March 1, 2010

The book cover seemed to grab my chin and say, “Look at me.”  I love the adorable cartoonish dog with its tail wagging.  Patrick McDonnell has created a comic strip MUTTS that features dogs and cats.  I love the book, Wag!

Product DetailsI have had a great interest in finding books that appeal to boys.  This year has been an experiment in some ways.  As a literacy coach, I go to a first grade and fourth grade classroom weekly to read a new book.  Upon finding Wag!, I shared it first with the first graders.  They are an energetic bunch and with our sense of community, they are very open with their opinions.  So, when I received an overwhelming interaction throughout the read aloud, I realized the book was a prize to keep!  You see, some of the boys would rather look into space than read.  They don’t hate reading; they just have cars, games, and the outside on their minds – not books.

Wag! grabbed their attention, and the class was verbalizing their thoughts.  They gave me a final two thumbs up – high in the air – on this book.

Savorings for reading and in writing for Wag!:

  • Voice – Patrick McDonnell talks to the reader
  • Onomatopoeia – Fwip
  • Speech Bubbles
  • Drawing Conclusions – the reader is asked why the dog’s tail wags
  • Sentence Variety – with the short text, you can teach several structures within a sentence

Cats and Holiday Decorations

December 23, 2008

We have a cat named Kip in our home, and he has enjoyed the holiday decorations.  Our cat enjoys batting at the tree ornaments, jumping into boxes, and tearing the tissue paper.  Kip’s eyes will light up and friskiness arises.  He’s fun to watch, yet annoying when wrapping presents.

Margaret Wise Brown must have a cat as she has created a delightful book called A Pussycat’s Christmas.  This book is not a new one; oh, but it’s delicious!  (Yes, reading a good book is like chocolate to me, delighting my mind’s taste buds.)

Each page leads you to the next page; the last line seems to begin the theme of the next.  The sensory detail in this book is exquisite.  I do not find many books alerting the reader’s senses to smell, to sounds, to sight like A Pussycat’s Christmas.

And could she hear the crackle and slip of white tissue paper?”

“Tissue paper rustled.  Nuts cracked.  Scissors cut.”

“…where she could smell the sharp tangy smell of Christmas tree and candles and nuts and raisins and apples and tangerines.”

Margret Wise Brown interweaves varied sentence lengths with specific word choice and the Magic of Three.  The page layout is unique – almost like a poem, yet a narrative essay.  The lines stair-step down, guiding the reader’s voice and reflection.

The illustrations by Anne Mortimer compliment the text so richly. (I found that Anne Mortimer has illustrated many cat books. )  The two-page layout is very creative.  The left page’s illustrations flank the text as columns.  The right page is a complete illustration of the cat and her view of the setting.  The only page that isn’t like that is the middle.  Only two lines are highlighted:  “She saw it!  She saw the sleigh go jingling by.”  Enjoy this delightful book!

Savorings for reading and in writing for A Pussycat’s Christmas:

  • Voice – talks to the reader; the use of questions and varied sentences invite the reader to respond
  • Question Lead – “It was Christmas.  How could you tell?
  • Font Manipulation – adds to the illustrations and brings the sound to life
  • Transitions – the text flows so smoothly
  • Sensory Description




October 26, 2008

Subject and predicate – why bother with teaching sentence structure anyway?  Well, in my opinion, if the terms are just used within a skill and drill concept of teaching grammatical writing, then I don’t see much to it.  The students will obediently place their lines between the subject and predicate, but does it really help in teaching writing?  I believe that we have so little time to teach that each lesson must touch their writing and reading lives in a deep way.  So, back to subject and predicate.

A fun book for teaching these concepts to integrate into the children’s writing is Skeleton Hiccupsby Margery Cuyler.  Halloween is only five days away and this cute book accents the parts of a sentence.  The skeleton wakes up with the hiccups, and Margery Cuyler adds the onomatopoeia throughout the story.  (I was just thinking that the kindergartners, who are learning to label, would learn a new way to add their voice to the writing.)  The story continues by adding different things that Skeleton does – the predicate of the sentence.  Ghost enters the story, adding in some conversation as well.  Finally, only he thinks of a clever way to get the Skeleton to stop hiccuping.  (Drinking water is one of my favorite pages.)

Savorings for reading and in writing for Skeleton Hiccups:

  • Predicate – teach to vocabulary word that is hounded on standardized tests
  • Turning point – “But nothing worked….Then Ghost got smart.”
  • Labeling onomatopoeia with different fonts – hic, hic, hic
  • Command – “Hold your breath.”