Getting Your License

January 23, 2012

I couldn’t wait to get my license. Neither could my son. He was thrilled when the day came for him to go to the license branch: take the test, park and change lanes correctly, get his picture. License in hand, his grin told the world, I’m 16. I’m grown-up. I can drive.

Our son began “driving” when he was very young. He drove his Matchbox cars around, his Tonka trucks, and his red wagon. He was a driver. Driving is instinctive for boys. They make broom, broom noises and putter around. You can only smile when you see a little one maneuvering around.

Hallie Durand grabbed this playfulness and created an adorable, fun book in Mitchell’s License. On the book jacket, she explains the origin of the game from an invented game her husband created for their children’s bedtime routine.

At age 3, Mitchell officially drives himself to bed on his remote control car (his dad). Sitting on his dad’s shoulders, Mitchell checks the engine and steers carefully, going from one place to another, ultimately finding his bed.

The story emulates the bong between father and son. I find the book to creative, taking an every-day moment and composing a story. Our kids can remember fun activities they imagined doing. This story triggered a memory of my oldest when he was 3 years old pulling his wagon. I was the gas station. Your kids could remember too. Read and wait for the stories to arise.

Savorings for reading and in writing for Mitchell’s License:

  • Small Moment – bedtime routine
  • Make Believe – a dad transforms into a car
  • Kinder and first grade – illustrations your children will imitate
  • Magic of 3
  • Specific language about a vehicle – coasted, honk, blinkers

Warsaw Community Public Library (new book – 2011; Candlewick Press)


July 7, 2011

Steven Kroll with S. D. Schindler creates the classic telephone game into a great story in The Tyrannosaurus Game. Jimmy begins a story  that continues around the classroom circle. Each student adds on to the adventure from where the previous student ended. As the reader, you are surprised with each adventure as you transition from page to page. This book is a fun way to show visualizing. As each character shares their part, S.D. Schindler illustrates the student’s thinking. The illustrations accent the action. It’s an excellent example to show young children detail in the setting. You could also use this book as an example for a class story.

As you are reading, this book lends itself to teaching predictions. You have a sense of where the story is leading, especially through the setting. Yet, the action is surprizing.

Because each scene is not predictable, the topic of revision could arise. Different predictions of what happens next can demonstrate the power of revision. Revising is changing. Students often see revising their writing as being wrong, when in fact it’s a playful technique to clarify meaning.

Savorings for reading and in writing for The Tyrannosaurus Game:

  • Visualizing
  • Transitions – Last Saturday; each student’s scene is connected
  • Action – careful word choice creates high action
  • Ending – leaves you wondering – were the other animals  in the garden part of stories like the dinosaur?
  • All of a Sudden/ Suddenly

Afraid of Monsters

August 6, 2009

Many children fear monsters and let their imaginations go, thinking of weird-like creatures that are waiting for them in hidden places.  Mercer Mayer has written on this topic in There’s a Nightmare in my Closet.  Disney Pixar created the Monsters, Inc. movie.  Meg Rosoff created Jumpy Jack and Googily. Books are a tool for children to talk about and face their fears.  It’s also a creative idea to write about a monster in a friendly sort of way. Jumpy Jack & Googily

In Meg Rosoff’s book, Jumpy Jack, a snail-like creature, is worried about monsters.  Each time the friends encounter an object or place that a ‘monster’ might jump out at them, Jumpy Jack’s friend, Googily will check.  Ironically, Googily is blue, big-eyed and has sharp-looking teeth.  Sophee Blackall illustrates Googily in all the poses his friend fears, yet not scaring his friend at all.  The children will love looking at the illustrations and probably laugh at the irony of the fear.

Savorings for reading and in writing for Jump Jack and Googily:

  • Conversational text – each scene is introduced by Jumpy commenting to his friend
  • Small Moment – an afternoon walk
  • Writing Idea – fears, imagination
  • Repeating Structure – “No monsters here,” said Googily.  “Or here.”  “Phew,” said Jumpy Jack.
  • Transitional response (I’ m not sure what to call this, but the phrases are used in transitions and in response to a friend’s statement) – Perhaps I am, Nonetheless, All the same, No doubt

(Warsaw Public Library)

a boy read

Dream of Flying

June 22, 2009

Do you remember having a wagon that sparked your imagination?  Mine was red.  I remember sitting in it and pretending to fly like Amelia Earhart.  Or, the wagon would become a limo and I was the movie star waving at her fans.  The wagon carried my dog as we went on adventures.  Spark any memories now? 

Friday my Radio Flyer Flew was a book that caught my eye.  On the front cover, a boy is sitting in his red wagon with flying goggles on, sailing through the air.  Zachary Pullen created an excellent text about a boy who lets his imagination go.  He pulls the reader in and gives him/her a glimpse into the child’s creativity.  The large zoomed-in illustrations capture your eye.

Savorings for reading and in writing for Friday my Radio Flyer Flew:

  • Transitions – One Saturday, Then on Monday, Finally
  • Alliteration
  • Snapshot of an event each day
  • Sequencing the days of the week
  • Ellipse – connects the events of one page to the next
  • Specific Verbs – motivated, tinkered

Snowmen and Children

December 10, 2008

Children love snow. They love to jump and play and create with snow.  I remember as a child making a snow igloo once.  Was I crazy?  No, just having child-like adventure.  Children look at the world differently and observe ordinary things in an unordinary way.   Snowmen at Night is a story like that.  It begins with a child saying, What do snowmen do at night?

When I first read this book by Caralyn Buehner, I scoped out the book jacket.  Authors will leave clues to where their ideas come from.  (I at least feel like I know the author a little better if I read the information about him or her.)  I was not disappointed with this one.  Caralyn said that her son looked out at the snowman he had built the day before and wondered what happened to him, now droopy and lopsided.  The picture of that original snowman was there on the book jacket too.  How cute and creative – a question a child asks spurring an idea for a book.

Snowmen At Night begins with a boy wondering what happened to his snowman.  His active imagination comes to life as you turn the page and see the snowmen becoming personified.  Mark Buehner uses his illustrations to enhance the playfulness of the snowmen.



Savorings for reading and in writing for Snowmen at Night:

  • Perspective – a child’ imagination tells the story in first person
  • Poetic Prose
  • Colon – used in a couple of places in the book; for Snowmen at Christmas, a semi-colon is used.
  • A fun read!