Posts tagged ‘fantasy’

85. Kat Kong by Dav Pilkey

kat kongRetell: Explorers from Mousopolis land on an uncharted island where they meet the terrifying “beast” Kat Kong.  They bring him back to Mousopolis in order to seek fame and fortune.  When Kat Kong escapes his shackles, citizens are terrified.

Topics: cats, mice, greed, exploration, monsters, humor, puns

Units of Study: Fantasy

Tribes: mutual respect

Habits of Mind: finding humor

Reading Skills: monitoring for sense

My Thoughts: This is the adorable sequel to Pilkey’s book, Dogzilla. Similar to the style of Dogzilla, Kat Kong includes ‘cheesy’ puns and idioms, all related to cats.  For example, when Kat Kong ravages the city the butcher cries, “The cat’s got my tongue!”  I plan to read this book aloud when I want to focus on the reading skill monitoring for sense.  I find that many books written for upper elementary students are highly engaging, but can also be really confusing.  Many of my students are English Language Learners and often don’t understand when an author slips in a joke.  Using Kat Kong as an a model could remind students to seek out humor throughout their reading.

September 20, 2009 at 8:18 pm 1 comment

64. What a Day it Was at School! by Jack Prelutsky

what a day it was at schoolRetell: A collection of silly school poems on topics such as:  homework, field trips and farting.

Topics: school, homework, field trips, libraries, food chain, history, poetry, partnerships

Units of Study: Fantasy, Authoring an Independent Reading Life

Tribes: mutual respect

Habits of Mind: responding with wonderment and awe

Writing Skills: incorporating rhythm and rhyme

My Thoughts: The poems in this collection are very, very silly–perfect for those ‘just for fun’ read alouds I mentioned yesterday.  I think I’ll read, “I Made a Noise This Morning” (a poem about a student farting in class) when my students need a quick laugh.  Though this collection is probably more suitable for younger grades, a few of the poems could be good hooks for mini-lessons or project launches.  I’m planning on sending home more independent project ideas in Science and Writing.  When I launch this project I may read Prelutsky’s “Homework” which describes a gooey experiment that didn’t go as planned.  There is a cute poem entitled, “A Classmate Named Tim,” that I think I’ll use when introducing partnerships.

August 29, 2009 at 9:00 am Leave a comment

53. Dogzilla by Dav Pilkey

dogzillaRetell: Every year the mice in Mousopolis have an annual barbecue cook-off.  The festivities were interrupted one year when the aroma from the cook-off awoke Dogzilla.  The mice band together and eventually defeat Dogzilla by attacking him with a mighty weapon–a dog bath.

Topics: dogs, mice, teamwork

Units of Study: Fantasy

Tribes: personal best

Habits of Mind: persisting, thinking flexibly, thinking interdependently, applying past knowledge

Writing Skills: using dashes, using transitional phrases

My Thoughts: I’ve read this book about five times this summer and each time I read it I giggle to myself.  What makes this a fun and engaging read aloud are the illustrations.  Pilkey created characters out of his pet mice and pet Corgie.  I love how the ferocious monster in the story is a cute cuddly dog who looks so happy in each picture.  I think it will be a good read aloud for introducing Habits of Mind.  When finding a way to beat Dogzilla they ‘persist,’ ‘think flexibly and interdependently’ and ‘apply past knowledge.’  This may also be a good mentor text for students writing fantasy stories.  Students could try generating story ideas by doing what Dav Pilkey did and cast one’s pets as characters in a fantasy story.

August 19, 2009 at 2:46 am 1 comment

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

48. The Paper Bag Princess by Robert Munsch

the paper bag princessRetell: After a fire-breathing dragon destroys her castle, Elizabeth dons a paper bag and goes off to rescue the ‘charming’ Prince Ronald.  Through cunning wit she tricks the dragon and frees the prince only to realize that perhaps he wasn’t worth saving after all.

Topics: fairy tales, dragons, princesses, princes

Units of Study: Fantasy, Social Issues, Talking and Writing About Texts

Tribes: personal best, mutual respect

Habits of Mind: persisting, managing impulsivity, thinking flexibly, striving for accuracy

Reading Skills: interpretation, inference

Writing Skills: writing interesting dialogue

My Thoughts: This is a TC read aloud classic that I have seen used in several workshops on planning effective interactive read alouds.  For such a short book, there are many ways you could teach with it.  It’s a great book for discussing gender issues during the Social Issues unit.  After rereading this book for the 20th time I just realized what a great text it is for teaching the Habits of Mind.  Elizabeth uses a lot of them!  For example, her entire castle burns down but she persists and goes to save Prince Ronald.  She has no clothes but thinks flexibly and fashions a dress out of a paper bag.  After competely exhausting the dragon she strives for accuracy and manages impulsivity by checking to make sure the dragon is truly knocked out.

August 13, 2009 at 9:37 am 1 comment

44. Shrek! by William Steig

shrekRetell: Shrek is proud to be an ugly ogre.  He loves everything disgusting and enjoys scaring people around him.  One day he visits a fortune teller who tells him that he is destined to meet a princess even uglier than he.  With the help of a donkey he travels to the castle, defeats a knight and meets the princess of his dreams.

Topics: ogres, nightmares, monsters, fortune tellers

Units of Study: Fantasy

Reading Skills: monitoring for sense, envisionment

Writing Skills: using rhyme, including interesting vocabulary

My Thoughts: I never realized how different the original story was from the movie.  The movie version has a much stronger moral more lesson but that doesn’t mean Steig’s classic does not have value as a read aloud.  I think this book lends itself quite well to modeling how readers monitor for sense.  Steig writes with rich vocabulary.  His characters never walk, speak, or work.  Rather they, stalk, hiss, and scythe.  Giggle alert:  the story includes the word jackass, which refers of course to the donkey in the story.  Read aloud with discretion.

August 9, 2009 at 9:05 am Leave a comment

25. Hewitt Anderson’s Great Big Life by Jerdine Nolen

hewitt anderson's great big lifeRetell: Hewitt Anderson has it all.  Loving parents, a gorgeous house and fabulous birthday parties.  The only problem is that Hewitt wasn’t the son his parents expected.  Hewitt’s parents, and indeed the entire town, are giants.  This causes a lot of problems but soon they realize that with a few modifications they can still live a ‘normal’ life.

Topics: acceptance, family, giants, differences, size

Units of Study: Fantasy, Character

Tribes: mutual respect, personal best

Reading Skills: monitoring for sense, envisionment

Writing Skills: using interesting vocabulary

My Thoughts: This is a nice twist on “Jack and the Beanstalk”.  When next I teach a Fantasy unit I would like to either read this while immersing students in the genre, or use it as a writing mentor text.  The characters are African-American which students don’t often encounter when reading fantasy or fairy tales.  The language in the book is gorgeous.   Since there are many different words for ‘large’ and ‘small’ throughout the story, one could use this book during a lesson on synonyms.

July 21, 2009 at 2:51 pm Leave a comment

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