August 30, 2009
Kateand Jim McMullan have collaborated in their new book, I’m Bad. They share an informational narrative through the voice of a dinosaur. Oh, no any dinosaur – a “I’m REALLY bad” dinosaur, “scare-the-tails-off-all-the-other-dinosaurs BAD.” I love the voice that comes through this book; so will your kids! The dinosaur explains his physical features and appetite desires. The large illustrations give you a feel like you are watching a movie.
I was totally surprised when the dino isn’t able to capture his food. The design of the page is a lift up, to which you discover Mom. The dino who has been talking to you, the reader, is just a toddler dinosaur who is learning to hunt.
I cracked up at the scene of mom’s kill being dropped for her offspring. “Awright– takeout!!” Can’t you hear a kid say that?
Savorings for reading and in writing for I’m Bad:
- Persuasive – sharing all the ways the dino is bad
- Hyphenated words – “triple-digit, kick-a-whomper STOMPERS“
- Surprise ending – the dino is just a toddler
- Voice – speaks to the reader
“Did you just call me BABY ARMS? Long as yours, pal–
20 times stronger.
Think about it…. Are you BIG?”
(Warsaw Public Library)
August 28, 2009
Cats have nine lives; dogs do not. When I pulled the book at the library, I was puzzled by the title, The Nine Lives of Dudley Dog. It immediately got me questioning. How can a dog have nine lives? Throughout the story, your students will be wondering – what’s going to happen next?
John and Ann Hassett spin a tale that begins with a little girl’s, Sister’s, birthday. Sister’s heart is set on having a cat. Mistakenly, a dog appears from the gift box. The illustrated faces show the apparent distaste and dismay for the dog. Dudley doesn’t seem to care. He springs from the window on a wild chase after… a cat.
A mathematical twist is added to the story. In each scene, another cat is added to the chase. The number symbol representing the number of cats is on some object on the page.
Symbolism is sprinkled in as Dudley creates an accident, a life-threatening situation. A repeated scolding occurs from the passerbyers.
Firefighters plucked Dudley from the smoke. “Bad dog,” scolded a fireman. “Do you think you have nine lives like a cat?”
The ending left me questioning, slightly puzzled, wondering. Rereading is essential. Dudley runs into a circus and chases “cats with stripes”. One tiger is licking his lips. Hmmm…. Upon turning the page, a cat with similar markings to Dudley, returns home to Sister – making her birthday wish come true.
Savorings for reading and in writing for The Nine Lives of Dudley Dog:
- Repeated structure
- Asking Questions – Even the cover picture makes you wonder. After reading the story, I had to reread and connect the clues. The title page helped me to connect (at least speculate) the answer to the ending.
- Rereading for comprehension
- Math – numbers sprinkled in with each scene
(Warsaw Public Library)
August 26, 2009
The title of the book caught my eye – The OK Book. In my pressured days, I often feel like I have to be master of all and yet I know that I am just OK at many things. Well, OK is just fine; it’s just OK. Amy Krouse Rosenthal and Tom Lichtenheld have teamed together to create this delightful book about being average, OK, and feeling good about it.
The character in the book is a stick figure created with the circular O and the K turned sideways underneath it.
The character talks to you and explains that it likes “to try a lot of different things.” It proceeds to say it enjoys it even though it’s not a master of them all.
I shared this book with a fourth grade class this past week. A sense of “I’m OK” spread across their faces. We have just started school, and the book put them at ease as I shared how being just okay was fine. We were going to work at subjects and skills. Some they would be better at than others, just like in the book.
Savorings for reading and in writing for The OK Book:
- Pattern Book – each page shares some that the character is OK at
- Class Book activity – everyone could make their own OK page and compile them
- Voice – the character talks to the reader
- Community building
(Warsaw Public Library)
August 24, 2009
Steve Jenkins brings nonfiction concepts to life. He often uses cut-paper collages to create his illustrations. His author/illustrator’s fingerprint is the life-size pictures. Steve often focuses in on some particular feature that captures a child’s curiosity. I’m curious.
I just found the book Looking Down(1995). It is a wordless book that space and map skills. I love the way he zooms in starting from outer space. The reader begins on an asteroid or rock looking at the moon and earth – both small in back ground. The next page, the reader is on the moon, looking at the earth. As you continue to turn each page, the focus zooms in on a smaller section of the page before. On the back of the book, Steve states that the map is not of a real town but resembles one that would be on the East Coast between Maryland and South Carolina.
I think this book would be a good background book for any age, high school included, when studying geography. As a teacher, this books brings an airplane experience to life. The book ends with a child looking through a magnifying glass at a ladybug. It brings new meaning to observation of our world.
August 22, 2009
Pamela Duncan Edwards is a queen of alliteration, her author’s fingerprint. The word play mingles humor into the storyline. View her interview about why she uses alliteration and also her collaboration with Henry Cole. The kids will enjoying seeing the video clip as well. The Worrywarts begins with Wombat asking Weasel and Woodchuck to go “wander the world.” The three begin to choose specific necessities for their travel.
“But then Wombat began to worry. “WAIT!” she wailed. “WHAT IF…”
Wombat proceeds to share her worries that are illustrated as a visualization – a thought bubble. Weasel and Woodchuck follow suit, stating their worries each time they are ready to “wander the world.” Once ready, they begin their wandering. Incidentally danger does await them. Each time, the provisions they had brought along me the need to help them escape. A fun text to read! (You may need to practice reading the book as the alliteration creates a tongue twister effect. :) ).
Savorings for reading and in writing for The Worrywarts:
- Repeating Structure – each character shares his/her worries
- Visualization – Henry Cole illustrates the character’s thinking through thought bubbles; you could read a page to them, let the kids visualize and then show the illustrations.
- Predicting – Ask the children what they think will be happening next, especially as the text gives you clues along the way.
- Lots of Questioning – what if…?
- Magic of 3 – “We’ve walked a long way,” said Wombat. “I’m weak and weary,” said Weasel. “I’m worn out,” said Woodchuck.
- Alliteration – the use of W
August 20, 2009
Daniel Pinkwater must have enjoyed yo-yos during his childhood. He has created a fun story of determination. Yo-Yo Man is definitely a boy read. The storyline has conflict, action, and a desire to be number one. I must admit that it’s not a book I personally love; but I know my sons and they loved it.
The story begins with a bullying incident. Kids deal with this issue more than we’d like to admit. The book could be a springboard for talking about the issue. The boy does not let the bullying keep him down. When the yo-yo man comes and performs a spectacular show, the boy determines to be the best yo-yo contestant. He works hard, practicing over and over. A parallel story is happening within the classroom. His teacher loves spelling and he’s intimidated. Once again, he determines to be the best student possible and practices. Wouldn’t we like to have him in our class?
Savorings in reading and in writing for Yo-Yo Man:
- Persuasion – Ramon: the yo-yo champion does a demonstration and the kids go wild. He hands out a book – free of charge – with the tricks. “On the back is stamped – Available at Bill’s Toyland.”
- Comma in a Series – “I buy a smooth, shiny, heavy, perfect, beautiful, genuine deep red one.” “They are spinning and bobbing, whizzing and bouncing, sailing through the air.“
- Sensory detail – “The strings make a whispering, humming sound.”
- Alliteration – “And for good measure, I am going to memorize more spelling words than anyone else and make mincemeat of Mrs. Mousetrap.”
- Ending with Magic of 3 – “Do I have to say it? I am perfect. I am beautiful. I do every trick, right to the end, right to the double flip-flop flying bouncing sleeper.”
(Warsaw Comm. Public Library)
August 18, 2009
Ralph Fletcher newest children’s picture book is titled, The Sandman. He takes a child reader on a fantastical magical tale. A little man named Tor has difficulty sleeping. He happens upon a dragon’s scale, which he takes home and begins to file. The dust sprinkles on him causing him to sleep. Upon waking, he’s delighted with his finding.
I love the way Tor doesn’t just selfishly keep the potion for himself; he thinks of other children who might need help sleeping too. What a great avenue into discussing the topic of sharing and caring for others – especially in the classroom community. Since he uses the scale dust, Tor must find the dragon and collect more. Risk-taking is weaved into the story. Ralph’s word painting will have the children on the edge of their seat, visualizing the movie being read.
Savorings for reading and in writing for The Sandman:
- Setting Change – “At first all was quiet. But then he felt a change in the air. A sudden gust of hot wind made his throat dry. He heard the terrible flapping of wings.”
- Talks to the Reader (voice) – “Now you know how the Sandman lives. Suddenly your eyes fell so heavy….”
- Beautiful Language
- Predicting – Tor goes on several adventures
August 16, 2009
I enjoy learning how the authors are inspired to write their books. I often will share that information with my students to show them different ways ideas spark. Often the authors gather ideas from everyday happenings. The author, Susan Steggall, shares on her book jacket that “her boys, and their fascination with vehicles of all kinds, inspire her work.” Young children could definitely connect with the book, The Life of a Car.
Each two page layout illustrates the scene with bold, classic colors. The text is simple – a three word sentence. Young writers will relate and feel as if they can write like the author, Susan.
Savorings for reading and in writing for Life of a Car:
- Circular text – “Recycle the car. Then start again and build a new one!“
- Vocabulary – write with specific verbs
- Sequence of Events
- Voice – “CRASH! Uh-oh….”
- Illustrations extend the story
- Informational – a great mentor text for All About Books
- Schema – When discussing reading strategies, talk to children about everyday activities. This text connects nonfiction into the world of schema.
August 14, 2009
Mo Willems will capture the children’s attention (especially boys) with his book, Leonardo the Terrible Monster. I find the illustrations interesting as he uses the negative space to add to the mood of the characters, Leonardo and Sam. I know most of the time we focus on the text of a book, but in this case, I think it would be interesting to hear what the children’s thoughts are in regards to the illustrations. Although I am not an art teacher, I do believe that young children can share so much through their illustrations.
I recently have been reading a book about boys and literacy called Bright Beginnings for Boys. One specific quote has struck me and I’ve been noticing the books a little differently.
“It is not just the illustrations or the text. It is the combination of the two that enhances the comprehension. Synergy.”
Mo Willems combines the illustrations and text to create the synergy that will enhance the comprehension in boys. He uses colors that appeal to boys. The use of quick conversational text mirrors typical young male verbal interaction. All in all, it’s a great text that the children in your class will enjoy.
Savorings for reading and in writing for Leonardo the Terrible Monster:
- Asterisk – uses the punctuation to teach a footnote: 1,642* *Note: Not all teeth shown
- Reference – showing that research takes time and use of several resources; Mo uses his illustrations to help support this point
- 2 page spread – Sam is wailing his heart out; his older brother picks on him.
- Bully – kids definitely can relate to this issue of being picked on – either by a sibling or with students in school
- Character change – The decision Leonardo makes would be a great springboard for discussing the change that he made (Why did he choose to change? How will this relationship help him? How does this apply to us?)
(PES Library; Warsaw Library)
August 12, 2009
I have been learning how powerful wordless books can be for readers. When I read a wordless book, I have to reread it to gain all my understanding. Anti-bullying lessons will be taught throughout the year. The Last Laugh is a wordless book that could be used with all ages. Each age group can synthesize the message.
The Last Laugh, written by Jose Aruego and Ariane Dewey is a cute text that will deepen the children’s understanding of bullying and add a little humor too. A snake thinks it’s funny to sneak up on a character and hiss. The hissing noise surprises the character, who jumps. The snake gets a good laugh. When hissing at a duck, the duck flies into the snake’s mouth. When the snake’s friends come by and hiss, the snake only has a quacking sound coming from his throat. The tables turn as the snake friends begin to laugh. More trouble arises as the snake continues to quack.
Savorings for reading and in writing for The Last Laugh:
- Surprise Ending
- Stretching a Scene
(PES Library book)