The Web Files

May 3, 2018

Margie Palatini is one of my favorite authors. Words are fun. She brings a delightful humor to her texts that hook her readers. On her website, she has an index of literacy skills linked to her books.

The Web Files is a book full of idioms and alliteration that challenges her readers to think, to connect, to visualize. This text would be a fun readers theater to challenge the rolling tongue. Enjoy a fun activity from her website.

So you’re saying that you were robbed, is that right ma’am? What exactly is missing from the nest, ma’am? Eggs, Ma’am? Chicks, ma’am?”

“P-p-peppers,” she said with a flap.

“Peppers?” I asked.

“My perfect purple peppers that were just about ready to be pickled.”

“About how many perfect purple almost-pickled peppers would you say were pilfered, pinched, and picked? A bushel?”

“P’awk! Pawk!” she squawked. “No—a peck! A peck, I tell you! A whole purple- pepper-pickin’ peck!”  pg. 10-11

Savorings for The Web Files:

  • Humor – idioms and play on words (interweaves fairy tales and Dragnet TV series)
  • Alliteration
  • Higher level of punctuation – apostrophe with slang (horsin’ around)
  • Inference
  • Magic of 3
  • Word Choice

Life on Mars

May 1, 2018

Kids often wonder about life on the moon or other galaxies. Movies bring outer-space beings into a seemingly possible reality. Is there life on other planets? Jon Agee allows a child to explore the possibilities in his book, Life on Mars.

The astronaut believes there is life. He begins to explore. Time passes. Doubt begins to set in. The reader hears the character’s internal dialogue. Alongside the meandering astronaut, a silent story parallels his feelings.

This text lends itself to teaching kids life lessons of perseverance, confidence, affect, trial/error, discovery, celebration.

View the book trailer here.

View the book read aloud at this link. I think your kids will enjoy the sound effects.

Savorings for Life on Mars:

  • Internal Thinking
  • Silent parallel story
  • Two characters
  • Wonderings
  • Life lessons
  • Surprise Ending


April 3, 2010


Pamela Duncan Edwards brings fun into her texts.  Henry Cole has illustrated the majority of her books, including this one,  Muldoon.  Muldoon is a dog.  He loves his family and does many things for them. 

The story begins with Muldoon being chosen to work for the family.  Pamela narrates the story from Muldoon’s point of view.  The dog is given the personified quality of an employee at a job.  Muldoon has working conditions, supervises the children, and protects the family.  Henry Cole show the family’s point of view through the pictures, which is a contrast to what Muldoon is sharing with his reader.  Cute and very inviting as a read aloud for all ages.

Savorings for reading and in writing for Muldoon:

  • Dog’s point of view – “big blue kennel”, “private apartment”
  • Inferring in the illustrations – the dog is eating the cat food to keep the cat on its diet
  • Personification – the entire text weaves the dog’s viewpoint as a person who has been hired by the family
  • Magic of 3
  • Sequence of events – highlights snapshots of events in the Muldoon’s daily life

Overcoming Fear

October 7, 2009

My mind relives the narrative, The Forest by Claire A. Nivola, over and over after each reading.  I do not recall the first time I came across this book, but the text is one that strikes at the core of emotion:  fear.  I, the reader, am intrigued and sucked in to the mind of the character from the beginning.  What an emotional lead!

I had always been afraid of the forest, that dark and unknown place at the farthest edge of my little world.  At night I often dreamed of it and woke chilled with fear.  The fear was there in the day, too, hidden inside me no matter what I did or where I went.”

The main character is Mouse.  The narrative is shared through first-person, inviting you in to Mouse’s thoughts and feelings from the beginning.  Mouse is afraid.  The fear nags at him until one day he decides to face the fear by venturing out to the forest.  All the way, Mouse has internal conflict – should he continue or return home to his safe haven?

I believe many children have fears that nag at them.  Some fears are real; most are just insecurity or uncertainty.  As you read this book to children,  the narrative invites prediction.  How will Mouse survive?  Will he follow through?  The text is also an excellent example to teach inference or show, don’t tell.

“Leaping for cover, I tripped and fell headlong to the ground, Lie still, I thought; if you cry or move, you will be found.  Could my thundering heart be heard outside my head?”

You must read it.  At the end of the page with the above quote, you, the reader, are left hanging.  What will happen next?  As you turn the page, the illustration brightens and you immediately sense a change with the setting.  “The sunlight was raining down through the leaves and warming my back.  A sweet breeze stirred my fur.  I was alive!”

Savorings for reading and in writing for The Forest:

  • Symbolism – “In the morning, standing in the doorway of my home, I saw the cozy chair by the fire, my warm bed, the objects I loved.  I turned and closed the door behind me.”
  • Emotional – ‘my heart began to race
  • Show don’t Tell (Inference) – “Uneasy, I looked back at my village – a dot in the distance.”
  • Repeating Structure – “But would I lose myself?  Would I be devoured by some wild creature?  Would I die of fear?”
  • Grabber Lead
  • Internal Conflict
  • Predictions


September 15, 2009

From the heritage of Danny the Dinosaur, Edwina is the dinosaur who everyone loves having around.  She plays, helps, and bakes chocolate chip cookies for everyone (who could resist?).  Mo Willems captures the fun tale of believing in someone in his book, Edwina The Dinosaur who Didn’t Know She was ExtinctEdwina, The Dinosaur Who Didn't Know She Was Extinct

Reginald Von Hoobie-Doobie (say that three times in a row) did not like Edwina.  He was an expert on many things and enjoyed sharing his knowledge with others.  He was deteremined to prove that dinosaurs were extinct.  But no one listend.  Being the kind friend, Edwina was willing to listen to Reginald.  Reginald felt like a champion.  Surprisingly, Edwina realized that she was to be extinct, but didn’t care.  Interesting twist at the end. 🙂

Savorings for reading and in writing for Edwina:

  • Setting – school and neighborhood
  • Transitions – today; but as soon as; then; before he knew it; the next morning; finally
  • Inferring – Notice the dedication page.  You’ll see a little boy’s upset face watching Edwina
  • Character Change – Reginald
  • Surprise Ending – “She just didn’t care.
  • Colon – “There was no doubt about it in Edwina’s mind:  She knew she was extinct.”
  • Magic of 3 – He tried flyers, protesting, and everything he could think of…

Cowboy Clues

July 27, 2009

Ever played What am I?  In the game, you  give clues to your audience, going from the least known clue to the more popular.  Andy Rash has created a children’s book that uses the games frame work.  I’m thinking of using this text with the primary classrooms as a pattern book.  I also see this being a great mentor text for the upper elementary students who have great background knowledge in a subject area.  They could create fun books for kids with the knowledge they know following the structure of this text, Are You a Horse?

Roy, the cowboy, receives a saddle as a present.  He is given instructions to get a horse, but he does not know what a horse is.  So, Roy’s adventure begins as he looks for the horse.  As he meets different objects, he asks the repetitive question, “Are you a horse?” to which the ‘thing’ says ‘no’ and gives a clue to what a horse is.

For example, Roy first meets an old wagon, who says:  “A horse is a living thing.”  Next he meets a cactus, who says:  “A horse is an animal.”  It continues through clues of legs, color, being clean, fast, etc.  Excellent text to help with categorizing in the area of science.

Savorings for reading and in writing for Are You a Horse?:

  • Repeating line/structure
  • Hybrid text of sorts – mystery with clues; informational with facts; narrative
  • Surprise ending – you have to read it to believe it
  • Adjectives – each object/animal Roy meets is described with two adjectives:  “A skittery, pinchy thing ran sideways in front of Roy.  It had plenty of legs.”  “Roy came to a tree with a feathered, hooting thing on a branch.”
  • Bold lettering for voice – Roy was very upset.  “WHY CAN’T I FIND A HORSE?” he shouted.

A Boy Read

Must-Have book

(Warsaw Public Library)