Heart of a Shepherd

Title: Heart of A Shepherd

Author(s): Rosanne Parry

Illustrator/Photographer: Jan Gerardi

Publisher and Year: Random House Inc., 2009

Number of pages: 161

Genre: Fiction

Analysis: In Rosanne Parry’s chapter book Heart of a Shepherd, the text functions as a window to the audience because the events that takes place in our lives will help reveal the unseen, our higher calling. In this story, the main character, Brother is doing what no other 12-year-old boy would do. He is in charge of running the ranch and taking care of his grandparents as his father is called off to war and his four other brothers are away either at boarding school or college. Right off the bat, we find out that Brother’s mother left him and his father and brothers to continue her art work in New York City. So we can conclude that Brother’s family is not considered a stereotypical American family. Perhaps it is because of Brother’s father that made her leave. While the book does not say the reason for why she left, I can infer that she left because Brother’s father, being a member of the Army Reserves, kept a very tight ship at home and did not allow his wife to do the things she loved best. We see by the end of the story, after Brother’s father returns for his father’s funeral, he begins to understand that pushing his sons to join the military might have not been the best decision that he has made. Fighting on foreign ground reminds him of how much danger he is putting his children into. Being the youngest of four brothers, Brother finds it difficult to get along with his siblings. He is bossed around. But, with his brothers gone he begins to understand the responsibilities of maintaining a ranch. He quickly learns how to wire a fence, feed calves, and be a veterinarian. He also experiences a natural disaster as a windstorm spreads a wild fire. Realizing that the extra hand is watching the sheep some miles away, Brother and his grandfather decide to race to find and rescue the extra hand and the sheep. They get there just in time and as they wait out the storm, Brother’s grandfather has a heart attack. His last words are to Brother, telling him to not be afraid of what he wants to become. Through this tragedy, his family becomes closer and stronger even in the face of destruction. Brother finally has the will to tell his father who he wants to become. He wants to become a chaplain for the army because of the influence his grandfather not only had on him, but on a vast amount of people who came to help Brother’s family rebuild their home.



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Chicken Big

Title: Chicken Big

Author(s): Keith Graves

Illustrator/Photographer: Keith Graves

Publisher and Year: Chronicle Books LLC, 2010

Number of pages: 32

Genre: Children’s Fiction

Analysis: In Keith Graves’ children’s book Chicken Big, the text functions as a window for the reader because no one should ever be stereotyped. Everyone is different in their own special way. Stereotypes should not even exist. First, it only hinders people from being proud of who they are as a person. Second, it makes “average” people judge others for being different. Third, no one fits stereotypes perfectly. They are just a generalization. Sure, some people might be closer or farther from “average.” But the real question is, does it all really matter? Chicken Big is different from all the other chicks and is therefore criticized by the chickens and roosters because of his size. They do not believe that he is a chick. They cannot make up their minds about what animal family he belongs to. Not until one day when the fox steals all the eggs from the coop do the chickens and roosters realize that he is truly a chick. I mean who else would save all the eggs from the foxes grasp? It would not be a elephant, squirrel, umbrella, or sweater like the other chickens and roosters thought he was. He is one of them. Realistically, people should not have to test to see if a person really belongs in society. They should be able to accept them for who they are. I love how Graves throws in references to Chicken Little such as “the sky is falling.” All the other chickens and roosters believe the littlest chicken is telling the truth except for Chicken Big. He does not have the fear the others do. This makes him look much smarter and wiser than the others. He is proactive to help and protect the chickens and their eggs. While the others just hide behind him or under his wings and let him guide them. If anything Chicken Big is the role model and leader. He is not afraid of who he is. He ignores what the other chickens have to say about him. They judge him right away and he is not given the chance to explain that he truly is one of them.




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The Art of Miss Chew

Title: The Art of Miss Chew

Author(s): Patricia Polacco

Illustrator/Photographer: Patricia Polacco

Publisher and Year: G.P. Putnam’s Sons

Number of pages: 37

Genre: Children’s Non-Fiction

Analysis: In Patricia Polacco’s children’s book The Art of Miss Chew the text functions as a window to the audience because everyone finds their passion, but some might come at a cost. The Art of Miss Chew is a true story about Patricia Polacco and how one of her teacher’s encouraged her to pursue something that she seemed interested and talented in and how one teacher tried to keep her from her passion because of her weakness in testing and reading. Mr. Donovan was the teacher who encouraged her to pursue art. He even helped set her up with a high school art teacher to make sure that she would be receiving the proper education and training needed to become a successful artist, which she know is. Through the powerful teachings of Miss Chew, Polacco was able to overcome her fear of not being able to continue the passion that art had in store for her. One day changed about everything. As Mr. Donovan left to attend his father’s funeral, the substitute, Mrs. Spaulding, did not understand the situation that Polacco was in. Polacco had a reading deficiency and was unable to complete each test leaving her with a failing grade each time. When Polacco told Mrs. Spaulding that Mr. Donovan would give her more time on test, she insisted that she still be timed. Polacco told Miss Chew about her situation and Miss Chew brought it up to a good friend of hers Dr. McClare. Miss Chew was able to figure out how to help Polacco with her reading based upon the way she painted, but she needed more time and Mrs. Spaulding would still not allow it. Luckily, Mr. Donovan came back and all her worries were over. To thank Miss Chew and Mr. Donovan for helping her find her passion and correcting her weakness in reading, she signed up for an art competition and decided to paint Mr. Donovan’s father for the art exhibit. They were thrilled when they saw it and it was all because of their hard work that gave Polacco a bright future and the amazing talent to be able to inspire and change the minds of the youth around the world.



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Title: Dotty

Author(s): Erica S. Perl

Illustrator/Photographer: Julia Denos

Publisher and Year: Abrams Books for Young Readers, 2012

Number of pages: 29

Genre: Children’s Fiction

Analysis: In Erica S. Perl’s children’s book Dotty, the text functions as a mirror to those who are the victim of bullying, and as a window to those who are bullies. Ida who is an average girl brings her imaginary pet to school just like every other student. But, as the years go on the other students grow up and grow out of their imaginary animal. The only one who has not is Ida. She begins to be bullied by the students who once brought their imaginary animals to class. She begins to feel real bad and she begins to shoo away her imaginary friend even though she really does not want to. Dotty, her imaginary animal tries to comfort her and tries to convince her that the other students are wrong. One day Ida tries to get rid of her. Once she releases the leash she begins to charge toward Ida’s classmates knocking one of them down. After that, the teacher, Ms. Raymond, notices that Ida and another student are not getting along ever since the accident. She has them apologize to each other. Ms. Raymond then asks Ida to stay after school to talk with her. After school Ms. Raymond asks Ida if she could get Dotty to behave better at school. As Ms. Raymond tries to give back Ida’s leash, Ms. Raymond accidentally pulls out her own. Ida automatically knows that Mrs. Raymond also has an imaginary pet. Through this moment, Ida realizes that with the help of her teacher, she can make it through this tough transition with her classmates and Dotty. The book literally shows us how much imagination children have and how much imagination teachers have in order to relate to their students. Ms. Raymond functions as a character that might have experienced the same type of scenarios as Ida has. She might have had a teacher who was there for her to tell her that it is all right to be different. To not be afraid to do what you believe in and strive for what you think is right in your heart. Ms. Raymond is a role model that helps motivate and prevent others from getting her down. Her imagination and her proactive efforts to prevent bullying helped cheer her up and brighten her future.



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Grandfather’s Journey

Title: Grandfather’s Journey

Author(s): Allen Sy

Illustrator/Photographer: Allen Sy

Publisher and Year: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1993

Number of pages: 29

Genre: Children’s Non-Fiction

Analysis: In Allen Sy’s award winning book Grandfather’s Journey, the text functions as a window to the audience because it shows what life is like for a person that calls two very different countries home. This true story tells first of Sy’s grandfather’s life. As he makes his way from Japan to America he realizes the beauty of nature from the Pacific Ocean to the deserts, mountains, and rivers of the New World. In the cities filled with factories and tall buildings, he makes acquaintances with many different people from diverse backgrounds. He brings his childhood sweetheart to America and they move back to Japan after having their daughter. There, Allen Sy is born. Shortly after, Sy experiences the nuclear bombing on Hiroshima. Everything that his family had was gone. He moves on by starting a new life in grandfather’s favorite part of America, California. There he starts a family, but feels the same as his grandfather felt when he was away from his homeland. No matter where he goes, he misses California or his homeland. The book made me think something that I never had before. The Japanese really had it hard no matter whether they were in the internment camps in America or they lost everything from the nuclear bombing on Hiroshima. It is interesting how his grandfather was treated in America the first time he went there. All the people that he met were a lot like him. They all came from different backgrounds, were handy in their own way, and understood what it was like to be homesick for your home country. They wanted to create a future that they thought would give their children a better chance in life. This makes us question why the Japanese were treated the way they were during the WWII era. Are they not like everyone else? What of the German, Russian, or Italian born citizens of that time? Why weren’t they treated like the Japanese too? Could not they be thought of as suspicious? Or could United States government not contain them? I am surprised Sy’s grandfather wanted to go back to America before he died even after the United States kept the American Japanese in the internment camps.



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Emily’s Eighteen Aunts

Title: Emily’s Eighteen Aunts

Author: Curtis Parkinson

Illustrator: Andrea Wayne von Königlsöw

Publisher: Stoddart Publishing Co, 2002

Pages: 30


Analysis: Emily’s Eighteen Aunts is about a little girl named Emily. All of her friends have aunts and uncles that go out and do fun things with them, but Emily doesn’t. She posts an ad for an aunt on the notice board of her supermarket, and 18 older women came to her apartment to be her aunts. They all took Emily to go to the ballet, watch her play baseball, and go out for ice cream. However, each time they all went out to do something, one of the aunts would cause a ruckus. Emily told her new aunts that she would be busy next Saturday. After a while, Emily saw a new ad in the grocery store; this one said that a niece or nephew was wanted for lonely aunts at the senior center. Emily felt bad, so she went to visit her adopted aunts. They had a picnic that was “definitely different than anyone else’s,” and Emily learned to accept her aunts for who they were instead of trying to make them become something they weren’t.

I think that this story teaches a good lesson about acceptance. While the main character and her nuclear family are all Caucasian, the aunts and Emily’s friends are quite diverse. All of the aunts are a bit kooky, and, while Emily is embarrassed of their antics at first, she grows to accept and love them for who they are.

The illustrations in this book are beautiful, and appear to be a mixture of watercolor paint and pen. Sometimes they are encased in a frame, and sometimes they are not, but there is always a good use of white space. The only time that Emily appears in one illustration multiple times is when she learns that the aunts that she abandoned are lonely and she is feeling guilty. This use of illustration shows her uncertainty, shown in the text as distraction and putting “ice cream in the cupboard, cereal in the freezer, and lettuce in the dishwasher.”


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McDuff Goes to School

Title: McDuff Goes to School

Author: Rosemary Wells

Illustrator: Susan Jeffers

Publisher: Hyperion Books, 2001

Pages: 24


Analysis: McDuff Goes to School is one of a series by Rosemary Wells about McDuff the dog. In this book, McDuff gets new neighbors who only speak French. He attends obedience school with his owners and their neighbors. His family doesn’t have time to practice with him, so he gets trained by his neighbor when he is left outside. When his owners try to get him to perform his tricks, he cannot recognize their commands, because he has been trained in French.

One thing that I thought was interesting about this book was that, when Fred and Lucy, McDuff’s owners, find out that their neighbors only speak French, their immediate reaction is, “They are going to have to learn English” (pg 4).  Also, while the main focus of the story is McDuff the dog, the only people shown are Caucasian. There doesn’t appear to be much appreciation for different cultures in this story.

I think that McDuff Goes to School could be a window for readers who are unilingual, or only speak one language. The last page of the book has all of the pronunciations and translations for the French words in the book, which I think is interesting. This story could also, potentially, be a mirror for readers who speak English as a second language because it shows how the first response upon learning that someone does not speak English is that they’re going to have to learn rather than attempting to meet them at their level. Fred and Lucy only ever speak English to their neighbors, Celeste and Pierre, who, in turn, respond solely in French. This is something else that I was intrigued by; how are the two couples able to carry on a conversation and be friends when nobody is speaking the same language? And, if they do, in fact, understand each other, why don’t they all converse in one common language?


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Pinocchio the Boy

Title: Pinocchio the Boy

Author: Lane Smith

Illustrator: Lane Smith

Publisher: Penguin Putnam Books, 2002

Pages: 39


Analysis: Pinocchio the Boy is an interesting take on the story of Pinocchio. In this version, Pinocchio saved Geppetto’s life, and the Blue Fairy turned him from a wooden puppet into a real boy while he slept. However, because both he and Geppetto were asleep, neither of them is aware of the fact that Pinocchio is no longer made of wood. The next morning, Pinocchio wakes up before his father, and decides to go into town to get him some chicken soup. He doesn’t have any money, so he decides to get a job for the day. However, because he doesn’t know that he’s changed, he tries to become a storefront mannequin and a puppet in a puppet show. He meets a girl along the way who is extremely skeptical of the stories he’s been telling. She follows him home, and we find out that the Blue Fairy is her mother. Pinocchio and Geppetto discover that Pinocchio has become a real boy and they celebrate.

I think that this story is cute, but there isn’t really a moral here. Perhaps “look in the mirror before you leave the house” or don’t transform people into other things unless they’re awake?” It’s mostly just a cute story about Pinocchio. The illustrations are very cleverly set up. The first two pages are the backstory, set up almost like a storyboard. Some pages are all one picture, and some are split up like a comic strip. In most of the pages, when Pinocchio is in town trying to get enough money to buy his father soup, he is depicted on the same page multiple times. This is indicative of a character struggling with control, which Pinocchio is doing. He is becoming increasingly more desperate as the story progresses. Out of all of the people in the book, only three are people of color, and all of the main characters are Caucasian, excepting the Blue Fairy, who is, of course, blue.


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Horton Hears a Who!

Title: Horton Hears a Who!

Author: Dr. Seuss

Illustrator: Dr. Seuss

Publisher: Random House, 1954

Pages: 60


Analysis: Horton Hears a Who! is a picture book by Dr. Seuss about Horton the elephant who discovers a city called Whoville on a small speck of dust. Nobody else in the forest believes Horton when he tells them that there are people on this dust speck, which he placed on a clover for safety purposes, until Horton gets all of the Whos in Whoville to make as much noise as they can. The morals of this story are very plainly stated; “a person’s a person, no matter how small,” and that one person can make all the difference. Horton is the only character who can hear the Whos at the beginning of the story, and he vows to protect them, no matter what. They make as much noise as possible, but it’s not until the one last little Who, the littlest of all, joins in on the noise-making, that the other animals finally hear the Whos and agree to help Horton keep them safe.

Horton Hears a Who! is an excellent book for young children, but it’s also a good story for older elementary students to read. All readers will take away the messages of the importance of one lone voice and caring for others no matter what. Younger readers will most likely just take the book at face value, while older readers will be able to make connections to other stories and real life experiences. This book is a door for social change because it shows the reader how every person can make a difference, even if you think that your voice doesn’t matter. It could be a mirror for readers who maybe have been Jo-Jos-the little one who felt insignificant or unable to help. It could also be a window for those who have never gone through this type of situation before.

The illustrations in Horton Hears a Who! are typical of Dr. Seuss in that there are lots of abstract and imaginative designs, but they’re still fairly simplistic. The color scheme is black, white, and shades of blue and orange, which is a bit atypical, as most Dr. Seuss books tend to be more vibrant and colorful.


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Liberty Porter First Daughter

Screen Shot 2014-05-26 at 11.08.22 PMTitle: Liberty Porter First Daughter

Author: Julia Devillers

Illustrator or Photographer: Paige Pooler

Pages: 163

Publisher and Year: Aladdin Books, 2009

Genre: Fiction

Tags: Family, Friends, History, 1-3, Novel


Liberty Porter is the new first daughter at the White House. With being the first daughter come excitement and curiosity in Liberty. Liberty is so excited for her dad to become the President of the United States and is very curious to what life will be like in the White House. On the day her dad takes oath, Liberty realizes how boring it is to be a part of the presidential “grown-up stuff” so she asks to be taken inside. Liberty is escorted inside by Miss. Crum where she meets the house usher and a few special service members. Liberty is fascinated by the White House staff and soon makes friends with a few of them. Later Liberty meets James, a son of one of the staff members and the two of them become good friends. Together they explore the house with Sam, the secret service agent. Liberty falls in love with the house and all its hidden treasures. The story ends with the inaugural ball where Liberty gets to enjoy a dance with her father but then return to the movie theater where she gets to hang out with friends from her old school.

This story could be a small window for readers on how it may be to live in the White House. Although the author has never lived there, it seems that she may have had some insight of what parts there are to living in the White House. The reader gets a look at how large of a staff is needed to run one house and how being a first daughter can be fun and challenging all at the same time.

Perceptually the reader sees Liberty over the span of one day, inauguration day. Liberty starts out a little nervous to be moving to a new house. On the limo ride to the White House Liberty starts to feel sick but her mom soon comforts her nerves. When standing at the inauguration, Liberty gets antsy and soon realizes that if she does something goofy or inappropriate that there will always be cameras on her and her actions will be published. This makes Liberty realize she must always be on her best behavior. Later the reader sees excitement in Liberty when she sees her new room for the first time, meets a friendly secret service agent, and gets to explore the house with her new friend James. Liberty learns to love her house but realizes she misses her old friends. Liberty realizes she enjoys this life but that it is nothing a normal 9-year-old is used to!

Structurally, there are not many pictures in the story. There are a few random pictures placed in the novel in black and white. Most of the pictures are taken out of Liberty’s imagination and are usually of something she is thinking about. A few of the pictures are drawn as photographs wit frames. These frames give the reader the illusion that they are looking in on what Liberty was doing in the photo. Liberty’s dad, the President of the United States is always illustrated bigger than Liberty. This tells the reader that not only does he have significant power of Liberty but also over the whole country.

Ideologically, there is not much diversity or culture written in this story. Liberty and her family are African American but the story does not describe any diverse culture aspects of Liberty’s life. The story was created to model off of President Barrack Obama and his girls. The story doesn’t state that the characters are an exact resemblance of the Obamas but it is easy for the reader to infer that because there has not been any other African American family in office. The book does do a good job of describing to the reader the different life style one is given when living in the White House. Not everyone has secret service agents following them around or has their house open for tours.

The illustrations are pretty boring and the story could do without them. They are only included on every so many pages and are used as a supporting detail for the text. All illustrations were created in black and white which makes them less eye catching!

This is Liberty hanging out with Sam from the Secret Service!

This is Liberty hanging out with Sam from the Secret Service!

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