Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Book talk: Creepy Carrots (Caldecott honor, 2013)

[For this booktalk you will need three or four props: one prop must be a real or fake carrot. The others can be scary, Halloween-like things: a scary mask, a picture of a ghost, a little skeleton, a picture of a haunted house, etc.  Don’t show the cover until you’re done with your prop intro.]
I have four items for you to examine today. A picture of a ghost, a little skeleton, a goblin mask, and a carrot. [Let them observe for a few seconds.] Talk to me about this group. Which item does not fit in? The carrot? Why doesn’t the carrot fit in? [Hopefully, one of the kids will say that it isn’t scary but the other items are.] Carrots aren’t scary? Are you serious? Does this mean you’re not afraid of carrots?
[Now you can show the book’s cover.] But what if you were haunted by creepy carrots? You thought they were harmless: you are so, so wrong, and that’s what Jasper Rabbit thought. He loved carrots, and he would just plop himself down in Crackenhopper Field gorging himself on carrots. They were his passion, but he is a rabbit, after all.
One day he was just minding his own business, about to pick some carrots, when all of a sudden, he thought he heard carrots creeping up behind him. He turned around, but there was nothing there.
But that night, in the bathroom mirror, as he was brushing his teeth: THERE THEY WERE!!!!! Creepy carrots out to get him!
Imagine living your life, the life of an innocent carrot-eating rabbit, while knowing that carrots are stalking you, watching you, and breathing their creepy little carroty breath right behind your back.
Creepy Carrots by Aaron Reynolds, illustrated by Peter Brown. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2012. Unpaged. Booktalk to K-2. Caldecott medal honor book, 2013. Great quick read-aloud.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Book talk: Underground by Shane Evans (Virginia Readers' Choice, 2012-2013)

For this booktalk, I’m going to ask you close your eyes and keep them shut. I want you to pretend that you’re a young African-American slave, and you and your family are trying to escape to freedom. You’re terrified. It’s dark, and you have to be absolutely silent and creep out of the master’s house and into the woods. You don’t know which is more horrifying: the journey you’re about to take, or the prospect of getting caught. The other slaves’ eyes are full of fear, and so are your parents. You don’t know where you are going, but you do know that you’ll always travel by night and you must be absolutely silent no matter what. You have to be braver than you think you can be, because now you’re part of the slaves’ underground railroad to freedom.

Underground: Finding the Light to Freedom by Shane W. Evans. Unpaged. Roaring Book Press: 2011. Booktalk to primary grades. Virginia Readers’ Choice, 2012-2013.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Book talk: Say Hello to Zorro! by Carter Goodrich (Virginia Readers' Choice)

[Hold up cover, but cover up with your hand the part of the illustration which shows Zorro, the smaller dog].

This is Mister Bud [the larger dog on the cover]. Mister Bud has a great life for a dog. Dogs love a set schedule, and Mister Bud is no exception. He’s got his own house, his own bed, his own toys, his own dish, and a time for everything.

 Do you know how important his schedule is to Mister Bud? It is everything. He has his biscuit before his walk. When his owner comes home, it’s “greet and make a fuss time,” followed by quick backyard time, dinnertime, walk time, and then movie time. Yes, Mister Bud loves his movies. What dog doesn’t? What a perfect, happy, orderly life.

[Show cover, and take your hand off so that Zorro is now showing.] Oh my gosh, who is this? A new dog? A new dog in Mister Bud’s house? Oh dear. What is the expression on this little dog’s face? [Get a few responses.] Right, he looks angry. This is Zorro, and he’s little and fierce. Does Mister Bud look happy about this? [Absolutely not!]

To add insult to injury, this book is titled, “Say Hello to Zorro!” And that’s what Bud’s owners said to him when they brought Zorro home. Is trouble brewing?

Say Hello to Zorro! by Carter Goodrich. Unpaged. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2011. Booktalk to preschool through 1st. Virginia Readers’ Choice, 2012-2013.

Book talk: City Dog, Country Frog by Mo Willems (Virginia Readers' Choice)

[For this booktalk, put a sticky tab on the following pages: pages {4-5}: “City Dog spotted something…”, pages {22-23, rainy day}, pages {28-29, frog sits on dog’s nose}, and pages {30-31:dusk}.

[Show cover.] Do frogs and dogs hang out together? [Invite brief discussion.] Okay, so maybe they don’t usually hang out and befriend one another.

But City Dog is unique. [Show pages 4-5] He was out in the countryside, probably on vacation, when he spotted a frog, quietly sitting on a rock. He talked to frog, and it turned out that frog was waiting for a friend. Frogs are like that. [Turn the page.] Frog knows all sorts of country games that city dog does not know, and he’s happy to teach city dog. [Turn the page.] What could be more fun than playing in a creek? [Turn page.] I think this picture is one of my favorite picture book pictures ever: city dog is giving country frog a ride on his head in the creek.

But not everything they do is funny like that. Friendship is made of quiet activities too: enduring rainy days [show pages 22-23], talking [show pages 28-29], and just hanging out [show pages 30-31]. All friendships are special, but there is something unique about the friendship of city dog and country frog.

City Dog, Country Frog by Mo Willems, pictures by Jon J. Muth. Hyperion, 2010. Unpaged. Booktalk to preschool – 2nd grade. Virginia Readers’ Choice, 2012-2013.