Written by Roxane Orgill
Illustrated by Stéphane Jorisch
Buy on Amazon
Most youngsters are interested in show business and the movies, but few reading at the fourth grade reading level are familiar with vaudeville or one of the most famous movie dancers of all time, Fred Astaire or his sister, Adele, his dancing partner for three decades. This rich biography, beautifully illustrated, can be a good read aloud book as well as good for children with comprehension at the fourth grade level to read on their own.
Footwork: The Story of Fred and Adele Astaire is a fascinating biography of people who began their professions at such a young age, readers will find it hard to believe. At a time when child labor laws were nearly non-existent, young Fred and Adele traveled by train with their mother from Omaha to New York City. After more training in the art of dance, they donned costumes and began their careers singing and dancing on stage. They were only five and eight, Adele being the older. Times were so different then. No radios or television existed, and although there were movies, the movies had no sound. People went to the theatre to see live performances by all kinds of artists – jugglers, singers, talking dogs, trick bicyclists and more. That was vaudeville. Fred and Adele were right in the middle of it. They did two shows every day. At the end of each week, they would pack up and travel with their mother to another town to do it all over again. The only friends they had were each other. They couldn’t go to school, but their mother taught them their subjects. Things were not always easy and their careers stuttered when Adele grew into a young lady and Fred, small for his age, was left behind. However, they persevered and went on to be big stars. Adele hung up her dancing shoes when she was still relatively young, and that was when Fred changed gears and moved on to even greater fame.
The back of the book contains further readings, as well as suggestions for listening to recordings of Fred and Adele and a website (www.AlsoDances.net) that is a dedicated Fred Astaire site. There is also a good list of suggested videos. Candlewick Press, the publisher, offers a short author interview at http://www.candlewick.com/authill.asp?b=Author&pg=1&m=actlist&a=&id=0&pix=n&dlisbn=0763621218. The author has a webpage (http://www.roxaneorgill.com/) with some tips on becoming a writer.
- Title: Footwork: The Story of Fred and Adele Astaire
- Author: Roxane Orgill
- Illustrator: Stéphane Jorisch
- Publisher: Candlewick Press
- Reviewer: Rosi Hollinbeck
- Paperback: 48 pages
- ISBN: 978-0-7636-6440-2
- Genre: Biography, Picture Book, Non-fiction
- Lexile Score: 1040
Written by Jessie Haas
Buy on Amazon
Saige is about to start fourth grade. Everything should be great yet she and her best friend seem to be growing apart. Add to that budget cuts and her favorite subject, art, is being canceled. Her grandma suggests that Saige can do something to stop that, but then she gets hurt.
This is an excellent story involving realistic conflicts that young 4th grade level readers, particularly girls, face every school year. The language is sometimes challenging, but the plot is easy for the reader to comprehend and the characters are easy to relate to for this level. And what fourth grade reader doesn’t love horses or stories about horses?
Budget cuts are something that most everyone understands. Saige faces the possibility of giving up art and current fourth grade teachers must decide on the most appropriate books for the classroom. Saige is an excellent book for free reading and reading for pleasure. Teachers should encourage students to choose this as a fun and enjoyable book as a personal choice, but it may not be worth the price for the classroom. It is not necessarily a book that works for boys, nor does this book offer the historical references that may work in a general classroom setting.
That being said, this is well written and covers many aspects of family life, the emotions of a fourth grade reader, and the relationship of a grandmother and granddaughter. If money for the classroom library is not a problem, this is a great choice to promote reading for pleasure and wholesome family relationships. It also does well to encourage students to use critical thinking skills to solve real life problems.
- Title: Saige (American Girl Today)
- Author: Jessie Haas
- Publisher: American Girl Publishing
- Website: www.americangirl.com
- Reviewer: Terri Forehand
- Genre: Juvenile fiction/girls/horses
Written by Marion Dane Bauer
Illustrated by C. B. Canga
Buy on Amazon
Mr. Geo is on the move again in Celebrating New York. This time he is taking a trip to the state of New York. On this visit, he goes to Times Square, the Statue of Liberty and Niagara Falls, just to mention a few places. He even goes to the 86th floor, which happens to be the top, of the Empire State building. Many people think of New York City as just a bunch of buildings and skyscrapers, but Mr. Geo shows us that is not the case with Central Park being right the middle of Manhattan. This park takes up several city blocks with carousels, horseback riding, museums and even a zoo. How’s that for city living? Even the site of the World Trade Center is mentioned, along with the new construction of the One World Trade Center.
Celebrating New York is loaded with fun facts and illustrations of not only New York City, but other parts of the state, too.
While written for fourth grade reading, other elementary grades would also enjoy this book. There is also a page of activities, at the end of the book as well. Geography, history and fun trivia facts about the state of New York are all covered in this one book. The author has also included a glossary page as well. Students will develop further reading skills by using Mr. Geo’s trip as a jump start to some further research and discovery of the state.
- Title: Celebrating New York
- Author: Marion Dane Bauer
- Illustrator: C. B. Canga
- Publisher: Sandpiper Publishing
- Reviewer: Cheri Liddy
- Paperback: 36 pages
- ISBN: 978-0-547-89781-3
- Genre: geography, history