March 24, 2019

Technology is a gift to us. We learn, connect, and play. The internet provides opportunities to meet authors and explore ideas.

Steve Antony shares the goodness of technology in his book, Unplugged. It also supports balance of exploring the outdoors and the importance of friendship.

Enjoy meeting Steve Antony on this one minute video clip.

Enjoy the reading of Unplugged (4 min. video).

Savorings for reading and in writing for Unplugged:

  • Technology
  • Power of 3
  • Friendship
  • Learning
  • Setting
  • Pros/ Cons

Writing Territories: 3 Bear Books

March 31, 2018

Writing territories are topics each of us knows well. These topics we know well or enjoy learning more about. One writing territory I enjoy is baseball. I have read many picture books on the topic: narrative- first person, second person, third person, informational, historical fiction, biographies, ABC book, 101 Reasons, specific professional team. One topic; many forms of writing.

Kids need to see they can use their same topic in many writing forms. Comparing books is a great way to show children how they can explore writing techniques.

Bear and Duck by Katy Hudson is a fictional story about a bear who tries being a duck. An unlikely friendship forms.

Savorings for Bear and Duck:

  • Power of 3
  • Sequential steps
  • How To
  • Hyphenated words
  • Encouragement
  • Friendship

Bear Has a Story to Tell by Philip C. Stead is about a bear who wants to share his story but helps his friends get ready for winter. Spring comes. Bear does random acts of kindness for his friends.

Savorings for Bear Has a Story to Tell:

  • Story elements – great as a mentor text
  • Sesnory description
  • Love of Story
  • Hibernation
  • Fast-forward Time
  • Acts of Kindness
  • Friendship

A Beginner’s Guide to Bear Spotting by Michelle Robinson presents a different approach to bears. A little boy is on adventure to find bears with the reader speaking to him in second-person narrative. Love the voice in this book! Enjoy!

Savorings for A Beginner’s Guide to Bear Spotting:

  • Field Notes/ Writer’s notebook
  • Reader talks to the character
  • Second Person Narrative
  • Compare/ Contrast
  • Voice
  • Humorous


Boy + Bot

February 25, 2018

Boy + Bot by Ame Dyckman, illustrated by Dan Yaccarino,  is a delightful tale of friendship. These two become friends despite their differences. They engage in fun activities, have compassion for each other, and work out problems. The tone of the book invites readers to think about characteristics of a friend, how to overlook differences, and possibly try something new. For some extension activities, visit RIF.

To hear the entire book, view on the YouTube link.

Savorings for Boy + Bot:

  • Synonyms
  • Varied sentence length
  • Sequence of events
  • Past tense verbs – /ed/
  • Parallel structure
  • Comparison – man vs. machine
  • Wonderings – Was the boy imagining a friendship with his toy robot? Notice the illustrated toys in his bedroom.
  • Friendship
  • Compassion

Lost and Found : Three Dog Stories

February 11, 2018

Image result for Lost and Found Three Dog Stories by Jim LaMarche

Three separate short stories weaved together: Molly, Ginger, Yuki. Jim LaMarche will touch your heart and cause you to linger in the child’s moment with his/her dog. You’ll gently smile and find a spot in your heart to hold the images of his brilliant pencil drawings.

“…through the tall grass, up a rocky hill, then into the woods.”

Comfort when angry. Companion when venturing in the woods. Hiking partner. Always returns home. Strong bond. Serendipity. Homeless. Elderly. Comfort. Tension. Worry. Reunited. The love of a dog and his owner.

Savorings for Lost and Found: Three Dog Stories:

  • Suddenly – tension, suspense, wondering
  • Routines interrupted
  • Doing what’s right
  • Zoomed in box illustration
  • Friendship
  • Grabber Lead
  • Power of Three

A Friend Like You

November 2, 2011

I love this book! I highlighted this book at the AllWrite!!! Summer Institute this past June. The large photograph illustrations are spectacularly unique. Your students of all ages will want A Friend Like You.

Tanja Askani lives near Hamburg, Germany. She provides a home for many injured animals. The photos are of these animals and the interesting relationships they have with each other. In the back of the book, each photo has some background information, giving you a glimpse into the animals’ lives.

The short text focuses on the qualities of friendship. It lends itself to a group discussion on how to treat others, friendship roles, and building a class community.

Savorings for reading and in writing for A Friend Like You:

  • Compare/Contrast
  • Hybrid Text
  • Sentence Structure – short enough to focus on specific grammatical structure (and fun too!)
  • Photographs – brilliant! (see Tanja Askani‘s website for more)
  • Sense of community

Friendship: City Dog and Country Frog

March 26, 2011

Product DetailsMo Willems has created a frolicking book about friendship in City Dog, Country Frog.  Two animals meet and become friends – a dog and a frog. Each animal teaches the other some games.  Jon Muth’s illustrations allow the readers to infer much more than the text says.  It’s a packed, simple story that allows children to fill in the parts when time transfers from one season to the next.

In the end, the dog goes and cannot find his friend after the winter.  The pictures made my heart sad. As I turned the page, my heart was cheered when a Country Chipmunk came upon the City Dog waiting for his friend.  And a new friendship bloomed.  Love it.

Savorings for reading and in writing for City Dog, Country Frog:

  • Semi-colon – “City dog didn’t stop on that first day in the country; he ran as far and as fast as he could.”
  • Seasons changing and hibernation
  • Parenthesis
  • Bookend – begins with City Dog meeting Country Frog who was waiting for a friend
  • “Ing”ing verbs – sniffing, fetching, barking

(Okay I know the verbs are called present participles, but I learned a long time ago that first graders do not understand that terminology.  Instead, thanks to Katie Wood Ray and my friend Ruth, who noticed “ing”ing words in My Mama Had a Dancin’ Heart, I can name the verbs what I want.  So “ing”ing verbs makes sense to little kids. :))

Cowboy and Octopus

September 1, 2009

Boy readers will love Cowboy & Octopus.  I read the book to a fourth grade class, and we were all laughing.  The humor reaches in and tickles your funny bone. 

Cowboy and OctopusJon Scieszka creates a tale of friendship between two odd characters – an octopus and a cowboy.  The book does not share how the idea sparked in Jon’s brain, but the end papers give the reader a clue.  Savoring a book requires some inquiry, asking questions to develop insight.

Jon Scieszka uses the book’s humor as an in road to discussing how to be a friend.  Each character, Octopus and Cowboy, definitely have their differences, and their likes.  Yet, they appreciate each other and share their honesty too.

We are friends,” says Cowboy.  “And that’s why I am telling you – your new hat looks like something my horse dropped behind him.  ‘Cause that’s the truth.”

Savorings for reading and in writing for Cowboy & Octopus:

  • Realistic conversation – “Sounds loco to me,” says Cowboy.  “But okay.”
  • Interweaving of Detail – Cowboy decides to surprise Octopus and make him dinner.  Octopus is definitely surprised.  “Heavens,” says Octopus.  “What is this?”
  • Ellipse – “Wow,” says Octopus.  “That is really… um … different.  Do you like my new hat?”
  • Chapter Titles – scenes that highlight their friendship
  • Humor –
  • Rereading – you must reread sections to catch all of the humor (knock, knock joke)

excellent Boy Read!

PES library and Warsaw Public Library

Pet Friendship

January 21, 2009

The adorable cover illustration caught my eye.  I have a soft spot for German shepherds.  Fluffy and Baron is based on the author’s “many happy memories of my childhood pets, who really were best friends.”

Many of our students have pets and they also have friends.  I find that Laura Rankin creatively blends the two interests into this special story of friendship.  I love the character qualities expressed.  The story begins with a warm, loving scenario …

… until three wild ducks reside on the farm’s pond in the spring. 
Fluffy watched, waddling back and forth – toward the newcomers and then back to Baron again.”
Laura’s illustrations make your heart melt as Baron deals with being alone.  Children can connect as they have experienced  loss of friends who have moved, divorce, death.
This book has several places that infer the character feelings and mood of the storyline.  You also have to fill in the gaps between event with the passage of time.  For primary students, this book is ideal for teaching story elements, the climax mountain, and internal character conflict.
Savorings for reading and in writing for Fluffy and Baron:
  • Magic words of story – “One summer day, someone new waddled into Baron’s life.”
  • Passage of time – use of seasons
  • Transitions – “For the next three nights,”
  • Inference – “Baron’s tail wagged and wagged.”
  • Internal character conflict – “Fluffy watched, waddling back and forth


October 22, 2008

Another Halloween favorite is Porkenstein by Kathryn Lasky.  Many of our boys love action, fantasy, and monsters.  The book is a combination of ideas from Frankenstein and The Three Little Pigs.  Kathryn molds the story into a funny, yet enticing text.

I do not enjoy the physical or chemical sciences much, but many children do.  This comical book uses scientific terms that can help build background knowledge or create a better picture understanding of such terms as beaker, laboratory, and incubator.

The friendship theme appears from the beginning paragraph:  “Dr. Smart Pig was a famous inventor, but he didn’t have any friends.”  When I read books, my eye searches for any possible way to connect the book with children.  With many legislative standards being placed on teachers, we have to be creative to overlap subjects to allow children more exposure to ideas, more reflection, more possibilities than the obvious.  Porkenstein is one example of this, as in my last post on The Hallo-Weiner by Dav Pilkey.  As you savor books, look for several avenues the book may take you.  Your students will begin to do the same.

Savorings for reading and in writing for Porkenstein:

  • Vivid verbs – “grunts, squirt, peered
  • Problem/solution – three tries and then a problem
  • Passage of time – “Halloween night was getting closer…, It was almost sunset when he heard…”
  • Character thinking:  questioning self – “Dr. Smart Pig was worried.  Maybe inventing a friend wasn’t such a good idea after all.
  • Show don’t tell – “Suddenly there was a scuffling sound – followed by a huge gulp and a rumbling belch.  Then silence.”