The Children's Book Compass

Archive for January 2011

Word After Word After Word by Patricia MacLachlan.  (2010).  128 pages.  HarperCollins.  Grades 3-5.  Novel.

Author visits to my classroom spark my students’ writing.  This short novel, Word After Word After Word, tells the story of a fourth grade class that enjoys an author in residence for six weeks.  The story focuses on five students’ discovery of the value of writing to their lives and how they  come to think of themselves as writers.  The children ask the author why she writes.  She answers,

“I, myself, write to change my life, to make it come out the way I want it to… But other people write for other reasons; to see more closely what it is they are thinking about, what they may be afraid of.  Sometimes writers write to solve a problem, to answer their own question.”

As the story unfolds the children begin to write about what matters deeply to them, to answer questions they are concerned with and to try out solutions to their problems.  They discover words are to savor.  Their poems are included in the chapters as they explore how writing is essential to knowing themselves. MacLachlan, a Newbery Award winner, has a talent for making us care about her characters.  This story goes to the heart of why we write.    Read this aloud to your children to awaken their inner writer.


This is award season. – Newbery, Caldecott, Coretta Scott King and many others.  Each reviewing  journal publishes their list of best books.  The following list shows the books that I found most memorable for 2010.  Even though I am a voracious reader, I can’t read everything that is published so this list is limited.  However, I must have read at least ten to fifteen books for each one that I selected for this list.  Hope the list gives you something to enjoy.  By the way I did read the Newbery winner this year and did not select it for this list.


Alley, Zoe                                   THERE’S A PRINCESS IN THE PALACE

Argueta, Jorge                         ARROZ CON LECHE/RICE PUDDING

Bottner, Barbara                      MISS BROOKS LOVES BOOKS! (and I don’t)

Brown, Peter                              THE CURIOUS GARDEN

Browne, Anthony                    ME AND YOU

Cooper, Elisha                           FARM

Croza, Laurel                             I KNOW HERE

Graham, Bob                             APRIL AND ESME TOOTH FAIRIES

Henkes, Kevin                           MY GARDEN

Hills, Tad                                      HOW ROCKET LEARNED TO READ

Hughes, Shirley                          THE CHRISTMAS EVE GHOST

Issacs, Anne                                DUST DEVIL

Javaherbin, Mina                       THE SECRET MESSAGE

Jeffers, Oliver                              THE HEART AND THE BOTTLE

Karas, G. Brian                             THE VILLAGE GARAGE

Khan, Rukhsana                          BIG RED LOLLIPOP

Lobel, Anita                                  NINI LOST AND FOUND

Maccarone, Grace                     MISS LINA’S BALLERINAS

Macken, Joann                           WAITING OUT THE STORM

Milway, Katie                              THE GOOD GARDEN

Nelson, Marilyn                         SNOOK ALONE

Ray, Jane                                    THE DOLLHOUSE FAIRY

Rumford, James                      RAIN SCHOOL

Say, Allen                                   THE BOY IN THE GARDEN

Schories, Pat                             WHEN JACK GOES OUT

Smith, Lane                                IT’S A BOOK

Stead, Phillip                               A SICK DAY FOR AMOS MCGEE

Stein, David                               INTERRUPTING CHICKEN

Thomson, Bill                            CHALK

Travesty, Shrill                        THE TAKING TREE: A SELFISH PARODY

Walsh, Ellen                               BALANCING ACT

Watt, Melanie                          CHESTER’S MASTERPIECE

Wheeler, Lisa                           UGLY PIE

Willems, Mo                            CITY DOG, COUNTRY FROG



Martin, David                          THREE LITTLE BEARS PLAY ALL DAY

Seabrooke, Brenda                 WOLF PIE

Spires, Ashley                          BINKY TO THE RESCUE

Willems, Mo                              WE ARE IN A BOOK!


Mavor, Salley                          A POCKETFUL OF POSIES

Sidman, Joyce                         UBIQUITOUS

Sidman, Joyce                     DARK EMPEROR & OTHER POEMS OF THE NIGHT

Singer, Marilyn                        MIRROR MIRROR

Yolen, Jane                              AN EGRET’S DAY


Erskine, Kathryn                      MOCKINGBIRD

Fisher, Catherine                      INCARCERON

Holt, Kimberly                         THE WATER SEEKER

Langrish, Katherine                 THE SHADOW HUNT

Larson, Kirby                             THE FENCES BETWEEN US

MacLachlan, Patricia               WORD AFTER WORD AFTER WORD

Paulsen, Gary                             WOODS RUNNER

Peet, M.  & Graham, E.            CLOUD TEA MONKEYS

Pratchett, Terry                        I SHALL WEAR MIDNIGHT

Reedy, Trent                              WORDS IN THE DUST

Reeve, Philip                             FEVER CRUMB

Resau, Laura                              STAR IN THE FOREST

Ryan, Pam Munoz                    THE DREAMER

Schlitz, Laura                             THE NIGHT FAIRY

Stork, Francisco                       THE LAST SUMMER OF DEATH WARRIORS

Williams-Garcia, Rita               ONE CRAZY SUMMER

Wong, Janet                                ME AND ROLLY MALOO


Bartoletti, Susan                   THEY CALLED THEMSELVES THE KKK

Beccia, Carlyn                         I FEEL BETTER WITH A FROG IN MY THROAT

Bishop, Nic                              LIZARDS

Burns, Loree                            THE HIVE DETECTIVES

Carson, Mary Kay                   THE BAT SCIENTISTS

D’Agnese, Joseph                    BLOCKHEAD: THE LIFE OF FIBONACCI


Greenbery, J. & Jordan, S.     BALLET FOR MARTHA

Halls, K. & Sumner, M.W.       SAVING THE BAGHDAD ZOO

Hill, Laban C.                                DAVE THE POTTER ARTIST, POET, SLAVE

Jenkins, S.  & Page, R.                HOW TO CLEAN A HIPPOPOTAMUS

Johnson, Jen C.                           SEEDS OF CHANGE

Lewin, Ted                                       STABLE

Martin, Jacqueline                      THE CHIRU OF HIGH TIBET

McCarthy, Meghan                     POP! THE INVENTION OF BUBBLE GUM

McCully, Emily                           THE SECRET CAVE: DISCOVERING LASCAUX

Montgomery, Sy                         KAKAPO RESCUE


Silvey, Anita                            HENRY KNOX: BOOKSELLER, SOLDIER, PATRIOT

Stamaty, Mark                         SHAKE, RATTLE & TURN THAT NOISE DOWN!

Turner, Pamela                         PROJECT SEAHORSE

Van Rynback, I. & Shea, P.   THE TAXING CASE OF THE COWS

Winter, Jeanette                      BIBLIOBURRO: A TRUE STORY FROM COLUMBIA

Pointing the Direction to New Books for Children and Teens

Marilyn Carpenter, PhD.

Contact Marilyn

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