Is There a Dog In This Book?

April 7, 2018

Fun. Creative. Interactive. Viviane Schwarz engages her readers by interacting with the characters in Is There a Dog in This Book? I just love how the characters chit-chat with you: “Oh, hello! You opened our book!” Andre’ sniffs and wonders if someone else is in their book. The hide-and-seek game begins between the cats and the dog. The reader engages in the hunt by lifting flaps in the book, seeking and adding to the story.

Author/ illustrator, Viviane Schwarz, shares her story about writing books in this 8-minute video. I love how she wants to inspire children to draw and write, creating their own books.

On this YouTube clip, the author reads her story to you. I think the kids will enjoy hearing her read this delightful tale. View her blog for more behind the scenes tidbits of her work. You will be introduced to other books by Viviane Schwarz.

Savorings for Is There a Dog in This Book?

  • Voice
  • Second Person Narrative – interaction with the characters
  • Power of 3
  • Speech bubbles
  • Character Description / change
  • Everyday Happening – children can relate to the topic; create stories using their pets
  • Setting – helps young children see the importance of the setting
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Nerdy Birdy Tweets

February 16, 2018

FullSizeRender (3)Two friends: Nerdy Birdy and Vulture. They are different, but they are real friends. A must-have book for my library!

Aaron Reynolds creates a delightful banter between two friends in Nerdy Birdy Tweets. Nerdy Birdy loves his video games and his new tweeter friends. Absorbed in the online media, he forgets his friend, Vulture. A story of learning to balance social media with relationships.

Check out video clips of books and interviews of Aaron Reynolds. View some of the illustrations by Matt Davies and tweets between Reynolds and Davies regarding their new book.

Savorings for Nerdy Birdy Tweets:

  • Character Traits – compare/contrast
  • Digital Citizenship
  • Perspective
  • Play on words
  • Restorative Practice
  • Friendship

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

Chickens to the Rescue

June 26, 2017

My friend, Tammy, loves chickens. She barters for them at swap meets and collects their eggs. She names them and notices their character. And Tammy tells chicken stories. I love her stories!

I’m not sure her chickens have come to her rescue, but John Himmelman‘s characters do. They are ready to help each member of the family every day of the week in Chickens to the Rescue.

Right now, I could enlist the chickens to do some every day chores: dishes, laundry, scrubbing the kitchen floor, even going through the piles in the closets. Your kids will laugh at the attributes each chicken displays.

A YouTube interview of John Himmelman talking about Chickens to the Rescue (almost 9 min.)

Savorings for reading and in writing for Chickens to the Rescue:

  • Sequence of Events according to the days of the week
  • Character description
  • Repeating Structure
  • Bookend ending – ready for the next book

South Whitley Public Libary


Cat and Bear

November 28, 2011

The illustrations by Anne Mortimer are exquisitely life-like in Cat and Bear by Carol Greene.

Cat is annoyed that his child has chosen to love a stuffed bear instead of himself. You can sense Cat’s feeling of distaste. Cat attempts to hide bear, but mother finds bear each time.  Until one day…

Cat took one look at him and felt sick. “The Child already has a furry friend,” he growled. “Me. Bear is unnecessary.”

On a windy day, Cat seeks his revenge, and Bear is lost outside in leaves.  The Child misses the bear.  Cat tries to ignore his thoughts and guilt,  but sees the pain his Child is feeling.  In the end, Cat begrudgingly searches, finds, and retrieves Bear.  Dragging him to the Child, Cat is rewarded with a kiss of love from the Child. In the end, Cat learns that love can be shared and is multiplied.

Reading through Anne Mortimer’s bio on her website, I learned she is famous for her cat paintings. I didn’t realize she illustrated another one of my favorite books for Christmas called A Pussycat’s Christmas by Margaret Wise Brown. For the cat lovers, below is a beautiful video of Anne’s gallery.

Savorings for reading and in writing for Cat and Bear:

  • Character description – the lovable Bear and the unaccepting Cat
  • Voice of the cat – I love the cat’s finicky personality is portrayed
  • Synthesizing
  • Story detail – a wonderful interweaving of character thought, action, and dialogue
  • Sensory description –  soggy, snuggled
  • Community building

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


Dirk Yeller

August 17, 2011

Dirk Yeller is a cowboy with itches in his britches! People are nervous around him. When Dirk asks for help, no one seems to have the solution … except for Sam. Sam is curious and begins following Dirk everywhere. He seems to understand Dirk’s energy and shows him to his quiet place – the library.

The Day Dirk Yeller Came to Town by Mary Casanova shares the importance of the library and how reading can capture a variety of interests. Ard Hoyt adds more to the story on the end papers. In the front, you will see the wanted poster, including Dirk’s profile. In back, the newspaper announces Dirk and the librarian wed. What a change reading had on this character!

“And ever since, the library has become the busiest place in town, especially for folks curious, restless minds – like Dirk Yeller and me.”

Savorings for reading and in writing for The Day Dirk Yeller Came to Town:

  • Magic of 3
  • Voice
  • Transitions
  • Similes – “sweet as pecan pie
  • Apostrophe – ‘cuz, shootin’

Warsaw Community Public Library new book