Tag Archives: Synthesis

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?

If Frogs Made Weather by Marion Dane Bauer

Schema: weather

Text-to-text connections: What memories of weather do you have? Scary storms, fun days at the sunny beach, or cozy days inside?

Point of View: What a great book to illustrate point of view as each animal says what the weather would be if they were in charge of it. Discuss why each creature would choose the type of weather it chose.

Synthesis: What type of weather would you choose if you could only choose one and why?

Betty Bunny Loves Chocolate Cake by Michael B. Kaplan

Schema: waiting, obeying,  favorite foods, making healthy choices,  tantrums

Text-to-text connection: Where the Wild Things Are by Sendak

Point of View: The story is told from Betty’s POV.

Thoughtful  language and detailed illustrations come together to create a book about patience and manners that does  not talk down to children. The feeling and lesson this story conveys will connect with young readers and listeners. The concept of patience is difficult to explain to young children, and the author and illustrator have done an excellent job. It’s wonderful to come across a children’s book that is as strong as this one.   Betty Bunny is determined to get her way, but she listens, tries, and learns, and  grows.   The mother in the story is a great role model and example of patience as she uses appropriate language and examples to explain patience to Betty.

Cause and Effect: Because of Betty’s behavior, the effect is that she is sent to her room without her cake.

Predicting: What do you predict will happen to the cake in Betty’s sock?

Synthesis: Ask students to share some examples of when they have had to be patient.  What is patience like?  What can we do to show that we are being patient?



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 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.

The Witch’s Guide to Cooking With Children by Keith McGowan

Schema: Hansel and Gretel , step-mothers, fairy tales, science fairs

Big Idea: Good vs. evil

The publisher offers a detailed reading guide for teachers that includes vocabulary,  poetry,  and writing responses.

Text-to-Self Connections: sibling rivalry, bullying, moving to a new apartment, visiting the library

Author’s purpose: to entertain

Cause and Effect: Because an inheritance was at stake, the effect is that the children’s lives were in peril.

Because the dog, Swift, followed commands, the effect is he brought the children a knife to free themselves.

Because the children’s so called “parents” wanted to have them killed and eaten by the witch, the effect is that the children had to find a way to escape.

Because the children had access to the library and the Internet, the effect is that they were able to do some research to help themselves.

Because the pet shop owner rushed them out the back door of her shop, the effect was that they stayed one step ahead of the witch.

Drawing Conclusions: What conclusion did the children come to after seeing Swift with the bone and then reading the witch’s journal?

Inference: What do you infer happened to the children’s real father?

Point of View: The story is told mainly from Sol’s POV.

Predicting: At the end of the book as the children walk away all alone, where to you think they will go first when they get to their new town?  Based on what they did in the story, they might visit their public library.  I predict they just might be very quiet in the library and stay away from the librarians too!

Synthesis: The readers will synthesize that the author has created a modern day version of Hansel and Gretel.  Ask them to further synthesize by creating a modern day version of a different fairy tale.

Satire, making fun of certain causes or situations is also seen in the book when the author says the children’s real mother was drowned while investigating global warming when the ice she was standing on melted.

Although the topic of this book is controversial, the author uses no foul language, and good does win over evil.  Although many children that have been eaten previously, they are mentioned in the witch’s journal to set the premise.  Even in the fairy tale of Hansel and Gretel, the reader infers that other children have been enticed to enter the witch’s candy house and have been eaten.

Book Talk: Bring a copy of a cookbook with the similar red and white plaid cover to compare with this one and ask,

What would you do if you thought your parents were planning to give you to a witch who wanted to eat you?  Would you be suspicious if you saw a neighborhood dog holding a very large bone in its mouth?  Have you ever wondered what you would do if you were kidnapped? Do you want to read a book that will give you nightmares?  Well, here’s that scary book you been asking for!

You know the old fairy tale Hansel and Gretel…that mean old step-mother that sends her step-children off into the woods, hungry, just looking for something to eat.  What if instead of sending you off to find fire wood, they just dropped you off at the mall and disappeared leaving you in a new neighborhood lost and confused?  The kids in this book are too smart to fall for that.  They know how to use their public library and the Internet.




The Wolves Are Back by Jean Craighead George

Schema: ecosystems, keystone animal

Author’s Purpose: make readers aware of the importance of wolves in the ecosystem. Create a chart of the temperate forest food chain.

Cause and Effect: This book is filled with great examples of cause and effect.  A graphic organizer such as the Cluster/Word Web Chart or the Multi-Flow from Thinking Maps works perfectly with this read aloud.  Park directors had encouraged anyone who saw a wolf to shoot it so that the animals left would all be peaceful ones. After 1926, there were no wolves in the U.S. The ecosystem in Yellowstone National Park was broken. In 1995 ten wolves were brought to Yellowstone from Canada.  After some time the ecosystem was restored.

Because the wolves were back the effect is mountain goats were forced to go back into the  mountains, the coyote population thinned leaving more squirrels for the badgers to eat,  bears thrived on the left overs the wolves provided, bison were driven away from the river areas allowing grass and the aspen trees to return, erosion around the river stopped as grasses returned, beavers returned creating  ponds which attracted dragonflies.  These are just a few of the cause/effect relationships mentioned in the book.  The paintings are also quite beautiful making for a great read aloud.

Compare and Contrast the before and after the wolves.

Synthesis: Have students reflect on what would happen if the wolves multiplied and nature became unbalanced with two many wolves.

The Ox-Cart Man by Donald Hall

Schema: selling what you make, seasons

Circle story: The story begins in the fall and follows the man and his family through a year as they make what they can on their farm to sell and use the money from what they sell to buy the things that they can not make.

Predicting: What do you think the Ox-Cart man will be doing the next fall?

Drawing Conclusions: What do you think the Ox-Cart man might buy with his money the next year?

Sequencing: Sequence  the farm chores and activities that the family does  throughout the year.

Synthesizing: What do you think the things that the man sold will be used for after he sells them?

So Far From the Sea by Eve Bunting

Schema: sea, setting

Questions to activate background knowledge:

Can you think of another time in history where a group of people have been treated unfairly because of the color of their skin?

Can you imagine being taken away from your family because of your ethnicity?

Why is the title so far from the sea when it looks like the sea behind them?

Why does the woman have spring flowers in the winter time?

Have you ever heard of World War II?

Who was locked up and killed during that war?

What is a spy?

Point of View: Who is telling the story?

Text-to-Self Connections: going somewhere that makes you feel nervous, making emotional connections

Inference: I am inferring that it is winter because they are putting on their jackets.  The wind is cold from the Sierra.

Setting: 1942, popular song: Don’t Fence Me In

Drawing Conclusions: Look at the location of Manzanar and draw a conclusion about why the author made the title “So Far from the Sea”

Mental Images: the field bigger than a football field, seeing it empty like erasing a blackboard, imagining he could climb on the mountain’s back and it would become a big eagle to fly him away, boat( a real American scout sail)  moving on as a way to say his grandfather had moved on, and so were they

Cause and Effect: Because Japan attacked Pearl Harbor, the United States, the effect is “the U.S. was suddenly at war”

Metaphor: What could the author mean when he says the grandfather began dying the moment he was put on the bus and taken to Manzanar?  The author is comparing dying to being taken so far from the sea and losing his boat and freedom.

Metaphor: What is “moving on” a metaphor for as the family leaves the cemetery? a boat moving on, the family moving on to Boston, the family moving on and letting the hurt of the grandfather’s mistreatment go

Organizational Strategies: What did you notice about the way the illustrator organized the illustrations with the color pages and the sepia no color ones?  What is he trying to show? Can you think of any other text-to-text connections that show a shift in time?

Compare and Contrast: The way the camp looks before and after the war.

Text-to-Text Connection: Tree of Cranes by Alan Say is set in Japan and a mother is telling her son what Christmas was like in America when she was a child.

Synthesis: Can you think of other groups of people who are thought of as suspicious because of their heritage in our present day time or in the past?–Jewish people during WWII, slavery in the U.S., today’s airport security with certain names, appearances, the Muslim religion, the controversy in NYC about the Mosque being built near the 9/11 site?

Synthesis: Can you think of a time when you had to “move on” and let something go that has hurt you?

14 Cows for America by Carmen Agra Deedy

“To heal a sorrowing heart, give something that is dear to your own.”   from the Note from Kimeli Naiyomah at the end of the book.

Schema: cows, feeling sorrow for someone’s pain

Text-to-self connection: remembering or hearing about September 11, 2001;  being kind to others; feeling the emotion of something being “sweet and sad” because it can not be lasting for long

Background information: The Maasai people believe that ownership of cattle represents well-being and wealth.  To own a large heard is something to strive towards.

Author’s purpose: to share the Maasai values and compassion toward America and to encourage others to be practice ‘Ubuntu.”

Cause and Effect: Because the U.S. was attacked on 9-11-01, the effect is that Wilson Kimeli Naiyomah wanted to do something to help with the sorrow and ended up making the cow donation as a symbol of  Ubuntu.

POV:  The people of Maasai;  Think of the African people listening to the story of how the city was attacked.  They are trying to make mental images of buildings that touch the sky and fires melting iron.

Voice: We hear the voice of Kimeli in the story.

Symbolism: cows symbolizes life

Synthesis: The Maasai leaders synthesize that to make the U. S. feel better, they must be humane and give something from their hearts to the U. S.  The U. S. diplomat synthesizes the great sacrifice of the Maasai to give this many cows and it moves him to tears.