Ms. Benson's Book Blog
Review
5 Stars
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone - J.K. Rowling, Mary GrandPré

Go on a magical journey with Harry Potter as he meets new friends and discovers things he didn't know about himself. 

 

In his cupboard under the stairs, Harry believes he is an ordinary boy. But all that begins to change when a strange letter shows up with his name on it. As his uncle tries to keep the letter from him more begin to come in until hundreds fill their living room. To escape the letters, Harry's family travels far away only to be found by a giant. A giant that tells Harry the truth about himself - he's a wizard. And he's been accepted into the prestigious Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. It's there that Harry's real adventure begins. 

 

Students can travel to a new world where anything is possible and let their imaginations run free. Rowling's book is a great addition to literature circles and classroom read-alouds. 

 

Lexile: 880L

Review
4.5 Stars
Sideways Stories From Wayside School - Louis Sachar, Adam McCauley

Wayside School was supposed to have 30 classrooms all next to each other on lone level, but in an architectural accident it was built sideways instead. Now 30 stories high with classrooms one on top of another hilarious stories begin to emerge. 

 

Along the way we meet Mrs. Gorf the meanest teacher of all and Todd who always gets sent home early. John who can only read upside down and more kids from this crazy mixed up school. 

 

A great independent reader for students. Students can practice their predicting skills as they try and figure out what will happen to Wayside next. Then they can try and create their own sideways story to include or illustrate what they think Wayside looks like. 

 

Lexile: 460L

Review
4 Stars
Pete The Cat: I Love My White Shoes - Eric Litwin, James Dean

Pete the Cat loves his new white shoes and sings his song as he walks down the sidewalk. But does Pete get upset when he steps in strawberries and his shoes turn red? Goodness NO, Pete continues to sing his song as he goes on his way. 

 

A great read aloud for younger grades. Students can then come up with new colors for Pete's shoes to turn into. This book is also a great book for students to practice retelling. 

Lexile: AD240L

Review
4 Stars
If You Give a Mouse a Cookie - Laura Joffe Numeroff, Felicia Bond

Sharing your cookie with a hungry mouse couldn't cause any problems could it? Follow one boy as he share his cookie and then spends his entire day following the whims of his new friend. After a day of fulfilling the mouse's needs the boy might have an idea of what its like to be a parent. 

 

Students can come up with other things the mouse might want and practice their writing skills. Multiple sequels make this series a great addition to your classroom library. 

 

Lexile: AD410L

Review
3.5 Stars
James and the Giant Peach - Roald Dahl, Quentin Blake

James lost his parents at a young age and now lives with his two horrid aunts. They make him work all day and never let him play. But one day a mysterious visit gives him some magical green crystals with the promise that these crystals will help him escape his life. Unfortunately before James can use the crystals he spills them on the old dead peach tree in the yard. The next day a giant peach has begun to grow on the long dead tree until it becomes so big it begins to attract a crowd. One day, after his aunts have cruelly locked him outside James finds a hole in the peach and crawls in. Inside he meets a plethora of new friends and then the peach begins to roll. The peach rolls all the way to the ocean and James' real adventure begins. 

 

A great book for students to read independently or in literature circles. Activities and novel studies are widely available online. Dahl's use of imagery and figurative language makes James a great book to use in the classroom. 

 

Lexile: 790L

Review
5 Stars
She Persisted - Chelsea Clinton, Alexandra Boiger

Throughout history there have been women speaking out for what's right and fighting to be heard. Chelsea Clinton introduces us to 13 mini-activists ready to take on the world and change our country for the better.

 

A great book for young girls to read as they learn about historical figures just like them. Continue to read about girls changing the world in the companion book She Persisted Around the World about activists from all over the globe. 

 

Lexile: NC1170L

Review
4 Stars
I Hear a Pickle: and Smell, See, Touch, & Taste It, Too! - Rachel Isadora, Rachel Isadora

Perfect for the youngest readers! Our senses allows us to experience the world - seeing, hearing, smelling, touching, and tasting. We feel the rain on our skin and learn not to touch the hot stove. We hear the birds singing and smell the stinky cheeses. We see the sun, moon, and stars in the sky and sometimes glasses can help us to see better. Children will love the charming illustrations as they learn about the power of each sense. 

 

A great activity for the beginning of the school year in kindergarten as they can come up other things they use their senses for and begin to practice writing. 

Lexile: BR240L

Review
4 Stars
LMNO Peas - Keith  Baker

Roll through the alphabet from A to Z with the peas. Great introduction to the alphabet and careers with rhyming text and funny details in each illustration. 

 

Featuring a range of characters from acrobats to zoologists, the peas highlight a variety of interests and hobbies. Great read-aloud for younger grades with lyrical rhythm and great vocabulary. 

 

Lexile: AD390L

Review
4 Stars
Diary of a Wombat - Jackie French, Bruce Whatley

Read along as a wombat takes us on a journey of her week - digging holes, sleeping, eating, and training the new neighbors. Wombats can get into lots of trouble during the course of a week.

 

Students will laugh as the wombat wreaks havoc. After reading students can write their own animal diaries and come up with fun scenarios for their animals to be in. 

 

Lexile: 390L

Review
3.5 Stars
Llama Llama Red Pajama - Anna Dewdney

Llama drama ensues as Baby Llama whimpers and whines during bedtime. Mama Llama returns to make things right and help Baby Llama have a good night.

 

A great book for kindergarteners to read aloud, with repetitive phrases and rhyming words. 

 

Lexile: AD420L

Review
4.5 Stars
There's a Giraffe in My Soup - Ross Burach, Ross Burach

What would happen if a zoo and a restaurant got their deliveries mixed up?

 

A giraffe in your soup. An alligator in your entree. An elephant on your table. Hilarity ensues at a restaurant where every dish seems to have a visitor along for the ride. Students will be giggling as they read through all the animal puns and illustrations. 

 

A great creative writing activity for students as they try to think about how they would react to a giraffe in their soup.

 

Lexile: AD380L

Review
5 Stars
Thelma the Unicorn - Aaron Blabey

Thelma dreams of being special. She wishes to be a unicorn and one day she gets her wish. Covered in pink paint and glitter with a carrot for horn, Thelma's simple life is thrust into the spotlight as she is transformed into a unicorn. At first she loves the attention of being famous, but soon the glamour begins to fade. Thelma misses her old life and just wants to go back to her friends in the field. What will Thelma do?

 

A great read-aloud for kindergarteners and a useful text for students to start predicting.

Lexile: AD520L

Review
5 Stars
Crayons have feelings too!
The Day the Crayons Quit - Drew Daywalt, Oliver Jeffers

Duncan just wants to color but when he opens his crayon box he finds only letters. Letters from his crayons all saying the same thing - his crayons have had enough! Blue needs a break from coloring the sky and the ocean. Orange and Yellow are no longer speaking for each believes they are the true color of the sum. Black wants to be used more. Duncan must find a way to make all of his crayons happy so he can color his new picture. 

 

After reading, students can pick a color and come up with some more grievances they might have and write letters to Duncan telling him about. When students share their letters the whole class can come up with a way to solve each crayons problem so that Duncan can color again. 

 

Lexile: AD730L

Review
4 Stars
Steam Train, Dream Train - Sherri Duskey Rinker, Tom Lichtenheld

The dream train pulls into the station and the cars begin to fill up. Polar bears pack the ice cream, elephants fill tanks with paint, and turtles load race cars. One by one animals load the cars until the train leaves the station. 

 

A great read-aloud for kindergarteners and later a great addition to book boxes. 

Lexile: AD720L

Review
4 Stars
Strictly No Elephants - Lisa Mantchev, Taeeun Yoo

Today is Pet Club day! There will be dogs and cats, and fish too. But strictly no elephants allowed! A little boy and his tiny elephant must find a solution to show the Pet Club that pets come in all shapes and sizes. So he decides to create his own club one that allows animals of kinds to show them what a true friend looks like. 

 

This is a great book for character education. With lyrical text and sweet illustrations children will enjoy seeing all the pets that are allowed in the new Pet Club. 

Lexile: AD490L

!!! spoiler alert !!! Review
3.5 Stars
The Three Little Gators - Helen Ketteman, Will Terry

A fun retelling of the classic pig story. Three little gators start out on their own in a Texas swamp. Their mother warns them to watch out for the Big-Bottomed Boar and to build their houses strong. The first gator builds his house out of strong rocks. The second reckons that building a house with rocks is too hard so he builds his house out of sticks. The third decides to make his build even easier by using sand. Soon the Big-Bottomed Boar shows up and with a bump of his rump he knocks over the houses of sand and sticks. But the Boar can't knock over the house of stones so he tries another way in - the chimney. What will happen next?

 

This book is a great way to show students that all stories can be rewritten and become new. After reading students can pick their own classic stories to retell and create new stories of their own. 

 

Lexile: AD560L