The Sun is Kind of a Big Deal

February 11, 2019

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Visit The Lead Learners blog for my post of The SUN is Kind of a BIG DEAL by Nick Seluk.

Savorings for reading and writing for The Sun is Kind of a Big Deal:

  • Voice
  • Play on Words
  • Scientific modeling
  • Comic strip features
  • Hybrid text
  • Added tidbits in the back
  • Pair it with the book, My Light by Molly Bang, for further study

Flying Frogs and Walking Fish

February 10, 2018

Image result for flying frogs and walking fishSteven Jenkins and Robin Page collaborate to peak your interest. They share the most interesting facts about ordinary and unique creatures. In Flying Frogs and Walking Fish, the focus is on the animation of the animals.

The sections are divided by questions about the animal featured. For example, A Walking Octopus? sheds light beyond the understood eight legs. “They use two of them to walk on the sea floor.”

Other animals are then featured on a two-page spread highlighting their unique ways to walk (Marching, strolling, tiptoeing...). Additional facts are shared in the back of the book.

To learn more about the making of this book, go to Have fun learning new synonyms and interesting facts!

Savorings for Flying Frogs and Walking Fish:

  • Compare/ Contrast
  • Questions as SubTitles
  • Alliteration
  • Synonyms – whirling, tumbling, somersaulting
  • Fun Facts
  • Verbs

The Gift of the Tree

November 20, 2014

Alvin Tresselt’s book, The Gift of the Tree, is an older text c1972, 1992. The seasonal descriptions sequence the life a tree gives through aging stages. Rich language seasons your mental images, prompted by the paintings of Henri Sorensen. Each two page scene summarizes the change happening with the tree and the life, protection it gives to the creatures around. It’s personified, showing battles between the inhabitants and aging.

During this fall season, take your class outside and observe a tree. What critters are around? Is it a home to any animals? As the seasons change, observe changes and notice the importance of trees. Take pictures and write observation notes. Create a class book with the tree being the central focus.

Savorings for reading and in writing for The Gift of the Tree:

  • Science Connection – seasons, cycle of the trees – leaves mulch and disintegrate into the soil, limbs weakening
  • Setting – description
  • Rich language – moldered, gnarled
  • Personification – “life gnawed at it’s heart”
  • Sequence of seasons and years


Curious Critters

June 25, 2014

Tammy Shultz and I present our top book picks of the year. I always have a difficult time narrowing my choices; there are many books to choose from. We do not necessarily choose the newest books (Donalyn Miller keeps me updated). We choose books that have appealed to our kids this past year. Curious Critter is a book I loved. It’s funny and the kids react to the creatures talking to them. I had it on my slide show when I reviewed last year’s books; I realized Tammy had shared it as her book last year. Makes sense. Great book!

Curious Critters is a nonfiction text with voice! I was drawn to the captivating descriptions and features of the creatures. David FitzSimmons illustrated the photographs on a white background, emphasizing the details of the critters. A website features the critters. Click here to see what’s new.

His second book, Curious Critters Vol. 2, is available. When you click on the title, the link will allow you to preview a few pages. Fascinating!

View the YouTube video (1:20 second) book trailer. Your students will be intrigued!

Savorings for reading and in writing for Curious Critters:

  • Point of View – the critter talks to the reader
  • Voice – The goldfish says, “Let’s play a game: I’ll flip my fins and swim around in this aquarium, and you throw in some food. Sound good? Great?”
  • Humor –
  • Allitoration – decorating daisies
  • Transitions – one creature will connect to the next


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!


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.)

A Nature Preserve

December 9, 2011

After reading On Meadowview Street, I thought of spring and decided to save the post for April. While researching and writing the author post on Henry Cole, I decided to add in this cheery book. Besides, Florida is not experiencing the snow and cold we are, which I am looking forward to in three weeks. 🙂

Henry Cole persuades his readers to observe and enjoy nature in his book On Meadowview Street. He invites you to linger in the sun, feeling the grass through your toes and a gentle breeze patting your skin. Enjoy some sunshine while you read his book.

Caroline arrives at her new home on Meadowview Street. Each of the houses look similar with a plain, normal front yard. As her father begins to mow the yard, she notices a lone wildflower in her yard. Preserving it, her patch of garden grows into a meadow. Her family plants a tree for shade and a pond for water. Their normal front yard transforms into a nature preserve, inspiring the neighbors.

Savorings for reading and in writing for On Meadowview Street:

  • Character Thinking
  • Nature Connection – observing the world around us
  • One day story – set in the middle of the narrative for emphasis, a turning point
  • Plural Possessive – Jacksons’
  • Every Day happening

Yucky Worms

April 8, 2011

Spring is coming and I am ready.Vivian French creates a fun spring read in Yucky Worms. Her sensory description makes your senses react, at least mine did. I do enjoy worms. I do not fish and marvel at anyone who can hook a slimy creature to the line.  My nose wrinkles at the sound of the word “worm”, so I find that I am surprised at home much I like the book, Yucky Worms. It’s going on my need-to-own book list.

Yucky Worms would be a great mentor text for an “All About” unit of study. Vivian French writes in narrative with the hybrid of nonfiction facts on the sides on the page. She sprinkles fun facts throughout the text. The nonfiction diagrams show you the below-the-surface activity a worm creates.

Read the jacket flap. The blurb explains that Vivian dug up a worm one day when her grandson, Jack. was with her. He immediately said, “Yuck,” which is the pretext of this book. Isn’t it fun to find out how the author got her idea?

Savorings for reading and in writing for Yucky Worms:

  • Hybrid text – narrative of grandma and grandson learning about earthworms; informational of side bars and in diagrams of the earth and earthworms
  • Descriptive – slimy, slithery, wiggly worm
  • Speech bubbles
  • Diagrams – the illustrations show the network of worms and how they live in the environment
  • Index – list is in the back – information in the text is shared in two different kinds of fonts

(Warsaw Public Library – new book – 2009 copyright)

Footprints in the Snow

February 1, 2011

6:15 a.m.  I gaze outside to see footprints in the newly fallen snow.  The prints puzzle me – No, they are not the cat’s.  They look like…

My eyes move to the left and I notice a solemn rabbit nibbling on a bush buried in snow.  Nibble. Alert.  Nibble.  Alert.

Moments of silence pass as I enjoy the scene below.  I smile as my mind connects to a book, Footprints in the Snow.   Hello my unexpected acquaintance.


October 3, 2010

Illustrators often begin their story on the title page with a baseline for the author’s story prior to any words being spoke.  When the author is the illustrator of the book, the vividness of the story is enhanced, in my opinion.  So it is with Redwoods. The book begins with Jason Chin creating an enticing illustration, a foreshadowing of the male character’s adventure that captures the reader’s attention instantaneously.

Product DetailsThe boy is not named in the book, so for my reference, I’ll refer to him as Jace.  Jace is sitting at a subway station and notices the book, Redwoods, left lying on a bench.  As he reads the book, his imagination creates the setting.

The book is created so craftily that my interest is still perked – after three separate readings.  The text is an informative nonfiction with a twist of narrative being created through the illustrations.  Jace is on an adventure, a nature adventure, that teaches him so many new scientific concepts.  The scenes do paint the factual text as well.

For example, the text states that the base is large enough for a tunnel to be cut.  The illustration shows a car moving out of the tunnel as Jace is surprised.  One illustration shows the Statue of Liberty in the forest to demonstrate that one Redwood named  Hyperion is  “six stories taller than the Statue of Liberty.”  Wow.  Kids can connect and visualize that.

Savorings for reading and in writing for Redwoods:

  • Circular Ending – the boy leaves the book on the bench and a girl picks it up
  • Redwoods in Danger section – shares how the trees are endangered
  • Science notebook – If you read the text without showing the illustrations, you learn volumes of great scientific information.  Showing the illustrations helps explain the information better like sketching during scientific observations
  • Author’s note – reading connection!  Jason Chin explains how he read an article and later a book by Richard Preston about the redwoods

Poetry Friday

January 23, 2009

On Jane Yolen ‘s website, she is called “the Hans Christian Andersen of America”.  She definitely is a gifted writer and has created some delightful poetry books.  The featured book today is Count Me a Rhyme:  Animal Poems by the Numbers.  Her son, Jason Stemple, has collaborated with her on eleven poetry books using nature photographs to ignite the poetic words.

Animal Poems by the Number

The playfulness  of Jane’s words will entice your children’s attention. Vocabulary is stressed in this fun rhyming book.  Jason captured animls in their natural environments, from groups of one to ten.  The photos are vivid, and students of all ages will enjoy seeing them.  Read one a day and enrich your classroom.

Savorings for reading and in writing for Count Me a Rhyme:

  • Roman numberals
  • Synonyms fo reac number – 2, duet, pair, dual
  • Table of Contents – simpler text than a text book
  • Alliteration – in “Five Geese, Five” – “misty, moisty morning”; “paddle, puddle perfect”
  • Repeating line – in “Six Spiders Spinning” to sho action – “Hand over hand over hand over hand over hand”
  • Shape poem – in “Eight Bighorn Sheep” – wording is shaped in a one word column

(PES book and WPL book)