Friday, October 18, 2013

READY FOR PUMPKINS - Perfect Picture Book Friday

     Tis the season - for ghosts, scarecrows and PUMPKINS!
     Even though some elementary and pre-schools have done away with Halloween celebrations, the fact is that we have passed the autumnal equinox and no one can deny the harvest season is here. My review this week is a great seasonal choice for the classroom as well as reading at home.


Title: READY FOR PUMPKINS

Author/Illustrator: KATE DUKE

FICTION

Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf, 2012

Audience: 5-8 (If you are looking for read-alouds, note that this is a 40-page book- 36 pages of text - with 728 words)

Themes: Classroom pets, Gardens

Opening: " I am Hercules.
               I live in Miss MacGuffey's first-grade classroom.
               It's a good life."

Synopsis: A classroom guinea pig learns about gardening by growing his own pumpkin. He needs some help from Daisy, the rabbit friend he makes during summer vacation, and a lot of patience.

Why I like this book: I picked this book up because of its beautiful cover. As my friend Carter Higgins taught me, the juxtaposition of blues and oranges are a winning combination. (See Carter, I'm paying attention! If you haven't read Carter's Design of the Picture Book blog, put it on your to-do list.) Growing up, I had guinea pigs as pets and I'll admit to an additional fondness for the friendly little rodents. Ms. Duke must love them, too. Her first book was "The Guinea Pig ABC" (which I have not read) and "One Guinea Pig is not Enough" (which I read and enjoyed). But beyond my own personal predilections, this book is a multi-layered delight. It would be great to use in a discussion of classroom pets, a spring gardening unit, a discussion of cooperation and friendship, the importance of patience, and the obvious, pumpkin harvest time read. I had to share my favorite spread:
Text reads: A garden is not a place to be angry in.




Activities/Resources: If you have the RealOne video player you can watch a four-minute video of Katie discussing her work with a group of kids.In my research I discovered that blogger Amy Seto Musser reviewed this book when it came out last year and includes a whole list of activities including paper bag pumpkins and pumpkin seed crafts on her blog.  
Teachers could also use this book in a discussion about classroom pets and their needs - including that the pet has to be taken care of on weekends and during holidays and the long summer vacation.
If you've been thinking about getting a small pet, visit Petfinder.com or your local rescue- yes, it isn't just dogs and cats who are waiting for a good home.
Finally, this would be a good read before you make a jack -o'-lantern. Explore the textures inside and out. There's a lot of slime to clean out before you could let a guinea pig play inside!




This review is part of PPBF (perfect picture book Friday) where bloggers share great picture books at Susanna Leonard Hill's site. Along with tons of writing wisdom, she keeps an ever-growing list of Perfect Picture Books.

32 comments:

  1. You're right! Great cover! Look forward to finding this one too.

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    1. My library had a copy, but it wasn't one of their featured Halloween selections. I'll point that out when I return it today!

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  2. This is another fabulous fall find! Thanks Wendy.

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    1. Leaves are FINALLY turning color here, getting me in the mood. :)

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  3. It looks adorable. And perfect for us with new guinea pigs.

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    1. Share a carrot nub with them for me!

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  4. Wendy, The guinea pig is adorable, and I can't wait to pick-up this book!

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    1. If you love guinea pigs (and who doesn't?!) , the author's other books are choc-a-bloc full of them!

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  5. I'll have to check out this author, Wendy. I'm not familiar with her. This book seems perfect for Halloween as well as other times. My sister In law, who is a science teacher has lots of pets in her classroom and always takes them home during vacations and holidays. It seems like a good idea to bring up this topic with the class.

    Love the cover. I agree that the colors are a winning combo. :)

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    1. Carrying class pets back and forth to school isn't easy! Especially in rain and snow at holiday times. Your sister in law has a big heart to do it.

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  6. I do love the cover because it begs to be read! (And, I read Carter's blog.) So many fun ways to use this beautiful story in the classroom. And it'svery timely for the season. Didn't realize that many schools don't celebrate Halloween anymore.

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    1. Around here some celebrate "autumn" and "winter" instead of any specific holidays contained in the time period. It's hard to please everyone.

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  7. Perfect for October, Wendy! And yes, complementary colors set each other off in the most vivid way.

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    1. I knew that about complementary colors, but I guess I never THOUGHT about it until Carter reminded me to. That's what friends are for.

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  8. Sounds cute. I wish my classroom hamsters could've done something fun like grow a pumpkin. Mostly they just ate, pooped, bit the kids, and got quarantined by the health department. Worst. Gardeners. Ever.

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  9. That front cover is delicious. I really appreciated the details about number of pages and word count (!)

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    1. Thanks, Joanna. I think parents/teachers have grown accustomed to the shorter (under 500 word) text so I didn't want anyone to be surprised.

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  10. I love the spread/text you highlighted. Very sweet :)

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    1. Thanks, Laura. I think we're "peer group critique mates" at the upcoming NJ SCBWI. Looking forward to it!

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  11. I will have to read this one, Wendy! I am a huge fan of Kate Duke's "Aunt Isabel Tells A Good One" And I agree - love that cover :)

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    1. Thanks for another great PPBF, Susanna!

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  12. I need to check out Ms. Higgins' blog... The illustrations are very cute, too! I like the idea of a guinea pig planting and raising a pumpkin. :)

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    1. I think my guinea pigs were smart enough, but I never let them out by themselves. :)

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  13. Pumpkins! Love the idea of a binnie-pig (as my cousin's son called them when he was small) growing a pumpkin.

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    1. Thanks, Beth! But if we put the rodents to work, what will the farmers do?

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  14. So many great reasons to love this book! Thank-you for introducing me. I too love Carter Higgins, small animals, and pumpkin books that aren't about Halloween. 'Can't wait!

    And 40 pages? Interesting . . .

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    1. All this pumpkin talk has me thinking PIE. Time to get going.

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  15. Thanks for the review! It sounds super cute. And thanks for the tip about Carter Higgins, her blog looks great!

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    1. It is super cute! AND that little guinea pig is probably a relative of the giant guy on your blog (it's a capybara if I'm correct!?)

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  16. Thanks for linking to my blog, Wendy! Glad to know I'm not the only one who loves this book :)

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