Sunday, January 30, 2011

Week 18: Wanted: The Perfect Pet

I'm a sucker for illustrations. Of course I picked up this book because of the duck in the book (not pictured) with his rounded bill. He looked just so cute, I had to know if the story was as good as the illustrations. It turns out - it is!
Wanted: The Perfect Pet by Fiona Roberton is about a little boy who wants a dog because it is a perfect pet for a little boy. When a duck (disguised as a dog) answers the boy's want ad, the boy has to decide what he is really looking for in a pet. 
This book would be great for showing how illustrations should add more to the story than just the text. In one illustration, there is a copy of the newspaper where the boy has placed his add. In another, a diagram shows all the necessary components for the perfect pet. These illustrations add so much more to the story and enjoyment of reading the book than just the words. 

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Week 17.1: Books to use in Writing Workshop

Today's post is slightly different. I recently was talking with some teachers about books to use for the purpose of teaching minilessons in writing workshop. Some of them have already been listed in other posts, but here is a short summary of the titles we discussed:

The Sandwich Swap seems to show how to use the same line (or a variation) as the opening and closing

Books for word choice, language:
Martina the Beautiful Cockroach by Caremen Deedy has great vocabulary and language
Come on, Rain by Karen Hesse great language and use of similes
The Bunyans by Audrey Wood shows different ways to say "big"

Books that inspire writers to look for ideas:
Once Upon a Baby Brother by Sarah Sullivan
The Quiet Book by Deborah Underwood
Courage by Bernard Waber
Serendipity by Tobi Tobias

Books to cherish for great author's craft:
Night in the Country by Cynthia Rylant
Scarecrow by Cynthia Rylant

Books that show how books work:
The Plot Chickens by Mary Jane and Herm Auch
Aunt Isabel Tells a Good One by Kate Duke

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Week 17: See the Ocean

Estelle Condra's book See the Ocean is a beautifully written book. The story seems to start off simply, however, as the story progresses there are clues along the way that there is something unique about this story. The author describes the ocean in rich detail and uses so many sensory details to help the reader understand how Nellie sees the ocean. This story would be a great way to help students understand how to use descriptive language in their writing.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Week 16: The Quiet Book

This is one of those books that I bought because the illustrations were so cute. It wasn't until after I read the book several times that I realized how fantastic and valuable this book would be for generating ideas during a writing workshop time. Deborah Underwood does a fantastic job listing different kinds of "quiet" - reading a book quiet, best friends don't need to talk quiet, first one awake quiet, and the list goes on and on. Each of the illustrations matches the text so perfectly that you can allow yourself to be transported to a time when you felt that type of quiet. Students can talk about when they had experiences like these or other types of "quiet" they may have felt. These ideas can be listed and then used for ideas to write about in notebooks.

Other books that use a similar technique:
Courage by Bernard Waber
Serendipity by Tobi Tobias

In April, Deborah Underwood is supposed to come out with The Loud Book. I know I am looking forward to it! It's one that I will buy sight unseen because of how much I loved The Quiet Book.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Week 15: A Child's Garden

A Child's Garden by Michael Foreman is a beautifully illustrated book that tells the story of survival, renewal, and hope. The boy's town and home have been destroyed by war and now a wire fence surrounds him and his neighbors. Yet, one day, a small piece of green is seen poking through the rubble and dirt. The boy takes care of the plant and nurtures it as it grows and thrives.
While the text and illustrations may seem simple, the story and theme are deep. Students have to think deeply to understand the soldiers' motives behind their actions. This is a story you will want to spend a great deal of time talking carefully about. 

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Week 14: Sparrow Girl

Sparrow Girl by Sarah Pennypacker is a great text to use for discussions. Based on a historical event, this story shows how one person can truly make a difference to many. In Ming-Li's village, everyone is fighting the war on sparrows by setting off firecrackers and trying to scare the birds. Ming-Li feels sorry for the sparrows and rescues a few and hides them in a barn. The villagers feel triumphant when all the sparrows are gone, however they are soon faced with a famine as the locust begin eating the crops. Ming-Li must decide whether or not to share her hidden secret.
This book could be used for many discussions, especially one about cause and effect. Ming-Li's decision to share her hidden sparrows could be a good discussion starter about right and wrong.