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
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.