Christmas is Camelot

Christmas in Camelot by Mary Pope Osborne

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Bibliographic Information:

Osbourne, Mary Pope. Christmas in Camelot. Illus. Author. New York, NY: Random House Inc, Publishing.2001. Print.

Summary: This book is about two children, Annie and Jack. They travel in time to the Middle Ages to Camelot through their magic tree house. When they arrive to Camelot this time, they are told it will be their last. The King has decided to ban magic because he had lost a few good soldiers to it. The children are very sad and decide that they need to find a way to remove the ban of the magic quickly.

Questions about the book:

How do Annie and Jack travel?

Where do they travel to?

Why is magic being banned in Camelot?

Activity Idea for the book:

Students will read the book, then make their own tree house model (this would be an activity for older students.) Along with the tree house, students will give a brief description of the book. They will also give their opinion of what they liked, what they didn’t like and if they were given the opportunity what they would change within the story or add to it.

Memorable Passages:

” If you survive to complete your quest, the secret door lies to the west.”

This is a quote from the Christmas King to the children, who offered to travel to The Otherworld, the find the missing soldiers and remove the ban of magic.

Theme/ Thematic Unit:

Time Warp, Siblings, Friendship, Middle-Ages

Genre: Modern Fantasy

Time Warp:

Time Warp is a literary device. The setting may be a past that is known to the reader, presumed future, or a time that is not known.  Christmas in Camelot includes time warp  because Annie and Jack travel to a known past but then return to the current time setting at the end of the story.

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Myron’s Magic Cow

Myron’s Magic Cow

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Newman, Marlene. Myron’s Magic Cow. Illus. Jago. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Barefoot Books. 2005. Print.

Summary: Myron wanted to make pancakes one day and realized his family was out of milk. His mother gave him a five dollar bill to go to the store and get some. He was walking and stopped by a strange woman who told him she knew he needed milk and offered to give him a huge cow in exchange for his money. Before he could answer, the woman grabbed his money and got in her car and sped off, leaving the cow with him. Myron takes the cow home and discovers he can talk. He then finds out the cow can turn into a genie. He wishes someone else will be sent to the store besides him.

Possible Website:

This website provides links to other websites that deal with modern fantasy and different age groups.

Activity using the book:

The students can rewrite the book from the perspective of the cow or rewrite the book about how the blonde girl came across the large cow.

Questions from the book:

What did Myron go to the store for?

Who did Myron meet on the way to the store?

What did the person say to him?

What did Myron come home with?

How did Myron get into his apartment?

What is Myron’s wish to the genie cow?

Memorable Passages:

“Don’t let it get around. We’ve always been able to talk. But as long as no one knows, we get to hear all kinds of things. I’ve been around, you know, and I’ve picked up a few tricks here and there. Learned that one from my old pal Ali Baba. What’s your floor?”


Themes and Thematic Units: Modern Fantasy

Literary elements: personification. The cow in the story takes on human qualities because it speaks to Myron.

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The Gingerbread Cowboy

The Gingerbread Cowboy by Janet Squires

Bibliographic Information: Squires, Janet. The Gingerbread Cowboy. Illus. Holly Berry. New York, NY: Harper Collins Children’s Books. 2006. Print

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Summary: This is a different version of the tale of the Gingerbread man. This takes place in the West. A couple decides to make a cowboy gingerbread man cookie. He escapes when they open the oven. They chase him all over town trying to catch him. In the end, he is eventually eaten by the sly fox.

Possible Website:

This website provides the original story of the Gingerbread man.

Questions about the book:

Where did the setting of the story take place?

Where did the Gingerbread Cowboy escape from?

What happens in the end to the Gingerbread Cowboy?

If you could change the ending of the story, how would you rewrite it?

Themes/ thematic topics: Trust/ Parody

Literary elements: Plot, Setting, Character

Possible Activity:

Students must read the book, then write up their own version of the story. The main character can be any school appropriate character of choice. This story should be at least one page long.

This book would fall into the category of a Parody. It is a spoof of the original story of the runaway gingerbread man.

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Cinderella by Marcia Brown

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Bibliographic Information: Brown, Marcia. Cinderella. Illus. Marcia Brown. New York, NY: Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing Division. 2001. Print.

Summary: This is a story about a young girl whose father’s passes away. She is left in the care of her evil step mother who makes her a slave. One day she decides to go out to the ball. Her fairy godmother dresses her nicely and provides her transportation with a horse and carriage. There is one condition, she must be back by midnight because her wonderful clothes will be back to her every day rags she wears. When the clock strikes midnight, she runs off leaving her glass slipper. The Prince decides to search for her. He eventually finds her and they live “happily ever after.”

Possible Website:

This website includes games based on the fairy tale Cinderella.

Themes and Thematic Unit Ideas: Family, Fairy Tales

Literary Elements: Plot, Setting, Characters

This is traditional literature because we do not know who the original author of this book is and the setting is from a long time ago.

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Goldilocks by Ruth Sanderson

Sanderson, Ruth. Goldilocks. Illus. Ruth Sanderson. New York, NY: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers. 2009. Print.

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Summary: This book is about a young girl named Goldilocks. She wanders into an empty house. she eats some of their food, accidently breaks a chair then decides to take a nap. The family of bears that owns the home comes back and sees her sleeping. They have her make the beds up and then share in baking with her.


This website has a fun game for students called “The Porridge Puzzle.”

Activity Idea Based on the Book:

Have students read the book, then rewrite a new ending to the story.

Questions about the book:

Why did Goldilocks go into the Bears’ home?

What did she break in the house?

Do you think it was okay for her to go into the house without permission? Why or Why not?

If you were Goldilocks, how would you have reacted to seeing that Bears lived in the home?

Themes/Thematic Units: Manners/Sharing

Literary Elements: Setting, Characters, Plot

This is an example of traditional literature because we do not know who the original author is and the time setting is set from a long time ago.

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Diversity Picture Book/ Diversity Chapter Book Blog

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Harlem by Walter Dean Myers

Bibliographic Information: Myers, Walter Dean. Harlem. Illus. Christopher Myers. New York, NY: Scholastic Press. 1997. Print.

Summary: This is a great book that speaks about the diversity in Harlem. It is written in poem form. It explains what everyday life was like for those who lived there. It includes passages about famous people who grew up or lived in Harlem at one point. The illustrations are very fitting and bring the reader in.

Possible Website:

This is a great website that will read Harlem to students.

Activity Idea:

Students can write a poem about where they grew up and what it was like.

Memorable Passages:

” Yellow/tan/brown/black/red/green/gray/bright colors loud enough to be heard (Myers np).

Themes and Thematic Unit Ideas: Diversity, African Americans, City of Harlem, Change

Literary Elements:

Genre: Poetry

Culturally Responsive Teacher: This ties into this article on the Alaskan Culturally Responsive Teacher, because it talks about a culture that was formed in Harlem. This can help students be aware of other place in the world and what their culture is like.

Cover Image from:

Bibliographic Information:

Murphy,  Jim. Dear America  West to a Land of Plenty: The Diary of Teresa Angelino Viscardi. New York, NY: Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication-Data. 2000. Print.

Summary: This book is the story of a young Italian girl named, Teresa Angelino Viscardi. It is written in diary form, from perspective of Teresa and her sister Antoinette. Teresa talks about her anger that she has for the fact that they are moving and she has to leave all of her friends behind. She talks about how she is not as ladylike as her sister Antoinetta.

Possible Website:

This is a great website that gives various links to websites on learning about immigration.

Activity based on the book:

Pretend to be one of the characters in the book that do not have diary entries, such as Rosaria, Nanna, or mother and create at least three diary passages for them.

Questions based on the book:

1. Where was Teresa and her family originally from before they immigrated to the United States?

2. Why is Teresa so upset about leaving New York City?

3. Why did her family decide they needed to move to Idaho Territory?

4. Why did Teresa have to share her diary with her sister Antoinette?

Memorable Passage:

Nothing is worse than to be praised in verse by a person who is never nice. But a letter from you, who has always been true is like having spring flowers bloom twice (Murphy 98).

Themes and Thematic Units: Sisters, Italian-Americans, Immigration, Travel, Change

Literary Elements: Genre: Fiction, Diversity

Culturally Responsive Teacher: According to the Alaskan Standards of the Culturally Responsive Teacher, this book fits into these standards. It talks about immigration and a young girl’s experiences from her diary on what it is like to travel from one place she knows so well, to several unfamiliar places and how she adjusts. This is a great book fro students to understand how traveling to new places can give you a new perspective of others.

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Content vs. Concept Blog

Red is a Dragon: A Book of Colors by Roseanne Thong

Bibliographic Information: Thong, Roseanne. Red is a Dragon: A Book of Colors. San Francisco, CA: Chronicle Books, LLC, 2001. Print.

Summary: This book describes and shows different colors that are used in everyday life. It is a great book for showing the concept of color. It talks about ten different colors, with illustrations that go along with the text. There is a young girl who comes across each of the colors and talks about what they mean to her. These colors are described from the perspective of a young Asian girl, but are still universal in explanations.

Possible Website:

This website provides links to various websites that focus on the concept of color. There are online museums students can tour virtually. It is a very fun website.

Possible Activity: Choose a page from the book and describe all of the colors that are shown on the page and what the objects are.

Questions about the book:

  • What are incense sticks?
  • What is Lychee?
  • What is the color os the teddy bear?
  • What is your favorite part of the book

Memorable Passage: The world is a rainbow for us to explore. What colors are waiting outside your door? (Thong n.p)

Themes/ Thematic Unit Ideas: Colors/ Asian Culture

Literary Elements: Poetry/ Characters

Agent A to Z by Andy Rash

Bibliographic Information: Rash, Andy. Agent A to Z. New York, NY: Scholastic Press, 2004. Print.

Summary: This is an ABC book that includes a different agent on each page. For example, Agent A, Agent B, Agent C, Agent D… and so on. Each of the agents includes words with the same letter as the agent. For example, Agent B’s page talks about how he chooses a blue bomb.

Possible Websites:

This is a fun website for students kindergarten through eighth grade. The first grade/ kindergarten link has games for learning abc order.

Activity Ideas: Have students pick three “agents” from the book. They must write sentences using only the letter of the agent represented. For example: Agent I is interested in indigo iguanas. (The word agent is the only word that should start with a different letter). This is a challenging activity, but will get students thinking about using words with specific letters.

Memorable Passage: Agent Z can’t be the phony riding by on his Zamboni.

Themes and Thematic Unit Ideas:ABC’s

Literary Terms: Poetry, Alliteration, Rhyming, Letters

The book Red is a Dragon: A Book of Colors, is what you would call a content book. It describes colors and they are found in everyday life.This book does not have any diversity. All of the characters in the book are Asian. They are mostly female characters and only two males. They do show a woman and a boy wearing glasses, other then that it is pretty normalized. The age range in the book is around ten years old and thirty years old.

The book Agent A to Agent Z, is what you would call a concept book. It takes the concept of letters and created a story for children to learn the alphabet and see the use of specific letters in a sentence. There are people in the book, mostly male agents. The male agents are shown doing “robust activities,” while the females are shown just looking into a door. The book does not include diversity, the characters are all white agents dressed in neat look suits.




Book Cover Image for Red is a Dragon:,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click

Book Cover Image for Agent A To Agent Z:

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The Road to Paris

The Road to Paris by Nikki Grimes


Book Cover Image from:,%20The%20road%20to%20Paris.jpg

Bibliographic Information:

Grimes, Nikki. The Road to Paris. New York, NY: Penguin Books, 2006. Print.

Summary: This book is about a young multiracial girl named Paris. She struggles with feeling accepted and has gone from foster home to foster home. She suffered from abuse in her past and is not very trusting of others. She becomes separated from her brother, Malcolm, which is very hard for her at first. Eventually, she moves in with a new Foster Family, the Lincolns. They are very kind and loving to her, teaching her she can trust again. She learns valuable life lessons from the family and her separation from her brother proves to her that she can be a strong independent young girl and face her fears.

Activity Ideas using the book:

  • Create a scrapbook for Paris. This scrapbook should include her life when she was younger, foster homes she was in, and her life with the Lincolns
  • The story ends with Paris starting over again to create a new life. Write a one to two page paper continuing the end of this story. What life is like after she moves back to New York and how it is to be reunited with Viola, Malcolm and meeting the new step-father, Marcus.

Memorable Passages:

” There was no way for Paris to tell the future. But she was not afraid. Not anymore. The rough road she’d been on had led her to a stronger sense of herself.” (Grimes 153).

“Paris had learned to keep God in her pocket, and as long as she kept him close, she knew she’d be alright.” (Grimes 153).

“She sure can sing, can’t she said David. ” And you know why? Because talent runs in the family. I told you she’s my sister, right? “Mine too!” piped up Jordan. Paris couldn’t stop grinning. ( Grimes 117)

Themes and Thematic Unit Ideas: Fiction, Foster Home Care, African Americans, Brothers and Sisters

Literary Elements:

Genre: Realistic Fiction

Conflict: Paris had mentally and physically abusive relationships with her caregivers that led her to not trust and not feel accepted.


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You Read to Me, I’ll Read to You

Book Cover Image from:

You Read to Me, I’ll Read to You: Very Short Fairy Tales to Read Together

Hoberman, Mary Ann. “The Three Bears” in You Read to Me, I’ll Read to You” Very Short Fairy Tales to Read Together. Illus. Michael Emberley. Little Brown Publishing, 2004. Print.

Summary: This is a great book that includes short poems on fairy tales. The poems can be read between two people each reading their own color coordinated part, then reading a section together. This is great for beginning readers.


This website is great for students because it gives the full fairy tale of “Goldielocks and the Three Bears. ” This way if students want to know more about it, they can read it from this website.

Activity using the book:

Students can dress up, make props, and act out the parts in the book. It would be a fun activity and would also be great for them to work on their reading skills.


1. Who are the two characters in the poem, ” The Three Bears?”

2. Why did Goldilocks end up in baby bear’s house?

3. What did Goldilocks eat and drink of baby bear’s?

4. What picture book do Goldilocks and Baby Bear read at the end?

Themes: Children’s Poetry, Fairy Tales




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Project Mulberry

Project Mulberry

Book Cover Image from:

Park, Linda Sue. Project Mulberry. New York, NY: Clarion Books, 2005. Print

Summary: Project Mulberry, is about a young girl named Julia Song. She and her friend, Patrick join a group called “Wiggles.” They decided that for their project for this group they are going to raise silk worms. Julia’s mother suggested this project. At first, Julia is unsure about it because it seems “too Korean” to her. She tries to think of ways to Americanize the project. During the project, she becomes very attached to the silk worms and learns a valuable lesson.

Websites linking to Project Mulberry:

This website gives electronic quizzes specifically on the book Project Mulberry. It is a good website for students, but requires a username and password to take the quiz. It would be a better tool for a teacher.

This is a great website for students to learn more about the process of raising silkworms.

Activity Ideas using the book:

Students could raise their own silkworms and record the process. Later they could compare it to the results that Patrick and Julia had in the book. They could record both results on a chart.

Questions from the book:

1. When did Julia and Patrick become friends?

2. What is the name of the group that Julia and Patrick decided to join?

3. What project did Julia and Patrick decide on for the fair?

4. What did they put up flyers at the gas station to find?

5. What is the results of the Wiggles Project in the end? Did they win first place?

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