The Water Princess

April 2, 2018

Water is a basic necessity for every child to grow, for every person to live. The Water Princess is a beautiful book to bring awareness of the water crisis in other countries. The book is based on the childhood experience of Georgie Badiel, an international model. Georgie Badiel shared her story with Susan Verde and Peter H. Reynolds, who were inspired to write and illustrate the book to support the effort of bringing clean water to the people.



Meet Georgie Badiel and hear her passion to get bring a basic need of water to people who walk miles daily to get this precious commodity.

Savorings for The Water Princess:

  • Power of 3
  • Visualizing
  • One moment in time
  • Sensory Description
  • Varied Sentences (including a semi-colon)
  • Advocacy
  • Last two pages show actual photos of the the people getting and carrying water.
  • Social Studies link: climate, culture

The Story of Charles Atlas: STRONG MAN

February 9, 2018

Angelo Siciliano came to America as a boy, immigrating from Italy. Who knew he was going to become the World’s Most Perfectly Developed Man? The Story of Charles Atlas: STRONG MAN will stir kids’ heart and challenge them to make good choices.

Image result for the story strongmanAngelo was skinny and weak, but he wanted to change. He was tired of being bullied. By observing lions at the zoo, he invented a routine that increased his muscle size. Through perseverance and determination, Angelo grew stronger. His nickname was Charles, and his friends added, Atlas, after the Greek god who was said to have strong shoulders holding the heavens. Atlas promoted exercise, fitness, and good character.

Meghan McCarthy invites kids into the biography of a man who still impacts us today. I love the author’s note, sharing a memory from her grandfather and giving an insight into the America folk hero.

Listen to the audio story on this link from Meghan McCarthy’s website.

Savorings for The Story of Charles Atlas: STRONG MAN:

  • Overcoming Difficulty
  • Perseverance
  • Exercise Fitness
  • Determined to Succeed
  • Character Counts – strong and honest
  • Comic Frames

A Holocaust Heroine

January 11, 2012

The Holocaust. Sorrow grips my heart when I think of the injustice placed upon the Jewish people. Freedom is priceless… for everyone.

Irena Sendler is one account of a brave heroine during the Holocaust. Her story had remained silent until 1989. During the Warsaw Ghetto, Irene helped smuggle 2500 Jewish children to safety. She secretly hide the children’s identity on a list she buried in a jar.  When captured by the Nazis, Irene was sentenced to death. By a bribe from someone outside, Irene was miraculously able to escape. After the war, Irena began to reunite children and surviving parents. Read her story in the book, Irena Sendler and the Children of the Warsaw Ghetto, by Susan Goldman Rubin.

Sharing Irene’s story and others of the Holocaust, we have an opportunity to teach our children respect for others, to stand against bullies, and preserve life.

To hear Irena speak about her encounter with the Ghetto, introduce your children to the video clip of her (3 min.) I suggest viewing the pictures prior to showing it to your children. Young children may not fulling understand.

How her story was shared.

Savorings for reading and in writing for Irena  Sendler and the Children of the Warsaw Ghetto:

  • Biography with tension
  • Quotes
  • Snapshot
  • Important details – summarizing
  • Community building

PES new book

Patriots as Kids

September 19, 2011

Lane Smith crafts the book, John, Paul, George & Ben, as a storyteller speaking directly to the reader. You become wrapped up in the perspective of our forefathers’ childhoods. Kids will find it interesting to read about the historical persons as children, doing everyday child-like activities. Lane Smith’s humor is refreshing.

John, Paul, George & Ben is a fun background read for American history. Each of the five Sons of Liberty are spotlighted with events that made them famous.

In the back of the book, Lane Smith adds a true/false section to clarify focal points in the short chapters shared. I love the humor and play on words. What a fun way to get a discussion going!

There a brief video advertisement for the book. Scroll to the second video on the link. Another video, below, shows a sneak peek at the book and shares what inspired Lane Smith to create the book.

Savorings for reading and in writing for John, Paul, George & Ben:

  • Magic of 3 – John Hancock (you’ll be laughing)
  • Punctuation – clauses especially names
  • Humor – takes normal activity and creates a twist. For example, Paul rung the bell. The ringing caused his hearing to be back. Thus, he’d yell to the customers where he worked.
  • One day experience – George
  • Power of Words – Tom
  • True/False section in back – excellent background for the Revolutionary War
  • Great teacher resource link


September 11th: A Day to Remember

September 11, 2011

Rembering this tenth anniversary of the terrorist attacked,  I appreciated Stacey Shubitz’s reflections on Two Writing Teachers. I remember where I was the day America was attacked. My heart was shocked, angered, concerned.

Today has been a day of reflection. The date “September 11th” fills my heart with mixed feelings. Today is my youngest son’s 13th birthday. He’s full of energy and excitement and embraces this day as something special. He has compassion for others and does not forget to honor those who served on his birthday ten years ago. He’s mindful of others, and I believe this day has touched his heart.

I have several books I share to help children connect with this memorable day. I posted about Fireboat:  the Heroic Adventures of the John J. Harvey by Maira Kalman in 2009. People made the decision to get involved, do their part, and intervened during a crisis.

I had planned to post the book 14 Cows for America by Carman Agra Deedy in detail, but due to my dad being in the hospital this week, time slipped away. I highly recommend reading the book to you students this week. Our country united during this time and we need to remind our future generation how necessary compassion is to keeping a great nation. Carman shares how others had compassion for a hurting nation. It will allow your students the opportunity for discussion on what they can do for others in need.

Rough, Tough Charley

August 24, 2011

One of my favorite YA novels is Riding Freedom by Pam Munoz Ryan (drawings by Brian Selznick). The story lingers with me. I love historical narrative. I’m fascinated with stories of people who triumph over difficulties. I’m encouraged. I was thrilled to find a picture book about the character in Rough, Tough Charley by Verla Kay.

In Riding Freedom, a young orphaned girl escapes and survives looking like a boy. She, Charley, is a horse-whisperer and survives by living in a livery stable. Eventually, Charley learns to drive a stage-coach and becomes an expert driver.

When I saw Rough, Tough, Charley at the library, I knew the picture book would be about the same character. Verla Kay recreated the narrative through poetic stanzas. The text form is not what I expected a delightful change. Adam Gustavson recreates the western setting brilliantly with his paintings, adding to the mood.

I highly recommend reading this book and using it to build background knowledge on the pioneer west, women’s rights, and poetry verse structure.

In the back, a timeline is shared with a short synopsis of important events in Charley’s life. I learned more about the character ad now am comparing/contrasting to the novel’s portrayal.

Savorings for reading and in writing for Rough, Tough Charley:

  • Biography – great way to show how genres and forms can be mingled
  • Poetic narrative – I like the short conversation integrated in the text.
  • Background Knowledge – women’s rights (Charley voted when women could not.)
  • Word Choice
  • Inference – lots of discussion around the character, Charley

Warsaw Community Public Library new book

TV: How it was Invented

August 3, 2011

Kathleen Krull introduces her book with “Life Before Philo”, inviting the reader to imagine life in history. A contrast to today – no visual images except for the movie theater. Only the radio brought live entertainment into the home.

The Boy Who Invented TV: the Story of Philo Farnsworth shares how Philo was curious and intelligent. He asked questions of the repairman and read article in science magazines. Scientists were trying to create television and Philo’s mind lingered on the mystery.

Kathleen Krull shares how the idea was inspired at age 14 and Phil’s stages in creating the first TV image. This biography is a longer text, yet grabs the reader’s attention. The author’s note in the back shares how he won the patent but was not given credit for creating TV due to big business. They featured TV at the World’s Fair.

Savorings for reading and in writing for The Boy Who Invented TV: the Story of Philo Farnsworth:

  • Importance of life-learning
  • Show Don’t Tell – Kathleen’s craft with words is awesome
  • Voice – “And there was not television. That’s right. NO TV.”
  • Varied sentences
  • M Dash – used several times for emphasis on the key idea
  • Author’s Note – excellent background information and gives the rest of the story

PES new book (2009)

Ameila Earhart

July 25, 2011

Robert Burleigh chooses beautiful words dipped with richness in his book Night Flight: Amelia Earhart Crosses the Atlantic. His use of careful phrasing, short quipped sentences and interwoven personification,challenges your thinking. His biographical narrative allows the reader to feel Amelia’s anxiousness and hopefulness at the same time. I marvel at Burleigh’s molding of words. The emotion keeps you on the edge.

1:00 a.m. The friendly night becomes a graph of fear: a jagged line between where-I-am and not-quite-sure.

Your students will be engaged in thought. Each page turning brings forth a new possibility.

Wendell Minor‘s paintings illuminate the highlights of the scene. The reader has the sense he/she is flying with Amelia, viewing the Atlantic for the first time.

When you open the book, notice the end papers. They have a map of Amelia’s journey from Harbour Grace, Newfoundland to Derry, Northern Ireland. A sketch of her plane, Little Red Bus, depicts the Lockheed Vega she flew. An afterword in the back shares a short biography of Amelia’s ambitious personality and love for flying. In addition, other research websites are shared. I particularly love the “Things Amelia Said” section. She was a bold lady with zest!

Savorings for reading and in writing for Night Flight: Amelia Earhart Crosses:

  • 2 word sentences – lots of varying
  • Foreshadowing – the flight seems to be going smoothly when a storm erupts
  • Similes – lots
  • Personification – brings the reader into the midst of history
  • Colon – used numerous times

PES new book


June 25, 2011

Lester Laminack spoke at the AllWrite!!! Summer Institute this past Tuesday. His sense of humor engages his audience. His session was on the importance of the right kinds of details in writing. I’ll share that later.

The important tip Lester shared was on laughter. He said laughter releases endorphins. Endorphins allow the brain to be flooded with energy and thus our students learn better. Lester then challenged us by having 4 to 5 one liners in our back pocket to use when our students seem to be dull and not awake. It will grab their attention and give them a boost.

I’m glad. Maybe that’s why I love to laugh. Laughter releases a lot of good feelings. I guess that’s why I was drawn to the book, Lincoln Tells a Joke: How Laughter Saved the President (and the country). Kathleen Krull & Paul Brewer  share how Abraham Lincoln used laughter to win people over and help lighten a serious moment.

Throughout the book, you will find quotes from Abraham Lincoln. I find them fascinating and I think your students will enjoy them as well. This book is a great way to introduce biography. The richness of the text is packed with information yet will not bore the reader. In fact, the voice of the authors make you want to read on.

Savorings for reading and writing for Lincoln Tells a Joke:

  • Biography
  • Transitions – scenes highlight the important parts of his life
  • Quotes –
  • Love of reading
  • Common theme of laughter interwoven throughout each stage of his life
  • Author’s note

Slice of Life: The Little Things I Hold Dear

March 21, 2010

Today I heard Patricia Polacco speak.  Her speech moved my heart.  Her family shared stories with their children and grandchildren.  They wanted them to remember who had sacrificed for them to come to America and learn.

Thanking a speaker, Debbie Taylor, our comments spiraled into enjoying our children.  Our conversation is the inspiration for this Slice of Life.  After hearing Patricia, my mind was spurred into thinking about the little things that are dear to me.  (And although they may embarrass my children, I must share how the little things swell my heart with love).

  • my sixteen year old son still gives me a hug and kiss on the cheek each morning before he goes to school; he knows I love it
  • my thirteen year old daughter waits for me to tuck her in at night; we talk briefly, hug, and get a kiss
  • my eleven year old son strokes my face once with his hand after tucking him in for bed
  • my sixteen year old son will run errands to the store for me; I know he likes the privilege of driving, but getting laundry soap is not the most fun thing
  • my thirteen year old daughter tells me about her day after school; she knows I want to know what’s happening in her education
  • what’s more important, she talks to me about her friends; she told me that she appreciates talking with me as many of her friends do not talk to their mothers
  • my eleven year old son takes the dirty clothes from the upstairs to the basement, even though he doesn’t like it
  • he also takes the garbage cans to the road for his dad, just so dad won’t have to do it
  • my sixteen year old son gives me a play by play of the wrestling match or the baseball game; although some details could be ‘sped up’, I love hearing him share with me
  • my daughter likes to ride with me on errands, just so that I won’t have to be alone
  • she also asks me to stop working and to play a game; and if we watch a movie, she asks that I don’t fold laundry or do other things – just sit next to her and enjoy our time
  • our youngest rides to work with me each day; it’s his last year in elementary.  Next year, none of my children will ride to work with me.
  • our youngest will also fill up two water bottles each morning at work
  • our sixteen year old asks to get online; he doesn’t like it that he has to ask, but respects our wishes
  • he also loves his dad; he’ll even ask if Rick will be okay if goes with his friends at the football game
  • my daughter asks to go the library and looks for picture books that I might like to use in class or blog about
  • our youngest prays for his grandfather (who lives with us) that he won’t be lonely when we are at school
  • our oldest carries in the groceries
  • my daughter asks grandpa about stories at meal time
  • our youngest helps clear the table

My list will go on as I begin to remember the special “little things” in life.

Each moment counts!