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Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday is hosted by Kid Lit Frenzy and was started to help promote the reading of nonfiction texts. Most Wednesdays, we will be participating and will review a nonfiction text (though it may not always be a picture book).
Be sure to visit Kid Lit Frenzy and see what other nonfiction books are shared this week!
***Yes, poetry counts as nonfiction! Ask Dewey :)**

bathtub stillbathtub
Take Me Out of the Bathtub
Author: Alan Katz
Illustrator: David Catrow
Published May 1st, 2001 by Margaret K. McElderry Books

I’m Still Here in the Bathtub
Author: Alan Katz
Illustrator: David Catrow
Published April 1st, 2003 by Margaret K. McElderry Books

Take Me Out of the Bathtub Goodreads Summary: Remember… “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” and “I’ve Been Working on the Railroad”?  Well, forget ’em!

Songwriter and comedy writer extraordinaire Alan Katz has turned those and other old favorites on their ears and created new nonsense songs kids will love. With zany, spirited pictures by illustrator and cartoonist David Catrow, this kooky collection guarantees laughs and plenty of silly dillyness for kids everywhere!

I’m Still Here in the Bathtub Goodreads Summary: If you like… “Wheels on the Bus” and “Itsy Bitsy Spider,” you’ll go NUTS for “The Meals at My Camp” and “Tiny Baby Brother”!

Songwriter and comedy writer par excellence Alan Katz has done it again! He’s turned fourteen favorite songs upside down and created new nonsense songs kids will love. With hilariously funny pictures by illustrator and cartoonist David Catrow, this new collection promises giggles, guffaws, and hours of silly dillyness for kids everywhere!

My Review and Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: I really enjoyed these books. I found myself singing out loud just so I can figure out how to make Katz’s lyrics fit with the original songs. I love the idea of singing these silly songs with students to the tune of classics. I think it gives a great opportunity to talk about the classic songs, where they came from, and their meaning. Then, the silly songs give you a chance to look at rhyming, rhythm, other poetic elements, and humor. I think it would be a fun activity to have students then emulate Alan Katz’s songs by writing their own fun songs.

Discussion QuestionsWhat other nursery rhymes or songs could you “silly-fy”?; Can you just choose any words to fit into the songs or do you have to be careful? How can you decide what words to choose?

We Flagged: “Take Me Out of the Bathtub” (To the tune of “Take Me Out to the Ballgame)

Take me out of the bathtub
Take me out of the suds
I’ve been here soaking since half past two
I feel so sudsy and wrinkle-y, too
Oh, I washed all over my body
My head, my toes, in between
I used one, two, three bars of soap
Take me out….I’m clean.

Read This If You Loved: Crankee Doodle by Tom Angleberger, Bananas in my Ears by Michael Rosen

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Captain Underpants series
Author: Dav Pilkey
#1: Adventures of Captain Underpants published September 1st, 1997 by Scholastic, Inc.
#11: Captain Underpants and the Tyrannical Retaliation of the Turbo Toilet 2000 published August 26th, 2014 by Scholastic Inc.

Goodreads Summary #1: Pilkey plays with words and pictures, providing great entertainment. The story is immediately engaging – two fourth-grade boys who write comic books and love to pull pranks find themselves in big trouble. Mean Mr. Krupp, their principal, videotapes George and Harold setting up their stunts and threatens to expose them. The boys’ luck changes when they send for a 3-D Hypno-Ring and hypnotize Krupp, turning him into Captain Underpants, their own superhero creation.

Goodreads Summary #11: When the Incredible Robo-Plunger defeated the evil Turbo Toilet 2000, George and Harold thought their toilet troubles were over. Unfortunately, their porcelain problems were only beginning . . . Just when you thought it was safe to flush . . . The Turbo Toilet 2000 strikes back! The carnivorous commode known for devouring everything in its path has built up a real appetite . . . for REVENGE! Join Captain Underpants for another epic showdown of Wedgie Power vs. Potty Power as our tighty-whitey-wearing superhero GOES TO ELEVEN!

My Review and Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: Ever since I started teaching I have had Captain Underpants fans in my classroom. Readers (especially boys though, like all books, it is not exclusive) love these books. When I started teaching intensive reading, my students loved that I read so much but were astonished that I had never read a Captain Underpants book. So, during the summer of 2012, I read the entire series that was out at the time.  And suprsingly, I am happy I did. I enjoyed the books so much, and I found many different ways that I could use in the series in classroom. As I read I not only enjoyed the stories (well most of them; the booger one was quite gross), but I kept notes on different ways each book could be a mentor text.  I know that students already love the books so I would love to be able to use them in the classroom. I think that part of what makes Pilkey’s humor work is that he never talks down to his reader. The humor is intelligent and witty, and he makes sure to have his books be as entertaining as possible to keep the reader’s attention.

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: Some of my favorite things that are addressed in the series are spelling, grammar, vocabulary, and puns. The spelling is not directly addressed; however, Harold and George misspell a lot of words and it would be good to use to talk about phonics and spelling.  Also, each book begins with an anagram which is great word play.  The grammar is sporadic only showing up in some books, but the vocabulary is in all of them.  Some vocabulary I found was billowing, narratively convenient, fizzled, improbability, jubilant, mock, scurried, and merciless and that is just in book 3! Also the puns in each book are really quite clever (check out p. 34 in #11 and any of the flip-o-ramas to see what I mean). Each book also has some great alliteration (#11, p. 29, 27, 208)- each title alone has alliteration in them. There are also allusions and onomatopoeias!

Additionally, I love the set up of the novels. They are a great mix of novel, graphic novel, comics, and picture books. It is a great transition between picture books and Diary of a Wimpy Kid. I especially like the flip-o-ramas. They are unique to the Captain Underpants books and I think it puts a great interactive and kinesthetic feel to the books.

One thing I do not understand is why these books are challenged. Yes, they have some potty humor. Yes, the adults aren’t the best representation of teachers. Yes, it is silly. But they are harmless and actually have some really great qualities to them.

Discussion Questions: In the first Captain Underpants, Harold and George brainstorm a superhero including his name and then create a comic based on their superhero. With a partner, brainstorm a name for a superhero and then complete a story to go along with your superhero. To expand it even more, complete a comic for your superhero.; In #11 novel, time travel plays a large part of in the plot. What event could you go back in time to try to change?; In some of the Captain Underpants books, there are grammar, convention, and spelling mistakes. Why do you think Dav Pilkey makes the choice to use incorrect grammar? What mistakes idd you find?; In #11, Harold and George end up being cloned (kind of). What would you do if there were two of you?

We Flagged (#11): 

Read These If You Loved: Diary of a Wimpy Kid series by Jeff Kinney, Big Nate series by Lincoln Peirce, Charlie Joe Jackson series by Tommy Greenwald, The Adventures of Ook & Gluk and Super Diaper Baby series by Dav Pilkey, Lunch Lady series by Jarrett Krosoczka, Frankie Pickle series by Eric Wight, Knights of the Lunch Table series by Frank Cammuso 

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NF PB 2014

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday is hosted by Kid Lit Frenzy and was started to help promote the reading of nonfiction texts. Most Wednesdays, we will be participating and will review a nonfiction text (though it may not always be a picture book).
Be sure to visit Kid Lit Frenzy and see what other nonfiction books are shared this week!

adjective verb noun

Hairy, Scary, Ordinary: What Is an Adjective? 
Published September 1st, 2001 by Carolrhoda Books

To Root, to Toot, to Parachute: What Is a Verb? 
Published April 1st, 2001 by Carolrhoda Books

A Mink, a Rink, a Skating Rink: What Is a Noun?
Published September 1st, 1999 by Lerner Publishing Group

Author: Brian P. Cleary
Illustrator: Jenya Prosmitsky

Hairy, Scary, Ordinary Goodreads Summary: Simple, rhyming text and colorful cartoon cats help children expand their vocabularies and gain an appreciation for the rhythm of language in this lighthearted book of rhyming verse. Adjectives like frilly, silly, polka-dotted, fizzy, and spunky are printed in color, and all the words will tickle you pink!

To Root, to Toot, to Parachute Goodreads Summary: What is a verb? It’s easier to show than explain! In this fun and animated introduction to grammer, rhyming verse is used to creatively clarify the concept of verbs. Chock-full of colorful, lively examples, the playful rhymes and illustrations of comical cartoon cats combine to hightlight key words in the sentences. Verbs like toss and tumble, jump and jam, jog and juggle, jig and leap are printed in color for easy identification.

A Mink, a Fink, a Skating Rink Goodreads Summary: “Words are Categorical” is a series which explores some of the basic principles of English grammar in a fun way. The books each deal with a different part of language, using playful and ingenious rhymes to make them easy to remember. In “What is a Noun?” children are introduced to one of the essential building blocks of the English language. It includes sections on both common and proper nouns. The nouns are highlighted in color to make them easy to identify.

My Review and Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: Teaching parts of speech is one of the hardest things to teach students, and it is even harder to teach them in a fun and interesting way. These books make it so that both of these things are possible. I like that each of the books focuses on only one part of speech instead of trying to teach multiple grammatical concepts thus making the chance of mastery much more likely. I also found the rhyming and silliness of the books just so endearing, and it would definitely help with the knowledge sticking.

Discussion Questions: What is a noun/adjective/verb? What are some examples? What are some nouns/adjectives/verbs that rhyme with each other?

We Flagged: 
Hairy, Scary, Ordinary: “Adjectives are words like hair, scary, cool, and ordinary. They describe like tan and tall, funny, frisky, smooth and small.”

To Root, to Toot, to Parachute: “Whether you scale a wall or a fish, make a design on a cup or a dish, take out the garbage, or sharpen your knife—verbs are a part of your everyday life.”

A Mink, a Fink, a Skating Rink: “Hill is a noun. Mill is a noun. Even Uncle Phil is a noun.”

Read This If You Loved: Eat, Shoots, and Leaves, Twenty-Odd Ducks, & The Girl’s Like Spaghetti by Lynne Truss, Other Words are CATegorical books by Brian Leary, Basher Basics: Grammar by Simon Basher, and other grammar books

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In January, I was contacted by a publicity and marketing associate from Abrams Books/Amulet Books out of the blue. In this email, I was asked to work on a teaching guide about their graphic novels: The Misadventures of Salem Hyde, Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales, Hereville, and the Explorer series.

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I was beyond honored! And, of course, I said that I would definitely love to do it as I had read all of the graphic novels, and I am a huge fan of them.

First, they asked me to write an introduction about graphic novels and their importance in the classroom. I am a huge advocate for using graphic novels in schools, so I immediately began researching and writing. Here is the introduction:

What are graphic novels? The easiest way to describe graphic novels is to say that they are book-length comic books. However, a more complex definition that educators and librarians use is “book-length narratives told using a combination of words and sequential art, often presented in comic book style” (Fletcher-Spear, 37). Graphic novels are not written in just one genre; they can be in any genre, since graphic novels are a format/medium. Graphic novels are much like novels, but they’re told through words and visuals. They have all narrative elements, including characters, a complete plot, a conflict, etc.

Middle grade and young adult graphic novels cover a wide spectrum of themes and topics. Some common themes found in graphic novels for this age include the hero’s journey; overcoming hardship; and finding one’s identity. For example, in Hereville, we meet Mirka, an everyday girl who learns to use her brains and brawn to overcome her foes. In The Misadventures of Salem Hyde, Salem is working on finding out just who she is (both as a witch and as a person) with the help of her friend Whammy. Graphic novels can cross curricular lines. One example is the Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales series—comical nonfiction that takes historical events and presents them in interesting ways, using graphics and humor that will make students want to learn even more about the historical time periods. In the Explorer series, stories include topics such as animal adaptation, volcanic eruptions, and the fate of humanity. Like novels, graphic novels offer opportunities in all subject areas to extend students’ thinking.

Over the past few years, graphic novels have become a hot topic, growing in popularity with both children and educators. While many teachers are beginning to include them in the classroom, there are still teachers, administrators, and librarians who struggle with including this format in their schools. So, why should you use them in your classroom and have them available for students?

  • Graphic novels can make a difficult subject interesting and relatable. (Cohen)
  • Students are visual learners, and today’s students have a much wider visual vocabulary than students in the past. (Karp)
  • Graphic novels can help foster complex reading skills by building a bridge from what students know to what they still have to learn. (NCTE)
  • Graphic novels can help with scaffolding when trying to teach higher-order thinking skills or other complex ideas.
  • For students who struggle to visualize while they read, graphic novels provide visuals that shows what good readers do. (NCTE)
  • Many graphic novels rely on symbol, allusion, satire, parody, irony, and characters/plot and can be used to teach these, and other, literary devices. (Miller; NCTE)
  • Often, in between panels (called the gutter), the reader must make inferences to understand how the events in one panel lead to the events in the next. (McCloud)
  • Graphic novels can make differentiating easier. (Miller)
  • Graphic novels can help ELL (English Language Learners) and reluctant and struggling readers since they divide the text into manageable chunks, use images (which help students understand unknown vocabulary), and are far less daunting than prose. (Haines)
  • Graphic novels do not reduce the vocabulary demand; instead, they provide picture support, quick and appealing story lines, and less text, which allow the reader to understand the vocabulary more easily. (Haines)
  • Research shows that comic books are linguistically appropriate reading material, bearing no negative impact on school achievement or language acquisition. (Krashen)
  • Students love them.

Although you can find graphic novel readers at all reading levels, graphic novels can truly be a gateway to the joys of reading for reluctant and struggling readers. Reluctant readers often find reading to be less fun than video games, movies, and other media, but many will gravitate toward graphic novels because of the visuals and the fast pace. Struggling readers will pick up graphic novels for these reasons as well but also because the graphic novel includes accommodations directly in the book: images, less text, etc.

All in all, graphic novels can interest your most reluctant and struggling readers and also extend all of your readers, including your most gifted.  

Resources

  • Cohen, Lisa S. “But This Book Has Pictures! The Case for Graphic Novels in an AP Classroom.” AP Central. CollegeBoard.
  • Fletcher-Spear, Kristin, Merideth Jenson-Benjamin, and Teresa Copeland. “The Truth About Graphic Novels: A Format, Not a Genre.” The ALAN Review Winter (2005): 37­–44.
  • Haines, Jennifer. “Why Use Comics in The Classroom?” Comic Book Daily. N.p., 20 Mar. 2012.
  • Karp, Jesse. “The Case for Graphic Novels in Education.” American Libraries. N.p., 1 Aug. 2011.
  • Krashen, Stephen. The Power of Reading. Englewood, CO: Libraries Unlimited, Inc. 1993.
  • McCloud, Scott. Understanding Comics. Northampton, Mass.: Kitchen Sink, 1993. 
  • Miller, Andrew. “Using Graphic Novels and Comics in the Classroom.” Edutopia. N.p., 11 Jan. 2012.
  • NCTE, comp. “Using Comics and Graphic Novels in the Classroom.” The Council Chronicle September (2005) http://www.ncte.org/magazine/archives/122031.

 I then began reading and rereading the graphic novels and planning activities and discussion questions that could go along with each book. I was asked to come up with activities for all subjects, so this pushed me out of my comfort zone a bit; however, I loved trying to figure out how these amazing books could be used throughout all classes.  Some examples:

  • Salem Hyde [Science]: At the end of Spelling Trouble, Salem and Whammy have to rescue a whale, but it is done in a very unconventional way. How would real scientists rescue a whale in distress?
  • Hazardous Tales [Language Arts/History]: The Provost (a British soldier) and Nathan Hale disagree about the cause of the Revolutionary War. Based on One Dead Spy, what events caused the Americans to revolt? Do you agree with the Provost or with Nathan Hale about the causes of the war? (This could also be used as a debate question in class.)
  • Hereville [Math]: On pages 31–32 [of Hereville 1], Mirka is given a math problem: Three people are splitting a cake, so they cut it into thirds. But then a fourth person shows up. How can they cut the cake so that each person gets an equalamount of cake? (Mirka comes up with a solution, but are there others?) What if two more people had shown up? Three more? Four more? 
  • Explorer [History]: On page 84 [of The Mystery Boxes], in The Soldier’s Daughter, the man says, “War is a dark power.” Where in history have we seen war consume someone? Have there been wars that did not need to be fought? Research past wars and determine if a war was started because of the need for power or if there was a legitimate reason for it. 

These are just some examples.

I am happy to share the entire teaching guide with you. It can be found at http://www.abramsbooks.com/academic-resources/teaching-guides/ along with other teaching guides. The direct link to the PDF is http://www.abramsbooks.com/pdfs/academic/GraphicNovels_TeachingGuide.pdf.

I hope you find it useful as I am very proud of it,

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Halloween

chatswood1 chatswood2

The Chatswood Spooks
Author: Notti Thistledore
Illustrator: Nela Krzewniak
A Frightful Recipe published January 15th, 2013 by CreateSpace Independent Publishing
Sheets and Ladders published February 17th, 2013 by Crooked Chimney Books

Goodreads Summary (A Frightful Recipe): The Chatswood Spooks are in trouble. If they don’t improve their scare tactics they’ll have to find somewhere else to haunt. But the spooks have lived their entire afterlives at the Chatswood Manor, and are determined to show just how scary they can be.

Unfortunately, they haven’t counted on having to scare Ivan the Fearless…

The Chatswood Spooks: A Frightful Recipe is the first in the Chatswood Spooks series. Each story is illustrated with detailed line drawings and is bursting with silliness.

Goodreads Summary (Sheets and Ladders): With his sheets, chains and pet spider, Jingo likes to look the part of the classic ghost. So when someone puts their red knickers in with Jingo’s favourite white haunting sheets, Jingo is devastated.

Feeling hurt and unloved, he decides to run away to join the local Carnival. But what Jingo has in spooking skills he lacks in street smarts, and he soon finds himself in trouble…

My Review: A cute (non)scary ghost story early chapter book that features 3 very different ghost personalities. I loved the vocabulary throughout this book that was not overwhelming yet showed that the author was obviously not writing down to her readers. She also had allusions to fairy tales, word play, and onomatopoeias making the narrative more interesting. I also found the author’s humor really rang throughout.

Teacher’s Tools for Navigation: I could definitely see these books being used as a read aloud in a classroom as well as a great mentor text to introduce narrative elements since it has a perfect plot arc, conflict, and interesting characters as well as an introduction into figurative and descriptive language and allusions.

Discussion Questions: Book 1: What do you think the ghosts are going to do to be scarier?; Book 2: Do you think Jingo did the right thing by running away?

We Flagged: “On Tuesday evening Toby, the caretaker of Chatswood Manor, called a meeting. All three Chatswood Manor ghosts were there, as well as two crows and a stone gargoyle.
“That gargoyle is worse than Hansel and Gretel,” muttered Winifred as she swept a trail of rocks from the carpet.
“Ahem!” Toby adjusted his half-moon spectacles and consulted a sheet of paper with a squiggly graph on it. Now, listen up, spooks. You’re here because my research shows that you’re all lazy to the bone!”” (Book #1, Location 5)

“Hauling his battered suitcase along behind him, Jingo wandered out onto Bridges Road. All the way he kept telling himself that the Chatswood ghosts were very disrespectful and didn’t deserve to work with him.” (Book #2, Location 34)

“The moon was starting to drag across the sky when the Ghost Bus appeared. Jingo stuck out his thumb to flad it down. The Ghost Bus was the sort of old-fashioned car that had to be started with a hand crank, and its headlights could only be turned on with a switch near the grille.”(Book #2, Location 40)

Read This If You Loved: Scaredy Squirrel Prepares for Halloween by Melanie Watts, The Witches by Roald Dahl, Ivy Bean and the Ghost that had to Go by Annie Barrows

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**Thank you to Notti Thistledore for supplying copies of these books for review**

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NF PB 2013

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday is hosted by Kid Lit Frenzy and was started to help promote the reading of nonfiction texts. Most Wednesdays, we will be participating and will review a nonfiction text (though it may not always be a picture book). Be sure to visit Kid Lit Frenzy and see what other nonfiction books are shared this week!

 

stardines

Stardines Swim High Across the Sky and Other Poems
Author: Jack Prelutsky
Illustrator: Carin Berger
Published February 26th, 2013 by Greenwillow Books

Summary: Jack Prelutsky combines inanimate objects with animals to give us a new collection of fun poetry that is accompanied by Carin Berger’s amazing fine artwork.

My Review: I love the concept behind this book. It is set up like an informational nonfiction book with each poem being presented like a specimen. Carin Berger’s artwork is full of found objects that were photographed to add to the nonfiction feeling of each poem.   And, of course, Prelutsky adds a sense of humor to each poem as that is what he does.

The creatures that Prelutsky came up with are so clever – SOBCATS who are sad cats, JOLLYFISH who are happy jellyfish, TATTLESNAKE are snakes that won’t stop tattling, and GLOOSE are a bird that keep sticking to everything. And these are just four examples of sixteen in the book.

I cannot review this book without talking about the artwork. I originally chose this book because I saw it on a Mock Caldecott list and I can definitely see why. Carin Berger illustrates this novel with beautiful pieces of artwork. As stated on the copyright page: “The miniature dioramas in this book are assemblages created using a combination of cut paper, found ephemera, vintage engravings (which were scanned, manipulated in Photoshop, and then printed out), beeswax, wire, thread, and wood. Once each piece was made, it was then photographed digitally to prepare the full-color art.” What a fantastic process to discuss with students and it definitely added an essential aspect to the book.

Teacher’s Tools for Navigation: Each poem is its own discussion starter. First, to separate the title creatures into the two words that were combined and looking at what the animals is and what the word is that it was combined with. For example: “Chormorants” is a combination of CORMORANT and CHORES. Then I’d look through the poem and find where the animal is represented and where the combined word plays a role. And on top of that, each poem can be looked at as a poem and look for poetic elements within it.  Each poem is a stand-alone, well done poem that is sure to start a conversation.

Discussion Questions: Which poem is your favorite? Why?; Combine an animal with a word and write a poem about this new creature.; How do you think Berger’s artwork added to the book? How would cartoon illustrations have made the book different?

We Flagged: Every poem is a gem, but this is my favorite-

“PLANDAS sit around all day,
Planning what to do.
Their plans amount to nothing,
For they never see them through.
They plan to run a marathon
Or take a railroad trip.
They plan to cross the ocean
On a wooden sailing ship.
***
They plan to learn to roller-skate,
To juggle, and to fence.
They plan to go to clown school
And cavort in circus tents.
They plan to play the saxophone
And form their own brass bands. . . .
But PLANDAS never do these things –
They just keep making plans.” (p. 21)

Read This If You Loved: Behold the Bold Umbrellaphant by Jack Prelutsky, My Teacher Likes to Say by Denise Brennan-Nelson,  Lemonade by Bob Raczka

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