Tag Archives: Author’s comments

Waiting for the Biblioburro by Monica Brown

Schema: librarians, borrowing books

Text-to-Text Connections: My Librarian is a Camel: How Books are Brought to Children Around the World by Margriet  Ruurs and That Book Woman by Heather Henson

Miss Dorothy and Her Book Mobile by Gloria Houston

Alia’s Mission: Saving the Books of Iraq by Mark Alan Stamaty

What book would you protect and deliver somewhere if you could?

Author’s Note: The author tells us that the book was inspired from a real biblioburro program in Colombia.

Author’s Purpose: To inform and entertain the reader.

Mental Images: Note the scenes where Ana imagines herself in the books she is reading.  This is an example of what readers do when they make a mental image while reading. The illustrations help us to see Ana’s mental images as she reads.

Synthesis: Have you ever been inspired by a story you have read to write one of your own? Ana wrote a story for the librarian. If you were to write your own story, what characters would you include? Can you think of characters from books you have read that you really liked and wish there was a sequel to? What are your favorite series books?

Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick

Schema: mysteries, museums

Text-to-text connections: From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E. L. Konigsburg

Cause and Effect: Because Ben was talking on the phone during a storm, the effect was that Ben lost his hearing when lightning struck the phone line.

Characterization: List Ben’s traits: curious, smart, brave to travel alone, good speller and writer, uses any resource available, resourceful for eating food left by others. How are the character traits of Ben and his mother alike?

Drawing Conclusions: Practice drawing conclusions as you read the pictures for Rose’s story. Inference is used to draw the conclusions.

Point of View: author’s: third person, character’s: Ben and Rose

Summarizing: Summarize Rose’s early life up to when she meets Ben

Mental Image: Can you make a mental image of the wolves chasing Ben? Check out the wolves’ diorama from the AMNH in New York City.

Go to the American Museum of Natural History in NYC’s website and look at some of the exhibits online.

Check out the panorama of NYC boroughs at the Queens Museum of History.



The Day Roy Riegels Ran the Wrong Way by Dan Gutman

Schema: football scoring rules

Text-to-Text Connection: Turkey Bowl by Phil Bildner also takes place many years ago.

In this full color picture book, the author shares the story of Roy Riegels as historical fiction. The real life lesson is that we all make mistakes, but we shouldn’t let a mistake  destroy our ability to move forward and achieve in the future. The story tells how Roy continued to be great athlete and a successful businessman and did not let his big mistake and label of “wrong-way Riegels” color his future in a negative way.

Author’s purpose and Point of View: Written in third person, the author tells the real life story of Roy Riegels.

Cause and Effect: Because Roy ran the wrong way, the effect was that his team lost their big game.

Drawing Conclusions: We can draw the conclusion that Roy did not let his mistake ruin his life because he continued to be successful.


Never Forgotten by Patricia C. McKissack; artwork by Leo & Diane Dillon

Schema: slavery

The author tells the story in third person in a poetic format.

Setting: West Africa, 1725

Author’s Purpose: to show the perspective of a family whose child has been taken by slave traders

Voice: The language the author uses creates a unique voice for Dinga

Personification: The four elements: Earth, Fire, Water, and Air are personified as they seek to mother and then find Musafa.

Summary: Tell the story in sequence from Musafa’s birth to his being found again in the Southern United States in Charleston, South Carolina.

Drawing Conclusions: Do you conclude that Dinga went mad or insane with the disappearance of Musafa or do you think the elements could have communicated Musafa’s whereabouts to him?

Hurricanes: Many hurricanes have hit the South Carolina coast. The author notes at the end of the book that there is a legend in Barbados that says the “hurricane is Mother Africa in search of her lost children.”

The Mangrove Tree: Planting Trees to Feed Families by Susan L. Roth

Schema: oceans, mangrove trees, fish

Text-toText: The Sea, the Storm and the Mangrove Tangle by Lynne Cherry

Planting the Trees of Kenya: The Story of Wangari Maathai by Claire Nivola

So Far From the Sea by Eve Bunting

The author uses the pattern of “This is the house that Jack built” to build the story page by page. In smaller print, more detailed information is provided and supported by a double page collage illustration. The subject of the book, planting mangrove trees near oceans that border dry, foliage free soil, is a project that Dr. Gordon H. Sato conceived after his studies as a biologist.  This book shows how the mangrove tree can help people as well as fish.   The Manzanar Project

Author’s purpose: Are you informed or persuaded after reading this one? I feel like I was both, but definitely persuaded to share this Manzanar Project.

The Goose Man: The Story of Konrad Lorenz

Schema: geese, pets

The goose man is Konrad Lorenz, an Austrian born doctor who devoted his life to the study of ethology, an animal behavior involving instinct. This focus of this book is on the his work about geese and how they communicate with different types of honks and how they imprint on the first living creature they see.  Konrad learned how to imitate the goose honks to communicate with them. He had several pets throughout his life, and he won the Nobel Peace Price in 1973. The lively illustrations and amount of text on the page makes this book a very interesting read aloud that students will enjoy.

Author’s purpose: to share information about a famous scientist

Cause and Effect: Because Konrad was the first creature the baby goose saw, the effect is that the goose imprinted on him.

Drawing Conclusions: What conclusions does Konrad draw from observing the geese?

Mental Image: Several remarks are made in the book about the mess the animals made in the house.  Can you make a mental image of what a mess a monkey or a goose inside the house would make?

The Storm in the Barn by Matt Phelan

Schema: Dust bowl, Great Depression, bullies, superheroes, sisters and brothers

Author’s purpose: to entertain and inform about the depression

Inference: The family was leaving Kansas, but then when the mysterious figure runs in front of the car, it seems that the family didn’t end up leaving Kansas. We may infer that the sudden stop caused the car to break down as we see the father working on the car after that.

Cause and Effect: Because of the drought, the effect is that the economy is depressed and people are out of work.

POV: The story is told from Jack’s POV.

Text-to-text connection: The Wizard of Oz

Text-to-self connection: wanting a parent’s attention

Characterization of Jack: Describe all of Jack’s traits such as his caring for his sisters, his desire to be loved by his father, his longing to help with the farm, his courage to confront the Storm Man and capture the thunder, his manner in dealing with the bullies, and the relationship he has with the Ernie.

Historical Fiction: Times were truly hard for the lack of rain during the 1930’s in Kansas, an area called the “Dust Bowl” because of the dry dusty soil that blew away because of the drought.  In order to survive and grow what feed they could for their cattle, the farmers would have jackrabbit drives, where they would round up the jack rabbits and club them to death.  Most of the rabbits would then be fed to other animals.  The people were afraid to eat them because of jackrabbit fever. The books provides a candid view of what life was like for people during this time period.

Drawing Conclusions: What do you conclude is the reason that Ernie tells Jack the stories he shares with him?

Synthesis: Can you think of another hard time in history where some type of superhero could have changed the harshness to happiness?  What would be the hero’s super powers?

This book is on the Texas Bluebonnet 2011 nominee list, written on a 2.3 AR level, and begins with the curse word “damn.”  Following on into the story the author injected two more “hell’s” andin my personal opinion the curse words were unnecessary.

The Hired Hand by Robert D. San Souci

Schema: fairy tales, element of magic

Genre: traditional literature

Setting: Virginia

Predicting: Predict what young Sam will do when the man comes back with the request to make his wife young again

Character Motivation: What motivates young Sam to charge the man for what the hired hand did?  What motivates him to change at the end?

Compare and Contrast young Sam and old Sam:

Characterization of young Sam: He damaged the saw blades because he didn’t clean the logs first concluding that he is lazy; he cuts the boards unevenly concluding that he is careless; he refuses to sweep the shop concluding that he is again lazy and disrespectful toward his father; he is dishonest and arrogant as he “puts on airs” when he is in charge.

Characterization of old Sam: hardworking and kind

Internal consistency of young Sam’s character: What types of things would you see young Sam doing in the future?

Big Idea or Theme: Work hard and treat people well or trouble will find you.

What evidence supports the conclusion that young Sam learned a lesson?

The Sea, the Storm, and the Mangrove Tangle by Lynne Cherry

Schema: islands, conservation, ecosystems, biomes

Text-to-text connection: The Great Kapok Tree by Lynne Cherry

Author’s Purpose: persuade readers not to cut down the Mangrove tangles

Cause and Effect: Because the propagule falls off the mangrove tree, the effect is that a new mangrove tangle begins. 

Drawing Conclusions: The fisherman drew the conclusion that he should not cut down the mangrove tangle to make a shrimp farm because of what the other fisherman told him.  He was persuaded to leave the tangle alone.

Point of View: The story is told from the point of view of the animals that inhabit the tangle.

Synthesis: The reader will synthesize that there are certain things that keep the balance of nature.

Terrible Storm by Carol Otis Hurst

Schema: grandparents, blizzard, Massachusetts, point of view

Compare and Contrast the character traits of the two men: This story presents a wonderful opportunity to show students this strategy.  A Venn diagram could be used to show the differences and similarities between Fred and Walt, characters based on the author’s grandfathers.  It’s fun to read through the book, then go back and read the top half all the way through, then go back and read the bottom part all of the way through.  As you read, write the traits of each of the men in the diagram. 

Differences: Walt likes to be with lots of people,  but Fred liked to be alone.  Walt was bored in the barn with the cats, but Fred would not have chosen to be at the tavern. 

Similarities: both men worked in delivery services of goods to people,  but Fred could leave his milk daily without talking to anyone, and Walt would have to make appointments to see who needed the wood and where they wanted it stacked.  Both men were not dressed warmly.  Both had food, a bed, and a shelter from the storm.  Both agreed they didn’t have much choice in where they stayed.

Inferences from the illustrations: Walt liked dogs, Fred liked cats.  Outgoing people are more like dogs, and introverts are more like cats.

Drawing Conclusions: I am drawing the conclusion that each man will head to his favorite place to be the next time a blizzard comes rather than working a little longer and getting stuck in the places they were this time around.  Text evidence: each man said the three days they spent either in the barn or the tavern were the worst.

Point of View: Each man is describing the same event from his own perspective, one who likes crowds, and the other who prefers to be alone.

Cause and Effect: Because of the blizzard, the effect is that each man had to find shelter in a place they did not want to be.