Tuesday, September 28, 2010

"If You Take A Mouse To School" by Laura Numeroff

"If You Take A Mouse To School" by Laura Numeroff
Illustrated by Felicia Bond
Published 2002
ISBN 0-439-44260-5

                                 "If You Take A Mouse To School" by Laura Numeroff and illustrated by Felicia Bond is one of many in a series of "mouse books" that are written and illustrated in such a way, it allows the children to complete the sentences on each page. It also makes the kids predict what will happen next. This is a great example in my opinion of a "pattern book". Laura Numeroff does an excellent job making children understand the pattern that will follow each of the mouse's activities in his day at school with this little boy.
                                The story starts out asking the question "If you take a mouse to school, he'll ask you for your lunch box". Then the question that follows asks the child to predict what would happen once you give him your lunch box. By the picture that follows, the answer is that he will want a sandwich. As this little mouse follows this boy around on his journey throughout that day at school, the book illustrates and explains clearly that this mouse is very mischievous character who gets himself in some trouble because he literally jumps from one thing to another during his day with the little boy.
                                Another example of "pattern" in this wonderful picture book is the fact that the illustrations alone by Felicia Bond, clearly could guide children to what will happen next, even if they can't quite predict it as you are reading the story to them. This book may not rhyme or have a "sing-song" quality to it, but it has it's own melody to your ear as you can guess what could possibly happen now to this mouse and little boy just by also looking at the pictures.
                                 Another example I wanted to point out was when the mouse uses up all the pencils as he seems to be writing his own book, and when he is done, I usually ask my class at this point in my own classroom "what do you think class the mouse will do after he is done writing?" I will then show them the picture of the mouse reading the book he wrote to the class as my students say the words out loud.
                                  My class of pre-k students love the Laura Numeroff and Felicia Bond books. The books are easy enough for my class to know what will happen next whether it be with a mouse like this series, a pig or a moose like the other books she wrote. I get such a kick out of my students as they laugh so hard when they see each picture. The bright and colorful illustrations make it fun and easy for my kids to figure out the story as the book goes on. I usually create a bulletin board of an actual mouse made out of construction paper. The kids usually, depending on the book in the series I decide to read them, make whatever object the book refers to a lot. For example, if I were reading "If You Give A Mouse A Cookie", the kids would make their own cookies out of whatever materials I give them.
                                  I enjoy the Laura Numeroff  books and Felicia Bond's illustrations greatly, and recommend these series books because they are both educational and entertaining pattern children's books. Sometimes as a teacher, I think with these particular readings, you can make your class finish their own predictions to the story. They can help be little coauthors as they create the following page of the story book.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

"Knuffle Bunny" by Mo Willems

"Knuffle Bunny": A Cautionary Tale
Illustrated and Written by Mo Willems (Hyperion Books for children)
Published 2003
Calecott Metal Winner 2005
                     "Knuffle Bunny" is such a great story in which I am sure most of us can relate to as a child. This book is about a little girl named Trixie who goes on a neighborhood walk with her dad and brings her favorite stuffed animal/ bunny with her on the days adventure. They come across several different places that day, but the laundromat was the final destination on this days adventure with dad around the neighborhood.
                      This was obviously Trixie's favorite toy that went everywhere with her and barely left her side. Unfortunately, this was the day that Trixie would loose her precious attachment to her in which she then throws the biggest fit of pure panic!
                      It was upon her arrival at home where Trixie's parents discover the bunny was missing. Her dad wasn't sure at first why Trixie was throwing a temper tantrum, but mom knew immediately as what the problem was as soon as the door opened. She realized "Knuffle Bunny" was lost! Here was Trixie all this time trying to explain to dad in her baby talk what was wrong, but the only thing coming out of her mouth were screams of desperation.
                      At last retracing their steps, dad and Trixie found little "Knuffle Bunny" back at the laundromat. No sooner there was Trixie with a smile on her face once again as bunny was back in her arms. Ironically "Knuffle Bunny" was Trixie's first words.
                    "Knuffle Bunny" brought back many childhood memories for me as I too had a security blanket/ stuffed animal that I was attached to that made me as happy as Trixie. I had a pound puppy that I brought everywhere with me, including to bed. I remember I wouldn't and couldn't sleep without this puupy named "puppy" or "coco".
                        The connection to this stuffed animal that I remember as clear as day, that really attached me to this object was that I received it from my parents for a Valentine's Day gift. My brother, sister and I all got different ones on this day. I recall being so happy to get a gift other than your average chocolates on Valentine's day, or at least my Valentine's Day's.
                          Being I was and still am so close to my parents, the gift of this stuffed pup made me attached to the object even more so because it was given to me out of love from mom and dad. It would comfort me in the dark, and having it close by made me feel relaxed. It was almost as if because it was touched with my parents love, I felt I had to keep this stuffed pup close to my heart. This object, I will shamelessly admit stood with me throughout adulthood and still is in eyes view to this day. I may not sleep with "puppy" anymore, but at a glance it still melts my heart.

                           Many times I have come close to loosing "puppy" like Trixie lost "Knuffle Bunny", and my heart sank like hers did. Sheer panic would rush to me and perhaps I did shed a tear or two, maybe even a temper tantrum like little Trixie did as well. But unlike Trixie, my "lost" spots where "puppy" would be found would be  hamper or twisted in my own sheets!
                          I thought that the story of "Knuffle Bunny" is a joyous one at best. I am sure most of us can relate on some level to this book in that most of us had a "security blanket" or "stuffed toy" that we were attached to and lost.Hopefully your stories of attachments to things as a child ended as a happy one, as mine and Trixie's did in that our toys were found! I think the book shows that it is ok to be attached to something that makes us feel safe. A child sometimes needs that reassurance to get through the day. As a child grows, I'm sure the object now becomes a memory that will live in our hearts always, that may be left behind physically, but stays with us in out hearts and minds forever.