Where’s My TRUCK?

July 2, 2014

I enjoy children’s books. Some books are okay. Some books are great and some books are ones I will hang on to. Where’s my T-R-U-C-K? by Karen Beaumont is a gold mine. David Catrow’s illustrations caught my eye. His fun, unique colored drawings brings out the child-like fun. He draws the character emotions of the boy brilliantly, making me feel like I am right in the room. On the title page, the kick the little boy has just given the toys immediately makes you go, “Uh-oh. Somebody is NOT happy.”

I read this book during summer school to my kindergarten kids. They loved it. The figity boys were hanging on each page wondering what was going to happen next. The conflict in the book is an everyday happening. Kids relate to losing things. (I do. How many times have you misplaced your keys or phone?) Frustration wells up when looking for your lost item. Nothing else will appease.

The parents and siblings try to subdue him, but to no avail. The beginning starts:

Shhh!” I hear my parents say.

“Tommy’s not himself today. He’s lost his T*R*U*C*K!”

When reading the book, the kids would spell the word in a whisper voice or in a more intense tone depending on the character speaking. The kids loved being involved in the story. Each connected with a story of their own.

David Catrow uses the dog to be telling a parrallel story. Notice the items the dog is taking in each scene. After reading the book, I showed the kids the illustrations again. We enjoyed rereading the book again.

Savorings for reading and in writing for Where’s My TRUCK?:

  • Everyday Happening
  • Foreshadowing – watch the dog
  • Connect with the word family “uck”
  • Verbs and Nouns – a great way to teach younger (and older) children to identify the parts of speech
  • Voice


Superhero School

November 7, 2013

Superheros have been the theme lately. Our family loves the movies and are anxious for the new ones to come out. Our staff retreat this past August was titled: “I Teach…What’s Your Super Power?” Searching for books to match our theme was a fun challenge. One book,  Superhero School by Aaron Reynolds, hooked me in for an adventurous peril.  Andy Rash, author of Are You a Horse?, details a comic-book hero setting full of action that will ignite your students’ interest.

A boy read for sure as kids are the superheroes … of math. Yes, math. Leonard heads to school expecting to learn how to do incredible feats of saving. Instead, his teacher, Mr. Blue Tornado, has them learning multiplication, division, and fractions. Annoyed and a bit distracted with his own desires, Leonard learns a great lesson in using math within everyday experiences (everyday for a superhero that is). The savvy craft in this book will keep your kids’ attention and you all will enjoy the surprise ending.

I love the “kid talk” in this piece:

But then it hit Leonard like a giant mutant octopus.

A short YouTube video (less than 2 minutes) gives you a glimpse of Aaron. It’s not the best sound quality, but I still liked “meeting” the author.

Savorings for reading and in writing for Superhero School:

  • Repeating sentence structure
  • Magic of 3
  • Kid language – “...cooties had to be considered.”
  • Narrative with Math Connection
  • Vivid Verbs – revved up, recalculated

Fall Favorites

October 21, 2013

20131021-220637.jpgPorkenstein by Katherine Lansky is a fun book I read Friday to a groups of third grade boys. I have these three boys each day. Their reading skills are lacking and thus their interest in reading is lacking. My goal is to capture their attention and spark their interest in every day reading. It happened. “Mrs. Gensch, do you have another book like this one?” J asked. The other two listened.

20131021-220702.jpg I suggested The Hallow-wiener by Dav Pilkey, which brought laughs. They totally related with this book.

Although I am not in classrooms sharing literature as writing mentors, I am excited to still connect kids with fun literature that will capture their hearts.

A to Z Book Collector

June 5, 2013

Hello Book Lover,

My eye caught a fun read by Kelly DiPucchio called Alfred Zector Book Collector. I love collecting children’s books. My husband says I have a mini library in my literacy room. I smile and wish for one more.

Alfred loves books too. He finds comfort and laughter in books. Alfred is so zealous in owning books, he collects and trades with everyone. While Alfred is reading his books, the town has become dull. They have no books. One line that saddens my heart is

There were children who’d never been read to before!”

Oh my goodness, I love reading books to children. It’s their delight that inspires me to find more books. Currently I’m teaching summer school to fourteen kindergarteners. Reading a great book captures their attention and their faces light up. We are having fun!

Alfred realizes the joy of sharing a great book. With books from A to Z, the community awakens through his contribution.

Reader, know that I find joy in sharing a good book with you. May the children who’s lives you touch be blessed with a good book each day!

With a kindred heart,

Mary Helen

Savorings for reading and in writing for Alfred Zector Book Collector:

  • Rhythm and rhyme
  • Love of books
  • Community building – touches on not fitting in; sharing with others
  • Vivid Verbs
  • Passage of Time

Dino – Basketball

April 13, 2013

Dear Basketball Lovers,

Dino-BasketballBasketball Madness has finally settled, so I wish I would have shared this book in March. The author, Lisa Wheeler and illustrator, Barry Gott, created an energetic book for any month of the year. Dino-Basketball (pub. Carolrhoda Books Minn. 2011) will capture the children in the intense action, being an edge-of-the-seat spectator while turning the pages. I think this book is a great mentor text to show how to integrate topic vocabulary such as dunk, pivot, and dribble.

Lisa Wheeler is also very creative playing of lyrical words of “We will, we will, Chomp you!” You can almost hear the chant. Too cute! Boys will love this book.  Even the colors match – green for the Grass Clippers and red for the Meat. They of course have their basketball match up at Mastadon Square Garden.

Thought of you and hope you will enjoy reading this book to any primary classroom. Go to the author and illustrator websites that are linked. I found some interesting helps. (And, I found out they wrote a Dino-Baseball book. Can’t wait to read it!)


Savorings for reading and in writing for Dino-Basketball:

  • Hyphen and Dash usage
  • Vocabulary – specific topic words
  • Everyday Happening – basketball as viewed on TV using dinosaurs as characters
  • Action
  • Boy Read

PES book

Mouse Views: a Mapquest

April 5, 2013

Dear Tam,

I thought of you when I spotted this book by Bruce McMillan. I guess the photo of a pet mouse made me think of your book character. I also thought your grand kids would like this book. The pictures are photographs, magnifying articles found in a classroom. The name of the book is Mouse Views: What the Class Pet Saw. Each picture gives you a visual clue where the pet mouse is. Eventually, the mouse returns to the children.

In the back of the book, the author explains he thought of the idea after having lunch with some teachers. Map skills is hard to teach when introducing the concept in first and second grades. A map of the school is in the back, diagramming each place the mouse went. I could visualize classes doing this. Your grand kids to map out your house, backyard, or their home even.

My friend, Michelle, has a class guinea pig, and the door of its cage was left open just like the first page of this book. It made me think that classrooms could make up their own stories of a pet traveling around the school and make a fun map for new kids who come to school. Kids love taking pictures, so that could be added in as well. Just an idea.

Happy map making,

Mary Helen

Savorings for reading and in writing for Mouse Views: What the Class Pet Saw:

  • Map Skills
  • Prediction
  • Story prompt
  • Visual perception

Robot Fun

July 26, 2012

Browsing the library display, my eye was drawn to Clink by Kelley DiPucchio.The lone robot enticed me and I am so glad. This book is one I want for my collection. There are so many reading strategies, community building, and writing craft lessons that can be used with this book. Boys and girls will be delighted with the character and feel the emotion weaved throughout the story.

Clink the robot, illustrated by Matthew Myers, will connect with every child’s heart. He wants to be exciting, fun, and new like so many of the other robots in the store. Instead, he’s old-fashioned and not upgraded.The illustrated scenes remind me of a child who is looking on to the joyful happenings, wanting to be included, but not knowing how.

The book, Clink, has several underlying themes dealing with acceptance for who you are, not being good enough to fit in, or recognizing your talent. This book is a great way to introduce theme or author’s message and can be a springboard for discussing community with children of all ages. Click here to view a Vemo video book trailer.

Savorings for reading and in writing for Clink:

  • Onomatopoeia and Alliteration – Plink! Pop! Ping!
  • Magic of 3 – with sentences
  • Personification – relate to the thrown-out, non-updated robot
  • Theme – not being good enough or acceptance for who you are
  • Asides – adds voice
  • Love the Dedication –

SOLSC: Please, Can I Have a Book?

March 15, 2012

“Hi Mrs. Gensch. Can I borrow that book now?” Cam asked as we met in the hallway. I was getting ready for my next Title I group, but I couldn’t resist.

My mind began to trace through my memory. Book. Book, what book? My face must have had that look of searching, because Cam pointed to the book display.

“Remember? I want to borrow that book, The Buffalo Soldier.”

Cam had asked me a couple of times before when I was in a different area in the school. It was very much at the forefront of his mind, and I always seemed to be heading for a meeting or another group or something.  But not today. Today, I had a few moments (thank goodness for the five-minute transition time between groups). Unlocking the display, I retrieved the book for the awaiting hands.

“Oh thank you, Mrs. Gensch,” Cam said with a smile. It warmed my heart. I gave a little background behind the book as we walked to his class. “I am trusting you with my book. It’s special and I don’t normally loan this one out. I know you will take care of it though, because you have been wanting and waiting to read this book. Let me know what you think.”

A huge smile spread across my face as I hugged him a good-bye. He reflected one back.  A kid connected with a book, a book I could share.

I love connecting kids with great books. I love, love, love it! As a kid I struggled with reading (a post for another day), and a teacher hooked me. I’m now paying it forward and love every connection!

Fortunately, Unfortunately

January 9, 2012

Have you ever had one of those days? You know, the day you have planned out and obstacles happen along the way. Welcome to this post. Literally. I have typed this post twice only to have the page come up blank. Frustrating. Fortunately, I write out my reviews and am able to revise my thoughts. 🙂

Michael Foreman must have had a day like this. He created an adventurous, fun book in Fortunately, Unfortunately. Your students will have fun following the adventure, especially the boys.

The day begin ordinarily for Milos, the monkey. He’s returning the umbrella to his grandmother. Along the way, several detours create problems for him.

Michael Foreman teaches children to see a positive in each negative happening. The cause and effect text shares a domino of events, creating anticipation from the reader.

Savorings for reading and in writing for Fortunately, Unfortunately:

  • Perspective
  • Cause and effect
  • Sequence of events
  • Fantasy sprinkled in to an ordinary event – teaches children how to fabricate the everyday events of their lives
  • Prediction – what’s new?

Warsaw Community Public Library – new (c2011)

Machines Go to Work

March 2, 2011

Love this book!  The cover grabbed my attention and immediately thought of some students who would love reading it. The pictures are bold.  The text gives descriptions of what the machine is doing.  After the two page spread, the children will be delighted with a 3 page fold out of the machine doing something helpful.

I always read the book jacket.  The information gives me a glimpse of the author’s life.  William Low is a professor at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York. He has also written Old Penn Station, which seems fascinating.  On his author’s link, William Low has a you tube video of how he uses digital technology with his illustrations.  Check it out.

Big machinery often catches the eyes of my kids.  They still ask question of wonderment – what task is it going to accomplish today?  Young children will enjoy the enlarged scenes.  The full-page flap heightens the excitement.  I can hear children making guesses as to what the machine’s job is.  At the end of the book, two pages label small pictures of each machine and their description of uses.

Savorings for reading and in writing for Machines Go to Work:

  • Onomatopoeia – each machine is introduced with a sound it makes
  • Informational – excellent mentor text for an All About Book unit of study
  • Specific vocabulary – backhoe – stabilizers
  • Repeating structure – Is the (machine) ....
  • Prediction – excellent to begin teaching children in grades K and first
  • Open full page flap

WPLibrary and PES new book