For Teachers: The Witch’s Boy

witch's boyThe Witch’s Boy

Author: Kelly Barnhill

Vocabulary List

As I was reading The Witch’s Boy, I kept thinking over and over, “What wonderful language!” or “This is a great word to share.” So, around page 40, I started making a list of some of the words I found, thinking how these are the kind of words I might stop and explain to listeners if I were reading aloud. This list would make a good word-of-the-day or part of an SAT prep list. At the very least it would make an interesting spelling challenge for many! The numbers that follow indicate page numbers from my own notations, although many words appear on other pages as well. Have fun!

 

Multitudinous (41)

Filament (42)

Volatile (44)

Implacable (47)

Anguish (48)

Explicitly (48)

Rowdy (48)

Chaotic (48)

Argumentative (48)

Wrought (51)

Prodigious (52)

Treacherous (52)

Enormity (53)

Intricately (56)

Commendation (56)

Vast (61)

Pendant (62)

Excursions (63)

Lavishly (63)

Horde (63)

Hypnotic (64)

Sniveling (64)

Measly (65)

Insistent (69)

Unison (72)

Reverberate(d) (72)

Grotesque (77)

Enthusiast (83)

Humanitarian (84)

Stymied (85)

Incentive (85)

Quiver (noun) (103)

Expulsion (106)

Unification (113)

Diminished (114)

Transformed (114)

Impunity (116)

Fervently (117)

Taciturn (121)

Cache (121)

Coalescing (124)

Influx (126)

Subjugation (130)

Uncouth (134)

Ecstatically (137)

Arduous (145)

Opaque (146)

Unorthodox (146)

Distended (151)

Odious (151)

Antidote (158)

Ill-fated (168)

Luxurious (172)

Blanched (178)

Waspish (180)

Benevolent (183)

Petulant (183)

Miniscule (184)

Brazen (184)

Rectified (184)

Allegiance (185)

Insolence (186)

Futile (187)

Astray (188)

Consort(ing) (189)

Autonomy (189)

Croon(ed) (192)

Thwart(ed) (205)

Proficient (209)

Tizzy (113)

Precipitously (221)

Rue (230)

Divert(ed) (231)

Composure (235)

Savvy (236)

Malicious (243)

Duplicitous (243)

Abyss (246)

Unpredictable (248)

Presumptive (248)

Derisive (250)

Gnarled (250)

Plummet(ing) (251)

Essence (255)

Ruse (258)

Persnickety (260)

Resplendent (262)

Contingent (noun) (265)

Insufferably (276)

Harmonize (278)

Yokel (281)

Conspire (281)

Inflame (281)

Anarchy (283)

Plundering (283)

Entourage (285)

Persevered (298)

Piddly (297)

Mimicking (298)

Divert (300)

Eclipsed (304)

Elongated (308)

Fragile (310)

Overindulgence (315)

Emblazoned (317)

Silhouette (317)

Rampant (319)

Oscillated (321)

Unencumbered (322)

Grievous (322)

Humiliated (324)

Guttural (331)

Brandish(ed) (340)

Incredulous (344)

Consensus (345)

Corrupted (349)

Distribute (355)

Pragmatic (356)

Commemorating (360)

Restitution (360)

Nimble (269)

 

And one final word (whew!) – Forgiveness

Discussion Questions: Beyond the Bright Sea

bright seaDiscussion Questions for Beyond the Bright Sea by Lauren Wolk:

 

  1. Where do you think Crow has come from?

 

  1. Compare/contrast the arrivals of Osh and Crow to the island.

 

  1. Think about their names. Osh is also known as Painter and Daniel. Do you think perhaps he has had another name, too? Does Crow also have other names? Are these names important?

 

  1. Why might the other islanders be afraid of Crow? Why was Miss Maggie never afraid?

 

  1. In Chapter 3, Crow mentions treasure. Is that what Crow is really looking for?

 

  1. Crow learns the truth about the hospital that was once on Penikese. How does Crow feel about this? Do you blame the other islanders for their fear, especially since Daniel and Miss Maggie are not afraid of her? Do you think Crow is really from Penikese?

 

  1. Do you think it is important for Crow to learn about her past? Will it make a difference in her life? Will it make a difference to others?

 

  1. Penikese is going to be a bird sanctuary. Will this make people feel differently about the island?

 

  1. Who is right about the campfire on Penikese – Miss Maggie, Osh, Crow? Could it have real significance to them?

 

  1. Osh has a part of a letter and a ring that came attached to Crow. Why did he not tell her about these items sooner?

 

  1. Crow learns that Miss Maggie had previously done research into the hospital on Penikese. Why did Miss Maggie do this? And why didn’t she share this information earlier?

 

  1. When Crow, Osh, and Miss Maggie visit Penikese, they meet the bird keeper. What do you think about this meeting?

 

  1. Do you, like Crow, believe there is a connection between the lamb in the cottage and on the headstone?

 

  1. Crow writes the letter to Dr. Eastman looking for information. Osh tells her, “What you do is who you are” (pg. 75). What does he mean by this?

 

  1. Now that Crow has received the reply from Dr. Eastman, do you think she comes from Penikese? She has further clues to follow, including the possibility of having a brother. Osh tells her, “But I think you should look in as much as you’re looking out” (pg. 87). What does he mean by this?

 

  1. Crow writes a cryptic letter to the nurse, Evelyn Morgan. Do you think the nurse will understand?

 

  1. Crow realizes that the man that she, Osh, and Miss Maggie met on Penikese cannot be the bird keeper. They make a return trip to the island and find the real bird keeper bound and gagged. Who is the other man and why is he there? Is he looking for treasure? Something else?

 

  1. Crow remembers that the imposter bird keeper had mentioned a nurse. Do you think this is just coincidence or a connection?

 

  1. Crow wants to look for her (possible) brother, Jason. Do you think she will be able to find him?

 

  1. Crow asks Osh, “If you had a brother somewhere and might be able to find him, wouldn’t you go looking?” (pg. 137) Osh does have a brother (and other relatives), but chooses not to look. What is the difference?

 

  1. Crow goes to New Bedford alone to look for Jason. Was it right for her to do this? What does she learn about Jason? the bird keeper imposter?

 

  1. When on the ferry to New Bedford, Crow sees a sailor on another ship, The Shearwater, who looks like her. She believes he may be her brother. Do you think he might be?

 

  1. Crow receives her response from Nurse Evelyn. She learns several things:

 

  1. Who her parents were
  2. Who the imposter bird keeper really is and what he is after
  3. She does have a brother

 

How might all of these things affect Crow?

 

  1. Is Crow still Crow – or is she Morgan now? Are they the same? Different?

 

  1. Decide: Is Osh’s name important or not?

 

  1. Now that the police know what Mr. Kendall was looking for, other treasure hunters invade the island. Do you think Crow really knows where the treasure is hidden?

 

  1. Miss Maggie, Osh, and Crow go to Penikese to get the treasure. They meet the police officers looking for Mr. Kendall. Do you think he will return?

 

  1. When they find the treasure, it brings unexpected problems. It is a burden. What do you think they should do? Turn it in? Hide it? Give it away?

 

  1. Will the treasure change Crow? And if so, how?

 

  1. Benson touches Crow and allows her to handle the chocolate. He behaves as though she is not different at all. Has something changed?

 

  1. Crow sees a sail leaving Penikese harbor. Is danger coming her way and is there anything she can do to stop it?

 

  1. When questioned by the police, Crow admits she is the daughter of people who died on Penikese. When this news gets out, will things change for Crow?

 

  1. Osh, Crow, and Miss Maggie identify Mr. Kendall for the police. Do you think it is over between them? Are they now safe that Mr. Kendall is in jail?

 

  1. Just as a storm is coming, they learn Mr. Kendall has escaped. Do you think he is coming for them?

 

  1. During the storm, a ship is wrecked. It is The Shearwater. The young sailor that Crow hopes will prove to be her brother is injured and nearly drowned. Do you think he is Jason?

 

  1. While Crow is tending the young sailor, Mr. Kendall returns. His anger is worse than the storm. Can Crow do anything to save herself and help Osh and Miss Maggie?

 

  1. The young sailor is not Jason. It is possible Crow may never find her brother. How does she feel about this?

 

  1. “What you do is who you are.” (pg. 283) Who is Crow? Osh? Miss Maggie?

 

Event: Meet Jon Klassen and BBF 2016 Part 1

Hi everyone,

This past weekend was pretty exciting for BookWorms in our area! On Saturday, we attended the 2016 Boston Book Fest, and on Sunday, I went to Jon Klassen’s book signing at the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art. In today’s post, I wanted to share a few of the things we learned at those events!

 

Event: Meet Jon Klassen

Location: Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art

This event celebrated the newest in Klassen’s series of “hat” books, We Found a Hat. Throughout his presentation, Klassen read aloud each of the three hat books, sharing insight into his process for creating each spread. One of my favorite parts of the presentation was actually seeing some of the ideas that didn’t make it into a final book. Klassen showed sketches, book dummies, and a hysterical cover with nothing but the title “Something Happened” and a turtle flipped on his shell and looking distinctly unimpressed. The presentation was funny for both adults and children, and it was so interesting to see how these books developed over time.signed-sam-and-dave

The presentation was followed by a book signing, and it will come as no surprise to anyone who’s been following this blog for a while that this drawing is my favorite. Sam and Dave is one of my absolute favorite picture books and one that I love to read aloud. Check out our review and suggestions for using Sam and Dave in your own classroom!

You can also check out our review of Pax, which in a novel illustrated by Klassen.

For more information:

Jon Klassen:

http://jonklassen.tumblr.com/

Eric Carle Museum:

http://www.carlemuseum.org/

 

Event: YA: Give Me the Creepsbbf-2016

Location: Boston Book Fest, Boston Public Library

This panel is perfect for the Halloween season and put three different YA horror authors in conversation about the genre and their work. The panel featured authors Margot Harrison, Dawn Kurtagich, and Kim Savage with moderator Laura Koenig.

One of the things I found most interesting about this discussion was that each of the authors talked about how their subjects frightened them. They focused on psychology and mood, even pulling in aspects of their own lives. However, they also discussed the cathartic process of writing about their fears and how, because their work deals with traumatic events, it can be a source of healing.

I also think it’s worth noting that some of these authors, in particular Dawn Kurtagich, credit horror with helping her to become a reader. Although she struggled with dyslexia, she found that the emotion and the separation from real life in horror books was a gateway to helping her develop an interest in reading. Kim Savage also noted the importance of classic horror stories in getting her interested in horror as a teen. It’s always exciting to hear of books that might work well for a reluctant reader, and I think some horror texts – Kurtagich recommends the Goosebumps series – might be perfect for that purpose.

For more information:

Margot Harrison: https://margotharrison.com/

Dawn Kurtagich: http://www.dawnkurtagich.com/, https://www.youtube.com/user/WritaholicDK

Kim Savage: http://www.kimsavage.me/ (Some deleted chapters of Savage’s book After the Woods are available here, but you may want to wait to read them until after you’ve finished the book! https://www.bustle.com/articles/146814-in-kim-savages-after-the-woods-bonus-content-anti-hero-gets-to-tell-her-story-exclusive)

Boston Book Fest: https://bostonbookfest.org/

 

In tomorrow’s post, Barbara will be discussing a couple more of the panels we attended at BBF!

Julia

Teacher Thursday: Dot Day

Hi everyone,the dot

It’s been a long time since we’ve had a Teacher Thursday post, so I wanted to make sure we had something a little special for our teachers who’ve just headed back to school this month. September 15th is Dot Day, and it’s a great way to celebrate reading, creativity, and getting to know each of your students’ strengths. Last year we asked how you were planning to celebrate Dot Day, but this year we’ve decided to give a couple suggestions for anyone who’s looking to join the celebration for the first time or thinking of trying something new.

If you haven’t read The Dot before, here’s a little background. It’s a picture book written and illustrated by popular children’s author Peter H. Reynolds. Protagonist Vashti can’t draw and thinks that means she can’t be an artist. But when her art teacher shows her the value of one little dot, Vashti allows her creativity to flourish and shares what she learns with others. Dot Day is an opportunity to bring Vashti’s experiences into everyday life and experience some collaboration, creativity, and positivity for yourself!

There’s plenty of information available at the official website: http://www.thedotclub.org/dotday/. You can also check out our Pinterest board. “Teacher Thursday: Dot Day,” for even more suggestions. Here are a few additional reading suggestions and activities to get you started.

 

Reading Suggestions:

Of course, The Dot is essential reading to prepare for Dot Day, and several of Peter H. Reynolds’ other titles are equally relevant. Here are a couple other reading suggestions that work well for a Dot Day celebration:

I will never get a star

 

I Will Never Get a Star on Mrs. Benson’s Blackboard by Jennifer K. Mann

Rose is determined to earn her own star on her teacher’s blackboard, but things never seem to work out quite right. Luckily, the classroom tries out a more creative project, and Rose finally finds her time to shine.

This is another great book about valuing creativity and a teacher who encourages her students to be different and recognize their greatest skills.

What Do You Do With an Idea

 

What Do You Do With an Idea? written by Kobi Yamada, illustrated by Mae Besom

What do you do with a particularly troublesome, potentially brilliant idea that just won’t go away? Find out in this powerful picture book!

Here’s a great picture book for discussing how to accept differences and allow creative ideas to grow.

 

Matthew’s Dream by Leo Lionni

This picture book is about a mouse who follows his creativity to make his dreams become a reality.

We’ve mentioned Matthew’s Dream a few times before to celebrate Lionni’s birthday and as part of another Teacher Thursday about art in the classroom, but this is the perfect time to bring it up again! Matthew and Vashti have similar strengths and end up with such positive views of themselves and their skills that they’re able to accomplish an incredible amount.

 

Activities:

If you’re looking for a quick activity on short notice, ask your students to look for dots or circles in the classroom after you’ve read the book aloud! Or provide a range of supplies and ask your students to create different kinds of dots, just like Vashti. These would be great activities for young students, especially as part of a math activity that requires shape identification. I think the most important thing to remember with any activity associated with this book is that it shouldn’t be a contest! It’s not “who can make the most dots” but “how many dots can we make together.” Because The Dot is about supporting one another and being open and collaborative, it’s important to foster a similar feeling in your activities.

Dot Day could also be a perfect time to try making your own BookWorm for your classroom. Give each student a circle cut out of heavy colored paper and ask them to write the title of their favorite book on it. You can tape all the circles on the wall of your classroom or library so they look like the body segments of an inch worm or caterpillar. All you need to do is use another circle and draw a face to make the head! We had one of these BookWorms in our home when I was a kid, but instead of writing our favorite books, we added a new circle to the body every time we finished a new book. The goal was to see how long we could make our BookWorm, and that could be a great challenge for you and your students if you have plenty of space around your classroom walls!

 

As usual, we want to hear from you! What activities will you be trying out this year? Are there any books you think should be included in our list? Let us know!

 

Happy Dot Day!

Julia

Round-Up: Back to School

It’s nearly that time again. School will be starting soon (for some it already has), and it is time to get our little cherubs ready to return to the grind. I was in the bookstore looking for some new options to help everyone get used to the idea of school again and found the following:

 

Monsters Love School

Monsters Love School

Photo from barnesandnoble.com

Author: Mike Austin

Publisher: Harper Collins

Source: Barnes and Noble

 

Who needs to go to school? Not all these little monsters. They know it all already. No reason for them to go at all – or is there? This is a very positive and upbeat book with wonderfully colorful illustrations.

 

If You Ever Want to Bring an Alligator to School, Don’t!

If You Ever Want to Bring an Alligator to School

Photo from barnesandnoble.com

Author: Elise Parsley

Publisher: Little Brown Books

Source: Barnes and Noble

 

A funny story about Magnolia’s little misunderstanding about what a teacher wants for a nature show-and-tell. She may have misunderstood, but she really adds some interest to the school day.

 

 

I always approach these books hopefully, but with some doubts in the back of my mind. I am not sure that a book makes up your child’s mind about school. It certainly didn’t do it for me. I remember my mother’s great pleasure and enthusiasm for me to go to school (and when I became a parent I understood this all too well), yet after a few hours of kindergarten, I decided to decline. I left the classroom and walked back home. Did the teacher realize I was gone? I don’t know. What I do remember is that when I arrived on the doorstep, my mother promptly marched me right back. So much for the enthusiastic pep talks. I understood: I was going whether I liked it or not. I couldn’t change her mind on that point, but mine was never changed either. Though I enjoyed my academic subjects (mostly), I could have done without all the rest of it.

 

Now I know you are all wondering: how did someone who didn’t especially love school come to be working in a school herself? It’s simple. I grew up, worked at some other jobs and learned that there are things that are worse – much worse – than school. So don’t worry too much. If you have a kid like that, they will come around. Just give it some time – you know, twenty or thirty years.

 

Barbara

Review: Frederick

I’ve been into activities lately, whether it be discussion questions or art projects. This time I’ve switched things around: I am going back to a picture book and returning to something old. This book is an original publication which my parents purchased for me from the Weekly Reader Children’s Book Club (yes, the pencil shading on the author’s name is courtesy of six-year-old me).

 

Frederick

Frederick

Author: Leo Lionni

Publisher: Pantheon, 1967

Source: Personal collection

 

While the other little mice living in the stone wall are out collecting corn, nuts, wheat and straw for the winter months, Frederick does not seem to be working. However, he, too, is collecting – the rays of the sun, colors, and words – which he claims are just as important to have for the long months of winter.

 

Although this may seem like a small story, it is not. There are so many things to talk about. First, it’s a nice way to introduce our five senses. Secondly, it introduces the idea that although things needed for survival are important, that doesn’t mean that things which are intangible and possibly ephemeral should be taken for granted. Third, it is a nice reminder to understand and appreciate different points of view.

 

There are plenty of activities to go with all of Leo Lionni’s books. I’ve given just a few links here, but if you look online you will find plenty more to choose.

 

http://www.castellaniartmuseum.org/assets/docs/LeoLionniTeacherpacket.pdf

 

http://www.randomhousekids.com/brand/leo-lionni/videos/

 

https://www.pinterest.com/sdixon5308/leo-lionni/

 

 

Check out our previous posts about Leo Lionni here:

Review of Matthew’s Dream

–Using Leo Lionni’s picture books in art classes (1, 2)

 

For a few more Leo Lionni activity ideas, don’t forget to check out our latest Pinterest board HERE!

 

Barbara

Discussion Questions: The Wolf’s Boy

Discussion Questions for The Wolf’s Boy by Susan Williams Beckhorn

 

wolf's boy

As many of you know, when I read a book I really love – one that is literature full of meaning and beauty – I have the irresistible urge to write discussion questions. The Wolf’s Boy is just such a book. I can’t help myself!

 

Questions:

 

  1. Why does the law of the People demand that the baby be abandoned? Why does Yellow Mother decide to nurture the baby? Why does the human mother decide to return the baby to the People?

 

  1. Why do Sen and the other boys pick on Kai? What do you thing about the comment, “A lame pup makes good bait” (pg. 8)? Sen spits on Kai but later apologizes. What do you think is the reason?

 

  1. Why doesn’t Yellow Mother fear Kai?

 

  1. Why is a keerta so important? Do you believe they are full of magic? Why does Kai think so?

 

  1. Why doesn’t Kai have a sign or a real name?

 

  1. When Kai discovers that Torn Ear (Yellow Mother’s daughter) is dead, he takes the small pup that still needs her milk. Why does Shine allow this?

 

  1. Who do you think the Ice Men are? Do you believe they really eat children?

 

  1. Why is Kai’s father concerned about keeping the wolf pup?

 

  1. When Xar’s home is struck by “sky fire,” he believes it is Kai’s fault. Why?

 

  1. Kai is forbidden to hunt or use a keerta because he is tabbat. How will he teach Uff to hunt?

 

  1. Analyze the following quotations (all from page 70):

“Words were not just words. They were aimed like keertas at a mark.”

“A man fights those who hurt him,” my father had said.

“A bad foot isn’t everything. You must find what there is in you that is strong.” (Apa-Da)

 

  1. Uff is growing quickly. How does Kai know this? Why do you think his snares have been unsuccessful so far?

 

  1. Sen is often conflicted. Publicly he ridicules Kai but privately often apologizes. What is the reason for his behavior?

 

  1. Why does Moc-Atu warn Kai that Rhar (headman) fears the boy and his wolf? Yet he advises Kai to “Listen to your wolf.” What do you think he means or thinks Kai should do?

 

  1. What do you think is Kai’s power? Is it sufficient to survive in his world?

 

  1. Apa does not completely trust Uff. How do you think he feels when he realizes Uff has saved the family from the big cat?

 

  1. Do you think the tragedy that befalls Sen is Kai’s fault, Uff’s fault or Sen’s own fault?

 

  1. Do you think it is necessary for Kai to leave the People?

 

  1. Do you think Kai is the wolf’s boy? Is Uff his power? A living sign?

 

  1. Kai has two weapons now. Which is more powerful?

 

  1. Winter brings new and unexpected dangers – and a new reason to be grateful to Uff. Do you think Kai can survive? What if he did not have Uff?

 

  1. Ice Men have a bad reputation. So why does Oooni save Kai and heal his arm?

 

  1. Kai and Oooni have things to teach each other. In what ways are they alike? In what ways are they different? (This is a good time for a Venn diagram!!!)

 

  1. Why does Oooni leave?

 

  1. Why does Uff leave?

 

  1. Now that Uff is gone, is Kai powerless?

 

  1. When Uff returns, is she the same? Is Kai the same or has he changed, too?

 

  1. In the new world, Kai and Uff encounter a cave bear. How do they work together to protect each other?

 

  1. Kai returns to the cave for “magic” so Uff will survive. Is this visit important to Uff only?

 

  1. What do you think will happen when Kai and Uff return to the People?

 

Extension Activities:

 

As I mentioned in my review, this story just made me want to learn more about so many things. Here are a few of the ideas that especially peaked my curiosity:

 

  1. As the Author’s Note tells us, Uff is not really a wolf but an early dog. Beckhorn had the opportunity to visit the Wolf Conservation Center, and she listed a research source in her acknowledgments, How Dog Became Dog by Mark Derr. Here are a couple of websites that help us understand the distinctions between the two animals and how they developed: http://www.popsci.com/science/article/2013-02/ and https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/animal-emotions/201111/how-the-dog-became-the-dog (based on Mark Derr’s book)

 

  1. Research Ice Age man. Who were the Neanderthals and who were the Cro-Magnons? The information suggests that for a short period of time, they existed simultaneously. Complete a Venn diagram for the two, then compare it to the Venn diagrams completed earlier for Kai and Oooni. I found an interesting website on topic: http://earlyhumans.mrdonn.org/cromagnon.html

 

  1. Learn more about the Chauvat Cave paintings. There are lots of websites to choose from and some of them offer wonderful photographs. Try drawing some of your own “cave art.”

Think Shapes: Children’s Literature in a High School Setting

Brittany Lee is a high school-level English teacher who has designed her own course for teaching children’s literature to high school students. In today’s guest post, she shares one activity she uses to get her students thinking about picture books in more depth.

 

Think Shapes: Children’s Literature in a High School Setting

By Brittany Lee

 

Picture This

As we age, we tend to look back at what it was like being a child, from what we did in the playground to what our parents read to us as children. As a teacher, I see this with many of my students, specifically those who take my Children’s Literature course. At first, they are ecstatic to share the stories that their parents read to them, but as the course progresses over the first few weeks, we discuss what the pictures in their beloved picture books are really showing.

In my course, I have my students apply Molly Bang’s theory that she explores in Picture This: How Pictures Work. Throughout the text she explores the use of color, shapes – round versus pointed – and the distance of an object in a picture – up close versus far away. Most of the time, students grasp the idea of colors, lighter colors being good and darker colors being bad or mysterious; however, when it comes to the shapes themselves and their orientation on the page, students are always shocked that it means anything.

Once I cover the basics, in which larger objects are closer and smaller objects are farther away, I then go into size orientation of the characters compared to the other objects in a picture. Characters in Bang’s book are triangles, whether it be a single small triangle representing Red Riding Hood or a bunch of triangles put together to make a scary wolf. In terms of orientation, if the main character is small and the other characters are larger, then the larger character may intimidate them. In Bang’s book, she also has rectangles representing trees to add depth and show that the character, Red Riding Hood, may be fearful by having her hide behind them.

Thor

This sample illustration depicts a scene from the Norse myth “Thor Gains his Hammer,” in which Loki disguises himself as a fly and prevents Thor from reaching his hammer.

Another concept the students struggle with is pointed versus rounded shapes. A pointed object is more threatening than a rounded object, so this would be applied to the characters you are trying to portray as evil or being on edge, no pun intended. Rounded objects, such as circles or even triangles with rounded edges, are more friendly and comforting than an object with sharp edges.

These concepts completely baffle students. When I first approach these ideas, I allow students to attempt their own interpretation of what it means, and they usually cut out random shapes without any justification for why they chose those shapes. After their first trial, for which I coincidentally use the story of Little Red Riding Hood, the students are asked to critique what they did and look at what Bang’s theory asks of them. As the course progresses, we cover other fairy tales, like Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Hansel and Gretel, and Cinderella. With each tale, the students are asked to construct an image based off one of the various fairy tale adaptations using Bang’s theory. As the year progresses, the students show that they understand that the pictures are more than just pretty colors. One year, I even had a student construct his whole final project – a children’s book, obviously – by combining the theory with some scrapbook paper to show different colors and textures with the shapes as he developed his characters.

If you do want to implement this concept in your classroom, first be sure to carefully read what Molly Bang discusses, and then try it out yourself. If you can grasp the concepts on your own and can create an example for the students, then you are ready to introduce it to them. Trust me, when you first share these concepts with your students, you will most likely get a lot of push back because it requires them to think a lot more about something they just saw as aesthetically pleasing in a book.  The first time I did this project, quite a few students were completely thrown for a loop, but after the first trial and reflection, they began to grasp what they needed to do. Just tell them to have fun with it and think shapes!

 

For more information:

 

http://www.mollybang.com/main.html

More information about Molly Bang’s work is available here.

Review: Reading in the Wild

 

Reading in the Wild

Reading in the Wild – The Book Whisperer’s Keys to Cultivating Lifelong Reading Habits

Author: Donalyn Miller with Susan Kelley

Publisher: Scholastic Inc., 2014

Source: Purchase at Scholastic Book Fair

 

I am always curious: what makes some children pick reading up so easily and others struggle? Why do some kids just love to read while others don’t care so much about it? Certainly after all my years of working in a school, I would say that personality plays a role in likes and dislikes, but even those who would rather be active can be excellent readers. I always like to read resources that give us clues as to how we can help our children become good readers.

 

You might be wondering what a wild reader is. Well, a wild reader is someone who develops a lifelong reading habit. You know these people when you see them. If the newspaper is not available, they read the cereal box at breakfast. They always have a book or magazine (or several) tucked into their briefcase or purse. Frankly, they always have their nose in a book. You know they are good readers – they do it all the time! Helping our children become this type of reader is exactly what teachers and parents strive to achieve.

 

Reading in the Wild is a great resource. It is so packed with helpful information and advice that my copy instantly became dog-eared and tatty. Some of the information is to be expected. For instance, we are once again told about all the benefits of reading aloud. Miller also gives tips for selecting read-aloud books – including permission (if we need it) to ditch a book that simply doesn’t work. But she also pinpoints less obvious ways to help our children, like helping them create time for reading, selecting material they actually want to read or how to recognize fake reading and reading avoidance.

 

Though I find the information in the book to be invaluable, if you are a parent reading it, I will admit that it is a bit technical. As a teacher, I use some of the techniques listed and keep data on reading. At home, as simply a mom, I never did. As a family we did keep some lists for fun. I really liked the reading door idea (pg. 116), but the focus was always fun, not charts. That is the sort of thing in family life that would have sucked any fun right out of anything. Read to your kids and find things they are interested in reading, but don’t be a nag (or worse, the teacher at home!)

Discussion Questions: Hoodoo

Discussion Questions for Hoodoo by Ronald L. Smithhoodoo

 

  1. Hoodoo Hatcher is given his name because he is marked, but he can’t cast a simple spell. Do you believe his birthmark is a sign?

 

  1. Hoodoo’s daddy came to a “bad end.” What do you think happened to him?

 

  1. Why is believing so important for Hoodoo to cast a spell?

 

  1. Who is the stranger in Miss Carter’s store? Why does Cousin Zeke seem nervous?

 

  1. When returning home from his Aunt Jelly’s house, Hoodoo hears a scream in the woods. He returns, thinking perhaps it was Aunt Jelly screaming. She is fine and suggests someone killed a pig. Do you believe that? Do you think she believes it?

 

  1. At the county fair, Hoodoo goes to see Mrs. Snuff, the fortune teller. She tells him that darkness follows him and that his people are in danger. She also tells him to search for the black crow and beware the Stranger. What do you think she means by this warning?

 

  1. Bunny tells Hoodoo that someone had dug up bodies at the graveyard and chopped off the hands. What do you think this means?

 

  1. Hoodoo has a nightmare and when he wakes up yelling he tells Mama Frances about the fortune teller. Mama Frances tells him to go back to sleep. She says that there is nothing to fear because they have the power of the Lord in their house. She adds, “And other things too.” What does she mean?

 

  1. Hoodoo asks Mama Frances about Mandragore, a word he heard in his dream. Mama Frances explains that dreams are full of symbols, but that this one seems like an omen. Omens can be good or bad. Which do you think this is?

 

  1. Hoodoo goes to the river and while there he meets the crow. The crow tells Hoodoo he was sent by his daddy who is stuck at the crossroads. The crow tells Hoodoo that he must kill the Stranger. Do you think this is a dream? Is the crow a trickster?

 

  1. When Hoodoo goes to find Mrs. Snuff (Miss Addy) at her house, he meets the Stranger. How does he know it is the Stranger? The Stranger tells Hoodoo that his daddy owes him a debt. Why do you think he comes to collect from Hoodoo?

 

  1. At Mrs. Snuff’s little shack, Hoodoo finds a book titled Pow-Wows. It helps Hoodoo begin to understand what the Stranger is looking for. Hoodoo steals the book (although Mrs. Snuff is aware of this fact). Should he have done this?

 

  1. When Mrs. Snuff returns, she listens to Hoodoo’s tale.  She tells him that the crow was drawn to him because of his deep magick. Do you believe Hoodoo has deep magick when he doesn’t seem to be able to cast even a simple spell?

 

  1. Snuff tells Hoodoo “A wise man don’t look for danger but he’ll die for a cause he knows is righteous.” What does she mean?

 

  1.  After this visit, Hoodoo heads home and up to his room. Suddenly he finds himself flying and then in the presence of the Stranger. What do you think of this experience? Why does the Stranger want his hand?

 

  1. After his experience with the Stranger, Hoodoo lies to Mama Frances about it. Why? Is this a good reason to lie?

 

  1. Bunny helps Hoodoo gather together items for his mojo bag. He steals a few more items from Miss Carter’s store. But to make the bag work, Hoodoo has to place a spell on it. Do you think it will work? Or is an essential ingredient still lacking?

 

  1. At a family meeting, Mama Frances, Pa Manuel and Cousin Zeke finally tell Hoodoo the complete story about his daddy. Hoodoo begins to fully understand what the Stranger is after. The family claims that their reason for not telling Hoodoo was to protect him. He feels they were lying. Which side is right? (And what about Hoodoo’s lies to protect them?)

 

  1. Cousin Zeke said, “If people don’t face the danger that is seeking them, evil will find them first.” Does this conflict with the advice Mrs. Snuff has given him (question 14)? Do you think he is wise to look for the Stranger? After reading what happens to Mama Frances do you still feel the same way?

 

  1. Why do you think Hoodoo’s hand becomes so hot that it hurts Bunny to touch it?

 

  1. In his conversation with his daddy, Hoodoo is told that “You gotta use your head, son, and your heart.” What does his father mean? Is one more important than the other?

 

  1. After his meeting with his daddy, Hoodoo learns something more about him, another fact that no one had shared with him. Why is this important? What message does it send to Hoodoo?

 

  1. All of the clues have led to Hoodoo confronting the Stranger. But first he needs one important piece of information. What is it and why will it help Hoodoo defeat the Stranger?

 

  1. After the final showdown between Hoodoo and the Stranger, Hoodoo learns that Mrs. Snuff is also Miss Addy and Miss Carter. “There’s power in names,” she says. Do you agree?

 

  1. Hoodoo explains what heart is. What do you think heart is?