Get Real! A Non-Fiction Video Book Review

This month, Sarah shares the book Feathers: Not Just for Flying, by Melissa Stewart.

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Mr. Tanen’s Ties by Maryann Cocca-Leffler

Mr. Tanen's TiesThe beloved principal of Lynnhurst Elementary School, Mr. Tanen, is known for his tie collection. Every morning when the children enter school they check to see what tie Mr. Tanen is wearing. He keeps a closet of ties in his office and changes his tie many times throughout the day. He might wear a tie to match his mood, or the weather, or for his official duties. His tie collection is endless!

One day during an important meeting with Mr. Apple at the School Department he is told that education is serious business and that wearing silly ties simply isn’t proper. Mr. Apple hands Mr. Tanen a blue tie and tells him he must only wear blue ties. Plain blue ties.

The students miss Mr. Tanen’s special ties, and soon it becomes clear that a plain blue ties make everyone feel “blue”. When Mr. Tanen calls in sick for a week, it’s Mr. Apple who fills in as principal. He has lots of rules and, of course, a plain tie. During recess, the students notice Mr. Apple bird watching and the next day someone gives him a tie with birds on it. At the end of the school day, Mr. Apple finds himself admiring his new tie and he decides to put it on. While at the grocery store, he gets compliments on his lovely bird tie. What a nice feeling! All the rest of the week, Mr. Apple chooses a special tie to wear from Mr. Tanen’s closet of ties. Mr. Apple finds himself smiling often.

When Mr. Tanen returns to work on Monday he finds Mr. Apple waiting with a tie box for him. Inside is another blue tie, but this one isn’t plain at all – it has #1 blue ribbon all over it. Ties most definitely make a difference at Lynnhurst Elementary School where no one is feeling “blue” anymore.

There is yet another happy ending to Mr. Tanen’s Ties, so you might just want to check this book out!

Posted by: Wendy

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Pete the Cat – Too Cool for School by Kimberly and James Dean

Pete the Cat - Too Cool for SchoolIt’s time to go back to school, and just like a lot of kids, Pete is trying to figure out what to wear. He is asking EVERYONE! He asks his mom, and she tells him the yellow shirt, because it is her favorite, so he puts it on. Then his friend Marty tells him that the red shirt is his favorite, and Pete puts that one on too. Pete’s brother Bob likes the blue shirt, and Pete puts that one on too. Pretty soon EVERYONE is giving their opinion of what Pete should wear, and he is following EVERYONE’s advice and putting EVERYTHING on!! Of course Pete looks just plain silly, and he is also very hot with all those clothes on. He decides to go home to change his clothes, and this time he decides what he’s going to wear. In the end, Pete also decides that what really matters is being yourself . . . so if you want to be cool, just be you! I like the message of this book, and I think kids who love Pete the Cat will love this one too.

Posted by: Mary

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Ollie’s School Day: a Yes-and-No Book by Stephanie Calmenson

Ollie’s School Day: a Yes-and-No BookStarting school can be stressful for some children. If you are looking for a fun introduction to the school day and to lighten the mood, check out Ollie’s School Day. It is a question and answer book that follows Ollie through a day of school. Each set of questions includes three silly suggestions followed by the correct one. Will Ollie wear a bathing suit, a space suit, a police officer’s uniform or a pair of pants and a shirt to school? It’s sure to have kids laughing at the crazy suggestions of what Ollie will do throughout the day. While listening and laughing, young readers won’t realize they are learning how to behave at school. If you are looking for other silly school stories with a similar format, pair it with Saltzberg’s Cornelius P. Mud, Are You Ready for School? Or Milgrim’s Eddie Gets Ready for School.

Posted by: Liz

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You’re Wearing That to School!?! by Lynne Plourde

You’re Wearing That to School!?!Penelope couldn’t be more excited to start school! She’s even chosen an extraordinary colorful outfit to wear for her first day. Her best friend Tiny started school last year and he instructs Penelope to choose a plainer outfit in order to fit in. Tiny then explains what Penelope should bring for lunch and what to choose for show-and-tell. Penelope and Tiny have entirely different opinions and in the end she must decide whether to take Tiny’s advice or be true to herself.

This is a perfect story to share with children who are just starting school. The repetition of text encourages participation with young readers and Sue Cornelison’s bright, exuberant illustrations will delight readers of all ages.

Posted by: Katie

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My Happy Life by Rose Lagercrantz

My Happy LifeInstead of counting sheep at night, Dani counts all the times she’s been happy. She is especially happy when she thinks about her new schoolbag, because she is so excited for her first day of school. It will be a new chapter in Dani’s happy life! And, as it turns out, there are many happy times spent in Dani’s new classroom and with her new best friend, Ella. But the school year brings some unhappiness, too. Ella moves away midway through the year, which makes Dani very sad. Dani is reminded of other times of unhappiness in her life, too, like when her mother died when she was very young. Dani misses Ella terribly and things look fairly bleak, but as Dani begins to snatch up little opportunities for happiness – like new pet hamsters and new friends at school – and to think about all of her happy memories, Dani’s life once more becomes a happy one.

Don’t let the size of this book fool you – it is 134 pages, but there is a lot of white space and an abundance of illustrations, making it perfect as a first chapter book for early readers. This book touches on two different sad events – the death of a parent and a best friend moving away. While these events are never trivialized, the book itself is not a sad book. It is mainly a book about resilience and about keeping on the sunny side of life. It is about how love from family, friends, and your own self can provide you with an inner reserve of happiness to draw from when bad things happen in life.

Posted by: Parry

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Peanut Butter & Cupcake by Terry Border

All Four StarsComplete this rhyme:

Hello, I’m new here, and I’d like to play
Maybe now, maybe later – or even all day
I’ll make you chuckle deep down in your belly
and we’ll go together like Peanut Butter and…

You chose “cupcake”, didn’t you? No? What about “French fries?” Not that either? Ok, I’ll bet you chose “meatball!” Well, in the delightfully fun picture book Peanut Butter & Cupcake by Terry Border, a young slice of peanut butter toast tries all of those options and then some to round out his rhyming request for a new friend. Peanut Butter is new in town and his mom sends him out to make some friends. Along the way he is rebuffed by the likes of a hamburger, egg, alphabet soup and more before finally finding an ideal match in, you guessed it, Jelly.

This sweet story of friendship and acceptance is illustrated with photographs of three dimensional objects manipulated on a bright outdoor backdrop. Each inanimate food item is brought to life simply with the addition of wire arms and legs. One particularly adorable moment occurs when Peanut Butter encounters Hamburger as he struggles to walk his “dogs.” Terry Border’s clever and thoughtfully laid out scenes are silly enough to make readers of all ages smile and want to flip through the pages time and time again. Peanut Butter & Cupcake is a perfect read aloud for preschoolers and kindergarteners who will get a big kick out of the mismatched food pairings throughout. “Peanut butter and hamburger? Noooooo!”

Posted by: Staci

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