Saint George and the Dragon

Title: Saint George and the Dragon


Retold By: Margaret Hodges

Illustrator/Photographer: Trina Schart Hyman

Publisher and Year: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 1984

Number of pages: 32 pgs

Tags: Olivia Simkins, Picture Book, Fantasy, 4-5, Award Winner

Genre: Fantasy


This book is about the Red Cross Knight that is sent on an adventure by the Queen of the fairies to slay a dragon that has been terrorizing the land. The knight ends up slaying this dragon and in doing so, it brings peace back to the people of this land. This book is also a Caldecott winner.

I feel that this text would serve as a window because the reader is looking into a fantasy world where there are dragons and fairies. This story does not depict race other than White characters in the story. There is also no other culture shown in this story. I feel that the story should have included other cultures and races so students maybe able to connect to the story in some way. The way they may be able to connect to it in the fact that they might have listened to this story when they were growing up or they could remember it from reading it as a child.

The illustrations throughout the entire book have a frame around the images and the text. The author did this to show that the readers are looking in on the story and not experiencing the story first hand. In the beginning of the book dark colors are used to show the people and the land are not happy and are upset because they are being terrorized by this dragon. As the story goes on the colors seem to get lighter and lighter until the end of the story where the colors are bright and vivid to show that the dragon being slayed has made the people of the land very hopeful and happy.


Nice Little Girls

Author: Elizabeth Levy

Illustrator: Mordicai Gerstein

Publishing Information: Delacorte Pr 1974.

Number of Pages: 46

Genre: Non-fiction, Picture book

nlg 1 nlg 2


Jackie is a different little girl. Everyone in her class calls her a boy. She does not wear dresses as other girls in her class do. She wants to build a box. However, her teacher Mrs. James always wants Jackie to be a nice little girl. Suggested by her parents, Jackie decides to be herself. Finally, her classmates realize that Jackie is actually brave. At the party, they paint moustaches on each other’s faces.

The text functions as a mirror for children to have a reflection on their own school life. Readers of different ages may have different takeaways from the story. For children, they might ask themselves if they are in a similar situation as Jackie is or if there is any student like Jackie in their class and how they have treated him or her. For parents, they might reconsider the way they communicate with their children. When teachers call and tell them about the problems of their children, do they just take what the teachers say and blame the children right away or do they do the same thing as Jackie’s parents did, “hear the children’s side of the story” (p. 20).

While gender stereotypes and gender discriminations do not exist in the text, race discrimination is presented. In the book, all characters from the teacher to all of the students are illustrated as white people. Children might get the wrong impression about school. Diversity should be stressed in children’s literature, especially in those with the theme of school life like this one.

Perceptually, the illustrator use pencil sketch to draw the pictures. Such delicate illustrations can definitely attract readers. The images are not framed which help readers to put themselves in the plot development. Structurally, text and images do not overlap which give readers a clearer view of the story. Ideologically, the book teaches children that there is no such thing as a “girl’s job” or a “boy’s job”? They can pursue any kinds of hobby as long as they enjoy them. Secondly, the story also shows children that teachers are not always right. It is important to communicate with parents. Thirdly, the book tells children that if some students in your class seem different than others, do not judge them and if you get to know them personally, they might be very nice people.

Papa is a Pirate

Author/ Illustrator: Katharina Grossmann-Hensel

Publishing Information: North-South Books Inc., 2009.

Number of Pages: 24

Genre: Fiction, Picture book

papa 1 papa 2


The little boy’s father makes up a story about himself being a pirate. He depicts his life on the ship to his son. He tells the little boy what pirates eat on board and how they send messages by floating them off in bottles. At first the little boy is skeptical about the story his father tells him. But after his father’s vivid description, the boy finally believes that his father really is a pirate.

The text functions as a window for children to look at what pirates’ life is like on board. It is an interesting book which gives children enough space for imagination. The book includes a lot of details which makes the whole tale more reliable. For example, when they are talking about the language usage on board, Papa says, “While Daffy Dan was scrubbing the deck, Petey squawked,’Avast there, ye landlubber! Yo ho ho!’” (P. 6). Another example is that Papa says to the little boy, “I sleep out under the stars. They are the best compass and guide my way” (P. 15). When Papa is telling the story, not only does he describes the plot, he also explains each of his actions. The other advantage of this book is that, in the story, the little boy’s mother is portrayed as a pirate as well. Papa tells the little boy that Mom could be both a princess and a pirate (P. 18). Gender discriminations are eliminated.

One thing I found the book problematic is that all of the characters in the book are white. Children should learn about diversity of different races in literature. Although the boy’s mother is also a pirate, males still exist as rescuers through the story. In the images on page 17 and 18, Papa is illustrated as tall and strong while Mom is small and weak.

Perceptually, the book uses various kinds of colors to depict the compact plot development. The pictures are not framed so that readers can better put themselves in the story. When they are trapped in the desert, all the characters are facing right which conveys a sense of less security. But after they are rescued and heading back home, the ship is moving towards left which demonstrates an increasing sense of security. Structurally, text and images do not overlap. Ideologically, the book teaches children to be brave when facing difficulties.

Do Unto Otters: A Book About Manners

IMG_9673 [2578143]

Author/Illustrator: Laurie Keller

Publisher and Year: Christy Ottaviano Books, 2007

Number of Pages: 34

Genre: Fiction/Fable

IMG_9675 [2578144]A rabbit is skeptical about what his new otter neighbors will be like. He is told to treat them as he would want them to treat him. After realizing how he’d like to be treated, he sees that maybe his new neighbors won’t be so bad after all.

This story works well as a mirror and a door. There may be some children who feel torn about how to treat someone because they are different, this book would help with that. When people see others who are different they tend to feel that maybe that person shouldn’t be treated like everyone else. There is no real power distribution in this book, as this book just really focuses on the idea that one should treat others how they’d like to be treated.

Perceptually, lots of onomatopoeia is used throughout the book, making the book easier to read and helping children with sounds. The text adds to the images and the images add to the text. There is a lot of dialogue used, as the whole book is really just the rabbit going through his thoughts. Structurally, images are bright and full of color, making the text more entertaining. Facial expressions and specific fonts help the reader understand how the text should be read. The illustrator gives examples of ways to be friendly, so there is little confusion as to what the author means (they are the same person). The illustrator also breaks down and defines certain words, such as “cooperate” for beginning readers. Ideologically, this book teaches manners such as saying please, thank you, and excuse me to others. It also teaches readers how to be polite in different languages, such as Spanish, French, German, Japanese, and Pig Latin. It emphasizes great traits such as honesty, kindness, and sharing, which are important to teach children at a young age.

Mule Train Mail

Title: Mule Train MailIMG_6204

Author: Craig Brown

Illustrator: Craig Brown

Publisher: Charlesbridge, 2009

Number of Pages: 34 pages

Tags: Adventure, Animals, Culture, Diversity, Non-fiction, Picture Book, 4-5, Stephanie Prentice

Genre: Non-Fiction

Analysis: Anthony the mail man delivers mail to the town of Supai on a mule for through the Grand Canyon. This nonfiction book tells the story of Anthony’s journey, the only mule train delivery system left in the United States.

This story acts as a window for children to see the culture of the Supai village. The Supai village is located on the Havasupai Indian Reservation at the bottom of the Grand Canyon. This is very unique because people can only access this area by horse, mule, or helicopters.  The cultures represented in this book are depicted accurately. The author is very knowledgeable about this culture and delivery system because he took the journey himself before writing this book. He discusses his experience at the end of the book.

IMG_6205The images, created by the author, begin with a map tracking the map the mule train follows. As Anthony starts his descent to the Supai village, the images turn long-wise, emphasizing the downward descent of the mountain. The images display the different types of weather that the mules face such as snow and ice or very hot. The illustrations accurately depict the terrain in the Grand Canyon.  As they reach the bottom of the mountain, the images turn back to horizontal. The double spread page allows the reader to engage themselves in the journey alongside Anthony.  The book is told in a narrative manner, as if the author is retelling the story of his journey to a friend. Since this book tells a true story, it introduces children to a different culture. Students who read this book will be introduced to a different type of public service. In addition, it raises awareness about a culture that does not receive a lot of recognition. This book can also be used to show the dedication and determination that Anthony has for his job. The mail gets carried through very dangerous weather that could harm both Anthony and the mules.

Fish is Fish

Author and Illustrator: Leo Lionni

Publisher and Year: Scholastic Inc. 1970

Number of Pages: 28

Genre: Fiction




This is the story of two best friends: a tadpole and a fish. But when the tadpole starts to develop features that resemble a frog, and the fish gets larger, they realize that they are both different. Frog goes away and comes back with stories to tell Fish, but fish imagines a whole different world than what Frog is describing to him.

In the middle of the the book, Frog comes back to the pond to tell Fish all about the world out of the pond. As Frog is describing this new world to Fish, Fish imagines all the animals and people just like him. For example, Frog tells fish about birds that have “wings and two legs and different colors”. But Fish imagines them as fish with different colors and wings and two feet. Fish doesn’t know that not every animal or person looks like him. When he tries to jump out of the pond to see the other creatures, he realizes he cannot breathe and Frog pushes him back into the Pond. Fish then feels content with his underwater world and ends the book saying “Fish is Fish” I do wish that the author would have written the ending a bit differently though, because I wanted Fish to see that not everyone looks somewhat like him, and that just because they live in a different world than he does, doesn’t mean that it is bad or worse than his. Just like with children, one day they will notice that everyone doesn’t look exactly like them. Some might have different hair color or skin color, but children need to be taught that just because someone looks different from them doesn’t mean that they are better or worse.

The text is always written above the pictures. Because most the story takes place underwater, it seems likely that the text would appear above it, allowing more room for the illustrations underneath. As the tadpole begins to develop the features of a frog, the drawings of the Fish show that he keeps getting madder because the tadpole is changing. The pictures are also important because as the frog tells the fish about the different creatures he sees, fish is imagining them differently than how they actually are.

The fish keeps imaging the different animals and humans with fish bodies since he has never seen any other animal, besides the frog so he needs to be exposed to other kinds of species to understand that not everyone looks like him. The thought of superior species (race) could be present because the fish states that underwater was much better than on land and that fish is fish.










My Mom’s Having a Baby

IMG_6197Title: My Mom’s Having a Baby

Author: Dori Hillestad Butler

Illustrator: Carol Thompson

Publisher: Albert Whitman & Company

Number of Pages: 32 pages

Tags: Emotion, Family, Non-fiction, 2-3, 4-5, Stephanie Prentice

Genre: Non-Fiction

Analysis: This non-fiction book goes through the different stages of pregnancy in each month. The main character, Elizabeth, learns all about the baby’s development and growth inside her mom’s stomach. She seeks to answer many of the questions that young children have when they are expecting a baby brother or sister.

This book allows the children to see how the pregnancy process works. It is a very informative book with lots of information. Boys and girls can see how they individually play a role in creating a baby. This book also allows them to reflect on when they were conceived as well. This book gives children the power because it is told from Elizabeth’s point of view.

The book is set up by explaining what happens in each month that Elizabeth’s mom is pregnant. Each month the images show the growth and development that takes place. For example, in October, Elizabeth explains tIMG_6199hat the baby has finger nails, eyes, and ears. It shows the actual size of the embryo at this point in the pregnancy. When Elizabeth wonders how the baby got there, the process of creating a baby is explained. The images include the human anatomy of the female and the male as well as an honest explanation of how the baby got there. The images are pencil drawings with some water color. The use of text bubbles emphasizes the idea that the questions asked in this book are common from children who are expecting to be a big brother or sister. The text in the bubbles also resembles a child’s handwriting, giving it a sense of authenticity.

Since this book is completely honest while answering questions regarding how making a baby works, some people may be against this. Some may think it ruins a child’s innocence if they know truly how a baby is conceived. However, others may be attracted to the honest answer to many children’s wonders. This book offers a non-fiction, medical explanation of pregnancy. It also allows children to see the development of the baby inside of a mother’s stomach. However, because of the content and illustrations of this book, teachers should not read this book in classrooms without parental consent. IMG_6198

Knock, Knock: My Dad’s Dream for Me

Title: Knock, Knock: My Dad’s Dream for Me

IMG_6195Author: Daniel Beaty

Illustrator: Bryan Collier

Publisher: Little, Brown and Company, 2013

Number of Pages: 40 pages


Genre: Fiction

Analysis: In this story, a boy talks about his morning routine that involves his father knocking on his door to wake him up. However, his father doesn’t come to his door one morning because he is incarcerated. He waits patiently, but his father never shows back up. The rest of the story is told through a letter that his father writes him from jail describing the dreams he holds for his son. This book is a Coretta Scott King Award Winner.

This book serves as a mirror to the children who have an absent parent in their life for any reason. The story talks about the process of growing into adulthood while missing a parent. It is told from the child’s point of view, displaying the wide range of emotions that took place during these times. The child in the story never finds out where his father is, which can be representative of some children’s reality. However, as the story goes on we see the child grow in age and see him accomplish many things. For this reason, the book also serves as a door to its readers. It gives them courage to keep going when they might be scared without parental guidance. In the author’s note, we learn that the author created this book in regards to his own personal life. His father was placed in jail when he was only three years old.

The illustrations in this book are put together with collage materials and water colors, giving a feel for the Harlem area in which the story is set.  There are other children’s faces used on the buildings. The images of the other children and sometimes clear and sometimes faded. Perhaps they are symbolic of memories fading away with time. The emotions on the narrator’s face are clear and add an element that is not described in the text. The father’s tie is present in the beginning of the book, but as the story goes on we see the main character put the tie on himself as he grows older. We also see the growth of the boy, symbolizing the time passing while his father is still gone. The structure of this book relies heavily on the letter the boy’s father sends him. The letter discusses many life lessons that a father can teach his son such as shaving for the first time. The father tells the boy to knock down doors that IMG_6196he couldn’t, as well as knock to open the doors to his dreams. This element ties into the game they used to play when he as a child. Ideologically, this book has many important lessons. While it speaks to the children who have lost a parent, it also aims to show hope, the importance of making good decisions, and to not let a past define a future. This book speaks to all children who may have the odds stacked against them. Some people may believe that this book is stereotypical because the father, an African American, is sent to jail. However, I believe that this book is great for all children, regardless of their situation.

Lon Po Po: A Red Riding Hood Story from China

Title: Lon Po Po: A Red Riding Hood Story from China

Author: Ed YoungIMG_6193

Illustrator: Ed Young

Publisher: Philomel Books, 1989

Number of Pages: 30 pages

Tags: Award Book, Animals, Culture, Fiction, Picture Book, 2-3, 4-5, Stephanie Prentice

Genre: Myth

Analysis: This tale from Ancient China is very similar to the European version of The Little Red Riding Hood. After their mother leaves to see their grandmother, Shang, Tao, and Paotze are left home alone when they hear a knock on the door. The wolf claims to be the children’s grandmother, but they soon realize she is not. They plan on how to get rid of the wolf. This book is a Caldecott Gold Medal award winner.

Children who read this book can easily recognize the similarities and differences between this tale and the Westernized version. They can also see how the Chinese culture tells this well-known story. The authentic Chinese culture is reflected in this story, as it was translated from an ancient Chinese oral tradition that is nearly a thousand years old. Since the author of the text is part of the Chinese culture himself it is fair to say this story is an accurate representation.

The images are a combination of pastels and water color, which work very well together. The images are also framed, emphasizing the idea the story is an old tradition. In the beginning of the story, the colors are brighter but soon turn dark, signaling the danger that is soon to come. The pictures of the wolf are always created with dark colors creating a dark and dangerous feel. The emotions on the childrens’ faces are realistic and one can sense the fear they have. As the children defeat the wolf, the images become brighter once again. The main plot of the story is very similar to the western traditional story; however, it incorporates many things from the Chinese culture. For example, the children climb the gingko tree, which has gingko nuts that allow for people to live forever. The children are also seen wearing traditional Chinese clothing. The heroine in this story is a female, which is rare for fairy tales. From the beginning, the oldest daughter realizes that the wolf is playing a trick on them. This differs from the Western version where the main character falls for the wolf’s tricks. This story shows the dangers of children staying home alone. The wolf saw the mother leave and takes advantage of the situation. This story also teaches children they should obey their parents. Before the girls’ mom left, reminded them to shut and lock the door tight. When the wolf arrives at the house, the girls open the door for him. In addition, this story teaches children to keep calm while they are in danger. IMG_6194

Alex the Parrot: No ordinary bird


Author: Stephanie Spinner

Illustrator: Meilo So

Publisher and Year: Alfred A. Knopf 2012

Number of pages: 38

Genre: Non-fiction


Alex the Parrot is a short chapter book with pictures that describes the life of the African Grey Macaw Alex and his handler Irene Pepperberg. It tells of Irene’s experiments with Alex in order to prove that birds are smart creatures capable of understanding human concepts such as colors, numbers, and shapes.

This book functions as a window or door into the scientific community. The main culture addressed and discussed in the book is that of Irene and her experiences and observations in the scientific field. At many points in the book, it is discussed that Irene has to do certain things in order to ensure that her research will be respected. The book displays scientific culture as something that is easily understandable to children and explains processes Irene follows in a way that is easier for students to understand. The pictures themselves do little to add to the story itself but enhance the overall experience of the book.


The text is broken into smaller three to five sentence paragraphs and each page typically has two to five small paragraphs on it. Having the text broken up in such a way is conducive for a children’s literature book because it allows children to digest the harder information in smaller doses. The pictures are done in a sort of watercolor style and while the humans seem more cartoonish, Alex and any other animals look very realistic. This adds to the readers understanding and visualization that all the events discussed in the books actually occurred. The illustrator uses large pictures and bright colors to capture attention of the reader. The illustrator also uses humor in some instances to break up larger portions of text and keep the reader interested.

The book itself is a truthful retelling of Irene’s experiment and discusses Alex’s death and his death’s impact on the future the experiment. This book is a good tool to use and have in a classroom and is suitable for many ages. This book can function as a stepping stone into discussion of many different aspects of the scientific field. Some examples include experimentation hypothesis process, validity of an experiment, or the general topic of animal brain function. Overall, this book can serve a way to get children interested in scientific topics.