Posts tagged ‘setting’

147. Hachiko: The True Story of a Loyal Dog by Pamela S. Turner

Retell: Everyday Hachiko accompanies his owner,  Dr. Ueno to Shibuya Station and patiently awaits his return.  When Dr. Ueno doesn’t return one day Hachiko continues to wait at the station…for ten years.

Topics:  dogs, Japan, loss, loyalty, Tokyo

Units of Study:  Nonfiction, Memoir

Tribes:  mutual respect, appreciations/no put downs

Habits of Mind:  persistence

Writing Skills:  using imagery, describing setting details

My Thoughts:  A colleague of mine gave me this book as a gift knowing my connection with Japan.  I taught in Japan for three years.  Last summer when I visited Japan again I took a trip to Shibuya Station and learned about the story of Hachiko.

I’m not sure if I’d be able to read this book out loud to my class without crying, or making someone else cry.  It’s such a beautiful book though.  I can see using this as a mentor text for showing how writers describe the setting.  Many of my students have difficulty describing anything but the weather.  This text shows how a writer takes time to describe the ‘action’ of the setting–the movement of the crowd, the clothes the people are wearing, etc.

June 30, 2011 at 6:22 pm Leave a comment

17. Grandfather’s Journey by Allen Say

Grandfather's JourneyRetell: Allen Say tells the story of how his grandfather made a home in both a village in Japan and in a city in America.

Topics: grandparents, journeys, San Francisco, Japan, World War II, California, travelling, home, being homesick, family

Units of Study: Memoir, Social Issues

Reading Skills: envisionment, interpretation, inference, making connections

Writing Skills: adding setting details, developing the heart of a story, including reflection, including endings that connect to the beginning

My Thoughts: I think I have a soft spot in my heart for this book because I too get homesick for more than one place.  Allen Say’s illustrations remind me of faded photographs and automatically put me into a reflective, sentimental mood.  This is a perfect text to use during the Memoir unit.  Though it starts out as a story about his grandfather, it ends up being more about the author himself.

July 13, 2009 at 9:00 am Leave a comment

15. Henry’s Freedom Box by Ellen Levine

henry's freedom boxRetell: This is the true story of Henry “Box” Brown.  After his family was sold to another plantation, Henry decides to escape to freedom via the postal service.

Topics: underground railroad, slavery, perseverance

Units of Study: Nonfiction, Content-Area Reading and Writing, Historical Fiction

Tribes: personal best

Reading Skills: inference, emapthy

Writing Skills: incorporating symbolism, using setting details

My thoughts: I can see why this won a Caldecott Award.  The illustrations by Kadir Nelson are larger than life.  What’s nice about this book, as well as many biographies written for young readers, is its author’s note.  Reading both the story and the author’s note is a nice way to compare narrative and expository nonfiction.  Though Henry’s Freedom Box is a biography, I could also see reading this book during a unit on historical fiction to examine how an author tucks in historical details.

July 11, 2009 at 9:00 am 1 comment

8. The Lucky Star by Judy Young

the lucky starRetell: Ruth, a young girl growing up during The Great Depression, discovers that her school will be closed down before she enters her 5th grade year.  Ruth learns a lesson of perseverance and counting one’s lucky stars.

Topics: The Great Depression, perseverance, family,

Unit of Study: Historical Fiction, Character

Tribes: Personal best

Reading Skills: inference, making connections, prediction

Writing Skills: incorporating setting details, using sensory details

My Thoughts: This book would be a great mentor text during a unit on reading and writing historical fiction.  However, I’m tempted to use this at the beginning of the year when I introduce partner work and independence.  The Lucky Star teaches that smart people persevere through difficult situations.  A closure of a school, or similarly an absence of a teacher or a change in schedule, does not mean that learning stops completely.

July 4, 2009 at 6:47 pm Leave a comment

3. Uptown by Bryan Collier

uptownRetell: A young boy writes about his observations of Harlem.

Topics: neighborhoods, Harlem, community

Units of Study: Personal Narratives, Geography of New York

Reading Skills: envisionment

Writing Skills: writing small moments, including setting details, writing metaphors and similes

My Thoughts: This beautiful book shows that writers observe the world around them.  Each observation is something that can turn into powerful writing.  I plan on using this book as a mentor text for teaching about metaphors and similes.  Collier writes, “Uptown is a caterpillar.  Well, it’s really the Metro-North train as it eases over the Harlem River.”  Though my students don’t live in Harlem, I’m hoping that reading this book together will show them that they need to share their world with others through writing.  The world needs more books about Sunset Park, Brooklyn!  For 4th grade teachers in New York, I can see using this book during a Geography unit.  Perhaps after reading Uptown, students could locate the landmarks in the book on a subway map.

June 29, 2009 at 12:00 pm Leave a comment

2. Three Days on a River In a Red Canoe by Vera B. Williams

three days on a river in a red canoe

Retell: After purchasing a red canoe at a yard sale, a family goes on a three-day canoe trip.

Topics: Family, adventure, camping

Units of Study: Personal Narratives, Launching the Writers Notebook

Tribes: Personal Best

Reading Skills: envisionment, making connections, inference

Writing Skills: incorporating details about setting, using transition words, including sensory details, writing endings that connect to the beginning

My thoughts: This book has great teaching potential.  As the marbled cover suggests it reads like someone’s writers notebook.  Each page describes a scene from the camping trip.  I can imagine using this book when I introduce writers notebooks to my students.  Each page is a small moment that could be stretched into a larger story.  The colorful, colored pencil drawings will be inspiring for young artists who like to draw pictures with each notebook entry.  I plan on using this as a mentor text for students who want to write endings that connect to an earlier scene.

June 28, 2009 at 6:36 pm Leave a comment


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