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Winding Oak's Bookology Magazine

Archive | Bullet Booktalks

Untamed Companion Booktalks

To get you started on the Bookstorm™ Books …

Chimpanzees I Love  

The Chimpanzees I Love: Saving Their World and Ours

Jane Goodall
Scholastic Press, 2001 

  • Uses stories of individual chimpanzees to share information about chimpanzee behavior and their environment as well as the author’s own biography

  • Heavily illustrated with engaging photos

  • Wealth of information presented in narrative, sidebar commentary, picture captions, quotations, and back matter

The Elephant Scientist


The Elephant Scientist

Caitlin O’Connell and Donna M. Jackson
illustrated by Timothy Rodwell
Houghton Mifflin, 2011

  • Follows Caitlin O’Connell in her study of elephants in Africa in Etosha National Park and in engaging well-organized text shows a scientist at work

  • Elephant behavior is amazing!

  • Heavily photo-illustrated with informative captions



Friends: True Stories of Extraordinary Animal Friendships

Catherine Thimmesh
Houghton Mifflin, 2011

  • Rhyming text celebrates the true-life animal friendships that are depicted in very appealing, large color photos

  • Includes backstory of each friendship

  • Stories are from around the world: India, Indonesia, Europe, Japan, and North America

Gorilla Doctors  

Gorilla Doctors: Saving Endangered Great Apes

Pamela S. Turner
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2008

  • Book opens with an engaging bang: the true story of a single Gorilla, Mararo, who has been injured when caught in a poacher’s trap

  • In addition to the story of the doctors caring for these threatened animals, the book includes background information about gorillas and human intrusion into gorilla habitats

  • Primarily photo illustrated, but also includes several helpful maps

Hope for the Animals  

Hope for Animals and Their World: How Endangered Species Are Being Rescued from the Brink

Jane Goodall, Gail Hudson, and Thane Maynard
Grand Central Publishing, 2009

  • Survival stories about conservation efforts to bring back endangered species and to protect their habitats

  • Stories are from around the globe and focus on appealing animals (Abbott’s Booby in Australia, Pygmy Hog in India, American Crocodile in the U.S.)

  • Published for adults, but the stories are short (8-10) and photo illustrated (including many color plates) and will engage strong readers 10 and up

Life in the Ocean  

Life in the Ocean: the Story of Oceanographer Sylvia Earle

written and illustrated by Claire Nivola
Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2012

  • Biography of ocean scientist Earle, who lived on a farm as a child

  • Illustrations target ocean life and details of Earle’s story that will catch the eye and hold interest of young readers: aqua suits, submersibles, whales, and a multitude of fish and other sea creatures

  • Includes author’s note and bibliography

Magic Gourd  

The Magic Gourd

written and illustrated by Baba Wague Diakite
Scholastic Press, 2003

  • A folk tale from Mali involving many animal characters—great for read-alouds

  • Illustrated by Coretta Scott King Honoree (for A Hunterman and the Crocodile: A West African Folktale)

  • Back matter include glossary and notes on author’s native Mali

termites on a stick  

Termites on a Stick

written and illustrated by Michéle Colon
Star Bright Books, 2008

  • One of Dr. Goodall’s most important discoveries was the observation that chimpanzees contrive and use tools, which shattered the prevailing idea that only humans were toolmakers and users; this book transfers that important observation into a child-friendly story

  • Appealing illustrations and mother-child narrative will appeal to young readers and listeners

  • Back matter includes helpfully illustrated information about chimpanzees and termites

Tree Lady  

Tree Lady: the True Story of How One Tree-Loving Woman Changed a City Forever

H. Joseph Hopkins
illustrated by Jill McElmurry
Beach Lane Books/Simon & Schuster, 2013

  • Picture book bio of Kate Sessions, the first woman to graduate from the U of Californian in science and who transformed the bare desert in and around San Diego into a horticultural oasis

  • Lush, engaging illustrations

  • Author’s note includes additional biographical material for Sessions


Unlikely friendships  

Unlikely Friendships: 47 Remarkable Stories from the Animal Kingdom

Jennifer Holland
Workman, 2011

  • While short (3-5 pages), each story gives ample information for reports  

  • Stories are from around zoos and animal rehabilitation centers around the world

  • Photo illustrated


Chasing Freedom Companion Booktalks

To get you started on the Bookstorm™ Books …


Alec’s Primer

Mildred Pitts Walter
illustrated by Larry Johnson
Vermont Folklife Center, 2005

  • Based on the true story of Alec Turner (1845-1923), who learned to read as a boy with the help of his owner’s daughter

  • Supplement the story with stories and songs from tape-recorded interviews with Daisy Turner, Alec’s daughter

  • A Carter G. Woodson honor book from a Coretta Scott King-winning author


All Different Now: Juneteenth, the First Day of Freedom

Angela Johnson
illustrated by E.B. Lewis
Simon & Schuster, 2014

  • Perfectly and powerfully, 289 words evoke a monumental event

  • Back matter includes author and illustrator notes, important dates list, short history of Juneteenth, and a glossary

  • Coretta Scott King Award-winning author and illustrator


Crossing Bok Chitto: A Choctaw Tale of Friendship and Freedom 

Tim Tingle
illustrated by Jeanne Rorex Bridges
Cinco Puntas Press, 2006

  • “Set in the Old South, Crossing Bok Chitto is an Indian book, written by Indian voices, and painted by an Indian artist” (from the author’s note)

  • Seven slaves cross to freedom, led by a young Choctaw girl; adds a new perspective to the established escape literature

  • Back matter includes short profile of the Choctaw nations and a note on Choctaw storytelling


Elizabeth Leads the Way: Elizabeth Cady Stanton and the Right to Vote

Tanya Lee Stone
illustrated by Rebecca Gibbon
Henry Holt, 2008

  • The girlhood and young adult years of a leading famous suffragist

  • Author’s note includes a brief overview of Cady Stanton’s life and public image

  • ALA Notable, Junior Library Guild Premier Selection, 2009 Amelia Bloomer Award Book


Harriet Tubman, Secret Agent: How Daring Slaves and Free Blacks Spied for the Union during the Civil War

Thomas B. Allen
illustrated by Carla Bauer
National Geographic Children’s Books, 2006

  • Combines the story of Harriet Tubman’s post-Underground Railroad work as spy and military leader with a history of the abolitionist movement and the Civil War

  • Back matter includes time line, a bibliography, and notes and quote sources

  • Includes some secret codes to decipher!


Heart and Soul: the Story of America and African Americans

written and illustrated by Kadir Nelson
Balzer+Bray, 2012

  • “…a grand and awe-inspiring survey of the black experience in America, delivered in 108 pages” (Walter Dean Myers)

  • Coretta Scott King winner (author) AND Coretta Scott King honor (illustrator)

  • Back matter includes author’s note, timeline, extensive bibliography


I Could Do That! Esther Morris Gets Women the Right to Vote

Linda Arms White
illustrated by Nancy Carpenter
Farrar, Straus& Giroux, 2005

  • Picture book (somewhat fictionalized) biography of woman who was instrumental in the successful fight for women’s suffrage in Wyoming—51 years before it was won nationally

  • Back matter includes author’s note and resources

  • Humorous  illustrations expand the kid-appeal of the story


Many Thousand Gone: African Americans from Slavery to Freedom

Virginia Hamilton
illustrated by Leo and Diane Dillon
Knopf, 1993

  • Giant-hearted book from three children’s literature giants

  • 250 years of slavery in the U.S. told through profiles of slaves and freed people

  • Presented in chronological order, each chapter/profile includes a stunning black and white illustration by the Dillons



Marching with Aunt Susan: Susan B. Anthony and the Fight for Women’s Suffrage

Claire Rudolf Murphy
illustrated by Stacey Schuett
Peachtree, 2011

  • The narrative is from the point of view of Bessie Keith Pond, a (real) ten-year old California girl, which creates engaging immediacy to the history

  • Extensive back matter—perfect for report writing

  • Amelia Bloomer project 2012 book list


Moses: When Harriet Tubman Led Her People to Freedom

Carole Boston Weatherford
illustrated by Kadir Nelson
Jump at the Sun/Hyperion, 2006

  • Caldecott-honor for Nelson’s stunning illustrations; most are double-page spreads

  • Unique three-voiced narrative that is easy to follow and conveys the power of Tubman’s personal mission; we hear the storyteller, Harriet Tubman, and the voice of God as she hears it

  • Author is an NAACP image award finalist and Carter G. Woodson Award winner; author’s note includes concise biography of Tubman


Traveling the Freedom Road: From Slavery and the Civil War through Reconstruction

Linda Barrett Osborne
Henry N. Abrams, Inc., 2009

  • Published in association with the Library of Congress, it’s loaded with primary sources—documents and images

  • Narrative focuses on young people and includes many first-person recollections of the time period

  • Library of Congress author video and other resources to supplement reading


With Courage and Cloth: Winning the Fight for a Woman’s Right to Vote

Ann Bausum  
National Geographic, 2004

  • Detailed, photo-illustrated history of women’s suffrage in the U.S. from a Sibert honor and Carter Woodson Award author

  • Just why is “cloth” so important? A perfect topic for research and discussion

  • Back matter galore for reports


Catch You Later, Traitor Companion Booktalks

To get you started on the Bookstorm™ Books …

America in the 1950s cover  

America in the 1950s

Edmund Lindop with Sarah Decapua
21st Century Books, 2010

  • Topic-centered chapters, e.g.: the transition from WWII, the Korean War, the 50’s economy and society, the Red Scare

  • Photo-illustrated

  • Report material galore, including substantial back matter

Bat 6 cover


Bat 6

Virginia Euwer Wolff
Scholastic, 1998

  • In rural Oregon not long after WWII, the annual softball game between 6th grade girls from two towns is a cauldron of secrets, simmering racism, class divide, hope and friendship.

  • Quick-reading, multiple-viewpoint narrative shared by all the girls and some adults provides a “you are there” report of the big event

  • Jane Addams Peace Award, an SLJ Best Book of the Year

Belles of the Ballpark cover  

Belles of the Ballpark: Celebrating the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League

Diana Star Helmer with Thomas S. Owens
Summer Games, 2015

  • The 1992 film A League of their Own is now a generation old and possibly unknown to many young students; this book is perfect for those just discovering the women’s-league topic or for fans of the film that want to know more

  • Detailed league history from its origins during WWII, through its 12 seasons

  • Loads of photos and many interviews

Catch a Tiger cover  

Catch a Tiger by the Toe

Ellen Levine
Viking Juvenile, 2005

  • It’s 1953 in New York, and 13-year-old Jamie’s father IS a communist; life changes

  • Communists in the ‘50s were often very involved in civil rights actions; this novel explores the relevance of that connection to the “witch-hunting” and finger-pointing

  • Author’s note and additional back matter

City of Spies cover  

City of Spies

Susan Kim and Laurence Klavan
illus by Pascal Dizin
First Second, 2010

  • It’s 1942 and the world is at war, and in New York 10 year old Evelyn has the run of the city; adventure ensues in this graphic novel

  • Visual blend of old-style-American comics (Evelyn reads them and draws her own) and updated European (Tin-Tin) visual storytelling

  • Seeing the enemy everywhere—a great current topic for discussion and a terrific narrative backbone for a mystery

Cold War cover  

Cold War

Josepha Sherman
Lerner Publications 2004

  • Begins with historical background on the “rise of the superpowers,” including a brief rundown on both the US and Russian revolutions and the partitioning of Europe during and after World War II.

  • Strong photo illustration

  • Back matter includes glossary, timeline of Cold War events, maps, and reading list

Fabulous Fashions cover  

Fabulous Fashions of the 1950s

Felicia Lowenstein Niven
Enslow, 2011

  • 48-page overview of the fashion era

  • Photo illustrated, with reproductions of actual 50s advertising

  • Glossary and fashion timeline in back matter

Green Glass Sea  cover  

The Green Glass Sea

Ellen Klages 
Viking Books, 2006

  • And you think your family has a secret… A novel about growing up in the shadow of the Manhattan project

  • Set in 1943, provides context for why the Soviet Union and communism would loom as such a foe in the 1950s

  • Scott O’Dell Award for historical fiction


Discovered Poetry cover  

How I Discovered Poetry

Marilyn Nelson
illus by Hadley Hooper
Dial Books for Young Readers, 2014

  • Childhood memoir—fictionalized—in poems, each set in the years 1950-1959

  • Illustrations and black and white photographs expand the “curb appeal” for the reader wary of poetry

  • Coretta Scott King honor book

LIFE cover  

Life: Our Century in Pictures for Young People

edited by Richard B. Stolley
adapted by Amy E. Sklansky
Little, Brown and Co., 2000

  • Before, during, and after the 1950s. Great context for study and discussion of the decade

  • Introductory essays for each decade written by notable children’s authors, including Lois Lowry, Patricia and Frederick McKissack, Avi, and Katherine Paterson.

  • Illustrated with photos from the Life magazine archives

Francine cover  

The Loud Silence of Francine Green

Karen Cushman
Clarion Books, 2005

  • Communism, the Red Scare, injustice; also, friendship and being 13

  • Detailed and unusual setting (1950 Los Angeles, a Catholic school) with many cultural reference students will enjoy exploring; discussion guide  

  • Newbery medal author

Spy cover  


Richard Platt  
DK Eyewitness Books, 2009

  • History of spying with many bios of famous spies

  • Gadgets galore

  • The usual DK magic potion of well-done visuals and text

Played for Nothing cover  

We Would Have Played for Nothing: Baseball Stars of the 1950s and 1960s Talk About the Game They Loved

Fay Vincent
Simon & Schuster, 2008

  • Interviews with some of baseball’s best players from the 1950s and 1960s

  • Second installment of the author’s project, an oral history of baseball; interested readers can go back to Volume 1 (1930s and 40s) or jump to Volume 3 (1970s and 80s)

  • Illustrated with period photos  


The Shadow Hero Companion Booktalks

A 12-pack to get you started on the Bookstorm™ Books …

bk_100_5Minute5-Minute Marvel Stories, by Disney Book Group, Marvel Press, 2012. Ages 3 and up.

  • Perfect read-aloud length for younger fans
  • Nice introduction for newcomers to Spiderman, Ironman, the Hulk, the Avengers, the X-Men, Captain America
  • Other than a few swinging fists, little violence

bk_100_BoysSteelBoys of Steel: the Creators of Superman, by Marc Tyler Nobleman, illustrated by Ross Macdonald, Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers, 2008. Ages 8 and up.

  • How two high school outsiders created the most famous super hero
  • Picture book format but text and illustrations will appeal to independent readers
  • Back matter includes the story of the writer and artist’s super struggle to be acknowledged and compensated fully for their creation

bk_100_BrothersBrothers, by Yin, illustrations by Chris Soentpiet, Philomel, 2006. Ages 8 and up.

  • The story of Ming, a Chinese immigrant who arrives in San Francisco’s Chinatown in the 1800s
  • A friendships story develops when Ming defies an older brother’s orders and ventures past the Chinatown border
  • Beautiful, detailed wide-spread water color illustrations on every page 

bk_100_CompleteGuideComplete Guide to Figure Drawing for Comics and Graphic Novels, by Dan Cooney, Barron’s Educational Series, 2012. Ages 10 and up.

  • Every page has multiple tips and examples with very readable text and clear illustrations.
  • Emphasizes classic comic book action poses and character
  • Back matter includes advice on submitting portfolios and a glossary 

bk_100_DragonwingsDragonwings, by Laurence Yep, HarperCollins, 1977.

  • In the early 20th Century, a young boy travels from China to America to meet a father he doesn’t know.
  • Part of the Golden Mountain series consisting of 10 books
  • Newbery Honor book 


bk_100_FoiledFoiled by Jane Yolen, illustrations by Mike Cavallaro, First Second, 2011. Ages 8 and up.

  • Aliera’s ordinary life changes when she meets a new guy, acquires a new sword (she’s into fencing) and one day heads to Grand Central Station
  • Manga-style illustrations alternate between two-tone (ordinary world) and full color (the fantastic), occasionally merging
  • Details of fencing skills and equipment provide unusual background and good character development

bk_100_MarvelWayHow to Draw Comics the Marvel Way, by Stan Lee and John Buscema, Touchstone, 1984. Ages 8 and up.

  • Author Stan Lee is the creator of many comics legends, Buscema is the illustrator of many current comics
  • Many examples begin with stick figures and develop step by step—perfect for novice and experienced illustrator
  • Includes glossary

bk_100_LittleWhiteLittle White Duck: a Childhood in China, by Na Liu and Andres Vera Martinez, illustrations by Andrés Vera Martínez. Graphic Universe, 2012. Ages 8 and up.

  • Graphic memoir about Na Liu’s childhood in 1970s China; wife/husband collaboration
  • Divided into 8 short stories
  • Includes glossary of Chinese words and at-a-glance timeline of Chinese history

bk_100_PowerlessPowerless, by Matthew Cody, Knopf, 2009. Ages 8 and up.

  • Daniel is the new kid in a town—and the only one his age without a superpower
  • A Sherlock Holmes fan, Daniel decides to unearth the mystery behind the superpowers his new friends have—and why they disappear at age 13
  • First in series of three

bk_SharkKing_extendedShark King by R. Kikuo Johnson, TOON Books, 2013. Ages 4 to 8. Asian Pacific ALA’s Literary Award.

  • Child-friendly version of a Hawaiian myth
  • Clean layout—no sensory overload from text or illustrations
  • Includes discussion material for teachers and parents


bk_100ABCSuperHero ABC, written and illustrated by Bob McLeod, HarperCollins, 2008. Ages 3 and up.

  • An alphabet book, not a primer on superheroes, with comic-like illustrations
  • Humorous original heroes and heroines, such as Bubbleman and Firefly
  • Good prompt for individual or group superhero writing or drawing project

bk_Zita100Zita the Spacegirl, by Ben Hatke, First Second, 2011. Ages 8 and up.

  • Graphic novel with a Wizard of Oz storyline: young girl is transported to a strange world
  • Though Zita is trying to save an abducted friend, and though the planet is about to be destroyed, the text and art are more about fun than fear
  • How many weird creatures can you find?



Scaly Spotted Feathered Frilled Companion Booktalks

To get you started on the Bookstorm™ books …

cover imageAge of Reptiles and Age of Reptiles: the Hunt, Richard Delgado, Dark Horse Books, 2011. Ages 12 and up.

  • Wordless storytelling through beautiful (sometimes gory) art
  • What happens when you steal the T-rex eggs? What happens when an Allosaurus takes revenge on the Ceratosaurs that killed his mother?
  • The author-artist has worked on movies such as Men in Black, The Incredibles, WALL-E

cover imageCaptain Raptor series, written by Kevin O’Malley, illustrated by Patrick O’Brien, Walker Books, 2005. Ages 5-8.

  • Dinosaurs are the characters on the planet Jurassica
  • Rocket ships and action
  • Good guys, bad guys, scary stuff, and fun inventions

cover imageThe Dinosaurs of Waterhouse Hawkins, written by Barbara Kerley, illustrated by Brian Selznick, Scholastic Press, 2001.

  • Biography of  19th century paleoartist Waterhouse Hawkins who popularized dinosaurs and once threw a dinner party inside one of his dinosaur sculptures
  • Just why are pieces of his dinosaur sculptures buried in New York’s Central Park?
  • Caldecott Honor book

 cover imageDinosaurs: the Grand Tour, written by Keiron Pim and Jack Horner, The Experiment, 2014. Appropriate for children and adults.

  • Report material on more than 300 dinosaurs and the scientists who have discovered and studied them
  • Helpful organization (color-coded by Geologic period) with gray scale illustrations
  • Includes Chinese and Native American mythology linked to dinosaurs

cover imageHow the Dinosaur Got to the Museum, Jessie Hartland, Blue Apple Books, 2013. Ages 6 to 9

  • Picture book about the teamwork needed to bring a dinosaur skeleton to a place where many people can see it and learn from it (the Smithsonian Museum)
  • Solid information delivered in bright art and lively language
  • A Booklist “Top Ten Sci-Tech Books for Youth” (2010)

cover imageHow to Draw Incredible Dinosaurs, written by Kristen McCurry, illustrated by Juan Calle, Smithsonian Drawing Books/Capstone Press, 2012. Ages 5 and up.

  • Step-by-step instructions for ages 5 and up
  • Each drawing lesson comes with a brief “bio” of the dinosaur model
  • One in a set of 4 drawing books (also: Incredible Ocean Animals, Amazing Animals, Amazing Spacecraft)

cover imagePaleontology: the Study of Prehistoric Life, written by Susan H. Gray, Scholastic, 2012. ages 4 and up

  • A beginning introduction to the science of paleontology
  • Quick facts in colorful large font, illustrated with many photographs
  • Includes history of paleontology, how scientists date fossils, the tools they use

cover imagePlant Hunters: True stories of their daring adventures to the far corners of the Earth, Anita Silvey, Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2012. Ages 8 and up.

  • Scientists have had the craziest adventures
  • Beautifully illustrated (many archival photographs) and usefully organized—great report material
  • Includes a chapter on contemporary scientists

bk_BulletPrehistoricLifPrehistoric Life by DK Publishing, 2010. Ages 8 and up

  • Dinosaurs and more: the plants, invertebrates, amphibians, birds, reptiles, and mammals from the origins of life in the sea to the evolution of man
  • DK’s signature exploded diagrams, cutaways, and high-interest visuals
  • Coffee table-beautiful and with tons of report material

cover imageStone Girl, Bone Girl: the Story of Mary Anning, written by Laurence Anholt, illustrated by Sheila Moxley, Frances Lincoln, 2006. Ages 6-9

  • Mary Anning: Struck by lightening as a baby, famous at age 12, a girl working in a man’s world
  • Vividly illustrated picture book story about the most famous fossil hunter of all (and the inspiration for the wicked tongue twister “She Sells Sea Shells”)
  • Puts an engaging, human face on the 19th century icon by mixing biography with an element of tall tale

cover imageUbiquitous: Celebrating Nature’s Survivors, written by Joyce Sidman, illustrated by Beckie Prange, HMH Books for Young Readers, 2010. Ages 7-12.

  • Mammals and birds and reptiles that have survived extinction, excellent for contrast in a discussion about dinosaurs
  • Each spread includes a poem, facts, and a hand-colored linocut
  • From the creators of the Caldecott Honor Book Song of the Water Boatman and Other Pond Poems



Lowriders in Space Companion Booktalks


To get you started on the Bookstorm™ books …

13 Planets13 Planets: The Latest View of the Solar System, by David A. Aguilar. National Geographic Children’s Books, 2011.  Grades 2-6

  • Report material galore, beautifully organized
  • Illustrated with a combination of photographs and digital art
  • Includes several hands-on activities

Car Science coverCar Science: an Under-the-Hood, Behind-the-Dash Look at How Cars Work, by Richard Hammond, DK Books, 2008. Grades 3 and up

  • Key physics concepts as they relate to how cars run
  • DK’s signature exploded diagrams, cutaways, and high-interest visuals
  • Material is divided into intriguing sections: Power, Speed, Handling, and Technology

Chato's Kitchen coverChato’s Kitchen, by Gary Soto, illustrations by Susan Guevara, Penguin, 1997. Preschool through Grade 3.

  • Mouse family vs Chato, a very cool cat
  • Good story for “prediction”
  • Spanish and English vocabulary

Draw 50 Cars coverDraw 50 Cars, Trucks, and Motorcycles: The Step-by-Step Way to Draw Dragsters, Vintage Cars, Dune Buggies, Mini Choppers, and Much More, by Lee J. Ames, Watson-Guptill, 2012.  Grade 1 through Adult.

  • From a Disney studios artist
  • Variety of drawing projects suitable for range of experience
  • “Step-by-step” is really layer-by-layer, showing how a drawing is “built”

Girls Think of Everything coverGirls Think of Everything: Stories of Ingenious Inventions by Women, by Catherine Thimmesh, illustrated by Melissa Sweet, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2002. Grades 3 and up.

  • Sibert-winning author, Caldecott-winning artist
  • Inventions from exotic to familiar
  • Inventors and inventions going back to 3000 BC

If I Built a CarIf I Built a Car, by Chris Van Dusen. Dutton Books for Young Readers, 2005.  Primary grades.

  • 2006 E.B. White Read Aloud Award
  • Classic Van Dusen illustrations: bold colors, cartoon-style (look for hidden references to a few other Van Dusen books)
  • Great discussion starter for all ages: What kind of car would YOU design?

Mr. Mendoza's Paintbrush coverMr. Mendoza’s Paintbrush, by Luis Alberto Urrea, illustrated by Christopher Cardinale, Cinco Puntos Press, 2010. Grades 7 and up.

  • Graphic novel about a graffiti artist and Mexican village life, with some magic realism
  • Narrative is a non-linear reminiscence—bold flashes of story to match the art
  • Richly-colored woodblock-style art

My Little Car coverMy Little Car, by Gary Soto, illustrated by Pam Paparone, Putnam, 2006. Preschool and primary grades.

  • Child-grandparent story
  • English and Spanish vocabulary
  • Just how do you make a car dance?

NicoVisitsNico Visits the Moon, by Honorio Robledo, Cinco Puntos Press, 2001. Preschool and primary grades.

  • Vivid, imaginative, art
  • Crawling baby, balloons, the moon—each page turn delivers a fantasy surprise
  • Bilingual in Spanish and English

Norther Lights coverNorthern Lights: The Science, Myth, and Wonder of the Aurora Borealis, by George Bryson, photographs by Calvin Hall and Daryl Pederson, Sasquatch Books, 2001. Grades 3 and up for looking at the photographs, grades 5 and up for the science.

  • Beautiful photographs that can be looked at again and again
  • Discusses the many myths and legends inspired by the lights
  • Concise explanation of geophysics behind the phenomenon

Remind coverRemind, by Jason Brubaker, Coffee Table Comics, 2011. Grades 5 and up.

  • Graphic novel with a great cast: Sonja, a young woman who is a mechanical genius; Victuals, her cat that may have received the brain of an exiled lizard man; an underwater colony of lizard people
  • Wonderful array of mechanical inventions (Discuss: what kind of gizmos would you like to invent?)
  • Crisp, uncluttered illustrations—at times suitably creepy

Shark King CoverShark King, by R. Kikuo Johnon, TOON Books, 2012. Grades 1 and up.

  • Child-friendly version of a Hawaiian myth
  • Clean, highly readable layout—no sensory overload from text or illustrations
  • Includes discussion material for teachers and parents


Zita coverZita the Spacegirl, by Ben Hatke, First Second, 2010.  Grades 3 and up.

  • Graphic novel with a Wizard of Oz storyline: young girl is transported to a strange world
  • Though Zita is trying to save an abducted friend, and though the planet is about to be destroyed, the text and art are more about fun than fear
  • How many weird creatures can you find?




Catherine, Called Birdy Companion Booktalks

A baker’s dozen to get you started on the April Bookstorm™  books …

Aviary Wonders Inc. Spring Catalog and Instruction ManualAviary Wonders Inc. Spring Catalog and Instruction Manual, Kate Samworth. Clarion Books, 2014

  • Winner of the 2014 Kirkus Prize for Young Readers’ Literature
  • Fantastic illustrations of fantastical creatures
  • Build your own birds!


Backyard BirdsBackyard Birds by Karen Stray Nolting, Jonathan Latimer, and Roger Tory Peterson. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 1999

  • Color photographs and drawings
  • Easy guides on how-to-identify common birds
  • Great supplementary material for reports 


Blood Red HorseBlood Red Horse by K.M. Grant. Walker, 2006 (Book 1 of a trilogy)

  • 13 year old rides a beloved horse into battle during the crusades
  • Narrative follows both Christian and Muslim characters
  • What does it take to become a knight? 


CastleCastle, written and illustrated by David Macaulay. Candlewick Press, 2005 edition

  • Caldecott Honor book
  • Step-by-step construction of fictional 13th Century castle
  • Easy Reader version available 

Castle DiaryCastle Diary: the Journal of Tobias Burgess by Richard Platt, illustrated by Chris Ridell. Candlewick Press, 2003

  • Daily life in a castle from an 11-year-old servant’s point of view
  • Jousting, sword fighting, archery, horse-back riding
  • What was it like to live in a castle? 

FleasCreepy Creatures: Fleas by Valerie Bodden. Creative Paperbacks, 2014

  • Under-the-microscope photographs with amazing details
  • Great back matter for report writing
  • One in a set of Creepy Creatures books 

Crispin: The Cross of LeadCrispin: Cross of Lead by Avi. Penguin, 2002

  • Newbery winner
  • Page-turning action
  • Falsely-accused boy goes on the run in 14th century England


Doodle StitchingDoodle Stitching: Fresh and Fun Embroidery for Beginners by Aimee Ray. Sterling Publishing, 2007

  • Easy-to-follow patterns for a variety of projects (book covers!)
  • “Doodles” appealing to boys and girls
  • Many designs that even beginners could finish in a short block of time 

Good masters, Sweet LadiesGood Masters! Sweet Ladies! Voices from a Medieval Village by Laura Amy Schlitz, illustrated by Robert Byrd. Candlewick Press, 2011

  • Linked stories told through monologues, perfect for readers theater or solo reading
  • Newbery winner
  • Village map and other illustrations by Robert Byrd and Laura Amy Schlitz’s author notes provide a wealth of detail to support the stories

Oxford Dictionary of SaintsOxford Dictionary of Saints by David Farmer. Oxford University Press, 5th edition, 2011

  • Easy-reading biographies of 1300 saints, with emphasis on most familiar and English saints
  • Gives folklore associated with saints as well as history
  • Just-the-facts approach—doesn’t judge or proselytize


A Proud Taste for Scarlet and MiniverProud Taste for Scarlet and Miniver, by E.L. Konigsburg. 2001 reprint

  • Historical fiction from two-time Newbery-winning author
  • Meet one of the most powerful women in history: Eleanor of Aquitaine
  • Fast-moving, dialogue-rich narrative


SaladinSaladin: Noble Prince of Islam by Diane Stanley. HarperCollins, 2002

  • Biography of an Islamic hero and ruler during the Crusades
  • Beautiful illustrations evoke medieval Islamic art
  • Great back matter for report writing 


Secret Diary of Adrian Mole, Aged 13-3/4Secret Diary of Adrian Mole, Aged 13-3/4 by Sue Townsend. HarperTeen, 2003

  • First crush, acne, a royal wedding, being broke—through the eyes of British teen
  • First in a series of humorous diaries
  • 1980s Britain—details of setting might be unfamiliar to today’s readers but emotions won’t be 



Leroy Ninker Saddles Up! Companion Booktalks

Let these help you get started on the Bookstorm™ books:

Actual SizeActual Size, written and illustrated by Steve Jenkins

  • Animal parts or whole animals shown in actual size (a squid’s eye!)
  • Try to guess the animal by looking at just one part
  • Ideal for comparing and contrasting

Bill PicketBill Picket: Rodeo-Ridin’ Cowboy,
 written by Andrea Pinkney, illustrated by Brian Pinkney

  • True story of an African-American rodeo star
  • You won’t believe his trick for quieting bulls and calves
  • Biography of a true-life action superhero

Black Cowboys, Wild HorsesBlack Cowboy, Wild Horses,
 written by Julius Lester, illustrated by Jerry Pinkney

  • True story about one of the many African-American cowboys
  • Find all the camouflaged critters!
  • Horses galore!

Cowboy UpCowboy Up! Ride the Navajo Rodeo
, written by Nancy Bo Flood, photographs by Jan Sonnemair

  • You’ve heard of buckin’ broncos—how about buckin’ sheep?
  • Photos of children and teens of the Navajo Nation participating in all the events
  • Poetry, photos, and prose make you feel part of the action

Cowgirl KateCowgirl Kate and Cocoa,
 written by Erica Silverman, illustrated by Betsy Lewin

  • Easy reader with four stand-alone chapters
  • A girl with her very own horse
  • Kate and her contrary horse get into all sorts of trouble

FriendsFriends: True Stories of Extraordinary Animal Friendships,
written by Catherine Thimmesh

  • Friendships between animals of different species—some are very unusual animals
  • What happens to injured wild animals? Learn about animal rehabilitation centers
  • Enticing, immediate photographs

Horse SongHorse Song: the Naadam of Mongolia, written and illustrated by Ted and Betsy Lewin

  • Based on the authors’ own visit to Mongolia
  • Young readers will love riding into competition with 9 year-old jockey Tamir
  • Illustrations bring the Naadam festival to life

In the Days of the VaquerosIn the Days of the Vaqueros,
written by Russell Freedman

  • Who were the first cowboys in the Americas? How were they different from the cowboys in movies?
  • Find out why California Vaqueros would lasso and capture grizzly bears
  • Great material for a report

Just the Right SizeJust the Right Size,
written by Nicola Davies, illustrated by Neal Layton

  • Why can’t there be a real King Kong?
  • Why can geckoes climb on ceilings and humans can’t?
  • Have fun with math (and the cartoon illustrations) to find the answers

Leroy NinkerLeroy Ninker Saddles Up
, written by Kate DiCamillo, illustrated by Chris Van Dusen

  • A scary storm, a search for a lost friend, a celebration with friends—exciting action
  • Silly characters and their tongue-twisty, funny dialogue
  • First book in a companion series to the author’s Mercy Watson books—plenty more reading for eager readers

Name JarThe Name Jar
, written and illustrated by Yangsook Choi

  • Classroom story about young Korean immigrant Unhei’s dilemma: should she choose an American name?
  • Warm, simple illustrations that evoke all the emotions and humor
  • Topic of “Your name” makes a wonderful discussion and writing prompt

written and illustrated by Barbara Lehman.

  • What do you think about on a rainy day?
  • Mingles a boy’s real and imagined world in a story without words
  • Caldecott Honor author/illustrator


Ready Steady SpaghettiReady Steady Spaghetti, by Lucy Broadhurst

  • Cookbook with colorful and engaging photographs—wow factor
  • Uncomplicated recipes for a range of food–vegetarian, desserts, snacks, and more
  • “Swamp Mud” looks delicious!

Star of Wild Horse CanyonStar of Wild Horse Canyon,
written by Clyde Robert Bulla, illustrated by Grace Paull

  • Capturing and taming wild horses!
  • A mystery involving a lost horse—can you solve it before Danny does?
  • Why is the horse named Star?

, written by Marion Dane Bauer, illustrated by John Wallace

  • All the facts about this unseen weather element—in text just right for beginning readers
  • Part of a set of four, also including Rain, Snow, and Clouds—great for first science reports
  • And just where does the wind come from?