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


October 29, 2008

Margaret Wise Brown, author of Good Night Moon, brings to life the maturing of an ordinary pumpkin into a beloved jack-o-lantern in her book, The Fierce Yellow Pumpkin. She shares the yearning of this pumpkin character, wishing and wanting to be something fierce to scare the mice away.  Don’t children often yearn to be something more?  Don’t they dream?  This book shares the desire of wanting something now, learning patience, and having to endure some trials along the way all within an autumn setting.

Richard Egielski’s illustrations show the happenings between the lines of the story.  Three children enter in the background of the first page and then later reappear as knights in shining armor to a pumpkin.  Margaret then proceeds to have the children carve the character into a fierce jack-o-lantern.

Savoring for reading and in writing for The Fierce Yellow Pumpkin:

  • Beginning:  With my reading like a writer lenses on, I am not sure of a technical term, but notice with me how Margaret stages this pumpkin’s smallness: using the word “little” almost as a noun with an accenting adjective – “a fat little, round little, yellow little pumpkin in a great big field.”
  • Alliteration sprinkled throughout the story
  • Sensory Delight – “There was a burning smell of leaves in the air and a crisp tingle that tickled the fat little pumpkin’s sides.”
  • Passage of time – from the size of an apple to a fierce fiery orange
  • Wondering – the story makes you ask questions and reread to understand what is being inferred

Little Old Lady

October 23, 2008

The book by Linda Williams, The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything, is so much fun to read.  I have enjoyed reading the book to some second grade classes this Halloween season.  Linda Williams takes the concept of fear that all children have and creates a book that celebrates bravery.  Throughout the writing, she breaks up the suspense by using onomatopoeia (sound words in writing).  The children love to do motions with each onomatopoeia.  I had the children slap their laps for CLOMP! CLOMP! They WIGGLE, SHAKE, CLAP, and NOD along with the story.  They especially love saying BOO at the end.

To increase the interaction with the read aloud,  allow the children to turn and share with a partner what they think will happen next.  They love predicting correctly.  One student gave the prediction that the pumpkin head at the end said “Ha, Ha” instead of “Boo!  Boo!”  I asked if “ha,ha” would work and then asked them to think about why the author said “Boo” instead. The Halloween holiday was linked.  This read aloud helped build their comprehension, and it was fun.

Savorings for reading and in writing for The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything:

  • Onomatopoeia in the writing
  • Suspense – “…and on she walked, just a little bit faster.”
  • Suddenly – “The little old lady started to walk home.  Suddenly she stopped!”
  • Change in mood – “Then what’s to become of us?”  The pumpkin head suddenly looked unhappy.”
  • Magic of 3 – “This time the little old lady did not stop to talk.  She did not stop at all.  She RAN!”

The Fierce Yellow Pumpkin

October 20, 2008

The Hallo-Wienerby Dav Pilkey has loads of craft to teach.  It can serve as a great mentor text during this Halloween season.  Themes such as name-calling, bullying, friendship, persistence, loyalty, and kindness are embedded, creating an avenue for class discussion and community building. The illustrations lift the text and provide foreshadowing clues. The book’s humor entices the kids to reread it several times, allowing the message to sink in.  What a fun way to learn!  I highly recommend visiting Dav Pilkey‘s website.  He shares his story of being a hyperactive kid.

Savorings in reading and for writing for The Hallo-Wiener:

  • Flexing sentences – “Because of his unusual shape and size, all the other dogs made fun of him.”
  • Think bubbles – “All day long at obedience school, Oscar daydreamed about Halloween…”
  • Hyphenated words – “Half-a-dog tall and one-and-a-half dogs long
  • Play on words – “Then Oscar showed up, looking quite frank.”
  • Suspense – “The dogs stopped dead in their tracks.”