Groundhog’s Dilemma

January 30, 2019

Matt Faulkner is one of my favorite illustrators. He has written/illustrated the book A Taste of Colored Water and illustrated Thank You, Sarah, among several others. His illustrations strike me with a brilliant personification and invitation into the reading. Click to read a little about Matt Faulkner’s illustrations and to see a picture of him and his wife, Kristen Remenar. (I learned something new today.)

Together they created a fun read, Groundhog’s Dilemma, that highlights a predicament kids can relate with. Half of the animals want winter to last longer and half of the animals want spring now. Each animal tries to persuade Groundhog to predicate what they desire. Groundhog agrees with everyone, because he wants them all to be his friend. In the end, Groundhog explains he just reports what he sees; he can’t change the weather. This book provides you the opportunity to talk with kids about being truthful. It touches on persuasion, pressure, and contemplation. I think you will find the book will spark some interesting conversations.

View the book here (8 min. video). It’s currently a Scholastic Book Club book.

Savorings for reading and writing for Groundhog’s Dilemma:

  • Persuasion – shares thoughts on both sides; art of buttering-up someone
  • Speech Bubbles
  • Telling the Truth
  • Internal Conflict
  • Alternate Solution

Thanks for Giving

November 13, 2014

Image result for ready freddy thanks for givingReady, Freddy! series is a favorite of mine. I had the opportunity to meet the author, Abby Klein, at NCTE several years ago. During breakfast, she shared you gained her ideas from the kindergarten children she taught as well as her own children. She wrote during the summer, early mornings, on Saturdays with plenty of coffee. She uses everyday life situations to teach a lesson. Freddy wants to do the right thing, which is not always easy. The classroom bully, Max, seems to torment Freddy, creating a tension of retaliation versus kindness.

Thanks for Giving is one such story. The class has chosen to bring in can goods for the community. Mrs. Mushy, his teacher, works through student conflict and shares how to be generous to those in need. I love how Abby Klein uses this opportunity to teach children to look to the needs of others and to be thankful for what we do have.

Freddy is eager to contribute canned goods to the food drive. But when Max doesn’t have any cans to give and asks Freddy for help, Freddy is left with a dilemma – does he show kindness to his fellow classmate, especially since Max has pestered him so much? Freddy wrestles with his decision, recalling the negative mishaps produced by this kid. Freddy chooses compassion and a helping hand instead. This simple reader creates a venue for class discussion on how to share and the freedom of choice.

Savorings for reading and in writing for Thanks for Giving:

  • Everyday moment – school
  • Character Traits
  • Philanthropy – learning to give to others
  • Community Building
  • Inner Thinking – Freddy shares his thinking with the reader throughout the story. Students struggle with adding this feature into their narratives.


Honoring Veterans: Lisette’s Angel

November 11, 2014

AngelDo you have a family member who has served our country? Do you know his story? Amy Littlesugar shares a story inspired by her father-in-law who was a paratrooper. Lisette’s Angel begins during World War II when the French were occupied by the Germans. Lisette and Emile had endured hardship and prayed for an angel to erase the war. Max Ginsburg’s painting illustrations are brilliant, life-like, capturing your heart in the moment of tense survival.

1944, the night of D Day, paratroopers dropped into France. Some of the soldiers drifted onto farms and were helped by the French countrymen. Lisette and Emile awoke to the sound of planes. A solo “angel” feel into the children’s farm. Curious, they went to his aide. Hearing the “click-clack” of the German boots, Lisette led the limping soldier into the barn. As the soldiers drew closer, Lisette sprinted to gather the “star” parachute from the yard. Thankful, the American paratrooper gave his Hershey bar to Emile and left the silk parachute.

Savorings for reading and in writing for Lisette’s Angel:

  • Exploding the Moment – saving the soldier slipping out to retrieve the parachute
  • Onomatopoeia – “CLICK-CLACK!” interjected between the lines to increase tension
  • Perspective – story told through a young child’s eyes
  • Author’s Note – Paratroopers landed in France; people risked their lives for freedom.
  • Family stories

South Whitley Community Library




Squirrel’s New Year’s Resolution

January 28, 2013

Dear BONS,

It’s January and I have been thinking about goals, a New Year’s resolution of sorts. I know Ruth has shared her goals with us. Any others? Me – I’m going to set a time limit for myself to write daily instead of just being arbitrary about it. So I find it fitting that the book Squirrel’s New Year’s Resolution by Pat Miller happened to catch my eye. It’s super cute and Tammy, I think your first graders would like it. Tam, your gran kids would enjoy it too.

Squirrel wants to know what a resolution is, so he goes to the best place ever to research it – the LIBRARY. Of course, my favorite place! The definition he finds is as follows:

A resolution is a promise you make to yourself to be better or to help yourself.

As squirrel thinks of resolutions for herself, she helps others along the way. In the end, her friends remind her of how she helped them in their time of need.

Isn’t this a great book to share with a class and talk about community building and how each person in the class can help support the goals for the class? I also thought of you with the encouragement to keep writing. So hooray for writing!

Resolved to create,


Savorings for reading and in writing for Squirrel’s New Year’s Resolution:

  • Bucket Filling -“I resolve to help someone every day!
  • Apostrophe usage – contractions vs. possessive
  • Narrative weaving of thoughts/feelings
  • Community Building
  • Library reference 🙂

Season: a New Blog Tab

October 26, 2011

The organizer in me created a new tab on my blog. I’ve titled it Season. My literacy room holds books in baskets and boxes. Each are labeled to help me find the book I need. I have two file cabinets filled with books and writing lessons organized by theme. My top two drawers have the months of the year with encompassing holiday events neatly filed behind it. Organization helps me teach better.

So, I was trying to remember what books I had already posted within the theme of fall, Halloween, and Thanksgiving. After reviewing past October posts, I decided I needed to create a place to hold the categorized list. Thus, the Season tab. I hope you find the categories helpful as well.

What’s your favorite autumn book?

Presidents’ Day

February 21, 2011

Anne Rockwell along with Lizzy Rockwell created the book Presidents’ Day that explains the holiday through a child’s point of view.  The six-year-old girl in the text is speaking to the reader, explaining the four presidents found on Mount Rushmore.  This book would be good to read in the primary grades.

In the book, students in the class perform a play about Presidents’ Day, explaining each of the four presidents.  The text they quote for their part is concise and an excellent mentor text for students writing a biography.  It reminded me of students who act in a wax museum presentation in school, highlighting the important characteristics.

Savoring for reading and in writing for Presidents’ Day:

To commemorate the holiday, Presidents’ Day shares the background of the presidents celebrated through the eyes of   six year-olds.  The children perform a class play about the four presidents honored on Mt. RushmoreAnne Rockwell along with Lizzy Rockwell share information in a delightful way that will capture your children’s interest.

This book is a great example for teaching summarizing.  It reminded me of students’ wax museum performances.  Each child studies his/her famous person and then shares an important finding.  The children in the book share the highlights through a school program.  In the end, the class has a vote for class president, linking their learning through practice.

Savorings for reading and in writing for Presidents’ Day:

  • Summarizing
  • Singular vs. Plural possessive – Pablo’s name versus Presidents’ Day
  • Wax Museum for history and biographies
  • Proper nouns – several examples are given to demonstrate the capitalization rule: names, places, holiday
  • Hyphenated numbers – twenty-two


Abe Lincoln’s Hat

February 19, 2011

Martha Brenner shares a unique view of Abraham Lincoln in Abe Lincoln’s Hat.  The focal point of the book is Abe’s hat.  Martha does not just describe the hat, but she shapes Abe’s character through stories of the hat.  I find the biography to be refreshing.  The stories shape his character, not just facts and stages of his life.

He made trials easy to understand.  He told jokes and stories.”

The author connects with children by sharing how Abe was human, making mistakes and working hard.  The hat becomes a solution.  Reading the book was fun.  I learned something.

Savorings for reading and in writing for Abe Lincoln’s Hat:

  • Biography
  • President’s Day
  • Voice within an informational text
  • Character traits – stories of his wisdom
  1. perseverance through defeat
  2. humor – tells jokes; boys played a joke on him
  3. spoke to the common man
  4. gratitude – remembered Hannah Armstrong’s kindness are returned a favor
  5. weakness – not organized
  6. purposeful actions – circuit lawyer allowed him to meet many people; top hat purchased so he would be noticed

Happy Valentine’s Day

February 14, 2011

One of my favorite books is Somebody Loves You, Mr. Hatch by Eileen Spinelli I love the fact that someone was inspired by a kind word and act.  That belief that someone loved him spurred Mr. Hatch into doing daily acts of bucketfilling – or kindness.  We need to be like Mr. Hatch, helping others in need.  We need to be saying the kind word or sending the quick note.  Today is Valentine’s Day.  Make someone feel special.

The Christmas Sweater

December 23, 2010

Brandon Dorman creates such warm paintings through his illustrations in A Christmas Sweater: the Picture Book by Glen Beck.  Children will wonder if grandpa is Santa Claus.  The illustrations of his white beard and the red fluffy hat plus the events shared make you think he is.

Like other children during this holiday season, Eddie is anxious for a special gift.  He has his heart set o a new bicycle.  Grandpa shares a secret with Eddie, after he snooped around looking at the presents. Grandpa has bad and good news – no bike, but a Christmas sweater.  Grandpa explains that a Christmas sweater can be so much more than Eddie could imagine.

Eddie is not thrilled.  He closes his eyes; when he opens them, Eddie finds himself in a different snowy setting.  A single gift awaits him.  “What your heart needs most,” the tag says.  Eddie is whisked away to fun adventures – sledding with dad and baking with mom.  Eddie learns that a family’s love is so much more than a gift.  A family love brings magic to your life.

Savorings for reading and in writing for A Christmas Sweater: a Picture Book:

  • Wondering
  • Setting
  • Realistic Happenings
  • Transitions – whisked from one scene to the next
  • Ellipses

September 11 – A Day to Remember

September 11, 2009

Today is a day to remember our country, its heroes, and those whom we’ve lost.

Today is also a celebration, a birthday, a different memory:  my son, Timothy. 

Because this historical event happened on my son’s young birthday, I have begun to collect books that recall the heroic events of that tragic day.  One book that I found and enjoy is Fireboat:  the Heroic Adventures of the John J. HarveyMaira Kalman researched and shares the story of how a retired New York City fireboat was used to help during September 11th. Fireboat: The Heroic Adventures of the John J. Harvey (Picture Puffin Books)

The story begins with a brief history of where the fireboat began.  Then, time jumps to 1995 and the John J. Harvey is old and retired.  The boat was not being used and waiting to be scrapped.  A group who once worked on the fire boat decided to buy and restore it.  They did not know that the boat would be used during such a tragic time. 

The water pipes were broken and buried.  And the fire trucks that had raced to the scene could not pump water.  The firefighters attached hoses to the Harvey. […] For four days and nights the Harvey pumped water.

John J. Harvey Fireboat was awarded the National Preservation Award.  To learn more about the fireboat, visit their website with original photos.

Savorings for reading and in writing for Fireboat:

  • Asides – It had 5 diesel engines so it could go 20 miles per hour.  (that’s pretty fast!)
  • Text placement – the writing is not just in paragraphs but more like picture captions.
  • Close echo – CRASHED, CRASHED, CRASHED into these two strong buildings.
  • Flashback Lead – New York City.  1931.  Amazing things were happening big and small.
  • Colon in a list – People brought supplies:  fuel, sweaters, gloves, pizza, sandwiches and coffee.
  • Prediction