Children's Media Log

Orientation 2007
For those of you who don't know, for the last five years I have been working part-time towards a Master's Degree in Information Sciences at the University of Tennessee while working full time as an editorial assistant at Sesame Workshop. I am now finishing up my last semester and will graduate in May.

One of my current classes is called Resources and Services for Children. For my final project I was asked to keep a log of different children's media examples I encountered during the semester. For each title I have included bibliographic information, brief summaries, activity suggestions, read-alikes, and more. This log would be a great resource for media specialists, librarians, teachers, and parents. If you are familiar with any of these titles, or have suggestions of your own, please let me know in the comments.

Picture book
  • Library Lion by Michelle Knudsen, illustrated by Kevin Hawkes
  • Ages 4 and up 
  • Candlewick (July 25, 2006) 
  • 978-0763622626 
  • Hardcover
  • Awards - Junior Library Guild selection, School Library Journal's Best Books of 2006, Publishers Weekly Cuffie Award, Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Platinum Award, Wilde Picture Book Award, Child Magazine's Best Children's Books, Book Sense Book of the Year Children's Illustrated Honor Book, Irma S. and James H. Black Honor Book, Time of Wonder Award winner, The New Atlantic Independent Booksellers Association 2007 Picture Book of the Year, and more.
  • Summary - There's a lion in the library! The librarian says he can stay, as long as he follows the rules. After all, his big feet are quiet on the library floor, he makes a comfy backrest for the children, and he helps lick the envelopes for the overdue notices. But what happens when the lion breaks the rules?
  • Strengths and Weaknesses - Beautiful illustrations, a fun and fantastical plot, as well as varied text and image layouts make for an interesting and dynamic read. The muted color scheme well represents the quiet library-related plot. The presence of both a male and female librarian is a welcome change from stereotypical library stories. Unfortunately, the female librarian is dressed as a clich├ęd, sensible shoe wearing, schoolmarm type, sporting a bunned hairdo. This image furthers the stereotype of the old-fashioned information professional. 
  • Uses - This beautifully illustrated picture book would be perfect for a young crowd at a public library story time. This would especially be a fun read at one of the New York Public Library branches because of the famous stone lions, Patience and Fortitude, guarding the main branch's entrance on 42nd street. After reading the book to the children, the librarian might ask the listeners about other famous lion stories they may know. A nearby table could display some popular books, magazines, and other media on the topic of lions. To address the other plot point of this picture book, the librarian could ask the listeners to help create a list of rules for the children's section of the library. This could be written up and eventually hung on the wall in the children's room. 
  • Read-Alikes - The Seven Silly Eaters, If I Were a Lion, Argus
Early Reader
  • In the Doghouse - An Emma and Bo Story by Leslie Kimmelman, illustrated by True Kelley 
  • Ages 6 and up (Level 2)
  • Holiday House (March 15, 2006) 
  • 9780823418824 
  • Hardcover Library Binding
  • Awards - Bank Street College Best Children's Books of the Year
  • Summary - Emma and Bo are best friends. When the Emma's family goes on vacation, Emma and and her dog Bo have a lot of fun by the lake.Then Bo eats Emma's popsicle and Emma gets mad. Bo decides to run away and gets lost. Emma and her parents search for her best friend everywhere.
  • Strengths and Weaknesses - This simple concept reader not only helps children develop their reading skills, but it tells a very cute and well-written story about a girl's friendship with her dog. While the text and accompanying art are very simple, the uncomplicated layout allows this book to be a great reading tool for developing readers. The sentences are short and easy to understand and the characters and setting are introduced on the first page. The font is large and easy to read. The complementary illustrations are lovely to look at, however, they do not add anything to the story. Each illustration depicts exactly what is said in the text and does not add additional information to the story. 
  • Uses - In the Doghouse would be a great book to use in a classroom setting or at home for developing readers. Since the story is about a vacation, this book would be a perfect summer tie-in. The teacher, parent, or librarian using this book could complement the story with recollections of his summer vacations or family pets. Students could then write their own short stories about their memories.
  • Read-Alikes - Henry and Mudge, Nate the Great, Cam Jansen
Fiction
  • A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L'Engel 
  • Ages 9 and up 
  • Farrar, Straus, & Giroux (January 1, 1962) 
  • 978-0374386139 
  • Trade Paperback
  • Awards - Newbery Medal
  • Summary - Meg Murry and her younger brother Charles Wallace journey across time and space with new friend Calvin O'Keefe and three strange witches in an attempt to save Meg's father Mr. Murry from the evil entity IT on the dark planet of Camazotz.
  • Strengths and Weaknesses - A Wrinkle in Time is an extremely well-written novel that works perfectly for young readers. Because it deals with adventure, science fiction, fantasy, and love, this story will appeal to many different kinds of readers. This original plot is packed with mystery that will keep readers engaged for the entire book, and will possibly entice them to continue reading the complete series. This award-winning book may not appeal to some reluctant or below-level readers due to the story's combination of fantasy and science. These readers may have trouble suspending their disbelief and be discouraged from finishing the book.
  • Uses - This classic novel would make a great introduction to the world of fantasy and science fiction for middle school students. Since it has elements of science, fantasy, teen romance, and adventure, this book would be perfect to read and discuss at an after-school book club. Under the supervision of a teacher or school media specialist, the members of the book club could not only talk about the characters and plot, but also about why they think this book has been so often challenged and why they agree or disagree with the challengers' claims.
  • Read-AlikesThe Chronicles of Prydain, The Giver, When You Reach Me
Informational
  • If You Traveled West in a Covered Wagon by Ellen Levine, illustrated by Elroy Freem 
  • Ages 7 and up 
  • Scholastic Paperbacks (August 1, 1992) 
  • 978-0590451581 
  • Paperback
  • Awards - None
  • Summary - If you traveled west in a covered wagon, what would it have been like? How would you have crossed rivers or found your way without road signs? This illustrated informational history book tells readers what it would have been like to be a pioneer traveling west in America in the 1800's.
  • Strengths and Weaknesses - Ellen Levine writes simply about traveling west in a covered wagon. She uses little to no embellishment, making this informational book a wonderful and detailed resource of pioneer history. The book's illustrations clearly depict the facts presented on each page.. Unfortunately, due to the lack of a narrative, some young readers may become disinterested or bored and might not wish to read the book cover to cover, but rather use it as a reference book.
  • Uses - This book would be a great addition to an elementary school classroom library.  While there are many historical fiction books that deal with pioneers, this book, part of the "If You" series, answers common questions with simple un-embellished facts. Using the facts featured in this book, older elementary school students could write their own fictional pioneer stories, successfully combining history and creative writing into one activity.
  • Read-AlikesBound for Oregon, You Wouldn't Want To Be An American Pioneer, Rachel's Journal
Graphic Novel

  • American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang 
  • Ages 12 and up 
  • First Second (September 5, 2006) 
  • 978-1596431522 
  • Trade Paperback
  • Awards - National Book Award Finalist for Young People's Literature, Eisner Award for Best Graphic Album, Eisner Award nominee for Best Coloring, Bank Street - Best Children's Book of the Year
  • Summary - Jin Wang is the only Chinese-American boy at his new school. Will he fit in with the rest of the children? Meanwhile, Danny's life is being ruined by his stereotypical Chinese cousin Chin-Kee. Interspersed between the boys' stories, the Monkey King a folktale character is dealing with problems of his own.
  • Strengths and Weaknesses - Despite the book's weak binding, this vibrant graphic novel is a necessity in a public or school library. With its varied layout, well-written text, and complementary illustrations, Yang expertly tells the story of a Chinese-American boy trying to make a place for himself in a difficult school environment. Yang tells a heartfelt story, walking the fine line between offensive stereotyping and realism. Although some readers may be offended by Yang's stereotypical portrayal of Chin-Kee, if they stick with the story and enjoy its rich narrative and detailed illustrations, they will be rewarded with an uplifting and satisfying ending.
  • Uses - Although many parents think that reading graphic novels and comics books isn't really reading, this book will prove them wrong. Despite it's numerous illustrations and speech bubbles, American Born Chinese has a serious and timely message. As a part of an in school required reading program, this book will encourage in-classroom and at-home discussions of race and stereotypes. In smaller classrooms with older children, students could research a stereotype about their own races or religions and share their findings with the class. They could then discuss the difference between the established stereotypes and their perception of their people and culture.
  • Read-Alikes The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, Maus, Monster
Audiobook
  • Louise, the Adventures of a Chicken by Kate DiCamillo, read by Barbara Rosenblat 
  • Ages 4-6 
  • Live Oak Media (2008) 
  • 9781430106883 
  • Audio CD - Run Time 19 minutes
  • Awards - 2010 Odyssey Award Winner
  • Summary - Louise the chicken longed for adventure. She left her home and ventured out into the wide world. On her journey she met marauding pirates, a ferocious lion, and a mysterious stranger. Louise was fearless and brave. In fact, she was a not-so-chicken chicken. Narrator Barbara Rosenblat's rich voice creates a likable heroine in Louise and colorful adversaries who try to shake her confidence. 
  • Strengths and Weaknesses - This audio book features both a strong plot and a strong narrator. Barbara Rosenblat's wide of array voices and the clear sound quality of the recording bring Louise's story to life and make the book easy to follow as well as fun to listen to. The only drawback is the CD's steep suggested retail price of $28.95. The high cost makes the CD more of a candidate for public library and school media center collections rather than for personal collections. 
  • Uses - The use of an audio book might be difficult to squeeze into a school curriculum or a library program. However, when paired with its print counterpart, listening to an audio book can be quite a rewarding experience for children. An early childhood educator might play this recording during a "circle time" period in the classroom or library to exhibit how listening to a book is a different, yet enjoyable way of experiencing it.
  • Listen-Alikes - The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane, Mercy Watson, Foolish Rabbit's Big Mistake
Movie
  • Jump In! starring: Shanica Knowles, Corbin Bleu, Micah Williams
  • Ages 10 and up 
  • Walt Disney Video (April 3, 2007) 
  • B000LXHFNG 
  • DVD - Run Time: 85 minutes
  • Awards - Andrew Carnegie Medal and DGA Award
  • Summary - Izzy Daniels trains to follow in his father's footsteps by winning the Golden Glove in boxing. However, when Izzy's friend Mary asks him to be a substitute team member in a Double Dutch tournament, Izzy discovers a passion for jumping rope.
  • Strength and Weaknesses - Jump In! is a bright and colorful live action, made-for-TV film. The dialog is clear and easy to understand and the realistic costumes and scenery draw the viewer into the story. While the acting talent isn't spectacular, the engaging plot makes up for it.  Jump In! is rated TV-G for a general audience, however, the content may not be appropriate for children who are watching this without adult supervision. Although the story encourages young people to make good choices, and to be proud of themselves, it also has some moments that may be upsetting to some viewers. The protagonist Izzy is coping with the death of his mother, and worries about not being able to live up to his father's expectations. Another character, Rodney, is also facing a difficult home life, and young viewers may have questions about this. This is definitely a kid's movie, however, it is not a "babysitter". Young viewers should watch this film with an adult.
  • Uses - This DVD would make a great addition to any school or public library's film collection. The film's positive theme would inspire children to believe in their own strengths, and to be proud of who they are. Jump In! is a great movie for teachers and librarians to recommend to students involved in sports, dance, theater, or other extra-curricular activities to encourage them to pursue their passions. After watching this movie, a teacher might organize a talent show where students could share their own unique talents with their classmates.
  • Watch-Alikes - High School Musical, Billy Elliot, Free Style
Song Collection
  • Everybody's Gotta Have A Place by Dirk Shumaker
  • All ages 
  • Arroyo Burro Music (October 10, 2003)
  • B0000VM50W
  • Audio CD or MP3 - Run Time 40:16
  • Awards - None
  • Summary - Everybody's Gotta Have a Place is a collection of twelve original songs written and sung by Big Bad Voodoo Daddy bassist and father of young children, Dirk Shumaker. With a strong theme about the connection between human beings and animals, each song delivers a clear message to respect the rights of all living creatures while telling a story in a fun and educational way. The songs are in various styles including bluegrass, dixieland, Motown, rock n’ roll and more.
  • Strengths and Weaknesses - The songs on this album are cute, catchy, and memorable. Children of all ages will enjoy dancing and singing along to Dirk Shumaker's clever lyrics. The fact that these are original songs may seem appealing to some, but others might worry that since they do not have well known melodies and lyrics, children may lose interest in their content.
  • Uses - This album is a great resource for any early childhood educator or a parent of a young child. The songs' positive message can be a wonderful introduction to learning about the animal kingdom. In a school environment, a music teacher could use these songs to complement the classroom teacher's animal unit while also teaching about the different instruments featured in the songs. After listening to the album, students could pretend they are one of the animals featured on the album and have the class guess which one they are portraying. 
  • Listen-Alikes - Animal Songs, Animal PlaygroundBirds, Beasts, Bugs & Fishes Little & Big: Animal Folk Songs
Blog
  • The Whole Megillah - The Writer's Resource for Jewish-themed Children's Books 
  • All ages
  • WordPress (May 5, 2010)
  • http://thewholemegillah.wordpress.com/
  • Blog/Webpage
  • Awards - None
  • Summary - The Whole Megillah is a blog that provides a helpful and informative resource to writers of Jewish-themed content including fiction, nonfiction, and poetry for children. The Whole Megillah posts book reviews, interviews with editors, authors, agents, calendar of events, contests, as well as research information.
  • Strengths and Weaknesses - While this blog is a wonderful resource, it is not well designed. Because it has a lot of white space, it is not very interesting to look at. The lack of color may discourage some users from browsing through its pages, however, its content is rich and informative and can be useful to those who take the time to read it.
  • Uses - This blog is a great resource for any person interested in writing or learning about Jewish-themed children's literature whether they are professional writers, editors, librarians, students, or people simply interested in reading a good book. A teacher or librarian might use this blog to develop a Jewish studies collection in a school or public library. A Hebrew school teacher or librarian may reference this blog when planning a lesson or when compiling a suggested reading list.
  • Blog-Alikes - The Book of Life, Jewish Books for Children, AJL's People of the Books
Magazine
  • Ranger Rick published by National Wildlife Federation 
  • Ages 2 and up 
  • Yearly subscription - 10 issues 
  • Online and In Print
  • Awards - Periodical of the Year for Children, Golden Lamp Award finalist, EdPress Distinguished Achievement Award, Parents' Choice Foundation Gold Medal, Teacher's Choice Award for the Family, Folio Editorial Excellence Award Silver Winner for Outstanding Editorial Work, Society of National Association Publishers General Excellence Award, National Magazine Award finalist, and more.
  • Summary - Ranger Rick is a colorful magazine boasting both a subscription-based print version, as well as an interactive online component and mobile app. It features articles about animals, people, places, and more. There are also trivia quizzes, games, activities, as well as book recommendations and reviews by young readers.
  • Strengths and Weaknesses - The National Wildlife Federation's Ranger Rick Magazine is a colorful and informative children's periodical. Each print issue is packed with articles, photographs, and activities. The website and the app provide even more information and activities. One drawback is that some articles deal with how humans negatively affect animal habitats. This topic might be upsetting to some readers and should be read with an adult.
  • Uses - This magazine would make a great subscription for any elementary school-aged child.  While parents are encouraged to subscribe to this periodical for their children, no elementary school media center should be without it. It is a perfect complement to any grade's unit on wildlife or nature. Students could read articles during their free time in the library, or use the issues as a resource when working on animal related school projects. The interactive website and app can provide additional content for the child when she is not in school. 
  • Read Alikes - Zoo Books, Big Backyard, National Geographic Kids

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