Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World

Title: Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World


Author(s): Vicki Myron with Bret Witter




Publisher and Year: Grand Central Publishing 2008


Number of pages: 271


Tags/Themes: Animals, Chapter book, Emotion, Family, Friendship, Non-fiction, 2-5, Joe Marras


Genre: Biography


Descriptive Annotation: This is a very easy read with no prior knowledge needed.  The story of Dewey Readmore Books is very heartwarming. A very young Dewey was dropped into the drop box of the library in Spencer, Iowa on the coldest night of the winter.  He was found the next day by librarian and author Vicki Myron. She nursed Dewey back to health and decided to keep the furry fella. Dewey was a mainstay at the library for the entirety of his 19 years only leaving on holidays and long weekends to go home with Vicki Myron.  Dewey helped Myron through tough times as she dealt with a bout with cancer and a divorce from her husband, but Dewey helped everyone. Myron says that Dewey had a profound gift of knowing who needed him the most and giving that person the love and affection they needed.


Classroom Application: I think that the best application for this book is to reinforce the importance of helping out those that need a pick me up.  Everyone goes through down times and who knows how long those times will continue without a good friend or furry companion to help them through it all.  I think Dewey can teach anyone of any age a valuable lesson that it doesn’t always take words or a conversation to give someone what they need.


Linguistic and Cultural Diversity Analysis: “There were no two ways about it, Dewey led a charmed life.  But Spencer was also lucky, because Dewey couldn’t have fallen into our lives at a better time.” (page 22)  This couldn’t have been more true for the author and “mother” of Dewey Vicki Myron. She needed Dewey as much as Dewey needed his food and water.  She had been through so much and Dewey was just the one that helped her through it and made it all worth it for her. This is a very easy read, no troubling words and very happy throughout the story.  Dewey became so well known, his story was even heard by people in Japan. A filming crew even came from Japan to get footage of Dewey in their documentary about animals, “Dewey was almost fifteen years old and he was slowing down, but he hadn’t lost his enthusiasm for strangers.” (page 218)  No matter how old or slow Dewey became he never lost his enthusiasm for people. He would still greet people with the same fire he always did. I think this shows a good lesson to show that no matter how you may be feeling on a particular day to never lose your kindness because you’ll never know who it can reach.


Title: Stitches


Author(s): David Small


Illustrator/Photographer: David Small


Publisher and Year: W. W. Norton & Company 2009


Number of pages: 329

Tags: Graphic novel, Emotion, Family, Memoir, 4-5, 6-8, Joe Marras


Genre: Graphic novel, Memoir


Descriptive Annotation: This graphic novel starts with David as a child and he explains the forms of expression for his mother, father, brother, and himself.  David’s forms of expression is drawing, which is obviously very fitting, and getting sick. David gets sick at a young age, which he later finds out was cancer and resulted in one of his vocal chords being taken out.  Sharing this story in a graphic novel seems like the perfect way to do so because of how David likes to express himself and then not being able to talk very much because of the cancer. It is obvious that his family has communication issues, and they aren’t a close family.  David has to face a lot of harsh realities all by himself because there is no love and support from his family, but he doesn’t let that stop him from finding eventual freedom.


Classroom Application: This story is very well expressed through illustrations.  I think a story like this can show that graphic novels are a valuable way to express a story and learn.  This story also shows the negatives of non-communication. David’s family does not communicate or express themselves to each other and that grew to resentment.  It shows that communication is vital, which is a valuable lesson for young readers.


Linguistic and Cultural Diversity Analysis: I think that this story can open up a valuable discussion about how important communication is.  David wasn’t able to express himself to anyone because they were not there for him to do so. They did not open that line of communication which can lead to resentment like it did for David to his mother whom showed him no love or affection.  “Mama had her little cough… once or twice, some quiet sobbing, out of sight… or the slamming of kitchen cupboard doors.” (page 15) This set the tone of his mother being quiet and keeping to herself for the entire story. That was her sound, her expression, and she never strayed off of that too much.  Another quote that really keeps the tone of non-affection and that shows the relationship that he and his mother had is on page 255, “I’m sorry, David it’s true. She doesn’t love you.” This comes from David’s therapist that he drew as the rabbit from Alice in Wonderland. It is just the brutal reality that David had to face that his mother does not genuinely love him and the only time she showed anything for him was when she found out he had cancer and she thought that he wasn’t going to make it.  It’s terrible that he has to hear this, but this is really when it really gets brought home for David that it really is true.

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Dear Primo: A Letter to My Cousin

Title: Dear Primo: A Letter to My Cousin


Author: Duncan Tonatiuh


Publisher and Year: Abrams Books for Young Readers 2010


Number of Pages: 27


Tags: Award Book, Culture, Family, Friendship, K-1, Joe Marras


Descriptive Annotation: This is a very simple story about two cousins, one that lives in Mexico and one that lives in New York City, that write each other letters telling each other what they do in their lives.  They have many similarities in what they do, but they can differ on how they do them. They both are very interested in one another and want to have their Primo, cousin in spanish, visit them sometime soon.


Classroom Application: This can be used to show similarities among kids throughout the world.  Both kids went to school, had recess, went to the store/market, but they just differ on how or what they do while there.  In New York they play basketball at recess, but in Mexico they play soccer, but they are both playing games at recess! This can also be used to introduce students to the spanish language as there are many spanish words throughout the story as well as pictures labeled so they can know what the word means.


Linguistic and Cultural Diversity Analysis: This book represents Mexican and American culture, but I can see how it can be used to show that kids across the world are more alike than they know.  “Every morning I ride my bicicleta to school.” “I ride the subway to school. The subway is like a long metal snake, and it travels through tunnels underground.” They both go to school, but they get there differently, and they are both exciting ways of getting to school.  In Mexico his favorite meal is quesadillas, and in America his favorite is pizza. It brings to light the similar things they do, and shows that they do them in different ways sometimes and that is perfectly okay and exciting.


Title: Harlem


Author: Walter Dean Myers


Illustrator: Christopher Myers


Publisher and Year: Scholastic Press 1997


Number of pages: 32


Tags: Award Book, Culture, Emotion, Non-fiction, 6-12, Joe Marras


Descriptive Analysis:  This poem brings the reader on an adventure through the burrough of Harlem.  This is a very powerful poem that captures the mood of Harlem through words and pictures.  This is a poem that describes Harlem through its music, its people, its smells, and its sadness.  There are many things in here that are historically relevant so prior knowledge on African American history is helpful to fully understand the poem.  


Classroom Application:  This poem would be very useful in teaching about African American history.  This could also be used to teach about different ways of writing poems, that they don’t always have to rhyme or go in a specific template.  This poem does not have rhyming or any template style of writing and it still is extremely powerful. So it could help to show that there are many ways to convey powerful writing.


Linguistic and Cultural Diversity Analysis: This poem represents African American culture and its history in Harlem, but also from Africa.  “Harlem was a promise of a better life, of a place where a man didn’t have to know his place simply because he was black,” Harlem was supposed to be a place of equality and bring together many African Americans from different parts of the world.  “They brought a call, a song first heard in the villages of Ghana/Mali/Senegal,” people from all across Africa were brought together in Harlem and they united with one another to make Harlem a special place. This poem brings up many different countries and famous African Americans, so it can be used to introduce people like Jack Johnson, Joe Louis, and Sugar Ray.

Stone Soup

Title: Stone Soup


Author: Jon J. Muth


Publisher and Year: Scholastic Press 2003


Number of Pages: 28


Tags: Family, Friendship, K-5, Joe Marras


Descriptive Annotation: Three monks were traveling down a mountain road and saw a village that had noticeably been through a lot of things such as famine, floods, and war.  These hard times had made the villagers suspicious of their neighbors and people began to lose friendship. When the monks came into the village everyone had gone inside and locked their doors to keep the monks out.  So to counter the villagers the monks decided they would teach them a lesson on happiness by making stone soup. The monks gathered tools and started a fire and a young girl came up to see what they were doing, so they asked her to help them find three stones, but then they realized they needed a bigger pot, and so the young girl got a bigger pot from her mother.  As more people saw what was going on outside they came out to inspect, and then the monks said they needed more ingredients that they did not have, so the villagers banded together and filled the soup with so many ingredients and everyone brought something and it turned into a small village festival where the villagers talked and shared stories and became friends again.


Classroom Application:  This story shares a good lesson that everyone has something to bring to the table, whether it be carrots for a soup or a pencil for class.  It shows to never shut people out because the people can bring so many things to you and the world so give everyone a chance to show what they can bring.  It is captivating how something as simple as stone soup brought a village that had be separated back together in just one night. It shows that it just takes the effort.


Linguistic and Cultural Diversity Analysis: This book could be used as a good introduction to monks.  Although this book doesn’t specify where the monks are from or any of their beliefs it shows that they spread happiness, “What makes one happy, Siew?”  They are genuinely concerned and interested about what makes people happy so they go and explore it and help a broken village come together. The villagers, much being of different professions, at the beginning of the story did not fraternize with each other, but by the end they had unlocked their doors, “Then they unlocked their doors and took the monks into their homes and gave them very comfortable places to sleep.”  They had previously locked their doors and tightened their windows shut to the monks, but the monks changed them and brought the good out of them.


Title: Pigsty


Author: Mark Teague


Publisher and Year: Scholastic Inc. 1994


Number of pages: 28


Tags: Animals, Fiction, K-1, Joe Marras


Descriptive Annotation:  Young Wendell has a very very messy room that isn’t just messy, it’s a pigsty.  His mother tells him to clean it, but it doesn’t bother him so he doesn’t. Then one day a pig shows up to hang out, and since the pig doesn’t mind the mess either he stays.  Wendell keeps stuffing things to the side and under his bed, and then even more pigs show up. At first they have fun and play games, but later the pigs start to ruin his things like chewing his baseball cards, sitting on his basketball, and getting hoof prints on his comic books.  Wendell finally has enough of it and with the help of his pig friends they clean his room and the pigs get on their way.


Classroom Application:  For young students this shows a valuable lesson of staying clean and organized because when things start to get messy, that is when things start to get ruined and crazy.  Also in this book Wendell when cleaning his room remembers something he heard in school, “many hooves make light work.” Showing that teamwork makes the dream work and the more the merrier.  


Linguistic and Cultural Diversity Analysis: Wendell is like most young children that don’t want to clean their room or organize all of their toys and things because who wants to do that!  I see myself in Wendell and I’m sure that many young students will see the same thing that he is much like them. It is a very light read containing very easy words and simple sentences, “Wendle could hardly believe his luck. “Now I can live however I want.” ”   This is when his mother told him that if he wants to live in a pigsty then it’s his own decision and Wendell is all for it! It is very funny and goofy, and the pigs are drawn to be very funny and especially lazy. Also when Wendell finally has had enough of living in a pigsty and needs to clean his room he remembers something he heard in school, “many hooves make light work.”  So with the help of the pigs he makes quick work of his messy room and learns a lesson that it is important to be organized.

Hidden Figures

Title: Hidden Figures


Author: Margot Lee Shetterly


Illustrator: Laura Freeman


Publisher and Year: HarperCollins Publishers 2018


Number of pages: 30


Tags: Culture, Diversity, Math, Non-fiction, Science, K-5, Joe Marras


Descriptive Annotation: This is a true story about four black women: Dorothy Vaughan, Mary Jackson, Katherine Johnson, and Christine Darden.  These four women were some of the first black women to become engineers, and make strides in space and airplane technology. No background knowledge is needed for this because there is no actual math or science in this story, just a lot of mention of it because of how complicated the math they were doing is.


Classroom Application:  This story has many classroom applications including history, math, and science.  It could be used to tell the story of these four intelligent women or show real world applications of math and science.  Also could be used to show african american scientists and mathematicians to show that they are indeed out there.


Linguistic and Cultural Diversity Analysis:  This book represents african american culture and some of their struggles to gain equality in the workplace and in the world.  Since this story takes place during the 1950’s, it can help show the fight for equality in America, and also can show the discrimination they felt by being segregated from white people, “They could not eat in the same restaurants.  They could not drink from the same water fountains. They could not use the same restrooms.” This shows the segregation in America at the time, and helps to show how important it was for these women to do what they did. These women did amazing work and helped bring men to the moon and back down to earth, and advancing airplanes to prevent more crashes, among many other things, “No one knows how many lives her work may have helped save.”  Talking about Katherine Johnson and her work, and no one can truly tally just many lives she saved, and no one probably even mentions it.

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The King’s Commissioners

Title: The King’s Commissioners


Author: Aileen Friedman


Illustrator: Susan Guevara


Publisher and Year: Scholastic Press, 1994


Number of Pages: 26 Pages


Tags: Math, Fiction, Family, K-1, Joe Marras


Genre: Fiction


Descriptive Annotation: This story is about a king that has hired many commissioners to be in charge of certain silly tasks such as for flat tires, chickenpox, and foul balls.  He had hired so many that he began to lose count and lose track of who was in charge of was tasks. So the king had his royal advisors summon all commissioners and have them walk through so that he and his two advisors can count.  The king’s daughter comes in and distracts him in the middle of his count so he lost his count, but at the end he had his two advisors count still. His advisors try to explain their tally marks to him, but he does not understand it until his daughter arranges it in a better way for him, and she finally explains it and he figures out how many commissioners he has.


Classroom Application: This is a good story to show applications of math in the real world.  In this story they used three different ways of tallying all of the people they counted, so it help shows multiple ways of counting which would be good for young students.  


Linguistic and Cultural Diversity Analysis: This is set in old times when kings and queens were still prominent, so I think that this is a good way to introduce more math concepts to young students because they probably still read and watch a lot of things involving monarchies. The tone of this book is very light and has a nice father daughter relationship which students should be able to relate to.  It is also very silly, “First came the Commissioner for Spilt Milk. He’d been very busy when the Princess was a baby.” There are a lot of goofy commissioners in the story which are very entertaining. Another quote to show the daddy-daughter relationship is, “Let me, Daddy, let me,” pleaded the Princess. The King looked down at his eager daughter and sighed. “All right, my dear.” ” The king was getting frustrated, but the Princess was there to help explain it to him.  The love between them is obvious and very affectionate.

We’re All Wonders

Title: We’re All Wonders


Author: R.J. Palacio


Illustrator: R.J. Palacio


Publisher and Year: Alfred A. Knopf 2012


Number of Pages: 31


Tags/Theme: Adventure, Fiction, K-5, Joe Marras


Descriptive Annotation: This story is about a young boy named Auggie and he doesn’t look the same as most kids.  Auggie only has one eye and calls himself a wonder. Although he doesn’t only call himself a wonder, he says everyone is a wonder.  He wants everyone to know that even though he doesn’t like everyone else, he does all of the things they do.


Classroom Application: This can be used to show students that everyone should be accepted in the classroom no matter who they are or how they look.  It is important to give everyone a shot and to respect everyone in the class and in the world.


Linguistic and Cultural Diversity Analysis: This book is a easy read.  The sentences are short and each page has a few sentences.  Auggie just wants to show everyone that he is just like them, “Sure, I do ordinary things.  I ride a bike. I eat ice cream. I play ball.” Auggie is showing that he does any ordinary thing that kids his age do like riding his bike and playing ball.  He just wants to show that he and everyone else is a wonder in their own way. He just wants people to accept him, “… people can change they way they see. If they do, they’ll see that I’m a wonder.”  He justs wants to show that he is a wonder and that he is just like everyone else.

Shin’s Tricycle

Title: Shin’s Tricycle


Author: Tatsuharu Kodama


Illustrator: Noriyuki Ando


Publisher and Year: Doshin-Sha 1992


Number of Pages: 30


Tags/Theme: Culture, Emotion, Family, Non-fiction, 3-8, Joe Marras


Descriptive Annotation: This story is about a family in Japan during World War 2.  Shin is a three year old boy that really wanted a tricycle but because of the war a lot of the toys and other metal in Japan went towards making tanks and other war materials.  Then his uncle came in and brought him his old tricycle and Shin was ecstatic. He was outside playing with it one day and then the unthinkable happened, a nuclear bomb was dropped on Hiroshima.  Shin was trapped and his parents had to free him, he was breathing but his two siblings weren’t as lucky. His parents cared for him until he died shortly after. This is a true story, Shin’s tricycle is in a museum in Japan to remind everyone that war is not the answer.


Classroom Application: This story could be used to show kids the effects of war on everyday citizens, and also on World War 2 and the effects of dropping the atomic bombs on Japan.  This is a tragic story, but it is true which makes it land very hard.


Linguistic and Cultural Diversity Analysis:  The book itself isn’t too difficult to read, but the content is very hard hitting which is why it might be more appropriate for older kids that are learning about World War 2, “Wars are always brutal.  No matter who starts one, innocent people always die-even children like Shin.” Shin was a real boy and he died just before his fourth birthday. It’s a tragic story and it’s very sad to read, “Maybe if enough people could see Shin’s tricycle, they would remember that the world should be a peaceful place where children can play and laugh.”  Hoping Shin’s tricycle being put on display at a museum will help people realize that peace is essential.