Saturday, April 26, 2008

Becoming You

Becoming Naomi Leon
Written by Pam Munoz Ryan
Scholastic, Inc. 2004
Multicultural Literature, 3-5

Summary: Namoi Soledad Leon Outlaw lives with her great-grandmother and younger brother in their tralier "Baby Beluga" at the Avocado Acres Trailer Rancho. Naomi shares all her struggles, fears, feelings, and doubts as she faces the suprises and the worries of each day. She stuggles with feeling accepted at school, for she is teased at school by boys who make fun of her last name, and she does not feel accepted by the girls, because Naomi feels that she is too different from them to be accepted. She has "a mop of unruly brown hair, brown eyes, and milky brown skin." Her father is from Mexico and her mother is from America. Naomi's life changes drastically when her mother suddenly appears in her life. She has never met her mother, who has changed her name and has been in and out of rehab centers and "halfway houses" due to drinking. Her mother wants Naomi to move to California with her and her boyfriend, Clive, but Naomi takes a stand againist her, telling her no. Her mother, Skyla, then slaps her sharply across the face. To get away from Skyla and Clive, Gram, Naomi, Owen, Fabiola, and Bernardo (their friends and neighbors) traveled to Oaxoca, Mexico to stay with Fabiola's sister, husband, daughter, and her son. Naomi enjoys her life here very much and has her heart set on finding her father, who she desperatly wants to meet, for he can help Gram as she seeks legal custody of Naomi and Owen. Naomi finally gets to meet him at the Festival of the Radishes (La Noche de los Rabanos). He holds her and Owen, crying over the time lost. He spends much time with them over the next few days before they must return to California for the court day. On this day, Naomi remembers to be brave like her Father told her, and she tells the judge why she does not want to live with her mother; why she belongs with Gram and Owen. The judge grants Gram custody of the children. Naomi's life will never be the same, and she has overcome her doubts, fears, and worries. Through these trials of her life, she has become Naomi the Lion, a girl strong enough to become who she is meant to be.

Response: When I first began reading this book, I was not sure what the plot or the theme of the story was or what this book would be teaching students. As the story progressed, I fell in love with the characters Naomi and Owen. I respected Gram and her faithfulness and love that she has for her great-grandchildren as if they are her own.

Naomi faces situations in school that all girls her age encounter: teasing, acceptance by other girls, and finding who she is. However, Naomi faces other issues that will give students different perspectives. Such as what it is like to look different and not feel accepted by others at school. Students should come to the realization that even though we may look different, all have a desire to be accepted and loved. Everyone is special and unique! Naomi living with her grandmother will also open a door for students to see a new perspective and to connect with Naomi. The desires and dreams that Naomi has for meeting her parents are experienced by children who may live with a grandparent and have probably never even been thought about by children who live with their parents.

The character of Owen can teach students so much! Even though Owen is different and teased at school, he always looks on the bright side! He is always positive! For example, when Owen is teased at school, people calling him retard and pulling the tape off of Owen's chest, he falls down to the ground. When he gets back up, he smiles and says to Naomi, "I fell down on purpose. They didn't mean it, they were just teasing." Owen is very, very smart, but he was born with a few birth defects. One leg is shorter than the other, making him walk with a bit of a hobble. Owen does not let this stop him from making the best of life. Owen is also not afraid to be himself. He always wears tape across his chest, for he greatly likes tape. It does not matter who makes fun of him or who tells him to stop wearing tape, he continues to wear his tape. Even when Owen goes to the doctor because of his impairments, he is happy because he gets to see the doctors who have become his friends. Owen also greatly cares for his older sister, Naomi. When he is sad, he does all that he can to cheer her up and reassure her. In Mexico, he and Ruben do their best to help her find their father by working as a team, calling all the Santigo's in the phonebook. When they thought that they could not find him, Owen said, "It's oaky, Naomi. It's oaky." Owen is always himself, caring for others, looking on the positive side, and He does not care what others think or say about him!

This book qualifies as a great multicultural book, because it introduces students to new perspectives and allows students to understand and empathize with people who are different from themselves. The universality of Naomi's experiences allows students to find connections across cultures. Naomi demonstrates many differences in that she is a minority student in her school, lives with her grandmother, and has a younger brother who needs special medical attention. Many differnt views of the Mexican culture and ways of life are introduced, for when Naomi goes to Mexico, the book focuses on the Mexican culture.

Pam Munoz Ryan presents cultural details authentically and multidimensionally. This means that specific details have been illuminated and reflected upon. Some of these specific cultural markers include the description of the layout and houses in Mexico. I was suprised when Naomi said, "the size and conditon of some of the houses made Baby Beluga look like a mansion." (page 171). Naomi also describes the city as being on a mesa, or a tabletop. Many spanish words and concepts are introduced through the book, and they are all integrated naturally! For example, Spanish words and meanings are included whenever possible! When they first arrive, Bernardo tells them that "barrio" means neighborhood. The details of the city also help to create a sense of the culture. The streets in town are narrow and bumpy because the ground is set with stones in cement. The many walls that divide each house creates a vivid picture of the town. The houses are small, maybe just a little bigger than Baby Beluga. Houses contain gardens, clothlines for drying laundry, and small trees growing out of brownish grass. Important cultural holidays and celebrations are also integrated very well into the book. Celebrations such as Las Pasados and La Noche de los Rabones are explained in great detail. The emotions and wonder that Naomi feels are also expressed. During the celebration of Las Pasados, Naomi begins crying for the sorrow and joy that the celebrations leads her to feel.

Ryan also includes an insider perspective (writes as a member of the culture) for the culture is explained to Naomi through Fabiola, Bernardo, Graciela, and Ruben. They explain the importance of Las Pasados and La Noche de los Rabones. The family also explains small details fo the culture such as how to shop in the market, or el mercado, and the concept that men do make the wood carvings and the women paint them. Naomi remembers the mobile that hung over her head when she was a baby that her Father made for her. At her great-aunt's Tereasa's house, Naomi gets to see the many animals and wood creations that her father has made. She believes that she is a carver, just like her father, for she is constantly carving soap.

Teaching Ideas: Naomi greatly enjoys to carve soap. She is proud of what she creates! Teachers can use this as a way to encourage students to seek out actvities that they enjoy. Students can also be encouraged to try new activties such as sewing, cross-stitching, art, sports, learning a musical instrument, dance, and so many others! Teacher can even help students as they try to soap carve as a class.

Students will enjoy looking at slides and pictures of the celebration of Noche do Rabones (Night of the Radishes). This will better help them become more knowledable about the celebration how so many creations and figures can be made from radishes!

Students can also look at pictures of Oaxaca, Mexico in order to better understand what the city would look like. They could then compare the images that they found the descriptions in the book.

Naomi makes lists on just about everything and anything! Students may enjoy also doing this. They can be given about 2 days to create at least three lists on anything that they would like! Their lists could be about anything from "The funny things my dog does" to "The funny things my little sister says." Naomi does make a list of "Things I Am Good At." This should be done by each student, for this will encourage them and give them a chance to share about themselves with their classmates.

Becoming Naomi Leoni is a book to use to introduce students to the Mexican culture as well as allow them to see different perspectives through Naomi!

Sunday, April 20, 2008


The Great Frog Race and Other Poems
Written by Kristine O’Connell George
Illustrated by Kate Kiesler
Clarion Books, 1997
Poetry, Picture book K-5

Spring Wind

Smelling of lavender,
softly fluttering the curtains,
she looked inside,
then floated in
for tea.

She sat in the wing chair,
Long elegant fingers
tracing linen lilacs.

After tea
she whispered her thanks,
lifted her silk skirts,
and rustled away.

This poem gives the simple character of wind a new description for wind is given the quality of a human which is personification. The image created by this poem is very vivid! I can just imagine sitting by the window, feeling the wind and smelling the smell of lavender while drinking tea. The wind is given person qualities, for the poem says that the wind looks, sat, has elegant fingers, whispers, and lifts her skirts. While younger children may not like this poem because it does not contain humor and contains visual imagery, older students would be able to appreciate the imagery and unique description of the wind.

Little Dog Poems
By Kristine O’Connell George
Illustrated by June Otani
Clarion Books, 1999
Poetry, K-3

Cold Nose

Little Dog’s cold nose
is better than any
alarm clock.


Little Dog barks
to call me
to witness
the triumph-
one cornered beetle.


Little Dog tugs
an enormous pillow
all the way across the room
to sit beside the fire
with me.


No one will ever guess
that the lump under my blanket is
Little Dog.

These poems are very precious and are great for younger children because they contain humor and familiar experiences with pets. The fact that these poems are told from a narrative point-of-view makes them appeal to younger children. The images created with the narrative poems are easy for students to create. They can just imagine Little Dog as he is waking the little girl up in the morning, as he is barking at a beetle, and pulling the pillow across the room to sit beside his friend.


Hopscotch Love: A Family Treasury of Love Poems
Written by Nikki Grimes
Lothrop, Lee, & Shepard Books, 1999
Poetry, K-2

Christmas Valentine

I asked Mama
What she wanted
For Christmas
“Honey,” she said
“All I want is you.”
But I’m way too big
To fit under the tree
So, when she
Wasn’t looking
I snuck into
Her sewing room
For scraps of velvet,
Gold ribbon, and lace.
And got my tracing paper
From out of my desk
And grabbed the glue.
Then two days later
I gave Mama
Her very first
Christmas valentine.
I’d pasted my picture
Smack in the middle.
And I could swear a little tear
Ran down her cheek
When I said,
“Merry Christmas, Mama.”

This poem is so sweet and I believe that students could relate to this poem because all children enjoying creating masterpieces for their loved ones.
Nikki Grime’s collection of poems are truly unique and as she says, “Most of my material derives from a lifelong discipline of observing people around me, both young and old.”
The image that this poem creates is one of love and determination. Readers can just imagine the young child creating the Christmas Valentine with a determined look on his/her face. Readers can also imagine the tear that falls down the Mother’s face. The form of the poem affects the look of the poem, the readers’ progress through them, and the emphasis given to some of the words. The form of this poem is similar to that of a list, which leads students to have to read one line at a time, making it easier for students who may be beginner readers. I also believe that this poem offers insight, leading students to say, “Yes! That’s it!” Readers can see how special and meaningful it is to make a card or note for someone who they deeply care about.

The Mirror of Erised from Harry Potter

The Mirror was Erised is a mirror that is unlike any other mirror. When someone looks into this mirror, they see the desires of their heart. When Harry looked into the mirror of Erised, he saw his parents smiling and waving to him. This is what he had always desired, for his parents had died when he was just a baby.

If I were to look into the mirror of Erised, I believe that I would see quite a few different things. First and foremost, I beleive that I would see a cross, because my desire is to live my faith in Jesus Christ-to live each day to praise him and fall more in love with Him. Yes, many times a day I fail at this, but this is truly the desire of my heart. I would also see the word "Love", because I hope to love all those around me. My family, friends, classmates, and above all, the Lord. But the word "Love" also represents my desire to fall in love someday and be married.
I believe that I would also see children from all around the world smiling and waving at me, for I have a strong desire to adopt children from all around the world who may not have a loving home. Or if I can not adopt, I hope that I can travel to where hurting children are and just love on them!

Harry Potter and the Sorcer's Stone

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
Written by J.K. Rowling
Scholastic Inc., 1998
Fantasy, 3-5

Summary: Harry Potter is an extraordinary child. As a child, he survived the attack of Voldemort, the most evil wizard of all time. Voldemort killed Harry’s parents but did not kill Harry, for his mother’s love saved Harry because she sacrificed her life for Harry to live. Harry was taken to live with his Aunt and Uncle Dursley and their son Dudley. Harry’s aunts and uncles are Muggles, which are ordinary humans with no magical powers. As Harry grows up, he has no idea that he has any magical powers, even though strange things seem to happen at times. For example, when he was at the zoo with the Dursley’s, a snake opened his eyes and winked at Harry, who had asked the snake if he got tired of people tapping on the glass and ever wanted to return to his hometown. Before Harry knew it, the snake was gliding across the floor, the glass of the cage not even broken. Harry was mistreated by his family. He had to live in the cupboard and was at times treated like he was not even there. Dudley and his friends would bully and tease Harry. When Harry began to get letters in abundance, his uncle would not let Harry look at them. The letters eventually would overflow from the windows and doors of the house, and still Harry would not get to read his letters. Uncle Vernon tried to run away from the letters but wherever they went, the letters followed them. Soon Hagrid found Harry. Hagrid is a giant and is the groundskeeper of Hogwarts,which is the school of witchcraft and wizardy. He is surprised and a bit mad that Harry did not know anything about the letters or even that he was a wizard! The letters that have been following Harry informed Harry that he had been informed he was accepted at the school. Harry then left Hagrid to get books, wands, supplies, and an owl for school. On the way to school he makes a new friend named Ron Weasely. Harry was amazed that Hogwarts was a magnificent castle. Harry and Ron were placed in the same house, the Gryffindor house. Here they met Hermione, who would become a great friend. Harry soon realized that Draco Malfoy was a bully, for he continued to tease Harry, Ron, and Hermione. Harry also realized that one of his professors, Snape, was set on humiliating Harry to show how he disliked Harry. Harry soon became the “Seeker” of the Quidditch team. This was an honor, for first-years were never Seekers. They must be very fast and speedy on the broomstick , which Harry was. For Christmas, Dumbledore, the headmaster of the university, gave Harry an indivisibility cloak that was his Father’s. Soon Harry and Ron found a forbidden hallway on accident and find that a three-headed dog is there, guarding something. Harry also found the Mirror of Erised. When he looked into this mirror, he could see his parents smiling and waving at him. When he goes back, Dumbledore is there, and he tells Harry that he must not come back, for the mirror will start to control him. The mirror shows one his most desperate desire of their hearts. Soon, Harry, Ron, and Hermione found what the three headed dog was hiding-the sorcer’s stone which is a stone that makes stone and allow someone to live an everlasting life. Harry, Ron, and Hermione were given detention and had to go with Hagrid into the forbidden forest to find what was hunting the unicorns. Harry finds a bleeding unicorn and sees a hooded figure eating the unicorn. The hooded figure then came swiftly toward Harry and the scar on his forehead was unbearable, for the hooded figure was Voldermort. When Harry awoke, he was knew he had to save the sorcer’s stone, for if Voldermort got the stone, he could rise back to power, which would be dark and evil. Harry, Hermione, and Ron work together to overcome the many different chambers and spells that they must get through to get to the stone. When Harry arrives to the last chamber, he finds Quirrel there, who was helping Voldermort. The Mirror of Erised was also there and when Harry looked in it, he felt the stone being slid into his pocket. Just as Voldermort was trying to kill Harry, Dumbldore came and saved him. The stone was then destroyed forever. Harry’s bravery and courage had stopped Voldermort from rising to power again. Harry, Ron, and Hermione then have to go back home for the summer break and Harry can’t wait to use what he has learned on his cousin Dudley.

Response: When I first began reading Harry Potter, I was not excited. I went into reading this book with some hesitation, for I had trouble imagining a book that contained witches and wizards to be excellent, as reviews and peers have told me. However, after reading the first book of the series, I felt very differently about Harry Potter. This book is more than just witches and wizards, it is about sacrifice, friendship, acceptance, and courage. Harry Potter can teach many lessons to children through his character. Even though Harry was not accepted by his peers or the Durselys, but he did not lose confidence in himself. The way that the Durselys treated Harry was horrifying. I felt compassion for Harry and wanted to see him succeed. Harry is a character who all students can relate to-he has to convince himself that he is a wizard as well as the readers. He, like the students are surprised and amazed at this magical world. Even though Harry is a wizard, he deals with issues that all students must face: friendships, homework, bullies, and standing up for what you believe in.

For me, the theme of friendship is dominant throughout the book. When Harry first meets Ron, he is very open to Harry and asks him all sorts of questions. Harry answers his questions patiently and even shares many of his sweets with Ron. Ron and Harry soon become great friends. They also become good friends with Hermione. When they hear that she is upset and might be in danger because of the troll, they set off to find her even though they were not supposed to. The two boys rescue Hermione from the troll and she tells the professors that it was her fault, because she thought that she could overcome the troll herself. Really, she was in the bathroom crying because Ron had hurt her feelings. Nonetheless, she took the blame and from that point on, Hermione, Ron, and Harry became close friends. They share secrets and fears with each other-Harry tells them that he believes that Snape does not like him. During the Quidditch match, Harry’s broom becomes to get out of his control, and Hermione looks over at Snape and thinks that he is putting a type of curse on Harry’s broom. Hermione sneaks over to him and sets fire to his robe, breaking the spell on Harry’s broom. Harry, Ron, and Hermione work as a team to help Hagrid get rid of his pet dragon, who is causing quite a bit of trouble and to solve the mystery of the Sorcerer’s stone. I believe that Ron demonstrates a true act of friendship, for he is willing to give himself over to the white chess queen. This was an act of sacrifice, for this had to be done in order for Harry to be able to advance to the next chamber. Ron was stuck hard in the head with the stone arm of the queen and knocked out. Harry and Hermione work together to solve the problem of which potion to drink in order to get through the flames. Hermione throws her arms around Harry, telling him to be careful, thanking him for his friendship and bravery.

Indeed, Harry Potter fits the characteristics of high fantasy because he is a hero who is compassionate, courageous, humane and who accomplishes good deeds. Harry becomes deeply involved in the struggle between good and evil, where eventually the entire “good” world was at stake. Harry is a hero who overcomes evil due to his pure heart and bravery.

Teaching Ideas: Students from all ages learn or gain insight from reading Harry Potter. For example, Ashley Rhodes, who is 20 years old, says, “Harry was the first fictional character I could relate to, which is why these books changed my life.” Daniel Boyce, age 12, says, “I think one of the best, most long-lasting ways it has affected my life is that it has taught me how to enjoy reading.” Students can be asked to write an essay or a paragraph about what they have learned or gained from reading Harry Potter. Other ideas include making a brochure about Hogwarts School in which they introduce professors, the different houses, or what the environment around the school looks like. Students can also do a character sketch where they describe each character, and discuss which character they believe they are most like or can relate to. Students can also make models of clay, pictures, or paintings of the many different characters that are introduced by this book. For example, students can make a model of what they believe the three-headed dog, the centaurs in the forest, the troll, unicorn, or Norbeck the Dragon. Students could also make a model of the type of wand that they would like to have, and decorate it any way that they would like!

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Hottest, Coldest, Highest, Deepest

Hottest, Coldest, Highest, Deepest
Written and Illustrated by Steve Jenkins
Houghton Mifflin Company, 1998
Picture Book, Informational Text 2-5

Wow! The facts presented in this book are absolutely amazing and can teach any age! Readers are taken to places in the world that they can imagine what life is like here. In the beginning of the book, Steve Jenkins says, "There are deserts that haven't seen rain for thousands of years, and jungles where it pours every day. There are places so cold that even in the summer it's below freezing and spots where its often hot enough to cook an egg on the ground. There are mountains many miles high and ocean trenches that are even deeper. You can find rivers thousands of miles long and waterfalls thousands of feet high." I believe that this is a great way to attract reader's attention! They will want to learn more and find out where these places are!

This book made me feel so small! In learning about these amazing natural wonders on Earth, I can not help be reminded of the great God who created this beautiful and breathtaking creation.

I was reminded of a time when I went with my family to vacation in Wyoming. We went atop Mount Washburn and I could see mountains all around me for as far as my eyes could see. To the distance in the right, I could see rain and lightening falling from the clouds. To the left, I could see patches of sunlight shining through the clouds, pouring light on certain spots on the mountains, making the mountains look a bit like a quilt. Behind me, the mountain peaks were white with snow. I remember being speechless and in awe of this beaty. I do not understand how anyone could see somthing as beatiful and wonderful as this and not believe in God as Creator and Savior.
After I read this book, I felt much the same way! I was in awe of these amazing wonders of the Earth.

Did you know that the Nile River is 4,145 miles long-the longest river in the world and that the Mississippi River is the fourth longest with 3,710 miles?

Did you know that Lake Baikal in Russia in the world's largest and deepest lake? In one spot it is 5,134 feet deep, which is 3,884 feet higher than the Empire State Building!

Did you know that the hottest spot on the planet is Al Aziziyah, Libya, in the Sahara where a temperature of 136F has been recorded? Or that the coldest place on the planet is Vostok, Antarctia where a recording of 129F has been recorded?

Did you know that the wettest place on Earth is Tutenendo, Colombia, where an average of 463 inches of rain falls a year, comparted to 72 inches being the height of a adult man?

The driest place in the world is the Atacama Desert in Chile where no rain has fallen for the last 400 years!

The windest spot on Earth is atop Mount Washington, in New Hampshire where the wind speed has reached 231 miles per hour compared to 150 mph being a severe hurricane wind.

The world's highest waterfall is Angel Falls, in Venezuela. It is 3212 feet high! Niagara Falls is only 180 feet tall! Wow!

What an amazing book that students will enjoy reading. They will be amazed by these interesting facts and enjoy the cut-paper collages made by Steve Jenkins.

Henry's Freedom Box

Henry's Freedom Box: A True Story of the Underground Railroad
Written by Ellen Levine Illustrated by Kadir Nelson
Scholastic Inc. ,2007
Picture Book, Biography K-5

Summary: Henry Brown grows up as a slave, not sure how old he is, for slaves were not allowed to know their birthdays. Growing up, Henry was able to live with his mother, brothers, and sisters, who all worked for the same master. One day his master called Henry to his bedroom and told him that he was giving Henry to his son. Henry then worked at in a tobacco factory, where he was beat if he made a mistake. One day, Henry met a slave girl in town named Nancy. Months later, Henry asked Nancy to be his wife. They had three children and were able to live together even though they had different masters. Still, Nancy was worried that their children would be sold. One day, Henry's friend James told him that his wife and children had been sold. Henry was devastated. At lunch, Henry rushed to the center of town where he saw his children and wife disappear down the road. Henry tried his best to be happy, but he just could not find a reason to sing like he used to. One day, when Henry was watching a little bird, he wondered what it would be like to be free. He then knew the answer as he lifted a crate! Henry went to Dr. Smith and his friend James who sealed him inside the crate. Dr. Smith addressed the crate to Philadephia, where slaves are free. Henry was then placed on the baggage car of a train. Hours passed and Henry was lifted and thrown down, and turned upside down. Soon he was on a ship and his crate was turned upright for two men to sit on! Still, he did not make a noise. Soon, Henry heard knocking on his crate and someone saying,"Henry, are you all right?" When he stood out of the crate, four men smiled at him, saying "Welcome to Philadephia."

Response: Wow! I did not know about Henry "Box" Brown and this is a wonderful story! I believe that this book conveys the devastation and harshness and cruelity of slavery in the aspect of families of being torn apart. I can not even begin to feel the loss and sorrow that one must have felt due to this separation.
I believe that this book does a great job creating a main character, Henry, and developing him so that children care about him and want to learn more. The fact that the book begins when he is a young child provides a way for children to relate. Henry introduces the idea of children and slavery. Henry is developed so that he is an authentic, believable human being. The illustrations make Henry and his situation seem so real! The illustrator, Kadir Nelson says that he wishes to share essential human truths in his artwork. In Nelson's interview, he says that he also wishes for everyone to understand the different emotions we have and connect them to the characters as well as ourselves. This is very true in the story of Henry. As a young boy, the emotions that are expressed are worry and sadness as he is a slave child being separted from his mother. Actually, a character does not smile at all until Henry meets Nancy, his wife. One very close-up painting of Henry shows emotion of concentration and determination, as he is working and trying not to think about his wife and children being sold. This determination is also displayed as he carries out his plan to be sent North in a crate. Henry smiles when he arrives safe and unharmed to Philadephia! The paintings are doube spread and cover each page. The text is integrated into the painting, which contain much detail.
This biography also reflects careful research about Henry Brown, for the book includes a bibliography that lists sources and an author's note that provides more information about slavery in the mid-1800s as well as information about the Underground Railoroad.

Teaching Ideas: Students can read on their own about Henry Brown and see how this compares to the story. Did they learn anyting new? When I did more research, I found out that Henry's wife Nancy and children were sold to another slave owner who sent them to North Carolina. As Nancy was shackled to other adult slaves, and with their children loaded in a wagon, Henry walked hand-in-hand with her for a few miles. This is heartbreaking!
Students may also learn that the name of the man who helped him was Dr. Samuel Smith and that Henry spent at least two hours on his head and almost lost consciousness. His trip was between 24-27 hours. Students can just imagine staying in a crate for this long amount of time!

Students can also read Henry Brown's narrative as they are researching more about this hero.

The Underground Railroad is a major part of Henry Brown's story. Students need to understand what the Underground Railroad was-that it was not really a railroad underground. The national geographic website provides an interactive underground railroad journey for students as they travel to freedom. Harriet Tubman is the leader on the journey. Students are taken to different towns, travel through swamps and over mountains, and meet those who provided safe house for slaves such as Thomas Garrett, William Still, Frederick Douglas, and Susan B. Anothony. Students finally make it to Canada and are free!! The teacher can also read the book Moses: When Harriet Tubman Led Her People To Freedom. This book provides insight into Harriet Tubman's life and her sacrifice and bravery.



Determined, courageous, filled with sorrow and hope.

Husband of another slave named Nancy and father of three wonderful children.

Lover of my family and the hope for freedom and equality.

Who feels worry, fear, love, and hope all at the same time.

Who finds happiness in the laughter of my children, the kiss of my wife, the thought of being free.

Who needs to feel my family's love to get through each day and the joy of being together.

Who gives all I can to a job I do not enjoy but must twist tobacco, for it is my duty as a slave.

Who fears the possibility that my family may be sold, that we will be separated, never to share a life love and laughter.

Who would like to see slavery abolished, where slaves will no longer be slaves, but free people with equal rights to life and opportunties.

Who enjoys giggling with my children, teasing my best friend James, and playing my banjo.

Who likes to wear overalls and a soft shirt when I play and dance with my children.

Resident of Richmond, Virginia, of the United States.

"Box" Brown

Saturday, April 5, 2008


A Caldecott Honor Book and Coretta Scott King Award
Written by Nikki Giovanni
Illustrated by Bryan Collier
First Scholastic, 2005
Pictuer Book, Biography K-5

Summary: The setting is Montgomery, Alabama in the year 1955. Rosa Parks works in the alternation department in the town of Montgomery. She is the best seamstress in the town, for she is so graceful with the needle and thread. One day, she got off of work early and headed on home. She payed the bus driver a dime and then got off the bus to enter the back of the bus to enter from the back door. Because the section for blacks was all full, she sat in the neutral section which is where blacks and whites could sit. When the bus became full, the bus driver decided that Mrs. Parks needed to get up to allow the whites to sit down. Mrs. Parks did not get up, even when James Blake, the driver, threated to call the police. She did not want to give into what was wrong. Mrs. Parks was arrested. Jo Ann Robinson, who was a professor at the colored university and the president of the Women's Political Council, called a meeting of twenty-five women who worked all through the night to make posters that read "No Riders Today; Support Mrs. Parks-Stay Off the Buses; Walk on Monday. Martin Luther King, Jr. became their spokesperson, telling all African Americans to stay off the buses. People sent coats and shoes from all over the U.S. so that citizens of Montgomery could walk. Almost a year after the arrest of Rosa Parks, on November 13, 1956, the Supreme Court ruled that segregration on buses, like segregation in schools, was illegal.

Response: This book does a great job of conveying the courageous act and heroism of Rosa Parks. Her bravery and sacrifice started a great movement that truly made a difference. The tone of the author is one that praises Mrs. Parks and ridicules the way that the colored people were being treated. For example, he says, "as was the evil custom, she then got off the bus and went to the back door to enter the bus from the rear." The author also does a great job of conoveying Mrs. Parks as someone that they can relate to. She is introduced as an ordinary, simple lady who is a seamstress in a small town. This demonstrates to students that small, ordinary people can do big, great things.

This book is an excellent biography for students, for Rosa Parks is an individual who has contributed in a very positive way to society and her story will be of interest to young readers. Mrs. Parks is conveyed as an authentic and believable, and students learn about her through her actions and interactions with others, through her thoughts and feelings, and through the things that others say about them. It seems that Rosa Parks is loved by many people, for when she was arrested, Jo Ann Robinson exclaimed, "Not Mrs. Parks!" Immediately, a meeting was called and a protest started. Mrs. Parks is also conveyed as a gentle, caring lady. She does not scream at the bus driver or police, she just answers them quietly and takes upon the sacrifice of being arrested to help her people gain the rights that they deserve.

The illustrations convey much detail about the setting and the character of Rosa Parks. The illustrator did this on purpose;"In my paintings it looks as if light is emanting from her. To me, she is like a radiant chandlier, an elegant light that illuminates all our many pathways." Collier also paints a few of his paintings with a yellow, sometimes darkish, hue due to the intense heat of Montgomery and as a foreshadow of the storm to come. The many detail of the backgrounds including characters and environment will captivate student's attention while the enriching text is being read.

Teaching Ideas: Well, first of all, students can be shown a picture of what the true Rosa Parks looked like. The paintings do a great job of conveying Rosa Park's appearance during the year 1955. Students can also read an interview with Rosa Parks where they learn that her mother and grandparents inspired her to stand up for equal rights. Her grandparents grew up in slavery, for they were born before the emancipation. Mrs. Parks tells her story and it is exactly like the Rosa book! Indeed, the book reflects careful research. Mrs Parks says, "As I look back on those days, it's just like a dream. The only thing that bothered me was that we waited so long to make this protest and to let it be known wherever we go that all of us should be free and equal and have all opportunities that others should have." This is a quote that demonstrates the determination of Rosa Parks and strong belief that all should be equal.

Students can even be given advice from Mrs. Parks through the interview. She says, "The advice I would give any young person is, first of all, to rid themselves of prejudice against other people and to be concerned about what they can do to help others. And of course, to get a good education, and take advantage of the opportunities that they have. "

Another interview with Mrs. Parks where she states that she felt no fear, only a challenge to stand up for what is right.

Students can also learn more about who Jo Ann Robinson was, for she also played an important role in this protest. Students can also see video footage and hear parts of Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I have a dream" speech.

Rosa is a great book in which students can learn from and even apply her courage and bravery to their own lives.

Informational Texts

Growing up, my little brother and I always loved animals! We absolutely loved spending time together looking at informational books that taught us all kinds of interesting facts about animals. I remember enjoying looking at the photographs of the different animals. My brother and I spent many hours pouring over Zoobooks! Therefore, I have a very positive look on informational texts. I believe that they are a great way to teach and introduce children to many different kinds of information. For example, my preschool friend who is four years old greatly enjoys learning about dinosaurs. She always has a new informational text about dinosaurs and she willingly shares with me the new information that she has learned! At four years old, she knows all the different names of the dinosaurs in her book and what they eat. She is amazing! Children enjoy learning and informational texts provide a visual as students learn new facts.