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Picture Book: Secret Place by Eve Bunting (Clarion Books 1996)
Eve Bunting is a master at painting pictures with words, and this book is no exception. With the help of vividly realistic artwork by Ted Rand, Bunting tells the story of a group of city dwellers who have found a small slice of nature hidden within the bustle of an urban landscape. The book is ripe with imagery and would be an excellent choice as a read-aloud. The author describes the sights, smells, sounds, etc. of the big city and juxtaposes them with the calm of the small natural oasis, making this a great book to use to introduce setting as a story element.

Novel: Love That Dog by Sharon Creech (Harper Collins 2001)
April is National Poetry Month, after all, so I felt compelled to include a novel that is written in verse. This might seem to be a simple book about a boy named Jack who doesn’t want to do the poetry assignment he is given in school, but it is so much more than that. Creech is able to convey so much emotion in the sparse amount of words that she has carefully chosen. This book will especially appeal to boys, who will easily be able to identify with the protagonist. Recommend this charming novel to any and all high third-fifth graders who are looking for something new and different.

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