The Field Beyond the Outfield

April 21, 2011

Field Beyond The Outfield (Scholastic Bookshelf)

The Field Beyond the Outfield is a different type of spin on the game of baseball. Many of the books I read on baseball have a connection to history; this one is not. A true fantasy, Mark Teague creates as if he tapped into a boy’s imagination. A boy who loves bugs more than baseball. A boy who lets his imagination go and becomes the hero in a truly remarkable game.

Ludlow Brebe is a boy who is great a science but lacks athletic ability. He enjoys exercising his mind more than his body.  He loves to daydream about creatures and have mysterious escapades.  Due to the encouragement of and respect for his parents, Ludlow joins a baseball team.

Ludlow is placed way out in the backfield, far away from the main action of the game. But his imagination does not stop. He begins to see another game, a baseball game beyond the outfield. Bugs are the main players and Ludlow is swept away. He becomes a player and hits a game winning hit.

Researching Mark Teague as an author, I found a wonderful author video. I find these interviews are great to show your students. In this video, Mark Teague shares how he began writing and how he uses his imaginations with illustrations.

Savorings for reading and in writing for The Field Beyond the Outfield:

  • Specific language – pennants, big-league
  • Imagination – creative story
  • Every day activity
  • One day event
  • Point of View

Yucky Worms

April 8, 2011

Spring is coming and I am ready.Vivian French creates a fun spring read in Yucky Worms. Her sensory description makes your senses react, at least mine did. I do enjoy worms. I do not fish and marvel at anyone who can hook a slimy creature to the line.  My nose wrinkles at the sound of the word “worm”, so I find that I am surprised at home much I like the book, Yucky Worms. It’s going on my need-to-own book list.

Yucky Worms would be a great mentor text for an “All About” unit of study. Vivian French writes in narrative with the hybrid of nonfiction facts on the sides on the page. She sprinkles fun facts throughout the text. The nonfiction diagrams show you the below-the-surface activity a worm creates.

Read the jacket flap. The blurb explains that Vivian dug up a worm one day when her grandson, Jack. was with her. He immediately said, “Yuck,” which is the pretext of this book. Isn’t it fun to find out how the author got her idea?

Savorings for reading and in writing for Yucky Worms:

  • Hybrid text – narrative of grandma and grandson learning about earthworms; informational of side bars and in diagrams of the earth and earthworms
  • Descriptive – slimy, slithery, wiggly worm
  • Speech bubbles
  • Diagrams – the illustrations show the network of worms and how they live in the environment
  • Index – list is in the back – information in the text is shared in two different kinds of fonts

(Warsaw Public Library – new book – 2009 copyright)

Footprints in the Snow

February 1, 2011

6:15 a.m.  I gaze outside to see footprints in the newly fallen snow.  The prints puzzle me – No, they are not the cat’s.  They look like…

My eyes move to the left and I notice a solemn rabbit nibbling on a bush buried in snow.  Nibble. Alert.  Nibble.  Alert.

Moments of silence pass as I enjoy the scene below.  I smile as my mind connects to a book, Footprints in the Snow.   Hello my unexpected acquaintance.

Slice of Life: Meeting a Friend

March 22, 2010

My friend, Tammy, always says, “MH, say hello to someone.  Meet a friend.  You may never know who you will meet.”  I have been with Tammy when she says hello to someone in line, at a conference sitting next to her, even on the airplane ride.  Tammy is a bucket-filler extraordinaire.

I am friendly as well, but I often will keep to myself.  I attended the Michigan Reading Conference this weekend and often would smile at people, but I was content to go to a workshop, sit in a seat, listen, and reflect.  I didn’t need to interact with those around me.  (I definitely could envision my friend, Tammy, interacting).

Well, today I was different.  I had finished a session with Debbie Diller.  She autographed a name plate for me and I stayed to ask her some questions after the session.  Thirty minutes later, I headed to my next destination, deciding to stop at the restroom.  The hall was empty, and no line for the bathroom was there.  Washing my hands, a nice lady came over.  I smiled (and hearing Tammy’s nudge) and said, “How was your presentation?”  I noticed the lady’s name tag has the presenter label.  She said that she had just presented that morning and that it went well.  She preceded to tell me a glimpse of her session, which made me curious.  She then introduced herself as Patty.  We walked for a bit and conversed, asking about presentations and I mentioning our AllWrite!!! Summer Institute.  The conversation then led to blogging, something we both do.  Patty was kind enough to share one she follows and offered to send me the link.  I exchanged my email, gave my parting good-bye, and left with a smile.  I really liked her.  Patty was pleasant and I was thinking it would be fun to talk more about education.  I knew that Tammy would be proud of me for “making a new friend”.

I went to the exhibit hall and found some bargains on books (ohhh, I can’t wait to blog about them).  I walked around, reflecting on the conference, enjoying my time.  As I walked down one section, I noticed a book that Carol McCloud’s Have You Filled a Bucket Today? book displayed.  My eye caught another book, Wrestling the ABCs:  Creating Character and Fostering Fitness. My two sons wrestle; Wes just lettering this season.  So I was intrigued.  It’s a hybrid text.  I haven’t found books about wrestling, so I began to peruse the book.

The sales rep was nice and talked with me about it.  I was persuaded to buy it.  Moving to the table to make my purchase, my eye caught another book (ok, so I notice books a lot!).  This book was called Engineering the ABCs:  How Engineers Shape Our World. Wes is interested in engineering (another story about that later), so I thought it would be cool to get it.  The lady said, “Oh, the author of the book is right here.”  Following her motion, my eyes fell on a familiar face – my new friend, Patty.

She turned her head and smiled, “Hello, MaryHelen.”  I grinned.  What a moment!  Wow!

I made my purchase.  Patty and I moved to a nearby table where she signed the book.  We had our picture taken together as well.  I shared my Tammy saying with her and added, “This is a God-incidence.”

I look forward to hearing from Patty.  Our paths may not intersect again, but for today, I met a friend.  It was superb!


September 19, 2009

Creative! was the first thought I had when I finished reading We’re Off to Look For AliensColin McNaughton writes two books in one. 

He begins by sharing a narrative of himself as an author, told through his son’s point of view.

Dad writes children’s books.  He also draws the pictures.  He says it’s hard work, but he seems to spend an awful lot of time messing around.  (At this point, the illustration shows characters from other books that Colin McNaughton has written).

The father leaves his family to read his new book while he walks his dog.  The reader then changes to read a new story from a paperback book pocketed on the page.  The title of the new book is “We’re Off to Look for Aliens” by Colin McNaughton.  Sound familiar?  The text shares how he leaves with his dog, Wilberforce, to visit space.  They meet several type of aliens, all described through a familiar tune.  At the end of the journey, he meets a lady alien and they fall in love, bringing her home.  Kids will have fun reading it, especially a struggling reader, as they can connect the text to a nursery rhyme they have memorized.

In the end, the family shares their views. They believe the story is good, but “kids prefer fairy tales and stuff“.  The reader then learns that his family is the lady alien with two alien-like children that were featured in his children’s book.

Savorings for reading and in writing for We’re Off to Look  for Aliens:

  • Conversational Lead – “Ah-ha!” said Dad.  “My alien book.  Thank you, Mr. Mailman.”
  • Poetic Text – internal book written to the tune of  “Mary Had a Little Lamb
  • Hyphenated words – Never-seen-on-telly things, Eyeball-in-their-belly things
  • Surprise Ending
  • Stories about our lives