The school year is up and running – five weeks into the year.  Teachers are beginning to stress about midterms that are due in a week and half.  Parent-teacher conferences begin two weeks from today, and the to-do list seems to be never ending.  School- a job that requires so much more than teaching academics.  As a literacy coach, I’m meeting with new and veteran teachers, reflecting on what is work and what is not.  Kids are the heart of what we do.  I mentioned to someone today that there is never a “free – normal” week.  Something is always coming up.

When I have to juggle many things here at school and add the schedule of a 3-child home, my mind sometimes has trouble focusing.  I feel like I have an attention problem; I’m having trouble focusing on one thing.  It’s hard to slow down and relax.  I guess that’s why the book title, Stuck in the Mud, caught my eye at the library. 

Stuck in the MudJane Clarke, along with illustrator Garry Parsons, has created a fun pattern book.  The rhyming narrative begins with the mother hen being frantic.  One chick is not accounted for.  She searches and to her dread, finds him stuck in the mud.  Being the responsible mother that she is, she searchs for help.

I love the way Jane Clarke jumps the reader into the action with her vivid verbs. 

The barn door burst open.  “Wake up!” squaked the hen. 

The hen jumbs in after her chick and… gets stuck.  So needing help, the cat comes to the rescue.  And…gets stuck.  Another call for help causes each animal to jump in and…get stuck.

Dog pushed and he pulled again and again…but soon he was stuck iwth the cat and the hen.

The ending just made me laugh.  The mother hen is trying so hard to help her chick and the rest of the rescuers come to help as well.  In the end, the chick is self-sufficient.  She has never been stuck, only enjoying playing in the mud.  She pops out and leaves the rest stuck in the mud. 

It made me reflect that I as a teacher, or mother, will often see a problem and jump in.  I don’t stop to think that maybe if I give him/her a little time to explain.  Conferencing is like that.  You want to jump in, looking at how to help the piece.  Stop.  Wait.  Wait some more.  Wait for the kid to tell you what he/she needs.  They might not be stuck at all.

Savorings for reading and in writing for Stuck in the Mud:

  • Setting Introduction – “Early in the morning, down on the farm, a new day was dawning, peaceful and calm.”
  • Schema – farm with animals (Ok this fits with Indiana at least)
  • Every Day Happening – mud; getting stuck; problem-solving
  • Illustrations – sid bars to introduce the next animal
  • Surprise Ending – the chick wasn’t stuck; he thought it was fun to play in the mud.

(Warsaw Comm. Public Library)


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