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 13, 2008
The age old question from children, “Are we there yet?”, causes parents to just sigh. Even Hollywood jumped on the theme and created movies from it. We can all relate.
Eve Bunting grabbed hold of the question and created a book with a more somber mood. How Many Days to America?: A Thanksgiving Story is about a family from the Caribbean who flee the country. The story is told through the oldest son’s viewpoint. Kids can relate. They have listened to their parents whisper in the night like these children. Hopefully, most kids have not had to go through the difficulties that this family goes through.
I believe twe need to teach our chldren to be compassionate to others and to be grateful for what we have. Eve Bunting has created an avenue for discussion on this issue through this book. She has also authored other books around sociological issues. Using picture books, you can promote conversations and provide an avenue for synthesizing the story. (Fly Away Home is another book to share.
Eve Bunting dedicates the book to “The children who came and to Marilyn Carpenter who shared their stories.” I wonder who they are? What I do know is that their stories inspired her to write this book. Share that with your kids.
Side note: I came across a website that has some teacher plans on multiculturalism. It gives more detail that relate to How Many Days to America?: A Thanksgiving Story. http://www.palmbeach.k12.fl.us/Multicultural/curriculum/Haiti/4th%20Days.pdf
Savorings for reading and in writing for How Many Days to America? A Thanksgiving Story:
- Wonderings – How would it feel to leave all your special things behind?
- Inference – “‘I must have your wedding ring’, My father told my mother. (…)She did not speak.”
- Repeating line – “How many days to America?”
- Tension – “We were an hour from shore when the motors stopped.”
- Connection/Compare – “Long ago, unhappy people came here to start new lives.” Compare to the present day settling of the refugees coming to America.
November 10, 2008
As we think about Veteran’s Day, picture books can help children relate to historical events. Eve Bunting creates an honored respect for those who have served and lost their lives through her book. The Wall. A young father and his son go to visit the Vietnam War Memorial Wall. They are in search of someone, someone special – the young father’s father. The narrative is shared through the eyes of the young boy. He wants to meet his grandfather. Eve Bunting’s words command moments of silence and reflection. “My dad stands very still with his head bent.”
When I read this book, a lump comes to my throat and tears fill my eyes. I can’t help it. Emotion wells up. Whether I agree with why our country is at war, my heart bleeds for those who have given their lives for my freedom, for the freedom of my children. Eve Bunting kneads her words, creating strong emotion. Children will relate and gain a better understanding of why we honor our veterans. I have a signed copy of The Wall by both the author and the illustrator. Listen to what they say.
Eve Bunting: “The wall is for all of us!”
Ronald Himler: “Live in such a way that we will never need another wall like this one.”
See an interview with the author: Eve Bunting.
Savorings for reading and in writing for The Wall:
- Theme – respect and honor
- Strong emotion
- Show don’t Tell – “Dad’s rubbing the name, rubbing and rubbing as if he wants to wipe it away.“
- Setting matches the mood – “bare trees behind us and the dark, flying clouds”
- Symbolism – “The wall is black and shiny as a mirror. In it, I can see Dad and me.“
- Simile – “The letters march side by side like rows of soldiers.”