Category Archives: Poetry

Firebird by Misty Copeland


Dancer, Misty Copeland, the first African American prima ballerina, writes from a young dancer’s point of view. The character believes she will never fly as a dancer like Misty Copeland. The author uses metaphors such as “you are the sky and clouds and air” to show the girl’s feelings toward her idol. After the dancer expresses her lack of self-confidence, Misty’s character tells her she is just beginning saying, “let the sun shine on your face your beginning’s just begun.” She shares with the reader that she was once like the girl with only a dream. This is a wonderfully inspirational story about practice and goal setting that students could relate to as they struggle to meet their goals and dreams. Students who struggle with confidence and self-esteem could gain a new perspective from Misty Copeland’s story. The author includes a wonderful note of encouragement to the reader at the end of the book. The illustrations are fluid and superbly depict the flying ballerina. This book would be a wonderful addition to any library.

Schema: dancing, learning

Story Elements: Problem, feeling like she will never reach her goal

Solution: practice and never give up

Metaphors and similes are used throughout the story to show the feelings of the characters.

Mental Imaging: The reader can imagine how high the ballerina is leaping with the help of the illustrations.

Crinkle, Crackle, Crack It’s Spring! by Marion Dane Bauer

Schema: sounds, listening, wondering what they are

Text-to-Self Connections: Using your imagination to think of what is happening

Text-to-Text Connections: Winnie the Pooh, Bear Wants More, and other seasonal books

The story is told in partly second person using the pronoun “you” as the animals gather and follow the sounds. As they walk on, the snow is melting, baby birds are hatching, and suddenly the big egg cracks and out pops spring.

Onomatopoeia is illustrated with almost a word on every page.

Synthesis: What do you notice that tells you the seasons are about to change? What is your favorite season?

Sequoia by Tony Johnston

Schema: trees, nature
Text-to-Self Connection: seeing tall trees, show images of the giant trees, talk about the senses and read how the tree hears and feels things. Also, the book represents the seasons as the tree lives through each year.

Extended Metaphor: The story is told from the tree’s point of view as if the tree is a very old soul.

Personification: The tree takes on human traits as “he smells fire” and “feels a chill.”

What a lovely book to read to children! The beauty of the west coast wildlife is illustrated throughout the book. The feelings of the ancient tree show readers the value of taking care of these beauties. Maybe this book will inspire readers to visit the Sequoia in their lifetime. I visited this area for the first time just a few years ago and even though I had seen the trees on video and in books, it was awesome to experience their magnificence in person.

Sojourner Truth’s Step-Stomp Stride by Andrea Davis Pinkney and Brian Pinkney

Sojourner Truth’s picture book biography tells of her remarkable life and her desire to make a difference for African Americans and women during the 1850’s.
Character Analysis: Sojourner has many traits that could be compared with Dr. Martin Luther King’s life as told in Martin’s Big Words by Doreen Rappaport.They were both determined to never give up. Both were ministers, and both were threatened because of their conviction to improve the life of those they sought to help.

In teaching with this wonderful book, I also taught the poem by Robert Frost, Stopping By the Woods on a Snowy Evening.  Both the books and the poem share the theme of never giving up.  The students could imagine both Sojourner Truth and Dr. King saying they had “promises to keep and many miles to go before I sleep.”

The Adventures of Granny Clearwater & Little Critter by Kimberly Willis Holt

Schema: Westward Expansion, old west stories

Text-to-Self Connections: being cared for by an elderly relative

Figurative Language: Holt has filled the book with lots of similes such as “the land was as flat as Ma Clearwater’s burnt corncakes;” “Little Critter shot out of the wagon like cannonballs;” “and their tongues went to hanging like a half-starved hound dog’s.”

At the end of the book the author includes information mentioned in the book about true events that occurred during the 1800’s such as westward migration, the gold rush, stagecoach robberies, and the Pony Express.

Holt’s has written a humorous story in tall tale fashion about Granny and little Critter who get separated from the rest of the family as they travel out west from the Appalachian Mountains.  Granny uses her wits and all that her relatives have taught her about survival skills in the desert and the mountains. This book would make a great addition to a fifth grade western expansion unit.

Oh No! by Candace Fleming and Eric Rohmann and Oh No, George! by Chris Haughton

Schema: When things don’t go right or the way we want them to go

Text-to-Text: Both books share the “oh, no!” phrase for similar reasons

Figurative Language: Fleming’s book adapts naturally to the song “Frog Went A-Courting” with rhyming words.

Problem Solving: Both stories have a problem that is solved with either self-control or help.

Predicting: With Oh No George! students can predict what George will do with each challenge.

The Astonishing Secret of Awesome Man by Michael Chabon


Schema: Super-heroes

Text-to-Text Connections: Superman

Personification: The eyeball is given human qualities; the jello can slurp
Metaphor: comparing his cape to a red rocket, his mask to a dark night at midnight

Context Clues: Vocabulary in the story: photon: a type of radiation: the character sends heat rays from his eyes
Thermovulcanized: a process that freezes then melts a rubberized object to make it tougher
Orb: ball

Drawing conclusions: we inferred that when he changed to his normal self that he is the man that looks like Superman, but at the end we realized we were stereotyping the hero because he turns out to be the little boy in the illustration. At the end notice his shadow looks like the Superman character though…is the shadow his imagination? Was the man his dad?

Author’s Purpose: To persuade, inform, or entertain?

Won Ton A Cat Tale Told in Haiku by Lee Wardlaw

Schema: Choosing a pet from a rescue center or pound

Text-to-self Connections: feeling afraid of new experiences, trusting someone new, having a cat knead your tummy or leg before settling down on it to sleep, training a cat not to scratch furniture,

Inferences: Won Ton has yet to have a good home since he knows bed, bowl, and blankie are normal “so he’s been told.”

Infer: Won Ton threw up in shoe: “sorry about the squishy”

Author’s purpose: to persuade, to inform, or to entertain? mainly to entertain

Mental Images: the “cave” under a bed, toes for worms, baking bread, kneading and baking with a nap

Text-to-Text Connection:Some Cat by Mary Casanova is about a cat who is adopted from a shelter and also has to learn to trust.