Mysteries in Nature Concealed and Revealed

April 3, 2013

Dear Reader,

This book, What is in the Wild? Mysteries of Nature Concealed and Revealed, caught my eye just reading the introduction of the author and illustrator.

ear-tickling poems by David M. Schwartz and Yael Schy

eye-tricking photos by Dwight Kuhn

How cool is that? Each living organism introduced encourages you to investigate. I’m not crazy about science, but they are very creative. Kids will love this book. Formations, patterns on the ground and in plants are zoomed in for examination. A full page close-up photograph reveals a mystery. A companion poem shares clues of its creatures.

It gets better. The photo page folds out to reveal another zoomed-in picture of an animal or insect accompanied by its adjacent information page. I really don’t like to get up-close and personal with any small, insect-like creature. It sends shivers down my spine. But, I am thinking of some kids right now who would have their nose buried in this book, reading and discovering. They’ll be tricked into learning something new.

Have fun with this one. I can visualize using this book as a great read aloud. I’m always looking for short texts that can be sandwiched into short time frames, like waiting in line for a specials class, a few minutes before leaving. How about an attention grabber in the middle of the day? You could read just one of the pages and it would hook them in. Think of the many possibilities there is.

Happy science sleuthing!

MHG

Savorings for reading and in writing for What is in the Wild?

  • Hybrid text
  • Riddle and word choice
  • Grabber Leads
  • Shape poems
  • Informational text – great for close reading

PES new book

(Side note: Tammy, I think I want to share this book at Summer Institute. It’s a keeper.)

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Thea’s Tree

November 21, 2008

Alison Jackson creates a twist in her book, Thea’s Tree.  A young girl, Thea, is asked to do a scientific project for four weeks, making observations along the way.  The story transpires through a series of letters between Thea, her teacher, and other experts as she hypothesizes about her tree.  Alison Jacksonthrows in humor with clues, keeping the reader wondering and interested as to what tree has sprouted.

This account is written through letters – first to her teacher and then to specialists.  Thea is diligent in making frequent observations, even drawing her findings.  As an objective scientist, Thea measures, ponders clues, and speculates on her findings in her letters.  A purple seed is planted, and what seems ordinary, becomes very quizzical.  Thea speculates it to be a “purple African rubber plant” to a “giant redwood.”

As a fun read aloud, this book helps to build background knowledge in scientific observation.  Alison Jackson throws in humor with the clues, keeping the reader wondering and interested.

Savorings for reading and in writing for Thea’s Tree:

  • Letter writing – each closing is unique; colon in the greeting
  • Alliteration – expert names with their jobs:  “Zoe Zimmerman Zoologist
  • Occupations – curator, botanist, orchestra director
  • Foreshadowing/predictions – sounds, objects from above
  • Scientific observation – measuring, factual description, speculation
  • Hybrid text – interweaves a fairy tale with in the illustrations and clues;letter writing, narrative, science theme

Dedications

November 2, 2008

I often will read the dedications to get a glimpse of the author’s life.  I wonder how the people named touched the life of an author.  In Boxes for Katje, Candace Fleming’s dedication states: “To Mom, for sharing her life’s stories.”  It roused my curiosity, and so looked for the author’s note.  I was pleased to find on the end sleeve that Candace shares “A True Story about Boxes.”  She states that the book is “based on events that really happened.  In May 1945, my mother sent a small box to Europe.”  Because Candace’s mother shared a story from her childhood, a book was created to touch people’s hearts.  How many life stories do we have that will change someone’s life?  More than we think.  We need to teach our children that life stories are important to share and holding on to memories can create hope for someone else.

Boxes for Katje begins in Olst, Holland in 1945.  Stacey Dressen-McQueen adds to the beginning text by illustrating another little girl, Rosie, mailing a package. A little girl named Katje receives the package from America containing four items:  a bar of soap, wool socks, a chocolate bar, and a letter. Holland had been hit hard during World War II and the people’s needs were great.  Candace Fleming states in her introduction, “They patched and repatched their worn-thin clothing, and they went without soap or milk, sugar or new shoes.”

Katje, from the start, unselfishly shares her gifts with her neighbors.  In our country of plenty, even in this economic struggle, we take for granted so many of life’s pleasures.  This book continues to show how Katje shares what she receives.  She writes letters of gratitude to Rosie, who in turns creates more awareness with her community of Mayfield, Indiana.    In the end, Katje sends a gift to her American friend, Rosie – tulips.  Notice how Stacey Dressen-McQueen illustrates the before and after scenes of Mayfield, Indiana in the end sleeves.  I think this book paves the way for discussion on philanthropy and thinking of others.

Savorings for reading and in writing for Boxes for Katje:

  • Hybrid text – letters are displayed as the story goes from one scene to the next
  • Illustrations – inlays from each country/community to see the events between the pen pals
  • Highlighting scenes – creating a story with
  • Passage of Time – the seasons and its hardships create the passing of time:  “Weeks passed, and winter roared in, snow-deep and bitter cold, the worst winter anyone could remember.”
  • Philanthropy – learning to give to others; excellent for Thanksgiving season
  • Math connection and superlatives:  comparison of packages beginning small and getting bigger each time; big, bigger, biggest