Monday, July 30, 2012

A Rainy Day at Barnes & Noble

Summer in NJ can sometimes mean spells of unpredictable thunderstorms when its been really hot.  This past week or so has been one of those times.  Last week I was out shopping when a big, angry storm rolled through.  Since I wasn't gong out in the crazy rain, I decided to pop into Barnes & Noble to wait it out and look at some of the new children's books.  Surprisingly, the main display was full of books geared toward intermediate readers.  It must be all the required summer reading lists because this section is usually filled with new picture books.  I decided to wander over to the picture book section and see what was out.
When looking at picture books, I tend to look for books that work with lessons I do with my 5th graders.  This time, while I did keep an eye out for that, I wanted to just look and see what was available in general.  I came away with a list of great books.  I even ended up purchasing a picture book I really have no use for myself, but I had to have it!  Since I found all these gems at Barnes & Noble, I thought it only right that I link to them.  I've also included some blurbs about the books from their pages.

Let me share with you a couple of brand new books that are out.  The first one is by Patricia Polacco.  That should be enough to sell you on the book right there!  There isn't a book of hers that I don't just love, this one included.  Her newest book is The Art of Miss Chew.  It's publication date is April 12, 2012, just a little over three months new!
Here is the blurb from B&N web page:
  After spending the summer with her artist grandmother, Trisha knows she wants to be an artist, too. She's thrilled when her sketches get her into Miss Chew's special art class at the high school. A substitute teacher tells her she's wasting time on art when she should be studying - but fortunately, this is one battle that Miss Chew and Trisha are up for!

What the blurb doesn't tell you is that Miss Chew realizes Trisha has a reading problem and takes her to a reading specialist.  They find that Trisha just sees words differently and one of the modifications they make is to allow her more time on tests.  You also see what extraordinary talent she has as an artist.  What a great book to read to your friends to show that reading "problems" can be helped and that we all have different talents.  I won't even go into the subplot of her teacher's father.  Yes, even picture books can have a secondary story!

The other new book I found was Rocket Writes a Story by Tad Hills.
While The Art of Miss Chew is fantastic for your older friends, this one is really perfect for beginning writers.  It is a sequel to the book How Rocket Learned to Read.

In How Rocket Learned to Read, a little yellow bird captures Rocket"s interest in reading by reading him a book about a dog looking for a bone.  However, she leaves him hanging and Rocket must come back to hear what happens next.  Finally, Rocket joins the little yellow bird's school where he learns to read.  Here is one of the pages from the book.  If you click on it, it will pop up larger.

In Rocket Writes a Story, Rocket has trouble thinking of a writing topic.  The same yellow bird from the first story encourages him to look around.  In the end, Rocket is able to find ideas and details for his writing from the world around him and his daily life.  It might be a bit simplistic for older friends, but it is a perfect intro on idea gathering for beginner writers.  Also, a perfect book for how to add details to a story.

This book couldn't get any newer!  It was just published on July 24, 2012.  I went to my local library to borrow it (sorry Barnes & Noble!) and it wasn't even done being processed for the shelves yet.  However, if you teach beginning writers, I think this is a must buy.


While at B&N, I took a picture of one display in particular as a few books caught my eye.  I circled them for you.  Three of the four are classics (in my mind, anyway!) that I use in my classroom every year.

The three books I use are:
1.  Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs by Judi Barrett  I use this book for teaching word choice and descriptive language.  I got the idea from  That link will take you to a full lesson plan using Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs as your mentor text.  If you don't know, be prepared to spend a ton of time going through their site.  It is a goldmine for lessons using picture books that incorporate the six traits.
2. Click! Clack! Moo! Cows That Type! by Doreen Cronin  I use this in my persuasive writing unit.  I came across this book while snooping around a while back.  THIS LINK will take you to a great lesson on using persuasive techniques.
3.  The Great Kapok Tree by Lynne Cherry  I also use this book in my persuasive unit. In addition to being a great example of the persuasive techniques pathos, logos, and ethos, it is well written and has amazing illustrations.  I mentioned this book once before in this post I did about schema.

The fourth book is Rat and Roach, Friends to the End,  This is another new book, just published on July 5, 2012.  I didn't get a chance to read it and know nothing of it other than what the Barnes & Noble page for it says.  I bring it to your attention because of the conversation I heard two moms having while I was looking at the books.  One mom picked it up and read it silently, laughing the entire time.  She took it over to her friend, telling her she had to read it.  The other mom read it and also laughed out loud.  I thought it must be a pretty good book.  The second mom then said, "This is too good to be wasted on a kid!  It's so funny!  They should put it in the adult area."   Wasted on a kid?!!! Hmmm, I wonder how she thinks adult readers begin?  I guess I should just be happy she was in a book store buying books for her kid!  

Anyway, those are some of my picture book finds.  I have many more I will share in another post to follow.  Not tomorrow!  But, soon!  By the way, if you are familiar with any of the new books I shared, please feel free to share how you use them in the comments.  More ideas for all!


  1. I got to hear Patricia Polacco speak at a reading conference - she moved me to tears! I love everything she's written as well. What a great way to spend a rainy day!


  2. So many great books!! The Rocket books look so cute!
    Conversations in Literacy

  3. Thanks for sharing! I was wondering how(or if) you(and your followers) put picture books out in your classroom library. I love them and think they are under utilized in the upper grades. The reading levels are often more appropriate for upper grade readers, yet they rarely are part of upper grade classroom libraries. I know mine are in a box, so I would love to hear ideas about how others get them out and in the hands of 5th & 6th grade readers.

    1. Hi Kari,
      I use lots of picture books in my class. I think it is becoming more common. In this post,
      the top picture shows the front of my classroom. To the far right, you can see that I have a "big book" book shelf that I use to hold/display my picture books. It is handy because they are always available to the kids and me. I don't have all my picutre books out at once. What is on the shelf are the picture books we use in and across speciwhatever specific reading and writing units I am teaching at the time. Many times I have grabbed one on the spur of the moment and have been able to use it to make a point as they are common reads for the whole class. Often, my 5th grafers will like them enought to ask if they can take them home to read to younger siblings. I hope others add to this as I would also be interested in how others manage and display them. Thanks for reading the blog!

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  5. Wow, what a display at B&N! Lots of great finds. Hope you will check out my post and give me some suggestions for a few mentor texts to used at