“The girls in the circle / have painted their toes. // They’ve twisted their hair / into big yellow bows. ” pages 4-7.
The Girls in the Circle by Nikki Giovanni, illustrated by Cathy Ann Johnson.
Produced for Scholastic by Color-Bridge Books, Brooklyn, NY, 2004.
Poem illustrated as picture book, 32 pages (including back matter).
AR Level: 1.9 (worth 0.5 points).
NOTE: Part of the Just For You series, level 2. This book is poetry.
The Girls in the Circle is a well-known poem, here presented with illustrations and additional commentary and activities. A group of girls staying at Grandma’s dress up in all her things. But when Mom arrives, she won’t let them leave until they change back… or have they?
Young Peter’s day in the snow is a classic for all children, as well as a book of historic importance.
I posted some time ago about how I originally got this book – however a friend recently gifted me a new hardcover copy! There is a book by Andrea Davis Pinkney about the making of The Snowy Day that I can’t wait to review as well.
“They would prove themselves equal or better, having internalized the Negro theorem of needing to be twice as good to get half as far.” p. 48
Hidden Figures:The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race by Margot Lee Shetterly.
William Morrow Imprint, HarperCollins, New York, 2016.
Adult non-fiction, 346 pages including notes and index.
New York Times Bestseller.
Lexile: not yet leveled
AR Level: 9.7 (worth 18.0 points)
In 1969, a human being set foot on the moon for the first time. Although you wouldn’t know it from the all-white, mostly-male camera coverage, the calculations of a black woman helped him get there. But this story starts much earlier, when the labor shortage of WWII allowed highly qualified, extremely intelligent, and very respectable female African-American mathematicians a chance at a job with pay and work closer to what they deserved.
They came in droves to Langley, in Hampton, Virginia, for a unprecedented opportunity in the midst of a heavily segregated community. Those who stayed, and their white female counterparts, spent decades breaking barriers and proving their value to aeronautics over and over again, so that when John Glenn needed the numbers for his first spaceflight checked, Katherine Johnson would be in the right place to be able to perform those and other calculations.
This book is so superb you should run out and get it right now.
“Her skin was all cream and light in comparison to her father’s and very dark when she held her wrist against her mother’s.” p. 35
State of Wonder by Ann Patchett.
Harper Perennial, HaperCollins, 2012.
Adult fiction, 353 pages plus extras.
New York Times Bestseller
Best book of the year 2011 from ten different news sources
AR Level: 6.7 (worth 21.0 points)
Dr. Marina Singh has no interest in going to Brazil. She’s quite happy sitting in her small windowless lab running pharmacological tests, and her lab partner Anders Eckman was happy to go into the Amazon as long as he could take some side trips to photograph rare and unusual birds. But Marina’s plain, comfortable world shatters when a letter arrives relating his death. The company wants to know what happened, and so does his widow.
This was a free book from the library that I grabbed after forgetting my bag so I couldn’t read Hidden Figures on my break. It was surprisingly gripping! There are so many points to discuss which are major spoilers, but I’m going to limit the spoilers here as much as possible.
Learn more about two third-graders who participated in the Selma marches with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Singing for Dr. King by Angela Shelf Medearis, illustrated by Cornelius Van Wright and Ying-Hwa Hu.
Produced for Scholastic by Color-Bridge Books, Brooklyn, NY, 2004.
Picture book non-fiction, 32 pages (including back matter).
Lexile: 660L (for some reason, the illustrator is listed as the author)
AR Level: 3.8 (worth 0.5 points)
NOTE: Part of the Just For You series, level 3. This book is non-fiction.
This book is about Sheyann Webb and her friend Rachel West, two third graders who marched in Selma with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. These nine year olds also sang for Dr. King and attended civil rights meetings, defying and later inspiring their parents and teachers by doing so.
This book instantly stood out from the pile of books because anything about Dr. King is hugely popular in my house. Then when I opened the book and read the first page, I knew it was non-fiction partly by the way in which the characters were introduced. Here is the opening:
“In 1965, Sheyann Webb was in the third grade in Selma, Alabama. She was smaller than most third graders, including her best friend, Rachel West. // Rachel was nine. She lived with her family in the apartment next door to Sheyann’s.” p. 5
Fiction books for young children simply don’t open that way, giving the full names, ages, and year on the opening page. It happened that I had just been reading A Child Shall Lead Them, so I quickly recognized the names and scenarios from that book. However, a reader who was not already familiar with these events could easily have mistaken this book for fiction that was written oddly.
This high-quality early reader is strongly recommended for 1st-3rd graders who enjoy basketball or struggling readers from higher grades.
Little Shaq, written by Shaquille O’Neal, illustrated by Theodore Taylor III
Bloomsbury Children’s, New York, 2015.
Early Chapter Book autobiographical fiction, 73 pages
AR level: 3.4 (worth 0.5 points)
I got this book as a gift from a list of requests I made. Husband and I are either indifferent to or dislike most organized sports but the kids love basketball, so I added this title without knowing too much about it.
This book is the first in what is now a series of early chapter books by famed NBA player Shaquille O’Neal (so famous even I have heard of him). Originally I was surprised not to see a ghostwriter or a co-author credited on a book by an athlete, but upon reading the conclusion, I was happy to see that Mr. O’Neal has an MBA and a P.Hd. in education. He also has been heavily involved in the Boys and Girls Club and has children of his own, so he is undoubtedly familiar with the limited books available for early chapter book readers of color.
This book focuses on Shaq and his cousin Barry, who also happen to be best friends. Sure, Shaq might be better at basketball, and maybe even a little better at their favorite video game. But as neighbor Rosa is quick to point out, that doesn’t mean Barry shouldn’t get a chance to shoot for a basket or his turn to be player 1. When the video game breaks during their disagreement, the boys have to figure out a way to earn enough money to buy a new one.