November 26, 2008
The title, Read all About It, jumped out at me when I was looking through some of the newer books at the library. Then, seeing the authors’ names, Laura and Jenna Bush, I was intrigued a little more. I know that the First Lady use to be a librarian and loves books, so I wasn’t too surprised to see how a library is tied into their book. Jenna is a teacher and author, something I was enlightened on.
The story begins with Tyrone Brown. He is more interested in playing than reading. His teacher, Miss Libro, has a definite different viewpoint. She sees the library as a place of adventure. “You never know who you’re going to meet in a good book.” He is not interested in listening to the daily read aloud until… one day, his classmates are so attentive, he actually listens. When he does, characters from the book begin to appear in the room.
I love the font in this book. when a character speaks, the font is larger and in the illustration – without the speech bubble frame.
Denis Brunkus illustrations capture snapshots of the adventurous children. One each two page spread, you will notice a blackboard behind the teacher. Flanked on either side, you will notice a “Read All About It Book List” and also the classroom rules. With each new holiday, the book list has several titles listed within that category. More rules are added to the list with each surprise read aloud scene.
Checkout the Harper Collins’ website about the book. You will find some tips on helping reluctant readers.
Savorings for reading and in writing for Read All About It:
- Voice – Tyrone speaks to the reader in first person narrative
- Book end – the book closes with a link to the beginning; close to a circular, but not quite
- Love of Reading – you can feel the teacher reaching out to her children
- Library – and adventurous place
- Ordinary moments – taking an ordinary day at school and making it exciting with a read aloud
November 23, 2008
For all cat lovers, Pilgrim Cat by Carol Antoinette Peacock is the book for you. It’s about a little girl named Faith and a cat named Pounce. Faith is sailing on the Mayflower with her family to the New World, and a stray cat boards the ship, chasing a mouse. Throughout the voyage, you get a glimpse of the struggle Faith and the Pilgrims went through. Befriending the cat, Pounce helps Faith through some difficult times.
In the author’s note in the front sheds light on how the idea for the book began. While visiting Plimoth Plantation, a cat was noticed by the author’s daughter. Through research, Carol learned that cats did travel the Mayflower to the New World. (And dogs did too.)
Savorings for reading and in writing for Pilgrim Cat:
- Background knowledge – fun but rich read a loud; an interesting twist in regards to the Mayflower voyage
- Magic of 3 – repeatedly used throughout the story; “On the way home, Squanto stopped suddenly. He crouched beside a hollow log. Wordless, he beckoned to Faith.”
- Transition – from one setting to the next; passage of time; from one difficulty to the next
November 21, 2008
Alison Jackson creates a twist in her book, Thea’s Tree. A young girl, Thea, is asked to do a scientific project for four weeks, making observations along the way. The story transpires through a series of letters between Thea, her teacher, and other experts as she hypothesizes about her tree. Alison Jacksonthrows in humor with clues, keeping the reader wondering and interested as to what tree has sprouted.
This account is written through letters – first to her teacher and then to specialists. Thea is diligent in making frequent observations, even drawing her findings. As an objective scientist, Thea measures, ponders clues, and speculates on her findings in her letters. A purple seed is planted, and what seems ordinary, becomes very quizzical. Thea speculates it to be a “purple African rubber plant” to a “giant redwood.”
As a fun read aloud, this book helps to build background knowledge in scientific observation. Alison Jackson throws in humor with the clues, keeping the reader wondering and interested.
Savorings for reading and in writing for Thea’s Tree:
- Letter writing – each closing is unique; colon in the greeting
- Alliteration – expert names with their jobs: “Zoe Zimmerman Zoologist“
- Occupations – curator, botanist, orchestra director
- Foreshadowing/predictions – sounds, objects from above
- Scientific observation – measuring, factual description, speculation
- Hybrid text – interweaves a fairy tale with in the illustrations and clues;letter writing, narrative, science theme
November 18, 2008
Having a son who eats, breathes, and sleeps baseball, my eye catches books about the game. Historical fiction is a favorite genre of mine, so Oliver’s Game was a treasure find. I was even more thrilled when I noticed the Chicago Cubs were featured.
“Oliver Hall loved baseball. …and he loved listening to Grandpa Hall’s wonderful stories about what he called the Golden Age of the Game.”
The story begins with Oliver finding a Chicago Cub’s uniform in an old trunk. “Every item in this shop has a story to tell,” Grandpa Hall would say. After questioning his grandpa, Grandpa shares his story through a flashback. He was 18 and asked to practice with the Cub team at the end of the Cub’s season. Matt Tavares explodes the moment when ‘the rookie’ hits the ball. You can feel his spirits soaring as his dream was coming true.
But the story takes a turn when World War II begins. He joins the marines. Upon turning the page, you see a young uniformed soldier on crutches in the dug out. Your spirit as a reader cringes when you read, “After that, I stayed away from Wrigley Field.“
Grandpa Hall shares how he struggled and then opened Hall’s Nostalgia. Flashing forward, the story ends with them ready to watch the Cub game from his rooftop.
Savorings for reading and in writing for Oliver’s Game:
- Exploding the Moment – “A shock ran up my arms as the bat struck the ball head on.”
- Childhood memories – In Matt Tavares’s illustrator’s journal Dec. 16, 2001, he stated that “Hall’s Nostalgia is a tribute to a baseball card store I spent many a Saturday afternoon when I was a kid.” I find that fascinating! Kids need to know that authors take ordinary every day activities and weave them into their stories.
- Internal struggle – being close to his dream
November 17, 2008
If you enjoy scrap-booking, then you will want to read this creative text in The Most Thankful Thing by Lisa McCourt. A daughter finds her mother reflecting on what she is thankful for. Her daughter’s curiosity sparks the question, “In your long, long, long life, what are you the very most thankful for?” Cleverly, her mother has her guess, sending the daughter to get her scrapbook.
Cyd Moore uses the background of the text as the black-based scrapbook pages. He then blends the current conversation and reflections on the pages with bright thought shots.
This hybrid text becomes unique as you read picture captions and labels to bring meaning to the stories shared. The mother always adds, “But even if...” adding a grand prospect, she closes with “it wouldn’t have been as great as my very most thankful thing.“ As the scenes of the young mother’s life pass by, the daughter finally gives up. “Your most thankful thing must be awesome! It must be amazing!“
At that moment, her motherly love pours out as she acknowledges her daughters birth as being her “most thankful thing.“
As I’ve reread and reflected on this book, my first thought was “this is a book for parents. It’s motherly love.” But then, as I savored and looked deeper, I did find nuggets to help teach our children. I view this book as a resource to teach concepts during conferencing.
Savorings for reading and in writing for The Most Thankful Thing:
- Savor the moment
- Time-line – highlights important scenes in a life
- Summarizes events
- Questioning – child-like curiosity explodes through this text, probing for more answers
- Conversation – back and forth
- Notebooks – personal scrapbooks of meaningful moments
- Thought shots
November 16, 2008
During this Thanksgiving season, have a discussion about the Native American’s perspective on the holiday. Having heard the author speak once at NCTE, Joseph Bruchac wishes to keep the Native American culture alive. He brings to light one Native American’s, Squanto’s, perspective through his first person narrative, Squanto’s Journety: The Story of the First Thanksgiving.
Joseph has an author’s note in the back, which gives some historical background to Squanto’s life. We often read about he Pilgrims’ side of the story but rarely the Native American view. Squanto was a vital piece to the Pilgrims’ success.
Squanto flashes back to how he was captrued, taken to Spain, and then returned six years later. The first-person narrative summaries the trials of making peace and being cautious with the Pilgrims through the eyes of Squanto. The vivid paintings by Greg Shed create a natural effect. I almost feel like I’m watching a movie through his creation.
Joseph Bruchac is a great story teller from the Wampanoag Native nation. Storytelling has been a part of his culture since the beginning, sharing heritage from one generation to the next. We need to remember to pass along our stories to our next generation. these stories honor the ones we love and teach our children lessons learned.
In the end of the book, the feat of the first Thanksgiving is celebrated. All are thankful for the great harvest and also for the friendship between the English and the Indians.
Joseph Bruchac ends through the words of Squanto, “I pray that there will be many more such days to give thanks together in the years that follow.“
Savorings for reading and in writing for Squanto’s Journey:
- First-person narrative
- Reflection – “Though much was changed, I knew that I at last had returned to the land of my home.”
- Character traits – Native Americans, Pilgrims, Englishmen
- Compare/contrast – to other books, between the ways of the Pilgrims and Native Americans
November 15, 2008
As I take a picture walk through the book Peepers by Eve Bunting, I’m drawn in to the colorful scenery illustrates so poetically by James Ransome.
Two sons accompany their dad on the Leaf Peeper Tours. They are not enthused, but dutifully help their father. To pass the time, the story is sprinkled with their kid-like antics. “Behind their backs Jim moose-prances and makes antlers with his fingers.” The boys are amused as the tourists sigh and ooohh about autumn’s beauty.
Time passes and in the end, both boys begin to notice nature in its winter’s newness. Both seem surprised, embarrassed, as they realize they’ve become like the Peepers.
Savorings for reading and in writing for Peepers:
- Descriptive – “Aspens shower gold into the water.”
- Similes – “Our bus crawls slow as a caterpillar.”
- Kid’s realism – “Jim about busts laughing.”
- Show don’t tell – “Jim and I roll our eyes.”
- Passage of time – beginning of autumn until the leaves have all fallen
- Science – different types of trees: “shagbark hickory trees, red-feathered sumac, speckled adlers“
November 14, 2008
Barbara Seuling shares the transition from fall to winter in the book Winter Lullaby. The book’s structure is set as a question/ answer style. Greg Newbold illustrates the simple text with such vivid illustrations.
They almost look like photos.
I love the way that nonfiction information is presented to the reader by asking the reader to think. “When the breeze blows the petals off the flowers, where do the bees go?” Upon turning the page, the reader is answered: “Inside their hives till spring arrives.“ I love the choice of words that bring to live nature’s science: “When white frost creeps across the country meadow…”
Savorings for reading and in writing for Winter Lullaby:
- Dependent clauses
- Prepositional phrases – “across the sky“
- Time passage – fall to winter seasons
- Science – hibernation, seasonal changes