The Little Woman Wanted Noise by Val Teal

Publisher: The New York Review Children’s Collection

Publication Date: Re-Release September 24, 2013

Recommended Grades: Pre-K-2

The big city brings about plenty of noise and the little woman loves it!  However, when she is left a farm in the country by her cousin who has moved to Australia, the little woman has no peace of mind because it is just too quiet.  So she begins to fill her farm with many noisy farm animals.  However, even this doesn’t make the woman happy.  It isn’t until a trip into the city, where she happens to find that one special thing, that makes her farm feel like home.

 The Little Woman Wanted Noise by Val Teal  The Little Woman Wanted Noise by Val Teal
The Little Woman Wanted Noise The Little Woman Wanted Noise by Val Teal will make a great read-aloud for primary age children, who will love the animal sounds in the book.  Illustrated by Robert Lawson, the award winning illustrator of The Story of Ferdinand and Mr. Popper’s Penguins, the illustrations are especially charming and provide details children will enjoy pointing out.  The story lends itself nicely to a discussion of story elements, in particular helping children determine the beginning, middle, and end of the story.  This story has withstood the test of time and children today will enjoy it just as much as children in the 1940′s, when it was first published.

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book for review from the publisher.

©2013 by Dawn Little for Literacy Toolbox. All Amazon links are affiliate links and may result in my receiving a small commission. This is at no additional cost to you.

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Sidekicked Blog Tour, Author Guest Post, and Giveaway

Sidekicked Blog Tour Banner Sidekicked Blog Tour, Author Guest Post, and Giveaway

Several weeks ago I reviewed the book Sidekicked by John David Anderson.  Today, as part of his blog tour, John David Anderson stopped by Literacy Toolbox to share his hilarious thoughts on his writing process. Check out the Walden Pond Press Blog for other stops on the tour and be sure to sign up for the giveaway at the end of this post.  

On the Complex Interrelationship Between Organic Literary Composition, Cinnamon Flavored Candies, and Hairballs OR How I Write 

Writing is a process.

image 150x150 Sidekicked Blog Tour, Author Guest Post, and Giveaway

My summer reading, Sidekicked by John David Anderson

Personally I would like it better if it weren’t as involved. If it were sudden, like an explosion. Or something regurgitative: Wake up. Make some awful hairball-chucking sound, hack hack hack hu-RURRRK! And voila: freshly vomited novel. I would get a lot more done. Like cleaning up the real hairballs left by my real, non-novel-writing cat.

But writing’s not that simple. It’s more like constructing a roller coaster that you are never going to ride because by the time you are done planning, zoning, building, testing, demolishing, rebuilding, testing again, painting, licensing, and promoting the darn thing, you are sick of looking at it. You just hope other people go along for the ride. And that it doesn’t make them throw up either.

Of course every writer’s metaphor is different, as is their process. So here, starting from birth and condensed into about a thousand words, is mine.

Step 1: Get born. This is the grossest part, so we will skip the details.

Step 2: Spend formative years (say, the first thirty) reading thousands of books by authors infinitely more-talented than yourself. This will grant you the crucial realization that you will probably never be in Norton’s Anthology of Awesome Writerly Types and provide you with the proper perspective: A daily affirmation that you write, not to become rich and famous, but to afford replacement socks and entertain your six fans.

Step 3: Spend some additional time (say, five or six hours) reading books by people markedly less-talented than you. This will provide you with the prerequisite ego boost that will keep you going. (The caffeine will do the rest.)

Step 4: Experiment. Not with, like, dead bodies and stuff (though that would be cool), but with your chosen craft. Try poetry. Realize you suck at poetry. Try short stories. Realize that they don’t call three hundred page short stories “short stories”. Try contemporary adult literary fiction. Realize that’s too much to say at dinner parties (“I write mostly contemporary adult literary fiction, or CALF. What do you do?”). Instead decide to write kid’s books because they are a lot more fun and easier to say. Also while you are experimenting, try to find your voice. Mine is “Smart-alecky with just a hint of didacticism.”

Step 5: Spend precisely thirty seconds drawing free hand. This will be enough to convince you that you cannot do picture books. Go back to your three hundred page short stories.

Step 6: You are finally ready to begin writing (for real this time, not the stuff you were doing in Step 3. Step 3 is a phase. It’s like puberty, but with fewer zits), but you need an idea. Unfortunately you finished Step 1 already, so you know that every good idea has already been taken. You also realize that every good idea was then taken again. And again. And again. Repurposed and retrofitted, altered to tap into zeitgeists and marketing segments. Once you come to grips with the fact that there really only are a dozen good stories out there, you only need to figure out how you will give them your own spin. Choose “smart-alecky with a pinch of contemporary relevance.”

Step 7: Seek inspiration from the world around you. Realize that you will spend most of your life doing this. Use it to your advantage. When your wife catches you watching TV, browsing websites, reading comics, inspecting the fuzz between your toes, or sleeping in the middle of the backyard you were supposed to mow, tell her you are “seeking inspiration”. It will work the first two times.

Step 8: Gather fuel. To be perfectly honest (and PG 13) for many of our greatest authors this comes in the form of copious amounts of alcohol if not heavier substances. However, there are alternatives. I prefer Diet Coke, pretzel rods, and atomic fireballs, and yes, I have consumed all three simultaneously without my head exploding.

Step 9: Fire up the old desktop (nicknamed “Dinosaur”), open Word, and appreciate the blankness for a moment. A blank piece of paper or a white screen is almost religious in its implications. A holy sacrament. Just think of the possibilities! It could be anything! A sprawling historical romance! A sprawling postmodern revisionist fairy tale! A sprawling political satire told from the point of view of ink pens in the magical realist tradition! A book about cats!

Step 10: This weighty epiphany in hand, write your first sentence, completely ruining the moment. You know almost nothing about cats.  Sidekicked Blog Tour, Author Guest Post, and Giveaway Sidekicked Blog Tour, Author Guest Post, and Giveaway

Step 11: Pause after a couple of pages or so and think back to all the things you learned about writing in high school, namely the need for a plan or an outline. Consider the merits of having your plot mapped out, your characters sharply defined, your Fireballs pre-unwrapped for ease of mouth-pop-in-ability. Ruminate on how beautiful it would be to have the slightest freaking clue where this project of yours is headed. Then shrug your shoulders and continue to type with wild abandon and almost no sense of direction. For yours is an organic art. Growing rampant like the weeds in your unmowed yard.

Step 12: Get another Diet Coke. Briefly wonder how much phosphoric acid is good for a person. 

Step 13: Argh! Pothole! Can’t think of a name for this new character. Call her “blah blah” and move on. You’ll think of something later.

Step 14: Roadblock! Can’t find the words to describe this town your protagonist stumbled upon. Write: “the village was blah blah blah” and move on.

Step 15: Forcefield! At a total loss for what Chapter Four should even be about. Write “blah…blah blah…blah blah blah blah.” The ellipses will let you know that there are actually several pages missing here. But that’s all right, because you are smokin’. No sense stopping now for something as minor as a chapter.

Step 16: Drink water because it’s better for you. Chase it with another Diet Coke. Think you should maybe build something cool out of Diet Coke cans, like a pyramid, or a bigger pyramid.

Step 17: Find the zone. Watch your own fingers tap dance on the keyboard as though they were independent organism with tiny little brains of their own, just clacking away. Whistle at yourself appreciatively as the word count in the bottom left of the screen shoots up, like so many quarters spilling out of a slot machine. You’ve written 3,000 words today!

Step 18: Take a moment to bask smugly in your productivity. Wipe your brow even though you work in a climate controlled environment and have been sitting in the same place for four hours and don’t actually have a drop of sweat on you. Think of how wonderful it is to be a writer. To have the privilege of just sitting here making stuff up for other people to read.

Step 19: Notice the word “blah” on your screen: the color of a minor character’s eyes that you think you might have mentioned before but need to double check. Now curious, do a Find and Replace on the word “Blah.” Realize that half of your 3,000 words are actually “blah”. No worries. It will give you something to do tomorrow.

Step 20: Recycle Diet Coke cans. Now you’ve saved the world as well. What a day. But it’s not over yet. There is still plenty of time to engage in a little number 7. Grab a book from number 2 and head out to the backyard. You still have thirty minutes before you have to pick up the kids from school and the muses of the hammock are calling to you.

About the Author

John David Anderson is the author of Sidekicked and Standard Hero Behavior. He is drinking Diet Coke even as he writes this and really likes to blah blah blah. You can find out more about him at www.johndavidanderson.org or on Facebook at JohnDavidAndersonAuthor.Dave Anderson Photo2 Resize 150x150 Sidekicked Blog Tour, Author Guest Post, and Giveaway

 Giveaway

Walden Pond Press is offering a SIGNED, HARDCOVER GIVEAWAY of Sidekicked Sidekicked Blog Tour, Author Guest Post, and Giveaway to one lucky Literacy Toolbox reader!  All you have to do is comment below – please tell me why you think you would like the book for a child in your life, or how you might use John David Anderson’s guest post on his writing process in your classroom.  The contest period will run from July 16th until 11:59 p.m EST on July 23rd.  US residents only, please.  The giveaway recipient will be chosen randomly using random.org and contacted by email within 48 hours of the end of the contest. 

Walden Pond Press is also running a Facebook giveaway until the end of the month called The Sidekicked Summer of Superheroes Sweepstakes. Giveaways include an e-reader of the winner’s choice, a selection of superhero-themed e-books and signed copies of Sidekicked Sidekicked Blog Tour, Author Guest Post, and Giveaway.

 

Thank you to Walden Pond Press for coordinating this blog tour and giveaway! Find Walden Pond Press on Twitter and Facebook!

Disclosure: All Amazon links are affiliate links and may result in my receiving a small commission. This is at no additional cost to you.

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Sidekicked by John David Anderson

Sidekicked Sidekicked by John David Anderson by John David Anderson

Publisher: Walden Pond Press

Publication Date: June 25, 2013

Recommended Grades: 4-8

 Sidekicked by John David Anderson  Sidekicked by John David Anderson
“Andrew Bean might be part of H.E.R.O., a secret organization for the training of superhero sidekicks, but that doesn’t mean that life is all leaping tall buildings in single bounds.”

Possessed with super senses, Andrew is able to hone his super power during H.E.R.O. meetings in a secret location in his middle school. His superhero mentor, a former legend, spends more time sitting in bars than fighting crime. And then a super-villain long thought dead returns to the city. Middle school is already hard; it’s only harder with superpowers!

A fast paced, fun read, boys and girls looking for an adventure to read this summer, should look no further! Sidekicked Sidekicked by John David Anderson has it all: twists and turns, mystery and intrigue

I’m excited to be a part of John David Anderson’s blog tour!  Come back to  Literacy Toolbox on July 16th and learn all about his writing process!

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book for review from the publisher.

©2013 by Dawn Little for Literacy Toolbox. All Amazon links are affiliate links and may result in my receiving a small commission. This is at no additional cost to you.

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Open This Book by Jesse Klausmeier

A fun book by debut author, Jesse Klausmeier, that celebrates the power of books and friendship. 

 Open This Book by Jesse Klausmeier Open This Book by Jesse Klausmeier
What will you find when you (read) Open This Little Book Open This Book by Jesse Klausmeier?  One surprise after another.  An entertaining and interactive read, children will want to open the book again and again.  Read more about Jesse Klausmeier at the Watch. Connect. Read. blog where Mr. Schu expertly interviewed her.  Jesse began work on this book when she was five years old!  Don’t believe me?  Read the interview!  And check out the book trailer, because my review can not do it justice.  You really must see it for yourself.  This is a special book that children really should have the opportunity to experience themselves!

©2013 by Dawn Little for Literacy Toolbox. All Amazon links are affiliate links and may result in my receiving a small commission. This is at no additional cost to you.

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Share a Story, Shape a Future: Literacy the First Five Years Day Five

125badge Share a Story, Shape a Future: Literacy the First Five Years Day Five

Logo Created by Elizabeth Dulemba

This week we celebrate Share a Story, Shape a FutureThe theme this year is, “Literacy: The First Five Years.”  As part of Day 5, “Look Mom, I Can Read”, I share the following post: 

Text Features with Kindergartners

Last year, I plugged into kindergarten classes once a week and provided literacy enrichment.  As part of a unit on nonfiction, students learned about different text features and then borrowed from author’s craft to write their own.  Afterwards, I placed each student’s text features into a booklet for students to take home.

 Share a Story, Shape a Future: Literacy the First Five Years Day Five Share a Story, Shape a Future: Literacy the First Five Years Day Five
We began by looking at several different text features.  I read aloud a nonfiction book or periodical to students, and thought aloud about the text features I came upon.  We created a list of text features that we might find in other nonfiction books.   I also provided students with this text feature graphic so they could keep track of the types of text features they found as we read a new book or periodical each week.  (They completed a new graphic for each new book).

Over the course of the month, we looked at three different (more engaging) text features: labels, diagrams, and different fonts.  After I read aloud a book and thought aloud about the types of text features I found, we would focus on one feature.  Students then had the opportunity to borrow from authors and write an example of their own label, diagram, or different types of fonts.

 Share a Story, Shape a Future: Literacy the First Five Years Day Five Share a Story, Shape a Future: Literacy the First Five Years Day Five
The Common Core is knocking at the door and nonfiction is an integral component.  Teaching nonfiction to our students in school or even at home can be fun and engaging.  Kindergarten students are naturally curious.  Let’s feed that curiosity by immersing students in nonfiction as they begin their school careers.  A mini-unit on text features is a fun way to begin a child’s journey into nonfiction.

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Share a Story, Shape a Future: Literacy the First Five Years

125badge Share a Story, Shape a Future: Literacy the First Five Years

Logo Created by Elizabeth Dulemba

This week we celebrate Share a Story, Shape a Future. The theme this year is, “Literacy: The First Five Years.”  As part of Day 4, The ABC’s of Reading and Writing,  I share the following post: 

“Discover”-ing Baskets of Hands-on Learning

Children learn through curiosity.  Touching, feeling, and exploring; in essence play is children’s work.  We can encourage and promote inquisitiveness in children through hands-on learning.

Discovery Baskets

DSC 0046 150x150 Share a Story, Shape a Future: Literacy the First Five YearsDiscovery Baskets provide hands-on learning experiences that help build background knowledge, which is essential to comprehending texts.  Consider creating a Discovery Basket to help build your child’s background knowledge prior to new experiences.

Discovery Baskets are made up of items related to a topic.  Items that can provide a hands-on experience for a child, as well as texts related to that topic (both fiction and nonfiction) are placed in a basket.

Using Discovery Baskets

  1. Allow your child to immerse himself in the hands-on experience.  Feel the item(s), play with the item(s).  Talk about the item(s).  What is its purpose?
  2. Read about the topic.  Provide both fiction and nonfiction books.  Use the nonfiction books to help answer any questions your child may have.
  3. If possible, tie the items to the books chosen for the basket.
  4. Discuss the topic.  Ask your child to make connections to the books read and to the information learned.

DSC 0003 150x150 Share a Story, Shape a Future: Literacy the First Five YearsHere is an example from our family from several years ago:  Prior to making our annual beach trip, I wanted to build my kids’ background knowledge about the beach.  Our Discovery Basket included: shells, a bag of sand, several books about shells, and a custom made inflatable beach ball.  Our Hands-on Experience included feeling and discussing the different shells, counting the shells, and sorting the shells by size (a sneaky math lesson!).  We put our hands in the bag and felt the sand.  We discussed how it felt.  We also created a craft.  We bought an inexpensive wooden frame and then I hot glued the shells on to the frame.  We then had a frame for a picture from our trip.  Then we moved on to reading about shells.  Finally, we discussed how our shells were similar or different from the shells in the books.  We used the beach ball to toss back and forth.  The ball had comprehension statements to help us connect our background knowledge with our book knowledge.  If I had a beach bucket large enough to fit hard cover books, I would have used that as our “basket.”

Create a Discovery Basket

Here are a few ideas for creating Discovery Baskets to build your child’s background knowledge:

    • Family Trip – prior to taking a family trip, create a discovery basket about the place you will be visiting.  Consider something specific to the area.
    • Museum Trip – prior to taking your child to a new museum, create a discovery basket about something that your child may see or experience there.
    • School  – prior to your child beginning school, create a discovery basket about school and the types of things that one might do or see there.
    • Art Museum – prior to taking your child to an art museum, create a discovery basket about a specific artist or time period of art.
    • Gardening Basket – provide seed packets (children can sort by vegetable, herbs, flowers, etc.), a few gardening books: Wiggling Worms at Work Share a Story, Shape a Future: Literacy the First Five Years, Carrot Soup Share a Story, Shape a Future: Literacy the First Five Years, Growing Vegetable Soup Share a Story, Shape a Future: Literacy the First Five Years, And the Good Brown Earth Share a Story, Shape a Future: Literacy the First Five Years
    • Chicks Basket – provide plastic eggs (sort by color, numbers, etc.), make a chick craft (pom poms and googly eyes), sort pictures of baby animals, a few resources: Animals (Baby Touch and Feel) Share a Story, Shape a Future: Literacy the First Five Years, ZigZag: What’s in That Egg? Share a Story, Shape a Future: Literacy the First Five Years

 Share a Story, Shape a Future: Literacy the First Five Years Share a Story, Shape a Future: Literacy the First Five Years

Discovery Baskets are a fantastic way to combine reading with hands-on learning.  Providing Discovery Baskets for your child provides a natural connection to his own curiosities about the world.   Having background knowledge about topics helps children comprehend what they read.  By building upon the world knowledge of your child now, you are setting a foundation that will only serve to guide them as they become independent readers.
 Share a Story, Shape a Future: Literacy the First Five Years

©2013 by Dawn Little for Literacy Toolbox. All Amazon links are affiliate links and may result in my receiving a small commission. This is at no additional cost to you.

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World Read Aloud Day 2013 is Here!

litworldwrad13badge 150x150 World Read Aloud Day 2013 is Here! Imagine a world where everyone can read…

Today is World Read Aloud Day, an awareness day advocating for literacy as a human right. Celebrate by reading aloud, giving away a book, or taking action in any way you can to “Read It Forward” on behalf of the 793 million people who cannot yet read.

World Read Aloud Day creates a community of people advocating for every child’s right to learn to read and to have access to books and technology that will make them lifelong readers. Everyone can change the world and Read It Forward, creating a ripple effect that resonates around the world with the power of story and shared words.

How did you celebrate World Read Aloud Day? REVISION

Today, we were supposed to celebrate World Read Aloud Day with author Jacqueline Jules at my school!  However, a little storm named Saturn changed our plans. Instead, we have a snow day and we are not in school.  So, today, in honor of World Read Aloud Day, my children will read aloud to each other.

My son is reading Bad Kitty vs. Uncle Murray by Nick Bruel and my daughter is reading Amelia Bedelia Means Business by Herman Parrish.

Chloe reading 150x150 World Read Aloud Day 2013 is Here!

clark reading 150x150 World Read Aloud Day 2013 is Here!

 

We have rescheduled Jacqueline Jule’s visit for next week and I’ll share our celebration then.  Best laid plans. . .

 

 

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What Will You Do for WRAD13?

litworldwrad13badge 300x300 What Will You Do for WRAD13?Imagine a world where everyone can read…

In one week, the world will celebrate and advocate. . .

March 6, 2013, is World Read Aloud Day, an awareness day advocating for literacy as a human right. Celebrate by reading aloud, giving away a book, or taking action in any way you can to “Read It Forward” on behalf of the 793 million people who cannot yet read.

World Read Aloud Day creates a community of people advocating for every child’s right to learn to read and to have access to books and technology that will make them lifelong readers. Everyone can change the world and Read It Forward, creating a ripple effect that resonates around the world with the power of story and shared words.

Visit litworld.org/wrad to join the Read It Forward movement. Register your participation, and rally your friends, family, and networks for March 6! LitWorld, the organization that founded World Read Aloud Day, offers free downloadable activity kits full of ideas for children, teens, families, educators, and professionals at litworld.org.

This year, I will celebrate World Read Aloud Day with the students in my school.  We have invited author, Jacqueline Jules to share the evolution of her books (Zapato Power series, Unite or Die, among others) with our staff and students. Check back on March 6th to see our fun day of community and celebration of literacy!

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My Brave Year of Firsts: Tries, Sighs, and High Fives

Written by: Jamie Lee Curtis and Laura Cornell

Published by: Harper Collins

Date: September 4, 2012

 My Brave Year of Firsts: Tries, Sighs, and High Fives  My Brave Year of Firsts: Tries, Sighs, and High Fives
My Brave Year of Firsts: Tries, Sighs, and High Fives My Brave Year of Firsts: Tries, Sighs, and High Fives is a celebration of first times and key moments in a child’s life that help shape who they are.  This book reminds us to celebrate the extraordinary everyday bravery of trying new things, for first times are all about learning and growing.

This is the tenth in the Books to Grow by series.  I believe I’ve stated before that I tend to go to picture books to help when my children may have an issue they are facing  These books are helpful in that role. My Brave Year of Firsts: Tries, Sighs, and High Fives My Brave Year of Firsts: Tries, Sighs, and High Fives is a great guide in helping children to understand the key moments in childhood that are momentous, exciting, and sometimes a little bit scary.  As an educator, I can also envision using this book in grades 3-5 to help students determine author’s message.

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book for review from the publisher

©2013 by Dawn Little for Literacy Toolbox. All Amazon links are affiliate links and may result in my receiving a small commission. This is at no additional cost to you.

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A Flower in the Snow

Written by: Tracey Corderoy and Sophie Allsopp

Published by: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Date: December 1, 2012

 A Flower in the Snow A Flower in the Snow
Luna and Bear were the best of friends living together in the tundra.  Everything they did, they did together.  One day, something most unusual pops up, a dancing, yellow flower! Bear carefully picked it and gave it to someone special — Luna.  But, when the flower inevitably wilts and the last petal falls, nothing can make Luna smile again.  Bear knew he had to bring back Luna’s sparkly smile, so he set off to find another sunshine flower.  Bear traveled high and low looking for a special flower, all while Luna was at home sadly missing Bear.  Does Bear find a sunshine flower?  Do Bear and Luna reunite?

A Flower in the Snow A Flower in the Snow is a heartwarming reminder of the the meaning of true friendship.  I tend to go to books to help me when parenting.  This is a sweet book to read aloud to your young children when they have problems with their friends, to remind them of the true meaning of friendship.  Or, to read aloud to students to build a classroom community at the beginning of the year.  What does true friendship mean?

Disclosure:  I received a copy of this book for review by the publisher

©2013 by Dawn Little for Literacy Toolbox. All Amazon links are affiliate links and may result in my receiving a small commission. This is at no additional cost to you.

 

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