Feathers Not Just for Flying

February 26, 2018

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Melissa Stewart brings nonfiction alive. In FEATHERS Not Just for Flying, she uses similes to compare the uses of feathers to common objects. View the video of Melissa sharing what similes are and how she uses them in her book.

Each two-page spread features the bird on one side with a simile sentence describing how the feather benefits the bird. For example, feathers are like sunscreen, help them float, carry items, keep them extra warm. A text box explains the feather’s use in more detail. An added bonus is the geography reference, siting a place the bird can be found around the globe.

Colby Sharp asks Melissa Stewart why kids need to know the five types of nonfiction texts. View the YouTube video here (9 min).


Savorings for FEATHERS:

  • Similes
  • Definitions
  • Hybrid text – text boxes
  • Geography – links the birds to areas around the globe
  • Uses of feathers
  • Author’s note

The Story of Charles Atlas: STRONG MAN

February 9, 2018

Angelo Siciliano came to America as a boy, immigrating from Italy. Who knew he was going to become the World’s Most Perfectly Developed Man? The Story of Charles Atlas: STRONG MAN will stir kids’ heart and challenge them to make good choices.

Image result for the story strongmanAngelo was skinny and weak, but he wanted to change. He was tired of being bullied. By observing lions at the zoo, he invented a routine that increased his muscle size. Through perseverance and determination, Angelo grew stronger. His nickname was Charles, and his friends added, Atlas, after the Greek god who was said to have strong shoulders holding the heavens. Atlas promoted exercise, fitness, and good character.

Meghan McCarthy invites kids into the biography of a man who still impacts us today. I love the author’s note, sharing a memory from her grandfather and giving an insight into the America folk hero.

Listen to the audio story on this link from Meghan McCarthy’s website.

Savorings for The Story of Charles Atlas: STRONG MAN:

  • Overcoming Difficulty
  • Perseverance
  • Exercise Fitness
  • Determined to Succeed
  • Character Counts – strong and honest
  • Comic Frames

Author: Joy Cowley

February 16, 2012

Author Tidbits: a Pleasing Bit of Information

I love the book, The Red-Eye Tree Frog by Joy Cowley. It’s text is rich yet compact. I use it as one of my touchstone texts. As I often do, I began to research the author a little and realized she has many, many books.  Joy Cowley began her writing career as a newspaper editor for children’s stories at age 16. When her child had difficulty with reading, she created some literature for him to enjoy. Now she has written over 400 books.

On Joy’s website, she writes letters to her readers. The letters give you insight into her writerly life and update you on new books. I find it fascinating she writes to her audience. If a student is interested in writing her, she will reply.

Joy Cowley shares tips on being an author that can apply to children. One quote is worthy of being reminded of:

“Above all, enjoy every part of the process. Writing can seem like hard work but it is very satisfying. It also empowers us.

View the YouTube video (4 min.) below and hear Joy Cowley read one of her books, Mrs. Wishy Washy and the Big Wash. You can find several other books she narrates by doing a Google her.

Introduce your students to Joy Cowley in the below YouTube video (23 sec.). Kids are interested in seeing what the author looks and sounds like. Her New Zealand accent is enjoyable.

Author: Nic Bishop

February 10, 2012

Author Tidbits: a Pleasing Bit of Information

Like these working conditions?

Nic Bishop uses his camera as his illustration tool. His photographs are dynamic and detailed. He has written over 60 nonfiction books.  The photographs are great for sharing with students and building their background knowledge of the books and biology. Nic Bishop describes his research for each book in three ways: from his educational training including information from his biologist father, from observation in nature, from reading several books including textbooks at universities.

The photography Nic Bishop uses is amazing. On his website, he explains the camera techniques with brilliant photos as examples. My favorite insight is how he worked with and eventually tamed a frog for the perfect action picture. With a camera lens, he is able to focus on something tiny and zoom to a full page photo. Watch the below YouTube video (2 min.) of Nic Bishop sharing how he works in nature and in his lab.

For an animated book review, the YouTube video brings spiders front and center. Although I am not fond of spiders, the photographs are fascinating. Your young science readers will love this book.

Author/ Illustrator: Henry Cole

December 8, 2011

Author Tidbits: a Pleasing Bit of Information

Henry Cole is better known for his illustrations, but is an author as well. Henry has a created a lusciously illustrated chapter book in  A Nest for Celeste. The story takes place in the 1820s in Louisiana where Audubon and his assistant spent time observing birds in their natural setting.

On Henry’s website, you will find a fun tab for your students in Elmer’s Art Room. Henry Cole has collaborated with author, Pamela Duncan Edwards, on several books.  Your students will enjoy meeting Henry Cole during his video clip.

Henry Cole illustrates Celeste the mouse in a minute and a half. Wow!

In an interview, Henry explains how the theme of A Nest of Celeste is about friendship. He use to have field mice as pets when he was a boy and he loves animals. View a short interview (almost 5 min.)  for a Florida Book Award 2010. Henry shares where his ideas came from and some of the pages of the book are seen.

Author: Nancy Carlson

December 1, 2011

Author Tidbits: a Pleasing Bit of Information

Nancy Carlson is a fun author/illustrator of more than 60 children’s books. Our guidance counselor uses several of Nancy Carlson’s books as she sprinkles each book with a message of encouragement, hope, and affirmation. With today being a snow day and the busy season ahead, I was reminded of  Nancy’s book, Take Time to Relax.

Nancy celebrates imagination and creativity . In her interview, Nancy quotes a kindergartener saying,

‘An illustrator is the person who writes the pictures.’ For them, the pictures tell the stories.”

To connect with her community, Nancy blogs her doodles daily at blog.nancycarlson.com . She explains her ideas and shows you her doodles. In her website, you can sign up for a newsletter from Nancy and find some lessons for community building.  Young writers and illustrators will enjoy “meeting” the author and seeing her work in progress in the YouTube video below.

To learn how to draw one of her characters, Henry, watch the 2 minute YouTube video that follows.

Nancy talks directly to her young audience about bullying in the below 1 min 30 sec video clip. Henry and the Bully features how first graders learn to ask for help and solve a problem with a bullying issue.

Enjoy learning about Nancy Carlson and introduce your children to situations they connect with.

Author: Marilyn Singer

November 10, 2011

Author Tidbits: a Pleasing Bit of Information

Author Marilyn Singer is someone who I have just met. Well, I haven’t met her personally, but I have just stumbled upon one of her brilliantly authored books, What is Your Dog Doing? (I posted about this book yesterday.)

Teaching children the importance of authors adds to your writer’s workshop community. As I learn to read like a writer, I want to know how the writer crafts her books as well as where she gains her idea. By learning from the authors, I often find springboard ideas for my writing. Kids do to.

When you read a book to your class, many times a child or two will become excited and have a connection. Books, stories, illustrations spark memories and ideas for each of us to write about.

I guess that’s why I fell in love with the book, What is Your Dog Doing? Although the text took Marilyn a while to rhyme and craft perfectly, the idea behind the book is something young children can relate to.

Then, I noticed the grammar of the book – many pages have two-word sentences. This book will be great to use with upper grades when you teach the Smack Down sentence activity by Jeff Anderson. (Diane, I thought of you when I read this book.)

Marilyn is well-known for her poetry. She has a section on her website with Ten Tips to Writing Poetry. Looking through her website, I found a book I do know and didn’t realize Marilyn was the author, Prairie Dogs Kiss and Lobsters Wave.

Other tips on her website are as follows:

Take some time and learn from the author, Marilyn Singer. I’m impressed.


Author: Kevin Henkes

October 13, 2011

Author Tidbits: a Pleasing Bit of Information

Kevin Henkes’s books create a springboard to build classroom community. Your students will think of several self-to-text connections that will invite class discussions. These connections will also lead to stories they relate with and can write about. One book focuses on accepting others in Chrysanthemum. View the below trailer (45 seconds) to introduce the book and spark predictions.

Greenwillow interviewed Kevin Henkes about his new book, Little White Rabbit. They produced a 2 minute video focusing on the writing process. Kevin shares how he rereads his text several times to make sure the words sounds exactly the way he wants it to. Kids need to hear authors revise by rereading, a simple yet necessary way to help their writing.

The fall season reminds me of the book, Old Bear. Click on the link to read an older post and the savorings you can use with this book.

Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse is one of my favorite books. Kevin Henkes molds an everyday event into a story of forgiveness and restoration. Lilly is a young student who embraces school. She loves the activities and adores her teacher. Mr. Slinger creates an environment of fun and creativity. I love how Kevin Henkes highlights writing and drawing by have a learning station in the classroom.

Author: Margie Palatini

September 22, 2011

Author Tidbits: a Pleasing Bit of Information

Margie Palatini breathes her voice into her books. On her website, she describes her books as the “laugh out loud sort.” Her website is filled with a ton of information. She has a section on her inspiration, using an equation to best describe her ideas. Activities for students are included to have fun and explore their creative talents. For teachers, Margie has included several study guides and reader’s theaters.

On her video below, learn how she became an author and gained her ideas for The Web Files. She shares how the idea for her new book blossomed into  Hogg, Hogg, & Hog. It’s fun to hear her in person.

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.