Tag Archives: Award Book

Same, Same, but Different

Title: Same, Same, but Different

Author: Jenny Sue Kostecki-Shaw

Illustrator: Jenny Sue Kostecki-Shaw

Publisher and Year: Henry Holt and Company, 2011

Number of pages: 40

Tags/Themes: Award Book, Culture, Fiction, Picture Book, Social Science, K-5, Evan White

Genre: India; Children’s; cultural; picture book

Descriptive Annotation:  Same, Same, but Different is about two pen pals named Elliot and Kailash.  Elliot lives in America and Kailash lives in India. They write back and forth about their life.  As they write they discover there are a lot of similarities between the two, like climbing trees, taking a school bus, and how they live with their families.  With every similarity, there is a photo to show the cultural differences between the two cultures and a photo of the boys doing the same activity just in different ways. The students need no background knowledge.

Classroom Application: This text can be used to reinforce social science and cultures.  Possibly when learning about continents/countries, a teacher could use this text to learn a little about India.  It can be used to encourage students to think more in similarities with humans rather than finding differences, crafting a social bonding with people of diverse cultures/communities, regardless of where they live.  This book could also be used to introduce pen pals for the classroom, encouraging the students to learn about their new friends’ culture and how it relates to theirs.  This can build appreciation in their real life.

Linguistic and Cultural Diversity Analysis:  This book represents the Indian culture.  It shows beautiful drawings of Kailash living in a diverse yet similar way to Americans that highlights his value.  Kailash shows Elliot how his family, school, and city works outlining some basic cultural values and norms within India.  I think this book could be introduced by teaching the students what a pen pal is, then going into the story.  Ending the story with starting a pen pal assignment to put in practice what the story spoke about .  There is much to ask about a pen pal and learning differences and the value in those differences.  “That is my tree house where I play. I live in a red brick building with my mom, dad, and my baby sister.  I live with my family too-all twenty-three of us-my mom, dad, sister, brother, grandmother, grandfather, aunties, uncles, cousins…” (8).  This quote is awesome because it shows how what American culture sees extended family can be internal for other people.  In addition, this is common for families in America too.  “A great river flows through my village.  Peacocks dance under trees shaped like umbrellas” (13).  This quote shows how beautiful Kailash’s village is.  The page has bright colors with beautiful buildings with peacocks dancing.  It’s very elegant and shows so much value in their city Kailash loves.

Funny Bones

Title: Funny Bones

Author(s) Duncan Tonatiuh

Illustrator/Photographer Duncan Tonatiuh

Publisher and Year: Harry N. Abrams, 2015

Number of pages: 40

Tags/Themes: Award Book, Culture, Diversity, Fine Arts, Non-fiction, Picture Book, 4-5, Evan White

Genre: biography; art; history; cultural picture book, children

Descriptive Annotation:  Funny Bones is biography of José Guadalupe (Lupe) Posada.  Lupe was a famous Mexican artist in the late 1800s and early 1900s.  He was most famous for his calaveras (skull or skeleton drawings).  The book starts at Lupe’s childhood and how he learned different art forms like lithography and wood engraving.  As Lupe grew older, he opened his own shop in Mexico City and would draw calaveras in current political events like the Mexican revolution and the corrupt government at the time.  The students will need no background knowledge as the book explains the Spanish words and what Day of the Dead is.  The author’s note has a detailed explanation of Day of the Dead with its history of calaveras.  There is also a glossary of Spanish words for a more detailed definition .

Classroom Application: This text can be used to reinforce social science and used to give more detail into Day of the Dead and its culture.  This book could be used in a series for students to compare and contrast Day of the Dead and Halloween so the students understand the cultural differences and appreciate the differences.  This book does an excellent job showcasing the artwork for Day of the Dead, with the detail in the calaveras.  Funny Bones could also be used to reinforce poetry.  Calavera drawings could have a funny poem with the drawing, and the students can work on creating fun and silly poems.

Linguistic and Cultural Diversity Analysis: Funny Bones would teach about the art culture within the Mexican Culture, diving deep into different aspects of Mexican culture.  I might introduce this book by introducing the art forms of drawing calaveras first or give the students a picture of calaveras, and they have to create a poem around the photo.  Funny Bones also shows different aspects of Day of the Dead.  “On those days, the city was full of vendors who sold pan de muerto (bread), cempasúchil (marigold flowers), alfeñiques (sugar Skulls), and papel picado (paper cutouts).  People bought these and other items to decorate the ofrendas (offerings they made for their loved ones who had died)” (15).  This quote gives an insight into what a day is like and what people would normally buy during this time.  On page 17, there is a drawing of a calavera proposing so another calavera.  “I am sorry Senñor.  But that cannot be.  You’re handsome and all, but too skinny for me!”  This can be a good example for the students for what poems in calaveras are like.  They are short and sweet with some humor in them.  The text is printed on the poster of the calavera drawings with distinct font.

A Wrinkle in Time

Title – A Wrinkle in Time

Author(s) – Madeleine L’Engle

Illustrator/Photographer – Ellen Raskin

Publisher and Year – January 1, 1962 by Yearling Books

Number of pages – 240 pages

Tags/Themes – Rylie Loux, Adventure, Award Book, Emotion, Family, Math, Science Fiction, 6-8

Genre – Science Fiction

Descriptive Annotation: A Wrinkle in Time is the story of the Murry children and their search for their missing scientist father. This book begins by relating Meg’s personal struggles at school and her inability to fit in with the crowd. Following the discovery of a new form of space travel as well as Meg’s father’s disappearance, she, her brother, and her friend must join three magical beings. They will accompany Mrs. Whatsit, Mrs. Who, and Mrs. Which to travel across the universe to rescue their father from a terrible evil. As the children move through space and time they are met with several challenges that require them to prove their worth. Meg learns that she must overcome her fears and self-serving immaturity to succeed. Overall, this is a book about the battle between good and evil and the ultimate celebration of love.

Classroom Application/Linguistic and Cultural Diversity Analysis: This is a perfect resource for showing students the importance of being independent and happy with oneself. This is a wonderful book for kids who have ever felt “different” or lonely. It celebrates the power of individuality, bravery, and love. This story explains the desire for conformity and appreciation in their own uniqueness as an individual. Also, this story could be used with science by discussing what makes A Wrinkle in Time a work of science fiction. A classroom application could be having students bring in unusual news stories about UFO sightings, psychic powers, or anything else related. Also, the characters are able to time travel through tesseracts. While our world today may not have the same advances in real life, they are still able to learn about tesseracts in a math resource. This story is classroom relatable while being a story students will enjoy.

Quotes –  

“I hate being an oddball,” Meg said. “It’s hard on Sandy and Dennys, too. I don’t know if they’re really like everybody else, or if they’re just able to pretend they are. I try to pretend, but it isn’t any help.”

“Maybe if Father were here he could help you, but I don’t think I can do anything till you’ve managed to plow through some more time. Then things will be easier for you. But that isn’t much help right now, is it?


The Right Touch

Title: The Right Touch

Author: Sandy Kleven

Illustrator: Jody Bergsma

Publisher and Year: Illumination Arts Publishing Company, 1998

Number of pages: 32

Tags/Themes: Emotion, Family, Picture Book, Award Book, K-5, Olivia Ruff

Genre: Educational

Descriptive Annotation: This book follows a little boy and his mother talking before bed. The mother decides to tell her son about inappropriate touching. She gives an example of a little girl who went over into her neighbor’s house and was assaulted. There is a note for parents and teachers in the front of the book with steps to what to do if a child comes to the adult saying that they had been inappropriately touched. This note also explains the importance of the book for various reasons including the fact that children are not always aware of the dangers of familiar people taking advantage of them.

Classroom Application: This story would be a good story to read to children whether it is read in the homes of children or during a lesson on bullying or abuse. We often teach children to beware of strangers, but children are rarely told about the biggest child-predators: people that they might already know of. This book is a good, appropriate way to tell children about the different ways to be aware of situations where sexual abuse could happen.

Linguistic and Cultural Diversity Analysis: This book helps foster a safe space for children to talk about abuse and become aware of some of the dangers. This would open up a door for already abused children to speak up. The illustrations are welcoming and warm, and there is one page with drawings of a boy and a girl so that the adult can explain the differences in whichever way they want to. Quotes: “Lots of kids say they get warning feelings when things are not safe” (21) and “Kisses and cuddles I like a lot, but when I say no, please touch me not” (30).


My Name is Celia

Title: My Name is Celia

Author: Monica Brown

Illustrator: Rafael López

Publisher and Year: Northland Publishing, 2004

Number of pages: 26

Tags/Themes: Culture, Diversity, Award Book, Non-fiction, Picture Book, K-1, Olivia Ruff

Genre: Non-fiction

Descriptive Annotation: This book is about the life of Celia Cruz, a salsa musician from Cuba. She left Cuba and pursued music in America. Her music reminds her of home, and the entire story is in both English and Spanish. The illustrations are bright and cheery with Spanish influence.

Classroom Application: This story would be great for an ELL or ESL class for young kids because it has both English and Spanish in it. The story covers the real life story of Celia Cruz, and this could be a positive book for students who are immigrants. This also could be good for students in a Spanish class in high school since it has both languages.

Linguistic and Cultural Diversity Analysis: This story is about an immigrant from Cuba, and this would be useful for students who are immigrants themselves as well as students who are not immigrants. The book shows the power of music through nostalgia, so it could foster some conversations about immigrants as well as music. Children could discuss an aspect of their lives that they would see as their “sugar,” something that represents their culture or their family. Quotes: “In the evenings, I would help my mother put the younger children to sleep by singing them soothing, sweet lullabies” (6) and “From that point on, when I walked out on stage I would simply say, ‘SUGAR!’ And they would know exactly what I meant-home and love and lots of kisses” (18).





Henry’s Freedom Box

Title: Henry’s Freedom Box

Author: Ellen Levine

Illustrator: Kadir Nelson

Publisher and Year: Scholastic Press, 2007

Number of pages: 38

Tags/Themes: Culture, Diversity, Award Book, Non-fiction, Picture Book, 2-3 , Olivia Ruff

Genre: Historical Non-fiction

Descriptive Annotation: This book is about Henry, a child born into slavery, who escaped slavery as an adult by being shipped in a crate to Pennsylvania. There is an author’s note in the back with a description of the Underground Railroad. The illustrations are exquisite; the images capture the attention of the reader and draw on the sad aspects (slavery) of the plot.

Classroom Application: This book would be a great addition to a civil rights unit. It sheds light on the Underground Railroad and the different ways people were mistreated. It is a true story, so the students would be learning from a real life example. I would use this as an example for the ways in which slaves escaped slavery.

Linguistic and Cultural Diversity Analysis: The story covers a unique example of an escaped slave through the Underground Railroad. The illustrations are heart-wrenching and shows how desperate people were to escape slavery. The fact that Henry was torn away from his family also gives the story a very sad tone. Quotes: “If you made a mistake, the boss would beat you” (9) and “Henry Brown wasn’t sure how old he was. Henry was a slave. And slaves weren’t allowed to know their birthdays” (1).

Mufaro’s Beautiful Daughters: An African Tale

Title: Mufaro’s Beautiful Daughters: An African Tale

Author(s): John Steptoe

Illustrator/Photographer: John Steptoe

Publisher and Year: Lothrop, Lee & Shepard Books 1987

Number of pages: 28

Tags/Themes: Allison Henry, Award Book, Family, Culture, Picture Book, Fiction, 2-3, 4-5

Genre: Fiction

Descriptive Annotation:  Mufaro’s Beautiful Daughters is the story of Nyasha, the nice sister, and Manyara, the mean sister. One day, the King sends out a proclamation that he is looking for a wife and all eligible women need to report to the palace. Manyara sneaks out of her home at night to be the first woman to meet the King and on her journey, she is rude to many people. Nyasha follows the next morning with her father, Mufaro, and is kind to everyone. When she arrives at the palace, the King reveals that he was all of the people that she was kind to on the journey and takes her as his wife. Students would benefit from knowing how to pronounce the various African words in the text. The illustrations in the book are incredibly detailed and take up the entire set of pages. They appear to be done in colored pencil. This book is a Caldecott Honor Book.

Classroom Application: This book could be used in a social sciences lesson on African cultures. In the front cover, the author mentions that the story is based off a folktale first published in 1895 by G. M. Theal in his collection of African folktales. The illustrations are based off of ancient ruins found near Zimbabwe. This book could also be used to teach Social Emotional Learning Standard 2, “Use social-awareness and interpersonal skills to establish and maintain positive relationships.” The students could compare and contrast the two sisters and discuss their interactions, including ways to improve Manyara’s interactions with others.

Linguistic and Cultural Diversity Analysis: As mentioned above, this text is based off of an African folktale and the illustrations are based off of ancient ruins found near Zimbabwe. This text could be used in a unit on African cultures to enrich the students’ knowledge. It mentions some crops that are grown in Africa, “Nyasha kept a small plot of land, on which she grew millet, sunflowers, yams, and vegetables.” The illustrations are very detailed and show what the clothing looked like, how they traveled, what kinds of plants there are, and what animals live in the area.

El Deafo

Title: El Deafo

Author(s ): Cece Bell

Illustrator/Photographer: Cece Bell

Publisher and Year: Amulet Books, 2014

Number of pages: 233

Tags/Themes: Allison Henry, Animals, Award Book, Fiction, 4-5, 6-8, Family, Graphic Novel

Genre: Realistic Fiction

Descriptive Annotation: El Deafo is the story of a young girl, Cece, navigating elementary school and all that entails, while deaf. After contracting meningitis at age 4, Cece loses all ability to hear. She receives hearing aids and a Phonic Ear to use in school. In order to cope with being different, Cece creates an alter-ego, El Deafo. This book is a graphic novel, therefore there are many illustrations in the text. Students would need to have background knowledge in basic school situations, a middle to upper elementary level vocabulary, and the knowledge of how to read a graphic novel.

Classroom Application: I would use this text to address the Social Emotional Learning Standards for late elementary. This book could be used for Learning Standards 1.A., 2.A., 2.B.2.b., 2.C., and 2.D. These standards refer to explaining emotions, identifying social clues and describing them, identifying differences and overcoming them, and cooperating with friends and other groups. All of these topics are addressed in El Deafo, where the situations are presented, Cece chooses a course of action, and then the consequences are shown.

Linguistic and Cultural Diversity Analysis: This book is about a child that is deaf. This story presents many situations that students that are deaf and their classmates could find themselves in. This book could be used to start a discussion about treatment of peers that may be different from themselves. This book was published in 2014, therefore it is up to date in the vocabulary that it uses to describe the situations and the treatments used to assist the student that is deaf. This book could be introduced by explaining to the students that sometimes, people have different abilities. It could also be explained that, just because someone may have different abilities, does not mean that they are in need of assistance. It can be used to start a discussion on appropriate treatment of peers, addressing both bullying and trying to be too helpful. On page 34, Cece is teased by a friend for mishearing a question. Her friend, Emma, says, “No-not supper-summer! Summmmmm-mmmmmer! Supper! HEE HEE!” This part of the story focuses on Cece being teased by her peers and how see feels when this happens. Later in the story, Cece makes a friend that is too helpful. In response to Ginny, her friend, saying, “CEE-CEE. DOO YOO WANT MYYY PEEA-NUT BUTT-ER SAND-WICH?”, Cece thinks, “I really, really like Ginny. She’s funny. She’s weird. We love all the same things. So what’s the problem? It’s the wat she talks to me… “(67).

Where The Buffaloes Begin

Title: Where The Buffaloes Begin

Author: Olaf Baker

Illustrator: Stephen Gammell

Publisher and Year: Puffin Books, 1981

Number of pages: 40

Tags/Themes: Culture, Diversity, Award Book, Animals, Fiction, Picture Book, 2-3 , Olivia Ruff

Genre: Fiction

Descriptive Annotation: This book is about a young Native American who went away from his tribe in order to find the buffalo herd. While he was gone, their rival enemy tribe was sneaking into their camp. The boy found the buffalo herd, and he sped back to their camp with the buffalo following, killing their enemies. The illustrations are in black and white.

Classroom Application: The book would help students learn about Native Americans. This novel could be a great introduction to Native American culture for younger children, and it helps with SELS, as the protagonist helps save his tribe from harm through his independence and will to explore.

Linguistic and Cultural Diversity Analysis: For older students (2-3 grade) the book would be a good addition to a unit on Native Americans as a way to demonstrate the culture and connection, or rather, inseparable relationship with nature. Two quotes: “Little Wolf never knew what came to him, what spirit of the wild whispered in his ear; but suddenly he leaped to his feet and cried out” (19) and “The prairie grouse got up almost under the pony’s feet” (3).