Tag Archives: Friendship

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.

Dear Primo: A Letter to My Cousin

Title: Dear Primo: A Letter to My Cousin


Author: Duncan Tonatiuh


Publisher and Year: Abrams Books for Young Readers 2010


Number of Pages: 27


Tags: Award Book, Culture, Family, Friendship, K-1, Joe Marras


Descriptive Annotation: This is a very simple story about two cousins, one that lives in Mexico and one that lives in New York City, that write each other letters telling each other what they do in their lives.  They have many similarities in what they do, but they can differ on how they do them. They both are very interested in one another and want to have their Primo, cousin in spanish, visit them sometime soon.


Classroom Application: This can be used to show similarities among kids throughout the world.  Both kids went to school, had recess, went to the store/market, but they just differ on how or what they do while there.  In New York they play basketball at recess, but in Mexico they play soccer, but they are both playing games at recess! This can also be used to introduce students to the spanish language as there are many spanish words throughout the story as well as pictures labeled so they can know what the word means.


Linguistic and Cultural Diversity Analysis: This book represents Mexican and American culture, but I can see how it can be used to show that kids across the world are more alike than they know.  “Every morning I ride my bicicleta to school.” “I ride the subway to school. The subway is like a long metal snake, and it travels through tunnels underground.” They both go to school, but they get there differently, and they are both exciting ways of getting to school.  In Mexico his favorite meal is quesadillas, and in America his favorite is pizza. It brings to light the similar things they do, and shows that they do them in different ways sometimes and that is perfectly okay and exciting.

Stone Soup

Title: Stone Soup


Author: Jon J. Muth


Publisher and Year: Scholastic Press 2003


Number of Pages: 28


Tags: Family, Friendship, K-5, Joe Marras


Descriptive Annotation: Three monks were traveling down a mountain road and saw a village that had noticeably been through a lot of things such as famine, floods, and war.  These hard times had made the villagers suspicious of their neighbors and people began to lose friendship. When the monks came into the village everyone had gone inside and locked their doors to keep the monks out.  So to counter the villagers the monks decided they would teach them a lesson on happiness by making stone soup. The monks gathered tools and started a fire and a young girl came up to see what they were doing, so they asked her to help them find three stones, but then they realized they needed a bigger pot, and so the young girl got a bigger pot from her mother.  As more people saw what was going on outside they came out to inspect, and then the monks said they needed more ingredients that they did not have, so the villagers banded together and filled the soup with so many ingredients and everyone brought something and it turned into a small village festival where the villagers talked and shared stories and became friends again.


Classroom Application:  This story shares a good lesson that everyone has something to bring to the table, whether it be carrots for a soup or a pencil for class.  It shows to never shut people out because the people can bring so many things to you and the world so give everyone a chance to show what they can bring.  It is captivating how something as simple as stone soup brought a village that had be separated back together in just one night. It shows that it just takes the effort.


Linguistic and Cultural Diversity Analysis: This book could be used as a good introduction to monks.  Although this book doesn’t specify where the monks are from or any of their beliefs it shows that they spread happiness, “What makes one happy, Siew?”  They are genuinely concerned and interested about what makes people happy so they go and explore it and help a broken village come together. The villagers, much being of different professions, at the beginning of the story did not fraternize with each other, but by the end they had unlocked their doors, “Then they unlocked their doors and took the monks into their homes and gave them very comfortable places to sleep.”  They had previously locked their doors and tightened their windows shut to the monks, but the monks changed them and brought the good out of them.

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!


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”.


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.


Pilar’s Worries

Title: Pilar’s Worries

Author(s): Victoria M. Sanchez

Illustrator/Photographer: Jess Golden

Publisher and Year: Albert Whitman & Company; 2018

Number of Pages: 30

Tags: Emotion, Family, Fiction, Fine Art, Friendship, Picture Book, K-5, Sarah Luce

Genre: Realistic Fiction

Descriptive Annotation:

Pilar’s Worries is a story about a young girl who struggles with childhood anxiety but loves to dance. One day, she has a rough day at school because she messes up a few small things and begins to worry. However, when she gets to dance class, her anxiety goes away for the hour and she relaxes. There are dance auditions the next day, and Pilar wants to audition but is scared. With encouragement from her mother, Pilar decides to audition and makes it into the winter show. Students would need a basic knowledge of some dance terminology (like “plié” and “sashay”).

Classroom Application:

This book would be a good text to use when addressing mental illness, either specifically or generally. If talking to younger students, it can be simplified to be a lesson on how to deal with feeling nervous and “having butterflies.” For older students, if talking about anxiety specifically, this story shows it in a way students can understand, and there is a page in the back with an Author’s Note and Resources about anxiety.

Linguistic and Cultural Diversity Analysis:

Pilar’s Worries represents a culture of people who have mental illnesses like childhood or social anxiety. It describes the symptoms of anxiety in a way that children can understand and relate back to themselves. It uses language like, “Her heart beats so fast it scares her” (page 8) to explain what children might be feeling in a way they can comprehend. The story also gives good advice on doing scary things anyway, when Pilar’s mother says, “But usually when you are doing what you love, the good feelings are so big that the bad feelings become small” (page 15). Depending on the age of the students I am teaching to, I might introduce the book as a story about a girl doing something, even though it makes her nervous.


Ida, Always

Title: Ida, Always

Author(s): Caron Levis

Illustrator/Photographer: Charles Santoso

Publisher and Year: Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2016

Number of Pages: 37

Tags: Animals, Emotion, Fiction, Friendship, Picture Book, K-5, Sarah Luce

Genre: Fiction

Descriptive Annotation:

Ida, Always is based off a true story of two polar bears in the Central Park Zoo. The story introduces the reader to Ida and Gus, two polar bears who played together, ran together, and dreamed about New York City together. Ida taught Gus about the city’s heartbeat, and how it was always around them and with them. One day, Ida got sick, and the zookeeper told Gus that Ida would die soon. Gus and Ida spent all of Ida’s remaining days together, working through their feelings; some days growling, other days laughing. Eventually, Ida died, and Gus learned how to accept her being gone, while still remembering her and feeling her heart beat there with his.

Classroom Application:

This text would likely be used best with teaching children about death, loss, and grief. While heavy topics that may not necessarily come up in curriculum and standards, they could be important to discuss depending on student experiences or situations within the classroom. Many students encounter the death of a loved one or classmate at an early age, and a book like Ida, Always could be a good tool.

Linguistic and Cultural Diversity Analysis:

This book is set in the Central Park Zoo in New York City. Many students may have never been to a big city, so the illustrations and some of the text may give students an opportunity to experience the culture of a big city. Most suburban and rural areas have a lot of land that is green and natural, but many cities do not have landscapes like this. The illustrations in Ida, Always portray the landscape of big cities, where there are lots of buildings and skyscrapers surrounding the relatively small area of natural land. The polar bears also talk about the noise of the city as “the city’s heartbeat” and how “they added their snores to the sounds of their city”. I could introduce the book by asking students if they have ever been to a big city and what they noticed about the landscape there. I could also ask the students if they have ever been to a zoo and/or if they have ever seen polar bears.



Title: Eraser

Author(s): Anna Kang

Illustrator/Photographer: Christopher Weyant

Publisher and Year: Two Lions, 2018

Number of Pages: 38

Tags: Fiction, Fine Arts, Friendship, Picture Book, K-1, 1-2, 2-3, Sarah Luce

Genre: Fiction

Descriptive Annotation:

Eraser is a story about school supplies that all work together to create projects and complete homework, but Eraser feels left out and unimportant. Many of the other utensils exclude Eraser from meetings and activities so she eventually decides to run away. She meets the Rough Drafts and they all admire her and show Eraser her worth and how useful she is. The rest of the school supplies also realize their need for Eraser and she comes back to the desk and is included into the group. Students reading this book will enjoy it more if they have a grasp of puns and word play.

Classroom Application:

This text could easily be used to reinforce inclusion within the classroom. Nearly all students are aware of the importance of erasers and they understand that all their school supplies have individual uses. That can be a great way to show that just like school supplies, all students are unique and bring different talents and valuable experiences to the classroom.

Linguistic and Cultural Diversity Analysis:

This book represents a culture and an atmosphere of inclusion. I could easily open with an activity, asking students to use a pencil with no eraser to do something where they would need to erase. After reading the book, I would also focus on the idea that all students can be included because they all bring something useful to the classroom, just like Eraser says, “I DO create. I create second chances” (page 24). The setting and characters allow the book to be easily related to, as most, if not all, students have experience using school supplies. The story is also funny, holding students’ attention, like when Scissors says, “I don’t run. EVER” (page 7).



Title: Roxaboxen

Author(s): Alice McLerran

Illustrator/Photographer: Barbara Cooney

Publisher and Year: Lothrop, Lee, & Shepard Books, 1991

Number of Pages: 27

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

Genre: Fiction

Descriptive Annotation:

Roxaboxen is a story based on the childhood experiences of the author’s mother growing up in Arizona. It is about young kids who would play in the desert across the street from their homes as they created a town and their own little society. They made houses, streets, and businesses, had cars and horses, and even had a mayor and policeman. As the children grew into adults, they still carried their memories of Roxaboxen with them, and it was still there years later, physically and in spirit. There is an author’s note at the end, commenting on the origins of the story and how her mother’s memories helped the author and illustrator create the book.

Classroom Application:

This book could be used in classrooms to reinforce lessons about desert areas, such as Arizona, where this story originated. The illustrations depict the landscape and flora quite accurately. The book could also be used as an example to show students how to work well together in creating something. Like the children in the book played together and created a town, so could students learn to work together on things like projects and tasks in the classroom.

Linguistic and Cultural Diversity Analysis:

Depending on where one lives, this book could give a class insight into what it is like to live in a desert area. It looks much different than living in the Midwest, and there are lots of different cultures in the Western United States that are not as common in places like Illinois. It could also be used to show the culture of times in the past. In today’s society, children have many things that keep them occupied inside, like phones and tablets and television. Back in 1991 when this book was written, children entertained themselves a lot by playing outside and using imagination. This book gives insight to children who grew up being creative and inventive with what they could find outside, like “a tin box filled with round black pebbles… [that] were the money of Roxaboxen” (page 6) or creating cars out of “something round for a steering wheel” (page 15). I might introduce this book by asking my students to imagine living before a lot of technology and I might ask them what things they could do to have fun without tablets and televisions.