Over and Under the Pond

February 18, 2019

View my blog post at The Lead Learners Blog of Over and Under the Pond by Kate Messner; illustrated by Christopher Silas Neal.

Savorings for reading and writing for Over and Under the Pond:

  • metaphors – “water’s a mirror, reflecting the sky!”
  • Sensory Description
  • Compare/ Contrast structure
  • Environmental – ecosystem, wetlands
  • Author’s Note – a glimpse into how a writer gathers ideas and then creates a book

Kate’s paired text is called Over and Under the Snow.


The Blobfish Book

March 27, 2018

Jessica Olien (@jessicaolien) created a hybrid text in The Blobfish Book. Students are introduced to the creatures of each ocean zone. Facts are shared with real photos of the animal creatures. Blobfish adds his first-person commentary on each page with speech bubbles. The humorous style will hook your kids into learning more about the ocean.

When the text shares that the Blobfish was named the ugliest animal in the universe, Blobfish has a melt down. The other creatures, his friends, rally around him to uplift his spirits.

This book trailer includes an explanation of the different ocean zones.

This kid science video explains why the Blobfish is called the ugliest animal. Also, check out the book Pink is for Blobfish.

Savorings for The Blobfish Book:

  • Hybrid text
  • Persuasive
  • Speech bubbles
  • Personification
  • Encouraging others

Mysteries in Nature Concealed and Revealed

April 3, 2013

Dear Reader,

This book, What is in the Wild? Mysteries of Nature Concealed and Revealed, caught my eye just reading the introduction of the author and illustrator.

ear-tickling poems by David M. Schwartz and Yael Schy

eye-tricking photos by Dwight Kuhn

How cool is that? Each living organism introduced encourages you to investigate. I’m not crazy about science, but they are very creative. Kids will love this book. Formations, patterns on the ground and in plants are zoomed in for examination. A full page close-up photograph reveals a mystery. A companion poem shares clues of its creatures.

It gets better. The photo page folds out to reveal another zoomed-in picture of an animal or insect accompanied by its adjacent information page. I really don’t like to get up-close and personal with any small, insect-like creature. It sends shivers down my spine. But, I am thinking of some kids right now who would have their nose buried in this book, reading and discovering. They’ll be tricked into learning something new.

Have fun with this one. I can visualize using this book as a great read aloud. I’m always looking for short texts that can be sandwiched into short time frames, like waiting in line for a specials class, a few minutes before leaving. How about an attention grabber in the middle of the day? You could read just one of the pages and it would hook them in. Think of the many possibilities there is.

Happy science sleuthing!


Savorings for reading and in writing for What is in the Wild?

  • Hybrid text
  • Riddle and word choice
  • Grabber Leads
  • Shape poems
  • Informational text – great for close reading

PES new book

(Side note: Tammy, I think I want to share this book at Summer Institute. It’s a keeper.)

A Friend Like You

November 2, 2011

I love this book! I highlighted this book at the AllWrite!!! Summer Institute this past June. The large photograph illustrations are spectacularly unique. Your students of all ages will want A Friend Like You.

Tanja Askani lives near Hamburg, Germany. She provides a home for many injured animals. The photos are of these animals and the interesting relationships they have with each other. In the back of the book, each photo has some background information, giving you a glimpse into the animals’ lives.

The short text focuses on the qualities of friendship. It lends itself to a group discussion on how to treat others, friendship roles, and building a class community.

Savorings for reading and in writing for A Friend Like You:

  • Compare/Contrast
  • Hybrid Text
  • Sentence Structure – short enough to focus on specific grammatical structure (and fun too!)
  • Photographs – brilliant! (see Tanja Askani‘s website for more)
  • Sense of community

Awesome Air Show!

April 16, 2011

Treat Williams  created a fun read for all kids in Air Show!  He brings an air show to a child, allowing him to experience the love of flying. The delightful, zoomed-in airplanes will grab the attention of your reader. Check out an interview with the illustrator, Robert Neubecker.

Related imageThe text is a hybrid, a mixture of narrative conversation and informational blurbs. The action begins with the pilot radioing in to the to airfield tower as they embark on the air show. The siblings have their own conversation, so realistic, of which airplane each wants to see. When the passengers land, a sign points them in the direction of several planes. The reader opens a full-page flap to see a three page diagram of the air show. How cool is that!

The text then takes you through the airshow, going to one plane and another, each with detail illustrations. Gill, the brother, is excellent at sharing information he’s learned regarding the planes.

Ellie, the sister, wants to fly a stunt plane when she gets older. At the air show, Ellie meets Amelia, a stunt pilot. As copilot, Ellie learns the step by step process of looping an airplane. The illustration is uniquely fun. the text is written in circle shapes, with the plane’s positions paralleling it. On the perimeter of the page, you see Ellie’s facial expressions enlarged.

This text would be an excellent mentor text for kindergarten and first grade students to show details in pictures. The people and planes are models that children can learn from. The kids will enjoy the illustrated movements of the planes.

Savorings for reading and in writing for Air Show!:

  • Ping-pong conversation
  • Airplane lingo – Navajo Nine Five taxi into position
  • Font manipulation
  • Onomatopoeia
  • Large size 12 x 12 with end papers showing the cock pit

Yucky Worms

April 8, 2011

Spring is coming and I am ready.Vivian French creates a fun spring read in Yucky Worms. Her sensory description makes your senses react, at least mine did. I do enjoy worms. I do not fish and marvel at anyone who can hook a slimy creature to the line.  My nose wrinkles at the sound of the word “worm”, so I find that I am surprised at home much I like the book, Yucky Worms. It’s going on my need-to-own book list.

Yucky Worms would be a great mentor text for an “All About” unit of study. Vivian French writes in narrative with the hybrid of nonfiction facts on the sides on the page. She sprinkles fun facts throughout the text. The nonfiction diagrams show you the below-the-surface activity a worm creates.

Read the jacket flap. The blurb explains that Vivian dug up a worm one day when her grandson, Jack. was with her. He immediately said, “Yuck,” which is the pretext of this book. Isn’t it fun to find out how the author got her idea?

Savorings for reading and in writing for Yucky Worms:

  • Hybrid text – narrative of grandma and grandson learning about earthworms; informational of side bars and in diagrams of the earth and earthworms
  • Descriptive – slimy, slithery, wiggly worm
  • Speech bubbles
  • Diagrams – the illustrations show the network of worms and how they live in the environment
  • Index – list is in the back – information in the text is shared in two different kinds of fonts

(Warsaw Public Library – new book – 2009 copyright)


September 19, 2009

Creative! was the first thought I had when I finished reading We’re Off to Look For AliensColin McNaughton writes two books in one. 

He begins by sharing a narrative of himself as an author, told through his son’s point of view.

Dad writes children’s books.  He also draws the pictures.  He says it’s hard work, but he seems to spend an awful lot of time messing around.  (At this point, the illustration shows characters from other books that Colin McNaughton has written).

The father leaves his family to read his new book while he walks his dog.  The reader then changes to read a new story from a paperback book pocketed on the page.  The title of the new book is “We’re Off to Look for Aliens” by Colin McNaughton.  Sound familiar?  The text shares how he leaves with his dog, Wilberforce, to visit space.  They meet several type of aliens, all described through a familiar tune.  At the end of the journey, he meets a lady alien and they fall in love, bringing her home.  Kids will have fun reading it, especially a struggling reader, as they can connect the text to a nursery rhyme they have memorized.

In the end, the family shares their views. They believe the story is good, but “kids prefer fairy tales and stuff“.  The reader then learns that his family is the lady alien with two alien-like children that were featured in his children’s book.

Savorings for reading and in writing for We’re Off to Look  for Aliens:

  • Conversational Lead – “Ah-ha!” said Dad.  “My alien book.  Thank you, Mr. Mailman.”
  • Poetic Text – internal book written to the tune of  “Mary Had a Little Lamb
  • Hyphenated words – Never-seen-on-telly things, Eyeball-in-their-belly things
  • Surprise Ending
  • Stories about our lives