Ok, it’s the final push to make it to 52 books. Many weeks have gone by with no ‘book a week’ entries in part because I have not been posting on all the books I have read, and in part because my reading has been hijacked by an on-line class I am taking on reading picture books. Should I use those books towards the goal? I decided not too, but I if I had, I would be well over the 52 books for the year.
I wanted to read some more books at lower levels, so I have been making my way through stacks of beginning level books. I’d feel guilty if I counted each title individually (it’s my goal, so I can make up my own rules, right?). So, for all the entries below, I read about 4 or 5 books in the series.
#41 The Fox Series by James Marshall
Did you know that James Marshall died of a brain tumor in 1992? I love his books- from the Cut Ups, to the Stupids, to the fabulous Ms. Nelson, his books have appeal for adult readers as well as for children.
These books look very simple, and from the word calling perspective, they are really simple. But, they offer many opportunities to teach readers how to infer. Fox is a solid character with traits that would be easy for readers to define and find examples to support their thinking in the text. The problems in the stories are very realistic, the only fantasy element being that the characters are animals.
#42 Mr. Putter and Tabby Series by Cynthia Rylant
These books follow the episodes of an old man. The character seems a strange choice for a book series targeted at beginning readers, but it works. Mr. Putter and his cat Tabby have small adventures that usually culminate in a snack and a nap. These stories are each small moment stories/personal narratives that highlight the idea that the little things in life are worth writing about. In addition to making good books for readers at this level, I think these books would make good mentor texts for personal narrative writing.
#43 Annie and Snowball Series by Cynthia Rylant
Annie is the cousin and next door neighbor to Henry of the Henry and Mudge series Annie is dainty and frilly and sweet. She’s a girly- girl’s girl. Therefore, she held little appeal for me. However, the books do have a solid, predictable structure and will no doubt appeal to some readers.
#44 Henry and Mudge Series by Cythnia Rylant
Henry, cousin to Annie (see above) has an enormous dog, probably a Mastiff, that drools a lot. I don’t like dog drool. But, these books are really cute! Definitely a boy and dog love story series- like a pre-pre-pre-cursor to Where the Red Fern Grows.
I read 4 of these books and the thing that stands out is that there is not really a problem in some of them. In book one, Mudge gets lost and Henry finds him, but in The Starry Night, the family takes an idyllic camping trip. Everyone is happy, and there is no problem. The characters are definable, but static. This doesn’t make them bad, not at all. However, I shudder to think about pulling up next to a student in a conference and asking what the main problem in the story is and having them give me a blank look.
They are good books to illustrate a small moment or personal narrative.
#45 Poppleton Series by Cynthia Rylant
I love Poppleton. Here’s a pig who knows how to live! He’s got a strong personality, quirky and fun. He measures icicles, hooks rugs and gets dizzy looking at stars. Each book is divided into three unrelated chapters, each of which has a problem solution arc. Even though I find it disturbing to see goats and pigs walking on two legs instead of fours, I like these books because I like the personality of the main character better than in Rylant’s other series.
#46 Iris and Walter Series by Elissa Haden Guest
Well written and touching- these books tell the story of Iris, who has moved from the city out to the county. She’s lonely until she meets a friend- Walter, and from there everything changes. These books have relatively simple problems in them, again, all realistic. However, the solutions are often implied and call for the reader to infer the cause and effect relationship between actions and their outcomes. The characters have some depth to them, which makes them more sophisticated. These books would be good for teaching both narrative writing and in any unit on character- probably best for Grade 2 and 3.
#47 Mr. and Mrs. Green Series by Keith Baker
Alligators in love! These books have three chapters/episodes per book. I think they are a higher level because the episodes are longer than in some of the other books further up this list. Each episode has a problem and a solution, and the theme of the book seems to be the happiness these alligators get out of being good partners to each other. They would be good to use in a conversation about thinking of how others feel and how we can make others feel.
There are four books in this series and the back of each book has a list of favorites of each of the alligators: favorite book, favorite ice cream, etc… These lists could be a good way to reintroduce character traits and how we get to know characters through the books. For example, readers should be able to predict that Mrs. Alligator would be Mr. Alligators favorite artist after reading the first book.
I love the illustrations in these books- the alligators ooze personality in every picture.
That’s it for now… 5 books to go and 5 weeks left of the year…
I think I can do it!