More Information.
More details.Hide details.

Curriculum Materials Center

  • Print
  • 2008 Comstock Read Aloud Honor Books

    Mrs. Marlowe’s Mice written by Frank Asch, illustrated by Devin Asch, and published by Kids Can Press.

    Mrs. Marlow's MiceThis father-son team, who created Mr. Maxwell’s Mouse, offer yet another suspenseful story of cats and mice. On the surface, this focuses on Mrs. Eleanor Marlowe, a cat who works at Purrington Street Library. When Mrs. Marlowe returns home after a day of work, readers learn that she leads a “secret” life. She provides a safe haven for a large family of mice. Grandpa Paul reminds his family that Mrs. Marlowe gives them a place to live “at great risk to her own welfare.” After a snoopy neighbor complains that she might be harboring mice, Catland Security officers arrive to inspect her apartment. Readers will notice mice hiding everywhere. When young Billy Joe accidentally reveals himself, Mrs. Marlowe acts quickly to save the mouse family.

    The sepia-tone illustrations, created in Adobe Photoshop and Corel Painter, are a mix of realism and surrealism. The close-ups and various perspectives add to the story’s suspense. There is a serious message beneath this suspenseful story that will not be lost on those who examine the illustrations closely.

    Children from fourth through sixth grade listened to this book with great interest. They appreciated the well developed characters, found the “weird” plot unique and interesting, and liked the surprising twist at the end.

    Both Frank and Devin Asch live and work in Vermont and Hawaii, with Devin, also a skilled photographer, adding California to his list of abodes.

    Henry’s Freedom Box written by Ellen Levine, illustrated by Kadir Nelson, and published by Scholastic Press.

    Henry's Freedom BoxThis fictionalized biography is based on the life of Henry “Box” Brown, a Virginia slave, who had himself mailed to Philadelphia to gain freedom. Kadir Nelson used layers of watercolor and oil paint over crosshatched pencil lines to create heartbreaking visuals of Brown’s life. Cutaways of the box personalize Brown’s journey. Readers wondered how Brown could have ever survived twenty-seven hours in such a small, cramped space. Henry finally smiles on March 30, 1849 when the box is pried open and he celebrates his first day of freedom.

    Adults found this book to be a great read aloud. The story captivated children in second through sixth grade, who kept moving closer to the book as it was read. It inspired them to ask many questions and led to discussions of slavery and the Underground Railroad.

    Author Ellen Levine lives in New York City and Salem, NY, while illustrator Kadir Nelson lives and works in Los Angles, CA.