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  1. 1. Shauna Sanders Children’s Literature Summer 2010 Reading Log 1 Modern Fantasy Title: Catwings (1988) • Author: Ursula K. Le Guin • Illustrator: S.D. Schindler • Genre: Modern Fantasy • Format: chapter book • Awards: No awards Summary: Four kittens are born to Mrs. Jane Tabby, a city cat who lives in the heart of a dangerous city for cats, with cars and feet and humans. However, the kittens are quite different than other cats in that they are born with wings. Mrs. Jane Tabby had a dream that she could fly away from the place she lived, so that is why she believes her kittens have wings. After a dog cornered one of her kittens, she instructed them to fly to a safer place. The kittens flew to a forest and encountered several new fears, but overcame them all, including an attack by an owl. In then end, the kittens survived their new homes and ended up being taken in by two children who found them and fed them on the outskirts of their property. Strategies: For younger students, the book would be a read aloud and they can begin to see how modern fantasy is sometimes just a little different than reality. After students hear the story of Catwings, they can compare/contrast how the kittens’ lives are different from normal kittens. The students would then talk about what other animals were affected by the kittens’ wings and why. However, for older students, I would want them to think more broadly and create their own story of another animals that had an unusual trait and write about how different that animal’s life would be and the other creatures around it. Another neat writing assignment from this book would involve the older students in 4th and 5th grade to really use their imaginations. The title of the assignment would be “Youwings”. Each child would write a story using their name, then the word wings. For
  2. 2. example, mine would be Shaunawings. Then I would write a story about being born with wings and what my life has been like growing up with wings. It would be interesting for the students to really be able to think about what they could and could not do if they had wings. Title: The Emperor’s New Clothes (1949) • Author: Hans Christian Andersen • Illustrator: Virginia Lee Burton • Genre: Modern Fantasy • Format: picture book • Awards: No awards Summary: This is a story about cleverness, arrogance and pride. In this story, the Emperor loves clothing and dressing up. He loves it so much that he is easily fooled by some robbers who pretend to weave a brand new outfit for him out of magic cloth. The impersonators convince the Emperor that only those who are smart, and in their right job can see the fabric. All of the other people who cannot see the fabric are stupid and not smart enough to hold the job they have. Each person who goes to see the fabric is afraid to admit they cannot see it for fear of being dumb. However, it takes a small child to admit that the Emperor in fact has nothing on when he parades his new outfit made of the magic cloth. Strategies: This story is definitely one that most young students find funny. Instead of reading the entire story from cover to cover the first time, it would be fun with kindergarteners and 1st graders to read and then stop after the second person cannot see the fabric, but pretends to be able to see it. Then, ask the students to share some of their predictions about what they think is going to happen when the Emperor goes to see the outfit. The same activity could be used with 2nd and 3rd graders, but they could also get in groups and write an ending of their predictions. Then, finish the story aloud and evaluate the predictions. Another activity to do with any of the primary grades would be to create a T-chart of what the emperor did that was bad, and then on the other side what he should have
  3. 3. done each time. The students would be able to work on comparing and contrasting what is right and wrong. Title: Many Moons (1943) • Author: James Thurber • Illustrator: Louis Slobodkin • Genre: Modern Fantasy • Format: picture book • Awards: No Awards Summary: In this story, there is a young princess who becomes quite ill. When the King realizes how sick she is, he asks her if there is anything that she desires and she replies, “the moon”. So, the King seeks the suggestions from his wisest council, the lord high chamberlain, a wizard, and a mathematician. After none of them can figure out how to get the moon, the court jester suggests asking the princess. So, the jester gets her the moon, which in her mind was a small round piece of gold. The little girl turns out to be wiser than all the wise men in her father’s court. Strategies: This book would be a great book to use for science lessons on the solar system. To peek the interest of the younger students, who may not know what the moon is made of, I would begin by asking the question, “What do you think the moon is made of?” Then, after reading the book, we can spend some time researching what the moon truly is made of. For older students in 4th grade, this would be a great read aloud to use before studying the planets, which is a 4th grade standard. Students could discuss what they think the moon really is made of, then also discuss what the planets are made of, leading into a unit on planets and the solar system. One way to incorporate writing into this read-aloud, would be to read the story and stop right after the 3 wise people in the King’s court were not able to get the moon for the princess. Then, ask the students, “How would you get the moon for the little princess?” Once the students write down how they would do it, I would finish reading the story. This strategy for writing would help teach students about predictions and outcomes of stories. Even though this may seem a little silly, I think it would also be neat to read this book to my Pre-kindergarteners and then hand out those chocolate candies that are wrapped in gold paper to signify the moon. We could talk about things like, “Do you
  4. 4. think you could reach the moon?” and “How big do you think the moon really is?” Title: Messenger (2004) • Author: Lois Lowry • Genre: Modern Fantasy • Format: chapter book • Awards: No Awards Summary: A small, secluded village surrounded by a forest includes many individuals who have come to be a part of the village because of some terrible thing that might have happened to them outside the village in another community. The main character, Matty, lives with a blind man known as the Seer and spends his life in the village as the messenger to outsiders. Matty realizes one day that he has a special gift and so do many of the other villagers. However, just as he comes to this realization, he also realizes that bad things are happening due to people trading valuable things in exchange for material possessions. In the end as the villagers are trying to build walls to keep others out of the village, Matty ends up giving his life to save the village and it’s inhabitants. He also receives his true name as Healer instead of the expected, Messenger. Strategies: We use a reading framework at our school called Literacy Collaborative in which the students read a book on their reading level and discuss the book with other students on the same level. The Giver is one of the leveled books that our 5th graders read, and they focus heavily on characterization with the book. After they finish the book, I could read Messenger with them in the library and really analyze the characters of the books and discuss how the characters grow from book to book. Another strategy to use with older children reading Messenger is to talk about the symbolism within the story. For example, Leader’s red sled that sits in the Museum in Village symbolizes hope. Symbolism is a higher order thinking skill and it may take a while for our many English Language Learners to understand the idea.
  5. 5. Title: The Story of Ferdinand (1938) • Author: Munro Leaf • Illustrator: Robert Lawson • Genre: Modern Fantasy • Format: picture book • Awards: No awards Summary: Once upon a time in Spain, there was a little bull named Ferdinand. He was not like most bulls in that he did NOT run, jump or butt heads with other bulls. Instead, he enjoyed a relaxing day under his favorite tree smelling his favorite flowers. All the other bulls want to fight in Madrid, but not this bull. One day Ferdinand gets chosen as the fiercest bull after his outburst caused from sitting on a bee. So, the men take him to Madrid to fight in the bullring. However, Ferdinand did not turn out to be the fiercest bull at all. In fact, he just sat in the middle of the ring smelling the flowers in all the ladies’ hair. In the end, the men took him back home and he is still probably sitting under his favorite tree today. Strategies: This would be a great book to use with 1st , 2nd and 3rd graders to teach visualization. I would read the story to the children without showing them any of the pictures. Then we would talk about how long ago the book was written and that it needed new illustrations to go with the story. Then, I would split the class into groups and read the story again, assigning different parts of the story to each group. The students would create a class book of The Story of Ferdinand, based solely on their own visualizations of the words and the story. Another strategy to use with this book would be to have the students actually act the story out. Once a child becomes Ferdinand and portrays his character, then that child can share how it felt to be a little different. We could then have a discussion about how we should treat those who are a little different. The ideas of this story are simple and I think students in 1st -3rd grades would easily relate to this story. Many times our students like to do things that everyone else may or may not like to do. I would give each child a bull pattern and have each student write about something that they like to do that no one else really does much. For example, a child might be interested in playing cards, but no one else in the room
  6. 6. enjoys it that much. The students could possibly become quite creative thinking of something unique. Traditional Literature Title: The Bremen-town Musicians (1974) • Author: Retold Grimm by Ruth Belov Gross • Illustrator: Jack Kent • Genre: German Folktale • Format: picture book • Awards: No Awards Summary: The four animals, donkey, dog, cat and rooster are all getting old and their masters/owners have claimed they are going to assist in their dying by various actions as not feeding the donkey and cutting off the rooster’s head and throwing it in the soup. However, the animals decide to head to Bremen town to act upon their musical abilities, but happen upon a house with robbers. The animals scare the robbers away and decide to reside in the house forever. Thus, they never made it to Bremen town. Strategies: My younger students in K-2nd grade would love to act this story out. By acting the story out, the students would become more familiar with the story, which would allow for a more in depth conversation to take place among the students about the story. Another strategy to use with this particular folktale would be to have the students discuss why the title, The Bremen-town Musicians is a good title for the story. The animals didn’t even become the musicians, so why did the author use this title? By answering this question, hopefully the students will be forced to think more deeply about the plot of the folktale. For younger students in PK-1st grade, we could focus on the concept of sequencing in a story. After hearing the story, the students would have pictures with sentences from the story and they would have to put the pictures in the correct sequence according to how the events occurred. Then, the students would practice their oral vocabulary by retelling the story based on their sequenced pictures.
  7. 7. Title: Golem (1996) • Author: David Wisniewski • Illustrator: David Wisniewski • Genre: Legend • Format: picture book • Awards: Caldecott Medal 1997 Summary: In this 1580 legend, the Jews of Prague were being accused of mixing the blood of Christian children into their unleavened Passover bread by their enemies. To stop this persecution and protect the Jews, the rabbi of Prague, Judal Loew ben Bezalel created a golem out of clay and named him Joseph. Joseph was brought to life and instructed to protect the Jews by capturing the enemies and bringing them to the jail. He was also told that he would return to clay once the Jews no longer were threatened. He did his job too well, and when the Emperor ordered him gone, Joseph did not want to leave this life. However, the rabbi turned him back into clay and covered the clay in the synagogue with old prayer books and locked the door forever. Legend has it that perhaps he will return to life once more… Strategies: The illustrations in this book are so beyond what most of our students are used to seeing within a picture book. One strategy to use with older students would be to team up with the art teacher and have the students create their own cut-paper illustrations. There can even be a discussion about why they think the illustrator used this form of illustration. For example, in the picture where Rabbi Loew told Golem to stand, why is the cut paper such a good, strong depiction of this scene? With older students, it would be a good idea to study some of the Jewish culture that the students will see in the book. For example, the students need to understand what a synagogue is, what a rabbi is and why Jewish people have yellow circles on their shoulders in the pictures. There are also other versions of this Golem story written by Barbara Rogasky and Isaac Bashevis Singer. The students can read these different versions and then discuss how powerful David Wisniewki’s pictures are to the story.
  8. 8. Title: Musicians of the Sun (1997) • Author: Gerald McDermott • Illustrator: Gerald McDermott • Genre: Aztec Mythology • Format: picture book • Awards: No awards Summary: The myth starts with the Lord of the Night summoning Wind to go and free the musicians of the sun because the people of earth are miserable. He gave Wind lightning bolts, a shield and thunder to help him defeat the sun. Once Wind finally arrived at Sun, he used the shield to protect himself from the fire-darts of Sun and the thunder to cloud the sun from seeing. Then the four musicians grabbed hold of Wind’s cloak and he used the lightning bolts to see through the thunder clouds/smoke. Once the musicians were home on earth, each musician played different sounds to the four corners of the earth and everyone was happy, including Sun. Strategies: Since mythology is such a higher leveled skill for students to learn, then I would only briefly touch on the definition. However, with the younger students to help grab their attention before reading this book aloud, I would write the title on the board and ask them to talk to each other about what a book with this title could possibly be about. The students would be practicing predicting and also be using their imaginations and vocabulary in speech. The younger students would also enjoy using their drama skills to portray the different story elements of this myth. With the older students in elementary, I would definitely do some research into different types of mythology and possibly more Aztec mythology stories. After reading the book aloud, the students could conduct some research on the web learning different aspects and characteristics of mythology. Then, the students could spend some time creating a PowerPoint presentation on a different mythology book written for children.
  9. 9. Title: Town Mouse Country Mouse (1994) • Author: Jan Brett • Illustrator: Jan Brett • Genre: Fable • Format: picture book • Awards: No awards Summary: The husband and wife town mice want to take a vacation in the country to get away from the hustle and bustle of city life. When the country mice run into the town mice, they decide to trade homes for a while. After the country mice escape mousetraps and the town mice escape several scary animals, they both run as fast as they can back to their own homes. Both sets of mice realize that there’s no place like home. Strategies: Jan Brett’s Town Mouse Country Mouse is only one version of the classic fable. After reading this version, we would also read Helen Craig’s version, The Town Mouse and the Country Mouse, so that we could compare how the two might be different and why. Fables tend to begin as oral stories and sometimes can be different because of time and translations. Another skill to focus on with this fable is the idea of morals of stories and metaphors. Since our elementary school is almost 90% Hispanic, we tend to have lots of students who struggle with understanding morals of stories and especially metaphors. After reading this story, we would begin by focusing on the saying, “The grass is always greener in someone else’s yard.” Then, we would read some of Aesop’s Fables and discuss their morals. We would also follow up with working on literal meaning vs. metaphorical meanings of certain metaphors like, “You’re driving me up the wall!”
  10. 10. Title: Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People’s Ears (1975) • Author: Verna Aardema • Illustrator: Leo and Diane Dillon • Genre: African American Folktale • Format: picture book • Awards: Caldecott Medal 1976 Summary: A chain of reactions among several animals occurs all because a mosquito began by telling an iguana a story that the iguana claimed was nothing but “nonsense”. The mother owl ended up losing one of her baby owls because the monkey had knocked a dead limb onto the nest. So, the lion calls the animals together to trace back the origin of the crime…The mosquito realized what he had done and hid from the others and to this day she is known to whine in people’s ears because she still feels guilty. Strategies: Not only are there quite a few African American folktales, but there are several folktales written by the same author, Verna Aardema. For students in 4th and 5th grades, it would be good for the students to read some of her other African American folktales and compare/contrast them and possibly look for any themes they might discover. Some of her other folktales are Anansi Does the Impossible, Bringing the Rain to Kapiti Plain, and The Lonely Lioness and the Ostrich Chicks. Another strategy to use with this folktale is to talk about one’s character and good qualities everyone should possess. For example, in the story, the mosquito hid once he realized what he had done. However, it was not that bad of a crime that started the whole chain of reactions. In life, it’s important to be honest with oneself and others, and to always tell the truth. Otherwise, you will spend the rest of your life begging for forgiveness. This would be a good discussion about always telling the truth for students in 1st and 2nd grades.
  11. 11. Another higher level thinking skill to use as an extension of this book, would be to have the older students or maybe just the students in challenge courses write their own folktale of how something came into being or why something does what it does. This activity would definitely include some modeling by the teacher before the students would be allowed to begin.