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

Cara’s Kindness

February 17, 2018

Pay it forward. In a time when turmoil and fear encircle us, we can choose to break the mold by helping others. Cara’s Kindness is a story of one character putting aside her problem to help another. In turn, the pay it forward then goes from one friend to another character. View a snippet of the book on this link. Kids of all ages can begin to think of ways to help others around them. Start in your classroom. Encourage it at home. How can they help the community?

The story also features a growth mindset.

“Well of course! That’s part of skating {or any part of life}. So the first think you need to learn is how to get back up.”

Kristi Yamaguchi shares her book at this link. She also has a website, Always Dream Foundation, that focuses on supporting early literacy and paying it forward to children in need.

Savorings for Cara’s Kindness:

  • Growth Mindset
  • Repeating line – “No worries…just pass on the kindness!
  • Alliteration – gracefully glided, character names
  • Theme – Caring makes a difference!
  • Small Moments in Time
  • Every day happenings

Flying Frogs and Walking Fish

February 10, 2018

Image result for flying frogs and walking fishSteven Jenkins and Robin Page collaborate to peak your interest. They share the most interesting facts about ordinary and unique creatures. In Flying Frogs and Walking Fish, the focus is on the animation of the animals.

The sections are divided by questions about the animal featured. For example, A Walking Octopus? sheds light beyond the understood eight legs. “They use two of them to walk on the sea floor.”

Other animals are then featured on a two-page spread highlighting their unique ways to walk (Marching, strolling, tiptoeing...). Additional facts are shared in the back of the book.

To learn more about the making of this book, go to Have fun learning new synonyms and interesting facts!

Savorings for Flying Frogs and Walking Fish:

  • Compare/ Contrast
  • Questions as SubTitles
  • Alliteration
  • Synonyms – whirling, tumbling, somersaulting
  • Fun Facts
  • Verbs

Dirty Joe the Pirate

July 27, 2011

Bill Harley creates a fun story in poetic rhyme (AABB) in Dirty Joe the Pirate: a True Story.  I love John Davis’s  illustrations; it seemed like I was reading a cartoon. Fun. Dirty Joe and his crew plunder ships seeking a special smelly treasure – dirty socks! The socks flew in the stern and bow as trophies of their dirty deeds.

One day, the crew happened upon another pirate ship. This pirate created fear the crew had never felt before, for this ship searched for another rare treasure – underwear! The illustration of the high-flying underroos cracked me up.

“It’s Stinky Annie,” someone said, “and her band of smelly varmits.”

When the two ships begin to raid one another, the men realized the girls were fighting barefoot. They are shocked and outwitted, stunned to weakness. As the two captains face each other, a familiar resemblance reveals a surprise – they are siblings! The ending will make you chuckle and surprise your students.

YouTube features Bill Harley performing the Ballad of Dirty Joe .  Enjoy!

Savorings for reading and in writing for Dirty Joe the Pirate: A True Story:

  • Alliteration – fluttered, flapped, flags
  • Word choice
  • Surprise ending
  • Conversation – humorous
  • Boy read that any girl will enjoy

Warsaw Community Public Library (2008)

Sloppy JOE

June 23, 2011

My friend, Tammy Shultz, and I present our top book picks at the AllWrite!!! Summer Institute. This year, we had a fantastic audience and shared our hearts out. I will be featuring some of the books for those who weren’t able to attend, as well as new books too for everyone. I was thrilled to find the book at our local Walgreens store today in the “two books for $10” table. Great new find!

Tammy shared a new book to me called Sloppy Joe by Dave Keane. The cover illustration makes me chuckle each time I see the sweet-faced boy with dirt everywhere. Tammy said that every teacher has a child like this; you know, the kind of kid that has his crayons on the floor, papers sticking out of every folder, or drags mud in from the playground. Denise Brunkus’s illustrations will grab your children’s attention as you hear laughter sprouting through the air. What a fun read!

Joe is sloppy. He tries to be neat, but he doesn’t seem to see the necessity… until one day. He’s had enough (or at least his mother has) and he cleans up his room. He wears something nice and too his surprise, nobody notices. Nobody notices because everyone has the flu. Joe comes to the rescue and the fun begins.

Savorings for reading and in writing for Sloppy Joe:

  • Exclamatory sentences – comb your hair!
  • Kid voice
  • Alliteration – slurp, spill, slouch
  • Cause/Effect – his sloppiness leads to issues
  • Character Description

Trick or Treat?

October 29, 2009

Stopping by my local library, I found a new book.  I always notice the picture books on display behind the circulation desk.  I’ve learned that the librarians display their favorite books (well, at least the most current favorite :)).  Trick or Treat by Bill Martin Jr. and Michael Sampson was on display.  I’ve never seen this book, although the copyright is 2002.  that’s what I love about books – they are treasures no matter if brand new or old

I teach children to take notice of an author’s fingerprints.  Each of us have our favorite authors.  We begin to notice his or hers style.  Recognizing Bill Martin Jr.’s name, I knew some poetic rhyme or rhythm would be used in his book, Trick or Treat?

I wasn’t disappointed.  A young boy is ready to go trick-or-treating through his apartment building.  After some safety reminders, he heads off with his mom.  The text takes you on a numerical journey up ten floors and back down.  bill uses a predictable structure for each scene. 

At each apartment, the boy is given a treat.  Reaching the tenth floor, Magic Merlin delivers a ‘trick’ to the young boy and makes everything “WackBards” (backwards).  Descending on each floor, the first letters of each treat title is changed creating a trick.  For example, Tangerine Drops change to Dangerine Tops.  I had to use the illustrations to create some understanding of the new vocabulary words. 

Savorings for reading and in writing for Trick or Treat?:

  • Alliteration – each character has the same sound for his/her first and last names
  • Safety Tips – the mother reminds her son about the safety tips for trick-or-treating
  • Climax – excellent for teaching a the climax of the story; could use a mountain graph
  • Possessive – daddy’s hug
  • Predictable structure – each person the boy goes to greet says the same thing
  • Math – numerical order:  second, third, fourth

Splat the Cat

October 19, 2009

Rob Scotton has created a tale about an everyday happening – going to school.  Splat is a cat in the tale Splat the Cat.  It’s the first day of cat school for splat.  He’s worried.  You are invited as a reader to climb into the character’s mind.  The author italicized Splat’s thinking.  On one of the pages, you can see the contrast between dialogue and thinking.  The text has fewer sentences on the page, so your students can see the examples clearly.

Rob Scotton’s illustrations are fun and cozy.  I feel like I’m in the room with the cats.  Splat is unusual in that he has a mouse as his pet.  When he goes to school, he learns what a good cat does.  One rule is that cats chase mice.  Splat wonders why and questions his teacher.  She doesn’t have a sturdy answer, so through Splat’s power of persuasion, the class decides that they do not have to chase mice.

Savorings for reading and in writing for Splat the Cat:

  • Alliteration – wiggled wildly with worry
  • Character Thinking – italicize wording
  • Everyday Happening – nervous about going to school and doing something new
  • Wondering – Splat asks the teacher questions and wants a valid answer besides “because”.
  • Bookending the Story – “Today was his second day at Cat School, and his tail wiggled wildly… with excitement.”
  • Character Twist – a cat has a mouse as a friend
  • Inferring – The illustrations add more emotion and understanding to the text.  The children will need to pay attention to Splat’s actions.

PES Library book and Warsaw Public Libray

Players in Pigtails

September 13, 2009

While in Cincinnati this past summer, my son and husband went to the National Sports Collector’s Convention.  Rick and Wes love to search for great baseball cards.  Me, I love the history.  Family Day brings the rest of us to the event for a day of meeting players and sight seeing at the booths. 

Last year, I happened upon a booth where a kind, senior lady sat.  Flanking her table was a uniform from the 1940’s.  But not just any uniform.  The uniform was a dress.  Elizabeth noticed the pictures and the banner that said, “A League of Their Own”.  The lady, Dolly Niemiec Konwinski, played for the Grand Rapids Chicks from 1949 – 1952. 

This year, I returned with a book in my bag.  I talked with Dolly and brought out my book Players in Pigtails.  She was impressed with the book and kindly signed on the back page with the logo AAGPBL.  She said that playing was fun and encouraged anyone to get involved in sports.

Players In Pigtails (Scholastic Bookshelf)Shana Corey gives you an overview of how the women’s league began.  She loves history.  Shana shares more information about the league in her two page author’s note in the back.  She also shares information in an interview with Scholastic.  Click on the link:  Shana Corey.

Savorings for reading and in writing for Players in Pigtails:

  • Alliteration and Magic of 3 – “Her clothing was crumpled.  Her knitting was knotted.  Her dancing was a disaster.”  “She preferred sliding to sewing, batting to baking, and home runs to homecoming.”
  • Interjection of BOLD words – WOULD SHE?!
  • Show don’t Tell/ Inferring – “The leauge managers heard the talk, and their stomachs started to twitch.”
  • Clauses – After all, at least she was getting to play ball.
  • Transitions/ Passage of Time – Every spring; When she got to Wrigley Field; On opening day
  • Historical background – dress of the era; women’s role in society


August 22, 2009

Pamela Duncan Edwards is a queen of alliteration, her author’s fingerprint.  The word play mingles humor into the storyline.  View her interview about why she uses alliteration and also her collaboration with Henry Cole.  The kids will enjoying seeing the video clip as well.  The Worrywarts begins with Wombat asking Weasel and Woodchuck to go “wander the world.”  The three begin to choose specific necessities for their travel. 

 “But then Wombat began to worry.  “WAIT!”  she wailed.  “WHAT IF…”

Wombat proceeds to share her worries that are illustrated as a visualization – a thought bubble.  Weasel and Woodchuck follow suit, stating their worries each time they are ready to “wander the world.”  Once ready, they begin their wandering.  Incidentally danger does await them.  Each time, the provisions they had brought along me the need to help them escape.  A fun text to read!  (You may need to practice reading the book as the alliteration creates a tongue twister effect. 🙂 ).

Savorings for reading and in writing for The Worrywarts:

  • Repeating Structure – each character shares his/her worries
  • Visualization – Henry Cole  illustrates the character’s thinking through thought bubbles; you could read a page to them, let the kids visualize and then show the illustrations.
  • Predicting – Ask the children what they think will be happening next, especially as the text gives you clues along the way.
  • Lots of Questioning – what if…?
  • Magic of 3 – “We’ve walked a long way,” said Wombat.  “I’m weak and weary,” said Weasel.  “I’m worn out,” said Woodchuck.
  • Alliteration – the use of W

Time to Sleep

October 15, 2008

Denise Fleming has a wonderful way of incorporating craft that young children can incorporate into their writing.  Time to Sleep is one of my favorite for fall.  Denise creates a rhythm that children enjoy and can interact with.  The theme allows you to connect this book with science concepts as well:  seasons and animal habitat.  Time to Sleep creates background knowledge for kindergarten, first, and second graders.  In regards to intermediate grades, Time to Sleep can be a model for making a book about a content area concept for a younger grade.  The structure also provides a way to link one concept to the next.

Savorings in reading and for writing for Time to Sleep:

  • repeating line – each animal states at the end of the scene “But first I must tell…” and names the next animal
  • circular text – begins with the bear and ends with ladybug telling bear
  • hibernation – characteristics of fall weather are sprinkled in within the conversation.
  • alliteration (“Snail was slowly slithering ….  It is time to seal your shell and sleep.“)
  • onomatopoeia (“Scritch, scratch, scratch.”)
  • varied sentences – length and types (Turtle blinked. “Winter?”  “Yes, winter,” said Skunk.  “It is time for you to dig down deep and sleep.“)