Pablo Picasso Breaking All the Rules

January 19, 2011

ISBN:  0-448-42862-8

Grade level:  5-8

Author:  True Kelley

Theme:  Art

This text provides many samples of Picasso’s artwork, along with a narrative from a student’s perspective on the various pieces of art.  The various styles of art (including Cubism) and interesting facts about Picasso are interspersed throughout the text.  There are a number of text features utilized throughout the story and an interesting presentation of information.  This text could be used to introduce an art lesson, as a biographical text on Picasso, or as a basis for a text feature discussion.  I recommend this book as an interesting read for junior or intermediate students,  as it presents Picasso in an engaging manner.



January 19, 2011

  ISBN:  0-688-11449-0

Grade Level: K-2

Author:  Kevin Henkes

Theme:  Empathy, Growing Up

In this story, a small mouse named Owen has a blanket that he adores.  The blanket is getting old and dirty and his neighbour feels that Owen is getting too old to carry it around.  Owen does not want to give up his blanket.  His parents try a variety of tricks to get him to give it up, including a “Blanket Fairy”, and “the vinegar trick”, but Owen somehow manages to cope and keep his blanket.  By the end of the story, the family comes up with a solution to make everyone happy.  Students can easily identify with Owen and can make connections with this text to their own lives. This text can be used as a guided reading text, a read-aloud for theme thinking, or as part of an author study.  An excellent story that I would recommend for a primary classroom.

Mr. Peabody’s Apples by Madonna

November 25, 2010

 Mr. Peabody’s Apples  is based on a 300 year old story and deals with the power words hold. 

 This book tells the story of  a teacher in the town, Mr. Peabody, and the consequences that arise when a rumour is circulated about him.  Tommy, the boy who began the rumour, goes to Mr. Peabody to make amends when he discovers what he saw and said as a result are wrong.  Mr. Peabody demonstrates how the power of words  becomes almost impossible to stop. 

He has Tommy cut open a feather pillow on a windy day and tells him that each feather represents a person in the town.  Tommy realizes what impact his words have had on his teacher and realizes the importance of words.  I especially like how the vivid illustrations by Loren Long add to the story.  This book allowed for excellent discussion in both my junior and intermediate classes.  Students understand the hurt that rumours can cause but not always the difficulty required to try to right the wrong that has been done.  This is an excellent book for character education, and  a wonderful read aloud.


Reading ability: Level P  and above – but I would suggest it as a junior or intermediate read aloud to have discussion and get the most out of this book

Genre: fiction

Theme: integrity, courage, growing up

Who would like this book young adolescents, fans of Madonna

ISBN: 0-670-04492-X


February 4, 2010


In The Breadwinner, Deborah Ellis  creates a story to drawing in the reader, connecting us to the character while teaching about the culture of    Afghanistan.  Maps are provided to help  visualize where the story is happening.  Literature Circle questions,  activities and a glossary at the back of the book are helpful when using this text in the classroom.

The story follows sixth grade Parvana and her family as they struggle to survive in war torn Afghanistan.  After Father is taken away, how will the family survive?  Parvana is forced to find ways to support her family, while hiding her identity as a young Afghan girl.    

Reading Ability: Intermediate

Genre: Historical fiction, War
Themes: war, courage, determination

Who would love this book?

history buffs

-girls looking for strong female characters

-those interested in current events

-fans of Deborah Ellis

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Elijah of Buxton

February 4, 2010

  Newbery Honor Book

Winner of Scott O’Dell Award for Historical Fiction

Winner, Canadian Library Association Book of the Year


Elijah, an eleven year old boy, lives in Buxton, Canada.  This is a settlement composed mostlyof runaway slaves, Elijah has the distinction of being the first child born as a free citizen in the town.

Elijah is a timid boy who talks too much and thinks too little.  He wins the respect of the townps people when he helps a friend who has been robbed.  A friend who has been working to buy his family out of captivity in America. 

The book is told from the point of view of young Elijah and offers many opportunities to discuss how perception changes with age.  Language is authentic to the time and will allow for a good deal of discussion.  The author provides a brief history of the actual community of Buxton as well as literature circle discussion questions and activities at the back of the text. 


Reading Ability: intermediate

Genre: Historical Fiction, Black History
Theme:  Determination, Black History, courage, Adventure

Who would love this book?

-Canadian history lovers, readers interested in early settlement in Canada, those who enjoy reading about Black History


Related Links: