Picture Book: Gabriella’s Song by Candace Fleming (Atheneum 1997)
I seem to be favoring the more descriptive and poetic picture books lately, and this book is no exception. The story takes place in Venice and its star is a little girl named Gabriella. At the beginning of the story, Gabriella hums a tune that is inspired by the noises of life in the city around her. Friends and neighbors each pick up the simple tune as Gabriella walks the streets and each person reacts differently to the music. The song finally finds the ears of a local composer who turns it into a beautiful symphony that touches the hearts of all in the city. Borrow some instruments from the music teacher and let the story inspire your students to feel the music!
Novel: A Lion to Guard Us by Clyde Robert Bulla (Harper Collins 1989)
It is really difficult to find good historical fiction that is written for younger elementary students. This book, which takes place during colonial times, is a good fit for your higher 2nd-lower 4th grade readers. The story is full of adventure as a group of siblings travel on their own from England to Jamestown after their mother’s untimely death. The family, led by older sister Amanda, are determined to find their father who they believe to be in America. With only their wits and the lion’s head doorknocker that Father gave them when he left, they must make it through some treacherous situations to arrive in their new home.