Beep! Beep! Go to Sleep

February 28, 2018

Todd Tarpley reverses the roles of a boy as he parents his robots. Time for bed, the boy tries to usher the bots to bed.  Each time they snuggle down, one of they needs to do something. How long does it take them to get to sleep? Kids can have fun writing their own go-to-sleep books. I love the little mouse that pops up on each page. Read the author’s note in the back. Cute!

Mr. Pieri from the Elkhart Public library reads the book to you in this 3:23 minute video.

Savorings for Beep! Beep! Go to Sleep!:

  • Personification
  • Rhyming
  • Everyday happening – getting ready for bed
  • Reverse roles
  • Speech bubbles
  • Repeating line/ structure
  • ing verbs
  • Love of Reading
  • Technical terms – infared

Cara’s Kindness

February 17, 2018

Pay it forward. In a time when turmoil and fear encircle us, we can choose to break the mold by helping others. Cara’s Kindness is a story of one character putting aside her problem to help another. In turn, the pay it forward then goes from one friend to another character. View a snippet of the book on this link. Kids of all ages can begin to think of ways to help others around them. Start in your classroom. Encourage it at home. How can they help the community?

The story also features a growth mindset.

“Well of course! That’s part of skating {or any part of life}. So the first think you need to learn is how to get back up.”

Kristi Yamaguchi shares her book at this link. She also has a website, Always Dream Foundation, that focuses on supporting early literacy and paying it forward to children in need.

Savorings for Cara’s Kindness:

  • Growth Mindset
  • Repeating line – “No worries…just pass on the kindness!
  • Alliteration – gracefully glided, character names
  • Theme – Caring makes a difference!
  • Small Moments in Time
  • Every day happenings

Puppy Poetry

March 11, 2011

I Didn't Do It

I believe the adorable Dachshund on the front cover reeled in my attention.  Oh the puppy dog eyes are so charming, just staring at you, wanting you to pet him.  Patricia MacLachlan and Emily MacLachlan created rich poetry that is  fun.  Katy Schneider’s illustrations are luscious.  I found myself petting the pictures; the puppies are so adorable!!Amazon's Complete Selection of Patricia MacLachlan Books

Students of all ages will enjoy reading this book, I Didn’t Do It.  The title itself will entice your children.  I can hear them now, “Who did it?  What did they do?”  Your students will be surprised when you show them the cover and they see a dog – not a kid.  This book is one that I want for my collection.

Savorings for reading and in writing for I Didn’t Do It:

  • Repeating line poem
  • Alliteration
  • List poem
  • Vivid verbs
  • Class book idea – young children can connect to the simplistic, yet crafted, poems.  Each student could write about their dog or pet and make a class book.  You could use it at the beginning of the year to help your children get to know each other more.

Pumpkin Eye

October 31, 2009

Denise Fleming introduces Halloween and its activities in Pumpkin Eye.  The text is written with short phrases that rhyme.  The words are so beautifully placed.  I marvel at the way Denise creates some frolicking fun and entices an eerie mood.  Much thought was put into the placement of the individual words.  Several authors I’ve heard speak share how each word counts within a shortened text.  I wonder how long it took Denise to create this rhythmic rhyme.

At first, I thought this book was mainly for younger grades.  but just as I have spent time examing this text, upper grade students could do so as well.   Word play, placement of words, is an activity to study and contemplate with our students.

Savorings for reading and in writing for Pumpkin Eye:

  • Repeating phrase – “Trick or Treat  ____ Pounding feet, jack-o’-lanterns line the street
  • Sensory detail – sight, sounds, feeling; swooping bats, hissing cats… (I find it interesting words ending in ‘ed’ or’ ing’ are not just verbs as I was taught, but they can be adjectives too.)
  • Parts of Speech – with short phrases, you can examine and categorize them:  verbs, nouns, adjectives,
  • Verbs vs. Adjectives – pounding feet or feet pounding
  • Rhyming  – excellent for a poetry study


Sleepy Cars

September 27, 2009

Trucks, cars, diesels of all sorts are featured in this great read, Off Go Their Engines,  Off Go Their Lights.   Janice Milusich begins the taxi’s journey when it picks up a mother and her son.  On their way home, the boy notices several vehicles.  David Gordon narrows the focus by enlarging the auto mentioned in the text.  He features a fire engine pumper, a dump truck, a delivery van, a police car, ice-cream truck and of course, the yellow taxi.

Off Go Their Engines, Off Go Their LightsI find it refreshing that the story takes place on a drive home, a short amount of time.  Often times, students think they need to write about some special event.  Here is a text that takes an ordinary trip and uses the theme to teach the reader something.  Our children can write about events and conversations on the way home.

This book reminds me of when my children were younger.  Our oldest, Wes, was fascinated with the United States Flag.  He would be sitting in his car seat in the back and yell, “Flag!”  We began looking for it.  I was amazed at how often I would see our country’s symbol of freedom flying.  But it wasn’t until Wes took an interest and zoomed into the object did I ever notice the sites and occurences.  This book is like that.  Kids pass vehicles all the time.  Some children love looking for them.  They could write about them.  I love introducing a book that brings to new light a possible text they could try writing.

Savorings in reading and in writing for Off go their Engines, Off Go Their Lights:

  • Vocabulary – cruises, fare rumbles, patrolled
  • Colors – each vehicle is one color:  yellow, red, green, brown, blue, black & white
  • Repeating Structure – after the job has been completed, the vehicle goes to rest
  • Flashback – the vehicle flashes back to one scene in the day’s work
  • Repeating Lines – “Off Goes Its Engine.  CLICK.  Off Goes it Lights.  Good night, green dump truck, good night.”

(Warsaw Community Public Library)


A Very Imaginative Story

February 20, 2009

The Shivers in the Fridge is one of my new favorites.  Not only did I have fun reading it, the text kept intriguing me to rereading.  I savored this book and look forward to gaining a copy for myself to savor it more.  I believe it is an Indiana Young Hoosier Award Honor book.

Fran Manushkin has created a fun, clue-finding adventure with the Shivers family in The Shivers in the Fridge. Mama, Papa, Grandpa, Grandma, and Sonny find themselves in a dark environment full of earthquakes and monsters.  Paul Zelinsky paints a city from the Shivers’ point of view inside the refrigerator – Orange, Hills, Egg Valley, Buttery Cliff.  As the reader I began rereading to catch all the clues.  You will definitely want to read this book several times to your students to help deepen their understanding.   For instance I did not understand they were magnets until Grampa got stuck on “the snowy peak of Mr. Ketchup.”  I also looked at the ending page with the little girl and her box, which does read magnets.  At the end, the real family questions, “I wonder how they got INTO the fridge?”  Turn to the page prior to the title page and notice the illustration of the little girl to find your answer.

Your students will have fun piecing the clues together as each member of the Shivers family disappear.  Paul Zelinsky uses play-on-words and typical family antics to add humor to the drama.  Don’t forget to enjoy the illustrations.  If you have an Elmo, I suggest using it during the second reading.  The first time through, chart questions, clues, and background knowledge.  On another reading focus in on the word choice used to help add to the mood.

Savorings for reading and in writing for The Shivers in the Fridge:

  • Element of Surprise – “Standing tall, Sonny Shivers faced that monster – and the monster SMILED!
  • Love of Reading –  on the fridge stands a calendar, an invitation, a recipe, an article, and a list.   “We keep this whole world running.”  There’s so much to read!
  • Voice – “m-m-mama was warm, the p-p-papa was …” ;  repetitive first letter is hyphenated creating the sense of chattering in the cold
  • Visualizing – While Mama tells Sonny a story at bedtime, the illustrations show Sonny’s thought bubbles of his visualizing.
  • Idiom – ” ‘Stop!’  Grandma gave him a sour look.  ‘Don’t get into a pickle!’
  • Repeating Line – “Its long, long claws r e a c h e d  o u t, r  e  a  c  h  e  d   o  u  t —
  • Inference – “a great blazing light shone forth” and then the earthquake happens
  • Onomatopoeia – PHOOMPH! represents the refrigerator door sound when closing
  • Conversational Lead – “Brrr!  It’s cold today!” groaned Papa Shivers.  “I’ll say” chimed in Mama Shivers.  “SHIVER MY BONES!  IT’S COLD!” roared Grandpa.  Sonny, the youngest, said, “It’s been c-c-cold ever since we got here — and dark.”

(PES Library book/ also WPL)

a must-have for me:)


Sticking to It

February 2, 2009

I really believe we must share with children where the authors get their inspirations for their stories.  Bobbie Dazzler is written by Margaret Wild. She observed her granddaughter as she learned gymnastics.  “The splits defeated her, however, so I wrote a story for her instead.

Many times, like this story, the story premise is based on every day happenings.  One day Bobbie, the red-necked Wallaby, enjoys doing gymnastics.  She is able to do all of the moves except for the splits.  Although her friends console her and tell her it’s okay, Bobbie is determined to master the splits.  In the end, she does with lots of effort and some help from her friends.

Our students participate in physical education and may have difficulty mastering an activity, like Bobby with the splits.  We know they often are faced with new learning – math facts, spelling words, decoding – that may be difficult to master as well.  This text teaches perseverance in a simple demonstration, sealing the comprehension of young children.

Kane/Miller Book Publishers stated,  “Wild’s text is simple and joyful, celebrating children’s small achievements and the value of friendship.”

In kindergarten, they are learning to show action in their drawings.  Janine Dawson creatively portrays Bobbie, the Wallaby, in several simple action scenes.  Action words (verbs) are stressed throughout the book.  Each illustration magnifies the simple sentence on each page, within the Australian landscape.

Savorings for reading and in writing for Bobbie Dazzler:

  • Repeating structure – Bobbie could do _____ and ______ and ______.  But she could not do the splits.
  • Action Words – balance, whirl, twirl
  • Excellent for kindergarten and first grade
  • Interweaving of story detail
  • Perseverance

Giving Back

December 7, 2008

Cynthia Rylant weaves words in such creative ways that require me to read and reread for deeper understanding.  I can just imagine her words are like clay in an artist’s hands.  Cynthia shares stories from her home – the Appalachian the bring you to the people she knows.  This book, Silver Packages:  An Appalachian Christmas Story, makes an excellent read aloud, as well as teaching writerly craft.

In her author’s note in the front, she states:   “This story was inspired by a real train, the ‘Santa Train,’ which rolls through the Appalachian Mountains each Christmas season….since 1943.”

Frankie waits beside the train for a present.  He wishes for a doctor’s kit.  A silver package is thrown to him by the man from the train.  He’s excited by waits until Christmas morning to open his only gift.  Disappointment mingles with his gratefulness, as he receives socks and another toy.  Cynthia Rylant creates such a sense of longing from the character year after year waiting by the train.  As the reader, I’m drawn in;  I watch to see what each silver package will bring Frankie.  Then, the story flashes forward to a young man who is a doctor, thinking of his family in the Appalachians.  He remembers the gifts that came at just the right time.  “And Frankie remembers something about owing a debt.”

Savorings for reading and in writing for Silver Packages:

  • Flash-forward beginning – the history of the Christmas train
  • One line sentence for emphasis – “So the train is awfully important.”
  • Repeating line – a doctor’s kit
  • Foreshadowing – “icy feet aching” and he gets socks as a present that year
  • Not this, but that – Okay, I’m not sure what to call this craft, but I’m intrigued by the way Cynthia Rylant creates the text.  In the beginning, three times she says a similar phrase, “…but why isn’t importan.  What matters is what happened.”  “But who came aalong isn’t important either.” It’s almost like she’s summarizing and making the reader stay focused on the important part, not the side story.  Read it for yourself and let me know your thoughts!!

America’s White Table

November 11, 2008

In honor of our veterans, Margot Theis Raven has written a beautifully moving piece called America’s White Table.  The American Legion and military events honor those men and women who have fought for our country.  Margot Theis Raven introduces this symbol of honor by writing a story of a mother telling a story to her three girls.  Each part of the table, from the white table cloth to the red rose, is explained.  She interweaves a repeating line:  “It was just little white table…“.  Margot also has the words of “My Country ‘Tis of Thee” throughout the bottom of each two page spread.

The story unfolds through the eyes of the oldest niece.  She learns what happened to Uncle John during the Vietnam War.  When the story ended, Katie wanted to do something special.  Her sisters drew him pictures and another wrote him a letter.  Uncle John comes and Katie realizes that she will promise “to put the words from my heart into a little book about America’s White Table.

Margot Theis Raven goes on and shares in the Author’s Note the history of the white table.  “A group called the Red River Valley Fighter Pilots Association or the River Rats set the first MIA/POW Remembrance Table.”  May we not forget the courage and sacrifice our veterans have given for our freedom.

Savorings for reading and in writing for America’s White Table:

  • Repeating line – “It was just a little white table...”
  • Story within a story – flashbacks
  • Time of reflection
  • Gathering stories from families – writing them down to preserve for future generations
  • Illustrations – the coloring changes during the flashback

Fall is Here!

November 7, 2008

Fall is definitely here with its falling leaves and chilly mornings.  Another sensory delight for readers is Fall is Here!  I Love It! by Elaine W. Good. 

Fall Is Here !Elaine created a set of vignettes about life on the farm told through the eyes of a young child.  She creates a tingling of sensory descriptions through sights, colors, tastes, smells, and touch.  You can connect this book with social studies, the cycle of harvest, ending with the Thanksgiving holiday.

 Savorings for reading and in writing for Fall is Here!  I Love It!:

  • Elaine Good closes each vignette with a repeating line – “Fall is here!  I love it!”
  • Specific vocabulary for the farm – corn stalks, silo, tractor
  • Vivid Verbs – snort and snuffle
  • Personification – “The leaves dance in the wind, spinning on thie toes as they fall to the ground.”
  • Close echo – “Pumpkins!  Pumpkins!  Pumpkins!”