Can We Save the Tiger? – Written by Martin Jenkins and Illustrated by Vicky White

Can We Save the Tiger?, Written by Martin Jenkins and Illustrated by Vicky White, 2011, Somerville, MA: Candlewick Press. 9780763649098.

Age Range: 7-10 years.

No Author Website.

No Illustrator Website.

Media Used: The illustrations were done in pencil and oil paint.  (Information from copyright page in book.)

Annotation:  There are thousands of animals in our world that are in danger of becoming extinct.  This books gives examples of a few of these animals and reasons why we need to help save them.

Personal Reaction:  It is hard to imagine a world without tigers.  If we aren’t careful though, we may end up losing them for good.  In our world today, there are thousands of animals in danger of becoming extinct.  This book helps to teach about those animals as well as set a plea for us to try and stop this from happening.

Conservationist Martin Jenkins outlines various animals that are in danger, on the rebound, and extinct teaching readers about the animal as well as how they got into the situation they are in today.  There is so much to learn about the animals of our planet and many ways that everyone can help raise awareness about how our actions affect everything around us.

This picture book is a fantastic read and it will show readers what these rare, and now for some extinct, animals look like.  By teaching the youth of today to be more conscientious about the  animals we are this planet with, we will hopefully be able to continue to enjoy them for many more years. 

The last page of the book sums everything up nicely: “When it comes to looking after all the species that are already endangered, there’s such a lot to do that sometimes it might all seem to be too much, especially when there are so many other important things to worry about.  But if we stop trying, the chances are that pretty soon we’ll end up with a world where there are no tigers, or sawfishes, or whooping cranes, or albatrosses or ground iguanas.  And I think that would be a shame, don’t you?” (p. 51)

Posted in My top 10, Published in 2010 or 2011 | Leave a comment

The Extraordinary Mark Twain (According to Susy) – Written by Barbara Kerley and Illustrated by Edwin Fotheringham

The Extraordinary Mark Twain (According to Susy), Written by Barbara Kerley and Illustrated by Edwin Fotheringham, 2010, New York: Scholastic Press. 9780545125086.

Age Range: 7-11years.


Author Website:

Illustrator Website:

Media Used: The illustrations were done in digital media.   (Information from copyright page in book.)

Awards:  SLJ Best Books for Children: 2010, Texas: Texas Bluebonnet Award Nominees: 2012.

Annotation:  Susy Clemens is writing to set the story straight about her Papa, Mark Twain.  Many think of him as only a humorist, but Susy is ready to set the story straight.  Read of his life according to his daughter, Susy.

Personal Reaction:  What a fun and fantastically imaginative picture book.  I say fun because you learn about the famous Mark Twain through his daughter’s eyes, and imaginative because throughout the book are glued in journal entries that open like a mini book!

According to Susy, many people have the story wrong when it comes to the author Mark Twain.  They think that he is only a humorist, but Susy knows different and is set on writing a correct biography about her father. 

Readers will learn about Mark Twain the author, the father, and that falls in between.  In the back of the book, Kerley has written more about Mark Twain and about Susy herself.  I found this all to be helpful as well as it added to my experience reading the book.  There is also a selected time line of his life for readers to read as well.

Overall, this is just a fun and fantastic picture book!

Curricular Connection:  Use this biography as an example of how to write a biography.  Author Barbara Kerley provides tips and ideas in the back of this picture book.

Use of Advanced Language: “expergate” (possibly should be spelled “expurgate”? Either way, it is a word even I had to look up.)

Posted in Curricular Connection, My top 10, Published in 2010 or 2011, Use of Advanced Language | Leave a comment

The Anne Frank Case: Simon Wiesenthal’s Search for the Truth – Written by Susan Goldman Rubin and Illustrated by Bill Farnsworth

The Anne Frank Case: Simon Wiesenthal’s Search for the Truth, Written by Susan Goldman Rubin and Illustrated by Bill Farnsworth, 2010, New York: Holiday House. 9780823421091.

Age Range: 6-10 years.

Author Website:

Illustrator Website:

Media Used: Book does say except that the illustrations are painted.

Annotation:  After witnessing neo-Nazis claim Anne Frank is all a hoax, holocaust survivor Simon Wiesenthal goes on a quest to prove them wrong and find the man that arrested the Frank Family.  Learn of his life, his experiences, and his quest.

Personal Reaction:  Simon Wiesenthal knows that Anne Frank is a real person.  He knows that what she went through, hiding in an attic with her family is real, fact.  However, others living in Austria and other places in the post World War II world are saying that Anne Frank is a hoax and even going as far as to say that the Holocaust itself is a hoax! 

Wiesenthal, a man who was in a concentration camp himself, cannot believe his ears when he hears the accusations about Anne Frank.  He makes it his personal mission to find authentic proof of Anne’s existence by finding the Gestapo officer who arrested Anne and her family.

This picture book tells not only the story of Wiesenthal’s five year hunt for proof about Anne, but also illuminates his own experience during World War II and the terrifying journey from almost being killed point blank, going to concentration camps, and having his life saved more than once.

This picture book is a fine example of how despite the façade of a picture book, it is a great teaching tool as well.  Rubin has gone to great lengths to help her readers better understand the information that they are consuming.  Difficult and sometimes lesser used words are easy to spot in this book because Rubin has made a fact to italicize these words and include them in a glossary in the back.  Also, she goes into great detail discussing her various resources and additionally gives readers a short more comprehensive biography on Wiesenthal in the back of the book.

Curricular Connection: This picture book fulfills the California Department of Education English Language Arts Content Standards for the fifth grade in the following ways:

1.0 Word Analysis, Fluency, and Systematic Vocabulary Development

Students use their knowledge of word origins and word relationships, as well as historical and literary context clues, to determine the meaning of specialized vocabulary and to understand the precise meaning of grade-level-appropriate words.

Word Recognition

1.1 Read aloud narrative and expository text fluently and accurately and with appropriate pacing, intonation, and expression.

Vocabulary and Concept Development

1.2 Use word origins to determine the meaning of unknown words.

1.3 Understand and explain frequently used synonyms, antonyms, and homographs.

1.4 Know abstract, derived roots and affixes from Greek and Latin and use this knowledge to analyze the meaning of complex words (e.g., controversial).

1.5 Understand and explain the figurative and metaphorical use of words in context.

2.0 Reading Comprehension (Focus on Informational Materials)

Students read and understand grade-level-appropriate material. They describe and connect the essential ideas, arguments, and perspectives of the text by using their knowledge of text structure, organization, and purpose. The selections in Recommended Literature, Kindergarten Through Grade Twelve illustrate the quality and complexity of the materials to be read by students. In addition, by grade eight, students read one million words annually on their own, including a good representation of grade-level-appropriate narrative and expository text (e.g., classic and contemporary literature, magazines, newspapers, online information). In grade five, students make progress toward this goal.

Structural Features of Informational Materials

2.1Understand how text features (e.g., format, graphics, sequence, diagrams, charts, maps) make information accessible and usable.

2.2 Analyze text that is organized in sequential or chronological order.

Comprehension and Analysis of Grade-Level-Appropriate Text

2.3 Discern main ideas and concepts presented in texts, identifying and assessing evidence that supports those ideas.

2.4 Draw inferences, conclusions, or generalizations about text and support them with textual evidence and prior knowledge.

Expository Critique

2.5 Distinguish facts, supported inferences, and opinions in text.

I would also recommend this book to be used for a biography project, or if students need to learn more about the concentration camps during World War II.

Use of Advanced Language: Aryan, concentration camp, death block, force-labor camp, forgery, Gestapo, Ghetto, neo-Nazis, nettle, partisans, restitution money, SS (Schutzstaffel), swastikas, Ukrainian.  These are all words listed in the glossary and italicized through the book.

Posted in Curricular Connection, My top 10, Published in 2010 or 2011, Use of Advanced Language | Leave a comment

The Rooster Prince of Breslov – Written by Ann Redisch Stampler and Illustrated by Eugene Yelchin

The Rooster Prince of Breslov, Written by Ann Redisch Stampler and Illustrated by Eugene Yelchin, 2010, Boston, MA: Clarion Books. 9780618989744.

Age Range: 6-10 years.

No Author Website.

Illustrator Website:

Media Used: Illustrations were executed in graphite and gouache on watercolor paper.  (Information from copyright page in book.)

Annotation: The Prince of Breslov believes himself to be a rooster.  The King and Queen try everything to turn him normal again, and eventually find help where they least expected it: an old man with a peculiar plan.

Personal Reaction:  The Prince of Breslov is used to getting everything he wants, even things that he doesn’t necessarily want are given to him.  One day, fed up with being told what to do, the Prince starts to act like a rooster.  The King and Queen are at a loss for what to do and bring in a doctor as well as magicians to heal him.  Nothing works until an old man appears and says that if he is allowed to do his own thing, he thinks he can cure the Prince. 

The King and Queen agree and soon the old man starts to act like a rooster too.  Very soon, the old man starts to introduce human things back to the Prince like a bed and bread always asking the Prince, “Why is this just for humans?”  Before the Prince knows what is happening he is once again acting like a human again and he soon becomes angry and says that he is no human and definitely not a prince, but a rooster.  The old man explains that it is the Prince’s actions that have made him a man: the way he treated a cold, achy old rooster, the fact that he wrapped him in a blanket and shared his Sabbath feat with an old traveler.  In the end, the Prince grows up to be a fine King.

According to the author’s note in the back of the book, this is one of the best-loved Yiddish folktales.  It is a coming-of-age story explaining how young people grow up to be good adults.  Stampler also points out that the main characters “stature as a prince suggests that all children, no matter how privileged, will all need to go through this developmental process in order to become kings and queens –adults with moral authority in their families and communities.”

I felt this message ringing loud and clear throughout the story and feel that this is a great book for older children to read.  It gives them a basis for understanding their changing roles, from children to young adults, as well as giving a funny story to back this up.

Use of Onomatopoeia: “Buck-buck-buck” “Cock-a-doodle-doo!”

Posted in My top 10, Published in 2010 or 2011, Use of Onomatopoeia | Leave a comment

Breaking Down – Written by Maia Kinney-Petrucha and Stefan Petrucha and Illustrated by Rick Parker

Breaking Down, Written by Maia Kinney-Petrucha and Stefan Petrucha and Illustrated by Rick Parker, 2011, New York: Papercutz. 9781597072458.

Age Range: 10-17 years.

Author Website:

No Website for Maia Kinney-Petrucha

No Illustrator Website.

Annotation: This graphic novel follows the relationship of Bleh-Bleh (a human) and Fredward (a vampire) which includes a bad breakup, werewolves, and an unplanned pregnancy.  This is a parody of the Twilight series.

Personal Reaction:  Published by the same company as the Harry Potty graphic novel that I also reviewed, this graphic novel had many of the same issues that I had before.  Starting with Bleh-Bleh’s father trying to talk with her about how she is doing, he takes us through the events that took place in the hit series Twilight written by Stephanie Meyer. 

All of the names in the series have been changed, but the basic premises remain the same.  Bleh-Bleh and Freward meet and she falls instantly in love.  In the next part of the book though, Fredward leaves Bleh-Bleh because he is worried their relationship is unhealthy.  The two eventually become an item once more only to find themselves in the midst of an attack by other vampires.

Eventually, Bleh-Bleh’s father says that he hopes she isn’t doing anything too drastic, but what he does not know is that she is marrying Fredward and the two soon end up pregnant with vampire-human child that totally throws their world upside down!

I enjoyed reading this parody, but nothing can take away from the complete and utter awe that I felt when I first read the Twilight series a few years ago.  I can only compare my fascination with these books to this one, and the graphic novel pales in comparison. 

As with the Harry Potty parody, I found the name variations incredibly distracting and it only made it hard for me to digest the graphic novel.  I do believe that teens will enjoy this fun graphic novel, whether they have read the original series or not.

Posted in Graphic Novel - Fiction, Published in 2010 or 2011 | Leave a comment

Harry Potty and the Deathly Boring – Written by Stefan Petrucha and Illustrated by Rick Parker

Harry Potty and the Deathly Boring, Written by Stefan Petrucha and Illustrated by Rick Parker, 2010, New York: Papercutz. 9781597072182.

Age Range: 10-17 years.

Author Website:

No Illustrator Website.

Annotation: Harry Potty, Don Measley, and Whiny Stranger work together to defeat Lord Value-Mart and his followers, the Odor Eaters, in order to restore balance in the world of magic.  This graphic novel is a parody of the Harry Potter series.

Personal Reaction:  As a long time fan of the Harry Potter series, I found this graphic novel a bit hard to read.  Stefan Petrucha has kept the main ideas of the book in place, but replaced names and places with words that all sound like those of the actual book series.  For me, this was a little distracting. 

Wielding a plunger instead of a wand, the graphic novel starts with Harry Potty and his two best friends deciding to leave their school Nosewarts in order to try and stop Value-Mart and his Odor Eaters from implementing more dark magic.  In the real series, this happens in the seventh and final book.

In order to catch readers up to speed, after this decision, Petrucha then goes back to the first book and retells all of the storylines with his new names and what not.  It makes for a funny take on the series, one that I think fans of the Harry Potter books will enjoy reading.  Overall though, I personally found these changes distracting and it took away from my overall enjoyment of the book.  I often found myself having to read and re-read various pages of the book because the language was hard for me to focus on.

The illustrations throughout are pretty amazing which made up for the wacky story.  Bright colors and lifelike characters are found throughout which really gave life to this graphic novel.

Posted in Graphic Novel - Fiction, Published in 2010 or 2011 | Leave a comment

The Secret Cave: Discovering Lascaux – Written and Illustrated by Emily Arnold McCully

The Secret Cave: Discovering Lascaux, Written and Illustrated by Emily Arnold McCully, 2010, 36 p., New York: Farrar Straus Giroux. 9780374366940.

Age Range: 6-10 years.

Author Website:

Annotation:  Jacques, Jojo, Simon, and Marcel are about the make one of the most astounding discoveries in recent history: The Cave of Lascaux.  In this cave the boys find prehistoric drawings that had been preserved for hundreds of years.

Personal Reaction:  As a history buff myself; it is hard to not catch on to the excitement that follows an amazing discovery like the Caves of Lascaux.  Mistakenly discovered by four boys around the year 1940, they could hardly imagine the great treasure they had found.

One of the most astounding things about the caves is the fact that because no one had entered for so long, they were almost in pristine condition!  This didn’t last long though, and a few years later the caves were shut off from the public to preserve them as best as possible.

This book is great for children because it really explains about the importance of discoveries like this cave.  The author’s note is especially helpful because it explains more detail about the discovery and even shows a photograph that has two of the boys in it.  Listed here are also McCully’s references and resources.

Curricular Connection: This book fulfills the California Department of Education standards for History and Social Science concerning grade six as follows:

6.1 Students describe what is known through archaeological studies of the early physical and cultural development of humankind from the Paleolithic era to the agricultural revolution.

  1. Describe the hunter-gatherer societies, including the development of tools and the use of fire.
  2. Identify the locations of human communities that populated the major regions of the world and describe how humans adapted to a variety of environments.
  3. Discuss the climatic changes and human modifications of the physical environment that gave rise to the domestication of plants and animals and new sources of clothing and shelter.  

Use of Personification: “They seemed to float along the walls, into the inky darkness” (This is referring to the prehistoric drawings).

Use of Simile: “It’s as cold as a tomb”

Posted in Curricular Connection, Published in 2010 or 2011, Use of Personification, Use of Simile | Leave a comment