Writing Territories: 3 Bear Books

March 31, 2018

Writing territories are topics each of us knows well. These topics we know well or enjoy learning more about. One writing territory I enjoy is baseball. I have read many picture books on the topic: narrative- first person, second person, third person, informational, historical fiction, biographies, ABC book, 101 Reasons, specific professional team. One topic; many forms of writing.

Kids need to see they can use their same topic in many writing forms. Comparing books is a great way to show children how they can explore writing techniques.

Bear and Duck by Katy Hudson is a fictional story about a bear who tries being a duck. An unlikely friendship forms.

Savorings for Bear and Duck:

  • Power of 3
  • Sequential steps
  • How To
  • Hyphenated words
  • Encouragement
  • Friendship

Bear Has a Story to Tell by Philip C. Stead is about a bear who wants to share his story but helps his friends get ready for winter. Spring comes. Bear does random acts of kindness for his friends.

Savorings for Bear Has a Story to Tell:

  • Story elements – great as a mentor text
  • Sesnory description
  • Love of Story
  • Hibernation
  • Fast-forward Time
  • Acts of Kindness
  • Friendship

A Beginner’s Guide to Bear Spotting by Michelle Robinson presents a different approach to bears. A little boy is on adventure to find bears with the reader speaking to him in second-person narrative. Love the voice in this book! Enjoy!

Savorings for A Beginner’s Guide to Bear Spotting:

  • Field Notes/ Writer’s notebook
  • Reader talks to the character
  • Second Person Narrative
  • Compare/ Contrast
  • Voice
  • Humorous


Little Red Writing

October 13, 2014
Little Red Writing by Joan Holub is a must-have book to encourage narrative writing in young children. From the beginning, my attention was captured. Like a mystery, clues are interspersed throughout the story. Melissa Sweet’s  mixture of fonts, mediums, and cartoon frames create added action and intensity to a rather predictable fairy tale.  As a mentor text, you will be able to teach story elements while Little Red is exploring her story. As a fractured fairy tale, this book creates a great compare/contrast lesson with the actual fairy tale. It is an example of how children can also gain ideas for their own stories from books.

The play on words is brilliant. Each scene, short but with depth, creates the opportunity for discussion about narrative basics, tension, balanced description, and focus. The element of surprise brings a twist to a rather known fairy tale.

Little RedI must say, I wondered if Ruth Ayres had collaborated with Joan Holub. At the end, Little Red’s teacher encourages her to “Write On!”, a phrase I hear Ruth extending to us all.

Have fun reading this tale!

Savorings for reading and in writing for Little Red Writing:

  • Story elements
  • Idioms
  • Types of genre on the same subject
  • Compare/Contrast texts
  • Vocabulary


A Rainy Day Book

April 11, 2013

Hello, It’s spring!

I’m loving the spring green I am seeing on my drives. Sunshine and warm temps jump started the week. It was wonderful. And now rain. Rain and thunderstorms and cold temps. It’s spring and the green will need the moisture. I just want warm temps again.

The rain made me think of a book I read called My Side of the Car by Kate Feiffer.

A little girl is heading to the zoo with her dad. The sunny day has changed to the reality of rain. Dad informs his daughter sitting in the back seat that they can’t go. Yet, the daughter looks outside her window and announces that there is no rain on her side. Her perception is illustrated splendidly as she visualizes others going to the zoo too. Father continues driving and comments about the continual precipitation.

The inspiration for the book is shared through a conversation between daughter, Kate, and father, Jules. I love the debate-able voices. It reminds me of my kids when they were little.

Rainy day sunshine,

Mary Helen

Savorings for reading and in writing for My Side of the Car:

  • Everyday happening – rain, conversation with parent, car ride
  • Perspective – reality vs. imaginative
  • One day story – excellent text to illustrate conversation with action
  • Anticipation of the event – feelings of the character
  • Illustrations – reminds me of child-like drawings

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 🙂

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!

A Nature Preserve

December 9, 2011

After reading On Meadowview Street, I thought of spring and decided to save the post for April. While researching and writing the author post on Henry Cole, I decided to add in this cheery book. Besides, Florida is not experiencing the snow and cold we are, which I am looking forward to in three weeks. 🙂

Henry Cole persuades his readers to observe and enjoy nature in his book On Meadowview Street. He invites you to linger in the sun, feeling the grass through your toes and a gentle breeze patting your skin. Enjoy some sunshine while you read his book.

Caroline arrives at her new home on Meadowview Street. Each of the houses look similar with a plain, normal front yard. As her father begins to mow the yard, she notices a lone wildflower in her yard. Preserving it, her patch of garden grows into a meadow. Her family plants a tree for shade and a pond for water. Their normal front yard transforms into a nature preserve, inspiring the neighbors.

Savorings for reading and in writing for On Meadowview Street:

  • Character Thinking
  • Nature Connection – observing the world around us
  • One day story – set in the middle of the narrative for emphasis, a turning point
  • Plural Possessive – Jacksons’
  • Every Day happening

Library Mouse: A Friend’s Tale

June 13, 2011

Library Mouse: A Friend's TaleTo demonstrate how some authors and illustrators team together make several stories, Daniel Kirk illustrations show books in the background. For example, Laura Numeroff and Felicia Bond team together with the “If You Give a Mouse” books. Library Mouse: a Friend’s Tale begins with Tom, a boy who frequents the library, writing a book. He stumbles upon a notebook belonging to Sam, the library’s mystery writer (see Library Mouse also by Daniel Kirk).

Through deduction, Tom learns the identity of Sam, a mouse. Trying to befriend him, Tom discovers an idea for his story. Leaving his book, The Shy One, Sam secretly illustrates Tom’s tale. In return, Tom keeps his new-found friend’s identity a secret.

Savorings for reading and in writing for Library Mouse: A Friend’s Tale:

  • Illustrations – up close to show details in a scene for kindergarteners; excellent up close facial picture
  • Contractions – several varied
  • Problem/ Solution – a simple yet mystery-like plot for young children to understand; can use as a mentor text
  • Suddenly – grabs the reader’s attention
  • Colon – used 3 times

Everthing but the Horse

March 24, 2011

Holly Hobbie is the author/illustrator of the Toot & Puddle series.  The two friends are adorable. 

The author shares a childhood memory in Everything but the Horse.  As a young girl, she moves to the country, a farm full of potential.  Hollie loved raising the animals.  The only creature missing on the farm was a horse.  She watched the neighbors ride their horses and would pet them in the fields.  Hollie dreamed.  The farm had the barn, hay, bridle, but her family was not in favor.

The love of horses spurred Hollie into drawing them  She went to the library, researched in books, and taught herself to draw horses.

Hollie’s birthday finally came.  her surprise was waiting in the barn.  At this point in my reading, I was just as anxious as Hollie.  Was she getting her horse?  Was her dream coming true?

Savorings for reading and in writing for Everything but the Horse:

  • Memoir
  • Character emotion
  • Exploding the moment
  • Passage of time
  • Perseverance – Holly’s dream spurred her to better herself through drawing.

Train vs. Ant

September 30, 2009

Jack, the switchman, has a job to transfer trains from one track to another.  I’m guessing that many children do not know about railway workers.  I Saw an Ant on the Railroad Track by Joshua Prince will help build background for jobs then and now.  A discussion could develop about technology replacing manpower.

I Saw an Ant on the Railroad TrackThis poetic narrative is seemingly ridiculous, but I love the rhyme and word play.  Macky Pamintuan paints realistic, vivid pictures.  But I can hear the kids saying, “Stop.  Move the ant.  You don’t  have to sop a train.”

It’s a cute tale. Did I mention that  love the rhyme?  You can definitely stop throughout the text and have the students predict.  The children could also discuss how Jack personifies the ant.  Would this story really happen?  Why not?

Savorings for reading and in writing for I Saw an Ant on the Railroad Track:

  • Onomatopoeia – tickety-tack
  • Aside – (That’s the sound of an ant on a railroad track.)
  • Character Thinking – “Now what to do?  Think quick!  Think, Jack!
  • Community Property in writing – ‘that wrong-way ant on the way-wrong track”  (As noted in a prior entry, I don’t know what this craft is officially called, but it reminds me of the Community Property in math.  So, I’m naming it for my reference.)
  • Prediction
  • Author’s Note:  Joshua take a daily train ride to his job.  ” A brief encounter with an ant at his regular station inspired this story.”

(Heather’s book :))

Imaginative Stories

July 12, 2009

Nancy Carlson invites young readers to use their imaginations to share creative stories in her book, Henry’s Amazing Imagination! Henry loves to share stories during show and tell time in class.  Due to Henry exaggerating the truth, his teacher suggests, “…why don’t you use it to write stories?”  And Henry does. This text is excellent for young writers as Nancy’s illustrations show the importance of large, vivid pictures that enhance the story.

Nancy Carlson writes many books that can be used to help children build themselves up.  She does an excellent job of supporting the writing process in this book.  Henry wants to write his story but is worried about spelling the words.  His teacher asks him to spell the best he can as he gets the ideas written down.  I often tell children this as they are writing.  I’m excited that a book can be used to support the teaching.

Savorings for reading and in writing for Henry’s Amazing Imagination:

  • Visualizing – while Henry shares his stories, the illustrations show the pictures in his mind
  • Ellipses – connects one page to the next
  • School Setting
  • Spelling – Henry’s teacher encourages him to not worry about the spelling while getting the ideas down.  “But…what if I can’t spell all the words?”
  • Notice the dedication – to Peter Carlson