Tag Archives: Fantasy


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.


Equal Schmequal

Title: Equal Shmequal

Author: Virginia Kroll

Illustrator: Philomena O’Neill

Publisher/Year: Library of Congress, 2005

Number of Pages:  32

Tags/Themes: Animals, Fantasy, Math, Picture book, K-1, 2-3, Rebecca Cauthorn

Genre: Fiction

Descriptive Annotation:  This book is about a group of animals who are trying to figure out how to make equal tug of war teams. At the end of the book there is a special note with the literal definition of the word equal. This is important because they talk about different kinds of equality throughout the book, equal number, equal size, equal weight, equal effort, etcetera. Students would not necessarily need to have any background knowledge of this book, but I would make it a point to make sure that they understand what the word equal means by the end of the book.

Classroom Application:  This book would be a good way to introduce a math lesson on what it means to be equal. Because it discusses numbers and halves, it would be appropriate for a younger audience. Additionally, I would use  part of the text which I disagree with to create a mini lesson. At one point, mouse says, “Equal means fair”, which I definitely do not agree with. I understand, for the purpose of the book, why the author said this. However, in the classroom setting, fair is not always equal because different students need different accommodations! So I would still use this book to help introduce the concept of equality in terms of math, but I would use that part to show that Mouse wasn’t right about that all the time.

Linguistic and Cultural Diversity Analysis: At the beginning of the book, Mouse is watching children play on the playground. The illustrator portrayed them as being many different races. This is important because the ethnic makeup of the classroom is likely to be diverse, so by using books which also show diversity it helps students understand that it doesn’t matter what color you are! The language in the book is easy to read, as demonstrated in this line, “Bear walked out from the trees. ‘What do you want to play?’”. However, the size of the text is on the smaller side and there is a lot of text on each page which could make it challenging for some students in lower grades. This book might be a good one to read out loud and have kids make predictions about what is going to happen next.


Ned the Knitting Pirate

Title: Ned the Knitting Pirate

Author(s): Diana Murphy

Illustrator/Photographer: Leslie Lammle

Publisher and Year: Roaring Book Press, 2016

Number of Pages: 31

Tags: Adventure, Fantasy, Fiction, Fine Arts, Picture Book, K-5, Sarah Luce

Genre: Fiction

Descriptive Annotation:

Ned the Knitting Pirate has a consistent rhyme to the story and it keeps the story rolling and moving along, much like the pirates the story is about. The story is about a group of pirates who do daily pirate activities, except Ned. Ned likes to knit and it makes some of the other pirates very angry. Ned is eventually banned from knitting, until his hobby saves the ship from an attack by a sea monster. After that, all of the pirates learn how to knit and it is an accepted pirate activity.

Classroom Application:

This text can easily be used to reinforce the idea of breaking gender roles. Boys are often laughed at when partaking in traditionally “female” activities, such as things like knitting. In actuality, there is nothing that says knitting should only be for girls, and this story shows boys that there is nothing wrong with being creative, a typical “girl” trait.

Linguistic and Cultural Diversity Analysis:

This book represents a culture of breaking gender roles. Ned is a boy that likes to knit and the lesson in this story is that that is okay. The captain of the ship at first tries to enforce these roles, saying, “‘A scurvy pirate doesn’t knit, nor wear a fuzzy hat’” (page 8). However, after Ned’s knitting saves the ship, the captain changes his mind. By the end of the story, all the pirates helped fix the sail with knitting “while wearing fuzzy hats and scarves, and knitted pirate booty” (page 30). I might introduce this book by showing the class pictures of my brother and the scarf he knit himself, showing them that boys actually do knit, and it isn’t just something in the story but something that is acceptable in life.


Audrey’s Magic Nine

Title: Audrey’s Magic Nine

Author: Michelle Wright

Illustrator: Courtney Huddleston

Publisher and year: Penny-Farthing Productions Inc. 2018

Number of pages: 144.

Tags/Themes: Adventure, Diversity, Family, Fantasy, Fiction, Friendship, Graphic Novel, 2-3,e

Genre: fantasy, sequential art, graphic novel, adoption

Descriptive Annotation:  Audrey is a 10-year-old black girl who has been in the foster care her whole life.  Her foster parents neglected her and her foster siblings giving her little food, and when the news station reported it, Tabitha saw Audrey and wanted to adopt her.  Tabitha and her husband overworked Audrey with piano, violin, ballet, and school work when all Audrey wanted to do was draw in her notebook.  One night she finds a magic puppet from another world who was kicked out of his world from an evil magic queen.  Audrey and her new friend Asa try to find his new friends while Audrey is learning how to live with her new parents.

The graphic novel does a good job showing Audrey’s drawings as a central piece to storytelling in the book .

Classroom Application:  Audrey draws to help her cope and deal with any stress she has.  The book can be used to encourage the children to use the arts as a way to express themselves.  Children learning how to express and explain their thoughts or emotions will be very helpful as they grow up.  Methods can be comic making, drawing, paintings, creative writing, acting and script writing, or sculpting.  Students can do a writing piece filled with their emotion and do a companion piece of art to complement their writing.

Linguistic and Cultural Diversity Analysis: This book has a representation of the foster care system and highlights issues like child neglect, overcoming personal problems, and using art as a coping mechanism.  It gives a sense that families come in different forms (step-parents, multi-racial families) teaching children not to make assumptions about others’ family structures.  When in new or stressful family situations, the book teaches how to use expressive skills so family issues do not get bottled up causing any future emotional harm.  The story also shows a strong female character who is brave and wants to help her friends.  I might introduce this graphic novel by having the students describe their favorite super powers, what they admire in heroes, and what they don’t like about super villains.  This can set up their interests with the super  powered puppets, creating future empathy with the characters and a greater admiration for Audrey being brave throughout the story.  “There were several young girls in the Mercer fosters home, ranging in ages 5-16 and allegedly subjected to such punishments as hours spent in a small, locked closet ” (12).  This sets up the tone right away.  This graphic novel is serious and straight to the point.  It is not afraid to state the facts what life is like for some children.  “But those people have put that poor woman in danger, just for taking pizza out of the trash ” (73).  This shows the empathy Audrey has the for the world.  Even though she has been is foster care where she can’t express her emotions, she is still seeing the beauty in people and wants everyone to be valued.

Drawn Together

Title: Drawn Together

Author(s): Minh Lê

Illustrator/Photographer: Dan Santat

Publisher and Year: Disney-Hyperion 2018

Number of pages: 32

Tags/Themes: Allison Henry, Culture, Diversity, Family, Fantasy, Fine Arts, Graphic Novel, K-5

Genre: Fantasy

Descriptive Annotation: Drawn Together is the story of a little boy and his grandfather realizing that they don’t need to use words to connect to each other. In the beginning of the story the grandfather and the grandson struggle to understand each other, as the grandfather speaks Vietnamese and the grandson speaks English. One day, the boy is drawing at the table and the grandfather pulls out a sketchbook filled with amazing drawings. The grandson and grandfather begin creating stories together, using only their drawings, no words. There are not many words in the story, so a student reading this book needs a background knowledge of how to read graphic novels, or at least the critical thinking skills to figure out how to read graphic novels, to understand the story. According to the copyright information, the illustrations were done in a variety of materials and then rendered on a computer.

Classroom Application: This story has connections to fine arts and the Social and Emotional Learning Standards. This story shows that art can cross many barriers in communication. One page says, “Right when I gave up on talking, my grandfather surprised me by revealing a world beyond words.” A few pages later it says, “All the things we could never say come pouring out” in response to the newly-discovered shared love of drawing. It can also be used to show the art styles of the Vietnamese culture, and begin an inquiry into different styles of art in different cultures. Social and Emotional Learning Standard 2 talks about building positive relationships and this story is an example of building positive relationships without being able to talk to one another.

Linguistic and Cultural Diversity Analysis: Both characters in the story are Vietnamese Americans. The grandfather is more Vietnamese, and the boy is more American. It can generate discussion on many aspects of different cultures (i.e. language, food, art) and ancestry. There are many panels in the beginning of the story that show both American and Vietnamese items for comparison. Many of the grandfather’s drawings are done in what appears to be traditional Vietnamese style.

If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler

Author: Italo Calvino


Publisher and Year: Harcourt, 1981

Number of pages: 264

Tags/Themes: Adventure, Chapter Book, Fantasy, Fiction, 8-12, Olivia Ruff

Genre: Fiction (Avant-Garde)

Descriptive Annotation: This novel is an example of Avant-Garde fiction. The novel has a different plot for each chapter, and it follows a the process of reading the book by Calvino. The style, plot, and narrator changes each chapter because each chapter is the first chapter of different books. The end of the book combines the titles from each chapter to form the beginning of “If On A Winter’s Night A Traveler.” The words used in the novel are complex, so it would be for an advanced English class.

Classroom Application: This novel would be idea for a college prep English course. The novel pushes the readers to analyze the traditional format of narrative, and the language used in the novel will push students to learn new vocabulary. This would be good as an introduction to Avant-Garde fiction, which is a part of literature that can easily be overlooked, but it is useful for generating great discussion about the reading process and structure of novels.

Linguistic and Cultural Diversity Analysis: The author, Italo Calvino, is an Italian author, and this novel was translated into English. The novel covers a range of thought provoking concepts given the nature of Avant-Garde. This novel disrupts typical aspects of literature, specifically with plot, narration, and structure. Students will be challenged to think outside of the box in regards to how they view literature because the novel itself calls attention to the reading process. I would use short stories first to introduce students to Avant-Garde, and this novel would be what I choose as the end of the Avant-Garde unit because it embodies many aspects of Avant-Garde fiction. “You are about to begin reading Italo Calvino’s new novel, If on a winter’s night a traveler. Relax. Concentrate. Dispel every other thought” (3). “With a zigzag dash you shake them off and leap straight into the citadel of the New Books Whose Author Or Subject Appeals To You” (6).