The reason for this page is that I needed to have a page dedicated to books that came from a particular list. Out of the possibilities that were given to us I picked Eric Carle’s list. I rather like Eric Carle’s work so that is the list I picked. The list title is called: Strange Bedfellows: Picture Books of Distinction in 2007. There are several on the list that I have already read and could not use because the books needed to be new to me this trimester (Winter 2011). The two books that I have not read were Previously and the Wall, both wonderful books. I am glad that I checked them out from the library. I probably will not use them in my own class because they are not specifically connected to a lesson yet. However, my daughter (who is 8 years old) just loves them.
Previously by Allen Ahlberg
My daughter just loves when I mix up stories and change parts when reading to her. Sometimes I add a few nonsense words or sounds instead of the written text. It just sends her into giggle fits. Previously is a great book for sending somebody into giggle fits. My favorite part of the story is when Jack and Jill are arguing over the free gift in the cornflakes box. I laughed so hard because my brothers and I would argue over the toy in the box when we were younger. It was a big deal if you ended up the toy. Rules were made up because of the free gift and our Mom usually settled the argument.
Review of the book: Previously before reading this book I was looking at the Eric Carle book list from the Carlemuseum.org’s page. The list title is called: Strange Bedfellows: Picture Books of Distinction in 2007. Previously is a wild roller-coaster ride backwards through several traditional childhood stories. Each character relates to one another starting with Goldilocks and ending with, “once upon a time. . .” The text is easy to visually read and the pictures are simple childlike paintings. Previously is geared toward younger children; however, older students could use this book as an example of how to rewrite childhood fairy tales and nursery rhymes. I would recommend this book for teachers studying storylines and the word “previously”.
Summary of the book: Previously is a book that starts at the end and finishes at the beginning. Several characters are seen. The first illustration shows Goldilocks eating dinner with her parents and the Three Bears are peeking inside their window. The story starts with Goldilocks arriving home and then the previously starts. Ahlberg uses plot elements from several different children’s stories (Goldilocks and the Three Bears, Jack and the Bean Stalk, The Frog Prince, Cinderella, The Gingerbread Man) and a nursery rhyme (Jack and Jill); along the way he connects them together. At the beginning of each “story” the name of the character is larger and bolder than the rest of the text. Possible activities to accompany Previously
Stories or Nursery Rhymes to read before reading this book
- Goldilocks and the Three Bears
- Jack and the Bean Stalk
- Jack and Jill
- The Frog Prince
- Gingerbread Man
Vocabulary Study: Previously: to occur before something else in time
Visual Arts: Draw or paint your favorite storybook character going backwards.
Writing Prompts: Write a new previously for a fairy tale character not in the book. Have students write about themselves starting with previously and then fill in their details backwards. Links to other places related to this amazing book.
Author’s Information: Allan Ahlberg
Click here for a link for an interview with Allan Ahlberg. Kristy Young interviews Allan Ahlberg about his childhood and his writing. There are also several songs during the interview. The interview is around 43 minutes. This is an interview where you get to know Allan and where his ideas came from and his inspirations. Here is a short (1 minute 12 second) video of Allan Ahlberg explaining his process of putting a book together. This is Youtube video was uploaded by corblimeynorthern.
Illustrator’s Homepage: Bruce Ingman
Click here to visit Bruce Ingman’s homepage. His homepage lists his books and show cover images and an image from the inside.
Bibliography Information: Ahlberg, A. (2007). Previously. Candlewick Press. Cambridge, MA. -Enjoy this little gem! Artfully, Mrs. Berry
The Wall: Growing Up Behind the Iron Curtain by Peter Sis
Several memories of my own came flooding back when I read the story The Wall: Growing Up Behind the Iron Curtain by Peter Sis. I remember when the wall came down; I was in middle school at the time. Our school had a play about the wall being torn down. I helped with the set and was an extra in the play. It wasn’t until I was in high school when I started to really understand the significance of the wall being torn down. When I was in Germany the Reichstag in Germany was being wrapped. Our school group toured the Government building in Bonn and I remember the tour lady telling our school group that they were transferring to the new capital. I remember seeing the building wrapped on the cover of a newspaper at my host family’s coffee table. My memories and Peter Sis memories of the Berlin Wall are very different. I grew up on the side that had freedoms and Sis did not.
Review of the book: Peter’s book is a mix of drawings, personal journal entries, and a story of an artist. Many of the images are in black and white with a small section of red in several of the black and white drawings. The images are interesting to look at and there are little treasures throughout the book. I needed to go back several times to see all the details and layers in each image. For example, in one of the images a person is trying to escape and the guards and their dog are hidden among the trees. The personal journal entries give the reader an interesting view into Peter Sis’s feelings and thoughts. The beginning and end come full circle with a baby starting to draw and an old man drawing in the same position. I would recommend this book to any teacher talking about the Iron Curtain and what life was like behind it. For ages 9 and up.
Summary of the book: There is an artist who has been drawing ever since he can remember. He continues drawing through his childhood; drawing what he wants at home. Drawing what he is told to at school. He draws what is around him and doesn’t question. When he is older he starts to question what is going on around him behind the Iron Curtain. He is worried that his drawings could be used against him. He dreams of being free and in the end he sees the Wall come down. Possible activities to use with this book
Vocabulary Study: These would be words to introduce before reading the story.
IRON CURTAIN:“The boundary that symbolically, ideologically, and physically divided Europe into two separate areas after World War 2” (Peter Sis).
COLD WAR: “The geopolitical, ideological, and economic struggle that emerged between capitalism and communism from 1945 to 1991” (Peter Sis).
COMMUNISM: “The ideology of the Soviet Union and other countries; a system of government in which the state controls all social and economic activity” (Peter Sis).
- Explain: what would you do if you were behind the wall?
- Explain: how you would feel if your freedoms where taken away?
- Look at the artwork by Peter Sis. Draw in the style of Peter Sis a picture from your childhood. Add a small part of color somewhere in your picture.
Other Activities: Here is a link to a teacher’s guide put out by Macmillian. Scroll all the way to the bottom. You will need to download the PDF before you can view it.
Links to other places related to this amazing book
Podcast: If you click here you will be directed to a podcast interview with Peter Sis about his book. The podcast is about his growing up and why he created the book. The interview is five minutes of listening pleasure.
Author’s Homepage: If you click here you will directed to Peter Sis’s homepage. Sis’s page has a book list of all the books he has written along with books he has illustrated. There are also three different games that can be printed out related to Sis’s books. There is also an author’s about page with Sis’s history. Peter Sis also has other links related to his other books on his home page. I rather enjoyed his slide show of work and himself.
Bibliography Information: Sis, P. (2007). The wall: Growing up behind the iron curtain. Frances Foster Books. New York, NY. Artfully, -Mrs. Berry