"I have always imagined that Paradise will be some kind of library." ~ Jorge Luis Borges

Friday, October 30, 2015

Wherein we have a visit from Paul O. Zelinsky

Paul O. Zelinsky came visiting last week! 
Have a look and a listen:

Here's what some of the students 
had to say after the visit:

Here are some of the things that his books have gotten the first and second graders wondering:

Do you like many styles of art?

Which was the hardest book to create?

What animals might you do next?

Which book would you like to be a character in?

Which book is your favorite illustration style?

Which book was the most fun to make?

Are you working on a book right now?

Would you like to be an author?

How do you choose your illustration style for each book?

Where do you get your ideas?

How do you make such good details?

Will Moose return again?

What did you use to create Z is for Moose, it looks like marker/

What is your favorite art style?

Was it hard to make the pictures?

How do you make your art seem so alive?

Do you make your art on a computer or paper?

What tools do you use to make your art?

How do you make the pictures without messing it up?

How do you choose what to draw from the story?

How does it feel to draw all different styles?

How do you do your art?

How do you make books?

How long does it take to make a book?

How do you put the pages in a book?
Where do you do your work?

Where do you get ideas for styles and for what to illustrate in the story?

Do you usually work alone?

Do you work closely with the author?

Why did you choose the colors behind the animals when they are introduced?

Monday, October 26, 2015

ReedALOUD: Finding Winnie:

I am thrilled to be reading Finding Winnie with my students. The book is written by Lindsay Mattick and illustrated by Sophie Blackall and published by Little Brown Kids.

"Before Winnie-the-Pooh, there was a real bear named Winnie. In 1914, Harry Colebourn, a veterinarian on his way to tend horses in World War I, followed his heart and rescued a baby bear. He named her Winnie, after his hometown of Winnipeg, and he took the bear to war. Harry Colebourn's real-life great-granddaughter tells the true story of a remarkable friendship and an even more remarkable journey--from the fields of Canada to a convoy across the ocean to an army base in England...And finally to the London Zoo, where Winnie made another new friend: a real boy named Christopher Robin. Here is the remarkable true story of the bear who inspired Winnie-the-Pooh."

This incredible book has earned a spot on my Mock Caldecott list. I am biased toward anything Winnie-the-Pooh, but even with this, I can say that this book deserves to be on my list. Here's a sneak peak from Little Brown. 

The fourth and fifth graders read the book with our Caldecott criteria in mind:

a.   Excellence
Do these illustrations demonstrate excellence in the technique (collage, painting, wood carvings) employed? 

b.   Appropriateness
Is the technique employed a good match for the mood, tone and themes in the story?

c.   Importance
Are the illustrations critical to the understanding of the story? 

d.   Appeal
Will the design of the book and the illustrations appeal to a child audience? 

When looking at the criteria, I think Sophie Blackall's illustrations excel. They are excellent, appropriate, important and appealing. I love the color palate and style, both speak of the time period, tone and mood. Before one even gets into the books, the jacket and cover illustration set the stage. The jacket illustration grabs the readers' attention with a sweet little bear sitting on a pile of books. Flip the book over and a stuffed animal bear hangs gently from a young child's hands. We want to know these bears and how these stories connect. The jacket's softer illustrations give way to strikingly beautiful case art of silhouettes of soldiers marching across a field led by a proud little bear. Open the cover and the reader enters into a spring-like wood and our story begins. 
The students liked how the album on the table and the owl on the bookshelf foreshadow what is to come.

The students pointed out how the light switch on the wall grounds them in the bedroom but also lets their imaginations travel into the (Hundred Acre) wood.

The students appreciated the detailed illustrations and historical accuracy of the uniforms, cars, trains, clothing, and hair styles. Even though the text establishes that the story takes place "about a hundred years before you were born," I asked if the students could tell which war Harry Colebourn was heading off to. They used the picture clues first to decide on WWI and then reinforced that supposition with the narrative about caring for horses at the front. We also talked about how Sophie subtly showed the reader little things like the time of year before they set sail to England (autumn because of the trees). This two-page spread connected by the train track drew quite a bit of conversation.
I can't go any further without talking about the story, which is heartfelt and beautifulI did not always make the Winnie-the-Pooh connection  for the students before I read the story, so it was fun to see their faces as the wave of understanding passed over. I loved sharing this book with the students and even after eight classes, got choked up reading the page when Harry brings Winnie to the London Zoo. The writing at times feels like an homage to A.A.Milne, such as this excerpt from the spread above, "The train rolled right through dinner and over the sunset and around ten o'clock and into a nap and out the next day..." This too feels Pooh-like, "Taking the treat [condensed milk] in her paws, Winnie lay on her back and hummed a happy song as she drank.

I could go on, but don't take it from me, here's what how the fourth grade students ranked the book using our criteria:

Fifth graders shared their thinking on this Padlet.

The fourth graders also used Telligami to share their reaction to the story (sorry for some of the audio quality):

Finding Winnie is one of those whole package books whose writing and art should be and will be read and explored time and time again.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

My Fifth Graders Want to Read and Discuss

Forty-five of the seventy-two fifth grade students are interested in participating in the lunch bunch book groups!

Along with gauging their interest, I also wanted to get a sense of the books they were interested in reading and discussing. Given their responses, here is a list of some of the books, series, authors, and genres we will include this year:

Fish in a Tree
All the Answers
How to Steal a Dog
Hero's Guide to Saving Your Kingdom
Roller Girl
Circus Mirandus
A Dog Called Homeless
Fourteenth Goldfish
Center of Everything
One and Only Ivan
Magnus Chase

The Warriors- Erin Hunter
Artemis Fowl - Eoin Colfer
Lunch Lady - Jarrett Krosczka
Penderwicks - Jeanne Birdsall
Birthdays - Wendy Mass
Rick Riordan

Sport Fiction

Take a look at all the books they mentioned!

(This is an unedited list. I copy pasted their responses straight from the Google Form.)

Out of my mind
anything by wendy mass
Rain Reign
Circus Mirandus
Fish in A Tree
Roller Girl
Vanishing Coin
Out Of My Mind
Fish in a Tree
The Normal Kid
The Candy Makers
The Center of Everything
Odd, Weird and Little
Fish in a Tree
The whole series of Boys Against Girls
Liar and spy
The Dragon Sanctuary
The Lost Hero
All the Answers
Magnus Chase
Out of My Mind
Fish in a Tree
Fever 1793
Books by Meg Cabot, Wendy Mass, and Rick Riordan
Wake Up Missing
The One and Only Ivan
I would like to read fantasy and adventure books, for example, The Real Boy.
I would like to read fantasy books for example, The Real Boy.
The Magic Half
All the Answers 

Discuss                                         Read
Wonder                                         One For the Murphy's
Out of my mind                             how to steal a dog
                                                      All the Answers 
                                                     The Magic Half

Discuss                                         Read
Wonder                                         One For the Murphy's
Out of my mind                             how to steal a dog
                                                      All the Answers 
                                                     The Magic Half

All the Answers, Fish in a Tree, A Dog Called Homeless, Heartbeat
The Hunger Games
13 Gifts
11 Birthdays
Wonder, Magnus Chase Gods of Asgard Summer Sword, Percy Jackson series, Kane Chronicles series
Fantasy, Fiction, Dragons of Darkness, Erin hunter books
Fish in a Tree, All the Answers, A Dog Called Homeless, Heartbeat
The Cronus Chronicles:The Sirens Song
Rick Riordan
Artemis Fowl
11 Birthdays       
Princess Academy
The Hero's Guide to Saving your Kingdom
The Mother Daughter Book Club
The Fault in our Stars
The Penderwicks
11 Birthdays
The Mother Daughter Book Club
The Hero's Guide to Saving your Kingdom
All the Answers
Beauty and the Beast
Fantasy, fiction, Science fiction.
Tom Sawyer, Eragon, Anything by Eoin Colfer (except Airman), Wonder, Huckleberry Finn, Rick Riordan books, treasure Island, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea
Beauty and the Beast
The Fault in our Stars
All The Answers
11 birthdays
A Mango-Shaped Space
Walk two moons 
The Boy on the porch
Beauty and the Beast
The Fault In Our Stars 
11 Birthdays
Beauty And The Beast
The Heroes guide to Saving your Kingdom
The Power Of six
Fish in a Tree
Touch Blue
Danny the champion of the world, Rover Adventures 
Meanwhile Adventures
The Power of Six
The Power of Six
Matt Christopher sports books
I would like to read many books like:
Hunger Games
Dark Life
The Red Pyramid
Eragon (maybe, it's long)
The Power of Six
A fish in a tree
All the Answers
Tim Green sport books
I Am Number Four
The Power of Six
Arcady's Goal
Artemis fowl the atlantis complex
the power of six
I am number four 
Out of my mind
Little Women
Lunch Lady
The City Of Ember
Anne Of Green Gables
The Real Boy
Eye of the storm
The Brilliant Fall of Gianna Z.
Lots of other books I don't know about
Any books by Rick Riordan
14th Goldfish, All the Answers, Wonder, Capture the Flag, Snicker of Magic, Half a Chance, A Fish in a Tree, The Ghosts of Tupelo Landing, Murder is Bad Manners,
Fish in a Tree, Wonder, Walk Two Moons, Counting by Sevens, and The Real Boy. 
I would like to discuss A  Mango-Shaped space  etc. 

Friday, October 23, 2015

Creating a Paul O. Zelinsky Memory Game

The first grade students created a memory game celebrating all they know about Paul O. ZelinskyHe's visiting us today, so this was also a perfect way to reflect on the exploration and learning that had been happening over the last few weeks. As a side note, learning about Paul has also meant learning about the authors Emily Jenkins, Kelly Bingham, Jack Prelutsky, and Anne Isaacs. It's double the fun!

Want to see more? 

I can't wait to play this game!