Tag Archives: fiction

A Review of Two of the ‘Kids of Polk Street School’ Books

The Kids of the Polk Street School series is written for young readers who are eagerly beginning to stretch their reading skills to chapter books.  This is quite an exciting time of new goals for children. Each book focuses on a student in Ms. Rooney’s second grade classroom.

The Beast in Ms. Rooney’s Room

“Make it a practice to judge persons and things in the most favorable light at all times, in all circumstances.”  – St. Vincent de Paul

Reading level

3.2        [Scholastic – reflects the grade level at which a student reading on grade could read the book independently]

2.1         [AR]

Interest level

Grades  3 – 5

Review and Comments

The Beast in Ms. Rooney’s Room, the first book in the series, introduces readers to several typical second grade students.  Richard “Beast” Best is one of the students beginning the new school year in Ms. Rooney’s class – for the second time.  Because of this, Richard has to deal with a lot of concerns before he feels comfortable in a class of younger children.  What will he tell his old classmates about why he was left back?  Why does he have to feel so big next to the other second graders?  Why does he still have baby teeth?  Why can he only read ten words? Why does he get in trouble so often? The reader understands more about Richard’s struggles through his relationships with other students who eventually support and accept him.  Inevitably, there is also an irritating student who attempts to upset Richard’s adjustment to the new school year with hurtful remarks. Continue reading A Review of Two of the ‘Kids of Polk Street School’ Books

Revisiting Childhood Memories: A Review of ‘No, David!’

“It’s not enough to love children, it is necessary that they are aware they are loved.”–  St. John Bosco

Reading Level

K-1                        [common core]

Pre-K – Grade 3 [David Shannon website]

Pre-K – 1              [Scholastic]

Review and Comments

David Shannon’s book, No, David!, is modeled after a book he wrote and illustrated as a child.  The pictures are colorful, and the vocabulary is limited because at the time he only knew how to spell no and David.  His story allows a small glimpse into the animated life of a very active, little boy named…… David.

This version highlights familiar childhood situations like sneaking cookies and jumping on the bed during imaginative play.  While David is enthusiastically charging through his day, his mother is trying to teach him important lessons: taking care of toys, respecting the property of others, and listening to and obeying his mother. David ultimately faces consequences after his serious infraction of breaking his mother’s vase.  The main lesson he does learn is that his mother’s love is unconditional. She assures him on the last page that she still loves him even after all the challenges of the day. Continue reading Revisiting Childhood Memories: A Review of ‘No, David!’

Run and Find Out!: A Review of “Rikki-Tikki-Tavi”

“To have courage for whatever comes in life – everything lies in that.” – St. Teresa of Avila

Reading Level

Grades 3-5    [according to Scholastic which reflects the grade level at which a student reading on grade could read the book independently.]

5.0    [AR]

Review and Comments

Rikki-tikki-tavi is a young mongoose who is welcomed into an English family after being separated from his own family during a terrible storm.  The father seems to know a lot about mongooses, and he assures his wife and son that it is a good thing to have a mongoose close by because they kill snakes.  This proves true when Rikki-tikki saves the young son from a deadly snake soon after he arrives.  The danger for the family is not over however. Rikki-tikki e and his adopted family soon experience life-threatening encounters with a pair of deadly adversaries. Continue reading Run and Find Out!: A Review of “Rikki-Tikki-Tavi”

Another Door Opens: A Review of ‘Bud, Not Buddy!’

“The most terrible poverty is loneliness and the feeling of being unloved.”–  Mother Teresa

Reading Level

Grades 4-5          [common core]

Grades 3-5, 6-8 [according to Scholastic which reflects the grade level at which a student reading on grade could read the book independently]

Grade 5                 [AR]

Interest Level

Grades 4-8          [AR]

Review and Comments

Bud, Not Buddy is a story about a ten year boy who is virtually alone in the very harsh world of the Great Depression.  Bud is living somewhere between the memories of his deceased mother and a yearning for the father he never knew.  During his search for his father, the reader is exposed to lessons about this period in history through the people Bud meets and his deepest thoughts and feelings as only a ten year old can express them. Continue reading Another Door Opens: A Review of ‘Bud, Not Buddy!’

Knock. Knock. Who’s There?: A Review of ‘Lon Po Po: A Red Riding Hood Story from China’

“Never trust a stranger-friend; no one knows how it will end.  As you’re pretty, so be wise; wolves may lurk in every guise.” – Charles Perrault, Little Red Riding Hood

Reading Level:  

2.6         [according to Scholastic – reflects the grade level at which a student reading on grade could read the book independently]

K – 1      [according to common core]

3.5         [AR]

Interest Level:    K-2         [Ages  6-8]

A little house…. a basket…. a grandmother….. and a wolf.   These are all familiar elements in the fairy tale Lon Po Po: A Red Riding Hood Story from China. The reader will be intrigued with this version of the story while mentally checking off differences and similarities to the more familiar traditional tale.

The story begins with the customary visit to Grandmother, but this time it is the mother who visits Grandmother while her three children stay home.  As any concerned mother, she warns them to keep the door locked because she will be gone overnight.  This of course is a clue to the discerning reader that they may not follow her instructions and that disobedience will put them in great danger. Continue reading Knock. Knock. Who’s There?: A Review of ‘Lon Po Po: A Red Riding Hood Story from China’

9 Books for Kids to Love During Lent

Lent is almost here and since it is such an important time of year for Catholics, we wanted to make sure you had some of these amazing books in your collection!  Each book shares a wonderful story meant to help kids understand Jesus’s sacrifice on the cross.

Happy Lent!

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In The Legend of the Sand Dollar Kerry visits her cousin Jack and she learns that God’s creations hold extraordinary lessons.  Jack shows her a simple sand dollar and uses its unique designs to tell her Jesus’ story from his birth to Pentecost.  Kerry is enthralled with what she has learned and knows that God is constantly reminding us all that He is close.  (Ages 3-7)

God Gave Us Easter is a great story for sharing the reason for Easter in simple terms.  It shows ‘new life’ found where things are seemingly dead and it reiterates the story of Jesus and the promise that he would come to take care of our sins. (Ages 3-7)

 

Easter is a time to celebrate and Bella and Pablo are excited to experience every aspect of the day in God’s Easter Gifts.  After Mass they go on an very special and memorable Easter egg hunt.  Each egg they find holds a story about a gift from God.  The children learn that Easter is definitely about celebrating God’s gifts, especially Jesus.  (Ages 4-7)

Humphrey’s First Palm Sunday is a sequel to Humphrey’s story as a young camel when he first met Jesus when he was just a baby.  Now he is much older and wiser and is present during Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday.  The pictures are beautiful and the camel’s goofy nature brings fun to the story.  This story stays true to the story of Palm Sunday and is great for kids.  (Ages 4-8)

Three trees each discuss their hopes and dreams for the future in The Three Trees.  Each one hopes for something different and grand but is met with a much more humble fate.  As they find out, their destiny is much more important to the mission of Jesus.  This is a beautiful story that reminds us of the power of the cross.  (Ages 5-9)

The Donkey That No One Could Ride is a simple story about a young, scared donkey.  He meets a man who asks him to carry him on an important ride.  The little donkey does not feel he is worthy, but the man gives him courage.  He agrees to the job and as he carries the man through Jerusalem and people call him a prophet, the donkey feels special.  (Ages 3-7)   For a full review of this book and other Anthony DeStefano books, read our blog post here

The Parable of the Lily tells the story of a farmer’s young daughter who receives a bulb as a gift.  She is disappointed and the gift is forgotten and eventually thrown into the garden.  She is surprised when she wakes up on Easter morning to find a Lily blooming in its place.  Part of a series of parables for little children, this story shares the message of forgiveness and new life.  (Ages 3-8)

The First Easter Bunny is simple story that shares the story of Jesus’s death and resurrection told through the eyes of a rabbit.  Perfect for an Easter gift!  (Ages 4-8)

 

 

 

Perfect for early readers, The Easter Cave goes through many of the details of the Easter story while using rhyme and rhythm.  Beautiful illustrations and repetition make it a wonderful book to keep in your home.  (Ages 4-8)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Continue reading 9 Books for Kids to Love During Lent

Finding Greatness: A Review of ‘Wonder’

“Courage. Kindness. Friendship. Character. These are the qualities that define us as human beings, and propel us, on occasion, to greatness.” –from Wonder

Grade Level:

Grades 5-8

Review and Thoughts

Wonder, by R.J. Palacio, is one of those great middle elementary books that teaches everyone the struggles and beauties of life and how sometimes they become entwined and we can’t have one without the other.

The story begins with our introduction to August Pullman who has been born with a terrible facial deformity.  In fact, when he is first born, he tells us that the nurses took him away so that his mother couldn’t see him.  He goes on to explain how everyone is so shocked and flustered in the hospital, but when his mother sees him, she notices how beautiful his eyes are and loves him the way any mother would.  And so the book begins with that combination of struggle and beauty and continues throughout. Continue reading Finding Greatness: A Review of ‘Wonder’

Bearing the Burden of Another: A Review of ‘Number the Stars’

“We must stand up for the rights of our neighbor who is suffering from injustice; we must defend them all the more vigorously because we see Jesus present in them. Surely this is our duty because of our love for others for his sake. We have no right to be ‘sleeping watchmen’ or dumb watch-dogs. Whenever we see evil we must sound the alarm.” — Blessed Charles de Foucauld

Reading Level:   5.2 [according to Scholastic which reflects the grade level at which a student reading on grade could read the book independently]

4.5 [AR level]

Interest Level:  Grades 3 – 6

Review and Comments:

Number the Stars is a historical fiction that takes place during WWII in Denmark.  The danger and turmoil in Copenhagen at the time are seen through the eyes of a ten year old girl named Annemarie. She witnesses cruelty and personally experiences fear amidst the bravery and heroic sacrifices of many who “honor the humanity of others.” Continue reading Bearing the Burden of Another: A Review of ‘Number the Stars’

God With Us: A Review of ‘God Gave Us Christmas’

“The Word who found a dwelling in Mary’s womb comes to knock on the heart of every person with singular intensity this Christmas.” – St. John Paul II

Reading Level: 2.7 [according to Scholastic – reflects the grade level at which a student reading on grade could read the book independently]

Interest Level: PreK – 2

Review and Comments:

“Where does Christmas come from?” Little Cub asks her mother.  Mama Bear could answer her question easily, but Mama wants her child to understand deep in her heart exactly what Christmas really means.  She wants to transport Little Cub to the first Christmas so she explains the scene in Bethlehem and the true meaning of the gift of Jesus.  Then Mama takes her out into the world to find God in the most unusual places.  Little Cub learns that God is the Light of the World. He is powerful and mighty.  And God is so generous He gave Jesus to all of us – “the best present of all.”  Little Cub thanks her Mama for “showing her God” and prepares for Christmas with a spirit filled with joy. Continue reading God With Us: A Review of ‘God Gave Us Christmas’

Into the Wild: A Review of ‘The Wild Robot’

“A year spent in artificial intelligence is enough to make one believe in God.”—Alan Perlis

Reading Level

Grades 5-8

Review

The draw of The Wild Robot is definitely its premise.  We’ve all read stories of characters trying to survive in the wilderness in books like Hatchet and Robinson Crusoe.  We’ve also read futuristic stories of robots who have evolved to act more and more like humans.  Rarely, however, are the two instances put together as they are in this novel. Peter Brown brings us this intriguing situation and, I admit, this is what drew me to the book. Continue reading Into the Wild: A Review of ‘The Wild Robot’