1999-2000 Winter Picture Books & Poetry


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Nancy's picks for the best picture books & poetry of Winter 1999-2000 and ideas for using them in the classroom. Compiled by Nancy Polette 1999.
Last updated: Tuesday, October 07, 2008
Andersen, Hans Christian. THE LITTLE MATCH GIRL. Retold and illustrated by Jerry Pinkney. Phyllis Fogelman Books (Penguin Putnam) 1999 (Gr 2-4)
A child plucked straight from America's 20th century melting pot is forced by her father to walk the frigid city streets selling matches and flowers. She is ignored by the passersby and begins to light matches to keep warm. The light of each match reveals a wondrous holiday sight until the match burns out. Finally the child sees the face of her beloved grandmother who takes the child far above the earth where there is no more cold or hunger. A haunting classic, beautifully illustrated.
Activity: Read about Andersen's life. What was it in his life that led him to write such bittersweet stories?
Bemelmens, Ludwig and John Bemelmens Marciano. MADELINE IN AMERICA. Arthur A. Lennie Books. Scholastic, 1999. (Gr K-3)
Madeline and the twelve little girls fly to Texas to inspect property left to her by her great-great-grandpapa. They see cattle, oil wells and the world's largest department store where Madeline gets lost.The girls want to stay in Texas but great-great-grandpapa's will says that until Madeline is 21 she must go to school. This first tale is followed by three other stories and a Bemelman's Christmas memory.
Activity: Using the word, HOLIDAY, encourage children to record their own holiday memories as an acrostic poem.
Blake, Robert J. YUDONSI. Philomel Books, 1999. (Gr 2-4)
An arrogant Native American boy paints and carves his name everywhere he goes, from school to the trees of the forest to the canyon walls. The villagers are alarmed, for it is dangerous to anger the canyons. As the boy tries to paint his name high up on the canyon walls, a huge storm floods the village and the people seek refuge in the cave where Yusi has found shelter. He listens to each person thank the gods for shelter and food and begins to understand that each must contribute to the society in which he lives.
Activity: Brainstorm all the ways children can keep the earth a better place to live for everyone.
Cutler, Jane. THE CELLO OF MR.O. Illustrated by Greg Couch. Dutton, 1999 (Gr 2-4)
In a warn torn city people try to survive with no heat and little food. When a relief truck is blown up, desperation sets in. It is then that elderly Mr. O sets his chair in the town square and regardless of bombs and bullets, plays glorious melodies on his cello. Through his music a little girl learns that courage can sustain the soul just as bread sustains the body.
Activity: Read the story up to the point where Mr. O's cello is destroyed. Discuss, what else could this elderly man do to continue to instill courage in the hearts of the people?
Irving, Washington. RIP VAN WINKLE. Illustrated by Will Moses. Philomel, 1999 (GR 3-6)
Here is a newly illustrated edition of Irving's classic tale of Rip who slept for twenty years and awoke to find his village and country very much changed.
Activity: Assign small groups of children to research the changes in their school, city, state and country in the past twenty years. Interviews with local citizens would be helpful here.
Littlestar, Amy. TREE OF HOPE. Illustrated by Floyd Cooper. Philomel, 1999 (GR 2-4)
Florrie's daddy had been an actor before the Depression hit and the theatre was a closed. But she and her daddy often wished on the tree of hope that stood just outside the theatre entrance. Then Orson Wells came to produce a black Macbeth, the tale of a greedy nobleman and his greedy wife who murder their good king Duncan in order to become king and queen. This Harlem Macbeth would be set in Haiti with three conjure men from the west of Africa taking the place of the witches. The tree of hope wishes come true as Florrie and her mother watch her father perform. Based on a true incident, this is a tale of hope and perseverance in pursuing a dream.
Activity: Cast the play Macbeth with today's African American actors . Who would play Macbeth?Duncan? Lady Macbeth?
Pulver, Robin. AXEL ANNIE. Pictures by Tedd Arnold. Dial, 1999.(Gr K-3)
There are no snow days for Burskyville students because Axel Annie's school bus always makes it up Tiger Hill, giving a lift to stranded motorists along the way. When Shifty Rhodes and the owner of a ski resort team up to stop Annie, she ends up rescuing them! Here is a fun tribute to school bus drivers everywhere.
Activity: Ask students to cut out and bring to school the biggest and most complimentary words they can find from the newspaper to describe their bus driver. String the words on ribbons and present to their bus drivers.
Root, Phyllis. GRANDMOTHER WINTER. Pictures by Beth Krommes. Houghton Mifflin, 1999.(Gr K-6)
All through the spring, summer and fall, Grandmother Winter tends her geese and gathers their feathers to stuff in her quilt. Why? To bring snowfall as she shakes the quilt, snowfall as soft as feathers and bright as a winter moon.
Activity: Children can write about spring, summer or fall using personification. Follow this model:
I am (spring, summer or fall). I dress in ________. For fun I __________. My favorite visitors are_______ and ________. I banquet on __________. I am related to _________. When I take a holiday I ___________. I am ( spring, summer, fall).
Rosales, Melodye. LEOLA AND THE HONEYBEARS. Scholastic, 1999. (Gr K-3)
Here is an African-American retelling of a classic tale. Leola wanders into the forest and encounters frightening Ol' Mister Weasel, surprises the gentle Honeybear family and learns an important lesson about strangers.
Activity: Prepare a chart comparing this tale with Goldilocks and the Three Bears.
Shakespeare, William. ROMEO AND JULIET. Retold by Bruce Coville. Pictures by Dennis Nolan.Dial, 1999. (Gr 4-6)
Two lovers from warring families must marry in secret.
Activity: Set up a problem-solving grid. What can 13-year-old Juliet to to convince her father to allow her to marry Romeo?
Sturges, Philemon. THE LITTLE RED HEN MAKES A PIZZA. Illustrated by Amy Walrod.Dutton, 1999. (Gr PreK-2)
Little Red Hen asks who will lend her a pizza pan, go to the store and get flour and mozzarella, help her make the dough and the topping and each time duck, dog and cat say "Not I." But when she does all the work and tasks who would like to help her eat the pizza, guess what the replies are!
Activity: Use as a story pattern. "The Little Red Hen Makes Chocolate Chip Cookies" and/or act out the book or the children's original scripts.
Taback, Simms. JOSEPH HAD A LITTLE OVERCOAT. Viking, 1999 (Gr PreK-2)
When Joseph's overcoat got too shabby he made it into a jacket. When the jacket wore out to became a vest; a scarf, a necktie, a handkerchief and a button. When he lost the button he made a book ( which shows you can make something out of nothing! A good repeating pattern book: "Joseph had a little jacket. It got old and worn so he made a vest out of it."
Activity: Ask the children to name their favorite things to wear. Choose four from the list that seem to be the most favorite. Put the children in groups. Each group must rank order the list from the most to the least favorite.
Twain, Mark. THE PRINCE AND THE PAUPER. Adapted by Marianna Mayer. Paintings by Gary A. Lippincott. Dial, 1999. (Gr 3-6)
Edward, Prince of Wales, longs for the freedom of a normal boy. Tom, a poor beggar dreams of enough food to eat. When the identical looking boys meet they switch identities, each to experience the other's life.
Activity: If you could switch identities with another person for one day, who would it be and why?