Wednesday, May 28, 2008

The Lotus Seed

The Lotus Seed
By Sherry Garland
Illustrated by Tatsuro Kiuchi
Harcourt Brace, 1993

I stumbled across this book when I was looking for picture books to make “Text-to-World” connections with my students. It was used in a lesson in Strategies that Work by Stephanie Harvey and Anne Goudvis (2nd edition).

The book is about a young girl from Vietnam who wanted to remember the emperor when he lost his throne. So, she took a seed from a lotus flower in the emperor’s gardens to remember him by. When the Vietnam War tore apart her country, she moved to America, but she took the lotus seed with her to remember her country. She kept in near her family’s alter, wrapped carefully.

Many years later her grandson found the seed, wondered what it was, and took it outside and planted it without telling anyone. The girl, now a grandmother, cried and cried over her lotus seed. Soon it bloomed into a lotus flower and they were able to share the seeds among the family members to remember their home country of Vietnam.

I loved this story. I didn’t use it for a text to world connection lesson though. I am putting it in my files for next year to use this book with Red Butterfly, which I recently reviewed here.

If you are interested in other text-to-text connection books I use together, see my list here.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Bilingual Travel Books

Postcards from Chicago: Postales desde Chicago
By Laura Crawford
Raven Tree Press, 2008

Postcards from New York City: Postales desde New York City
By Laura Crawford
Raven Tree Press, 2008

Postcards from Washington, D.C.: Postales desde Washington, D.C.
By Laura Crawford
Raven Tree Press, 2008

These books are part of a “Traveling with Anna” bilingual series by Raven Tree Press. Each book features a big city. Anna sends postcards to her friends and family from each city. Each spread consists of Anna’s postcard where she tells what she visited that day. The picture side of the postcard is featured of the real places. These photos are high quality and show what each tourist destination really looks like. Then each page features key facts about each place. They are short, but factual and easy to read. Anna’s postcards are more conversational and reveal some personal side to her travels.

The bilingual portions of these books feature the facts translated into Spanish. The postcards are written in English only. The facts feature more difficult words that might be hard to explain and understand for an ELL student, so it is helpful to have those facts translated.

Anna is featured through the book in drawings on each page.

I love this series of books because it blends fiction and non-fiction, Spanish and English. There are so many things that could be done with these books in the classroom. What helps is that they feature interesting, updated pictures, kid-friendly facts, and a simple, uncluttered layout.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Mosaic of Thought

This past semester at school I have been part of a Teachers as Readers group reading Mosaic of Thought by Ellin Oliver Keene and Susan Zimmerman. It has really changed the way I think about reading and the way I plan for reading. I have been doing a series of lessons on Making Connections (text to self, text to text, and text to world). During that time, I compiled books that I used in my literature circles and in guided reading groups. I used these books with fourth graders, but keep in mind, you could adapt them to any grade level. I have posted the lists on the menu bar to the right. Each list is a PDF file, so they will be easy to download and open.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Bilingual Books: Paco and the Giant Chile Plant

Paco and the Giant Chile Plant: Paco Y La Planta De Chile Giganta
By Keith Polette
Illustrated by Elizabeth O. Dulemba
Raven Tree Press, 2008

This is a bilingual retelling of Jack and the Beanstalk. It is set in the Southwestern United States. The text is told in English with a lot of Spanish words embedded in the text. Readers who are bilingual will enjoy this tale that flips back and forth between Spanish and English. Students who are somewhat familiar or not familiar at all with Spanish will be able to use the glossary at the back of the book or discover the meaning of the word from the context of the sentence. The Spanish words included are mentioned in context and highlighted in red.

Paco and his mother need money, so they must sell their cow. Paco sells the cow to a man who gives him seeds in exchange for his cow. He plants the seeds to the chile plant and thus the Jack and the Beanstalk story begins. Here is an excerpt from the story where Paco meets the man who gives him the seeds:

Paco harnessed la vaca and led it down the dusty road.
At a dip in the dusty camino, Paco met an old man with bright eyes. Los ojos del viejo twinkled like stars. He held a walking staff and a small bag. El Viejo said, “Good afternoon, joven. That is a fine vaca, young man.”
“Buenos tardes, seƱor,” replied Paco. “Si, yes, it is a fine cow, but I must sell her. My mother and I have no money.”

This Jack and the Beanstalk story bears much resemblance to the traditional version, but of course a Mexican-American flare has been added. I especially love the surprise ending.

Elizabeth O. Dulemba’s digital illustrations give it an animated movie feel. Ms. Dulemba has lots of freebies on her website connected to this book. There are coloring pages (which she also features weekly on her blog), wallpaper, recipes, and a word search.

I would recommend this book to teachers and librarians who have bilingual children in their classrooms.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Poetry Friday: Boshblobberbosh

Boshblobberbosh: Runcible Poems for Edward Lear
By J. Patrick Lewis
Illustrated by Gary Kelley
Harcourt, 1998

I have recently begun a fascination with Edward Lear since I was trying to teach my students about limericks. I stumbled across this picture book biography of sorts by J. Patrick Lewis. The story is told in poems as a tribute to Mr. Lear. Lewis includes an author’s notes with a few facts about Lear’s life. Then in the back of the books there are notes on each poem and how it relates to something in Lear’s life. And yes, Lewis includes a few limericks himself.

The one I will share today is “A Day in the Life”. It has a companion poem “A Night in the Life” in the book.

A Day in the Life…

Mr. Lear
Wakes at ten
Walks six miles
Paints a glen
Points his cat
Home again

Picks an olive
Plucks a flower
Takes a bath
By thundershower
Hears the cuckoo
Cluck the hour

So at four
Sips his tea
Takes a nap
Tickles high

Pats his bed
Snuggles in
With a grin
Reads a book
By Tennyson

Lays it down
Wonders long
What is wrong
Hums a little

Hums a little
Silly song
Hums a little

Sadly, this book is out of print, but I found it at my local library.

Poetry Friday roundup is at Big A Little a