Thursday, October 17, 2019

How to Walk an Ant by Cindy Derby

In How to Walk an Ant we meet Amartyah an expert walker.  An expert walker is someone who walks things and doesn't walk perfectly themselves.  She doesn't walk what you would normally assume one might walk; she walks ants.  She shares with readers her nine step guide for walking ants.    Each step is named, has a tip, and concludes with a rule.  Do you know you should politely introduce yourself to an ant?  I don't know anyone who does this.  I certainly don't.  Here's a tip for teaching ants how to walk with you; "reward the ant with one lick of candy cane every 7 centimeters.  The book concludes with two appendixes; how o conduct a funeral and then an ant anatomy and glossary. This a great mentor text for how to writing!  This is Cindy Derby's first picture book.  She's a puppeteer first and I can't wait to see and hope she writes more!

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Just Because by Mac Barnett

Just Because by Mac Barnett embraces wondering and the repetitive phase of questioning children have.  The book follows a question and answer format.  A discussion at bedtime between a young girl and her father.  In my first read of this book, I found myself anticipating very scientific answers and had to reread the answers the father provides.  They are a stretch of the truth and filled with humor.  I wonder if my second grade readers will question the answers from the father.  They certainly made me smile as I reread each one to understand there was humor.  I think the answers provided could result in some research for readers.  

There's a two page spread with sixteen questions.  I love the various question stems and the idea of having lots of questions to explore.  I also wondered as I read the story how would the questioning end for the little girl.  She finally asks, "Why do we fall asleep?"  and the father replies with, "Because there are some things we can only see with our eyes closed."  I think this book will help parents embrace the questioning phase with humor.  I hope the book inspires children to keep asking questions and to question the answers given.  Questioning fosters thinking and keeps us actively engaged in life.  I worry questioning can be seen as a negative and hope people see it as a vehicle for deepening one's own thoughts and understandings.

Isabelle Arsenault illustrated this book and gives it the feel of a cozy bedtime situation.  Each bedtime seen is done in a gray/black monotone collection on the right side of the two page spread with the question being asked in a large circle of color on the left side of the page.  Then the answer is found on a two page illustration using the blend of the circle color and the gray/black monotone hue. This really enhances the text.  

Thank you Candlewick Press for the copy of this beautiful new book.

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

We heard you are sick...{Slice of Life}

My second appointment for the evening arrived and had a little insulated lunch box with them.  I greet them at the door with a barely a raspy voice and forced smiled.  They began to sit down and said, "We heard you are sick and had to get you some vitamin water with Vitamin C."  The mom pulled out a bottle of water and vitamin water.  I asked her about going to the store in between her own teaching day and coming to see me and she said, "Of course, M is worried about you and we always bring water to our teachers - I know how long tonight can be."  I wasn't feeling well at all and really appreciated the kind gesture.  The day had been long.  I felt worst as the day went on and just wanted to make it through eight parent teacher conferences before heading to bed.  Drinking my vitamin water gave me something to focus on while I continued parent teacher conferences and hope I would feel better.  It was so nice to be thought of with something so simple.  

Thank you Two Writing Teachers for fostering this writing community.

Monday, October 14, 2019

Being Edie Is Hard Today by Ben Brashares {Mental Wellness}

Being Edie Is Hard Today by Ben Brashares and illustrated by Elizabeth Bergeland is a story about emotions.  Edie doesn't want to go to school and her mother gently urges her to get on the bus.  It's sad to see her pigtails being pulled on the bus ride to school by other students.  The first time I read the story I didn't notice the smiley face emotions, almost like emojis above the various characters.  These really add to the comprehension for the reader.  Edie uses her imagination to thinks to herself about an animal and others being animals in various scenarios.  Sometimes we have to find an escape for our emotions and it's helpful.  After a really hard day at school, interacting with others Edie talks to her mom and cries.  There's a great comparison for tears here to the sky.  After the clouds let go of the rain, the clouds feel fluffier and perhaps after we cry we feel a little lighter.  Tears are often assumed to be a sign of weakness.  Someone once said to our family, tears are a sign of strength.  The next morning Edie's day starts off easier and she goes to school with more confidence.  The illustrations are drawing in pen, black ink outlines with soft watercolor backdrops for a warm soft feeling throughout the book.

Thursday, October 3, 2019

Be A Maker by Katey Howes

Be A Maker by Katey Howes is the perfect book to show possibilities for being a maker.  I often think we think about creative people we picture artist and grand pieces of work.  This new picture book shows readers the day to day things that might seem ordinary that are actually making moments.      Some ideas included in the book include natural play with toys a child might have, drawing a blueprint or a map, making a snack, having a lemonade stand, and a neighborhood playground.  As you might imagine the main character starts by making things on her own and then she includes a friend.  From their lemonade stand the community becomes involved to build a new playground together.  Making doesn't have to be done in isolation.  I love this idea.  Illustrations provide many details if we take the time to stop and notice.  Elizabeth Vukotic was clever and inserted the names of strong mentors in book titles and posters on the walls; F. Kahlo, da Vinci, Mae Jemison, and a chalkboard sketch of Einstein.  

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Comparing School to a Disney Cruise {Slice of Life}

It's after lunch.  It's during a transition time as we wrap up one activity to another.  Which means some of us are up and moving or trying to finish up the current work quickly to start that moving.  Her sweet smile approaches me and says, "Mrs. Robek - school is better than a Disney cruise."  My mind starts racing and replaying what she just said.  I know her family went on a Disney cruise near the beginning of summer so this is a recent comparison.  She then proceeded to share how the pools weren't really that much fun.  If I remember correctly, they weren't deep enough.  As she shared more about the pool, I kept repeating her initial sentence.  This is quite the compliment.  "Mrs. Robek - school is better than a Disney cruise."

Thank you Two Writing Teachers for fostering this writing community.

Monday, September 30, 2019

You Are Your Strong by Danielle Dufayet (Mental Wellness)

You Are Your Strong by Danielle Dufayet discusses a wide range of emotions.  Emotions that can be hard to manage; worry, scared, sad, and mad.  Each emotion has a different pair of characters.  The child feeling the emotion and then the adult who helps the child see the opposite emotion and overcome those initial feelings.  My favorite line from the book is, "Inside you, your Strong is a light that shines like the sun."  The same set of characters return and this time they are able to share ways they independently find something different to change their feelings to an opposite emotion.  For example a little girl is afraid of monsters and the dark and tells funny stories to get her thinking to being brave.  There's a fabulous two page spread at the end with a note to parents and caregivers with advice and suggestions for helping children and the many emotions they can feel.  These tips also apply to our classrooms where children spend a great deal of their day during the school year.