Tornado. O.

INFO: Byars, Betsy. Tornado. O. 1996.

DESC: Classic later-period Betsy Byars! This charming tale is a must for any who are fans of the “boy-and-dog” genre. Interestingly, like Bunnicula, it also features a fairly complex frame narrative structure which keeps readers on their toes, and can be the source of many good orienting conversations about which story we are “inside” of at each moment. The story begins with a boy and his family gathered into their storm cellar with Pete, their farmhand, as a twister descends on their farmstead. Our narrator’s father, “Link” Lincoln, is trapped outside in his fields as the tornado hits. To calm everyone’s nerves, Pete begins to tell a series of interwoven stories about his time on his own farm down tornado alley – and the time he found a dog, doghouse and all, plopped down in his yard by a twister! The saga of Pete and “Tornado” that ensues is by turns funny, witty, original, and heartbreaking. This is an unforgettable and highly engaging story full of both enduring human themes and strong regional flair – and it will have even stronger resonance as students turn their eyes to the aftermath of the tragedies in Oklahoma this year.

TAGS: tornados, storms, farmlands, rural, pets, dogs, boy and dog stories, historical fiction, folktales, tall tales, storytelling, complex narrative, frame narrative, families, farming, farms, Oklahoma, O, fiction, chapter, humor

Henry and Mudge and the Wild Wind. J.

INFO: Rylant, Cynthia. Henry and Mudge and the Wild Wind. J. 1993.

DESC: This is the classic “springtime” Henry and Mudge! Henry and Mudge encouter everything from the gusty “wild wind” to terrifying thunderstorms – and, with a little bit of creativity, and some patience, they come through it all alright! As with other books in the Henry and Mudge series, the language is comfortable and familiar, without being sing-song-y, boring, or repetitive; and Rylant introduces choice “challenge words” and phrases (like Henry’s dad’s hilarious declaration about the “enemy couch”) that inspire students to think outside-of-the-box about what they already know!

TAGS: henry and mudge, cynthia rylant, easy reader, easy read, full-color illustrations, pictures, fiction, boy and dog stories, pets, travelling, storms, thunderstorms, fear, springtime, blackouts, power outages, rainbows, J, fiction

Stone Fox. P.

INFO: Gardiner, John Reynolds. Stone Fox. P. 1980.

DESC: A classic about the love of animal companionship, family, and perseverance. Little Willy enters his beloved dog, Searchlight, into an Iditarod-like dog race to try to win money to save the farm of his ailing grandfather, with whom he lives. But, as luck would have it, Little Willy and Searchlight are racing against Stone Fox, the toughest and best – and most legendary – dogsled racer around. What happens next tugs the heartstrings, and holds a host of lessons for young readers about balancing the things that matter in the most difficult times.

TAGS: family, grandpa, dogs, pets, farms, wyoming, dog racing, dogsled racing, adventure, peril, trial, bravery, overcoming hardship, teamwork, friendship, fiction, chapter, P

Shiloh. R.

INFO: Naylor, Phyllis Reynolds. Shiloh. R. 1991.

DESC: This heart-wrenching story is a hard-hitting tale of a young boy named Marty who falls in love with an abused, neglected beagle – who just so happens to belong to Judd Travers. It’s a story of compassion, bravery, and, ultimately, standing up for what you believe in, even if nobody else does. More than that, it’s an evocative and complex portrait of life in an impoverished mountain town in West Virginia, and the ties that hold the community together. Perfect for 3rd graders edging up into deeper and more mature reading material – and for anyone with a heart for animals! Written in West Virginia dialect — or the author’s approximation thereof.

TAGS: family, west virginia, dogs, animal abuse, bravery, courage, poverty, rural living, mountains, nature, determination, compassion, animal welfare, pets, chapter, fiction, R

Henry and Mudge and the Long Weekend. J.

INFO: Rylant, Cynthia. Henry and Mudge and the Long Weekend. J. 1992.

DESC: Henry and Mudge turn being bored on a nasty weekend into a spectacular adventure, thanks to an old refrigerator box and a little imagination from mom & dad! This book is a good transition to reading longer chapter books for students working up from F&P books because of its familiar subject matter and carefully placed challenge words.

TAGS: henry and mudge, henry, mudge, dogs, castles, adventure, boredom, families, crafts, fun, creativity, J