Joan Procter, Dragon Doctor – The Woman Who Loved Reptiles By Patricia Valdez, Illustrated by Felicita Sala

Joan Procter, Dragon Doctor- The Woman Who Loved Reptiles by Patricia Valdez

JoanProcter, Dragon Doctor

Watch out! This is the story of a girl with very unusual guests to her tea parties…reptiles!  Yes, Joan Procter was a pioneer in the field of woman scientists. She was fascinated by reptiles, and was often joined by her companion crocodile.  

Not only was she enthralled with reptiles, she managed to turn her passion into a career.  During the war, when women were first invited into the workforce, Joan Procter took the job as a designer for the Reptile House at the London Zoo.  There, she even hosted children’s tea parties with the deadly komodo dragon as a special guest.

Joan Procter paved the way for women to become involved in fields that were previously seen as male oriented careers. She dared to think outside of the box and follow her passion.

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AASL Standards Framework for Learners: Explore/Think V.A.1 Learners develop and satisfy personal curiosity by reading widely and deeply in multiple formats and write and create for a variety of purposes.

Lesson Resources

  • Consider the statement “authors write about what they know”. Patricia Valdez is a scientist with a Ph.D in Molecular and Cellular Biology. She works at the National Institute of Health as well as being an author.  Ask learners “why do you think she wrote this book?”
  • Have learners consider the historical impact of the war on Joan Procter’s path.  How did the war create a door that was opened for Procter’s role at the London Zoo?
  • Dig in to the non-fiction possibilities for research and writing. Have learners create a “zoo” with artwork and images to examine the details of reptiles and create blurbs of information to be shared with “zoo visitors”.

If you like these lesson ideas, please take a look at our book, Lessons Inspired by Picture Books for Primary Grades. This resource includes ready-to-go lesson plans that meet the standards. Worksheets, assessments and rubrics are included.

The Proper Way to Meet a Hedgehog and Other How-To Poems by Paul B. Janeczko, Illustrated by Richard Jones

SummaryTheProperWayToMeetAHedgehog

The Proper Way to Meet a Hedgehog and Other How-To Poems by Paul B. Janeczko is a great way to share step by step processes with kids through poetry. There are many out of the box poem ideas that focus on  key words and phrases. In some poems, there are plays on the way text is used, in others, a key element of an object is focused in on. There is a poem that uses clever text layout to identify elements of a camel’s physical features. In another, there is a focus on an environment from the viewpoint of a mole.  

What is really special about this book is how it takes very diverse topics and simplifies them through choice words and illustrations.  The poems are free form and offer light hearted, funny and informative depictions of topics.

Response to Literature

AASL Standards Framework for Learners: Explore/Share V.C.1 Learners engage with the learning community by expressing curiosity about a topic of personal interest or curricular relevance.

There are some really exciting ways that this text can be used to develop learner’s inquiry skills as well as writing abilities.  A few ideas include:

  • In reading the poems, learners will notice that big ideas are conveyed through a few choice words.  Learners can dissect the poems to develop questions about why those other chose certain key words to explain a complex system, process or creature
  • Have learners identify a topic of interest and generate interesting, key words to begin developing into a How-to poem of their own.  Differentiation can be enhanced through the use of pictures for those that are not yet reading and writing independently. Learners can use these to create a “How to” picture collage to express their understandings about a topic.
  • Many classrooms across primary grade levels write a version of “How To” poems or books.  Use this book as a connection for collaboration with classroom teachers!

If you like these lesson ideas, please take a look at our book, Lessons Inspired by Picture Books for Primary Grades. This resource includes ready-to-go lesson plans that meet the standards. Worksheets, assessments and rubrics are included.

Little Libraries, Big Heroes by Miranda Paul and John Parra

This is an image of the book, Little Libraries, Big Heroes, surrounded by building materials. The purpose of this image is to promote the book.
#BookBento of Little Libraries, Big Heroes by Maureen Schlosser

Summary

If you ever wondered who started the Little Free Library phenomenon, read Little Libraries, Big Heroes by Miranda Paul and John Parra. This fascinating story informs readers about Todd Bol; a regular guy with a great idea. Bol created the first little library to honor his mother who died. She had a great love for reading, and he wanted to recognize that by giving away free books placed in a replica of a schoolhouse.

Bol’s neighbors loved reading and trading the books found in the repository. He knew his idea had potential to become something really big. And it did! Little Free Libraries are making an impact around the world.

Author Miranda Paul delivers an inspirational story that readers will want to revisit. Her message of how one person can make a big difference will resonate with learners. The colorful illustrations by John Parra add more details to the story. Readers will enjoy looking at the painted versions of Little Free Libraries located around the world.

This is a double-page spread found in the book Little Libraries, Big Heroes. It shows Todd Bol sharing his idea of Little Libraries with Rick Brooks.
Double-page spread in Little Libraries, Big Heroes

Response to Literature

AASL Standards Framework for Learners: Collaborate/Create III.B.2 Learners participate in personal, social, and intellectual networks by establishing connections with other learners to build on their own prior knowledge and create new knowledge.

The double-page spread with Todd Bol brainstorming with Rick Brooks resonates with me. It reminds me of how I work with Becky Granatini, the coauthor of this blog. She takes ideas with potential and makes them really big!

  • Share this illustration with learners. Consider how collaboration inspires great work.
  • Invite learners to explore the Little Free Libraries site with a collaborative partner. Direct them to the Little Free Library World Map. Each location describes the purpose of the library.
  • Encourage learners to explore ideas to give back to their communities. They could design their own Little Free Library. Consider other ways to make a difference.

Resources

If you like these lesson ideas, please take a look at our book, Lessons Inspired by Picture Books for Primary Grades. This resource includes ready-to-go lesson plans that meet the standards. Worksheets, assessments and rubrics are included.

The Boy Who Grew a Forest: The True Story of Jadav Payeng by Sophia Gholz and Kayla Harren

TheBoyWhoGrewAForestWhen Jadav Payeng was a little boy, he noticed the impact the rainy season had on his island. The heavy rains washed away soil and vegetation, leaving animals without shelter or food. It worried Payeng to find dead animals after a storm. He was afraid that someday the entire island would be washed away. Payeng began planting trees to save the environment. Today, as an adult, he continues to plant trees to expand his 1,300-acre forest in India. Payeng’s work brought life and vegetation back to his island.

This is a story about soil erosion, ecology and perseverance. Author Sophia Gholz does an incredible job of making these big topics interesting to young readers. Her use of ellipses throughout the text help learners see Payeng’s determination. Beautiful illustrations show the evolution of his work. Readers will be amazed to see the animals that thrive in Payeng’s forest.

TheBoyWhoGrewAForestInsides

Response to Literature

AASL Standards Framework for Learners: Explore/Create V.B.1 Learners construct new knowledge by problem solving through cycles of design, implementation, and reflection.

After reading The Boy Who Grew a Forest, learners will want to know more about Payeng. Watch Forest Man, a fascinating video about Payeng created by William Douglas McMaster.

Introduce the video about Payeng by telling learners they have a job to do. Explain that as they watch the video, they will consider the problems Payeng faces and watch how he solves them.

Pause at these points of the recording and ask the following questions:

  • 0:08 / 16:34 What questions do you have about the opening statement? What does it make you wonder about?
  • 0:20 / 16:34 What do you notice about the land? How would this impact plant life?
  • 1:40 / 16:34 What do you wonder about the animals that live in Payeng’s part of India?
  • 6:25 / 16:34 What do you notice about Payeng’s home? What questions do you have about the way he lives? How is it different from the way you live? Why do you suppose that is? What impacts the way we live?
  • 8:48 / 16:34 What do you notice about the soil? What questions do you have?
  • 10:36 / 16:34 What big problem does Payeng face now? 
  • 12:18 / 16:34 What is Payeng’s idea to stop soil erosion?
  • 15:20 / 16:34 Why do you suppose Payeng works so hard to make a difference?

I’m thankful that book creators and journalists documented Payeng’s journey so we could learn about his remarkable work.

If you like these lesson ideas, please take a look at our book, Lessons Inspired by Picture Books for Primary Grades. This resource includes ready-to-go lesson plans that meet the standards. Worksheets, assessments and rubrics are included. 

The Breaking News by Sarah Lynne Reul

TheBreakingNewsWe all know how pervasive bad news is. We try to shield it from young learners, but they can see our faces full of worry. They watch us read news alerts and hear us whispering with coworkers. Imagine what it must be like for them to see adults so distressed?

Author Sarah Lynne Reul takes an interesting approach to help readers work through dealing with bad news. In her book, The Breaking News, we see a loving family, in their kitchen, filling pots of soil with indoor plants. Their happy moment is disrupted by a report on the television. We don’t know what the news is, but we can tell it’s bad. The following pages show parents, neighbors, children, and an educator full of worry and grief.

It’s sad to think that every child and adult will connect with this story. But they will, and that’s why The Breaking News is an important book. Readers will learn how to make a difference when everyone is upset. They’ll follow the story of a young girl who makes people smile with small gestures. She waters plants, opens drapes, and reads to her brother. She brings goodwill to her neighborhood by planting flower pots and giving them away. These ideas will resonate with young learners as they think about what they can do to make the world a happier place.

TheBreakingNewsInsides

Response to Literature

AASL Standards Framework for Learners: Collaborate/Share III.A.3 Learners identify collaborative opportunities by deciding to solve problems informed by group interaction.

Invite learners to read the story by just looking at the illustrations. Ask the following questions:

  • “What do you notice?”
  • “What’s happening in the story that makes you say that?”
  • “What does the girl do to make a difference?”

Divide the class into groups. Ask each group to brainstorm things they can do to make people happier. Invite them to draw an illustration of their ideas. They can draw doodles on sticky notes and add them to a hallway display.

If you like these lesson ideas, please take a look at our book, Lessons Inspired by Picture Books for Primary Grades. This resource includes ready-to-go lesson plans that meet the standards. Worksheets, assessments and rubrics are included. 

The Crayon Man: The True Story of the Invention of Crayola Crayons by Natascha Biebow and Steven Salerno

TheCrayonMan

Summary

How do you develop a product that people love?  You start by listening to what people need. Then you research, experiment and ask for feedback. In The Crayon Man, we see how Edwin Binney created Crayola crayons. Binney was an inventor. His products made life easier for people. When his wife, a teacher, explained that children needed crayons made for their young hands, Binney got to work.

Author Natascha Biebow walks readers through the invention of Crayola crayons. The careful pacing of the story highlights the slow process of waiting and watching. Snippets of background information are displayed in framed boxes throughout the story. Explosions of color fill the pages in this delightful account of Crayola crayons.

TheCrayonManInsides

Response to Literature

AASL Standards Framework for Learners: Collaborate/Share III.C.1 Learners engage with new knowledge by following a process that includes using evidence to investigate questions.

The Crayon Man is the perfect mentor text for modeling the invention process. Readers see how Binney investigates questions and uses evidence to make crayons better.

After reading The Crayon Man, watch Ellen DeGeneres interview children about their inventions. She begins by asking, “What did you invent and why did you invent it?” We learn how they created products to solve a problem.

Invite learners to work in groups to brainstorm everyday problems. Challenge them to research products that make life easier. Can they make the product better? How? Encourage learners to design a modification that will make a difference.

Behind the Book

To learn more about the illustrations in Crayon Man, read this interview with Steven Salerno:

Q & A with Steven Salerno: The Process of Illustrating Creative Non-Fiction Picture Books

To watch Natascha Biebow read her book, watch this video on KidLit TV:

Read Out Loud The Crayon Man

If you like these lesson ideas, please take a look at our book, Lessons Inspired by Picture Books for Primary Grades. This resource includes ready-to-go lesson plans that meet the standards. Worksheets, assessments and rubrics are included. 

Smile: How Young Charlie Chaplin Taught the World To Laugh (and Cry) by Gary Golio and Ed Young

Smile

Summary

What would happen if you showed a silhouette of Charlie Chaplin to different generations? Just his outline. No name or labels. I bet older people will call out Chaplin’s name, but younger audiences will not recognize the figure.

It’s interesting to think of Chaplin’s silhouette as an endangered image. We are lucky that Author Gary Golio and illustrator Ed Young decided to bring the iconic figure back to life. Their story of Chaplin is told with a conversational voice and fitting collage. Each page shows silhouettes of the people and places in Chaplin’s life. The typeset is reminiscent of text found in silent films.

Readers will have fun creating a silent animation of their own by flipping through the pages. They’ll notice Chaplin’s figure in the bottom right-hand corner moves. Just like a silent movie!

SmileInsides

Response to Literature

AASL Standards Framework for Learners: Inquire/Create I.B.2 Learners develop and satisfy personal curiosity by reading widely and deeply in multiple formats and write and create for a variety of purposes

Explore a lesson in visual literacy by watching a short film with Chaplin. The Mirror Maze will generate lots of questions. Pause at various points of the video to notice and wonder. Learners may wonder why the movie is in black and white. They may recognize how a story can be told without words. Write questions and observations on chart paper. Give learners an opportunity to find answers to their questions. They can express their learning by creating a silhouette that represents the topic of inquiry. Consider displaying the designs on a wall featuring the cover of Smile: How Young Charlie Chaplin Taught the World to Laugh (and Cry).

If you like these lesson ideas, please take a look at our book, Lessons Inspired by Picture Books for Primary Grades. This resource includes ready-to-go lesson plans that meet the standards. Worksheets, assessments and rubrics are included. 

Daniel’s Good Day by Micha Archer

SummaryDaniel'sGoodDay1

Summary

What makes a good day for you? This is the question Daniel asks people on his way to his grandmother’s house. Everyone has a different answer, depending on what they are doing at the moment. A bus driver has a good day when passengers say “please” and “thank you.” A mail carrier appreciates “wagging tails.” Finally, Grandma has a good day when she gets a hug from Daniel.

Reading this book is like walking through a poetic art gallery. The words take readers on a lyrical journey through a colorful neighborhood. The fascinating illustrations are mesmerizing. Different design elements were used to create each blade of grass and every flower petal. Readers will love exploring Daniel’s beautiful neighborhood.

Daniel'sGoodDayInsidesjpg

Response to Literature

AASL Standards Framework for Learners: Explore/Think V.A.1 Learners develop and satisfy personal curiosity by reading widely and deeply in multiple formats and write and create for a variety of purposes

The idea of asking people what makes a good day rather than just telling them to have one is a fascinating concept. It’s an interesting way to learn more about people.

Invite learners to share their good day by creating a collage. Watch Archer’s video to learn how to paint paper for collage projects. Explore her website for inspiration. Invite the art specialist to join you in this lesson so they can share their expertise.

Pair this book with Outside My Window by Linda Ashman. The two stories together will help learners see the world through different lenses.

If you like these lesson ideas, please take a look at our book, Lessons Inspired by Picture Books for Primary Grades. This resource includes ready-to-go lesson plans that meet the standards. Worksheets, assessments and rubrics are included. 

Pies From Nowhere: How Georgia Gilmore Sustained the Montgomery Bus Boycott by Dee Romito and Laura Freeman

PiesFromNowhere

Summary

“Every time I take a flight, I am always mindful of the many people who make a successful journey possible—the known pilots and the unknown ground crew.”

Martin Luther King spoke these words as he accepted the Noble Peace Prize. He was referring to incredible people like Georgia Gilmore. In Pies From Nowhere, we learn how Gilmore raised money during the Montgomery Bus Boycott. She baked pies and cakes and sold them to local businesses. Other women wanted to help, but they were afraid. They would lose their jobs if their bosses found out about the fundraising activities.  Gilmore promised to keep their names a secret. She would say the proceeds “came from nowhere.”

Dee Romito does a beautiful job telling the story of quiet crew members. She addresses the unfairness of the times with descriptions for young audiences. Digital illustrations enrich the story. The Author’s Note gives more details about the Montgomery Bus Boycott and The Club from Nowhere. A recipe for pound cake with Gilmore’s name on it is featured on the back endpaper.

PiesFromNowhereInsides

Response to Literature

AASL Standards Framework for Learners: Collaborate/Think III.A.3 Learners identify collaborative opportunities by deciding to solve problems informed by group interaction.

Write the following proverb on chart paper: “Where there’s a will, there’s a way.” Explore the proverb with learners. Discuss how the women in the story wanted to help but were afraid. Ask learners to think about a time when they were afraid to help solve a problem. What made them fearful? How did they work around their fear?

Invite learners to share causes that are important to them. How can they contribute? Create a collaborative plan to make a difference.

You’ll appreciate listening to this recording of people describing Gilmore and her remarkable work.

If you like these lesson ideas, please take a look at our book, Lessons Inspired by Picture Books for Primary Grades. This resource includes ready-to-go lesson plans that meet the standards. Worksheets, assessments and rubrics are included.

Hey, Water! by Antoinette Portis

HeyWater

Summary

This sweet story is written as a letter of thanks to water. A young girl expresses her gratitude to this essential natural resource. In her letter, she highlights where she finds water. Playful descriptions and illustrations capture water in thirty-one different places. Stenciled letters sponged with white paint name the various nouns. This poetic work of art captures the expansive role water plays in our lives.

Three pages at the end of the book give readers information about water. Here, readers learn about water forms, the water cycle, and water conservation. Water forms are defined and supported with thumbnail sketches from the story. The water cycle is illustrated with the same color palette and art features found in the book. These design elements make the information appealing to young readers.

HeyWaterInsides

Response to Literature

AASL Standards Framework for Learners: Collaborate/Create III.B.2 Learners participate in personal, social, and intellectual networks by establishing connections with other learners to build on their own prior knowledge and create new knowledge.

The information page about water conservation explains why we need to be mindful about using water. Ask learners to investigate different ways to conserve water. They may find fun videos like this one from Sesame Street: Sesame Street: Water Conservation. 

Invite learners to work in groups to create a water conservation campaign. They might consider creating posters with sponged-stenciled letters to mimic the book. Collect and analyze data to see if efforts made an impact. Consider how this information might be gathered and shared.

Learn more about water by visiting Wonderopolisan AASL Best Website for Teaching and Learning. 

If you like these lesson ideas, please take a look at our book, Lessons Inspired by Picture Books for Primary Grades. This resource includes ready-to-go lesson plans that meet the standards. Worksheets, assessments and rubrics are included.

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