1999 Summer Picture Books & Poetry

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Nancy's picks for the best picture books & poetry of Summer 1999 and ideas for using them in the classroom. Compiled by Nancy Polette 1999.
Last updated: Tuesday, October 07, 2008
Brown, Ruth. MAD SUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM. Dutton, 1999
Here is a book of visual oxymorons where two cats, back to back, stare at each other and snow falls in midsummer. The artist creates a world where nothing is quite as it seems.
Activity: Have a contest. Who can collect the most oxymorons? Example: Giant Shrimp!
Edwards, Pamela Duncan. THE WACKY WEDDING. Hyperion, 1999
When a pair of adoring ants are married, the cake collapses, fruit flattens the groom and the bride blunders into a puddle. A funny alliterative alphabet book.
Activity: Describe something funny that happened to you using as many words as you can that begin with the first letter of your name.
Kvasnosky, Laura. ZELDA AND IVY AND THE BOY NEXT DOOR. Candlewick Press, 1999
Three funny and thought provoking stories of the fox sisters and the boy next door who turns a twosome into a sometimes antagonistic threesome.
Activity: Name as many things as you can that come in threes. Sort the things you name into two groups: good threes and not so good threes
Leopold, Niki. ONCE I WAS. Putnam, 1999
A celebration of change! "Once I was an alphabet, now I am a book. I used to be a pine cone, now I am a forest."
Activity: Think of something that changes from one form to another.
Write about it using this pattern:
Look at the _________ that grew from a _______.
Slowly, slowly from a _________.
In the _______ it grew and grew.
Look at the _______.
It's looking at you.
Lum, Kate. WHAT! CRIED GRANNY. Dial, 1999
How can a boy go to bed when the bed is missing? A resourceful granny does some fast and clever problem solving.
Activity: Propose a series of questions and let the students brainstorm answers. What if your toothbrush was missing? How could you brush your teeth? Suppose there were no glasses? How could you get a drink? etc..
Mazer, Anne. THE FIXITS Hyperion, 199
When two children crack their mother's favorite plate, they call the Fixits not knowing that more than a plate will be cracked before the Fixets are finished.
Activity:Use at least four of these items in an excuse the children will give their mother as to why the plate was cracked: a firecracker, an alarm clock, a rabbit, a long rope, six pennies, a teacup, an injured cat, a strong wind.
Schwartz, David. IF YOU HOPPED LIKE A FROG. Scholastic, 1999.
With scientific facts to back his claims the author says "If you hopped like a frog you could jump from home plate to first base in one mighty leap. If you were as strong as an ant you could lift a car."
Activity: Check the animal facts in the back of the book. Do the math and see if the author is right.
Example: A three inch frog can hop 20 times its body length. An ant can lift fifty times its own weight.A snake can eat something twice as wide as its head. A shrew eats three times its own weight daily. A flea can jump 70 times its own height. If you had these abilities, what could you do?
Siegelson, Kim. IN THE TIME OF THE DRUMS. Hyperion, 1999
When a slave ship carrying Africans docks at Teakettle Creek, sending out the beat of drums, and a roar coming from the Africans inside the ship, the beat calls to Grandmother Twi, urging her to seek freedom. But the only place freedom lies is in the murky waters of the Creek. A powerful tale of the horrors of slavery dramatically illustrated by Brian Pinkney.
Skorpen, Liesel. WE WERE TIRED OF LIVING IN A HOUSE. Putnam, 1999.
Three children try living in a tree, a pond, a cave and a seashore but each time something causes them to move. "We liked our tree. There was always a breeze in the afternoon that rippled through out roof. Above in a branch lived a speckled bird who sang all day for the sake of a song, and our roof in the autumn turned scarlet and gold. We liked our tree Until we tumbled out"
So we packed _____ and _____ and _____ and moved to _____________.
Beautifully descriptive language and a good repeating pattern.
Activity: Where else might the children try to live? What would be the good things about living there? What might happen to cause them to leave? Write about their next home following the pattern above.
Spence, Rob and Amy. CLICKETY CLACK. Viking, 1999
A cumulative tale of a little black train going down the track, clickety clack, clickety clack. At each new stop the train gets more crowded and noisier.
Activity:Before reading the story ending, let children guess why two small mice are the most troublesome passengers of all.