by Michael Garland
Grandpa Joe is taking his grandson, Timmy, to see the farm where he grew up. A lot of the farm had been sold a long time ago, but there are still things to see there. Grandpa Joe tells Timmy that the farm used to be big and beautiful, when there were no other houses around it. Now the house and barn are falling apart. Then Grandpa Joe tells Timmy about the most important thing a farmer can own, a tractor. Grandpa Joe shows Timmy where his father’s tractor is still sitting. Timmy sees that the old tractor has flat tires, the paint is almost all gone, and plants are growing out of the engine. Grandpa Joe tells Timmy that the tractor was brand new with red paint when he was a little boy. Grandpa Joe’s father used to let Grandpa Joe drive the tractor on his lap when they were plowing the fields. Then after plowing the fields, the tractor is used to plant corn or alfalfa for the cows to eat. Timmy imagines his great-grandfather and grandfather riding around doing chores on the old tractor. Then Grandpa Joe tells Timmy that at harvest time, the crop was stored in the silo for the winter. In the fall, Grandpa Joe tells Timmy his father would take them to pick fresh apples off the tree. All the time that Grandpa Joe is telling Timmy about the tractor, Timmy is seeing the story is his mind. Timmy can also picture the family using the house and the barn in his imagination, too. Does Timmy agree with his grandfather about the tractor being the most important thing a farmer owns?
Off to Class: Incredible and Unusual Schools Around the World
by Susan Hughes
Education is so important that the United Nations says it is a basic human right that people have. Unfortunately, not every child in the whole world is able to go to school. According to UNICEF (and the author), over 100 million children around the world have never gone to a school before. Some children live to far away from school, some families need their children to help work, and other children are not allowed to go to school for various reasons. There are a lot of people that want to change this for their children, and they have created some incredible schools that the author discusses within this nonfiction book. In Bangladesh, the school is held on boats. The boats pick the students up along the shore, hold class within them, and then drop the children back off again. This way, the flooding during monsoon season does not stop the children from learning. The children even have computers and the Internet on the boat! In Gando, Burkina Faso (in Africa), the school was falling down, and the people did not have the ability to create a new one. Then architect, Diébédo Kéré came up with a design that would use the clay from the area to create a new, brighter, and cooler school for the children. His design even won awards. In a village in China called Dongzhong, the teachers would not come to teach where there was no electricity or running water. The school is also in a cave. After hearing about the village, people all over the world helped to give the children more teachers, electricity, and school books. Unfortunately, China later closed the school and built another one. What kinds of things do you find really cool in this book about how children go to school?
Jo MacDonald Saw a Pond
by Mary Quattlebaum and illustrated by Laura J. Bryant
You know the song, but this story is a little different. Jo MacDonald goes down to the pond, and she sees some different things. First Jo sees some reeds, which swish-swish here and swish-swish there. Next, Jo sees some fish. Those fish blurp-blurp here and blurp-blurp there. Then, Jo sees a frog. The frog gives a croak-croak here and a croak-croak there. Then, Jo sees some ducks. The ducks quack-quack here and quack-quack there. What other kinds of things do you think Jo MacDonald would see by the pond? What kinds of sounds do you think those things would make?
Don’t forget to sing the song to yourself as you read.
by Phyllis Root and illustrated by Alison Friend
There is a scrawny cat creeping down the street, and this cat is lonely, little, and lost. The scrawny cat used to have someone who named him, played with him, and petted him. Now people just call him “Get out of here,” but he knows that is not his name. After another person tells the cat to go away, a dog starts to chase the cat. The cat runs down to the docks and hides in a dinghy. After it starts to rain, the dog runs away. The cat huddles under the seat in the dinghy and sleeps. When the cat wakes up, all he sees around him is water. Then suddenly, the cat sees some land and a house. A lady comes out of the house to see what came in during the storm. Will the lady want to keep the scrawny little cat? Will she give him some nice food to eat? Will she finally give him a real name?