Changing Season

November 1, 2008

Cynthia Rylant has a wonderful way with words.  Her book, In November, creates the picture of nature slipping into sleep for winter.  As a read aloud, this book can create a great discussion for the changing season, hibernation, and leads into the Thanksgiving season.  I love the way the illustrator, Jill Kastner, paints the country scene.  Living in the heartland of Indiana farmland, this book seems to culminate what is happening around us.  As a class, you could create a class book about what is happening in your community in November.

Book Cover Having once lived in a capitol city, In November would have brought forth a refreshing air to the city scene I saw daily.  As a little girl, I use to think that the city’s concrete was so cold during the changing season of fall and then into winter.  You couldn’t see much of what was happening in the country.  I remember looking at the parks and letting my mind wander to my grandmother’s farm.  The parks allowed nature to bring its beauty to the man-made structures.  In November could be an avenue to create a Venn Diagram of what happens in the environment between city and country.

Savorings for reading and in writing for In November:

  • Personification – “And the world has tucked her children in, with a kiss on their heads, till spring.”
  • Similes – “the trees…how lovely they are, spreading their arms like dancers.”
  • hyphenated words – “full of good-byes and well-wishes
  • setting of silence – “They know it’s time to be still.”
  • varied sentences – “…for cold times lie ahead.  Hard times.  All berries will be treasures.”


Book Cover A nonfiction connection is Autumn in America by Seymour Simon. “Text and photographs describe the signs of autumn that are seen in different parts of the United States, such as leaves changing color, the migration of birds and insects, the harvesting of crops, and changes in weather. (Hyperion Books for Children, 1993)

For younger children, When Autumn Comes by Robert Mass is a great narrative nonfiction to use during this season.  I love the photographs that Robert Mass has taken.  The text is simple yet on target in describing the autumn season.  The photographs are taken around the country, creating a discussion piece of what children see around them.  Once again, you could create a class book, integrating technology by using digital cameras.  Ask parents to take pictures and send in as well.  You could create a slide show of autumn.  Wouldn’t your class enjoy creating something that could then be an extension of the science curriculum?  Or, upper grades could create an informative piece for a primary grade.

More great autumn books:

Red Leaf, Yellow Leaf by Lois Ehlert

I Know It’s Autumn by Eileen Spinelli

Henry and Mudge

October 30, 2008

Cynthia Rylant has created a series based on everyday events between a boy and his dog, Henry and Mudge.  As in an earlier blog, kids have simple experiences that are worthy of writing.  Most children have pets and have stories to share.  These books make great mentor texts for younger children, focusing on the important parts.  Cynthia Rylant takes the ordinary and molds the words into a sculpture of words. Henry and Mudge:  Under the Yellow Moon has three short stories in its collection that focus on the autumn season and holidays. 

Savorings for reading and in writing for Henry and Mudge:  Under the Yellow Moon:

Chapter 1:  Together in the Fall

  • See Saw effect using opposites – “Henry likes…Mudge likes…”  It reminds me of Tough Boris by Mem Fox.
  • Ending – “…liked being together most of all.”
  • Repeating prepositional phrase – “In the fall...”

Chapter 2:  Under the Yellow Moon

  • Punctuation – Colon – p. 6 uses it with a list; p. 15 highlighting; apostrophe – p.20 jack-o’-lantern
  • Mudge is personified – “And he was more scared of the yellow moon and the dark room and the witch’s stories than anybody else!
  • Onomatopoeia – to increase the tension
  • Twist at the beginning

Chapter 3:  Thanksgiving Guest

  • Character thinking like a kid – p. 36 and 37 are great examples
  • Inference – p. 41:  “Henry knew what Aunt Sally would be doing in the kitchen.”
  • Kid perspective of relatives
  • Character description – not what she looked like but rather about her behavior