Groundhog’s Dilemma

January 30, 2019

Matt Faulkner is one of my favorite illustrators. He has written/illustrated the book A Taste of Colored Water and illustrated Thank You, Sarah, among several others. His illustrations strike me with a brilliant personification and invitation into the reading. Click to read a little about Matt Faulkner’s illustrations and to see a picture of him and his wife, Kristen Remenar. (I learned something new today.)

Together they created a fun read, Groundhog’s Dilemma, that highlights a predicament kids can relate with. Half of the animals want winter to last longer and half of the animals want spring now. Each animal tries to persuade Groundhog to predicate what they desire. Groundhog agrees with everyone, because he wants them all to be his friend. In the end, Groundhog explains he just reports what he sees; he can’t change the weather. This book provides you the opportunity to talk with kids about being truthful. It touches on persuasion, pressure, and contemplation. I think you will find the book will spark some interesting conversations.

View the book here (8 min. video). It’s currently a Scholastic Book Club book.

Savorings for reading and writing for Groundhog’s Dilemma:

  • Persuasion – shares thoughts on both sides; art of buttering-up someone
  • Speech Bubbles
  • Telling the Truth
  • Internal Conflict
  • Alternate Solution

The Bookshop Dog

August 22, 2011

The Bookshop Dog intrigues me. I found the book at a used bookstore. It’s not new (copyright 1996), but new to me.  Cynthia Rylant is not only the author but also the illustrator. As I read the book, I kept wondering where she got the idea for the book. A dog-lover will relate to this book.

A young lady takes her dog everywhere, even to work. She owned a bookstore and name it after her dog, Martha Jane’s bookshop. Her customers loved the dog and business was flourishing.

A dilemma  arises when the lady has to go to the hospital. Several customers wanted to keep Martha. It was Martha who chose her handler – one man who visited the bookshop weekly. I think this book is a great example of how a decision creates the problem in the story.

Savorings for reading and in writing for The Bookshop Dog:

  • Play on words
  • Magic of 3 – postman, policeman, band director
  • Problem/ Solution
  • Character traits

Library Mouse: A Friend’s Tale

June 13, 2011

Library Mouse: A Friend's TaleTo demonstrate how some authors and illustrators team together make several stories, Daniel Kirk illustrations show books in the background. For example, Laura Numeroff and Felicia Bond team together with the “If You Give a Mouse” books. Library Mouse: a Friend’s Tale begins with Tom, a boy who frequents the library, writing a book. He stumbles upon a notebook belonging to Sam, the library’s mystery writer (see Library Mouse also by Daniel Kirk).

Through deduction, Tom learns the identity of Sam, a mouse. Trying to befriend him, Tom discovers an idea for his story. Leaving his book, The Shy One, Sam secretly illustrates Tom’s tale. In return, Tom keeps his new-found friend’s identity a secret.

Savorings for reading and in writing for Library Mouse: A Friend’s Tale:

  • Illustrations – up close to show details in a scene for kindergarteners; excellent up close facial picture
  • Contractions – several varied
  • Problem/ Solution – a simple yet mystery-like plot for young children to understand; can use as a mentor text
  • Suddenly – grabs the reader’s attention
  • Colon – used 3 times

Pumpkin Town

November 6, 2009

Harvest time is in full swing here in IN.  Corn and beans are the main crops.  But the family in the story grow a different produce:  pumpkins. Katie McKy creates a fun read aloud in Pumpkin Town.  Katie is a storyteller and has been an educator.  Pablo Bernasconi’s illustrations are definitely interesting.  He’s applied real pictures within the paintings.  With our diverse population, I found it interesting that he’s from Argentina and his website is written in Spanish and English.

Jose’ and his family always saved the best seeds for the next year’s crop.  The rest of the seeds were thrown away, well – tossed and caught by a blustery wind.  Each scene seems to end its little story when in fact the events create a domino effect.  The story takes you from the boys’ farm to the town below, where the pumpkin seeds have sprouted in everything – roofs, trees, gardens.  As they grown, the wonderful pumpkins turn the town into chaos.

Jose’ realizes that they created the problem, so the boys decide to help.  They silently harvest the pumpkins at night.  Because the towns people are so grateful, they send the boys home with watermelons.  The pumpkins are sold, and the towns people use the money to make a statue in honor of the brothers.  Of course they eat the watermelons, keeping the seeds…until a caught the seeds again.

Savorings for reading and in writing for Pumpkin Town:

  • Alliteration – The seeds slipped into straw roofs and settled
  • Colon – The Big Moons were bigger still:  too large for five boys to roll.
  • Cause and Effect – one event causes the next, creating more difficulties
  • Problem/ Solution – “It is our fault,” whispered Jose’.
  • Dependent Clauses – Katie McKy starts most of her paragraphs with a dependent clause
  • Bookend – the seeds from the watermelons are tossed and a wind catches them; students could write their own ending to the story.
  • Prediction – the clues from the story lead you to the next scene