Ivan the Terrier

August 27, 2011

Ivan the Terrier is a unique mix of story within a story. The narrator, Peter Catalanotte, is reading a fairy tale to the reader when all of a sudden, Ivan interrupts the script. His barking startles the story characters while the narrator is trying to control his dog.

You students will have fun predicting what mischief will happen next. Ivan is full of energy, running from one scene to the next. The text is hilarious.

Savorings for reading and in writing for Ivan the Terrier:

  • Font Manipulation – creates the sounds of the dog
  • Voice – “My word. I’ve never seen anything like this,”
  • Interjections
  • Problem/Solution
  • Surprise Ending



Author: Rosemary Wells

August 25, 2011

Author Tidbits: a Pleasing Bit of Information

Rosemary Wells has a passion for literacy. She promotes reading to young children, writing select stories for kindergarten children. Her Ruby and Max series is based on conversations she would hear her daughters share when they were little. The setting of the stories are familiar places children can relate to – home and school.

Her website has several helps for teachers and fun activities for children. She has three more videos in the Parents & Educators section explaining her two young adult novels. You will find some teacher guides for several of her picture books. She addresses a letter to parents, explaining the importance of reading to their child and the educational impact it will have. Some of her books are on video as well..

View her video clip below. She shares where her ideas come from and how her dogs play a role in her illustrations.

Rosemary Wells also shares about her child hood through this video. You will see pictures of her when she is young. I’m sure your students will enjoy seeing the author as a young girl.

Rough, Tough Charley

August 24, 2011

One of my favorite YA novels is Riding Freedom by Pam Munoz Ryan (drawings by Brian Selznick). The story lingers with me. I love historical narrative. I’m fascinated with stories of people who triumph over difficulties. I’m encouraged. I was thrilled to find a picture book about the character in Rough, Tough Charley by Verla Kay.

In Riding Freedom, a young orphaned girl escapes and survives looking like a boy. She, Charley, is a horse-whisperer and survives by living in a livery stable. Eventually, Charley learns to drive a stage-coach and becomes an expert driver.

When I saw Rough, Tough, Charley at the library, I knew the picture book would be about the same character. Verla Kay recreated the narrative through poetic stanzas. The text form is not what I expected a delightful change. Adam Gustavson recreates the western setting brilliantly with his paintings, adding to the mood.

I highly recommend reading this book and using it to build background knowledge on the pioneer west, women’s rights, and poetry verse structure.

In the back, a timeline is shared with a short synopsis of important events in Charley’s life. I learned more about the character ad now am comparing/contrasting to the novel’s portrayal.

Savorings for reading and in writing for Rough, Tough Charley:

  • Biography – great way to show how genres and forms can be mingled
  • Poetic narrative – I like the short conversation integrated in the text.
  • Background Knowledge – women’s rights (Charley voted when women could not.)
  • Word Choice
  • Inference – lots of discussion around the character, Charley

Warsaw Community Public Library new book

SOL: Who Signed Me Up for This?

August 23, 2011

School has begun. The first day of school I spent some time helping in a kindergarten class. The students were putting their supplies and beginning a coloring paper at the table. One little boy kept getting out of his seat and walking around. On Back to School Night, he had introduced himself to his teacher. “I Dominick. I 5. I run” and proceeded to run around the class.

After thirty minutes into class, the teacher had the children on the carpet, reading a story. Little Dom got up, tapped his teacher on the shoulder, and pronounced, “I done. You take me home now.”

I stifled a laugh.

After sharing the story with my senior son, he said, “He’s got a loooong educational career ahead of him.”

The Bookshop Dog

August 22, 2011

The Bookshop Dog intrigues me. I found the book at a used bookstore. It’s not new (copyright 1996), but new to me.  Cynthia Rylant is not only the author but also the illustrator. As I read the book, I kept wondering where she got the idea for the book. A dog-lover will relate to this book.

A young lady takes her dog everywhere, even to work. She owned a bookstore and name it after her dog, Martha Jane’s bookshop. Her customers loved the dog and business was flourishing.

A dilemma  arises when the lady has to go to the hospital. Several customers wanted to keep Martha. It was Martha who chose her handler – one man who visited the bookshop weekly. I think this book is a great example of how a decision creates the problem in the story.

Savorings for reading and in writing for The Bookshop Dog:

  • Play on words
  • Magic of 3 – postman, policeman, band director
  • Problem/ Solution
  • Character traits

Winston the Book Wolf

August 19, 2011

Marni McGee theme in Winston the Book Wolf is the love of reading. Winston the Wolf feeds on words. He loved eating books. When banned from the library, Rosie(with a familiar looking red-hooded sweatshirt) came to his rescue. She asks why he eats books.

Words are so delicious!”

Ian Beck interweaves characters from familiar fairy tale stories – the Three Little Pigs, Little Red Riding Hood – throughout the setting. Winston transforms into Granny, the Story Lady, who reads at the library. What a great way to start the school year, inviting kids into the world of reading.

Savorings for reading and in writing for Winston the Book Wolf:

  • Spin on a familiar story
  • Problem/ Solution
  • Character emotion
  • Vocabulary
  • Magic of 3

Dirk Yeller

August 17, 2011

Dirk Yeller is a cowboy with itches in his britches! People are nervous around him. When Dirk asks for help, no one seems to have the solution … except for Sam. Sam is curious and begins following Dirk everywhere. He seems to understand Dirk’s energy and shows him to his quiet place – the library.

The Day Dirk Yeller Came to Town by Mary Casanova shares the importance of the library and how reading can capture a variety of interests. Ard Hoyt adds more to the story on the end papers. In the front, you will see the wanted poster, including Dirk’s profile. In back, the newspaper announces Dirk and the librarian wed. What a change reading had on this character!

“And ever since, the library has become the busiest place in town, especially for folks curious, restless minds – like Dirk Yeller and me.”

Savorings for reading and in writing for The Day Dirk Yeller Came to Town:

  • Magic of 3
  • Voice
  • Transitions
  • Similes – “sweet as pecan pie
  • Apostrophe – ‘cuz, shootin’

Warsaw Community Public Library new book

Charlie Cook’s Favorite Book

August 15, 2011

This book is creative and fun. As the school year begins, you want to engage your students through read alouds, enticing them to revel in the joy of reading.  Charlie Cook’s Favorite Book by Julia Donaldson will grab the daydreaming child’s attention and show him a creative way to read. The reading and writing connection is linked through this storytelling text.

The end papers display a bookshelf with books, which foreshadow the events in the story. Each two page layout links one scene to the next. As Charlie begins to read those books, the reader views the illustrations through Charlie’s eyes. One story leads to another, which leads to another, and eventually circles back to Charlie reading a book. Fun! I think your boys will find this book interesting and funny.

Set in a poetic, rhythmic rhyme, the reader is carried away on an adventure in every scene. The humor sprinkled throughout will delight all our listeners.

Savorings for reading and in writing for Charlie Cook’s Favorite Book:

  • Circular ending
  • Transitions
  • Love of Reading – it’ an adventure!
  • Humorous
  • Foreshadowing

Will You Read to Me?

August 12, 2011

Denys Cazet pens an adorable narrative that will capture an book lover’s heart. Hamlet, the pig, loves to read and write. With a notebook in hand, Hamlet notices his surroundings and writes. His sensory description captures the beauty of the moment. His sentiment for literature is not shared by his family, though. As Hamlet consistently asks, “Will You Read to Me?‘,  his pig parents seem to be interested in other daily activities, such as eating.

Searching for someone to share his poetry with, Hamlet takes to interacting with his reflection. Unbeknown to him, an animal audience listens and asks for more. Surprised, yet pleased, Hamlet obliges.

Savorings for reading and in writing for “Will You Read to Me?”:

  • Hybrid text – narrative with poetry inlaid
  • Sensory Detail
  • Living like a Writer
  • Child-like conversation
  • Past-tense verbs – shouted, shoved, pushed
  • Magic of 3 – “The breeze rattled the cattails, brushed Hamlet’s face, and then it was quiet.”

Authors/Illustrators: Janet Stevens and Susan Stevens Crummel

August 11, 2011

Author Tidbits: A Pleasing Bit of Information

Janet Stevens and Susan Stevens Crummel write with a conversational, humorous voice in their books. When engaged in their books, you will feel as if you are having a conversation with them, or at least are sitting listening to them read their books. Harcourt interviewed them about their book, Jackalope. They share some sisterly information your children will enjoy.

Susan Stevens Crummel is the older of the two sisters. She has several teacher tip activities linked to her books. For example, her book, My Big Dog, has lesson ideas on perspective and differences. She has pictures of family photos, including her sister, Janet Stevens.

Janet Stevens has illustrated many books. On her website, she shares about her illustrations and has a slide show of pictures of herself when she was little. In her “stuff” section, Janet has a link titled “Blue Jay Reading Group”. She writes a letter to 3rd graders, sharing her story becoming a reader. I love her line “Jump into a book like a cool swimming pool on a hot summer day, and feel it all around you.” What a great way to encourage your students to read. View the YouTube video about one of their newest books, The Little Red Pen.