- "Velma's memory of the three children grew fuzzy, and only when she saw a boy or girl passing on the street did her ears prick up as if she shoudl hve known something about the chidlren. But what it was she had forgotten."
- "Miss Cutcheon's memory, on the other hand, grew better every day, and she seemed not to know anyting except the past. She could recite the names of children in her mind-which seats they sat in, what subjects they were best at, what they'd brought to school for lunch. She could remember their funny ways, and sometimes she would be sitting at her dinette in the morning, quietly eating, when she would burst out with a laugh that filled the room and made Velma jump.
Sunday, May 9, 2010
In the introductory page, the authors state: "there are millions of different kinds of animals, and they have come up with some ingenious solutions to these problems. See if you can figure out how the animals in these pages will snare a fish, hatch an egg, use a leaf, catch a fly, dig a hole, or eat a clam." The intro is closed by a statement to the reader that if he would like more information about the animals, that they will be able to find more facts in the back of the book.
The text of the question is the largest font size for each of the animals, while a "thumbnail" image of the images on the following pages is noted at the very bottom of the page. For example, the first question asks, "How many ways can you snare a fish?" Below the question it states a fact about fish and how they "have clever enemies, and most face the constant threat of being eaten by other animals."
Thumbnail images of a bear, eel, dolphin, matamata, diving beetle, and anhinga are at the bottom of the page. The pages following this question include larger illustrations of these thumbail images, with their specific names, the manner in which they capture the fish, and an illustration that depicts the "snaring" of the fish. "As salmon swim upstream to lay their eggs, a grizzly bear waits, it stands in teh rapids and grabs fish in midair as they leap from the water." "The matamata rests on the bottom of a lake or stream. When a fish comes near, it sticks out its neck, opens its mouth, an expands its throat. The sudden suction pulls the fish into the turtle's mouth."
Jenkins and Page creatively place the text to wrap around the animals and their surroundings, while creating a collage of answers to the question stated. The cut-and-torn paper collage images allow for close-up views of the animals, while making this picture book an eye-opening fact-based story that will fascinate children in a large or small group read-aloud.
The animals and their accompanying facts will provide even the most inquisitive readers with something to take away from the story. There are many animals in this story that I did not know existed before reading it. So I found myself taking the authors advice and discovering more information about the matamata or the white tent bats. However, a centralized theme is created among the animals in that although their approaches may be different, they all respond to their environment in a manner for survivial
The story encourages the readers to predict, confirm, clear up misconceptions, ask questions to themselves, and research what they still wonder about after reading. After all, isn't this what we want every time from our children when reading nonfiction? Illustrations that are visually exciting, topics that capture their interests, and prompting from the authors to answers to their continuing questions.
Students surrounding them take either Lily or Salma's side, resulting in a full-fledge food fight in the cafeteria. Once called to the principal's office, the girls finally wake up and realize that what they've done is completely wrong. They are ashamed of their behavior and how they could let this get in the way of their friendship.
The next day, Lily and Salma sample each other sandwiches. While their initial exchanges of the opposing sandwich was "gross" or "yucky," after sampling one another's they realized that they tasted pretty good - even DELICIOUS! The two friends return to the principal's office, this time with a full-bleed illustration of a buffet filled with various foods, with adorning flags depicting the coming together of some of our world's diverse ethnicities - some of these include Iceland, Greece, Mexico, United States, Jordan, etc).
In an author's note, Queen Rania explains that the book is inspired from a moment in her own chidhood. In an interview with Oprah, she states,
- QR: "I went to an international school, and I used to go every day, and at lunchtime I would proudly open my lunchbox and find my hoummous sandwich which my mother made me every day with lots of love, and you know, there's a dependable, tasty texture. So I unpack my sandwich and I see a girl sitting next to me and she's eating something horrible. It was just this gooey, pasty..."
- Oprah: "brown stuff..."
- QR: "...brown, purply stuff. And I really felt sorry for her. And then I thought that poor girl she doesn't have my delicious hoummous sandwich. So one day she offered me to take a bite and I didn't want to hurt her feelings so I kind of scrunched up my face, closed my eyes, and took a bite. And then I wanted to take another bite just to make sure I liked it. And then another, and that's when my love affair with peanut buttter started."
- Oprah: "Peanut Butter and Jelly."
- QR: "You know I was five years old so it's not like I drew any conscious lessons, but on a subconcious level I think I understood that I shouldn't fear the unknown. That I shouldn't judge something without trying it. That wonderful things can be found in even the strangest of places, and from that time onwards I stopped second guessing diversity but started embracing it. You know differences became part of the turf, adding texture and colour to one's life." (www.queenraniajo/media/interviews)
Saturday, May 8, 2010
"That very night in Max's room a forest grew -
and grew -
and grew until his ceiling hung with vines and the walls became the world all around
and an ocean tumbled by with a private boat for max as he sailed off through night and day
and in and out of weeks and almost over a year to where the wild things are..."
Max is crowned "The King of Wild Things" upon his arrival to the land of monsters, and they all have a "wild rumpus." As the wild things are sent off to bed, Max begins to long for his home again and feels alone. He gives up being king of where the wild things are because of his yearning to feel love and comfort once again.
"and into the night of his very own room
where he found his supper waiting for him
and it still was hot."
As Sendak defended the critics to his story for it being too "frightening," in his acceptance speech for the Caldecott he stated, "despite adults' desire to protect children from painful experiences," "the fact is that from their earliest years children live on familiar terms with disrupting emotions, that fear and anxiety are an intrinsic part of their every day lives, that they continually cope with frustration as best they can. And it is through fantasy that children achieve catharsis. It is the best means they have for taming the Wild Things." (http://www.barnesandnoble.com/)
Max's character is someone that readers may be able to connect with; we all experience feelings of anger from time to time; but instead of acting upon those actions, he uses his imagination to free him from the stress of the situation. Although at first he enjoys being in this fantasy world, in the end he realizes that his place is to be at home, safe with his mother.
Sendak's story celebrates the power of a child's imagination, and emulates the realistic emotions and thoughts of children of yesterday and today. It allows for children to enter into a fantasy world with Max, and its through the simplistic text and story-telling illustrations, that readers come away with an understanding that it's okay to fantasize and discover a world hidden within your own bedroom.
"Sendak presents an image of children not as sentamentalized little dears but as people coping with complex emotions such as anger, fear, frustration, wonder, and awareness of their own vulnerability. This well-earned and reassuring happy ending for all children wrestling with human nature's darker emotions." ~ Children's Literature Review
It is through literature, and converstion within literature, that children and teachers, parents can discuss the emotions involved. Children need to know that it is okay to have these emotions but to know how to deal with them in an appropriate manner. Children will be able to relate, imagine, and enjoy the exploration of finding their individual wild sides, while being assured that its okay to have it!
Wednesday, May 5, 2010
"It did not start out, the intent was not for it be be wordless. As a matter of fact, I thought that this story was so clear in my mind that I would actually start the process of doing thumbnail sketches then adding the text later. So the story is visually narratively driven, and I think that's what you find in it. Not only telling the story of the lion and the mouse, but also the story of what attracted me to the Serengeti, the African Serengeti."
Pickney's illustrations clearly demonstrate his wealth of knowledge of the Serengeti. His carefully sequenced images of the characters develop the closeness of their relationship, as the close-up images that are seen throughout note the lion and mouse as the protagonists of the story, as they appear to be realistic. In an author's note, Pickney explains that he set the story in the Serengeti, "with its wide horizon and abundant wildlife so awesome yet fragile, not unlike the two sides of each of the heroes."
Pickney's pencil work, coupled with the watercolor images create a characters that fit well into its surroundings, while also using perspective to see the Serengeti through the mouse and lion's eyes. The interview from Reading Rockets continues, "I wanted them to be anthropomorphic, but in a way that suggested the true nature and the character of a lion, and a true nature and a true character of a mouse. And in doing so I had to straddle a fence making them respond in a kind of natural way, but the reader to understand what they were responding to."
The symoblic meaning behind the lion and the mouse is something that is valued by this popular tale. "The lion, while strong and powerful, does not harm the small, defenseless mouse after it scurries away from an owl. In return for this kindness, the mouse comes the rescue of the lion by chewing through the roped snare that captured him. As many fables have a moral, in the story of the lion of the mouse the reader does not know why the lion lets the mouse free or why the mouse saves the lion by setting him free." Perhaps, it's the acts of kindness and the actions represented in the pictures that becomes the moral of this popular, and thought-provoking fable.
Although this was a retelling, Jeff Pickney's version of this tale forced me to re-evaluate my own knowledge of fables. It is amazing how a wordless book can drive the story right out of its illustrations. The ability to interact with the text between a teacher and a student or a mother and a child is the beauty of what resonates from these types of storybooks. And it will be a storybook and lesson that a child will live by, and never forget.
In the poem titled, Grandpa's Mustache, the nonsense verse and rhyming scheme is portrayed full-heartedly within this 16 line poem:
"Grandpa has nose hair-/it really grows there. /It also makes him snore,/but grandma doesn't care./She can't hear./Too much ear hair."
The opposite page of the poem is a full-page illustration of Grandpa with his mustache, while on the right hand corner of the page where the poem is written is a smaller image of Grandma with her over-embellished eair hair. Brown also incorporates unexpected rhymes and strange puns. For example, in the poem titled One to Ten (and BACK AGAIN), Brown writes:
"Five, six, snap your fingers./Think of something weird./Noodles in a haystack./A baby with a beard.
Seven, Eight, clap your hands./Think of something silly,/Chickens popping bubble wrap./Statues eating chili.
Nine, Ten, tap your feet./Think of something fun:/Mulling over foolish whims./Counting back to One."
This poem radiates the imaginitative creation of words that poetry can encompass. The unexpected word choice reflects the idea of how writing poetry can include letting go of boundaries and having fun while doing it. And while there are the fair share of these quirky yet adventurous poems, Brown also incorporates poems that contain a certain seriousness.
"Go Forth, /Young Moth./It takes strength/to lift up and stay aloft/with wings so soft.
Brown's featured poem as well as the title of the collection, Soup for Breakfast, celebrates the idea of individualism and satisfaction of the speaker with eating this peculiar, yet satisfying bowl of soup int he morning.
"I like soup for breakfast./That's the way I am./I'm not a fan of toast and jam/or griddlecakes/with eggs and ham,/or even Cream of Wheat./A bowl of cream of broccoli,/now there's a morning treat./Coffee drinkers often scoff,/but I just laugh/and sip my broth.
At the end of the story on it's final endpaper, Brown admits that he truly does enjoy soup for breakfast, and does his wife, Anissa.
These are a few of the reviews at the back of the book that I found to perfectly highlight the book's purpose;
- "Silly it may be, but all the best kind, prompting the reader to see the world (slightly) askew and to delight in it." ~ Horn Book
- "Words and pictures manage to be both clear and weird, an enjoyable mix." - Booklist
- "The book celebrates language and wordplay with some real tongue-twisters, and the high-energy acryllic illustrations are just as engaging as the text. - Parents' Choice
These are a few of the questions that I had after reading this story:
- Why did the authors decide to write about Owen and Mzee?
- How did they know of their bond in Kenya?
While trying to find these answers, I found in a review by Publisher's Weekly. The review stated that a photograph of the two was published in newspapers about a month after the tsunami. "Craig Hatkoff and his then six-year old daughter, moved by that image and the accompanying article, decided to learn more about these animal-companions-and to write their story."
The photographs of Owen and Mzee detail each of the events and emotions involved throughout their journey. Photographer Peter Greste incorporates full page spreads of Owen's trying transport to the sanctuary. Photos also demonstrate Owen's immediate movement toward Mzee once arrivng there - "Owen crouched behind Mzee, the way baby hippos often hide behind their mothers for protection." While the illustrations depict the heartfelt emotions of the pair, the text allows readers to closely follow just how remarkable yet suprising the bond truly is between the two of them. Illustrations throughout the story detail the daily activities of cuddling, swimming, and playing around with one another. "Most wildlife experts have never heard of a mammal and a reptile forming such a strong bond."
The story of Owen and Mzee just goes to show how during life's most trying times, it's the people (or animals) in this case, that help us survive it and move on. Even though there were differences between Owen and Mzee, that did not stop them in surrendering their love for one another and forming a mother-son relationship that continues to exist today. I was surprised yet pleased that these two would create this relationship. I believe that children who read this story will be glad that Owen was able to find a mother to care for him, as well as Mzee having a son to take care of. Once reading this book, students will be inclined to read the follow-ups that tell of their first year together and the unique "language" that they created to communicate. UNREAL!
Raschka's rhythmic text introduces the reader to two opposities, while one is shy, the other is very outgoing. As the two communicate with very few words, "Yo!" "Yes?" "What's up?" "Not much." The exchange of words lead up to an increased amount of converstaion. The two boys join together to become friends at the final pages as Raschka depicts them both jumping up into the air while yelling simulateneously, "Yow!"
Although the text is simplistic, the underlying message that Raschka details in the story is that you can find friendship with someone who may appear completely different than you on the outside. But if you take the time to get to know that person and his intentions, you may find that you have alike than you assumed.
- What gave Raschka the inspiration to write Yo! Yes?
The part of the interview where he says, or a phrase I heard on the street, totally struck me - perhaps he heard bits and pieces of a conversation like this on the street, and this was his motivation to write Yo! Yes? I wonder??
I think reading this story aloud, even using this as a Reader's Theatre activity in the classroom, will allow for children to be actively involved in the text, as well as being "eavesdroppers" on their conversation. Raschka sends the message that children can find friends in the most unlikely places, and at first glance, with the most unlikely people.
Together, both Woodson and illustrator Hudson Talbott emphasize the importance of how these quilts represented the memories of the past and present. Talbott's stunning illustrations link closely with the text while also carrying the same quilt-like motif. Just by looking at the pictures, not even reading the words, a story is told about the culture, traditions, trials, and tribulations through the use of color, size, shape, and background effects. Quilts are also used in the design of the book; for example, on the cover Mathis May is holding a candle. "A diamond is actually cut into the cover as diamonds represent the four stages of life in African textiles." (http://www.newyorktimes.com/) Pictures of African American leaders such as Martin Luther King, words by Sojourner Truth, and other inspriational historical figures are stiched together on the cover surrounding Mathis, demonstrating an importance and celebration of their efforts for equal rights.
Woodson's family stories in Show Way created an opportunity for readers to reflect and learn about the past experiences of these women. Readers obtain a firm understanding of the importance of how these quilts and patterns told a story that was shared from mother to daughter. This story will encourage readers to seek information about their own family's background, while learning about how their experiences and traditions helped shape their present lives.
Greg, being rather small, skinny, and somewhat awkward looking (as also depicted in the cartoon images) tries to fit into his school, while also trying to avoid the muscling tactices of the bullies that surround him. He is also continually picked on by his older brother Rodrick and is annoyed by his baby brother Manny. Greg's parents continually are on his case to do well in school, stay physically fit, and to deter his video game playing obsession. The character of Greg is someone that many readers will be able to connect with when reading his journal entries based on how he deals with the conflicts that arise in each of his sticky predicaments. Usually, the scheme that he tries hard to create in order to get out of a problem typically results in disaster!
Author Jeff Kinney has a true talent of capturing the issues of acceptance, bullying, and popularity-most of which all middle-schoolers like Greg learn to deal with throughout their early teenage years. Kinney incoporates a lot of one-liners that you find yourself giggling uncontrollably, in addition to being able to relate to some of the feelings and thoughts described by Greg. "Mom is saying that I'm a smart kid, but I just don't "apply" myself." "I've been trying to be a lot more careful about my image ever since I got to middle school, but having Rowley around is defiinitely not helping."
Elijah's innocence to slavery changes as he, who is once described by his parents as being a "fra-gile" boy, embarks on the dangerous journey to America. Elijah, accompanied by Mr. Leroy, emarks on this quest in order to track down former slave, Reverend Zephariah, who stole Mr. Leroy's money that was intended to buy his family back from captivity in the south. Elijah's fragile persona is put to the test once reaching the destination and after Mr. Leroy unexpectedly passes. Elijah, though unable to recover the money and find the evil Reverend, successfully rescues an enslaved baby girl named Hope and the two journey safely back to Buxton.
Once described as a "fragile" boy, Elijah demonstrates the ability to face the harsh reality of slavery and finds the strength and courage that portrays him as the "grown up" that he longed to be perceived as by his family and friends. And he gave the greatest gift of all to Hope-a life of freedom, growing up in the settlement of Buxton, Canada, land of the free.
Curtis was able to depict a historical fiction story that contained the cultural and historical authenticity, while painting a clear picture of what life was like for runaway slaves and those who settled in Buxton. The character that he creates through Elijah is believable to readers, and does not make him "superheroic," while his rescuing of Hope proves to be a brave and admirable characteristic of a hero, it is believable of his age.
In the author's note, Curtis states that while some of the story is fictionalized, most of the story is based on fact. Frederick Douglass and John Brown did visit Buxton, and Reverend William King did found the Elgin Settlement for freed slaves. He encourges readers to go visit Buxton, while "it is almost impossible not to be deeply moved while looking out on fields that were cleared by people who risked their lives for the dream of freedom."
As this was my first book that I've read by Christopher Paul Curtis, I gained a deeper understanding of what life was like for those who were successful in escaping slavery after reaching Canada. It is unreal what young children, such as Elijah, had to endure throughout their lives. I respect, value, and admire their brave spirits as they experienced a life filled of uncertainty and danger.
After the incident, Phil began to question his own understanding of race.
- "Can I help it if we have a cleaning lady, and she's black and we're white? And can I help it if she's Daniel's grandmother? I mean, it's not like we're rich or something. If's not like we force Lcuy to work for us, is it?
- "What if Daniel had been a white kid? Would I have grabbed him like that? If he had lookd like he belonged in that jacket, would I have said he stole it?"
- "How come you never told me I was prejudiced?" ( a question to his mother)Throughout the story, Phil comes to realize that he is not prejudiced, but recognizes the disturbing fact that is father is, in fact, a bigot.
Clements wrote a story that deals with issues that children in schools deal with throughout the world. The issues of tolerance and honesty embody this short, yet thought-provoking novel that allow for readers to self-question their values, just as Phil did throughout his journey. The Jacket would serve as an exellent springboard for discussion in classrooms in exploring racism, tolerance, and prejudice. (School Library Journal)
When asked what prompted him to write The Jacket, Mr. Clements says in a note at the back of the book: "If a white kid grows up in the majority culture in America, sooner or later there will come a realization that children from other races may have had a very different experience, may have lived in a different America. I vividly remember that realization in my own life. I wanted to write a story about that moment when unconscious prejudices rise to the surface, a story that would explore differences and emphaszie our common humanity."
His collection opens up with the invitation:
If you're a dreamer, come in
If you're a dreamer a wisher a liar
A hop-er, a pray-er, a magic bean buyer...
If you're a pretender, come sit by my fire/For we have some flax golden tales to spin/Come in! Come in!Silverstein's creative writing style engages the readers through his quirky wording, silly phrases, and pencil drawings that totally complement the text of each poem. As a child, I can remember laughing uncontrollably when my teacher read every poem aloud to our class.
Today, Shel Silverstein has CD's that accompany most of his poetry collections. It is amazing how much of any effect the author's voice alterations, pitches, and tone can impact the overall outcome of how a poem is recited. This was my first year using his CD to accompany some of my favorite poems. No matter how hard I tried, my characterization couldn't quite compare with his when reading his poems aloud! When playing "Ickle Me, Pickle Me, Tickle Me too," my students were able to see how a narrators voice can aid in the overall expression of the poem, while also depicted the tone, mood, and, in this case, humerous theme! They were also able to understand how all of these elements symbolize what poetry is, and how powerful this form of expression can be in reading and writing.
Shel Silverstein will continue to be a poetry collection shared with my students, as well as a book that I will pull "when I'm having one of those days." "Shel invited children to dream the impossible, from a hippotamus sandwich to the longest nose in the world to eighteen flavors of ice cream and Sarah Synthia Stouct wouldn't take the garbage out." His repetitive, rhythmic, and spontaneous rhyming schemes aid in the overall playfulness of his poems while making their way into children's hearts and minds.