Boy + Bot

February 25, 2018

Boy + Bot by Ame Dyckman, illustrated by Dan Yaccarino,  is a delightful tale of friendship. These two become friends despite their differences. They engage in fun activities, have compassion for each other, and work out problems. The tone of the book invites readers to think about characteristics of a friend, how to overlook differences, and possibly try something new. For some extension activities, visit RIF.

To hear the entire book, view on the YouTube link.

Savorings for Boy + Bot:

  • Synonyms
  • Varied sentence length
  • Sequence of events
  • Past tense verbs – /ed/
  • Parallel structure
  • Comparison – man vs. machine
  • Wonderings – Was the boy imagining a friendship with his toy robot? Notice the illustrated toys in his bedroom.
  • Friendship
  • Compassion

Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse

May 2, 2011

I love Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse. The book has many possibilities. Kevin Henkes packs so many craft moves into this book.  It was one of the first books introduced to me during my Writer’s Workshop training.  I use it as a mentor text in the primary grades.

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. Lilly writes stories of her beloved teacher. One highlighted scene shows Lilly writing her story and saying, “I’m an author!”

Kevin portrays the child-like quality of impatience through Lilly. She has a new purple plastic purse that played music. Her glasses were like Mr. Slingers and her quarters jingled.  She wanted to show her classmates her wonderful, new possessions. Giving in to temptation, Lilly interrupted class to show everyone.

When Mr. Slinger asks for her things, Lilly’s emotions change from sad to furious. She secretly draws a picture of her teacher in an untasteful way. Unknowingly, her teacher writes a note of encouragement and gentle expectation, slipping it into her purse. With forgiveness displayed, Lilly learns a valuable lesson of the power of words.

Savorings for reading and in writing for Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse:

  • Alliteration – “curly and crunch and cheesy
  • Letter writing/Notes – teaches young children the power of an audience
  • Magic of 3 – using sentences, phrases, and words in groups of threes
  • Speech Bubbles
  • Repeating Line
  • Emotions – “Lilly’s stomach lurched.”
  • Everyday happening – trouble at school; feelings of regret

The Junkyard Wonders

April 14, 2011

Patricia Polacco is one of my favorite authors. Her writing is warm, full of meaning, with hints of humor. The Junkyard Wonders is a memoir about her school days. Her book is a tribute to the inspiring teacher in all of us.

Mrs. Peterson began her school year with a note of expectation that all her students would acquire.  With a dictionary in her hand, she read the definition of genius to the class of special children.

Genius is neither learned nor acquired.

It is risking without fear of failure.

It is creativity without constraints.

It is … extraordinary intelligence!”

Your heart will sail as she tells her students to memorize it, to look at it every day. “The definition describes every one of you.”

Patricia was placed in a special class. The class had been dubbed “The Junkyard.” Mrs. Peterson believed in her students’ potentials despite their challenges. For learning, she placed the class into tribes. The tribes worked on projects together throughout the year. The five kids in Patricia’s group became very close.

Due to bullying and wanting her kids to see themselves as more than just the left-overs, Mrs. Peterson took the children to the junkyard. They were to create a new invention from the junk they collected. Patricia’s group created a plane that could fly. They decided to launch it at the science fair.

One boy, Jody, had a disease that caused his body to grow too fast. That spring, Jody’s heart gave out and he died. (Yes, I cried. Patricia knows how to pull at my heart-strings.) The plane was a tribute for Jody. The closeness, hard work, and genius propelled their plane into the sky.

I love the ending. Patricia Polacco has an epilogue about her tribe. The other three children grew and flourished into amazing positions – ballet school director, world renown fashion designer, NASA engineer, and Patricia became a phenomenal children’s author.  They attributed their success to their teacher, Mrs. Peterson.

Savorings for reading and in writing for The Junkyard Wonders:

  • Believing in yourself – overcoming hardship
  • Community – accepting and seeing possibility in everyone
  • Transitions – highlighting main events throughout the year
  • Character description
  • Strong emotional sense

Baseball Books and Tabs

April 10, 2011

Due to my love of baseball, I have created a new tab that lists the baseball books I have read. After a friend commented on my latest book, You Never Heard of Sandy Koufax?, and then another comment from a fellow blogger, I decided to create a baseball section in one of the tabs. I also went to the library and checked out four more books that I will be blogging about. I think it’s fun to talk about history while using a favorite pastime kids can connect with.

I like organization. It helps me find the books I want to read quickly. The new tabs and sections are to help you the reader as well. If you have other suggestions for tabs or organization, I welcome it. Comment and let me know.

Currently, you will find the following tabs with information:

  • About – my start with blogging
  • Content Areas – Health, Science, Social Studies
  • Fun Reads – Baseball books; book that are just fun to read to your kids
  • Index – lists each of the books featured on my blog in alphabetical order
  • Slice of Life stories – all of the slices from the Slice of Life Challenge in March over the past years; any stories about my daily life
  • Touchstone Texts – mentor texts that I use frequently with writer’s workshop; sections include narrative, nonfiction, poetry. These books are not all in-compassing; they are just ones I have found along the way.
  • I have also included a Deep Thinking Read Alouds in the Touchstone Texts. You can definitely use these books for writing mentor texts. I just have found the stories to linger with me long after reading them. They allow you to have some deeper conversations with your students at many grade levels.

Sandy Koufax

April 6, 2011

Baseball is a favorite in my family.  I love finding historical narratives on the subject.  You Never Heard of Sandy Koufax?! by Jonah Winter: Book CoverThe cover of this book is one-of-a-kind as the pitcher actually moves.  The title spoke to me, You Never Heard of Sandy Koufax?! Well, sorry to say, no I have not.  I have heard about several baseball players, as both my husband and oldest son are walking baseball almanacs.  So when I mentioned Sandy’s name, they both said, “Yeah. He was one of the best left-handed pitchers.”   As I opened the book and noticed the copyright (2009), a note caught my eye.  I was hooked.

“For the record:  a note from the author regarding Sandy Koufax.  He is still alive and will drop by training camp to give some tips.” Wow! Impressive.

Jonah Winters uses  questions throughout the text keeps the reader interacting.  In some ways, this technique is teaching children the reading strategy of questioning.  As a reader, you stop, reflect, and think about the text.

The language is very rich and the craft moves are endless. I also noticed that Andre’ Carrilho used mainly brown, blue, and gray hues for his illustrations.  From a book I read on boy literacy, boys connect with those colors the most. (That’s another post.)

The scenes of Koufax’s career span over several years, yet the author’s choice highlights key points that make you feel like you are watching a superb documentary.  I’m not bored reading this book.  There is so much information packed into the thirty-two page text.  Brilliant! If you teach biographical writing, this book would be a great mentor text.  I learned that Sandy Koufax was teammates with Jackie Robinson.  He also struck out Babe Ruth and Willie Mays.

Savorings for reading and in writing for You Never heard of Sandy Koufax?!:

  • Grabber lead – talks to the reader – “You gotta be kidding! You never heard of Sandy Koufax?! He was only the greatest lefty who ever pitched in the game of baseball.”
  • Voice – Brooklyn, New York dialect
  • Narrator – speaks as a teammate – “Did you see what I just seen?
  • Repeating phrase – “game after game” is used in sequential sentences to create intensity
  • Leaves me wondering – use of questioning
  • Baseball stats – nonfiction feature – snippets of facts highlighting Koufax’s and baseball greats that appeal to the analytical mind

new PES library book –

Definitely a book I want for my collection!!

Metal Man

August 4, 2009

Vacation was excellent.  I stumbled upon three discount bookstores, much to my delight.  My daughter has the book bug as well, so we had fun finding new titles and getting books for a dollar or two.  I still did not have enough time to sit and read like I wanted, but the memories we made were worth it. 🙂

Have any boys or girls who love to be hands on?  Metal Man will be a text that will grab their attention.  This text is written with shorter, staccato-like sentences.  The story focuses on a boy who daily hangs out with the metal man, a man who creates art out of junk.  The boy aspires to be like the metal man.

Aaron Reynolds molds his words to make you feel the heat of the garage.

But he pulls out his fire torch.

It howls like the El train comin’.

And he starts meltin’ metal pieces on.Metal Man

they stick,

hot and red,

like my sweaty back on the plastic bus seats,

cookin’ together.

Swet’s pourin’ down metal man,

but he don’t stop.”

The boy shares his thinking.  You really can understand him.  The boy reminds me of many boys I’ve worked with.  They are comfortable with the outdoors, the garage, the ball field, the hands-on.  They don’t always feel like that with spelling, writing, reading.  The boy feels at home in this setting and longs to be like the metal man.

When I hang out with the metal man, I get it right.

I see what I see.

Not like school.”

I want my classroom to be like the garage, a place where the kids aspire to be, to learn and to know that they will get it right.

Savorings for reading and in writing for Metal Man:

  • Apostrophe – adds voice; you hear the accent of the narrator.  It’s used as a contraction and also for possessive.
  • Similes – “That torch’ll tear you up like a thousand killer bees.”
  • Realistic Conversation – “Whaddaya wanna make?”  He ain’t never said that before.
  • Compare/Contrast -junk vs. art;   Summer’s cookin’ the streets outside, bakin’ ’em black.  But everything’s cool and comfy inside the silver star.
  • Internal Conflict – “I got a spark in my head, but i ain’t sayin’ it with my mouth.  ‘I don’t kow,’ I say.  It’s a lie, but I tell it anyway. … ‘Don’t be scared, boy.  Bring it out to play.’  That metal man can see inside me like glass.

Warsaw Public Library

A must-get book for me!!

Smelly Socks

March 4, 2009

A colleague of mine (thanks, Jenni) introduced me to this fun, lyrical book – a narrative in rhyme – called Timothy Cox will Not Change His Socks by Robert Kinerk.  Stephen Gammell paints adorable cartoon yet life-like characters that will capture your students’ attention.  As the smell of Tim’s socks degenerates, a yellowish-lime green color emulates from the socks.  I cannot help wrinkling up my nose.

Robert Kinerk shows the determination of Timothy.  Tim decided to see what would happen “if I went a whole month without changing my socks.”  Timothy shares his adventure with Walt, his dachshund, his friend.  Walt does not always agree with his owner’s decision, but he still remains faithful.  As the stench from the socks escalates, his classmates and townspeople cannot stand the “tainted air“.  One student said today during the reading, “How can his dog stand the smell if no one else can?”  Interesting.

The text lends itself to a class discussion on keeping your word.  I can see some debates happening as well as to whether Timothy should follow the rules set by others.  The book ends with a lesson: 

Though it’s right and it’s good that you follow things through,  resist the temptation or waste your ambition on some sort of silly or trivial mission.

The wise thing to do is to think and to plan — which I didn’t do.  But I’m sure that you can!”

Savorings for reading and in writing for Timothy Cox Will Not Change His Socks:

  • Repeating line – “Timothy, Timothy, Timothy Cox, won’t yo consider, please, changing your socks?”
  • Passage of time – key points are highlighted on different days throughout the month; “Timmy’s socks the next morning smelled slightly like glue.
  • Illustration clues – the number mentioned in the text is painted somewhere in the illustration
  • Onomatopoeia – “The ‘copter propellers went whup-whup-whup-whup!”
  • Inference/ internal thinking – “Walter was helping Tim carry his cot, and it can’t be repeated — the things that dog thought!”
  • Word choice – grotesque, barrage,tainted, deterred
  • Ending – learning a lesson

A Very Imaginative Story

February 20, 2009

The Shivers in the Fridge is one of my new favorites.  Not only did I have fun reading it, the text kept intriguing me to rereading.  I savored this book and look forward to gaining a copy for myself to savor it more.  I believe it is an Indiana Young Hoosier Award Honor book.

Fran Manushkin has created a fun, clue-finding adventure with the Shivers family in The Shivers in the Fridge. Mama, Papa, Grandpa, Grandma, and Sonny find themselves in a dark environment full of earthquakes and monsters.  Paul Zelinsky paints a city from the Shivers’ point of view inside the refrigerator – Orange, Hills, Egg Valley, Buttery Cliff.  As the reader I began rereading to catch all the clues.  You will definitely want to read this book several times to your students to help deepen their understanding.   For instance I did not understand they were magnets until Grampa got stuck on “the snowy peak of Mr. Ketchup.”  I also looked at the ending page with the little girl and her box, which does read magnets.  At the end, the real family questions, “I wonder how they got INTO the fridge?”  Turn to the page prior to the title page and notice the illustration of the little girl to find your answer.

Your students will have fun piecing the clues together as each member of the Shivers family disappear.  Paul Zelinsky uses play-on-words and typical family antics to add humor to the drama.  Don’t forget to enjoy the illustrations.  If you have an Elmo, I suggest using it during the second reading.  The first time through, chart questions, clues, and background knowledge.  On another reading focus in on the word choice used to help add to the mood.

Savorings for reading and in writing for The Shivers in the Fridge:

  • Element of Surprise – “Standing tall, Sonny Shivers faced that monster – and the monster SMILED!
  • Love of Reading –  on the fridge stands a calendar, an invitation, a recipe, an article, and a list.   “We keep this whole world running.”  There’s so much to read!
  • Voice – “m-m-mama was warm, the p-p-papa was …” ;  repetitive first letter is hyphenated creating the sense of chattering in the cold
  • Visualizing – While Mama tells Sonny a story at bedtime, the illustrations show Sonny’s thought bubbles of his visualizing.
  • Idiom – ” ‘Stop!’  Grandma gave him a sour look.  ‘Don’t get into a pickle!’
  • Repeating Line – “Its long, long claws r e a c h e d  o u t, r  e  a  c  h  e  d   o  u  t —
  • Inference – “a great blazing light shone forth” and then the earthquake happens
  • Onomatopoeia – PHOOMPH! represents the refrigerator door sound when closing
  • Conversational Lead – “Brrr!  It’s cold today!” groaned Papa Shivers.  “I’ll say” chimed in Mama Shivers.  “SHIVER MY BONES!  IT’S COLD!” roared Grandpa.  Sonny, the youngest, said, “It’s been c-c-cold ever since we got here — and dark.”

(PES Library book/ also WPL)

a must-have for me:)