Winston the Book Wolf

August 19, 2011

Marni McGee theme in Winston the Book Wolf is the love of reading. Winston the Wolf feeds on words. He loved eating books. When banned from the library, Rosie(with a familiar looking red-hooded sweatshirt) came to his rescue. She asks why he eats books.

Words are so delicious!”

Ian Beck interweaves characters from familiar fairy tale stories – the Three Little Pigs, Little Red Riding Hood – throughout the setting. Winston transforms into Granny, the Story Lady, who reads at the library. What a great way to start the school year, inviting kids into the world of reading.

Savorings for reading and in writing for Winston the Book Wolf:

  • Spin on a familiar story
  • Problem/ Solution
  • Character emotion
  • Vocabulary
  • Magic of 3
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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)


The Dog who Belonged to No One

September 9, 2009

Amy Hestuses a parallel structure as she interweaves two stories into one.  The Dog Who Belonged to No One has two main characters:  a dog and Lia.  A small, stray dog lives his days exploring, looking for a friend.  Lia, a young, dreaming daughter,  also is alone.  Her parents are bakers, and she delivers their good all over town.  As she rides her bike, she made up stories to keep her company. 

To make herself feel less alone, she thought up stories as she pedaled.  The stories were like friends on her long ride to town.”

The Dog Who Belonged to No OneNotice Amy Bates sets the story during the early 1900’s:  the character dress and building structure.  The parallel scenes are often set side by side in a two-page layout.  As the reader, I found it interesting to be wondering and predicting about both characters – at the same time.  An excellent compare and contrast setting to use in discussion.

This book will grab the attention of both younger and older children in regards to the characters and turning point.  Amy Hest’s reference phrases from one part of the story into other scenes.  A very rich text!

Savorings for reading and in writing for A Dog Who Belonged to No One:

  • Character Lead – “Once there was a small dog with crooked ears.  He belonged to no one.”  “And once there was a wisp of a girl named Lia.”
  • parallel stories and structure – “He shook.  He shivered.  He dripped.  When the wind blew, his crooked ears blew.  She shook She shivered.  She dripped.  When the wind blew, her hair blew too.”
  • Inferencing
  • Ending – “and they belonged to each other…all through the changing season.”

Warsaw Community Public Library


A Story of Baghdad

February 27, 2009

James Rumford stated, “The story of Silent Music was born in the spring of 2003, as Baghdad fell and its citizens struggled to form a new Iraq.”

Silent Music:  A Story of Baghdad is told in first person by the young character, Ali.  He shares what he likes as a boy – soccer, music, and writing.  Ali interweaves the challenges of learning the Islamic calligraphy letters to the present day bombings and war in Baghdad. This book would provide some background knowledge for current events.

The illustrations are distinct.  I find the background print almost overbearing, yet hold clues from the text.  On one page I noticed a United States soldier with some young soccer players.  The book gave me a glimpse into the Islamic culture, as did the author’s note in the back.

Savorings for reading and in writing for Silent Music:  A Story of Baghdad:

  • Transitions – “But most of all, I love calligraphy –
  • Magic of 3
  • Varied sentence lengths
  • Words used a a unique part of speech – parent-rattling
  • Love of Writing
  • Simile – “writing a long sentence is like watching a soccer player in slow motion…
  • Multi-cultural – background knowledge for Baghdad, Iraq and Islamic culture

(Warsaw Public Library)


An Writer’s Dream

February 22, 2009

I love books.  And finding a book sale is the best.  On my list of errands, I had stopped by the library this past week and happened on  a book sale.  Going through the children’s books, I found this new treasure, A Sign by George Ella Lyon.  I had never heard of this book, but knowing the author’s craft, I knew I had gem.

George Ella Lyon has a way of painting beautiful pictures with her words.  A Sign did not disappoint me.  She drew me in and I was connected.  The book’s text is simpler, dreamlike.  George Ella shares three  different scenes of careers she imagined being as a child – a neon sign designer, a tightrope walker, and an astronaut.  Although George Ella did not become any of those earlier dreams, she combined her dreams into her writing career.

Now that I am grown I don’t bend glass tubes with fire like Leon Lasseter did

but I try to make words glow.”

“And as for that rocket {…} it’s your heart I send these words to.  They light the dark between us.

Savorings for reading and in writing for A Sign:

  • Everyday dreams
  • Choice words
  • Repeating structure
  • All parts connected
  • Text to text connection – reminds me of When I was Young in the Mountains, a tale of the author’s life

Winter Lullaby

November 14, 2008

Barbara Seuling shares the transition from fall to winter in the book Winter Lullaby.  The book’s structure is set as a question/ answer style.  Greg Newbold illustrates the simple text with such vivid illustrations. 

They almost look like photos.  Winter Lullaby

I love the way that nonfiction information is presented to the reader by asking the reader to think.  “When the breeze blows the petals off the flowers, where do the bees go?”  Upon turning the page, the reader is answered: “Inside their hives till spring arrives.”  I love the choice of words that bring to live nature’s science:  “When white frost creeps across the country meadow…”

Savorings for reading and in writing for Winter Lullaby:

  • Questions
  • Dependent clauses
  • Prepositional phrases – “across the sky
  • Time passage – fall to winter seasons
  • Science – hibernation, seasonal changes

‘Twas the Night before Thanksgiving

November 12, 2008

Dav Pilkey authored a fun text, ‘Twas the Night Before Thanksgiving,  that will delight any aged audience.  Based on the poem, ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas, Dav Pilkey ventures to imagine what children would be thinking prior to the Thanksgiving holiday.  Mmm, delicious turkey meat maybe?  This field trip adventure changes the minds of the children after becoming friends with the turkeys.  When someone finds Farmer Nuggett’s ax, “they clamored aloud in a chorus of cries.” His poetic story ends with the children saving the day.

Side note:  I wonder where Dav Pilkey came up with the turkey names.  Past TV characters?  “Now Ollie, now Stanley, now Larry and Moe, On Wally, on Beaver, on Shemp and Groucho!”

Savorings for reading and in writing for ‘Twas the Night Before Thanksgiving:

  • Hyphenated word – new-falled leaves
  • Use this text to examine the complexity of word usage between verbs, nouns, and adjectives:
  • Verbs – whistled, gobbled
  • Nouns – terrains, cockerels, clatter
  • Colon – in a list
  • Rhyming
  • Ending – allows the children to think of what they might be thankful for:  “So each one gave thanks for love and for living...”