Monday, December 1, 2014

Sofia the First: Holiday in Enchancia by Catherine Hapka

Title: Sofia the First: Holiday in Enchancia
Author: Catherine Hapka
Genre: Picture Books, Fantasy
Reading Level: Ages 3-8
Multicultural: Portrays a family with step-siblings and step-parents in a positive way

Sofia the First: Holiday in Enchancia is a picture book based on the episode of the same name about Sofia’s first Wasssailia as a princess.  She is used to a quiet holiday with her mom, but is excited about the more extravagant celebration at the castle her step-siblings have told her about. When her dad (i.e. the King) does not come home before the celebration, the family instead ends up going out in search of him. In the end, they celebrate Wassailia much like Sofia is used to with the kindness of a woodsman’s family and Sofia shares her present’s with the woodsman’s children.

Overall Sofia the First Holiday in Enchancia makes a good book for the Christmas season, as it teaches about sharing and that the best part of the holiday is being together. The visual appeal of the book is not just in the illustrations, but also in the handwritten looking text. This makes the text more interesting and really makes the text part of the illustrations. Additionally, this style emphasizes words with different coloring and styling.

Types of Readers Book Might Appeal To & Multiple Intelligence Categories
  • Fans of Sofia the First and Disney Princesses (Aurora from Sleeping Beauty makes a brief appearance)
  • Visual leaners may enjoy how the text is stylized and words are emphasized with color. (Spatial-Visual)
  • Animal lovers may enjoy how Sofia can communicate with animals and they help find her dad. (Naturalistic)
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Thursday, November 20, 2014

Sofia the First: The Curse of Princess Ivy by Craig Gerber and Catherine Hapka

Title: Sofia the First: The Curse of Princess Ivy
Author: Craig Gerber and Catherine Hapka
Genre: Picture Book, Fantasy
Reading Level: Ages 3 to 5
Multicultural: Sofia and Amber are step-sisters

In The Curse of Princess Ivy, Sofia's sister Princess Amber is jealous of Sofia's amulet. Amber steals it and ends up summoning an evil princess who takes over the kingdom and threatens to destroy the amulet. Amber and Sofia work together to save their family and the kingdom along with some brief help from Rapunzel. The breaking of the curse at the end is very reminiscent of Disney's Frozen.

Overall this is an interesting Sofia the First story, especially for siblings. As usual it has the stylized calligraphy like font that on one hand adds to the visual appeal while also having the potential of making it harder to read for some.

This book does come with a code for an eBook version, which features standard font. This can provide an easier reading experience for some, although the text is messed up and overlapping at some points. The eBook version also adds further appeal for beginning readers to have it read to them/read along.

Types of Readers Book Might Appeal To & Multiple Intelligence Categories
  • Fans of Sofia the First
  • Siblings that can relate to the feelings of jealousy and then love Amber has for Sofia. (Intrapersonal)
  • Visual learners may find the stylized font along with the illustrations appealing. (Spatial-Visual)
  • Sofia, Amber, and Cedric provide examples of working together to save the kingdom. (Interpersonal)
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Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Sofia the First: Princesses to the Rescue! by Catherine Hapka

Title: Sofia the First: Princesses to the Rescue!
Author:Catherine Hapka
Genre: Picture Book, Fantasy
Reading Level: Ages 3 to 5
Multicultural: This book takes places in the Kingdom of Wei-Ling, which is Asian inspired.

 Sofia the First: Princesses to the Rescue! features Sofia, Princess Amber, and Princess Jun going on a mission to rescue their brothers and fathers from the jade jaguar, who is protecting a treasure the boys went in search of. The face several challenges along the way and even consider giving up at the first on; but Mulan appears and encourages them to not quit by telling them they are stronger than they know.

Overall this is a good simple story that provides an example of girls being the heroes while also being realistic in that they do consider quitting. Since they don't quit, it also provides examples of persevering and them building confidence as they overcome challenges. Additionally, overcoming the obstacles in different ways, such as using the flute to get the lizards to help them across the lagoon and leading the jaguar to get stuck, provide examples of problem solving.

Note that this Sofia the First picture book uses stylized calligraphy text. On the one hand this can make the book more appealing, especially for visual learners. However, it can also be harder to follow and read for others.

Types of Readers Book Might Appeal To & Multiple Intelligence Categories
  • Fans of Sofia the First and/or Mulan
  • Visual learners may find the calligraphy style text appealing along with how many pages have several illustrations to show the progress of the plot. (Spatial-Visual)
  • The free song download that comes with the book can help engage music lovers. They might also enjoy the drinking straw flute craft below. (Musical)
  • The book provides several examples of problem solving as the princesses are on their rescue mission. (Logical-Mathematical)
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Saturday, November 1, 2014

Disney Minnie: My Colorful Closet

Title: Disney Minnie: My Colorful Closet
Genre: Picture Book
Reading Level: Ages 4 to 6
Curriculum Subject: Art

My Colorful Closet is a fun interactive book about Daisy and Minnie trying out new clothes for summer as a rainy day activity. The plot itself is short and simple, but it has the added enjoyment of letting the reader decide what patterns to use for the different outfits by putting one of the ten different patterns in the slot on each page.

One potential negative of the book is that the patterns are somewhat limited with them being mostly pinks, purples, and yellows. However, you can easily make your own patterns to put in the slots using scrapbook paper or by designing your own on cardstock, which makes this book great for incorporating with art curriculum.

Types of Readers Book Might Appeal To & Multiple Intelligence Categories
  • Fans of Minnie Mouse, especially those that like Minnie's Bow-Toons
  • Those interested in fashion.
  • The colorful scenes and patterns along with the animated character expressions can help draw in visual learners. (Spatial-Visual)
  • The added interactiveness of physically changing the patterns for the outfits can help motivate those that like to learn through doing to read. (Bodily-Kinesthetic)
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Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Cars/Planes: Fly-and-Drive Read-Along Storybook and CD

Title: Cars/Planes: Fly-and-Drive Read-Along Storybook and CD
Genre: Audiobook, Picture Book
Reading Level: Ages 6-8
Multicultural: Features car and plane characters of various cultural backgrounds. Also, Cars 2 and Planes take place in various places around the world.

This book is a collection of four stories featuring the Cars and Planes characters. The stories include Cars, Cars 2, and Planes, which basically retell the stories of the movies. The other story is Air Mater, which is based on the Car Toons episode of the same name and features characters from both Cars and Planes.

Cars/Planes: Fly-and-Drive Read-Along Storybook makes a great pick for fans of the Cars and Planes movies that are beginning to read independently as it presents familiar stories along with illustrations. The accompanying CD that reads the story not only helps early readers enjoy the book independently; but it also adds a variety of sound effects and background music to enhance the story experience.

Types of Readers Book Might Appeal To & Multiple Intelligence Categories
  • Fans of the Cars and/or Planes movies
  • The background music, sound effects, and voice actors on the CD may help encourage readers that are interested in music and/or are auditory learners. (Musical)
  • The colorful illustrations that show the action of the plot can help draw in visual learners and with the CD reading the story they can be easier to enjoy as you hear the story. Visual learners beginning to read may also benefit from being able to see and follow the text as they listen to the CD. (Spatial-Visual)
  • The stories provide examples of characters understanding others and working together such as Lightning McQueen helping the King finish his last race and revitalizing Radiator Springs. (Interpersonal)
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Friday, October 24, 2014

Disney Frozen: The Christmas Party by Andrea Posner-Sanchez

Title: Disney Frozen: The Christmas Party
Author: Andrea Posner-Sanchez
Genre: Picture Book, Fantasy
Reading Level: Ages 4-6


In The Christmas Party, the characters from Disney's Frozen are getting ready for a Christmas party. As a Step 2 reader, the book is designed for readers that recognize familiar words and sound out new words with help. It does a good job of featuring simple sentences and basic vocabulary; but the plot is a little too simplified.

The Christmas Party can be a fun book to encourage Frozen fans to read, especially visual learners that may enjoy the detailed and action filled illustrations. However, since the plot is somewhat disjointed including not even featuring the actual party, the book really misses out on becoming a fun holiday book for reading together for entertainment. The punch out ornaments can be fun for decorating, though, and those do somewhat make up for the poor plot in terms of value.

Types of Readers Book Might Appeal To & Multiple Intelligence Categories
  • Frozen fans
  • The detailed and action filled illustrations such as the snowball fight scene can help draw in visual learners. (Spatial-Visual)
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Monday, July 14, 2014

Ariel: The Shimmering Star Necklace by Gail Herman

Title: Ariel: The Shimmering Star Necklace
Author: Gail Herman
Genre: Mystery, Fantasy
Reading Level: Ages 6 to 8

In Ariel: The Shimmering Star Necklace, Princess Ariel is helping a girl named Laurel practice for a concert. When Ariel shows up for their last rehersal on the day of the concert, she discovers that Laurel is missing. Ariel follows various leads and clues to ultimately get Laurel back in time for the concert.

Those that enjoy Ariel's adventures in the ocean will particular like that there are undersea parts in the book. There are also appearances by other characters from The Little Mermaid including a humorous exchange between Ariel and Scuttle.

Overall this is a simple chapter book, but it can still be a fulfilling read with it taking some effort for Ariel to discover what happened to Laurel. The book contains detailed colorful illustrations that not only help can make the book more appealing to reluctant readers, but also are part of the story, such as signs for the concert.

Types of Readers Book Might Appeal To & Multiple Intelligence Categories
  • Fans of The Little Mermaid
  • Those interested in music, especially singing, may relate to the concert aspect of the story. (Musical)
  • Those that enjoy mysteries may be drawn in by the search for Laurel. (Logical-Mathematical)
  • Visual learners may enjoyed the detailed illustrations and how at points they are part of the plot. (Spatial-Visual)
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Sunday, July 13, 2014

Jake and the Never Land Pirates: Pirate Campout by Bill Scollon

Title: Jake and the Never Land Pirates: Pirate Campout
Author: Bill Scollon
Genre: Picture Book, Fantasy
Reading Level: Ages 3 to 5

In Pirate Campout, Jake and the Never Land Pirates go on a hiking and camping trip to Doubloon Lagoon.  Captain Hook and his crew join the trip thinking that there is gold there because it is named Doubloon.

As a World of Reading Level 1 reader, this book features simple text and word repetition.  Usually the Disney World of Reading books do this and create a cohesive plot, but in Pirate Campout the plot to some extent oversimplified to the point the flow of the story seems rather disjointed at points.

Overall Pirate Campout can be a good choice for early readers interested in hiking, camping, and/or outdoor adventures.  While the plot has some flow issues, it still a mostly complete plot and a good fit for those familiar with the episode.  The book also has the corner text commonly in Jake and the Never Land Pirates books, which adds jokes and encourages looking closer at the illustrations to answer questions.

Types of Readers Book Might Appeal To & Multiple Intelligence Categories
  • Fans of Jake and the Never Land Pirates
  • Those interested in outdoor activities like camping and hiking. (Naturalistic)
  • The illustrations along with the corner text that encourage looking closer can help engage visual learners. (Spatial-Visual)
  • The scenes where they set up a tent and save Captain Hook provide examples of teamwork. (Interpersonal)
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Saturday, July 12, 2014

Across A War-Tossed Sea by L. M. Elliott

Title: Across A War-Tossed Sea
Author: L. M. Elliott
Genre: Historical Fiction
Reading Level: Ages 10 to 14
Multicultural: Characters include British boys, white Americans, African Americans, a Native American, and German POWs
Curriculum Subject: History

Across a War-Tossed Sea is a historical fiction novel mostly set in rural Virginia during World War II (September 1943 to May 1944).  With main characters including an African American boy, five American siblings, and two British siblings, the book provides an interesting perspective on the time period and what it was like for both American and British children during the war even if the characters are perhaps very stereotypically portrayed.

The main characters are brothers Charles (14) and Wesley (10), who are sent from London to live in rural Virginia with the family of a man their father saved in World War I. Most of the book is about day to day life including working on the farm and going to school, but the plot is also filled with references to the war and the war effort.  This includes the children helping salvage items to be used for things the troops needed, listening to radio reports from Edward Murrow and on D-Day, and hiring German POWs helping to help with farm work.

Beyond just providing a look at life in America during the war, the book also provides some perspective on the differences between British and American culture. This includes Charles finding it odd how football is not the same sport and considering it a less intense version of rugby. He also questions whether the British were really as bad as the Americans say when he learns about the American Revolution in school and is surprised that the British and Americans are now friends after learning what his country did to D.C. during the War of 1812.

Across a War-Tossed Sea also touches on what life was like for African-American and to a very small extent the Native Americans in this time period.  Wesley ends up becoming friends with a neighbor who is African American. While his host family mostly freely associates with them, he discovers the realities of segregation when he goes with his friend to see the launching of the USS Ticonderoga. The book also discusses how the African Americans were given new opportunities during the war, such as helping build the ships.

Probably the most interesting and unique perspective brought into the story, though, is that of the German POWs. They are brought into the story when the family has to hire them in order to get all the farm work done. This aspect of the story includes a German POW saving one of the kids as well as the kids later saving him, which helps them realize that they have similar war experiences and that they need to not fight for revenge, but for peace.

Across a War-Tossed Sea is an great read that can help provide a deeper understanding of life during World War II.  It may not have much of the tension and action that a war period novel set in Europe or the Pacific, but it does show how the war did touch American soil and the war efforts at home to equip the troops.

Types of Readers Book Might Appeal To & Multiple Intelligence Categories
  • Those interested in history and historical fiction, especially if they are interested in World War II history.
  • Those that have immigrated from another country or even from another region may relate to how Charles and Wesley feelings of homesickness and how they find living on a Virginia farm different from their British upbringing in London.
  • Several scenes provide examples of learning to get along and working together, especially in how Ron and Wesley eventually become friends and the different ways people helped the war effort. (Interpersonal)
  • The book also provides insight into understanding inner feelings and intentions, especially in the portrayal of Charles and the German POW. (Intrapersonal)
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Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Midnight Ride: A Gates Family Mystery by Catherine Hapka

Title: Midnight Ride
Series: National Treasure - A Gates Family Mystery
Author: Catherine Hapka
Genre: Historical Fiction
Reading Level: 12 and up
Curriculum Subjects: History

The Midnight Ride book in the Gates Family Mystery series is set during the year and a half leading up to the beginning of the American Revolution at Lexington and Concord in 1775. In this book, John Raleigh Gates is a post rider that gets involved in the Patriot cause leading to a treasure hunt to find something that will help the Patriots triumph.

Throughout Midnight Ride, there are references to events of the time period, such as the Destruction of the Tea (i.e. Boston Tea Party), Quartering Act, and the Battle of Concord.  There are also many historical references used in the many clues that John and his two friends solve to eventually locate the treasure.  There are also references to a variety of places (mostly in Massachusetts, especially Boston) as the hunt takes them to multiple cities/locations.  As part of their quest, they also meet with famous Patriots such as Paul Revere and Samuel Adams.

Overall Midnight Ride is an interesting historical fiction adventure book.  It can be a good tie in with studying the American Revolution.  The book also provides some perspective on what life was like during that period of American history, especially on traveling by horse, the role of post riders, and the tension between Loyalists and Patriots.

Types of Readers Book Might Appeal To & Multiple Intelligence Categories
  • Fans of the National Treasure movies
  • Those interested in history, especially American history and the American Revolution.
  • Mystery lovers and those that enjoy working out puzzles, riddles, and clues. (Logical-Mathematical)
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Saturday, July 5, 2014

Planes: Fire & Rescue (Little Golden Book)

Title: Planes: Fire & Rescue (Little Golden Book)
Genre: Picture Book, Fiction
Reading Level: Ages 2 to 5

This is a classic Little Golden Book version of the Disney Planes: Fire & Rescue movie plot.  While this is somewhat a sequel to the Planes movie, the plot stands on it's own including at least in the book there being pretty much no mentions of the characters from the previous movie other than Dusty.  Thus, those that like other characters from the movie may be disappointed to not see their favorites in this book.

In Planes: Fire & Rescue, Dusty goes to Piston Peak National Park to train to become a firefighter in order for his home airport to reopen.  The book features different aspects of his training as well as Dusty being a hero as part of putting out a wildfire and saving tourists.

Overall it is a well-written and illustrated book with a simple while still adequately complete plot for reading to the target age group.

Types of Readers Book Might Appeal To & Multiple Intelligence Categories
  • Fans of Planes, especially if they like Dusty
  • Visual learners may be drawn in by not just the illustrations, but the variations in text that highlights select words in the story. (Spatial-Visual)
  • The national park setting and wildfire aspects may appeal to those interested in nature and protecting it. (Naturalistic)
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Monday, May 26, 2014

The Curse of Maleficent: The Tale of a Sleeping Beauty by Elizabeth Rudnick

Title: The Curse of Maleficent: The Tale of a Sleeping Beauty
Author: Elizabeth Rudnick
Genre: Fantasy
Reading Level: Ages 8 to 12

The Curse of Maleficent: The Tale of a Sleeping Beauty is based on the Maleficent film.  The overall plot is pretty much the same as Maleficent by Elizabeth Rudnick, but instead of being mostly from Maleficent's perspective it is more from Princess Aurora's perspective.  Thus, it ends up being somewhat less detailed, but it also ends up being better for a slightly younger audience.

This book has a similar focus on Sleeping Beauty as the original Disney movie based on the fairy tale.  However, it is different and is the Maleficent version of the story, which focuses on how Maleficent came to curse Aurora and ends up providing a different perspective on who the villain of the story really is.

Since it is mostly told from Aurora's perspective, though, there is not as much insight into Maleficent as the other book.  There is enough background still provided, though, to understand Maleficent. It's just not as detailed, which to some extent may make it a less mature version because the end battle gives less detail of the violence.  However, it does provide a little more detail on Aurora's perspective than the other book, so you get more of an understanding of her and it is also somewhat different than her experience shown in the classic animated version of Sleeping Beauty.

Overall The Curse of Maleficent: The Tale of a Sleeping Beauty is an entertaining read for fantasy lovers, especially those interested in the Maleficent movie.  The colorful full page illustrations that are every other chapter or so also sets it apart from the other book and helps further provide a reading experience that while less detailed is more visually appealing.

Types of Readers Book Might Appeal To & Multiple Intelligence Categories
  • Fans of Maleficent and/or Sleeping Beauty
  • Fantasy lovers
  • The illustrations can make this more appealing for visual learners compared to the other book based on the movie. (Spatial-Visual)
  • The book touches a little on the fairie world and Aurora's shared views on valuing and protecting nature. (Naturalistic)
  • The struggles Aurora and to a lesser extent Maleficent have with understanding their feelings provides interesting insight into being aware of inner feelings and intentions. (Intrapersonal)
  • The end battle shows understanding each other and working together. (Interpersonal)
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Saturday, May 24, 2014

Jake and the Never Land Pirates: Follow That Sound by Melinda LaRose

Title: Jake and the Never Land Pirates: Follow That Sound
Author: Melinda LaRose
Genre: Picture Book, Fantasy
Reading Level: Ages 3-5

Jake and the Never Land Pirates end up on a musical adventure when Captain Hook takes Cubby's harmonica.  The adventure leads them to following the sound of the harmonica and making coconut maracas to trade with a monkey to get the harmonica back.

The book's pirate pledge is about asking nicely when you want something.  The lesson is illustrated with the pirates saying Hook should have just asked them to be quiet instead of stealing the harmonica, as once they knew he was trying to nap they played him a lullaby rather than just making racket.  However, the next page then has them glad he stole it because they met the monkey and jammed with him.  Thus, it sort of dismisses the point while showing an example of looking at the bright side of situations.

Currently the board book version of Follow That Sound includes a code that can be used to get Jake's Never Land Shapes and Patterns from the iTunes App Store.  The app has a story mode featuring the pirates on an adventure that involves a few games to develop and improve shape recognition and understanding of patterns. The games can also be played separately. There are also some tips for parents that provide ideas for more activities to help teach shapes. Note it only works on iPhones 4 and newer, iPad 2s and newer, and iPod touches 5th generation and newer.

Types of Readers Book Might Appeal To & Multiple Intelligence Categories
  • Fans of Jake and the Never Land Pirates
  • Those interested in music and playing musical instruments. (Musical)
  • The way the pirates decide to follow the sound when they lose sight of the monkey and how they make a trade to get the harmonica back are some of the ways the book helps provide examples of problem solving. (Logical-Mathematical)
  • The book helps show working together as well as understanding and taking consideration of others feelings, especially when they realize the noise is disturbing Hook's nap and Cubby plays a lullaby. (Interpersonal)
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Friday, May 23, 2014

Jake and the Never Land Pirates: Cubby's Mixed-Up Map

Title: Jake and the Never Land Pirates: Cubby's Mixed-Up Map
Author: Sheila Sweeny Higginson
Genre: Picture Book, Fantasy
Reading Level: Ages 3 to 7

In Cubby's Mixed-Up Map, Jake and the Never Land Pirates go in search of the Golden Dinghy. They trust Cubby to lead them there with his map skills including him making a new map when Hook tricks them and switches their real map for a fake one.  The book is based on the episode of the same name.

Overall Cubby's Mixed-Up Map is a great detailed adventure for reading to young fans or for beginning independent readers to enjoy themselves.  The little jokes added by Skully the parrot in some of the bottom corners are a nice feature, but they don't really encourage extra interaction like they do in many of the other Jake and the Never Land Pirates books.  However, the pirates wondering how a gold boat would float could be used as a lead in to exploring bouyancy.

Types of Readers Book Might Appeal To & Multiple Intelligence Categories
  • Fans of Jake and the Never Land Pirates
  • Fans of treasure hunt adventures
  • Following a map to find something as well as figuring out what to do when they have the wrong map provide examples of problem solving (Logical-Mathematical)
  • The use of landmarks to navigate is not only helpful for those that cannot read, yet, but also provides an example for visual learners to use their strength as an ongoing life skill.  This is further illustrated when Cubby decides to go atop Cuckoo Rock to look around and get his bearings to recreate the map Hook stole. (Spatial-Visual)
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Monday, May 19, 2014

Maleficent by Elizabeth Rudnick

Title: Maleficent
Author: Elizabeth Rudnick
Genre: Fantasy
Reading Level: Ages 10 to 14

Maleficent is a novelization of the Disney movie of the same name.  To some extent it is the villain's point of view of the Disney classic Sleeping Beauty, but it is not quite the same exact story.  For the most part, it gives the back story of how Maleficent became evil, but there are also unexpected twists that show the good side of her while also ultimately changing the story a lot at the end.

Overall this is an entertaining read that provides an interesting take on the classic story.  Some things make sense as being different, as the story is being told more from Maleficent's perspective and from a lesser extent Aurora's father.  However, there are some odd aspects that are changed, though, such as the names of the faeries that raise Aurora.  What seems an unnecessary and disappointing change, though, is how Maleficent never becomes the dragon, yet there still is a dragon in the end.  The ending is still a full of action and great twists leading to a new perspective on who really was the evil one, but

Types of Readers Book Might Appeal To & Multiple Intelligence Categories
  • Fans of Sleeping Beauty and/or Maleficent
  • Those interested in understanding the motives behind actions will enjoy how the book provides insight into how Maleficent also has a good side and how/why she changes her ways of thinking over time. (Intrapersonal)
  • Those interested in protecting nature may be interested in the aspect of the how the fairies are mostly portrayed protecting nature and to some extent the humans are shown to not appreciate it. (Naturalistic)
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Friday, May 16, 2014

Doc McStuffins: Starry, Starry Night by Bill Scollon

Title: Doc McStuffins: Starry, Starry Night
Author: Bill Scollon
Genre: Picture Book, Fiction
Reading Level: Ages 3 to 6
Multicultural: Doc is an African American girl
Curriculum Subject: Science, Health

In Starry, Starry Night, Doc McStuffins rushes to fix a telescope's blurry vision before a meteor shower starts.  As a World of Reading Level 1 reader, it features simple text and word repetition.  Despite being written for beginning readers, it still has a reasonably detailed plot as it is 32 pages long.

The topic of meteors is barely touched on, but Doc does provide a brief description.  Between that and the focus on fixing the telescope, this book could be a good starting point for discovering more about astronomy.  The book also provides a few tips about protecting your eyes, so it also has potential to be tied in with learning healthy habits.

Types of Readers Book Might Appeal To & Multiple Intelligence Categories
  • Fans of Doc McStuffins
  • Those interested in astronomy topics.
  • The aspect of discovering why the telescope's vision is blurry provides an example of problem solving. (Logical-Mathematical)
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Thursday, May 15, 2014

Sofia the First: Sofia's Magic Lesson by Sarah Nathan

Title: Sofia's Magic Lesson
Author: Sarah Nathan
Genre: Picture Book, Fantasy
Reading Level: Ages 4 to 6

Sofia's Magic Lesson is based on the "Cedric's Apprentice" episode of Sofia the First.  This book can be an enjoyable read for fantasy lovers whether or not they are familiar with the episode, but some familiarity with the show characters in general is helpful. 

While this book is mostly a fantasy setting, the feelings and situations can be easy to relate to everyday life.  For one, Sofia's struggling to learn magic is something kids who are having trouble learning new things, especially at school, can relate to.  Secondly, the way Sofia handles it by asking for help provides a good example of how to handle her problem.  Additionally, the way Cedric messes up when doing magic for the king is comparable to other situations that can make one nervous.  Oh, and then there's how Sofia thoughtfully helps out Cedric and gets him to reconsider trying to take over the kingdom, which relates the book's princess lesson of how "helping a friend is magical."


The detailed plot and illustrations make this a fun book for reading together with young kids.  The potential to relate it to a variety of situations kids may be going through themselves can also make it a good selection for opening up further dialogue with them.  Finally, for those familiar with the episode, this book can be a good selection for working on reading skills.

Types of Readers Book Might Appeal To & Multiple Intelligence Categories
  • Fans of Sofia the First
  • Fans of fantasy that features magic spells/wizardry
  • The way Sofia is a friend to Cedric and helps him show the king he is a great sorcerer is a good example of understanding other's feelings. (Interpersonal)
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Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Doc McStuffins: Time for Your Checkup - A Lift-the-Flap Book

Title: Doc McStuffins: Time for Your Checkup
Author:
Genre: Picture Book
Reading Level: Ages 3 to 5
Multicultural: Doc McStuffins is an African American girl
Curriculum Subject: Math

Doc McStuffins: Time for Your Checkup can be a fun interactive book, especially if working on the concepts of counting to ten, shapes, and colors with fans of the show.  The title is somewhat misleading, though, as it makes it seem like it might be about having a checkup and perhaps for helping kids be comfortable with having one of their own.  It not only has pretty much nothing to do with having a check up other than the matching diagnosis page, but also the pages fail to connect into a story.

Despite the misleading title and each page being made more to standalone than go together, this book is still makes a decent choice for those that enjoy interacting with books.  For one, each page prompts readers to look under the flap to find things.  Secondly, the different prompts encourage working on concepts such as colors, counting, and shapes.  Additionally, you can further the interaction by discussing what the made up diagnosis are referring to and encourage making educated guesses in where one would find the items that the counting prompt asks about.

Types of Readers Book Might Appeal To & Multiple Intelligence Categories
  • Fans of Doc McStuffins
  • The interactive aspect of the flaps can make it appealing for those that like to discover through touch. (Bodily-Kinesthetic)
  • The prompts that go along with the tasks can be used to help encourage problem solving and also can help draw in those that enjoy seek and find activities. (Logical-Mathematical)
  • The illustrations can help visual learners with concepts, such as counting. (Spatial-Visual)
Activities for Further Learning and Fun
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    Monday, May 12, 2014

    Mickey Mouse Clubhouse: Minnie's Summer Vacation by Bill Scollon

    Title: Minnie's Summer Vacation
    Author: Bill Scollon
    Genre: Picture Book, Fiction
    Reading Level: Ages 3 to 5

    In Minnie's Summer Vacation, Minnie with some help from Toodles finds a way for Mickey, Goofy, Daisy, Pluto, Donald, and herself to all enjoy their chosen summer activities together.  The simple plot and repetition make this book a good read for beginning readers, especially during the summer when it can be easy to forget to work on/retain reading skills.  The focus on outdoor summer activities can also make it a good way to inspire some outdoor play.

    Types of Readers Book Might Appeal To & Multiple Intelligence Categories
    • Fans of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse
    • Those that enjoy outdoor activities, especially the ones featured in the book (fishing, hiking, swimming, swinging, digging). (Bodily-Kinesthetic)
    • The use of illustrations to show the different activities the characters choose can be helpful for visual learners. (Spatial-Visual)
    Activities for Further Learning and Fun
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    Monday, April 14, 2014

    The Amazing Spider-Man 2: Fully Charged by Brittany Candau

    Title: The Amazing Spider-Man 2: Fully Charged
    Author: Brittany Candau
    Genre: Fiction, Picture Book
    Reading Level: Ages 6 to 8

    The Amazing Spider-Man 2: Fully Charged is a World of Reading: Level 2 reader (Kindergarten to Grade 2).  The plot focuses on Spider-Man having to deal with a new villain named Electro.  This book provides a good paced simple story line that can make it a great pick for reluctant readers that are fans of superheros like Spider-Man.  As a nice bonus there are also two pages of stickers inside the book.

    Overall this is a well-done reader with illustrations that can help draw in reluctant readers.  It is also nice that it has a simple plot that is not oversimplified.  Yes, there is clearly parts of the upcoming movie not in the book, but Fully Charged chooses to focus on the villain and creates a reasonably complete plot, especially for a short picture book.

    Types of Readers Book Might Appeal To & Multiple Intelligence Categories
    • Fans of Marvel superheros, especially Spider-Man
    • The colorful illustrations nicely detail the action of the plot, which can help draw in visual learners. (Spatial-Visual)
    Activities for Further Learning and Fun
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    Thursday, April 10, 2014

    Yoko Finds Her Way by Rosemary Wells

    Title: Yoko Finds Her Way
    Author: Rosemary Wells
    Genre: Picture Book
    Reading Level: Ages 3 to 6
    Multicultural: Yoko and her mom are anthropomorphic cats headed to Japan and there are food and clothing represented that show Asian influence.

    Yoko Finds Her Way is a cute picture book about Yoko and her mother going on an airplane trip to Japan.  In the book, Yoko helps read the signs on the road and in the airport to help get them all the way to their gate.  Before they board their flight and the book comes to an end, there is more adventure with Yoko getting lost exiting the bathroom the wrong way and then her mom doing the same when she tries to find Yoko.

    Overall this is a great book for preschoolers to beginning readers, especially if preparing to go on an airplane trip.  The plot incorporates identifying a wide variety of signs. This can encourage kids to learn to interpret the meaning of signs themselves.  It also provides somewhat subtle advice on what to do if you get lost, as Yoko follows the signs for Airport Police to get help getting back to her gate and mama.

    Types of Readers Book Might Appeal To & Multiple Intelligence Categories
    • Those that like cats may enjoy how all the characters are depicted as being felines.
    • The variety of cats represented in the illustrations and signs that relate to the plot help make this an interesting book for visual learners learning to read. (Spatial-Visual)
    Activities for Further Learning and Fun 


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