Module 12: Odd Boy Out: Young Albert Einstein by Don Brown

odd-boy-out-300x285Title: Odd Boy Out: Young Albert Einstein

Author: Don Brown

Illustrator: Don Brown

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Published Date: 2004


Albert Einstein was gifted from the very start. He was more than anyone knew how to handle. He was bored with normal school classes and his teachers thought he was dumb. Little did they know, he was more than they could ever imagine. A genius.

APA Reference:

Brown, D. (2004). Odd boy out: Young Albert Einstein. New York, NY: Houghton Mifflin.


I can’t believe I didn’t know Einstein was German. Being German, I feel I should have know this. I now have an excuse for being lazy when not wanting to do homework, etc. I bored with these mundane tasks…give me more! Ha! I wish, but I did learn a lot about Einstein!!

Professional Review:

Brown maintains a delicate tension between his accessible presentation (a straightforward text and uncluttered illustrations) and his extraordinary subject (the legendary twentieth-century physicist whose complex ideas revolutionized science and daily life). For someone whose name is synonymous with genius, Albert Einstein’s early years were far from auspicious. Brown carefully and effectively summarizes events, choosing telling details to paint a portrait of an introspective child who struggles in school and whose frustrated teachers wonder if Albert is “dull-witted.” In the somber watercolor and ink illustrations, young Albert’s physical separation from other figures emphasizes his psychological disconnection from the goings on around him (as do his almost-always-closed eyes). Brown introduces Einstein’s famous theories with a light touch, keeping the focus on the boy/young man. The book’s message about different ways of and approaches to learning is clear and will surely be appreciated by the intended audience. An author’s note debunks a few myths surrounding the man and his work, and a short bibliography rounds out this inspired picture-book biography.

Flynn, K. (2004). Odd boy out: Young Albert Einstein. Horn Book Magazine, 80(5), 604-605.

Library Use:

There are stereotypes and preconceived notions about certain types of people. Einstein takes a couple of those and shows that it matters more about the person and that stereotype. Just because you don’t do well in school doesn’t mean you aren’t smart. You may not be challenged enough. Learning about past geniuses will make us more accepting of modern day smarty-pants’!


Module 9: The Trouble with Chickens by Doreen Cronin

Book Title: The Trouble with Chickens

Author: Doreen Cronin

Illustrator: Kevin Cornell

Publisher: HarperCollins

Published Date: 2011


J.J. Tully is a retired detective dog. He was sent to live out his retirement at the farm. Little did he know that his detective work would be needed here almost as much as on the job. A story packed with chickens and an evil dauschand will have the reader laughing and turning the pages.

APA Reference:

Cronin, D. (2011). The trouble with chickens. New York, NY: HarperCollins.


This is a cute read that took me an hour to read. The drawings are fun and the story is short and sweet.

Professional Review:

Popular farmyard chronicler Cronin (Click, Clack, Moo: Cows That Type, illustrated by Betsy Lewin, 2000, etc.) makes the jump to middle-grade fiction in this faux-hard-boiled mystery featuring talking animals. Her deadpan humor is much m evidence as she describes the circumstances under which retired search-and-rescue dog J.J. Tully undertakes the case of the missing chick. Puns abound, and J.J. is definitely not quite as clever as he believes himself to be, allowing readers to gently laugh at as well as with him. Sophisticated vocabulary and a complicated plot suggest the older range of readers as the most likely audience, but frequent illustrations and a relatively large font should make the story accessible to the younger end as well. Cornell’s black-and-white drawings extend both the humor and the action. In some pictures J.J. is slightly reminiscent of Scooby-Doo, another canine sleuth, while in others he is both distinctive and dogged in his determination to solve the puzzle. The chickens, mother and four chicks, are seriously silly looking and utterly adorable, which suits their surprisingly rounded characters just right. Finding out how ‘Wince the Funnel” fits in, whether J.J. is being double-crossed by his client and how the climactic rescue will be resolved should keep readers engaged while Cronin’s constant word-play will keep them giggling. Fast and funny.

(2011). The trouble with chickens. Kirkus Reviews, 79(4), 307.

Library Uses:

Learning how to be detectives can be fun. This story is a good start to show how mysteries can be fun and entertaining.

Module 6: The Day Dirk Yeller Came to Town by Mary Casanova

Book Title: The Day Dirk Yeller Came to Town

Author: Mary Casanova

Illustrator: Ard Hoyt

Publisher: D&M Publishers, INC

Published Date: 2011


Dirk Yeller is known to be one mean guy. Anytime he comes into town her messes things up and makes people fear him. Well, Dirk Yeller has come to this town. The people don’t want him there and try to get him to leave. The only one that seems to get through to him is the librarian. I wonder why?

APA Reference:

Casanova, M. (2011). The day Dirk Yeller came to town. Dongguan City, China: D&M Publishers, Inc.


This book was awesome. To think that some people can be grouches just because they can’t read or learn is an awesome idea. Not awesome as in great, but awesome as a new idea. If we treat people kindly, there is a million possibilities as to their response.

Professional Review:

K-Gr 2 A small Western town quakes in terror at the arrival of the notorious outlaw, Dirk Yeller. Unable to fulfill his demands, adults frantically refer him to someone else, until young Sam finds a solution to Yeller’s difficulties. The child understands about being fidgety and jumpy because he often feels that way himself. He asks Yeller, “If I can show you how to stop your itchin’ and twitchin’ and your jumpin’ and rattlin’–will you promise to leave our town in peace?” Suspiciously, Yeller agrees. The solution lies at the public library, where librarian Miss Jennie finds just the right book to sooth Yeller’s restless nature. Terrific watercolor and pen and ink illustrations provide plenty of visual humor. Sure to be hit at storytime, this Wild West tale will keep children laughing as it delivers its message about the power of books.

Whitehurst, L. (2011). The day Dirk Yeller came to town. School Library Journal, 57(7), 62.

Library Uses:

This book shows how if you take the time to get to know and understand people, they aren’t what they may seem at first.

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