Much Needed Vacation

July 29, 2009

Will Return on August 4

Hello Readers,

I have been so motivated to write this past month due to you, the reader.  Many of you have been introduced to Book Savors through TwoWritingTeachers.  I thank my friend, Ruth, for believing in me and being a great sound board for our teaching.

My family is headed to Ohio for a much needed vacation.  We leave today,Wed. and will be gone until next Monday.  At that time, school will be beginning for me.  I will be reading and writing about wonderful books while vacationing (I cannot go anywhere without some), but I will not be entering any blogs until August 4.  Check back with Book Savors then.  I look forward to hearing how you have been inspired by any of the texts and how you will be using them within the classroom.  Happy Reading!

Until August 4,



Cowboy Clues

July 27, 2009

Ever played What am I?  In the game, you  give clues to your audience, going from the least known clue to the more popular.  Andy Rash has created a children’s book that uses the games frame work.  I’m thinking of using this text with the primary classrooms as a pattern book.  I also see this being a great mentor text for the upper elementary students who have great background knowledge in a subject area.  They could create fun books for kids with the knowledge they know following the structure of this text, Are You a Horse?

Roy, the cowboy, receives a saddle as a present.  He is given instructions to get a horse, but he does not know what a horse is.  So, Roy’s adventure begins as he looks for the horse.  As he meets different objects, he asks the repetitive question, “Are you a horse?” to which the ‘thing’ says ‘no’ and gives a clue to what a horse is.

For example, Roy first meets an old wagon, who says:  “A horse is a living thing.”  Next he meets a cactus, who says:  “A horse is an animal.”  It continues through clues of legs, color, being clean, fast, etc.  Excellent text to help with categorizing in the area of science.

Savorings for reading and in writing for Are You a Horse?:

  • Repeating line/structure
  • Hybrid text of sorts – mystery with clues; informational with facts; narrative
  • Surprise ending – you have to read it to believe it
  • Adjectives – each object/animal Roy meets is described with two adjectives:  “A skittery, pinchy thing ran sideways in front of Roy.  It had plenty of legs.”  “Roy came to a tree with a feathered, hooting thing on a branch.”
  • Bold lettering for voice – Roy was very upset.  “WHY CAN’T I FIND A HORSE?” he shouted.

A Boy Read

Must-Have book

(Warsaw Public Library)


July 24, 2009

Robin Pulver and Lynne Rowe Reed collaborate (again) to create a wonderful text that helps teach a complex spelling skill.  In Silent Letters Loud and Clear, the font and characters show how many English words have a silent letter.  As the story is being told, the silent letters are outlined and not filled in.  For example, in the word ‘one’, the ‘e’ is shown with an outlined font.

“Practice, practice, practice!  Good spellers are made, not born!” said Mr. Wright.

Lynne Rowe Reed captures the attention of children with her vivid cartoon figures.  Even the text is in different shades.  I definitely believe this book can increase the retention of spelling silent-lettered words.

Silent Letters Loud and Clear


When the children complain how difficult spelling is, their teacher, Mr. Wright, suggests they should write a letter to the editor.  As they finish, the silent letters decide they will do away and the letter to the editor becomes a disaster.

Savorings for reading and in writing for Silent Letters Loud and Clear:

  • Letter to the editor – the children receive a response to their email
  • Persuasion
  • Spelling – importance of practice
  • Silent letters – final e, k, w, gh, b, p, a, l, h
  • Personification – the mixture of an everyday happening (school) with a non-living objects (letters)  becoming characters

Also check out these other books by Robin and Lynne:


July 21, 2009

Happy 16th Birthday to my oldest son, Wesley!  He loves baseball, and I cannot imagine how many hours I have spent at the baseball diamond, park, or backyard watching him play.  He has been an enjoyment!

Being drawn to the sport, I collect baseball stories.  I was intrigued with this book when I visited the bookstore earlier this spring,  Michael’s Golden Rules.  Knowing the excellent text, Salt in His Shoes, I was delighted with the storyline in this new one.  Michael Jordan shares some insight into his winning attitude as he addresses the reader with a page-length introduction.  Michael shares that he is best known for his basketball skills, yet baseball was his first pick.

Michael's Golden Rules

Michael shares that he always felt like a winner because he followed the ten golden rules.  Those rules helped him on the court and in life.  Deloris Jordan and Roslyn Jordan give us a snapshot into Michael’s little league days.  His friend, Jonathan, is having trouble with playing and so his uncle shares the rules.  The text gives you snapshots of the boys talking about the game and life and applying the rules.  Although they do not win the big game, Jonathan feels like a winner.

I’ve learned it takes heart to come out a winner every time, whether you win or lose. MJ

I read this book to a fourth grade class this past spring, and they enjoyed it.  The boys were attentive and listened.  We talked about how the rules could be applied to the classroom.  It is an excellent text for building classroom community as well as boosting their self-confidence in learning.  Here a few of the rules:

  1. Pay attention to the coach at all times.
  2. Be a team player.
  3. Practice a winning attitude.
  4. Learn from your mistakes.

Savorings for reading and in writing for Michael’s Golden Rules:

  • Stretching the important scenes
  • Character traits
  • Internal Conflict and thinking
  • Play by play sections – this is a good mentor text for kids who like to tell about the “entire” game.  It shows how to fast-forward over slow parts and stretch the important scenes with conversation and internal thinking
  • Teaching perseverance

Favorite Room in the House

July 19, 2009

Home holds many memories.  Stories can come alive from those memories.  Let’s Go Home:  the Wonderul Things about a House is a spring of ideas to help your kids.  You can use this text to reference throughout the year from  kinder to high school.

One way to introduce the book is to just read the text without showing the illustrations.  Cynthia Rylant invites the reader to remember.  Kids could bring their notebooks to the rug and after reading about a particular room, they could jot down stories ideas they recall from their home.  You could do this over a week’s time, only reading a couple of rooms at a time.  I would use this book when conferencing as well.

And if ever a kitchen is the most perfect place in the world to be, it is when cookies are being baked.

Believe it or not, a bathroom can be the most interesting room in a house.

Wendy Anderson Halperin illustrates the book with such detail that using an Elmo to enlarge the pictures would be an added touch to your lesson.  My eyes cannot help but wander through her illustrations; they are so inviting.  With the many details, more ideas come to mind.  Wendy definitely was able to weave Cynthia’s words into her paintings, bringing the text even more vivid to the reader’s mind.

Savorings for reading and writing for Let’s Go Home:

  • Everyday happenings
  • Mapping – have the kids map their home, yard, favorite place, neighborhood; have them focus on one room and enlarge that setting.  You could extend this activity to the school setting for more ideas.
  • Setting Lead – “It is evening and the crickets are singing…let’s go to the PORCH.”
  • Feelings – “In a kitchen, people will pat each other on the back, ….  It is the room that reminds people to look after each other.”
  • Voice – Cynthia talks to the reader, inviting him/her to recall or to see

Cat vs. Dog

July 18, 2009

Golden retriever dogs are my favorite.  They are beautiful, gentle, and loyal.  So when I saw the cover of My Big Dog, I immediately picked it up.  Janet Stevens and Susan Stevens Crummel  have created a fun read with excellent voice.  Children will love hearing the voice of the cat and will laugh at the illustrated scenes.

Return to product information

The story is told through the eyes of a cat named Merl.  He loves his people and is very content to be the center of attention… until one day when his people bring home a puppy.  I chuckled and laughed “hearing” the cat’s perspective.

Here come my people.  They are picking it up.  They are talking to it in cutesy, smootsey, lovey-dovey baby voices.  Uh-oh.  It sees me.  Emergency alert – I have to hide!

Poor Merl.  He does not like the puppy and to his astonishment, the puppy keeps growing and growing and growing.  Making an ultimatum, Merl the cat decides to leave his home in search of another more suitable place to reside.  And, thus his unfortunate quest begins.

Savorings for reading and in writing for My Big Dog:

  • Voice – the cat speaks to the reader
  • Repeating Line and Structure – “PANT.  PANT.  SLURP.  It’s licking me with its sloppy, drooly tongue.  Yuck.”
  • Adjectives – wiggly, noisy, slurpy, clumsy puppy
  • Perspective – “My name is Merl and I am a cat, a very special cat.”
  • Everyday happening – Children often have pets that they write about.  Nudge them to try and write from the pet’s perspective.  This book is based on Janet Stevens’s pets, the real Merl and Violet.


A Slave’s Hero: a Dog

July 16, 2009

I stumbled upon this rich text in the new book section at the library.  The underground railroad is a standard in social studies for fourth grade.   Sharing this story may help bridge history with something familiar – a boy and his dog. 

Elisa Carbone wrote Night Running:  How James Escaped with the Help of His Faithful Dog (illustrated by E.B. Lewis).  It’s based on a true story of James Smith, a runaway slave.  James decided to confide in a friend about his plans to escape.  Unfortunately, his friend betrayed him and he was caught.  James’s dog, Zeus, stayed close by and helped him escape his captors.  Although James was thankful, he worried that Zeus would make too much noise.

Zeus didn’t follow.  No, sir.  He ran on a head.  And noisy?  He made more racket…

This book is excellent for teaching students to focus in and highlight the most important parts.  Time upon time, Zeus saved James’s life, alerting him of danger and helping divert attention.  I was on the edge of my seat.  Eventually, James had to cross the Ohio River to freedom.  He hugged his dog for the last time and began to cross, only to be saved by Zeus again.

Boys like to see themselves as being fearless.  Night Running captures the sense of adventure, courage, and perseverance.  It also taps into the bond a dog has with his boy, as James loves his dog, but he is not willing to take Zeus.  Internal character conflict arises.  I had to reread parts to gain better understanding, visualizing the scenes and feeling the conflict.

Savorings for reading and in writing for Night Running:

  • Voice – you can almost hear James talking to Zeus and letting you into his head
  • Repeating Line woven in text –   Zeus was good at that.
  • Personification –
  • Simile – droopy as an old mulethrew that switch down like it was a rattlesnake on fire
  • Hyphenated words – good-for-nothings; fired-up mad; sweet-smelling