Monday, April 9, 2012

Shelf Challenge: Authors starting with "A"

School Library Month Shelf ChallengeA blogger friend on twitter (@matthewwinner) set out a reading challenge that fits perfectly with another goal of mine. This year, I have set a goal to read 1095 books (three per day). I am also beginning a long-term challenge to read every picture book in our library.

So, when Matthew started the "Shelf Challenge" I had to jump in. I will read all of the authors last names starting with A and B in our picture book collection. These titles are tracked in my GoodReads and LibraryThing accounts.

Now that I'm done with the "A" authors, here are some gems I discovered. See all of the "A" authors here.
* Giveaway * 
Fill in the form below to win one of the titles by Mitsumasa Anno!

The Fortune Tellers, by Lloyd Alexander

If you ever need a picture book to teach the concept of "self-fulfilling prophecy" this is it. The setting is Cameroon, but it could be anywhere; it has a folk tale feel. A carpenter goes to a fortune-teller to hear about his future. He's told he'll be wealthy WHEN he earns many gold coins. He'll be happy IF he can avoid being miserable. And with each question he asks, he gets an affirming answer. The events that follow can be chalked up to either his own belief in his abilities or destiny, but certainly not to the powers of the fortune-teller.

Trina Schart Hyman's finely detailed watercolors give us a view into the vibrant colorful culture of Cameroon and the beauty of its people.

Anno's Magic Seeds, by Mitsumasa Anno 
This has to be read aloud and taught (unless the child is a math genius) to fully appreciate it. The concept is multiplication and exponential growth. It's good for grade 4 and up. Anno gets two magic seeds and at first, he does what he's told. He eats one and plants the other, so each year he ends up with two seeds again. But what will happen if he breaks the cycle and plants BOTH seeds? Well, his harvest multiplies, and we are lead through exactly HOW that happens. With visuals to anchor us as we get into increasingly larger numbers, this is good for math-phobic people (like me) and students starting out with more difficult math concepts.

Anno's Mysterious Multiplying Jar, by Mitsumasa Anno 
A picture book about factorials! This story illustrates how numbers multiply by showing objects nested inside each other. We start with one island, and on the island there are two countries, and in each country there are three mountains, and and so on until we finish with ten jars (10!) inside a box in the cupboard of a room in a house in a village within the walls of a kingdom on a mountain in a country on an island. (whew!)

After the pictorial story, we learn the mathematical explanation by substituting the pictures for dots. The story is illustrated with finely detailed watercolors. It's an excellent example of a picture book most appropriate for older children (grade 4+).

Once Upon a Banana, by Jennifer Armstrong
Love this wordless book about the consequences of one tiny slip on a banana peel. The full page watercolor illustrations show tons of movement, and we really need to "read" each picture carefully to understand the cause and effect of what's gong on. There's a map at the end to help us retrace the silliness. Like most wordless books, this has uses for many ages.

Barn, by Debby Atwell
A barn raised by a community during Colonial days tells its story: how it changed owners through the years and watched them through good times and bad. In the spirit of Burton's The Little House, we witness history from the perspective of one location. Folk art style paintings illustrate the changes. 


  1. Sarah,

    You are brilliant! I loved checking out all of the books you've read from your "A" section and especially enjoyed seeing a couple unfamiliar Jon Agee books. Once Upon a Banana also sounds like a book I'll have to check out.

    I'm glad this shelf challenge fits in with what you're already doing so well! Thanks for sharing!

  2. Hi Sarah!!

    I just found your blog! I love looking at all your book recommendations! These books are all new to me and I am excited to check them out! Thanks!

    Lessons with Laughter