Tag Archives: Fiction


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.

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.

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.


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.


Cece Loves Science

Title: Cece Loves Science

Author(s): Kimberly Derting and Shelli R. Johannes

Illustrator/Photographer: Vashti Harrison

Publisher and Year: Greenwillow Books, 2018

Number of Pages: 30

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

Genre: Fiction

Descriptive Annotation:

Cece Loves Science contains a list of “science facts” in the back of the book that define terms from the story. Cece is a very curious child who creates a science experiment testing whether or not dogs will eat vegetables. After coming across an answer and not being satisfied, Cece and her partner edited the question they were testing and recreated the experiment to get a better result. Students would benefit from knowing a little bit about the scientific method.

Classroom Application:

This text could be used to reinforce science content that is taught in the classroom, especially if students are learning about the scientific method. Cece follows the scientific method by observing the dog and then creating an experiment from the observations. Students could discuss how closely Cece and her partner follow the scientific method.

Linguistic and Cultural Diversity Analysis:

Cece Loves Science portrays a biracial family as some of the main characters. The main character, Cece, is also another type of minority because she is a girl who is interested in science. Both of these facts play into different cultures that are represented in the book. Cece even takes the lead in the experiment, saying, “‘Let’s observe our subject’” (page 13). She and her partner take their experiment and tweak it, after Cece “remembered something Ms. Curie always said – scientists think outside the box” (page 22). I would ask the students how many of them like science and what their favorite part of the subject is.


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.


The Hanukkah Trike

Title: The Hanukkah Trike

Author(s): Michelle Edwards

Illustrator/Photographer: Kathryn Mitter

Publisher and Year: Albert Whitman & Company; 2010

Number of Pages: 21

Tags: Culture, Diversity, Family, Fiction, Holidays, Picture Book, K-1, 2-3, Sarah Luce

Genre: Fiction

Descriptive Annotation:

The Hanukkah Trike is a story about a young girl and her family as they celebrate Hanukkah. They light the menorah, make traditional Hanukkah food, and retell the story of the Maccabees. Gabi, the daughter, receives a tricycle that she names Hanukkah, and she takes it out the next day to ride it. When she falls off, her father reminds her of the story of the Maccabees and how brave they were, and eventually Gabi learns how to ride her trike. This story doesn’t require much prior knowledge, since the story of the Maccabees and the origination of Hanukkah is explained in the story, although some familiarity with Jewish culture would be helpful.

Classroom Application:

This text could be used to reinforce lessons on Hanukkah, as part of a holiday unit and teaching about other cultures. This story also addresses the idea of being brave, which is something that classes could talk about as an SELS. This story could be used to introduce students to trying again after failing or picking yourself back up after something goes wrong.

Linguistic and Cultural Diversity Analysis:

The Hanukkah Trike is all about Jewish culture and their holiday, Hanukkah. In areas where there is not a huge Jewish population, many students may not know about Hanukkah or how it is celebrated. This story addresses common traditions, like making latkes. The text shares how “Gabi helped Daddy grate the potatoes. Mama made the batter and fried the latkes golden and crisp” (page 5). The book also shares the story of the Maccabees, their victory, and “the miracle of the light that burned for eight nights” (page 9).


St. Patrick’s Day

Title: St. Patrick’s Day

Author(s): Anne Rockwell

Illustrator/Photographer: Lizzy Rockwell

Publisher and Year: Harper; 2010

Number of Pages: 32

Tags: Culture, Diversity, Family, Fiction, Friendship, Holidays, Picture Book, K-5, Sarah Luce

Genre: Fiction

Descriptive Annotation:

St. Patrick’s Day is about a boy who goes to school on St. Patrick’s Day and his class does all different projects about the holiday and where it originated. Some students write a book, while others make a play or perform a song and dance. When the boy goes home, he celebrates the holiday with his family, who is Irish, and his friends, whom he teaches about the holiday and the culture. There is not much prior knowledge that students must know to understand the book; most of the story is information about St. Patrick’s Day and its origins.

Classroom Application:

This text can be used to reinforce lessons about Ireland and its culture, as it gives a lot of information, like how the Irish celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. It can also be used to help teach about holidays, or St. Patrick’s Day in particular. The information in the book is simple so young students can understand, but it is still valuable to teaching students things they may not already know.

Linguistic and Cultural Diversity Analysis:

This book easily represents Irish culture, which is a culture that is less commonly talked about. The young boy in the story tells all about his relation to the culture, saying, “I’m all Irish! My mom and dad were born in Ireland” (page 23). Because Irish culture is not commonly taught, this story would be a simple way to introduce a little bit of it into the classroom. Even something as simple as mentioning the mother “baking soda bread because that’s what her mother always did on St. Patrick’s Day” (page 26) gives students an idea of an authentic Irish tradition.


Ruby’s Chinese New Year

Title: Ruby’s Chinese New Year

Author(s): Vickie Lee

Illustrator/Photographer: Joey Chou

Publisher and Year: Henry Holt and Company; 2018

Number of Pages: 35

Tags: Animals, Culture, Diversity, Family, Fiction, Holidays, Picture Book, K-5, Sarah Luce

Genre: Fiction

Descriptive Annotation:

Ruby’s Chinese New Year tells the story of a girl who makes her way to her grandmother’s house to spend the Chinese New Year with her. Along the way, the young girl, Ruby, meets all the different animals of the Chinese Zodiac. Each animal that Ruby encounters has something that they bring to help celebrate, like lanterns and rice cakes. Before Ruby gets to Grandmother’s house, her gift for Grandmother gets ruined, but the animals comfort her and remind her that they have plenty of other ways to celebrate. Prior knowledge of the Chinese New Year is helpful but not required for this book, and the last few pages have information about the holiday, as well as instructions for how to make a paper lantern.

Classroom Application:

This text could be used to introduce students to the Chinese culture and to teach them about the Chinese New Year.  Other than the last page, there is not a lot of information about the holiday itself, but the book introduces the Chinese Zodiac as characters that Ruby meets on her adventure. It also shows different things that are used to celebrate the holiday, like flowers, foods, and candles.

Linguistic and Cultural Diversity Analysis:

Ruby’s Chinese New Year represents Chinese culture and their traditions regarding the Chinese New Year. Because it doesn’t contain a lot of straightforward information, it would be best used as an introductory piece, but it could be used to teach or review the animals in the Chinese Zodiac. By page 24, all of the animals of the Chinese Zodiac (and cat), are listed in one place, “Monkey and Rooster, Horse and Goat, Dragon and Snake, Tiger and Rabbit, Ox, Cat and Rat, and…Dog and Pig.” It also highlights that a big part of the holiday celebration is being with family, as when Grandmother says, “seeing you and your friends today is the best gift of all” (page 28). I would introduce this to my students asking if they or anyone they know celebrates the Chinese New Year.