Frank and Lucky Get Schooled
by Lynne Rae Perkins
Greenwillow Books, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers, 2016
1 volume (unpaged) : color illustrations ; 26 cm
Interest Level: K-5; Reading Level: 2.7
Lexile measure: 660
4 out of 5 stars
At the end of an absolutely horrible day, Frank’s parents take him to the animal shelter where he meets his new best friend, Lucky, who was also having a pretty bad day. Thus begins a beautiful friendship between a boy and his dog.
What makes this book unique is how Lynne Rae Perkins takes this basic story and manages to tie in lessons about how learning isn’t just something you do in school, but it takes place all around us. For example, when Lucky wants to learn about skunks, Frank had to learn about chemistry in order to change Lucky from “smelly” to “not-so-smelly.” The two friends explore the concept of fractions as we see how much of the bed at night is Frank’s and how much is Lucky’s. Art is explored by discovering that “every picture can be better with a dog in it.”
The concepts introduced in the book sometimes might be above the heads of younger readers, but I can see children in grades 3-5 really enjoying the lessons explored in the wild. Children who like dogs will really love this story, because the friendship between Frank and Lucky is the most important lesson of all.
Bob Shea has created a wonderful series that focuses on Ballet Cat and some of her friends. This friendship story will cause lots of laughs, because …. underpants!
Dance! Dance! Underpants!
by Bob Shea
Beginning reader, picture book, fiction
1 volume (unpaged) : color illustrations ; 24 cm
Interest Level: K-3; Reading Level: 1.7
4 out of 5 stars
Ballet Cat is practicing ballet with Butter Bear, who is fine with toe pointing, but very reluctant to practicing super-high leaps. In fact, Butter Bear comes up with every excuse she can think of not to practice high-leaps, until Ballet Cat gets fed up and demands to know what is going on. Is Butter Bear scared? Afraid to fail?
Young readers will delight to find out that the problem involves underpants! The ending of the story is silly and fun. This would make a great read-aloud to kindergarten or first graders.
Shea has also included one of the best jokes for any adults who may be reading this to a child. The book is dedicated “For Steph, who may or may not have written the funniest joke in the whole story.” I believe the answer lies here:
Ballet Cat: Dance! Dance! Underpants! is the second book in the series by Shea. Fans of Elephant & Piggie will also enjoy these books of friendship and fun. These books will highly motivate beginning readers.
by Bhagavan Antle with Thea Feldman; photographs by Barry Bland
Henry Holt and Co., New York, 2011
Description: 32 unnumbered pages : color illustrations, color maps ; 24 cm
Subject: Narrative nonfiction; unlikely animal friendship
Interest Level: K-3; Reading Level: 2.0
Lexile measure: 430
4 out of 5 stars
Summary from the publisher: “Who can imagine an orangutan being friends with a dog? Is it even possible? With Suryia and Roscoe it is! Dogs and orangutans rarely meet, and when they do, they are naturally shy around each other. But when Suryia the orangutan first meets Roscoe, a stray dog, they become best friends from the start. Set on a preserve for rare animals, The Institute of Greatly Endangered and Rare Species (T.I.G.E.R.S.) in South Carolina, here is a true story of a remarkable friendship between two unforgettable animals.”
Evaluation: This lower level text is brimming with the author’s excitement, and when read out loud with enthusiasm, will quickly capture children’s attention. The text reads like a conversation and details when Roscoe, the dog, first met Suryia, the orangutan. Children will love all the photographs of the two friends.
There is an author’s note in the back that provides more information about the wildlife preserve where Suryia and Roscoe live, as well as a map indicating where orangutans live in the wild. If you are reading to a group, the map is a little too small for listeners to view without placing it on a document camera.
The engaging topic, fun text, and silly photographs all combine to make this a hit as a read-aloud for younger children.
by Pat Zietlow Miller; illustrated by Anne Wilsdorf
Schwartz & Wade Books, 2016.
Picture book, fiction, friendship
Interest level: PreK-grade 2
Reading level: 2.9
4 out of 5 stars
This is a sequel to the wonderful Sophie’s Squash. It is not imperative that you read the original Sophie story, but it does provide some background that gives this story a little more depth.
It is time for Sophie to go to school, so she takes her two friends, Bonnie and Baxter, with her. While sometimes it can be comforting to take something special from home when you go to school for the first time, Sophie only wants to play with her squash and refuses to make friends with her classmates. One boy in particular refuses to give up on Sophie, following her and watching everything she does.
After accidentally ripping a picture Sophie drew of Bonnie and Baxter, Steve Green apologizes in a way that makes Sophie look at friendship in a new way and she begins to connect with her classmates. The last line of the book is very profound and sums up the story well — “Sometimes growing a friend just takes time.”
Readers who enjoyed Sophie’s Squash will like this sequel. This would also be a good book for parents or teachers to read to child heading off to school for the first time.