Tag Archives: Adventure

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.

My Pal, Victor

Title: My Pal, Victor


Author: Diane Gonzales Bertrand


Illustrator: Robert L. Sweetland


Publisher and Year: Raventree Press 2010


Number of Pages: 31


Tags/Theme: Adventure, diversity, friendship, K-1, Joe Marras


Descriptive Annotation: This book is about two friends, Dominic and Victor.  Dominic tells the reader about all of the great things about Victor: he tells great stories, has great jokes, and likes Dominic for who he is.  They are the best of friends. At the end of the story they show that Victor is in a wheelchair.


Classroom Application:  This story can be used to show that everyone should be accepted by all students no matter if they are black, white, green, yellow, or in a wheelchair.  Dominic and Victor are best of friends and Victor cheers on Dominic at his baseball games even though he is in a wheelchair and can’t play.


Linguistic and Cultural Diversity Analysis:  Looking at the cover and reading the title it seems like this book is going to be about two friends, one American and one Mexican, but Victor is in a wheelchair and they are still best friends and do normal things that any two friends would do, “My pal, Victor tells great jokes.”  They tell jokes and laugh until their stomachs hurt just like any friends do. “My pal, Victor throws a toy for his dog to catch.” Victor plays with his dog like a lot of other people that aren’t in wheelchairs do. This book shows that even though he is in a wheelchair he can still do all of the fun things any other friend does and he is really funny!

Be the Change: A Grandfather Gandhi Story

Title: Be the Change: A Grandfather Gandhi Story


Author: Arun Gandhi and Bethany Hegedus


Illustrator: Evan Turk


Publisher and Year: Atheneum Books for Young Readers 2016


Number of Pages: 36


Tags/Theme: Adventure, Culture, Family, Non-fiction, K-5, Joe Marras


Descriptive Annotation: The main character is Gandhi’s grandson and he accompanies his grandfather on his trips.  His grandson follows all of his grandfather’s teachings and the story focuses mainly on their vow to be non-violent and not waste.  Then one day while walking home he through his pencil away into the field, which was wasteful, and he didn’t think there was anything wrong with it.  When his grandfather found out he made him go back and find it and then taught him how being wasteful can lead to violence. His grandson then knew that it was important to follow his grandfathers teachings and keep his vows.


Classroom Application: This story could be used to introduce Gandhi and also to not be wasteful because Gandhi in the story shows the impacts of being wasteful.  Gandhi shows him that it can affect others and that it is important to keep your vows as well.

Linguistic and Cultural Diversity Analysis:  This book shows some of the teachings of Gandhi and the importance of them. The two things that are focused on are to not be wasteful and be non-violent.  Gandhi explains to his grandson that his actions can affect other people. Before Gandhi talked to him he did not realize what his actions could do, “Soon I could see how throwing my pencil away could hurt others.”  Gandhi showed him how throwing and wasting his pencil could eventually hurt others teaching his grandson that it is important to not waste things. The tone of this book is very light and Gandhi is trying to help his grandson learn throughout the story.  At the end of the story he tells him, “Be the change you wish to see in the world, Arun.” This was one of Gandhi’s sayings and shows how he dedicated his life to teaching others.

My Diary from Here to There

Title: My Diary from Here to There, Mi Diario de Aqui hasta Alla.

Author:  Amada Irma Perez

Illustrator: Maya Christina Gonzalez

Publication/ Year: Children’s Book Press, 2002

Number of Pages: 31

Tags/ Themes: Adventure, Culture, Diversity, Emotion, Family, Non-Fiction, Picture Book, Spanish, K-5, Rebecca Cauthorn

Genre: Non-Fiction

Descriptive Annotation: This story follows the journey of the author as a young girl when she moved from Mexico to the United States. It is formatted as diary entries, probably based off of the real diary entries Amada wrote when she was young. This story is great because it shows both the excitement and the worry that people have when they are leaving their home country. A key part of this book is that on every page, there is the text written in both Spanish and in English. This is important because it would be a great tool to use with either bilingual or ESL students. There is an author’s note at the end of the book which describes why this story is important to her and how she wants to encourage people who are new to the United States to be brave, and be true to themselves.

Classroom Application: If I was working with either a bilingual student or an English as a Second Language Learner, this book would be very helpful. By including both the English words and the Spanish words it allows students to try to read the foreign language, while also being able to look and read the comfortable language in case they get stuck, and to figure out the meaning of the words. By having this book in the classroom, it would allow students to feel more comfortable and excited to read, knowing that there are books which accommodate their language needs. But this book is also great for students who only speak English because it shows them that students who come from different countries are just like they are—excited to learn, worried about making friends, and totally human.

Linguistic and Cultural Diversity Analysis: This book does an excellent job portraying the different cultures and the struggle of immigrant families finding a place in a different country. It shows diversity and the strength that people have to be brave and be themselves. The author uses both English and Spanish, which is a key part of this book because it allows it to be accessible for students of any background (assuming they speak either Spanish or English), and the text, while dense, is very honest and relatable. One example of the honest text is seen on page 9, “Mama and Papa keep talking about all the opportunities we’ll have in California. But what if I can’t learn English? Will I ever see Michi again? What if we never come back?” These questions are very real questions many people have when moving to a different place, and some students in the classroom may have even gone through a similar experience which would make this book that much more powerful: they are not alone.



Title: Wings

Author:  Christopher Myers

Illustrator: Christopher Myers

Publication/ Year: Scholastic Press, New York, 2000

Number of Pages: 38

Tags/ Themes: Adventure, diversity, emotion, fantasy, friendship, picture book, Rebecca Cauthorn

Genre: Fantasy

Descriptive Annotation: This book is loosely based off of the story of Ikarus. However, it doesn’t get into the dark and depressing part of the story where his wings melt off and he dies. Instead, it looks at Ikarus when he is a kid and how he got bullied for being different. The illustrations are definitely noteworthy, done in an abstract, almost collage-y way. I think that the message of the story is beautiful because it is teaching children to stretch their wings and soar, regardless of what other kids might say about you. It encourages kids to be their true self and not be ashamed of their differences, instead embracing them. I think that if a child were to read this book they should NOT know the story of Ikarus before hand because if they did (like I did) they would be worried the entire book that he was going to die. In fact, I think that is where this story falls short. I believe it could be a much more powerful piece if the author chose to not name the boy Ikarus because in doing so it prompts a tragic underlying tone to the whole piece. I think it could have been much better if he was just any boy, but happened to have wings! Then the same things would happen to him but without the worry that he would then be his best self flying high… and then die.

Classroom Application: I probably would not read this book out loud to the class unless I wanted to use it as a supplement to a lesson about the fable of Ikarus. If this is what I was doing, I would first read the book to them and have the children discuss what it means to bully, why it is bad, and what it means to be a good friend. I would lead them in an activity where they write out their differences from one another and explain why their differences make them unique and special. Then (if I wanted to explain why the boy’s name was Ikarus) I would describe the fable. Another cool idea would be to first read this book and then read a more informative book about Ikarus and have students compare and contrast the two pieces. This might be a good activity to prompt synthesis and deeper thinking, while drawing connections between two texts.

Linguistic and Cultural Diversity Analysis: This book shows good diversity for several reasons. First, every person in this book is a different color (the main character is black, the girl is orange, the policeman is blue, many of the other boys and girls are brown or green). This adds to the abstractness of the illustration while also demonstrating the insignificance of what color you are! Another way it demonstrates diversity is by showing that Ikarus is the only kid with wings, and he gets bullied for being different. This is a very real thing which is going to happen in the classroom or at recess, so it is important to demonstrate to students how harmful that can be. The language used in this book is very eloquent, as seen in this passage, “Their word sent Ikarus drifting into the sky, away from the glaring eyes and the pointing fingers. I waited for them to point back at me as I watched Ikarus float farther and farther away”.


Wanted: Perfect Parents


Title: Wanted: Perfect Parents

Author: John Himmelman

Illustrator: John Himmelman

Publisher/Year: BridgeWater Books, 1993

Number of Pages: 28

Tags/Themes: Adventure, Family, Fantasy, Fiction, Picture book, K-5, Rebecca Cauthorn

Genre: Fiction

Descriptive Annotation: In this text, Gregory, a young boy, puts up a sign on his door saying “Wanted: The Perfect Parents”, prompting an explanation of what a perfect parent would mean for him. It is a fun and lighthearted book with colorful illustrations and vivid imagination, a book which would bring smiles to children’s faces. On each page the illustrations are so detailed that it would be fun to spend time with the students to look closely at the pictures and work on making observations.

Classroom Application: This book primarily addresses Social and Emotional Learning Standards, providing a fun and lighthearted read purely for the enjoyment of the reader. This book would allow students to let their own imaginations fly, as well as potentially connect with Gregory based off of what he is imagining himself. I would use this book as a writing workshop, having students write their own sequel to it, imagining what their perfect parents might be. But then as a follow up, I would have them write about how their parents are good in their own ways. (A follow-up thought: maybe I would not have this second part because if a student lived in a home with abusive parents or a house they felt unhappy in, this might be uncomfortable for them to try to think about the good things their parents bring them. Perhaps instead I could have them write about some role model in their life who they appreciate for what they do, not necessarily a parent.)

Linguistic and Cultural Diversity Analysis: While the main characters in this are all white, there are images of other children, many of whom are different ethnicities. This is good because while it might be better to depict a multi-racial household, showing the other kids as not just white is a good first step (especially for a book written more than 20 years ago) to diversity. The language in this book is fun and engaging, using descriptive words to paint the picture of Gregory’s ideal world. My favorite part is at the end of the book when he describes how his perfect parents would tuck him in to bed at night and say how much they loved him, because then that’s exactly what his parents do. One example of the language used in this book is, “We would get out all my paints and we’d paint pictures on every wall in the house and my perfect parents would say, ‘My talented son and his best friend, Ernie, are such good artists’”. The illustrations in this book compliment the text beautifully, adding on to the author’s descriptions and bringing the story to life.

Potential Problems of this Text:  The fact that the three main characters are white, and the fact that there isn’t much shown appreciation for his parents until the very last page. I wouldn’t want this book to make kids go home to their parents and demand a bunch of ridiculous things like what is stated in the book. I think that if I guided the reading right, however, this would be avoided and it would simply be enjoyable and funny.


One Dead Spy

Title: One Dead Spy

Author: Nathan Hale

Illustrator: Nathan Hale

Publisher/ Year: Abrams Books for Young Readers, 2012

Number of Pages: 128

Tags/Themes:  Adventure, Chapter Book, Graphic Novel, Historical Fiction, 4-5, 6-8, Rebecca Cauthorn

Genre: Historical Fiction (Almost non-fiction, but not quite)

Descriptive Annotation: This book begins at the execution of the historical figure Nathan Hale (ironically, also the author’s name). However, before he is hung he gets swallowed by a gigantic history book and suddenly he knows everything that happens in the future of America. Intrigued, the executioner and the guard ask him to tell his story. Both the language used and the illustrations are hilarious, helping the reader stay engaged during the discussion of the revolutionary war. Nathan Hale (the primary narrator) begins telling the story of the war, jumping back and forth between his story and his current conversation with the guard and the executioner.  This book walks through all of the beginning major battles of the war (including Bunker Hill, Winter’s Hill, the siege of Boston, and more) and the recalling of these events are extremely accurate, including exact quotes from some of the major figures involved. The book ends with Hale going to get hung, but he says he knows how the war ends, so they decide not to hang him yet and allow him to continue telling the story (setting it up for a sequel). Before reading this book students would need to know what the Revolutionary War was.

Classroom Application: This would be an excellent text to accompany a history lesson on the Revolutionary War!! It would be a very fun and engaging way to get the kids excited to learn about the battles while also increasing their desire to read and enjoyment of reading. Also, if students had not yet been familiar with graphic novels, this would be a good way to show them that graphic novels are awesome! And a super legit way to read and can be very informative and fun. Another benefit of this book is that because it is so fun while also being very instructional, it could spark curiosity in students and a desire to continue learning more.

Linguistic and Cultural Diversity Analysis: This book represents both the opinions of the Americans and the British during the Revolutionary war, which I think is important. It is common that people teach the Revolutionary War as being just one-sided, when in fact many of the British soldiers were just fighting for what they thought was right! By including the dialogue between Nathan Hale and the British soldier guard, it allows the reader to understand both sides of the story, which both raises the stakes and provides interesting insights to why the war happened.


The Dreamer

Title:  The Dreamer

Author: Pam Munoz Ryan

Illustrator: Peter Sis

Publisher/Year: Scholastic Press, 2010

Number of Pages: 355

Tags/Themes:  Adventure, Award Book, Chapter Book, Emotion, Culture, Diversity, Family, Poetry, Historical Fiction, 4-5, Rebecca Cauthorn

 Genre: Historical Fiction

Descriptive Annotation:  This book was based on the famous poet Pablo Neruda’s life, except we don’t know this until the end. This emotional story is for anyone who is an outcast, who feels different than other people, or feels like they are letting their family down. We meet a young boy, Neftali, who is a dreamer. He loves to write, daydream, and imagine. His father thinks he is an absent-minded fanatic, who will amount to nothing. The story begins when Neftali is eight, and ends when he goes off to college. We watch him struggling to find a balance between being himself while pleasing his father, and root for him as he discovers his passion and gift for writing. Illustrations are included at the beginning of the chapter and sporadically throughout the book, accompanied with poetry that Pablo Neruda wrote later in his life (of course, we do not know yet that it is our beloved Neftali’s poetry we are reading). This book also comments on the issues of displacing native peoples for development, and uses little Spanish phrases throughout. This book would be excellent for someone who had a Chilean background, or anyone who felt like their differences were a bad thing. It is easy reading, but very long, so would be most appropriate for a 4th or 5th grade classroom.

Classroom Application: This book would be a great asset to help students recognize that we are all important and smart even if we are good at different things. Neftali wasn’t very good at math, but a very creative writer and thinker. It would also be good to assist a lesson on Native Americans to demonstrate that this displacement is still going on and to raise the question of right versus wrong. Another way to incorporate this book into the curriculum would be to have an entire mini unit devoted to it—for math, we could use leaves and twigs to illustrate multiplication by grouping, for social studies, we could investigate the displacement of Native Americans and native people all over, and for reading/writing we could write poetry that Neftali would have written, and then teach a lesson on Pablo Neruda and his poetry. We could also include art into this lesson by cutting out construction paper into a leaf or a beetle or a swan and write a poem on it and hang them in the classroom.

Linguistic and Cultural Diversity Analysis: This book does an exceptional job of raising awareness of and cultivating discussions about cultural diversity. Within the book, many different viewpoints are discussed about the diversity in the town Neftali is from, and this could raise a very stimulating discussion which could expand the minds of students. The depiction of Neftali as a dreamer who is on the outside is also very beneficial to the classroom to recognize that everyone is unique and awesome in their own way. Overall, this book contains a wide cultural vocabulary, from the Spanish words and the Chilean setting, to the discussion of native people, to the differences of Neftali from other boys and girls.

We Are Brothers

Title: We Are Brothers

Author(s): Yves Nadon

Illustrator/Photographer: Jean Claverie

Publisher and Year: Creative Editions; 2018

Number of Pages: 29

Tags: Adventure, Diversity, Family, Fiction, Picture Book, K-5, Sarah Luce

Genre: Fiction

Descriptive Annotation:

We Are Brothers tells the story of two brothers and their adventures of cliff diving. The younger brother is scared to jump into the water for the first time but his brother encourages him to try it. Eventually he tries and succeeds and then the brothers have fun jumping into the water together. Throughout the story, the brothers are compared to cats, birds, and fish multiple times as they climb, jump, and swim. Students need to have a good concept of metaphors to fully understand the book.

Classroom Application:

This text could be used to teach the concept of a growth mindset versus a fixed mindset. The younger brother begins the story with a fixed mindset, saying that he has always been too scared to try. However, as the story progresses, the brother gains confidence in himself and achieves a growth mindset when he takes the leap and jumps into the water.

Linguistic and Cultural Diversity Analysis:

This story features two brothers who are African-American. The book portrays them as children enjoying themselves and having fun, but also, in a larger sense, as people who are trying to see what they can do and who they can become. The author even uses the setting to further the idea that they can do anything, saying, “The tree branch feels warm and rugged, familiar and encouraging, even” (page 8). The story and language used is empowering, with the siblings helping one another out. The younger brother notices that his brother is there to support him, saying, “I can see my brother’s eyes, just above the water, believing in me” (page 14). I would introduce this book by asking students if they have ever overcome a fear of theirs, sharing that we are going to read a book that tells the story of when a little boy overcame his fear.


Wagon Train: A Family Goes West in 1865

Title: Wagon Train: A Family Goes West in 1865

Author(s): Courtni C. Wrights

Illustrator/Photographer: Gershom Griffith

Publisher and Year: Holiday House; 1995

Number of Pages: 30

Tags: Adventure, Culture, Family, Historical Fiction, Picture Book, 2-3, 4-5, Sarah Luce

Genre: Historical Fiction

Descriptive Annotation:

Wagon Train is about an African American family that travels west in a wagon train after being freed from slavery. Along the way, they encounter dangerous animals, brutal weather, and Native Americans. The story ends with the hope that the family will safely make it to California. There is an Author’s Note on the first page talking about the treatment of African Americans and how they too travelled west, despite the lack of records of their experiences. Students would find it helpful to know about the Oregon Trail and the Westward Expansion.

Classroom Application:

This text would be perfect for reinforcing material taught about the Oregon Trail and Westward Expansion. It could be used in the middle of a unit to give students a window into the hardships and experiences these settlers faced. It is also a good text to use to reinforce that not just White people went west, but so did many African Americans after the Civil War.

Linguistic and Cultural Diversity Analysis:

Wagon Train not only represents the culture of westward settlers and those living in covered wagons as they travelled, but also the culture of African Americans who set out on the same journey. These people had an even worse expedition, because they could not “join one of the big trains leaving Independence, Missouri” (page 8). Being in a smaller train meant less support from others and more danger. Because “few could write diaries to record their experiences,” this book is important in showing students what the journey west was potentially like for African Americans (page 1). If I used this story in the middle of an Oregon Trail unit, I would introduce it as a story about a group of people who were not well documented, but were an important part of the movement nonetheless.