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Fourth - Fifth Grade

Author:  Woodson, Jacqueline

Illustrator:  Talbott, Hudson                                    

Book Title:  Show Way

Publisher:  G. P. Putnam’s Sons/Penguin Group, Inc.

Copyright Date:  2005

Awards:  Newbery Medal Honor Book


Summary:  This is a poignantly written story about Soonie’s family heritage dating back to her Great-Grandma on a Virginia plantation.  Show Way captivates readers amid it’s portrayal of African-American history beginning during the era of slavery, woven together within the patches of her family’s Show Way quilts.  The brave road each generation of this family follows is full of hope and belief in the future.  In the context of its magnificent watercolor-like illustrations, Jacqueline Woodson and Hudson Talbott tell the story of slavery, the Underground Railroad and Show Way quilts.  In stark contrast a black and white photo collage portrays race relations through the 1960’s and famous African American historical figures that showed the way to equality for all.  The simple, eloquently written text conveys the story of this family’s communication of heritage and values over time through the art of both creating and reading quilts, ending in the present cherished gifts of Jacqueline Woodson herself, reading and writing books and sharing the family chronicle with her daughter, Toshi.


Author and Illustrator:  Gaiman, Neil  

Book Title:  The Graveyard 

Publisher:  Harper Collins

Copyright Date: 2008 

Awards:  2010 Newbery Medal Award

Summary: Listen to each chapter in this exceptional piece of literature read by Neil Gaiman himself while on tour! You will not be able to stop listening, nor put the book down!   

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Author: Weston, Robert Paul

Illustrator:  Rivas, Victor

Book Title:  Zorgamazoo

Publisher:  The Penguin Group

Copyright Date:  2008

Awards:  2010 Silver Birch Award and E.B. White Read Aloud Honor Award

Summary:  Zorgamazoo is most engaging and entertaining! From the very first page this author captivates and welcomes the reader: “Here is a story that’s stranger than strange. Before we begin you may want to arrange: a blanket, a cushion, a comfortable seat, and maybe some cocoa and something to eat.”  The young reader becomes enveloped in a cozy world of reading.  Weston’s use of the second person viewpoint intertwined with the third person narrator viewpoint establishes a further irresistible connection between the young reader,  the story’s characters, setting and plot,  both personally and as a enthralled spectator. “From left and from right came a shadowy shape. So the question, good reader, is: Could they escape?” (210)  Weston compels the reader to think, reflect and predict what will happen.

            Zorgamazoo’s format is entertaining and absorbing.  This novel uses rhyming poetry to convey its story, reminiscent of Dr. Seuss’s works. What child does not enjoy reading and listening to Dr. Seuss? Additionally, Weston incorporates the use of shape poetry, a wide and varied assortment of font shapes, sizes and text grouping, and dialogue interspersed among narrative witting to tell his story. For a generation raised on quick bite television programming, such as Sesame Street, this technique holds their interest and propels the reader’s attention forward into the book.


Selected by:  Lawlor, Veronica

Illustrator:  Lawlor, Veronica

Book Title:  I Was Dreaming to Come to America                  

                     Memories from the Ellis Island Oral History Project 

Publisher:  Puffin Books/Penguin Group

Copyright Date:  1995

Summary:  The Ellis Island Oral History Project began in 1973 as an informal collection of interviews with people who had immigrated to [the United States] through Ellis Island”. I Was Dreaming to Come to America, Introduction   The interviews collected by the Oral History Project are the foundation for this outstanding picture book. Each astonishing page of this book captures significant memories of immigrants who came to America through the gates of Ellis Island.  Each memoir is accompanied by exquisite hand-painted and cut paper collages illuminating their tale. Immigrants talk about confusion; problems due to language barriers; the kindness of some Ellis Island officials; being unfamiliar with the food served; feeling like they had two lives; and so much more. The book closes with brief biographies about each immigrant, which serve to further enrich the reader’s understanding.


 Kindergarten - Third Grades 


Author:  Andrews-Goebel, Nancy

Illustrator:  Diaz, David 

Book Title:  The Pot That Juan Built                                           

Publisher:  Lee & Low Books, Inc.

Copyright Date:  2002

Awards:  Belpre Award – Honor Book

Summary:  An absolute treasure, this unique picture book celebrates the life of Mexican potter, Juan Quezada in three ways.  Written in the form of The House That Jack Built the reader learns and enjoys the story of Quezada’s replication of the primitive pot-making processes used by the Casa Grandes people.  Accompanying the story is explanatory text, elaborating on the inspiring life of this world famous potter and the methods he developed over a life time from the age of 12 years old.  Additionally, in the Afterword, readers learn about the impact Juan Quezada has had on his initially poverty stricken village of Mata Ortiz and enjoys further explanation with accompanying photographs of Juan’s art.  Lastly, the vibrantly colored, distinctive illustrations reflect the traditional designs found in Quezada’s masterpieces.  The Pot That Juan Built is a must read!


Author:  Bunting, Eve

Illustrator:  Barbour, Karen                                      

Book Title:  I Have An Olive Tree

Publisher:  Harper Collins Publishers

Copyright Date:  1999

Summary:  Magnificent illustrations paired with eloquent writing tell the touching story of a young girls’ recognition of her family heritage in Greece, drawing her closer to her mother.  Children will relate to the confusion and disappointment this young girl feels when she receives the birthday gift of an olive tree from her aging grandfather.  In his last moments of life, he asks her to travel to their family’s Greek island to hang a treasured keepsake on the olive tree.  Together her mother and she travel to Greece, discovering the real gift her grandfather had passed along to her.


All Grade Levels


Author:  Morris, Ann 

Photographs & Illustrations:  Linenthal, Peter                               

 Book Titles in this series:  What Was It Like Grandma?           

               Grandma Francisca Remembers ~ A Hispanic-American Family Story           

               Grandma Lai Goon Remembers ~ A Chinese-American Family Story           

               Grandma Susan Remembers ~ A British-American Family Story           

               Grandma Hekmatt Remembers ~ An Arab-American Family Story           

               Grandma Lois Remembers ~ An African-American Family Story           

               Grandma Esther Remembers ~ A Jewish-American Family Story           

               Grandma Maxine Remembers: A Native American Family Story

Publisher:  The Millbrook Press, Inc.

Copyright Date:  2002

Summary:  Ann Morris has created a superb, beautifully illustrated series of seven nonfiction picture books, each a testimony to the role grandmothers’ play as “transmitters of culture”. Book Jacket   Intertwined in each photo-essay is the comprehensible, information rich story of a family’s children and their relationship with their grandmother.  Modern photographs are juxtaposed with historical photographs as grandmothers share their personal history and heritage with their grandchildren.  The importance of an education is a reoccurring ancillary theme in each book.  Morris’ grandmothers are from a variety of cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds, sharing with their grandchildren activities such as doll and teddy bear making, cooking, calligraphy, and more. Each book offers a favorite family recipe, directions for a shared activity, and a family tree.  At the close of each story the author includes suggestions for ways in which the reader could learn about their own family.


Author and Illustrator:  Polacco, Patricia                                       

Book Title:  The Keeping Quilt

Publisher:  Simon & Schuster For Young Readers/Simon & Schuster Children’ Publishing Div.

Copyright Date:  1988

Awards:  Association of Jewish Libraries ~ Sydney Taylor Award

Summary:  In this remarkable picture book Patricia Polacco tells the story of her own Russian Jewish family’s immigration to America and the quilt that is created and affectionately passed from one generation to the next to “help us always remember home”.  Through her exquisitely expressive, artistic illustrations and eloquent words the reader embraces the culture, faith and love of Polacco’s family.                                       


Author and Illustrator:  Polacco, Patricia   

Book Title:  The Butterfly

Publisher:  Philomel Books/Penguin Putnam for Young Readers

Copyright Date:  2000

Summary:  This extraordinary author and illustrator has once again drawn from her own family’s history to create this incredibly inspirational, heart-wrenching and moving story based on the real-life experiences of her Aunt Monique Boisseau Gaw and Monique’s mother, Marcel Solliliage.  Their incredible courage and commitment to helping a Jewish family through Marcel’s underground participation in the French Resistance during World War II’s Nazi regime is portrayed in Polacco’s rich text and characteristic pen and watercolor illustrations.  The Butterfly is the story of two young girls’ secret friendship, the unconditional love of a mother and hopes for freedom set during a dark period of hatred and fear.