Testing the Ice

January 31, 2011

My daughter Eliz is celebrating her 14th birthday today.  We had a fun weekend going to the mall, dinner at a favorite Mexican restaurant, and movie with a friend.  Elizabeth shares her birthday with a special person – Happy Birthday Sam!

Eliz and Sam share their birthday with a historical figure who I greatly admire – Jackie Robinson.  Jackie not only was a great baseball player.  He displayed true character of courage under fire.  When I think of my sons playing baseball, I want them to have the same determination and focus that Jackie had.

In years past, I have posted other books about Jackie Robinson.  This year, I found another book written by Sharon Robinson, his daughter, and illustrated by Kadir Nelson.  Kadir has the most distinct, stunning paintings for his illustrations, vivid and bold.  I love them.

Testing the Ice by Sharon Robinson: Book CoverTesting the Ice A True Story about Jackie Robinson is a story told through his daughter’s eyes.  It’s story about courage outside the ball park.  It’s a story about Jackie facing a fear for his family.

Jackie Robinson bought a home in the country with a river that brought lots of enjoyment to the family.  Even though his children would do their best to coax him to come out and swim, Jackie never did.  He was afraid of the water.  This story takes place in the winter after a hard freeze.  The children want to go ice skating and beg their father to let them go.  Jackie gives in, but first he ventures out onto the lake to check to see if it is safe.  As Jackie is walking out their, his daughter realizes the courage her father is showing to them.

Savorings for reading and in writing for Testing the Ice: a True Story About Jackie Robinson:

  • Memoir – lessons learned told through the daughter’s point of view
  • Character Thinking –  Mr. Rickey asked Jackie some tough question about playing for the Brooklyn Dodgers.  Jackie shares his thinking, decision-making.
  • Foreshadowing – throughout the book, Sharon shares how Jackie would never go into the water.  The reader understands that Jackie cannot swim.
  • Magic of 3 – “out the sliding glass doors, down the back stairs and down the hall
  • Character building – courage

I’m a Truck Driver

January 27, 2011

When I saw the new book, I’m a Truck Driver, the cover illustration grabbed my attention.  I knew my young boys would love the book.  A giant semi is on the front with a little boy at the wheel.  His dog is riding shotgun.  The book shouts, “Fun! Adventure! Imagination!”

I'm a Truck Driver by Jonathan London: Book CoverAnother bonus is the author, Jonathan London.  I’m never disappointed with the books he has authored.  Jonathan brings rich language for young children to grasp and use.  Like his famous fun Froggy books, Jonathan London adds some rhythm and rhyme to this text that children will enjoy reading.

David Parkins’s illustrations are large and lively.  Each machine has a personality personifies a child.

Savorings for reading and in writing for I’m a Truck Driver:

  • First person point of view – each machine introduces itself and what it does
  • See Saw text – first the girl is with her machine, then the boy with his
  • Onomatopoeia – “I’m a Garbage Truck driver.  Screech, thump, grind, bump!”
  • Mentor text – children can explain their object through the structure of this book
  • Vivid Verbs

PES and WPL new book

The Snowman’s Path

January 19, 2011

Helena Pittman created an adventurous tale of a friendship between a boy and a snowman.  Children can have  active imaginations.  Nathan’s imagination creates something extraordinary out of the ordinary.  A snowman appears and Nathan watches.  The snowman engages in child-like frolic, playing in the snow.  Nathan ventures out to watch.  Illustrator Rau’l Colo’n (illustrated My Mama Had a Dancin’ Heart)uses his exquisite pictures to add tension and feeling to the special narrative.

One night Nathan is brave and introduces himself.  Sharing cookies, they swap stories.  Each night their friendship grows.  Even with their closeness, Nathan realizes Sky, the snowman, needs someone; he seems lonely.  Nathan builds a female snow lade, and the two glow together.  A touching story of true friendship.

Savorings for reading and in writing from The Snowman’s Path:

  • Similes – “tumble down snowbanks, moving like an acrobat
  • Everyday happenings with imagination – playing in the backyard, “dug in the alley’s potholes for pirate treasure
  • Personification – “The wind sighed past the trees...”
  • Tension – “made my heart beat fast.  Suddenly...”
  • Passage of Time

Mrs. C

January 4, 2011

Due to a change in my position and personnel here at PES, my life has been bombarded with negativity.  I realized yesterday that I have to change my focus.  My sluggish and tired body mirrors my inner spirit.  I’m tired.  I’m tired of swimming through this negative hora that has been cast.


I decided to look for positives.  I’m normally a bucket-filling person who loves to laugh.  I enjoy making others feel good.  I seek joy.

My ears were attuned today as the first graders came out of the lunch room.  They battle being quiet going to the hallway, a procedure enforced.  Yet, my ears were attuned to the positivity coming from Mrs. C.  She amazed me with her control – all through positive comments.  “Issac, you are walking so quietly.  I know you can lead this class down the hallway.”  “Wow, look at Shane.  He is ready to go.”  “Remember you marshmallows as you go down the hall.  I know that Mrs. F will be so proud of you.”  And the little squirmy, talkative, in-their-own-world children were quiet.  They walked down and the praises followed. Wow.  What an uplifting moment!!