain and give examples.

Generally, I enjoyed how the book was written from the author’s own perspective and life experience. As well, the authors style – written completely in free verse – helps to eloquently tell the story in a song like fashion. Some parts of the text are written in scattered perspectives, and others simply flow as her mind pours with ideas and thoughts in a way that makes us all wonder and think about life as we know it.

“No past.No future.
Just this perfect now.”

“When we can’t find my sister, we know / she is under the kitchen table, a book in her hand, / a glass of milk and a small bowl of peanuts beside her. / We know we can call Odella’s name out loud, / slap the table hard with our hands, / dance around it singing ‘She’ll Be Coming ‘Round the Mountain’ / so many times the song makes us sick / and the circling makes us dizzy / and still / my sister will do nothing more / than slowly turn the page.”

“I do not know if these hands will become Malcolm’s—raised and fisted or Martin’s—open and asking or James’s—curled around a pen. I do not know if these hands will be Rosa’s or Ruby’s gently gloved and fiercely folded calmly in a lap, on a desk, around a book, ready to change the world . . .”

“Sometimes, I don’t know that words for things,
how to write down the feeling of knowing
that every dying person leaves something behind.”

“Then I let the stories live
inside my head, again and again
until the real world fades back
into cricket lullabies
and my own dreams.”

A Migrant’s Tale

61zny2d40vlPancho Rabbit and the Coyote

By: Duncan Tonatiuh

Genre: Fiction

Published: Abrams Book for Young – New York, NY, May 1st, 2013

Awards: Pure Belpré Honor for Narrative – 2014, Tomás Rivera Mexican American Children’s Book Award for Younger Children – 2014

Theme: Although with the main characters being a rabbit and a coyote, and mimicking the tale of Little Red Riding Hood – this book mirrors the experiences of many individuals from Mexico trying to come over to the United States. The book mirrors the theme of immigration, but also discusses the hardship and destruction of the lives of those trying to find a better life.

Summary: Pancho Rabbit’s father has left for many years, trying to gather and make enough money so that his family can move to a better place. Papa Rabbit is scheduled to come home, but as the day turns to night fall he never returns. Young Pancho Rabbit sets out on a quest to find him – packing all the food and goodies that the family prepared for Papa’s arrival. However, along the way Pancho Rabbit meets a Coyote as a travel companion, but things turn for the worst for young Pancho as their journey comes to a close.

Response: How might you use this book in the social studies, science, or mathematics curriculum? Write about a specific activity you might do that relates to the content of this book.

Although immigration is a topic of much debate in this country, I would use this book as an anchor to this heated topic. I would use this in a social studies setting when addressing any aspect of immigration – not just those from Mexico to the United States. More specifically, I would use this as a resource in a compare and contrasting model to the immigration of many people to America – like those to Ellis Island and in other early American migrations, versus the current migration we have today. Ultimately, I would speak on the positive sides – the similarities and the want to have a better life. The students would explore these different topics, and relate it to the world today: brainstorming social justice for these people and how to accept them into our country.

“You are……”

You are (Not) Small91hafs5l57l

Written By: Anna Kang

Illustrated By: Christopher Weyant

Genre: Fiction

Published: Two Lions Publishing – Allentown, PA, August 5th, 2014

Awards: Theodore Seuss Geisel Winner – 2015

Theme: As this short, cute, and funny book targets developing readers the theme that can be taken from this book is perspective. As the story has different fuzzy characters they all have different perspectives about the other – classifying and characterizing them differently then the way they personally feel. Simply, it is all about perspective.

Summary: Are you small or big? Are you not small? Are you not big? This short story goes through two fuzzy characters debate on who is big and who is small. As they can not come to an agreement – a surprising twist of characters show up and help them settle their differences.

Response: What is the theme of the book or a poem within a collection? Do you think this is a worthwhile theme for elementary children? Explain.

Although this book is very short, and the text is quite repetitive – this book takes on the theme of perspective in a very appealing and friendly way to young readers. Everyone may see the same thing – a person, an activity, a sport etc. but experience it in a completely different way. This short story takes that on as the perspective of the characters differ in how they see themselves in relation to how someone else sees them. I feel this is a valuable lesson to teach children about honoring those different perspectives and viewpoints that others may have about something and respecting them: a valuable lesson to learn even at a young age.

A Town Built on a Landfill

adas-violin-9781481430951_hrAda’s Violin:The Story of the Recycled Orchestra of Paraguay

Written By: Susan Hood

Illustrated Bt: Sally Wern Comport

Genre: Nonfiction

Published: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers – New York, NY, May 3rd, 2016

Awards: NCTE Orbis Pictus Award 2017, Recommended Book New York Public Library – 2016, Best Books for Kids – Nonfiction

Themes: As this nonfiction picture book story is told, one may think nothing could ever come of a poor community in Paraguay – especially not an orchestra. With this tale, Susan Hood explores the themes of overcoming hardship and learning to embrace what is set before you because one may never know when something small turns into something outstanding.

Summary: A young girl names Ada lived in a city made of trash. With gangs and violence ever present in her community her grandmother finds an outlet for her granddaughter – music. Ada begins music lessons although there are hardly enough instruments to go around. However, the towns people embrace this opportunity and begin to make instruments out of trash. Ada loves her violin made of wood, aluminum, and a fork – and soon the unexpected is about to occur as her recycled orchestra begins to make music.

Response: Describe the setting. Was the setting essential to the plot of the book? Explain why or why not.

Although nonfiction, the setting of this novel, I feel, really tells and has the reader embrace the story for all that it is worth. The setting is Cateura, a town made of trash in Paraguay. This town is in an extreme state of poverty, where violence and the lack of job opportunity plagues the town and cripples the younger generations. However, some try to make the best of the situations and provide music lessons to the children of the city. Eventually, those music lessons result in an over popular orchestra touring the world. Who would have ever thought, that would come from an impoverished city like Cateura?

The setting plays a pivotal roll in the plot of the book – because no one would ever imagine that something so successful would come from a place such as this. The people (children and adults) made this possible through their diligence to not let the norms of their society corrupt them. The setting makes the story all more powerful, and truly inspiring.

“Respecting and embracing fear all at the same time…”

Turning 15 on the Road to Freedom: My Story of the 1965 Selma Voting Rights March

Written By: Lynda Blackmon Lowery

As Told By: Elspeth Leacock and Susan Buckley

Illustrated By: PJ Loughran

Genre: Nonfiction

Published: Dial Books and SPEAK, New York, NY, January 8th, 2015

Awards: Robert F. Sibert Informational Honor Book – 2016, A Kirkus Reviews Best Book of the Year, Booklists Editors’ Choice, and A BCCB Blue Ribbon

Themes: The themes expressed in this nonfiction title are expressing and making note of the inequalities that African Americans faced in our country. As well, bringing to light their fight, struggle, and determination to end the injustices they were facing.

Summary: This nonfiction source is unlike any textbook – told from a real perspective of someone who marched along side Martin Luther King Jr. this work discusses the inequalities that African Americans faced in a predominantly white society. With illustrations, real pictures of events, and a narrative style the reader experiences the movement from the eyes of Lynda Lowery, she tells her story as she experiences jail, beatings, marching, and turning 15 as apart of the Civil Rights Movement

Response: How might you use this book in the social studies, science, or mathematics curriculum? Write about a specific activity you might do that relates to the content of this book.

This book is a fabulous way to integrate into any Social Studies lesson on the Civil Rights movement. For my own class, I see this book as being a focal point in a lesson about the aspect of voting rights for African Americans. With its narrative approach – the book is a very easy way to engage readers, and with the realistic illustrations and real photographs of the marches – readers are immediately drawn in by its appeal.

With all of that in mind, I would use this book when speaking on the voting rights and the ways African Americans had to fight to obtain the right to vote. With its various different medians used to tell the story – I would have my students take an aspect of the book (voting, marches, children involvement, MLKJ, women in marches, abuse etc.) and respond to one of those topics but using various text medians through a poster board, press, or power point format. Allowing students to dive deeper into a specific subject and accumulate more knowledge through various medians.

Is it a Wooden Nickel Day, or Silver Dollar Day?

Fish in a Tree fish-in-a-tree-335x512

By: Lynda Mullay Hunt

Genre: Fiction – Realistic

Published: Nancy Paulsen Books – New York, NY, February 5th, 2015

Awards: Schneider Family Book Award, Middle School Winner – 2016 and a New York Times Best Seller

Themes: This novel explores the realities of middle school from a perspective that many are not familiar with – disability. Through the eyes of a 6th grade girl, Ally, who has dyslexia, the novel discusses and conveys the theme of overcoming disability, hope in that venture, and the friendship that is developed along the way.

Summary: As Ally navigates through school she has been able to fool a tremendous amount of people – students and teachers alike. No one knows that Ally can not read, except for Mr. Daniels, the new teacher that comes to teach Ally’s class. Ally extremely unwilling to ask for help from anyone as she battles her disability, lack of friendship, and bullying – all while having Mr. Daniels attempt to reach out to her unlike any other teach has before. As Ally learns more and more about herself, and learning to accept what she brings to the world, she slowly starts to teach the same principles to a very important person in her life.

Response: What values were conveyed through this book? How were these values or social views conveyed to the reader?

The values conveys through out this book are that of accepting the differences in people. From disability, interest, and even intelligence hunt describes the struggles of fitting in and finding your niche in a school setting. As she unites three very diverse characters into a supportive and loving friendship, she conveys the acceptance of differences and the ability to overcome them. As well, she discusses and shows the aspect of true friendship – as those three very different souls meet each other, become inseparable, and are they to support each other in a way that they never could have imagined. Hunt instills the aspect that being different is okay, and that having a disability does not limit you in your inabilities to be good person.

“Everybody is smart in different ways. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its life believing it is stupid.”




61596besl6l-_sx258_bo1204203200_Author/Illustrator: Aaron Decker

Genre: Fiction – Wordless Picture Book

Published: Candlewick Press – Sommerville, MA, August 6th, 2013

Awards: Caldecott Honor Book – 2014

Themes: The themes expressed in this wordless picture book, are some that we should re- instill into the children of todays technology craze. This book captivates and dances with the themes of imagination and creativity of your own journey.

Summary:  As boredom strikes a young girl, and not a sole will play with her, even with her desperate attempts – she creates her own world through a special piece of red chalk. As we follow the story we follow this young girl as she travels through different worlds and times, meeting friends and foes, we experience an alternate reality made through imagination and creativity.

Response: What was the main problem that the main character faces? How is this problem similar to a problem that most children have faced before? In what way could elementary children relate to this character?

The main problem for the character in the book is boredom, something that we all have experienced – especially when we were children. Regardless of the toys, technology, and the endless amounts of possibilities outside kids still become bored, and find that they “have nothing to do.” In this book, this young girl experiences the same boredom that all children have faced, but unlike many she finds an avenue through her boredom – imagination and creativity. When young readers read this book, I feel that they can make an instant connection with the same state of mind the young girl goes through, but also use it as an avenue to step away from the technology and solve their problems of boredom through imagination and creativity – realizing that it too solves the issues of boredom far better than a phone or video game.

“Oh Mr. Wuffles!”

Mr. Wuffles

By: David Wiesner

Genre: Fiction – Wordless Picture Book, Graphic Novel 611jb41hsel-_sx258_bo1204203200_

Published: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt – Boston MA, October 1st, 2013

Awards: Caldecott Honor Book – 2014

Themes: Although this book captures  I fairly peculiar point of view – that of Mr. Wuffles the cat and aliens – I feel the theme that is expressed in this story is learning to deal with the completely unexpected.

Summary: The wordless picture books dives into two evil foes – a cat and aliens. The aliens are trapped in their spaceship and have been taken hostage by Mr.Wuffles as his new favorite toy. As the story progresses the aliens become increasingly alarmed, and Mr. Wuffles becomes increasingly confused by this “toy” and its inhabitance and movement.

Response: Describe the artwork in terms of style and media. What elements of the illustrations appealed to you? What is the primary medium (collage, drawings, photographs, etc.) used in the illustrations? How were illustrations used to tell the story?

The work is written in a graphic novel form. Completed with drawings that tell the plot in a story board form. The illustrations are the entire essence of the story, and each frame has exquisite detail and pays great attention to depicting the characters emotions and feelings. As well, the illustrations depict the mood, moves, and tendency of a cat perfectly. The cat’s toy – which is actually aliens – are drawn with phenomenal expressions as they try to escape Mr. Wuffles’ wrath. Although the story does have a very unrealistic component, aliens, the amount of color and setting detail also makes the illustrations very relatable to a reader.

Author/Illustrator Project – Molly Idle

Molly Idle.png


Goodreads – Flora and the flamingo. (2014, December 9). Retrieved February 05, 2017,    from https://www.goodreads.com/

Goodreads – Sea rex. (2015, May 25). Retrieved February 05, 2017, from https://www.goodreads.com/

Idle, M. (n.d.). Idle illustrations. Retrieved February 05, 2017, from http://idleillustration.com/about/

Illustrator saturday – molly idle. (2013, October 26). Retrieved February 05, 2017, from https://kathytemean.wordpress.com/2013/10/26/illustrator-saturday-molly-idle/

Jules. (2013, March 03). Seven impossible things before breakfast. Retrieved February 05, 2017, from http://blaine.org/sevenimpossiblethings/?p=2526

“Molly Idle.” Something about the author, edited by Lisa Kumar, vol. 301, Gale, 2016, pp. 73-75. Something About the Author, go.galegroup.com/ps/i.do?p=GLS&sw=w&u=boon41269&v=2.1&id=GALE%7CYNADDG330738030&it=r. Accessed 5 Feb. 2017.