May 23, 2013


by Henry Cole

This wordless picture book depicts the story of a young girl living on a farm in Virginia with her grandparents during the Civil War.  The pictures begin by showing Confederate soldiers at the farm either looking for escaped slaves or looking for food to eat.  Later on we see the young girl getting potatoes from the barn cellar for dinner that evening when she hears rustling in the cellar.  It turns out there is an escaped slave (presumably a girl) hiding in their cellar.  It is illegal to house escaped slaves, and the soldiers return offering a reward looking for ths particular slave.  Will the young girl disclose the escapee’s hiding place, or will she allow the escapee to continue her path north towards freedom?

It would be a great upper elementary read-aloud, think-aloud book when discussing how illustrations connect to the text, or how one can infer much just by examining the illustrations.  It would also be a great addition to a Civil War unit after students have built some schema on the Civil War and slavery.  They could write the words to this book as a class activity!

Comprehension Strategies: Determining Importance, Inferring, Synthesizing (as there are no words, my thoughts were constantly changing trying to make a cohesive story)

Topics: Civil War, Slavery, Escaped Slaves, Doing What’s Right vs. Doing What’s Lawful


Tea Cakes for Tosh

May 23, 2013


by Kelly Starling Lyons

Great book for visualization!  The smell of the tea cakes and Grandma Honey’s descriptive words take Tosh way-back-when when their people were enslaved.  Grandma Honey describes how she makes the tea cakes throughhout the beginning of the story.  Then Grandma Honey begins to be forgetful.  First its finding the car in the parking lot, then it’s her sister’s phone number, but finally it’s the recipe for tea cakes.  Tosh learns to make Tea Cakes from his mom and the next day Tosh visits Grandma Honey, the roles are reversed, and HE is the one who tells the story of their enslaved people and of the great-great-great-great-grandma making tea cakes.

Comprehension Strategies: Visualization, Inferring, Determining Importance, Schema

Topics: Grandparents, Getting Old, Slavery, Baking

Recipe for Grandma Honey’s Tea Cakes included in the end of the book!

Book Trailer

Rabbit’s Snow Dance

May 23, 2013

398.2 BRU

by James and Joseph Bruchac

Background on the story: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C9U6mjoryGE

It’s summertime and rabbit really wants snow so that he can stand on the snow and reach the tops of the budding trees, for that is what tastes the most delicious.  Without thinking about others feelings and needs, rabbit begins to sing the snow song and do the accompanying dance.  Before you know it, it begins to snow, inconveniencing the other animals around.  Rabbit eventually gets what he wants, and then rests in the tree branch next to his delicious meal.  In the morning the summer sun comes back out and melts all the snow, giving rabbit a great surprise when he wakes up high above the ground.  As rabbit is rubbing the sleep from his eye, he takes a step (not knowing he’s so high up) and falls down, down, down.  As he falls bits of his tail fall off until it is left as the rabbit tale as we know now.  This story is the Algonquian explanation for pussy willows on willow trees or the similar looking ends of a cottonwood tree in the springtime.

I am still looking for a video/audio clip putting the song to a tune.  Until then, use your creativity to have students repeat the snow dance song with you!

The Forgiveness Garden

May 22, 2013


by Lauren Thompson

The people of Vanyam and the People of Gamte live on opposite sides of a stream in Lebanon.  For years they have fought over who owns what parts; fighting often errupts.  One day stones were thrown and hit a girl, Sama, on the other side.  Her tribe decides to seek revenge on the others.  However, Sama has a different idea, one that involves a more peaceful ending.

Reading Comprehension Strategies: Schema, Making Connections, Determining Importance

Writing: Persuasive, Personal Narrative

Teaching Topics: Acceptance, Friendship, Forgiveness, Tolerance, Social Studies: Lebanon and its culture

*A note from the back of the book: The garden described in thiss book is in Beirut, Lebanon created in the aftermath of a 15 year long civil war that claimed 300,000 lives.