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In Review

By Elizabeth Wroten

Picture Book Review: My Grandfather’s Coat by Jim Aylesworth

On 01, Jun 2016 | In Review | By Elizabeth Wroten

Grandfather's CoatMy Grandfather’s Coat written by Jim Aylesworth, illustrated by Barbara McClintock

From Goodreads: Jim Aylesworth’s satisfying retelling and Barbara McClintock’s heartwarming pictures celebrate how Grandfather cleverly recycles his beloved coat through four generations.

This is the standard Joseph had a little overcoat story, but it’s done in such a touching way following the family through the generations that if feels very fresh. It might be one of those books that appeals a bit more to adults for the sentimentality of the story and pictures, but the fresh spin and details still make it a book for children.

I love the illustrations in the book, probably even more than the actual text. McClintock repeats layouts throughout the book that visually connect the family and the story through the generations and connect them to their eras. And while repetitive layouts and repetitive text could feel boring and stagnant, it doesn’t. It pulls it all together and takes what might be kind of a long story for younger kids and turns it into something very engaging yet predictable. McClintok also included lots of fun little details to notice: the fashion and house decoration through the ages, even the border on the front cover with spools and buttons. It just pulls the story together and makes it a fun book to pore over. Plus some of the pictures spark conversation, like the Ellis Island in the background of that cover picture.

I’m still partial to Sims Taback’s version of the story, but this one is great too and we can’t have too many books with Jewish families in our library at the moment. It’s on my list for purchases next year (since we’re done for this year). A lot of the illustrations feature small snippets of Jewish life (a menorah on the table and the wedding scene, for example) which the text does not mention, but still connects the story with its origins and gives Jewish kids a place to point to and say, “Hey, that looks like our table!”

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In Redux

By Elizabeth Wroten

Summer of Diverse Books

On 24, May 2016 | In Redux | By Elizabeth Wroten

100dayprojectI recently came across this project called The 100 Day Project. It encourages you to do one thing for 100 days, with an emphasis on making or doing something. The project technically started back in April, but I just don’t have time to do this kind of thing every day during the school year and I feel like I had my plate full this spring. So instead I decided to start late and use it to guide some (most) of my summer reading. I have a couple larger projects planned this summer, like revamping my curriculum for the library and also, with the generous help of my best friend, who is also one of the second grade teachers, weeding our Native American content in the library.

The plan is to read one diverse book a day and review it. This will give me a lot of good practice reviewing and force me to seek out a lot more diverse books. Many will be picture books (my line up is on Goodreads if you want a sense of where I’m starting out and going) because they are faster to read and a lot of these books I’m looking at with an eye toward adding them to our library collection and I do a lot of the development in the picture book section. I am really trying to hit more than racial diversity, although we need plenty more of that in our collection, so if you have any suggestions please feel free to share them.

One final note, the project asks you to document your project on Instagram. As much as I dislike taking daily pictures and as much as I dislike having one more social media account to manage I’m going to try and do this. I will be adding my Instagram account in the sidebar, but as of writing this I haven’t done it. I think I can set it up to only see the hashtag for this project (fingers crossed). If not you’ll be seeing my other 100 day project which is 100 days of simple science play with my daughter. I suppose the Instagram will serve the purpose of documenting the reading even if I don’t get around to writing reviews each and every day.

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