Notes From a Librarian: Picture Book Recommendations

Here are some summer reading picture book recommendations.

Bad Kitty by Nick Bruel

At a gathering last week, my sister-in-law suggested I review Bad Kitty because it was her 6 year old son's favorite. I am not surprised. It is a very funny book. In fact, the 1st and 2nd grade age group find it hilarious. In the book, the Kitty is a good Kitty, until its master runs out of kitty food and tries to make it eat an alphabet of vegetables (e.g. Asparagus, Beets, Cauliflower...). Then it becomes a Bad Kitty. As the Bad Kitty, it does a bad thing for each of the letters of the alphabet. It "Ate my homework, Bit Grandma, and Clawed the curtains," etc. Just when the kitty is done with the Bad alphabet, the masters come home with an alphabet of delicious cat food. Then the cat goes through the alphabet again with ways of repairing the bad deeds. By the time you finish the book, you have gone through the alphabet 4 times. The illustrations and text are so silly, it is a delight. Especially funny are the pictures of the cat, first in the throws of horror at having to eat vegetables, and then in the ecstasy of delight when it gets the good food. This is a great one to share together, or for a child to read on their own. The pictures are a help with word decoding, and there is a lot of good vocabulary.

The Best Birthday Ever, by Charise Mericle Harper

Here is another picture book. It is Lana Kittie's birthday and she feels like the queen of the world. Yet Lana knows that a birthday is more fun if everyone, including the birthday girl uses their best manners. This is a great book to read a week before a child's birthday party. Lana Kittie demonstrates appropriate ( and inappropriate) ways to greet guests at the door, show appreciation for a gifts and other essential birthday behaviors. She also suggests that the birthday child practice birthday behaviors with stuffed animals and other toys before the big event. Harper illustrates the book with very fun and feminine cartoons of Lana Kittie and her toy friends. There is even glitter on the bow on the cover. This book is likely to appeal to the children who enjoy Fancy Nancy and is a great way to get a preschool-2nd grade girl ready for the big day.

Bad News for Outlaws by Vaunda Micheaux Nelson

I love picture book biographies. They give just about right amount of information I want to know about a person. This one is about a Federal Marshal in the Indian Territories in the late 1800's. It is a fun book. It is written like a tall tale, with lots of superlatives and western jargon so it would be hard to read it out loud without assuming a western twang. But in reality, the facts portrayed in the book are true. Bass Reeves was an incredible marshal, using stratagem and even disguises to "get his man." He was also a religious man and always preached repentance to the criminals while he was bringing them in. He was a marshal for about 30 years, and brought about 3000 criminals to jail. In that time he only had to kill 14 of them. It is illustrated with great oils. It has more words per page than a typical picture book, so it takes maybe an hour to read, but it could be read in multiple sittings. It is a great choice for any little cow poke.

Six Crows by Leo Leonni

Leo Leonni is a veteran picture book author/illustrator and his style is very recognizable. In this story six crows keep invading the farmer's wheat field. The farmer puts up a scarecrow to keep them away, but then they build a scare-kite to frighten the farmer. The farmer makes a bigger scarecrow and the crows make a bigger kite. Soon the wheat begins to wilt because the farmer is no longer taking care of it. A wise owl suggests the crows and farmers talk out their differences, and both parties come to an amicable agreement. It is a very simple text, written like a spoken folktale, with only a few sentences per page. Though the story is simple, Lionni's message about talking over problems comes across clearly. Lionni uses cut paper of various textures to make simple but appealing illustrations. The simplicity of the illustrations match the spare text to make a nicely balanced whole.

Interrupting Chicken by David Ezra Stein

When we held our Mock Caldecott this year the week before the awards were announced, this book wasn't even in our set of books that we were considering. Yet, when the winner were read the next Monday, this one won an Honor medal. It is a very cute book (though I am not sure I would call the illustrations "distinguished", they certainly are fun). It is time for bed and little chicken wants his father to read him a bedtime story. The father agrees, as long as the little chicken promises not to interrupt. As the father starts Hansel and Gretel, Little Chicken does, of course, interrupt and changes the story to have himself warn the children of the witch, so they never get caught. On it goes with Red Riding Hood and Chicken Little. Finally, in exasperation, the father suggests that Little Chicken tell a story, and as he does, Father falls fast asleep. Stein does both the text and illustrations. The colors are bold and clashing, which hints from the beginning that this is not supposed to be a restful book. He changes illustration styles to represent the illustrations of the books the father is reading. The book style is spindly and suggests the old illustration styles of the early1900's. He changes styles again for the child's story at the end. I remember once, when my husband was reading a bed time story to Joseph, looking into the room to see both father and son fast asleep on my son's bed. This book really is well done, and worth a check out.

Donna Cardon is a children's librarian at Provo City Library and a well known children's book critic. We'd like to thank her for allowing us to republish her articles for our readers. You can visit her children's book blog HERE


What's Happening in Your Grade in June?

FIRST GRADE Exciting things are happening in 1st grade during the month of June. We will continue our unit on plants and finish up our reading and math testing. The last weeks of school will be filled with activities designed to help prepare our students for second grade. We have enjoyed our group of first graders this year and wish them success in the future.

SECOND GRADE As the year ends, we want to thank you for letting us spend time with your children and help them in their learning. Remember that on June 1st, we will be having our first spelling bee contest in the morning. During the next few weeks of school , all second grade classes will be finishing up with the end of the year PALS reading and Houghton/Mifflian reading tests. We will also be giving the last of the Math Benchmark test for the year. During the last two weeks of school, Tracks B, C, and D will be having some closing fun learning activities happening for all subjects. The last week of school every class will be featuring a special theme on each day. Again thank you for your support this year.

THIRD GRADE We are wrapping up the school year in style! The teachers had a hoot playing frisbee golf and would like to thank the PTA for putting that together. Thank you for all the parents and volunteers that made this teacher appreciation week extra special! CBT testing is going splendid too!!! We are looking forward to ending the year on an awesome note! Our classes are so special and awesome and we have enjoyed teaching them this year!

FOURTH GRADE June is a busy month in 4th grade. C and D tracks will be testing the first two weeks of June. C and D tracks will also be holding their Pioneer Day on June 17. Watch for information to come home about that. B and D tracks will be going on their Field Trip to the John Hutchings Museum on June 29. B, C, and D tracks will be holding their Utah County program on Tuesday, June 28 at 2:00 pm. Parents are encouraged to attend the special program. Thanks for a great 4th grade year and good luck in 5th grade!

FIFTH GRADE This 2010-2011 year has truly flown by. We all have enjoyed teaching your children and feel they are ready for sixth grade. Here are important upcoming dates. A track's DARE graduation is June 2 at 2:00 in the gym, their State Float Parade and Assembly is June 3, and their DARE Graduation Field-trip is June 7. B,C, and D track's DARE graduation is June 23 at 2:00 in the gym. Their State Float Parade and Assembly is June 24, and the DARE graduation field-trip is June 27. We'd all like to thank the parent volunteers who have helped us on field-trips or in the classroom this year. Your service has meant a lot. Thanks for a great year kids and good luck in sixth grade!

SIXTH GRADE Sixth graders and parents...Y'all are summoned to appear at "The Great Sixth Grade Hoedown" on Thursday, June 2nd from 6:00 to 7:30PM. Come to the school in the evening dressed in your western threads and duds and plan to kick up your heels. Refreshments will be available for purchase. So come and enjoy a fun filled evening of great western dancing. Scratch this date on your calendar and plan to come shake a leg.

Thanks to these Businesses for Supporting our Teacher Appreciation Week!

Foothills Elementary would like to thank the following businesses for their support and generous donations during our Teacher Appreciation Week 2011.

Thanksgiving Point in Lehi
Embassy Suites in Salt Lake City
Hampton Inn in Salt Lake City
Jiffy Lube Corporate Offices
Leatherby's Family Creamery in Taylorsville
Arctic Circle in Herriman
Best Western Zion Park Inn, Coral Hills and Abbey Inn
Hires Big H in Sandy
Hale Center Theater in West Valley City
Crystal Inn in Salt Lake City
Heber Valley Railroad in Heber City
Goodwood Barbecue in Draper
Rainbow Peppermill Montego Bay in Wendover, NV
Homewood Suites in Salt Lake City
The Pie Pizzeria in Salt Lake

Thank You PTA Board

A big thank you to our outgoing PTA President Allison Strang, and those involved in the PTA for 2010-2011 (Kristin Castleton, Jennifer McKee, Diana Neff, Mirinda Losee, Holly Jones, Tanya Pusey, Kelli Lloyd, Becky Barnum, Jamie Lodermeier, Mirinda Losee, Melinda Boyack, Amy Fugal, Michele Michaels, Mindi Barney, Amy Peterson, and Adrienne Taggart). Your long hours dedicated to the PTA and Foothills Elementary are much appreciated!

From Allison Strang (our outgoing President): It has been a great year for the PTA at Foothills Elementary this year. We would like to thank all of the volunteers who have helped us out this year. The PTA board, room parents and all of you who have volunteered for our activities and for all of you who help our teachers in the classroom. We had much success with our fundraising and because of that all of the PTA programs were funded. We were also able to give grants to the school for field trips and assemblies. The PTA wants to thank you for all you do for our teachers and for our school.