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
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.
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.
Title: Hidden Figures
Author: Margot Lee Shetterly
Illustrator: Laura Freeman
Publisher and Year: HarperCollins Publishers 2018
Number of pages: 30
Tags: Culture, Diversity, Math, Non-fiction, Science, K-5, Joe Marras
Descriptive Annotation: This is a true story about four black women: Dorothy Vaughan, Mary Jackson, Katherine Johnson, and Christine Darden. These four women were some of the first black women to become engineers, and make strides in space and airplane technology. No background knowledge is needed for this because there is no actual math or science in this story, just a lot of mention of it because of how complicated the math they were doing is.
Classroom Application: This story has many classroom applications including history, math, and science. It could be used to tell the story of these four intelligent women or show real world applications of math and science. Also could be used to show african american scientists and mathematicians to show that they are indeed out there.
Linguistic and Cultural Diversity Analysis: This book represents african american culture and some of their struggles to gain equality in the workplace and in the world. Since this story takes place during the 1950’s, it can help show the fight for equality in America, and also can show the discrimination they felt by being segregated from white people, “They could not eat in the same restaurants. They could not drink from the same water fountains. They could not use the same restrooms.” This shows the segregation in America at the time, and helps to show how important it was for these women to do what they did. These women did amazing work and helped bring men to the moon and back down to earth, and advancing airplanes to prevent more crashes, among many other things, “No one knows how many lives her work may have helped save.” Talking about Katherine Johnson and her work, and no one can truly tally just many lives she saved, and no one probably even mentions it.
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.
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.
Title: Be the Change: A Grandfather Gandhi Story
Author: Arun Gandhi and Bethany Hegedus
Illustrator: Evan Turk
Publisher and Year: Atheneum Books for Young Readers 2016
Number of Pages: 36
Tags/Theme: Adventure, Culture, Family, Non-fiction, K-5, Joe Marras
Descriptive Annotation: The main character is Gandhi’s grandson and he accompanies his grandfather on his trips. His grandson follows all of his grandfather’s teachings and the story focuses mainly on their vow to be non-violent and not waste. Then one day while walking home he through his pencil away into the field, which was wasteful, and he didn’t think there was anything wrong with it. When his grandfather found out he made him go back and find it and then taught him how being wasteful can lead to violence. His grandson then knew that it was important to follow his grandfathers teachings and keep his vows.
Classroom Application: This story could be used to introduce Gandhi and also to not be wasteful because Gandhi in the story shows the impacts of being wasteful. Gandhi shows him that it can affect others and that it is important to keep your vows as well.
Linguistic and Cultural Diversity Analysis: This book shows some of the teachings of Gandhi and the importance of them. The two things that are focused on are to not be wasteful and be non-violent. Gandhi explains to his grandson that his actions can affect other people. Before Gandhi talked to him he did not realize what his actions could do, “Soon I could see how throwing my pencil away could hurt others.” Gandhi showed him how throwing and wasting his pencil could eventually hurt others teaching his grandson that it is important to not waste things. The tone of this book is very light and Gandhi is trying to help his grandson learn throughout the story. At the end of the story he tells him, “Be the change you wish to see in the world, Arun.” This was one of Gandhi’s sayings and shows how he dedicated his life to teaching others.