Smile Sunshine

August 1, 2011

Smile! by Leigh Hodgkinson: Book CoverYellow is bright and initiates a sense of happiness in a room, so the cover of Smile Starring Sunny McCloud  grabbed my attention. Leigh Hodgkinson uses her creative illustrations and font manipulation to accent the fun in this book. Researching the author, I found this quick (35 second) but cute YouTube video about Smile that you might want to show your kids as an introduction. Or, the use the video as a spring-board to discuss the beginning comment “What you are looking for is often right under your nose.” 

Sunny has a problem. She has lost her smile. She’s usually a chipper person, but today she’s hunting for her smile. Sunny chooses to do some things to help – cleans her room, feed the fish, plays with her dog. When Mother compliments Sunny on the stupendous job she has done, her smile appears.

You could create a class book about “What makes you smile?” This book could help with community building, instilling the fact that it’s important to build others up and create an atmosphere where people are happy.

Savorings for reading and in writing for Smile!:

  • Talks to the reader – first person narrative
  •  Font manipulation – D E S P E R A T E!
  • Hyphenated words – UN-higgledly – piggledy bedroom
  • Character emotions
  • Community building – great discussion starters in class “What brings a smile to your face?”

The Little Red Pen

July 20, 2011

Little Red Pen is worried about the huge stack of papers. They need to be graded. They must be graded. Who will help her?  Janet Stevens and Susan Stevens Crummel create a fun read that every teacher will love in The Little Red Pen. The voices of the characters are rich and funny. I could hear the passion of Little Red Pen as she works diligently through the papers. The work never seems to end and she implores the help of her fellow school supplies. They all seem to fear falling into the pit (the trash can) and tiring too much. Each character hides in the drawer until all of a sudden Little Red Pen stumbles and falls into the trash can.

The supplies realize they are needed and cannot take a backseat, letting just one do all the work. A sense of community abounds. Working together, they are able to motivate each other, save Little Red Pen, and accomplish the looming piles of papers.

Your kids will laugh hearing each character. I do love the way the conversations are color-coded, meaning the color of the spoke words match the color of the character.  This book will provide an opportunity for you to talk about team work and community in your classroom. You could also use this book as a read aloud as an introduction for procedures with using classroom supplies. Janet Stevens  has the characters present themselves with an air of respect that your students will connect with. The humor will keep them on the edge of their seats.  Love this book and want it for my collection!

A fun YouTube video about the book.

Savorings for reading and in writing for The Little Red Pen:

  • Character traits – Pushpin is Senorita Chincheta and speaks some Spanish.
  • Voice – kid’s will connect
  • Play on Words – Scissors “I’ve been cutting up all day. I’m getting dull. Not good for a sharp guy like me.”
  • Everyday happening – ideas for a story from ordinary school supplies
  • Font manipulation
  • Community – working together

Warsaw Community Public Library – new 2011 book


Giving with Thanks

November 10, 2009

Marlo Thomas edited the book, Thanks & Giving All Year Long.  Several writers and illustrators, TV and movie actors contributed their childhood memories or imaginative stories to crate this collection of writings.  All contributions from the book go to help the researchers and doctors at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

Marlo Thomas introduces the book with a quote from her father.

My father used to tell me that there are two kinds of people in the world:  the takers and the givers.  The takers sometimes eat better, he would say, but the givers always sleep better.

Marlo continues to share that we have many reasons to be thankful.  She enjoys the holiday of Thanksgiving with memories from her childhood.  She encourages her readers to be thankful throughout the year.  Her focus is for people to be givers.  A sincere smile is giving.

The children in our classroom need to be givers.  We have a responsibility to build a community of learners in our classroom.  By having the children hear the stories of thankfulness, we can help them to be more aware of the needs of others around them, building the community of learning with it.

Savorings for reading and in writing for Thanks & Giving All Year Long:

  • Short Stories – stories that focus on small moments with important events
  • Variety of Genres – songs, letters, fables, poems, comics, narrative
  • Letter Writing – tow great examples of letters written to a sibling, remembering a special time and building them up
  • Purpose – the author wrote the book with the intention of building others up and raising funds for research
  • Community Building
  • Health – explore St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital website and learn about children that are their age

Just OK

August 26, 2009

The title of the book caught my eye – The OK Book.  In my pressured days, I often feel like I have to be master of all and yet I know that I am just OK at many things.  Well, OK is just fine; it’s just OK.  Amy Krouse Rosenthal and Tom Lichtenheld have teamed together to create this delightful book about being average, OK, and feeling good about it.

The character in the book is a stick figure created The OK Bookwith the circular O and the K turned sideways underneath it.

The character talks to you and explains that it likes “to try a lot of different things.”  It proceeds to say it enjoys it even though it’s not a master of them all.

I shared this book with a fourth grade class this past week.  A sense of “I’m OK” spread across their faces.  We have just started school, and the book put them at ease as I shared how being just okay was fine.  We were going to work at subjects and skills.  Some they would be better at than others, just like in the book.

Savorings for reading and in writing for The OK Book:

  • Pattern Book – each page shares some that the character is OK at
  • Class Book activity – everyone could make their own OK page and compile them
  • Voice – the character talks to the reader
  • Synthesis
  • Community building

(Warsaw Public Library)