10 Perfect Read Alouds for 5th Grade http://www.pragmaticmom.com/2014/10/10-perfect-read-alouds-5th-grade/ … via
Monster Book by Alice Hoogstad
This wordless book shows the power of art for a whole community. In a black-and-white town that looks like a coloring book with black outlines, a little girl picks up a red crayon and starts drawing a heart on a wall. Soon she moves on to creating a monster on the road and her dog picks up her heart drawing and runs after her. The orange monster comes to life and the girl quickly moves on to another creature. One after another, she draws them and they come to life. The rest of the town looks on with amused expressions and no alarm even as monsters dance in the streets. Soon the monsters have crayons too and are coloring the buildings and people. This though is too much and the townsfolk order them to leave town and the children start to clean up the walls back to white again. Rain falls and washes all of the color away, or does it?
This is a picture book that celebrates public art and then turns whimsical and magical as the creatures come to life. Despite their fearsome appearance, they are friendly and silly rather than mean. The art is quite unique with its color-book feel and then the colors being drawn in. There is a radiant quality to the colors that are used and the loose and generous way the colors are applied invites children to be even more creative when they color too.
While this could encourage children to color on white walls, this book is much more likely to end up in a family coloring together appropriately and creatively. Appropriate for ages 3-5.
Reviewed from copy received from Lemniscaat and Myrick Marketing.
Shh! We Have a Plan by Chris Haughton
The author of Little Owl Lost returns with another great picture book in his signature style. In this book, four people head into the forest with nets at night. There, they find a gorgeous red bird. The littlest of them calls out “hello, birdie” but the others shush him and declare that they have a plan and show the cage they are holding. They slowly tiptoe up to the bird, count off and jump! But the bird flies up into a tree. No worries, they have another plan. And when that fails, another and another. Finally, the smallest of them comes up with a plan that just might work, or maybe not.
This book is a stupendous read aloud. The chipper, bright voice of the littlest of them, the hushed shushing from the others, the counting off and finally the shout of GO! This happens again and again and will keep even the wiggliest of children paying close attention. Even better, the little one is the one who figures things out and presents a solution. Add at the end a wonderful twist to continue the story, and you have an outstanding picture book for sharing.
Haughton’s illustrations are created digitally but have the feel and texture of cut paper. He uses beautifully deep blues throughout the nighttime story and then the bright red of the bird pops. It also helps that the bird seems to live in its own beam of light, one that follows it as it escapes again and again. It’s a clever use of stage lighting in a picture book.
A top pick for sharing aloud, this picture book is a dazzling dark delight. Appropriate for ages 2-4.
Reviewed from library copy.
Tales of Bunjitsu Bunny by John Himmelman
Isabel is the best at Bunjitsu in her school. They call her Bunjitsu Bunny, but she knows to never use her martial arts skills to hurt anyone, unless she has to. This easy reader features a series of short stories about her Buntjitsu skills and how she uses them throughout the day. Isabel figures out before anyone else in her class how to get into the school when the door is locked. She outwits pirates who want to steal from her. She races a tortoise in a fresh take on the Tortoise and the Hare story. In one story after the other, Isabel shows her poise, her intelligence and her sense of honor.
This book for the early chapter book reader will appeal on many fronts. First of course is the martial arts aspect, though those looking for flying fists and fighting will find something very different here. Inside the covers is a unique mix of Eastern philosophy and problem solving that is presented at a level that children will understand.
Himmelman’s illustrations offer just the right amount of break for young readers, so that they will not be put off by the amount of text. The fonts are equally welcoming with their large size. The illustrations are done in black, white and red. They are welcoming and cartoony, created often with just a few lines that carry plenty of action and humor.
A unique and fascinating chapter book for new readers, this is a wonderful mix of girl power, martial arts and restraint. Appropriate for ages 6-8.
Reviewed from copy received from Henry Holt and Co.
Hunters of the Great Forest by Dennis Nolan
Released October 28, 2014
This wordless picture book is the story of a group of hunters who head out from their small village one day and into the forest. Bringing only a handful of items with them, the group must face large rocks, mountains and enormous trees. It quickly becomes apparent that the hunters are tiny people as they are forced to run from buzzing dragonflies and then from a hungry toad. After escaping those creatures, the hunters must then flee from a bird and a chipmunk. Sneaking out later from their hiding place, the hunters discover a girl sitting by a campfire roasting marshmallows. But even though they have food to bring back to their village, the dangers are not over for our intrepid group of hunters.
Wonderfully detailed pictures make this a spectacular picture book to share. The journey of the hunters makes for a page-turning delight filled with dangers, mishaps and surprises. If you pay close attention to the illustrations, some of the surprises can be predicted with clues about the next page. For example, you can see the toad’s legs in the corner of the page before the toad is fully revealed after the page turn. This makes for a book that reads as a continual stream of story, rather than individual images strung into a story.
I applaud Nolan for including plenty of little female hunters on the journey as well. There are young and old little people too. And even better, if you watch, it is not the women who need rescuing on the journey. In fact, the older of the little women carries the spear the entire journey and seems ready to use it at times.
Join the hunters on their quest for the elusive marshmallows in this journey through a forest filled with dangers of all sorts. It’s a jolly read that is sure to please. Appropriate for ages 3-5.
Reviewed from copy received from Roaring Brook Press.
Sweetest Kulu by Celina Kalluk, illustrated by Alexandria Neonakis
Kulu has just been born and is being welcomed by the world. Kulu is Inuit and as the world comes to welcome the baby, traditional Inuit beliefs are shown in the story. It is the Arctic summer, so the first to welcome Kulu is Smiling Sun, who stays bright all through the night. The Wind arrives and teaches Kulu the importance of listening closely. Then the animals start arriving. These are not your normal animals, but ones that are specifically from the Arctic and of importance to the Inuit. With each animal comes a blessing: the Snow Bunting reminds Kulu to always believe in himself, Fox tells Kulu to get out of bed as soon as you wake and to help anyone who needs it. The entire book sings with a connection to nature, to this specific region of the earth, and for the love of a baby.
Kalluk, who is an Inuit throat singer, has beautifully captured the values of her people in this picture book. It is done so organically and naturally that many will not realize that this is more than a sweet picture book. The fact that it also weaves in traditions and values of the Inuit makes the book all the more special and noteworthy. Kalluk writes very lyrically, creating moments for each of the animals that are unique to them which keeps the book from becoming repetitious.
The illustrations have a lovely cartoon quality to them, one can almost see them leaping to life from the page. The large animals dwarf little Kulu by their bulk, but the tenderness they all feel for this tiny baby shines on the page. There is a respect between human and animal that is warm and tangible too.
A gorgeous and meaningful book welcoming a baby to the world, this picture book is unique and special. Appropriate for ages 1-3.
Reviewed from ARC received from Inhabit and Myrick Marketing.
And Two Boys Booed by Judith Viorst, illustrated by Sophie Blackall
From the author of Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day comes a new book all about overcoming stage fright. A boy is performing in a talent show and knows that he is ready to sing his song because he’s been practicing and practicing it. Plus, he also has on his lucky blue books and his pants with lots of pockets. He is very confident until the other five children start performing their acts. Then his mood changes, even though he still says that is he fine. The story uses repetition that mirrors the child’s internal dialogue about his lucky pants, the pockets, and how much he has practiced, adding another line about each child’s performance and it all leading up to his. When his turn finally comes, he is almost unable to stand up, much alone sing and two boys boo him from the crowd. But in a final burst of determination, the boy stands and his brain starts to make sense again, and he sings. And two boys booed, but the rest of the children cheered!
Viorst takes a universal fear of both children and adults and turns it into a very engaging picture book. I love the modern setting of the book paired with the timeless use of a story that repeats again and again, building through the story. It matches the nerves that the boy is feeling and creates a wonderful tension as each new person gets up to perform. Adding in the booing children is brilliant, because that is what most of us fear, the negative reaction of the crowd. But in the book that happens, the boy faces it and continues his performance.
Blackall’s illustrations clearly show the boy’s emotions even as he bravely continues to repeat to himself that it is all OK. He looks directly at the reader, conveying his surprise at feeling nervous and pulling his striped shirt higher and higher in an attempt to hide. Blackall has incorporated a lift-the-flap component into her illustrations allowing us to peek into the boy’s pocket and at the end of the book the effect is used to propel the entire story forward in a creative way.
A smart and very human picture book about performance, nervousness and overcoming it all. This would be a perfect book to share with children about to do a show. Appropriate for ages 5-7.
Reviewed from copy received from Farrar, Straus and Giroux.
The Unfinished Life of Addison Stone by Adele Griffin
A unique and blazing novel of the life and death of a young artist, this novel for teens brilliantly captures the rise and fall of a legend. Even as a little girl, Addison was a gifted artist who impressed teachers and won contests. As she grew into a teenager, her family life grew more complicated and her mental health more fragile. Addison began to hear voices, particularly a young woman named Ida who was a ghost in her grandparent’s home. But Ida would not let go of Addison, even when she returned home and Addison was eventually hospitalized and treated for schizophrenia. Through it all though, Addison created art, art good enough to get her noticed in a city like New York where she moved after high school. Addison had “it” that combination of charisma and talent that quickly got her noticed. It got her an agent, rich boyfriends, friends in the art world, and moved her further into chaos. But in the end, the question is what killed her? Which of her boyfriends took her life as she created a final work of art?
This piece of fiction is stupendous. It reads so realistically that one might even begin to search Addison’s name of Google to see more of her work or watch the video of her swinging on the chandelier. The use of photographs is brilliant. Weaving Addison firmly into the story through art and photos. The art is also a fascinating component. Meant to be worthy of attention from the biggest galleries in the world, the art is luminous on the page, and bravely done. It forms a short lifetime of work, showing in a way that words could not the talent that was lost.
Griffin uses a structure of interviews with those who knew Addison. This includes her parents, her friends from high school, boy friends, art critics, and many more. Done any other way, this book would not have worked. Written with such skill, the interviews are elegantly done, never taking a straight look at Addison, but instead a wonderful wandering one that is typical of documentaries. It also works because we get to see Addison through other characters’ eyes, through the lenses of love, envy, desire. In the end the different voices create a death chorus for Addison, sung in a beautiful harmony.
Wow, just wow. This is an incredible work of fiction where the author captures just the right tone and format to take fiction to a new level and create reality fiction in a new and amazing way. Appropriate for ages 15-18.
Reviewed from library copy.
Chik Chak Shabbat by Mara Rockliff, illustrated by Kyrsten Brooker
Every Saturday, the residents of one apartment building spend the day smelling marvelous smells drifting down from the 5th floor. And every Saturday evening, everyone gathers on the 5th floor for Goldie’s cholent, a traditional Jewish stew. But then one Saturday, there was no wonderful smell and when little Lali Omar went up the stairs, she found that Goldie was too sick to get the cholent cooking and it was too late to start the slow-cooking stew. All is not lost though, as the neighbors look through their own pantries and refrigerators and create a Saturday meal that is not cholent but has many of the same ingredients incorporated into foods from their own personal heritages. There is Korean barley tea, tomato pizza, potato curry, and beans and rice.
Rockliff’s Shabbat tale is an amazingly diverse story. While it follows Jewish traditions in the beginning, including Goldie sharing memories as a little girl of Shabbat with her extended family, the magic comes when Goldie gets ill. Not only does the reader quickly realize how important this shared meal and time is for the entire building, but suddenly the heritage of each person is shown through their food. It’s a clever way to show community and diversity in a single situation.
Brooker’s illustrations combine cut paper art with rich thick paint. The result is the same winning combination of dishes served at the community Shabbat table. The different textures and colors come together to be something more than their individual parts, creating a dynamic world.
Celebrating community, this book shows how diverse people can come together in friendship and harmony to save the day. Appropriate for ages 4-6.
Reviewed from library copy.