What Can You Do With a Paleta

Author: Carmen Tafolla

Illustrator: Magaly Morales

Publisher and Year: Dragonfly Books, 2009

Number of Pages: 28

Genre: Fiction


IMG_3566            This story is about a young girl and her love for paletas and her barrio. A paleta is an icy fruit popsicle, and a barrio is a neighborhood. On each page she talks about all the roles that the paleta plays in her neighborhood.

This book is in English and in Spanish. On the left page there is the English text and on the right there is the Spanish translation. Since this book is in both Spanish and English it can function as a mirror and window. For a reader who is from a Mexican American background this book would function as a mirror. This would be a mirror because the reader would be able to connect with the language and the culture of the text. On the other hand this text could function as a window for a reader who doesn’t come from a Mexican American background. This reader would just be able to get a glimpse of this culture. They are probably unable to connect with the story the way a Mexican American would be able to but they can still learn and take away some new knowledge from this text. Since this text has translations of some words in the back it can also function as a door for readers. With the translations in the text readers are able to apply the words in their lives making them more a part of a different culture. Only one culture is represented in this text and that is the Mexican American culture. I gained a lot of knowledge from this culture just from a few pages. I had no idea that fruit popsicles was a big part of some Mexican American neighborhoods. I was also able to learn some new Spanish words that were within the text.

The images in this text are beautiful. They are full of color and I noticed that the color schemes are similar to the different colors of the paletas, which are mostly primary colors. The images are very detailed and in the backgrounds of the images the reader is able to see into houses and stores. On page 2 in the background the reader is able to see into the house of the main character. In the house her mother is cooking a traditional Mexican American meal of tortillas, tacos and fruit. I love how there is so much detail in the pictures because it allows the reader to see into the life of someone who is from a different culture. Overall I really enjoyed this book because it teaches about a different culture in a beautiful and colorful way.IMG_3567

Joseph Had a Little Overcoat

Author: Simms Taback

Illustrator: Simms Taback

Publisher and Year: Penguin Group, 1999

Number of Pages: 32

Genre: Fiction


            Joseph Had a Little Overcoat is about Joseph who had a very worn over coat so he turned it into a jacket. Once the jacket was worn he turned it into a vest and so on and so forth. At the very end he has nothing so he writes a book about his overcoat. The moral of this story is that “you can always make something out of nothing.”(Taback, page 30)

This text would function as a door for readers. Joseph never gave up on his overcoat and made the best out of it as he could. He never complained about not having a nice overcoat and just made it into something else he could use like a jacket or vest and even a button. This shows that you can do a lot with a nothing, which is something a reader can apply to his or her own life. This book can also function as a mirror. Not having a lot is something that a lot of people experience in their life. Whether it is with food, money or clothes people have to work with what they have. A reader who has experienced something like this would be able to relate to Joseph and his story. On the other hand for a reader who has never experienced not having enough, this text would function as a window. These readers get the chance to see how difficult it can be to live off of so little. For readers who view this story as a window still have the opportunity to learn from the moral, that you can always make something out of nothing. At first glance this story lacks cultural diversity. But when the reader looks closer into the background it is seen that there is actual pictures of people who come from different cultures. Although different cultures are in the story I wish it was more prominent and that the reader didn’t have to search to see some diversity.

The images are very different than a lot of other children’s books. Some of the images look like they have been painted while there are also actual pictures of real people and food within most of the pages. There are very few words on the page, which allows the pictures to tell most of the story. There are so many small things in each image that draws the reader to look closer. The images may be a little strange but it works for the story. I really enjoyed this book and the images in it a lot. It had a good moral and the pictures keep the reader’s attention with all the detail.IMG_3565

One Fine Day

Author: Nonny Hogrogian

Illustrator: Nonny Hogrogian

Publisher and Year: Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers, 1971

Number of Pages: 25

Genre: Fiction


IMG_3562            One Fine Day is a Caldecott Medal winner. It is a story about a little fox that gets is tail cut off by an old woman for drinking her milk. The only way he is able to get his tail back is if he brings the old woman more milk.
The fox goes to a cow and asks for milk, the cow will only give him milk if he brings it grass. The story goes on like this until an old miller man feels sorry and gives the fox what he wants and doesn’t ask for anything in return. Since the miller man gave the fox what he asked for the fox was able to give everyone what they wanted in return for something of theirs so he was able to get his tail back.

This text could function as a mirror for readers. It would be considered a mirror for most reader because it shows the fox that did something wrong and he had to do many things to fix his mistake. This is something that a lot of people can relate to. Often times people make mistakes and it can be hard work to fix the mistakes someone has made. The text also shows that everything comes with a price. People aren’t usually willing to freely give up something that belongs to them without something in return. But sometimes in life we come across people like the old miller man who selflessly gives so others can be happy. Throughout the book there is a lack of racial diversity since all the characters are White or an animal. But there is a diversity in the economically sense. There is an old woman who doesn’t seem to have much, a maiden who also has little, but then there is a peddler who seems to have a little more than the rest of the characters. Each character in the text is different and brings a different feeling to the text.

The images in One Fine Day seem to have been painted with watercolor. They are light colors and the images are beautiful. The images are unframed which makes the reader feel like they are part of the images. On every page the fox is facing right and all the other characters are facing left. This means that when each character turns down the fox, he is still moving forward and not looking back. The images make the reader feel sad for the fox when he gets turned down because it is seen that every time he get more and more sad. In the very end the fox is happy with his tail and he is able to play with his friends. I thought that this text was a very cute story, it was sad at first but when the old man gave the fox what he needed it made it a happier story.IMG_3563

Hey, Al

Author: Arthur Yorinks

Illustrator: Richard Egielski

Publisher and Year: Collin Publishers, 1986

Number of Pages: 27

Genre: Fiction


            Hey, Al is a winner of the Caldecott Medal. It is a story about a janitor named Al and his dog Eddie. Al and Eddie live in a small one-room apartment and Eddie is fed up with living in a “dump” (Yorinks, page 4). One morning a giant bird comes and tells Al of a beautiful island paradise and that he will return in the morning to take Eddie and
Al to this paradise. The paradise is amazing at first but then Eddie and Al start to become birds so they flee the island and return home.

This text could function as a window, mirror and door. Since a big bird flying to someone’s door and taking a person to an island paradise is not realistic it would be considered a window for all readers. On the other hand the story talks about a person who does not have a lot of money who wishes for a better life. So this book could function as mirror for a reader who might be going through tough times. The end of this story has a message, which is “Paradise lost is sometimes Heaven found” (Yorinks, page 27). This important message is what makes this book also function as door for the readers who want to apply it to their lives. The lesson to be learned is that sometimes you will want more in life but having more might not make you happy. You must find a way to be happy with what you have. I think that this is an important lesson to be learned and the book does it in a good kid friendly manor. In the text only one race is represented which is White. This is also the only race shown since the rest of the characters are animals. Both the human and the dog seem to share equal power throughout the text, both of their ideas are taken into consideration equally. I found this important because it shows that just being we are humans doesn’t mean we have the right to treat animals poorly.

All the images within this text are beautiful. They are all framed but in every image there are things that are outside the frame. For example on the first page there is an image of Al’s apartment, which is framed. But Al is physically walking into the door of his apartment into the frame. This style makes the reader feel like they are watching the story unfold and feel a part of it since not everything is in the frame. In the beginning of the story when Al and Eddie are unhappy with their life the colors are very dull. Once they are at the paradise island the colors become brighter. At the very end when Al and Eddie find out that they actually prefer the life they had before, the last image is of Al and Eddie repainting their apartment a bright, uplifting color. I really enjoyed this story, it was fun and in the end there is a lesson to be learned from Al and Eddie’s adventure.IMG_3539

Book Fiesta!

Author: Pat Mora

Illustrator: Rafael López

Publisher and Year: HarperCollins Publishers 2009

Number of Pages: 26

Genre: Fiction


            Book Fiesta is a book that is written in both English and Spanish. The book is about the Mexican holiday El día del niño (The Day of the Child) and a celebration of books. There are multiple children in the book who show the different ways this day can be celebrated around the world. Book Fiesta is a picture narrative, which allows the images to tell most of the story with support of few words.

The book can function as a mirror, window, and door depending on the reader. If a reader has previously celebrated The Day of the Child then this book would function as a mirror. They would be able to personally connect to the text because it is something they have experienced. This would also be a mirror for a lot of readers because throughout the text there are many different cultures represented along with some different disabilities. If a reader has never celebrated The Day of the Child the text would function as a window for them. The book would be a window because they are able to see into a different culture’s celebration. The book could also function as a door for readers who have not celebrated this holiday but wish to participate in it. It can give these readers different ideas on how to celebrate the newfound holiday. There are many different cultures represented on each page of this text. For example on page 2 there is a picture of a Chinese building and on page 5 there is a picture of a Greek style building. There are also books throughout the text that are in all different languages. On page 4 there is a picture of a little boy in a wheelchair, which allows people with disabilities to connect with the text. On my favorite page there are two children reading books next to a donkey and a Mexican style building. The text on this page says, “We read in English and Spanish, in Chinese and Navajo too” (Mora, page 3). I like this sentence because it shows the readers that there are many different languages and cultures in the world. Not only does it show this but also that when different cultures come together great things can happen like friendship. All the children in the text are reading books. On each page the children are having a great time reading books. This is an important image for young children to see since books are becoming less popular. By seeing the images young readers can hopefully gain a new viewpoint on books. The pictures in the text are beautiful. They are cartoon like images that look like they were made from cut outs of different colors of paper. This text did a good job at showing different cultures and the importance of books.IMG_3516

Adios Oscar! A Butterfly Fable

Author(s): Peter ElwellIMG_4382

Illustrator/Photographer: Peter Elwell

Publisher and Year: The Blue Sky Press in 2009

Number of Pages: 28

Genre: Fiction


This is a story about a caterpillar named Oscar who meets a butterfly named Bob who tells him he is going to Mexico and that he should visit him when he grows his wings. Oscar becomes really excited about becoming a butterfly, and so he learns Spanish to use while in Mexico, even though the other caterpillars think he is crazy and won’t grow wings. Instead of becoming a butterfly he turns into a moth and at first this discourages him from going to Mexico like the butterflies do, but in the end he realizes that he does not have to limit himself to only doing things that moths usually do. So he ends up flying to Mexico and meeting up with Bob and the other butterflies.

The book is illustrated using very bright colors which symbolizes Oscar’s initial excitement about becoming a butterfly and eventually his freedom from the stereotypical moth activities. I noticed that most of the images were small or framed but a few of the pages were unframed and took up the whole two-page spread. These large images were usually representing a point in the story where Oscar feels excited or happy and it helped the reader relate to Oscar’s joyous emotions. Most of the characters in this story are male and the characters who are portrayed as successful are all male as well, which can make the reader feel that men are more powerful and successful than women.

I had originally chosen this book because I figured that it would have a lot of Spanish words or culture in it, based on the title and first few pages; however, I soon learned that there were only a few words and phrases in Spanish and the Spanish culture was not discussed at all. I do think that this book could be used as a mirror for children who feel pressured to be a certain way, because Oscar also felt pressured to be a moth and do only activities that moths normally do. However, I believe that this book can be a door to teach children that it is okay to be different, and that nobody should not let society put pressure on them to be someone they do not want to be. Overall, I believe that this story has a great message about not letting others tell you who to be, but I think that there could have been more diversity in the story as well.

Oh No, Gotta Go!

Author(s): Susan Middleton ElyaIMG_4360

Illustrator/Photographer: Brian Karas

Publisher and Year: P. Putnam’s Sons in 2003

Number of Pages: 28

Genre: Fiction


This book is about a little girl who forgot to go to the bathroom before she got in the car and she tells her parents that she cannot hold it in. As the story continues the little girl and her parents are on a journey to find somewhere to stop so she can use the bathroom, speaking mostly English and using various Spanish words throughout. Then at the end of the book, the family finds a restaurant where the little girl can use the bathroom, but when they get inside the line is super long and they end up going to the front of the line because she cannot wait any longer, and then the little girl feels relieved after using the restroom.

The illustrations in this book are all brightly colored and have many zig zag lines and shapes, these both representing the high energy and troubled emotions that the family feels while scurrying around town looking for a bathroom. The images are definitely needed to help young readers understand the meaning of different Spanish words. In fact, on one page all the stores are labeled with their Spanish name. It was interesting to read a mostly English book that included a variety of Spanish words, but I feel that this is a great way to introduce young readers to a second language, as well as another culture. The illustrator also did a great job of including a variety of ages, genders, and races within the characters; however, I felt that the main characters who were depicted as a Spanish speaking family were misrepresented and looked very White. Another observation I had was that almost all the female characters in the story were wearing either a dress or skirt, which I feel is a stereotype of the way females dress.

When I initially read the story, I perceived it to be a funny story which included some Spanish words. But I believe that this story could be a window for students to learn more about a second language, specifically Spanish, which can be very helpful in teaching young children how to appreciate another culture and language other than their own. I also think this is a great book for children who may come from a dual language household to recognize the value and importance of being able to speak and read in more than one language. Overall, the book can be a great tool for introducing Spanish to young children.

The 3 Little Dassies

Title: The 3 Little Dassies


Author: Jan Brett

Illustrator/Photographer: Jan Brett

Publisher and Year: Penguin Group, 2010

Number of pages: 30 pgs

Tags: Olivia Simkins, Picture Book, Fiction, Animals, 2-3

Genre: Fiction


This story is a spin off from the three little pigs. Instead, the main characters are three dassies who live in Namibia. A dassie is a Southern African badger. The three dassies are named, Mimbi, Pimpi, and Timbi set out to find a new home and have to build their own houses to protect them from the eagles who prey on them. This story can serve as a door because it was written for readers to take away the message of “hard work pays off.” The reason the readers would take away this message is because the first two dassies took a short time to build their houses so they could nap. The last dassie worked all day in the hot sun to make her house. Children can relate to this and apply it to taking time in completing their work or drawing a picture. The author depicted the culture of Namibia in Africa through the borders of the story. She includes beautiful African prints in them. The use of her borders helps the audience to look into the story and get a glimpse of the characters world. The book is also set in Africa, where her and her husband camped out at and that is what inspired her to write this book. The book also shows the different animals that inhabit there. I think Jan Brett illustrates Namibia very well and uses colors, setting and boarders to support that. Jan always includes panels on the right and the left of the page to help foreshadow for the oncoming events. Finally, her use of bright colors is showing the dassies new found freedom as they set out to look for a new home.


Masai and I

Title: Masai and I


Author: Virginia Kroll

Illustrator/Photographer: Nancy Carpenter

Publisher and Year: Macmillan Publishing Company, 1992

Number of pages: 27 pgs

Tags: Olivia Simkins, Culture, Realistic Fiction, 2-3, Picture Book

Genre: Realistic Fiction


This book is about a little girl named Linda who learns about East African culture at school. The culture she learns about are proud, tall people called the Masai. When she goes home, she then compared her life to that of a Masai and talks about how different her life would be if she were to be a part of their culture.

This text could function as a window for some students because it allows the readers to learn about a new culture. The book does an excellent job of showing the comparison of life here in the United States and the life of the Masaian people. It shows just how different the two cultures are and yet how they are the same. Throughout the book it talks about the different ways the Masaian culture may complete a task and then goes on to explain how Linda and her family may complete it as well. For example, Linda talks about how her little brother goes to the faucet to get water but if they were living in East Africa her brother would have to walk long distances to a water hole and bring back the water in a giant gourd. In doing this, the writer does a good job about representing the comparison of different cultures.

Through out this book the illustrations seem to have thin lines to represent speed and movement to show Linda moving through time. In one of the images in the book it shows Linda looking out the window as she thinks about how different life would be if she lived in East Africa. This shows progression or growth of the character. It shows that Linda is enhancing her knowledge about this culture and growing as she learns these new things. It also shows how they do things and how different it is compared to Linda’s culture in the United States.


Ruler of the Courtyard

Title: Ruler of the Courtyard


Author: Rukhsana Khan

Illustrator/Photographer: R. Gregory Christie

Publisher and Year: Penguin Group, 2003

Number of pages: 32 pgs

Tags: Olivia Simkins, Picture Book, Realistic Fiction, 2-3

Genre: Realistic Fiction


This book is about a little girl who is very afraid of the chickens in her courtyard. He has to run to the bathhouse in order to not have the chickens notice. While in the bathhouse she noticed a snake and she must overcome her fears and capture the snake so it won’t bike her or her Nani (Grandmother). She then realizes it not a snake, it is a nala, which is a rope that is used to tie up her Nani’s pants. She realizes that there is nothing to be afraid of after all and is no longer afraid of the chickens.

This text can serve as a window to look into another culture. The culture that is represented in this book’s setting is in Pakistan and can show the readers how the culture there may differ from theirs. The words in the book also use some that are native to Pakistan. Students may also be able to relate to this book because some may share this culture as well or if they are familiar with it because they have visited there or they have family who are Pakistani. I would recommend this book because the author is a Pakistani Canadian writer who has experienced life in Pakistan because she was born and raised there allowing her to accurately depict the culture.

This book uses very bright and vivid colors to show the emotion throughout the book. Throughout the book it shows a horizon and then the horizon disappears at one point. This is used to signify the on coming danger the main character is about to face when she encounters the snake. The illustrator also uses think lines to show the intensity of the emotions the main character is feeling when she sees the chickens and when she tries to capture the snake.