I Wanna Go Home

March 1, 2018

Karen Kaufman Orloff captures the voice of a child begging to change his circumstances. Kids are the best at persuasion. They insist. They give reasons. And they insist some more.

In I Wanna Go Home, Alex isn’t not thrilled with going to his grandparents instead of staying with a friend. His view point is limited. David Catrow captures the many faces of Alex as his perspective changes. The reader learns of his pleas to his findings to his adventures through letters (a delightful writing habit that many kids may not even recognize.)

Karen Kaufman Orloff has created a website with activities linked to her I Wanna books. Clink on the link here to see ways to use this text for persuasive writing.

Enjoy hearing from Karen in this 2 min video.  (Read an interview with Karen about writing this book.)

Savorings for I Wanna Go Home:

  • Persuasive
  • Letter writing/ emails/ correspondance
  • Dedication – the grandparents’ names in the dedication are the same in the book
  • Voice
  • Childhood encounters – false teeth, hearing aides
  • Parent vs. child perspective
  • Different meanings – “Did you know that when you go square dancing you actually spin in circles?”
  • Generation Connections
  • Descriptions before his name – Swam Boy Alex
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I Need My Monster/ Hey, That’s My Monster!

February 18, 2018

Amanda Noll has created two awesome fun reads. In I Need My Monster, Ethan wonders how he will sleep without his monster. Substitute monsters arrive, but they don’t have all of the traits that Gabe, his monster, has. Hey, That’s My Monster, Ethan has a bigger dilemma – his sister won’t go to sleep and his monster plans to camp out in her room. Emma doesn’t seem to be rattled by the visiting monsters. She giggles. She plays. She is not sleeping. Howard McWilliam brings the monsters to life in a fun, not scary, delightful tale of childhood bedtimes.

View the book trailer:

Storyline graciously reads both books. Click on the title to show your students. I Need My Monster. Hey, That’s My Monster.

Savorings for both books:

  • Kid perspective
  • Vivid verbs
  • Power of 3
  • Story tension
  • Siblings
  • Every day happening

A Rainy Day Book

April 11, 2013

Hello, It’s spring!

I’m loving the spring green I am seeing on my drives. Sunshine and warm temps jump started the week. It was wonderful. And now rain. Rain and thunderstorms and cold temps. It’s spring and the green will need the moisture. I just want warm temps again.

The rain made me think of a book I read called My Side of the Car by Kate Feiffer.

A little girl is heading to the zoo with her dad. The sunny day has changed to the reality of rain. Dad informs his daughter sitting in the back seat that they can’t go. Yet, the daughter looks outside her window and announces that there is no rain on her side. Her perception is illustrated splendidly as she visualizes others going to the zoo too. Father continues driving and comments about the continual precipitation.

The inspiration for the book is shared through a conversation between daughter, Kate, and father, Jules. I love the debate-able voices. It reminds me of my kids when they were little.

Rainy day sunshine,

Mary Helen

Savorings for reading and in writing for My Side of the Car:

  • Everyday happening – rain, conversation with parent, car ride
  • Perspective – reality vs. imaginative
  • One day story – excellent text to illustrate conversation with action
  • Anticipation of the event – feelings of the character
  • Illustrations – reminds me of child-like drawings

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)


Small Poetry

November 12, 2011

Jaime Adoff collection of poems focus on the theme of being small in Small Fry. His perspective gives you a glimpse of trials and triumphs being short can be. I envision these poems will ignite conversations within your classroom and poem sharing their wishes.  Mike Reed illustrations the feels inlaid in the text. View an interview with Jaime Adoff as he talks about the influences his parents, Virginia Hamilton and Arnold Adoff, had on him as a writer.

  • No Fun Allowed focuses on not being tall enough for an amusement ride.
  • Cool Fun Fort Forever shines on the imaginative play young children can have.

Savorings for reading and in writing for Small Fry:

  • Narrative-like poems
  • Kid Voice
  • Varied types of poems – long skinny, stanzas, questions, short, conversational
  • Connections
  • Everyday Happenings

Watermelon Fun

June 26, 2009

Excellent text for boys!

When I think of a cool, refreshing snack in summer, watermelon comes to mind.  As a kid, I was always annoyed with the black seeds that pelted the delicious fruit.  Yet, it was always fun to spit them out.  At the dinner table, I had to be more proper, placing the seeds in a little pile on my plate.

When I saw the cover of Peter Spit a Seed at Sue, John Manders‘s illustrations invited a read.  What fun!

Peter Spit a Seed at Sue

Jackie French Koller created a playful tale of four friends, two boys and two girls,  being bored on a summer’s day.  Spitting watermelon seeds becomes the fun that spins into a great adventure.

Thinking of children, I think they would connect with this story.  Many will say they have encountered boring days.  I love the way that Jackie Koller has taken an every day happening and spun some fun into it.  Our students can do the same.  As a read aloud, you will invited laughter from your children.  Have fun remembering!

Savorings for reading and in writing for Peter Spit a Seed at Sue:

  • Verbs – chomped, slurped, gulped, burped
  • Alliteration – “You pepper Pet!  I’ll splatter Sue!”
  • Apostrophe for not so familiar contractions- zippin’, zingin’, let ’em fly!
  • Mischievous – reminds me of what a boy (my boys) might do;

I turned and grinned at Mary Lou.  How could we help but join in, too?

  • Humorous – hilarious illustrations; boisterous read

Susie spit one back at Pete,

Which struck and stuck right on his seat.

(Warsaw Community Public Library)



Peepers by Eve Bunting

November 15, 2008

As I take a picture walk through the book Peepers by Eve Bunting, I’m drawn in to the colorful scenery illustrates so poetically by James Ransome.

Image result for Peepers by eve buntingTwo sons accompany their dad on the Leaf Peeper Tours.  They are not enthused, but dutifully help their father.  To pass the time, the story is sprinkled with their kid-like antics.  “Behind their backs Jim moose-prances and makes antlers with his fingers.”  The boys are amused as the tourists sigh and ooohh about autumn’s beauty.

Time passes and in the end, both boys begin to notice nature in its winter’s newness.  Both seem surprised, embarrassed, as they realize they’ve become like the Peepers.

Savorings for reading and in writing for Peepers:

  • Descriptive – “Aspens shower gold into the water.”
  • Similes – “Our bus crawls slow as a caterpillar.”
  • Kid’s realism – “Jim about busts laughing.”
  • Show don’t tell – “Jim and I roll our eyes.”
  • Passage of time – beginning of autumn until the leaves have all fallen
  • Reflection
  • Science – different types of trees:  “shagbark hickory trees, red-feathered sumac, speckled adlers