Title: Because of Winn Dixie Award



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Title: Because of Winn Dixie

Award: Newberry Honor

Author: Kate DiCamillo

Publisher: Candlewick Press Place: Cambridge, Massachusetts Date: 2000

Summary:

A ten year old girl, India Opal moves to Florida with her father so that he may become a pastor at a local church. India is not sure about the move and has a hard time making any new friends, until she meets an unusual stray dog. One day while grocery shopping she just happens to be right in the middle of the most wildest dog adventures ever. A dog enters into the grocery store and begins to knock over the fruits and vegetables and the manger and store employs go mad. India is a very lonely little girl and suddenly gets the craziest idea. Quickly, India tells them that he is her dog and must of followed her inside. She calls him Winn Dixie, after the grocery store name and leads him home. There seems to be an immediate bond between them and this changes the rest of her life. She begins to make a few unusual yet exciting new friends, her father begins to talk about her long lost mother, and most of all she realizes the importance of friendship and family.


Personal Response:

I have heard my niece talk about this book but I never had time to really sit down and read it before now. India, Winn Dixie, and all of their unusual friends made me laugh and made me cry. The humor all through out the book made me keep turning the pages. I could feel my heart pound when they all thought Winn Dixie had disappeared during the thunderstorm, I even wanted to cry. I really related to India, the main character. I had my father walk out of my life when I was three years old. And like India, I was full of questions as I got older. I also found a stray dog once in my neighborhood and my mom let me keep him, I named him Peanut. I sure most children in their lifetime have come across a stray dog and wanted to keep him, but India and myself were very fortunate that our single parent let us do just that.


Evaluative:

Because of Winn Dixie is one of the most unforgettable stories. The main character, India is so full of life yet she feels a void only her long lost mother can feel. She is so full of ideas and dreams, just as most children her age. She has a very caring, sensitive heart. All throughout the story she shows how emotional and caring she can be, especially as she meets and befriends some of the people in her town. India and Winn Dixie are a great team and manage to change the lives of everyone they encounter.


Title: The Watson’s go to Birmingham-1963

Award: Newberry Honor

Author: Christopher Paul Curtis

Publisher: Dell Books Place: New York, NY Date: 1995

Summary:

A story that will touch your heart, make you smile, and make you think about your country’s history. The Watson’s are you average family living in Flint, Michigan. The family is your average middle-class family with three children: Byron, Kenny, and Joeta. The Watson family is like any other family, they go through life’s daily routines and try to live honest and descent lives. Byron, the oldest child is full of mischief, so the family decides it is best to take him to grandma’s way down South to straighten him out. The family sets out on an adventurous road trip to Birmingham, Alabama. During their stay in Alabama, something happens that will change theirs lives forever, especially ten year old Kenny. Their sister, Joey leaves with friends for Church one Sunday morning and while she is there the Church is bombed by two white boys. The family fear for their precious Joey and run to the Church. Thankfully, she is alright and Kenny is the one who unknowingly saved her life. Although Joey is fine, Kenny will forever have the memory of the dying children he saw that day in his head and it will take the most unlikely family member, Byron to help him through the most difficult time in his life.


Personal Response:

This story truly touched my heart. I felt like I was riding in the car with the Watsons as they made their way down South. As I was reading, I could visualize momma trying to cover the gap in her teeth as she tried not to smile, I could see myself laughing at all of Dad’s jokes. This story was a very powerful one for me. What struck me most about this book was the power of the language. The writing makes very strong statements for the reader through the descriptions and the dialect.


Evaluative:

This book had a range of characters! First of all, momma and daddy were very much in love and tried to instill good family values in their children. Byron, the oldest was always in to things and trying to find his meaning in life. Kenny, a very bright child tries very hard to fit in and honestly worships his brother. Then we have little Joetta, she is very head strong and believes in the power of talk over punishment when it comes to her brothers. She is a sweet child who doesn’t even realize the impact she had in changing her family’s life. The Watsons are truly a unique family.




Title: Minty, A story of Young Harriet Tubman

Award: Coretta Scott King

Author: Alan Schroeder Illustrator: Jerry Pinkney

Publisher: Dial Books Place: New York, NY Date: 1996

Summary:

This is a story about a courageous young slave girl named Minty. Minty was the childhood name of Harriet Tubman. Minty was seen as a problem slave by her master and punished often. She dreamed of one day being free and that drives her to keep going. Her father teaches her many things that will help her later on in life. He teaches her to follow the North Star, how to read the green moss on the tree, how to swim, things that would one day help her escape to freedom. This is story of hope and sacrifice that will truly inspire anyone who has ever had a dream.


Personal Response:

This book was very sad and made me realize that even today there are still many prejudices in the world. My mother was growing up during the time when the schools were segregated, as I talked with her about it she told me about the two separate schools they had for black and whites. She really didn’t remember a lot and said that back then you just accepted it and didn’t question anything. She told me that she was really to young to remember most of what went on during this time. Thankfully, I never had to live through any of the segregation in schools, some of my dearest friends in school were black and I couldn’t imagine what young children went through back in the 1950's and 60's. I kept asking myself over and over as I read this book, “What happened to Minty’s childhood?” She was robbed of a normal, healthy childhood. I don’t understand how anyone can judge anyone by the color of their skin.



Evaluative:

This book is one of hope and inspiration to anyone who has ever had a dream and longed for it to come true. The illustrations truly complemented the story, I could see the sadness and pain in Minty’s face. I could also see the pure look of determination to escape and make a better life for herself. One can enter into this story and become interwoven with Minty and her family. This book shows us that if you hold onto to your dreams long enough that anything is possible. I feel that this would be a great book to use with students as you introduce famous black Americans. This book offers a look into Tubman’s childhood and gives children a chance to see what it was like as a young slave.




Title: Uncle Jed’s Barbershop

Award: Coretta Scott King

Author: Margaree King Mitchell Illustrator: James Ransome

Publisher: Scholastic, Inc. Place: New York, NY Date: 1994

Summary:

Sarah Jean is a small girl growing up during the Depression years of the early 1920's. She has a favorite uncle who just happens to be the only black barber where they live. Uncle Jed travels around on his horse from house to house offering his services as a barber. He dreams of one day owing his own barbershop and having people come to him for their barber needs. Uncle Jed saves his money but through Sarah Jean’s sickness and the Great Depression his plans are put on hold for several years. Finally, Jed who is now 79 opens his barbershop and lives his life long dream.



Personal Response:

This book was very touching. I could relate this story to my grandparents. They too were trying to make an honest, descent living during the time of the Depression. I can remember my grandmother talking about her father trying to raise tobacco and cotton to raise their family. She talked to me about having to do without a lot of things during that time. My grandmother did not even attend school, she was needed on the farm to help take care of her younger brother and sisters and to help work in the fields. Just as uncle Jed made sacrifices so did my great-grandparents and my grandparents. This book made me stop and think about the high unemployment rate going on in our county now, and all the possessions that some families are losing due to hard times. It is nothing compared to then but still the fact remains it si still there.


Evaluative:

This book enriches ones history about the Great Depression and that era that some of our ancestors grew up in. Students can begin to learn about what life was like and how much people lost and sacrificed to just keep alive. Although times were hard during the Great Depression, this book shows the compassion and determination that people had and their desire to make things better.




Title: When Marian Sang

Award: Orbis Pictus Honor

Author: Pam Nunoz Ryan Illustrator: Brain Selznick

Publisher: Scholastic, Inc. Place: New York, NY Date: 2002

Summary:

When Marian Sang is the true story about the life of one of American’s greatest singers of all times, Marian Anderson. The book begins with Marian as a child and continues through her life as a young woman and then a lady with the most distinctive voice ever. Marian has many troubles along the way and this book shows her strength and struggles as a young black singer during the pre-Civil Rights movement.
Personal Response:

I had never heard of Marian Anderson before I read this book. If I did study about her in school, I can’t remember it. This is a great history book to share with students, especially those who are musicallly gifted. In most history books, they fail to mention people like Marian Anderson. The history books that I read in school mainly gave you factual information about slavery and war. This picture book is a great piece of historical literature that could be shared with upper elementary. I’m not so sure I would of continued with a singing career after being turned down at several places due to my color. Marian had the will power and the determination to carry on and accomplish her dreams.


Evaluative:

This book is truly a unique learning tool to be used in the classroom. Students read in history books about the slavery, and segregation issues, as well as the bloody wars of our country all the time. But how often do get to hear about a person such as Marian Anderson? When Marian Sang shows the side of history that many of us don’t get to learn about in school. I believe that this a powerful book that would interest older elementary students. This would also be a great resource for music and history teachers.




Title: Aunt Harriet’s Underground Railroad in the Sky

Award: Jane Addams Honor

Author: Faith Ringold

Publisher: Scholastic, Inc. Place: New York, NY Date: 1994

Summary:

Faith Ringold tells a very powerful story about what life was like during the years of slavery. Ringold tells the story of Harriet Tubman and her Underground Railroad through the strange dreams she had near her death. Ringold used two small children; BeBe and Cassie to help recount the the ride to freedom. The book takes you through actual accounts of Harriet Tubman’s Underground Railroad and all that she encountered while helping slaves escape to freedom.



Personal Response:

I liked this book because it appeals to a young reader. Even lower elementary students would enjoy this book. After reading this book, I can recall some of the events of Harriet Tubman’s life that I learned in elementary school. Although I don’t remember much from elementary school, I do remember learning about Harriet Tubman and all of her heroic acts of kindness and bravery. The theme of this book is a very significant part of our country’s history and I would share this with my classroom during a history lesson about famous black Americans.


Evaluative:

The themes in this story are a very vital part of Black American History. Escaping from slavery to freedom is a very important part of black history. This book shows the courage and determination of one young woman who would stop at nothing to help her people become free from slavery. Through the text and the illustrations you see the apparent courage it took to free slaves.



Title: Through My Eyes

Award: Jane Addams Honor

Author: Ruby Bridges

Publisher: Scholastic, Inc. Place: New York, NY Date: 1999

Summary:

Ruby Bridges tells the story of how she became one of the first black children to attend an all white school. She was not welcomed at the school by parents, children, or the administrators. She was placed in a classroom all year long with just her teacher. Most of the other children were taken out of the school altogether because they did not want to attend to school with a black child. She was taken to school by federal marshals and protected during the day. Although as a small child she did not understand what was going on, she did realize later in life that she helped change the way children attended school forever. Her journey was not an easy one for her or her family but with Bridges compassion and courage she helped open the minds of millions of people.



Personal Response:

This was a very touching story. I tried to feel what it must of been like for this tiny little black girl to have to be so brave and do something she really didn’t understand. I could almost hear the white mothers and their children yelling mean and ugly things to Bridges. It made my heart break for her and her family. The entire time this was happening to Bridges, she had no idea that the world was watching and what impact she would have on them. I read in the back of the book that she has gone on to receive many honors an degrees during her lifetime. I was also surprised to hear about the Disney movie project. She is truly an inspiration to me and should be to everyone in the educational field.


Evaluative:

Characters like Ruby Bridges stay with you in you heart forever. You can almost jump right in the story with Bridges. The photographs included in the book will keep you going back to them and staring at them for long lengths of time. There is one picture of her as a little girl that I will never forget and that is of her walking into the school building surrounded by federal marshals. This picture shows you the bravery that Bridges portrayed even as a small child.



Title: Grandfather’s Journey

Award: Caldecott Honor

Author: Allen Say

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Co. Place: New York, NY Date: 1993

Summary:

A young man tells of his grandfather’s journey from Japan to California. He tells about his grandfather longing to be in one place while in the other. His grandfather begins to love the time and land while in California yet he still longs for his land in Japan. His grandfather soon marries and brings his new bride to California. After having a child in California, grandfather longs to show is daughter what life is like in Japan. When she becomes grown the family return to Japan only to find that the village is not the place for his daughter, so they move to a nearby city. His daughter met and married man and sometime later they had a child. The authors most memorable moments were those times with his grandfather and the stories about the two lands he loved.




Personal Response:

I can relate to the authors most memorable moments. I treasure every moment that I spent with my grandmother. My favorite times with her were spent talking in her flower and vegetable gardens. I loved to hear what it was like for her growing up and how she met my grandfather. I could listen to those stories over and over again. And just as Say listened to his grandfather I’m sure he could listen to them over and over again as well. Books like Grandfather’s Journey help you realize the importance of your grandparents and their ancestors.


Evaluative:

The illustrations in the book are simple yet they convey so much meaning. The illustrations are beautifully done and show the emotion that the grandfather was feeling. The illustrations of him on his journey to see the world show the look of amazement and wonder in his eyes. Through the illustrations, Grandfather appeared to have a strong presence with whom ever in came in contact with. I can see why this book was the receipent of the Caldecott Honor, the illustrations convey a deep meaning of wonder about two very different cultures.



Title: The Song and Dance Man

Award: Caldecott Honor

Author: Karen Ackerman Illustrator: Stephen Gammell

Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. Place: New York, NY Date: 1993


Summary:

In this book, grandchildren are entertained by their grandfather’s good old days as a song and dance man. As the grandchildren follow him up into the attic they see all sorts of things grandfather used when he sang and danced on stage. Grandfather takes them back to the day when he was a vaudeville man gliding across the stage and entertaining many of his fans.



Personal Response:

This is one of my favorite books. I share this book with my kindergarten students every year. We read it right before grandparents day in September. They all have a story to share about what their grandfathers can do and I enjoy hearing them. The reason I like this book so much is because I spent a lot of time with my grandmother and those times were very precious to me and will never be forgotten. This book helps my students see and value their grandparents and encourage them to ask questions about their childhood.



Evaluative:

The illustrations in this book are done with colored pencil drawings that just make you want to jump in and sing and dance with grandfather and the grandchildren. The thing that struck me the most about this book, was that the grandchildren all looked just like grandfather only a smaller version. They all had the same nose and acted just as goofy and energetic as he did. This is a very entertaining book that will help children see the importance of grandparents.



Title: The Three Little Pigs

Award: Caldecott Honor

Author: David Wiesner

Publisher: Clarion Books Place: New York, NY Date: 2001

Summary:

David Wiesner takes a different spin on the popular children’s classic The Tale of the Three Little Pigs. The story begins with the traditional tale and then takes a different turn. The pig visits each little pig and blows them out of the tale and into a different classical tale. The pigs go on an adventure exploring different Nursery Rhymes as if they were included into the story. Near the end of the story the big bad wolf tries to blow all three pigs away but from the help of the dragon and nursery rhyme characters he is unable to do so. At the very end of the story all characters live happily ever after all together.



Personal Response:

While I enjoyed this version of The Three Little Pigs, it might be hard for a beginning reader to follow. The author uses different fonts and jumbled up words in the story that might confuse a lower elementary student. However, older elementary students such as third through fifth graders would have no trouble following along with the text. I would use this book as a read aloud with my kindergarten students, they would really enjoy a funny twist to an old familiar story.



Evaluative:

The illustrations in this book are awesome. As you look at the cover you can see the mystery in the pigs eyes. The reason I chose this book to use for an award book is because the illustrations drew me in as a reader. The pigs are so life like in parts of the book yet when he jumps into telling a rhyme, the pigs look like cartoon characters again. The pigs seem to take on the world within their own little world. To me, this book definitely earned its award.



Title: How I Became An American

Award: Batchelder Honor

Author: Karin Gundisch Translated by: James Skofield

Publisher: Cricket Books Place: Chicago, Illinois Date: 2001

Summary:

A touching family’s long, tragic and inspirational journey to a new and better life. A young boys father and brother journey to America and later save enough money for the rest of the family to join them. John, the young boy is encouraged by his mother to keep a journal of their voyage to the new world. In doing so, he is able to retell everyone the price they had to pay for a better life.


Personal Response:

I judged this book by it’s cover and really didn’t think I would be interested in reading it. To my surprise, I was drawn back to it several times and decided that I wanted to know who this little boy became an American. This story touched me especially with the voyage the family had to endure. The harsh conditions on the ship, little money, and little food made it a very unpleasant trip for the entire family. The death of Emil, John’s younger sibling was very devastating to hear about. I never expected any of the family to die, I kept thinking while I was reading that this story had to have a happy ending. In reality, life just doesn’t work out that way and John and his family paid the price for wanting to become Americans.


Evaluative:

This book was very powerful. John was a very strong little boy who really had to grow up before his time. The descriptive language all throughout the text conveyed the strong emotional ties that John had for his family and friends. Through the author you can almost feel John’s pain and desire for a better life for himself and his family. This story is a true inspiration to others who may be faced with similar hardships in life.



Title: Officer Buckle and Gloria

Award: Caldecott

Author: Peggy Rathmann

Publisher: Putnam Place: New York, NY Date: 1995

Summary:

A cute and humorous story about an police officer and his dog Gloria. Officer Buckle loved giving safety rules to children however, most of the children found him to be rather boring. Until one day he takes Gloria along to visit a local school. As he tells his safety rules, Gloria does tricks behind his back and gets the children to laugh. Officer Buckle thinks the kids are really listening to him and is unaware of his dog and her tricks. Later he and the children realize that one can’t do it alone, it takes them both to reach the group of youngsters.



Personal Response:

I love reading this book over and over to my students. Even my kindergartner’s love hearing this story several times during the school year. I use it during our safety unit and as a follow up, I have our county’s K-9 officer and his companion visit the class. Although, the county’s K-9 dog doesn’t do tricks they teach the children about safety in and out of school. The illustrations are great and the kids love reading the little letters that are inserted throughout the book. I also have my student write letters thanking the K-9 uniting for coming and doing a safety lesson.


Evaluative:

The illustrations in this book help tell the story of Officer Buckle and Gloria. They are rich with color and detail and really catch the interest of the children in my class. The humor within the text lets children enjoy the book while learning about a few safety rules. A great book to share with children in the early elementary grades.






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