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.

Stephanie’s Ponytail

Title: Stephanie’s PonytailIMG_6206

Author: Robert Munsch

Illustrator: Michael Martchenko

Publisher:  Annick Press, 1996

Number of Pages: 24 pages

Tags: Fiction, Picture Book, K-5, Stephanie Prentice

Genre: Realistic Fiction

Analysis: Stephanie comes to school with her hair in a pony tail. The next day, her entire class has a pony tail just like her. After trying to have creative hair styles, she realizes her class is going to copy her no matter what. She tells the class she is going to shave her head. When she shows up to class the next day, everyone shaved their heads besides Stephanie.

This book serves as a mirror because it allows students to reflect on how they would feel if they were copied by other students. In the story, we see Stephanie become frustrated because she wanted to be unique. The story also allows children to reflect on the aspects that make them unique. Stephanie is given all the power in deciding how her hair will look and also how the other children in the class will style their hair.

The illustrations in this book are made with bright colors, drawing the reader in. They often mirror the text. In some cases, the images enhance the text by adding humor. This book consists mostly of one page pictures with the text on the opposite side. Robert Munsch portrays Stephanie as very confident by the repetition of the phrase, “it’s my ponytail and I like it.” The illustrator also shows her confidence in the images by her facial expressions and body language. Ideologically, this book has many layers. In the first layer, this book shows how frustrating it is when someone takes your original ideas. Stephanie becomes very frustrated that her classmates copy her original hair styles. Another layer teaches students to value their individuality. When Stephanie’s classmates shave their heads, it shows the negative aspects of being a follower instead of a leader. However, this book may be taken to be negative. Stephanie tricks her classmates into shaving their heads in spite of them copying her. This may teach children tricking people is okay. Also, at the beginning of the book Stephanie’s classmates tease her about her pony tail. I think this book is good to read for children to teach them individuality, however it is important to consider the negative views.IMG_6207

Show Some Respect

IMG_6202 Title: Show Some Respect

Author: Anastasia Suen

Illustrator: Jeff Ebbeler

Publisher: Red Wagon, 2008

Number of Pages: 32 pages

Tags: Diversity, Fiction, Picture Book, K-5, Stephanie Prentice

Genre: Realistic Fiction

Analysis: Students from Main Street School are coming back from an assembly and need to clean up their room. Jack does not understand why he has to clean the room, thinking it is the janitor’s job. His classmates teach him the importance of respect.

This text functions as a mirror because it allows students to reflect on the respect they show for their classroom and their janitor. Also, this book functions as a window because it allows students to see the expectations of taking care of their classroom as well as the true responsibilities of a janitor.  Serving as a door, this book teaches students to take initiative and take care of their classroom on their own.

This book’s illustrations are very realistic. The moods and body language portrayed in the images allow the reader to truly understand how the characters are feeling, especially Jack. The images are mostly confined to one page with the text on the opposite side. The images mirror the text. There is a portrayal of diversity within the classroom. Structurally, this book has more text on the pages than other picture books. In addition, the discussion questions at the end of the book can lead to important conversations between students. The “Words to Know” section offers the readers definitions to words they might not understand or gives the definition as it was used in the text. The title speaks very clearly to the lessons learned in the book. This book teaches students the importance of respect for their own classroom as well as the janitor. It teaches children that janitors play an important role in schools, but are not responsible for people’s personal messes. The interactions between Jack and Isiah display very realistic conversations that may take place in a classroom regarding this topic.  This can be very important for elementary students who sometimes do not understand the responsibility of a janitor. The idea of respect can translate into many other areas of life as well.IMG_6203

Stand Tall Molly Lou Melon

IMG_6200Title: Stand Tall Molly Lou Melon

Author:  Patty Lovell

Illustrator: Da vid Catrow

Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 2001

Number of Pages: 32 pages

Tags: Emotion, Family, Fiction, Friendship, Picture Book, K-5, Stephanie Prentice

Genre: Realistic Fiction

Analysis: Molly Lou Melon starts in a new school where a bully picks on her for her physical characteristics. Molly Lou Melon has buck teeth, is short, clumsy, and has a squeaky voice. Despite all this, Molly’s grandmother teaches her to be proud of herself. Her grandmother’s lessons are put to the test when she moves to a new school.

Children who have been picked on can very easily relate to this book. Molly Lou Melon is bullied by a student at her new school many times. In addition, children are able to see the way in which Molly Lou Melon stands up to the bully, giving them confidence of their own. This book can also provide children an inspiration to stop the act of bullying in their schools.

In the images, Molly Lou Melon is shown to be much smaller than the furniture in her room. There is a ladder for her to climb into bed, which emphasizes how short Molly Lou Melon is. The exaggeration of her physical characteristics makes the point of which the author is trying to make. The bold text used in the parts when Ronald Durkin was making fun of her exaggerate the act of bullying taking place. The images are very colorful and detailed, drawing a reader in. The repetitive use of “so shIMG_6201e did” shows the reader that Molly Lou Melon took her grandmother’s advice to heart. The lack of frames in the illustrations allows the reader to connect to Molly Lou Melon on a personal level. Ideologically, this book has many layers. One layer shows that if people stand up to bullies, the bullying stops. Each time Ronald Durkin bullied Molly Lou Melon, she did something that all her other classmates loved. Eventually Ronald Durkin stopped bullying her. The second layer teaches children to love who they are and what they look like. Molly Lou Melon has a lot of self confidence when it comes to doing anything. Molly Lou Melon’s grandmother teaches her that she can accomplish anything if she carries herself with confidence, and that’s just what she does. This book teaches children to value self confidence and individuality.

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

Monday, Wednesday, and Every Other Weekend

Title: Monday, Wednesday, and Every Other Weekend

IMG_6189Author: Karen Stanton

Illustrator: Karen Stanton

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends, 2014

Number of Pages: 40 pages


Genre: Realistic Fiction

Analysis: In this story, Henry’s parents are divorced and he lives in two different houses. On Monday, Wednesday, and every other weekend Henry and his dog, Pomegranate, live with their mom in her apartment. On Tuesday, Thursday, and every other weekend, they live with their dad in his new house.  Pomegranate gets confused with the new changes and wants to go back to his old home.

This story serves as a mirror, allowing children with divorced parents to see their own life reflected in the story. It deals with the many changes that take place during a divorce. The images also include children of different cultures which creates diversity. In addition, the images are created using different texts from French, Italian, and other languages. Children who have not experienced this significant change in their life can grasp an idea of how other children may feel in this situation.

The images are very colorful and lively, creating a positive mood. They are made with a mixture of acrylic paint and some collage materials.  In addition, it is obvious through the illustrations that Mama’s and Papa’s house are very different places. Mama lives in an apartment while Papa has his own house down the street. In the images, the reader can see the calendars shown on the wall. In each house, the calendar on the wall shows thIMG_6192e days that Henry will spend there. The author and illustrator uses Pomegranate to display most of the emotions felt by children during times of divorce within their family. For example, Pomegranate runs away and Henry knows just where to find him. Henry runs to his old house, “the house where we all used to live together,” and finds Pomegranate there. However, she portrays the main character Henry as happy and well adjusted to his new life, but does not underplay the emotions Henry experiences. The author also portrays each parent positively, listing the perks of living in each house.  While searching for the dog, the illustrator creates a map that allows the reader to see the town in which Henry lives. The dots on the map show where Henry goes to find his dog. This book handles the feelings surrounding divorce in a positive way. This book can be used by families who are struggling to establish a new way of living after divorce. This book is relatable to a lot of children who experience this shift in family dynamics.

The Other Side


Title: The Other Side

Author: Jacqueline Woodson

Illustrator: E.B. Lewis

Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 2001

Number of pages: 32 Pages

Tags: Culture, Diversity, Emotion, Friendship, Historical Fiction, Picture Book, K-5, Stephanie Prentice

Genre: Historical Fiction


Clover’s mother will not allow her to cross the fence that separates the African-American side of town from the White side of town where Anna lives because she claims it is not safe. After spending the summer wondering why she is not allowed to cross the fence, Clover gets closer and closer to the fence. Eventually, Clover begins talking to Anna and their friendship grows despite Clover’s moms wishes.

This text allows readers to tap into the realities of African-Americans during the Civil Rights Movement. Clover’s mother is hesitant to allow her to cross into the White part of town because of safety concerns. The depictions of African American as well as American girls allows readers to see themselves and their culture. Despite the common belief that all African Americans during this time period are poor and unprivileged, the illustrations shows Clover and her mother nicely dressed while walking through town. The pictures are very realistic, which mirrors the idea that racism and prejudice is a very realistic problem. The author also discusses the fact that Clover’s mother has bought her toys to play with inside on rainy days. The story seems to take place in a rural setting, which was usually where segregation was heavy during this time period. The power seems to lie in the hands of the White side of town because of Clover’s situation. This story acts as a door because it inspires readers to knock down the fences in their own lives.

Perceptually, the images are usually only one page with the text on the other. The first and last pages have images that cover a double page spread. Especially on the last page, the double spread picture symbolizes the growth that took place within the story. The growth of Clover and Anna’s friendship is symbolized in the pictures. At the beginning, there is tension and distance IMG_5984between both girls. As they continue to talk, the girls move closer together. In the story, the fence is a physical barrier between the interaction of the African American and the White populations. It also symbolically represents the barriers that people, especially African Americans, face in their lives. This title, The Other Side, also refers to another aspect of the story. This story features a main character that questions why racism and prejudice are ruling people’s lives. In this case, the character is the person on the other side of the powerful race during this time. This powerful theme carries into other aspects of life. Readers will benefit from the tolerance displayed in the story.


Back-to-School Rules

IMG_5985Title: Back-to-School Rules

Author: Laurie Friedman

Illustrator: Teresa Murfin

Publisher: Carolrhoda Books, 2011

Number of pages: 32 pages

Tags: Fiction, Picture Book, K-5, Stephanie Prentice

Genre: Fiction


During this story, Percy offers his rules for going back to school for the year. He explains what not to do during class in order to be successful. Percy claims that if someone follows his ten rules that they will have a lot of fun during school.

This book can act as a window for children to see themselves in the story. For example, children can imagine themselves in their own classroom and reflect on their behavior. However, the lack of diversity does not allow for children to see cultures that are different from their own. The images create a humorous depiction of school, showing students doing very silly things such as swimming in the fish tank. In some cases, the images contradict the text.

The images are very colorful and vibrant, grabbing the reader’s attention. The beginning of the book begins with Percy walking to school through his town. The images often mirror the text, IMG_5986depicting the behaviors that Percy claims you should not do . Percy’s rules are often a different color in the text. The illustrator uses different techniques to display the information. For example, on one page, she uses arrows to display the order of which it appears in the text. On the next page, she uses a thought cloud to display the rules. The illustrator also uses a chalkboard to display the rules of Percy. Structurally, the text has a slight rhyming scheme. However, it is sometimes forced, making it difficult to hear the rhyming.

This book is a funny way of discussing class rules; however, it is displayed in a very negative way. This book lists many things that students should not do, rather than stating what the students can do in a positive manner. For example, Percy claims that a student should not arrive late because teachers do not like to wait. Sometimes when a student is late it is out of their control. This list of behaviors to avoid can make children afraid for what can happen if they were to break one of these rules. This book does a good job of opening the discussion for classroom rules, but should not be used to tell children how to act in school. Many of the rules limit the children’s creativity and abilities because of the harsh negativity.