Posts tagged ‘description’

52. Night of the Gargoyles by Eve Bunting

night of the gargoylesRetell: During the day gargoyles suffer a lot of abuse.  They get rained on, they endure the heat and they tolerate nasty pigeons.  However, during the evening the gargoyles come out to play.

Topics: gargoyles, play, perspectives, night

Units of Study: Fantasy

Reading Skills: envisionment, monitoring for sense

Writing Skills: using descriptive language, incorporating interesting vocabulary

My Thoughts: I never realized how much I love the works of Eve Bunting.  This is the third book of hers that I’ve reviewed.  Night of the Gargoyles might be a nice book to read on or prior to Halloween.  It’s spooky but not too creepy.  It’s also a good book for introducing the idea that there are different perspectives other than our own.  A lot of writers have created fabulous stories by considering the perspective of animals, objects, insects, etc. (ex. James and the Giant Peach, Charlotte’s Web).  This could then lead to a discussion about using personification in our writing.

August 18, 2009 at 1:46 am Leave a comment

39. Mama Loves Me From Away by Pat Brisson

mama loves me from awayRetell: Sugar and her mama share the same birthday.  Sugar enjoys listening to her mother’s stories.  She especially misses them now that her mother is in prison.  Her mother finds a way to share her stories even from far away.

Topics: mothers, families, prison, stories, birthdays

Units of Study: Social Issues, Personal Narratives, Realistic Fiction

Tribes: attentive listening

Reading Skills: interpretation, questioning, empathy

Writing Skills: writing with a balance of description and reflection, keeping a writers notebook

My Thoughts: This is a moving story about a girl who is dealing with the fact that her mother is imprisoned.  There aren’t many published stories like this in the world.  It’s a great model to use when you teach your students to write about stories you wish belonged in the world–the ones that show aspects of your life or struggles you are going through.  The author never reveals what the mother did to land her in prison which I think is a nice touch.  The book isn’t about the mother, but about how much her daughter misses her.

August 4, 2009 at 9:02 am Leave a comment

32. Team Moon: How 400,000 People Landed Apollo 11 on the Moon by Catherine Thimmesh

team moonRetell: Thimmesh tells the story of the Apollo 11 mission.  It includes several quotes, interviews and amazing photographs from the moon landing.

Topics: moon landing, space, Apollo 11, teamwork, goals, problem-solving, perseverance

Units of Study: Nonfiction, Content Area, Personal Essay

Tribes: attentive listening, mutual respect, personal best

Reading Skills: envisionment, inference, interpretation, determining importance

Writing Skills: using descriptive language, inserting quotations, using dashes, using ellipses

My Thoughts: To commemorate its 40th anniversary I plan to read at least one book about the moon landing this year.  What I love about this particular book is its emphasis on teamwork.  As the title suggests, Apollo 11 was successful because of the dilligence of several hundred-thousand people working together in teams trying to accomplish one goal.  It’s a dense book so I can see reading only a few sections at a time.  This could be used as a rich mentor text for writing nonfiction.  Thimmesh writes with excitement and enthusiasm making the text very engaging.

July 28, 2009 at 9:02 am Leave a comment

11. The Whingdingdilly by Bill Peet

the whingdingdillyRetell: Scamp is tired of being a dog and wishes he was a grand horse.  He runs away and encounters a witch who turns him into a creature called the Whingdingdilly.

Topics: dogs, witches

Units of Study: Fantasy, Character

Tribes: Appreciations/No Putdowns

Reading Skills: inference, prediction, making connections

Writing Skills: using a balance of description and dialogue, using interesting verbs

My Thoughts: I really felt for Scamp in the beginning of this book.  I’m a sucker for dogs who are down in the dumps.  Unfortunately Scamp’s owner, Orvie calls him a “silly old dog” when he catches his dog pretending to be a horse.  Though calling someone ‘silly’ may not be the worst putdown heard at school, I can still see using this book as a way to discuss the damage brought about by insults and putdowns.  Scamp begins to feel better, and his luck begins to change when he hears how much Orvie appreciates him.  The Whingdingdilly also teaches the importance of appreciating ourselves for our strengths rather than putting ourselves down for our faults.  This could also be used as a mentor text during a unit on Fantasy writing.  The story has a few fantastical elements but is mostly based on reality.

July 7, 2009 at 9:23 am Leave a comment


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