Tag Archives: Emotion

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.

Image result for stitches book


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.

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.

As Good as Anybody

Title: As Good as Anybody


Author: Richard Michelson


Illustrator: Raul Colon


Publisher and Year: Alfred A. Knopf 2008

Number of Pages: 34


Tags/Theme: Culture, Diversity, Emotion, Non-fiction, K-5, Joe Marras


Descriptive Annotation: This story starts out with a young Martin Luther King Jr. and him living with segregation and how it’s not fair to all people to treat people like this.  Then he grows up and becomes a Pastor like his father and starts lobbying for civil rights. Then it goes to Abraham Joshua Heschel in Poland and how he had to deal with segregation for being Jewish.  Then he grew up and came to America and along with Martin Luther King Jr. marched for freedom.


Classroom Application: This story could be used to introduce Martin Luther King Jr. and the civil rights movement, and also teach about Abraham Joshua Heschel.  This story also can be used to teach that if you want something to change for the better that you should do something about it like these two men did.  

Linguistic and Cultural Diversity Analysis:  This book could be used to generate discussion on the civil rights movement and its leaders like Martin Luther King Jr..  It could also be used to discuss the discrimination against jews in Europe. It sends a good message throughout, at the beginning Martin’s father tells him, “You’re looking down when you should be looking up.”  He’s telling him to keep his chin up and be proud of who you are because you are someone, and everyone is someone. Another good quote from this is, “Walk like a prince, not like a peasant.” It brings the same message of keep your head up and be proud of who you are.  Abraham’s father told him that and Abraham made sure to walk with his head up.

Cooper’s Lesson

Title: Cooper’s Lesson

Author:  Sun Yung Shin

Illustrator: Kim Cogan

Publication/ Year: Children’s Book Press, 2004

Number of Pages: 29

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

Genre: Fiction

Descriptive Annotation: This book follows the story of Cooper, a young boy who is half Korean and half white. His mother sends him out to a store where the store owner only speaks Korean. But Cooper’s Korean is pretty poor and he gets stressed out and thinks the other people in the store are laughing at him because he is not good at speaking Korean. So he tries to steal a brush, but ends up making friends with the storekeeper. Together, he learns Korean and helps the storekeeper around the store in order to make up for trying to steal. The book is written in both Korean and English.

Classroom Application: This book would be very good to use in a classroom where some of the students spoke Korean. It would bring to light the very real struggle that students have when they have multiple racial backgrounds and struggle with identity. By being in both Korean and English, it allows the book to be more accessible to students who maybe speak just Korean, or are learning English as a Second Language. Additionally, it is a good book for English readers to read because it reveals some of the struggle that millions of people have when they are either from, or their parents are from, different parts of the world.

Linguistic and Cultural Diversity Analysis: Having the book written in both English and Korean allows the book to be accessible for people who speak either (or both!) languages. It also can help strengthen the understanding of one (or the other) language, because the reader could read both, reading the language they understand less of first, and then reading their more comfortable language second, checking for understanding. It addresses diversity issues very head-on because there are several points where the store owner tells the boy that he, too, struggled with languages and figuring out what to call himself. This identity struggle seems to be common for people who are any ethnicity other than white, and this book does a beautiful job addressing that and letting the reader know that it is normal and okay to struggle with language and sense of belonging.


I Miss You

Title: I Miss You

Author:  Pat Thomas

Illustrator: Pat Thomas

Publication/ Year: Barron’s Educational Series, Inc. 2001

Number of Pages: 29

Tags/ Themes: Emotion, Family, Non-Fiction, K-5, Rebecca Cauthorn

Genre: Non-Fiction

Descriptive Annotation:   This straightforward book walks through the young reader with how to deal with death. It begins with a brief explanation of what death is, and then moves on to how it is natural to grieve or feel angry or blame yourself. It explains that even though people might not talk to you as much, it’s not because they don’t care, it’s because they don’t know what to say. This book also does a very good job of explaining how different cultures believe different things happen after death, and different cultures do different things to the dead body. The book concludes by saying that it is okay to move on, because they will always be with you in your heart, just by thinking or remembering them. The book includes questions directed to the reader (such as, “Do you know anyone who has died?”) and a list of suggestions of how to use this book best.

Classroom Application: This book would be more appropriate to use on a student-to-student basis. Perhaps one of the students just had a grandparent pass away. This might be a good opportunity to bring this book in and give it to their parent, to have them share it with the student. Or, if your relationship with the student was close enough, you could talk through it with them. Or, you could give it to a school counselor and have this book be an aide to the grieving process. It focuses more on the Social an Emotional Learning Standards because this is about dealing with grief and other emotions. Because this book has questions directed to the reader, it could be good to help them process out loud what is going on and what they are feeling. It is also very good because it is important for kids to recognize their emotions and feelings rather than shoving them away and ignoring them.

Linguistic and Cultural Diversity Analysis: This book has terrific cultural diversity! Not only does it explain how different cultures believe in different things after death, but it also explains that different cultures grieve differently, and that is okay! Because no matter where the person really ends up going, the important part is that the people who love them are honoring their lives in their own special way. Additionally, the book illustrates many different ethnicities, which is good because it makes the book more approachable for all readers (not just white people have people die!). This also could help spur conversation about different religions and cultures and diversity in the classroom. The language of this book is simple and to the point. It is blunt, but gentle. Death is a very tricky subject to talk about, but I think this book handles it quite well, and it opens the door for a good discussion to be had about it.


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”.


My Name was Hussein

Title: My Name Was Hussein

Author: Hristo Kyuchukov
Illustrator: Allan Eitzen

Publisher/ Year: Boyds Mills Press, Inc. 2004

Number of Pages: 26

Tags/Themes: Culture, Diversity, Emotion, Family, Non-Fiction, Holidays, Picture Book, K-5, 6-8, Rebecca Cauthorn

Genre: Non-Fiction

Descriptive Annotation: This is a true story about the author, who grew up in Bulgaria. There is an author’s note at the end of the book which provides further details on the historic events which occurred when the Soviet Union took over Bulgaria. He explains in this author’s note that this story is based on real events which occurred in his childhood. The first half of the book is more upbeat, describing the holiday of Ramadan and the traditions his family carry out. The second half of the book is when he describes what happened when the soldiers came and made them all change their names and stop celebrating their religion. Before reading this book, students would need to know that there have been recurring events of governments taking over countries and forcing the people to change their religions and culture.

Classroom Application: Having this book in the classroom would be a good asset because it would allow students to see that different religions are okay and forcing people to change their religion can be extremely harmful. It is also beneficial because it portrays people of different ethnicity (rather than just Caucasian people), and it would appeal to Social and Emotional Learning Standards by creating a feeling of empathy and understanding for minorities. This book could be used as a supplement to a social science lesson looking at religions or even various instances of violence as a result of religious control (such as the Haulocaust). This book could be beneficial to such a lesson because it would demonstrate that these incidents are not isolated, and have been repeated far too many times throughout history. Most of all, this book should prompt an understanding in students that acceptance of all religions is important and that you shouldn’t judge anyone for their name, ancestry, or religion.

Linguistic and Cultural Diversity Analysis: This book represents the Muslim religion and can be used to generate discussion about religion and religious inequities. Because the author is writing about his own life, I think this book is very honest and does a good job demonstrating first the beauty of his religion, followed by the harm which can come from people trying to change other’s religions. This would also be a good time to allow students to share their own religious beliefs, and confirm that it is okay to believe in whatever you believe in. I would introduce this book to the students by first asking if anyone wanted to share what religion they practice, and then allowing students to discuss their different religions. I would be very careful facilitating this discussion to make sure that people who practice “minority” religions did not feel overlooked or pushed aside—because the whole point is to embrace them! The author has a nice tone shift halfway through the piece when talking about the main holiday, Ramadan. At the beginning he says, “The last day of Ramadan is the best. My father goes to the mosque. When he comes back, he gives us candies. My little brother and I kiss our parents’ hands to say thank you”. Later, he says, “It was Ramadan. I wanted to visit my grandparents. I wanted to taste my grandmother’s puddings. My mother would not let me go. She was afraid of the soldiers.” This tone shift is important to show the effect that the Soviet Union’s Invasion had.