Monday, September 27, 2010

Focus: The Literary Elements

Children's Author Steven Kellogg

How do the literary elements bring “an existence” to stories?
In Steven Kellogg’s Jack and the Beanstalk, many of the literary elements come into play to bring the story alive. First off, the illustrations are absolutely amazing but there is more depth than just the illustrations that bring Jack and his adventure alive. The story is told in third person limited. The reader only gets an insight to Jack and his feelings. This is really captured when Jack is sent to bed without any supper. “So Jack went upstairs to his little room in the attic, and sad and sorry he was to be sure, as much for his mother’s sake as for the loss of is supper”. The story is already formulating through the narrator and letting the reader have an insight to Jack’s feelings. The plot is also important to the story as well.
Plot is what makes the story move along and progress. In Jack and the Beanstalk the progression of the plot is vital to the story. Jack adventures between his life on the farm and the dreamland where he encounters the ogres. He goes in between worlds moving the story along as we keeps going back to take objects out of the ogre’s house until he is caught, which is the climax of the story. The plot creates a sense of tension as well. The reader feels apprehension not knowing whether or not Jack is going to get caught by the fierce ogre, suspense is felt up until that moment when he finally is.
A final literary element that comes into play to help bring the story alive and give a sense of existence is symbol or extended metaphor. Jack and the Beanstalk is more than just a story being told, there is a deeper meaning that the reader is supposed to understand and take away after finishing the book. The story has a few underlying themes and the first one being courage by defeating the large ogre in the end. Jack is obviously outsized by the ogre but seizes to conquer him anyways. The background of the story is that the ogre had taken all of his prized possessions from Jack’s father. Knowing this, the idea of right versus wrong and karma are emphasized. It is wrong to steal from other people making the ogre the bad person and Jack the good person, or hero, to recover his father’s possessions and in the end Jack gets what he wants and him and his mother live a life of wealth.

All of these elements tie together to make Jack and the Beanstalk more than just words on a page; they have meaning and form a well-designed story.

The Important Book

The Important Book is written by Margaret Wise Brown and illustrated by Caldecott winning artist Leonard Weisgard. The target audience for this book is boys and girls in grades kindergarten through second grade.
-Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars ****

-Summary: Goodnight Moon author Margaret Wise Brown writes about simple objects such as shoes, a spoon, and the wind and breaks them down into simple but vivid descriptions through imagery and repetition. The question about what is important about different things in life lingers long after the book is closed.
The Important Book is simple but has a strong meaning. The descriptions of the objects that are described really make the reader stop and think about the object in a new and different way. For example when the wind is being described, it really captures what wind really is. “The important thing about the wind is that it blows. You can’t see it, but you can feel it on your check, and see it in the trees…”. It really incorporates the different senses that people experience everyday in the world around them but not really stopping to think about it or appreciate it. The illustrations also do a great job at capturing what the text is referring to. Looking at the illustrations, the reader can imagine what is being highlighted in the text even more by having a visual. The pictures also alternate between black and white renderings to full color pictures that are extremely detailed and full of texture. There is a lot of evidence that this is well-written book. Tunnel and Jacobs recognize well-written literature through figurative language and music in the language. There is an immense amount of imagery throughout the story that focuses in on bring the five senses to life. The story also flows well, especially as it is read aloud. There are no hang-ups or stumbles when speaking the words.
I would use this book in my classroom in a number of different ways. I would first use this book to highlight teaching the five senses and how the senses are used. There are examples such as how snow feels, how an apple tastes, what the sky looks like, and so on. There are countless examples. This book can be read aloud and the students can imagine how each example affects them. Another angle I would take on this book is to have students highlight what is important to them and see how they would describe it, tying in the five senses and enforcing imagery, which ties in my last way I would use it in a classroom. This book is an excellent tool to describe and explain imagery. Even though simple objects are explain, it goes into great detail and the reader cannot help but to imagine the path of the story in their minds. 

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom is written by Bill Martin Jr. and John Archambault and illustrated by Lois Ehlert. The target audience is preschool and kindergarten students, both boys and girls.
-Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars *****

-Summary: Chicka Chicka Boom Boom highlights learning the alphabet through catchy rhymes and an irresistible beat that readers can’t help but to just fall in love. The letters of the alphabet make their way up to the top of a coconut tree as the letters help eachother to the top.
Chicka Chicka Boom Boom seems to be a favorite of all young students who have an opportunity to read this classic. It was read to me as a young child and reading it again brings me back to my childhood and learning the alphabet. Students love to sing along with the beat and be engaged in the rhymes. It is a fun way to learn the alphabet and become familiar with the order of the letters instead of just singing the regular old alphabet song. The whole alphabet in order is listed in the front and back of the book represented in all different colors with both uppercase and lowercase letters. The book contains a lot of alliteration that makes the text really flow and come to life. The letters of the alphabet are always referenced in order and are bolded throughout the story to stick out from the other words surrounding it. It really allows readers to learn the alphabet in a more exciting and meaningful way than just regular repetition. Students can have fun learning through this book.  The illustrations are extremely colorful with each page having a pink and orange polka-dotted boarder. The illustrations are very simple, only containing the text, the letters of the alphabet and the coconut tree, simple illustrations to go along with simple text. The letters of the alphabet really stick out on each page. The letters are represented in different colors too helping them make a statement on the page.
I would definitely use this book in my classroom to help teach the alphabet and letters. Both lowercase and uppercase letters are represented to show students how they different what they look like. It also repeats the order of the letters frequently to emphasize it. It is a fun way to teach students the alphabet instead of showing them an alphabet line, especially when children are younger. It helps them have more of a connection. Also, not only does the text say the letters the pictures also show the letters so both visual and auditory learners. I also feel a lot of spelling activities can go along with this book to practice the letters they learn from reading this book. Chicka Chicka Boom Boom would be a great addition to any classroom library!

What! Cried Granny: An Almost Bedtime Story

What! Cried Granny is a hilarious picture book for young boys and girls by author Kate Lum and illustrated by Adrian Johnson. The target audience for this book is preschool to first grade. Students and people of all ages can enjoy it but if it is to be used in the classroom it is better for the younger grades.
-Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars ****
-Summary: This story is about a Grandmother and her grandson Patrick. The grandson comes to spend the night at her house but when it is time for bed Granny is a little unprepared. The grandmother goes to extreme measures to help Patrick get ready for bed such as making him his own bed frame and sew together a teddy bear. But, by the time Granny is done getting everything ready for Patrick it is already morning! 

This book is enthusiastic and easily enjoyable. The text is written in large font and easy to see against the background. Some words are enlarged to show the emotion behind them and stand out on the page. The illustrations are extremely colorful and enhance the storyline. There are hardly any white spots on the pages, each page is exploding with color and character. The illustrations are a mix between three-dimensional and two-dimensional images. They are also simple looking, almost as if a child has drawn them. Overall they really capture how frantically Granny is running around trying to get everything ready for bedtime.
If I were to use this book in my classroom I could incorporate it in a few different ways. First this book can be used alongside a unit on family, particularly to introduce grandmothers and/or grandparents in general. Students can talk about how their grandmothers or grandparents contribute to their lives just as the grandmother is the story helps Patrick get ready for bed. It can also be used to teach how resources are used to construct materials that we use on a regular basis.  For example, Granny goes into the woods to cut down a tree and uses the wood to make a bed frame for Patrick. She also uses sheep’s wool to make a blanket for the bed. Students can get an idea how animal and nature products are used to make items that we need. It is also an easy read book would be great for beginner readers. The book uses a lot of repetition of phrases, which is great for readers who are struggling or just learning to read. It gives the text a sense of predictability. The text also builds upon itself and reviews what the Granny has been doing for her grandson throughout the story. I only would use this book for younger grades though, preschool through first grade. The theme and ideas of the book are geared towards younger students such as the repetition of the text.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Knuffle Bunny

Mo Willems
Author and illustrator Mo Willems writes a hilarious picture book Knuffle Bunny targeting younger readers, specifically kindergarten through second grade girls and boys.
Knuffle Bunny is the winner of Caldecott Honors, was a National Parenting Publications Gold Medalist, and the BCCB Blue Ribbon Picture Book Award winner.
-Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars *****
-Summary: Trixie and her father go on a trip to the Laundromat in New York City only to leave behind precious Knuffle Bunny. Trixie struggles to communicate that her favorite stuffed animal is lost at the Laundromat while the family frantically searches for him.

Both readers and parents are able to identify with Knuffle Bunny. As Trixie is too young to talk and use verbal language, she struggles to communicate with parents as parents struggle to understand what their child needs. Children can also relate to helping parents do chores such as laundry and wanting to help their parents in any way they can. Children also know what it is like to attached to a certain someone or something and how devastating it can be when they are left behind. It is fun for the whole family or classroom. The story incorporates a lot of humor through both text and illustrations. The text uses word bubbles to show dialogue as well as written dialogue and text. Willems uses everyday language and also babble to express Trixie’s words since she does not know any words. When reading baby babble, you cannot help but laugh! The illustrations are really what make the story though, since there is very limited overall text to the story. The illustrations are a mixture of real black and white photographs and cartoon drawings. All the characters and word bubbles are cartoons while the setting and backgrounds are real pictures of New York City. It is a mixture of reality and cartoon world that is very unique and intriguing for a children’s book. The facial expressions of the characters really allow the reading to know how the characters are feeling and the progression of the story without reading the text surround them.

This book would be great for both readers and non-readers. The illustrations alone tell the story of Knuffle Bunny. The text is also repetitive and short enough for beginning readers to understand and still allow themselves to understand the plot of the story. Books with repetition and similar constructed sentences are great for new readers to give them a sense of predictability and comfort.

This is a great book for a classroom. Aside from how it can benefit beginning readers and the humor it brings into the room, it can be used for academic purposes too. Trixie cannot use words that people can understand yet so she needed to use other ways of communication. As a class, student and teachers can talk about different ways of communication and how to use them. The discussion can expand into using and practicing different methods of communication and talking about what makes them beneficial or hard. It can put into perspective that not everyone can use verbal language and give students an opportunity understand of how those people feel and know that not everything can be communicated with language.

Mo Willems has also illustrated many other award-winning picture books for young readers. See more Knuffle Bunny books and many others at:

Alexander and the Wind-Up Mouse

The picture book Alexander and the Wind-Up Mouse is written and illustrated by Leo Lionni. The target audience of the book is boys and girls from kindergarten to third grade.
-Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars *****
-Summary: A fantastic story of friendship between Alexander, the real mouse, and Willy who is the wind-up mouse. Alexander wishes to be a wind-up mouse until new toys replace Willy and Alexander uses his wish to become a wind-up mouse to turn Willy into a regular mouse so they can be together forever.

Alexander and the Wind-Up Mouse is a simple story with a strong message of friendship. Readers can connect to the book through Alexander’s longing to belong and want to be loved by someone and the friendship that is created between him and Willy. Everyone gets excited to make a new friend and to explore what that new friendship brings. There is good use of dialogue in the story to help bring it to life. It incorporates fun ideas such as a magic purple pebble and a lizard that has the power to grant wishes that help bring imagination to the story. It is animal based which most children enjoy instead of always using humans as main characters. The illustrations are simple and go along well with the story. There is just enough going on to enhance the story but they are not over taking the storyline. The illustrations range from looking very two-dimensional to images popping off the page through three-dimensional images. The illustrations also seem to have a lot of texture and constructed from a variety of materials. It was awarded the Caldecott Honors for it's illustrations.
I would use this book in my classroom to compliment the ideas of friendship and acceptance. Ideally, I would use this in kindergarten or first grade to explain friendship for how to establish friendship, what friendship means, and what types of things friends do for one another through Alexander and examining what he does throughout the book. This book can be related to self-acceptance and appreciation in that Alexander originally wants to be like Willy because he is loved and appreciated by people but ultimately he should love who he is what makes him special. Just because people are different does not mean they are better or more special. This can be relayed to students and lead into a discussion how people differ but also comparing how unique it is to be different and that is what makes us who we are. This book would be great for read aloud especially since the ideas behind the book are meant for younger students who may not know how to read yet. This book would be great for beginning readers too in that it uses simple diction and the story line is easy to follow. The illustrations also give contextual clues as well.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Lane Smith-Author/Illustrator

Lane Smith is an awarding winning children’s book author and illustrator. He was born August 25, 1959 in Tulsa, Oklahoma but spent most of his life growing up in Corona, California. Smith studied art in college and earned a degree in fine arts. He spent time doing illustrations for Time, The New York Times, and Mother Jones before he dedicated all of his time to writing and illustrating children’s books. He is married to Molly Leach, who is a book designer and works with Smith and other authors on designing children’s books. Most of Smith’s life, him and his family would vacation in Tulsa during the summer months. During that time he gained a lot of inspiration for the landscape and traveling alone Route 66. “My family would take the old Route 66 highway. I think that's where my bizarre sense of design comes from. Once you've seen a 100-foot cement buffalo on top of a donut-stand in the middle of nowhere, you're never the same” claims Smith (Puffin Books). He has won noteworthy awards for his work.  In 1993, he won the Caldecott Honors Book title for his work on The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Stupid Fairy Tales by Jon Scieszka. He also received the BCCB Blue Ribbon Picture Book Award for John, Paul, George & Ben. He has also written and illustrated numerous best sellers and worked with Disney as the head conceptual designer for the movie James and the Giant Peach (Adventures Underground).

I love the work that Lane Smith does, whether it is his illustrations or his work when he writes a book. The Stinky Cheese Man has been one of my favorite books since I was a child and have always loved the illustrations. Since I was a small child I have loved the work of Lane Smith without even knowing it and that really speaks to me. One of his strengths is that he incorporates a lot of humor and uniqueness in his illustrations. His pictures are very over the top and eye catching with distorted proportions and detail. They are not “classic” pictures or illustrations. I have never really seen illustrations done the way that Smith designs them in other children’s books. He uses very distinct characters in his stories that stick in the readers mind and catches their eye. When creating his illustrations he wants to interpret an authors work in a way that they might not have thought about or bring their words into a new light. His techniques for creating his illustrations are also very interesting and I think it very cool. He uses oils paints and does multiple layers of paint so he can manipulate the art into a specific way that is unique to that story or character (Puffin Books). From reading about him and researching his books, he comes off as extremely passionate and loves what he does which to me is great and it shows because he has won honors and recognition for his work. The humor that goes into his work would be great for a classroom as a different perspective and a way to escape from typical, “boring” text that is found in the classroom. His stories target elementary school students and they are easy to read and also geared toward both boys and girls so it applies to a large spectrum. He also writes a large range of books, from educational to putting a twist on old classics like The Three Little Pigs. One of my favorite books I have come across is John, Paul, George & Ben. It is about the Founding Father’s and colonial America but with humor and simplicity since history can be stereotypically dull and confusing. It would be great in a classroom to aid other materials and lessons about how our country came to be but in a more kid friendly way. I would use his books in my classroom to teach lessons such an anti-bullying through The Real Story of the 3 Pigs or through is work on Dr. Seuss’s Hooray for Diffendoofer Day to talk about rhyme and repetition. His books are appropriate for elementary school students and would not be apprehensive about letting my future students reading and enjoying his work. 

For more information visit Lane Smith's website:
Watch an interview with Lane Smith:

Popular Books Written and Illustrated by Lane Smith: 
-Math Curse By: Lane Smith 
-The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Stupid Fairy Tales By: Jon Scieszka Illustrated by: Lane Smith
-The Big Pets By: Lane Smith
-The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs By: Jon Scieszka and Lane Smith
-The Time Warp Trio Series By: Jon Scieszka  and Lane Smith

Junie B., First Grader: Toothless Wonder

The children’s novel Junie B., First Grader: Toothless Wonder is written by Barbara Park and illustrated by Denise Brunkus. The target audience for this book is 1-3 grade girls.
-Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars ****
-Summary: Junie B. Jones is a first grader and she is the first one of her class to have a loose top, front tooth. She is worried about loosing her tooth because she does not want to look different. She is hesitant about the tooth fairy and struggles to decide whether or not she wants to give her tooth away.
Junie B. Jones is a series of easy read books geared towards young elementary school girls who are just learning to read. Junie B. Toothless Wonder is told by Junie herself through narration and journal entries she does in school. I like that a student similar in age to the students who would read these books is narrating the story. The language is of what a lower elementary school student would use and the sentences are short and easy to read for beginners. There is a sense of innocence to the text since it narrated by a child. Her side comments about her parents and classmates add a sense of humor. This book does have illustrations but they are few and far between. They illustrations add to the text because they illustrate critical scenes in the book and give young readers a visual. The illustrations are in black and white but they are detailed and offer another visual aid to readers who want to visualize what Junie looks like while they are reading along. The books is a good beginning novel for young readers because it has an easy to follow storyline but also is introducing them to a longer reading challenging new readers. 
I would use this book in my classroom as an independent reading novel or with reading groups. I like the idea of the book but it is more for a female audience. It is an easily relatable topic for young students. Everyone goes through the phase of loosing teeth and getting excited about what the tooth fairy will leave under the pillow. Some students might be afraid to loose a tooth and this book can calm any apprehension and explain it is normal for everyone to feel scared similar to Junie but in the end everything is okay. There are also great topics brought up in the book as well. The issue of peer pressure/influence comes up when Junie is talking about loosing her teeth with her classmates. Some students tell her that she might look funny or be different from everyone else and ultimately she isn’t excited about her tooth falling out due to other people’s opinions. Teachers can explain to students that it is okay to have differing thoughts than others and that one should not be easily persuaded by what others think. Also, the issue of recycling is explained through out the book that can tie into a lesson about the environment and recycling in the classroom. The only hesitation I have about using this in the classroom is that the book is 80 pages long and that might be too long for certain new readers. Teacher’s need to make sure that students are capable of reading that long of a book and have advanced enough reading skills to make it through. 
Other Junie B. Jones Books

Caps For Sale: A Tale of a Peddler, Some Monkeys and Their Monkey Business

The children’s picture book Caps For Sale. A Tale of a Peddler, Some Monkeys and Their Monkey Business is written and illustrated by Esphyr Slobodkina. The target audience for this book is preschool and kindergarten age children, both boys and girls.

-Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars ****
-Summary: The story is about a peddler who walks around a town selling caps. One day he takes an afternoon nap and a group of monkeys steal all of his caps and he has to attempt to get all of them back. 

Caps For Sale has always bee one of my childhood favorites and I decided to revisit the book and see if it was different now that I was older. It still is one of my favorites years later and I felt the same way reading it again. I like how the reader does not have to read the text to understand what the story is about or what is happening as the story progresses.  To me, it is all about the illustrations. There is not much text on each page to I am drawn right to the pictures. The idea of the story is also fun to read. The pictures are silly and the idea of monkeys stealing items from someone is just a fun topic to read about, especially for young children who are amused by simple aspects. The story uses a lot of repetition too that makes the text flow nicely together. This story is easy to read aloud and is a great example of music in language. The language flows smoothly together so the reader is not hung up on awkward sentences or words.

This book would be great for a preschool and/or kindergarten classroom. The idea of the story is easily enjoyed by children and is easy to read if students are at that point. The repetition of the text gives it a familiar tune and grabs the student’s attention. The illustrations are also very colorful but yet simplistic and easy to understand. Caps For Sale is also a good book for younger students because they are able to understand the story without needing to read the text so non-readers can enjoy this book also. In a classroom setting with older students this can be an example of how repetition can be used to tell a story. Repetition is also a great way for students to learn to read. According to reading and literacy expert Mem Fox, repetition is key for new readers and being successful at reading (Reading Magic).

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Whoever You Are

Mem Fox
The children’s picture book Whoever You Are is written by Mem Fox and illustrated by Leslie Staub. The target audience for this book is 1-2 grade for both boys and girls.

-Rating: 4.5 out of 5 Stars
-Summary: This book explains diversity and the difference among people found in the world. Despite differences, everyone shares common interests and characteristics. Similarities include love, happiness, and pain.

Diversity is a hard topic to explain to young children and a hard concept to understand but this book does a great job explaining that everyone is different in their own unique way but everyone can come together through similar attributes. I like the book because it is not too wordy, it is short and to the point written in a way that is easy for children to understand. As a younger child I felt that diversity was not explained to me at a young age and I found myself wondering why people looked and acted differently from me. This book is geared toward young elementary school students so that they can easily understand that people differ all over the world. It also does a great job relating to the things that are the same between people such as love, pain, blood, and feelings. The illustrations also go wonderfully along with the text.  The illustrations depict all different types of races, physical appearances, and landscapes among both boys and girls. They are drawn in a very elementary way where the pictures use a lot of color but not too much detail. The shapes are also very basic. The illustrations are done with oil.

This book can be used in a classroom to teach diversity to students. Many different cultures and types of people are shown throughout the book so every student can identify along with it. The book can lead into a discussion about different cultures and having students explain what type of culture they come from. It can give students an understanding and an appreciation of different cultures and understand cultural acceptance. Students can draw their own pictures of their culture or they can do a writing assignment explaining their ethnicities. This does not only have to relate to culture but it can also be differences that appear in everyday life such as the way people dress, talk, think, personal interests, etc. As a teacher, it is important to tie back to the idea that every though there are differences between people, many people also experience the same things throughout life as well. As for literary devices in stories this book can be used to explain repetition since many of the same phrases and formats occur throughout the entire story.

John, Paul, George, & Ben

The children’s book John, Paul, George, & Ben is written and illustrated by Lane Smith. The target audience is 3-5 grade for both boys and girls.

-Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars *****
-Summary: This book touches on the Founding Fathers of the United States, John Hancock, George Washington, Paul Revere, and Ben Franklin. Lane Smith incorporates humor into history and creates a unique point of view of our country coming together and focusing on their important contributions. This book was the winner of the BCCB Blue Ribbon Picture Book Award.

I have never been a big fan of history but I was very interested in this picture book. I even found myself laughing out loud to the stories that are created and how the Founding Fathers are addressed.  I found myself connected to the book because I have never liked history but I found myself interested in a subject that I have never expressed interested in and that is why it really stood out to me. It takes a stereotypical “boring” subject that is usually hard to understand and made it into a funny, enjoyable subject that made me understand what the four men did to contribute to our country. The illustrations really add to it as well. It takes the character’s flaws and exploits them. For example, John Hancock is known for his over the top signature and not only does the text play off of it so does the illustrations as well. The cartoon illustrations are rendered in pen-and-ink with lots of texture and depth.
This book can easily be incorporated into an elementary history curriculum relating to colonial America. It focuses on four main people who had an impact with in that time period and offers a different perspective than reading from a textbook. This book is extremely informational but it also presented in more of a kid-friendly way. Students can read this book to themselves as an easy read or it can be read aloud to the class. Students can also use this book as a springboard for a writing assignment in that they can use a colonial American person and develop their own cartoon drawing of them while writing a short story to go along with it explaining their place in our country’s history. If students are struggling to appreciate or understand history, this book is a good way to get them involved since it is not as dry as a textbook and is written in an easy to understand manor along with humor. The only downside to this book is that it only gives a brief historical over-view and needs to be supplemented with other material so students can get a complete understanding of colonial American history. 

The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs

The picture book The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs is written by Jon Scieszka and illustrated by award-winning illustrator Lane Smith. The target audience is ages 3-8 but ideally should be utilized in a second or third grade classroom.

-Rating: Five out of Five Stars *****
-Summary: This book is the story of the three little pigs but with a twist. It is told from the wolf’s point of view. Alexander T. Wolf tells his side of the story and why he did what he did throughout the story. It is a clever and funny twist to a classic fable.

I personally found this book hilarious and the pictures are really well done. It is a unique idea and it is the only book of its kind that I have seen. Not many authors redo classic tales through the perspective of a different character in the story. The illustrations were done with oil paints. They are very colorful and almost surreal looking. The characters have a distorted sense of proportion that adds to the humor of the story and the uniqueness of the illustrations.
Most children know the story of the three little pigs but this is told in a new and humorous way that would appeal to many people. This book can be incorporated into a unit that deals with perspective. Most children know the classic story of the three little pigs but this book is told from a different point of view. Students can understand that there are two sides to every story and that everyone should have a chance to explain him or herself. This can also be linked to bullying. Bullying is a big deal in school and this would be a fun way to teach a lesson about bullying versus sitting a class down and talking to them directly. Sometimes it’s hard for students to understand that what they are doing is hurting someone in a certain way, similar to the wolf and his point of view that he did not realize what he was doing was a bad idea.  Too young of an audience might not understand the connection and the point of view though. It is told in a nontraditional way and students could possibly be confused if they already know the classic version of the story.  This story should be used with an older audience suggested above so it can be used as a lesson and the students will understand the perspective of the book.

There's An Alligator Under My Bed

The picture book There's An Alligator Under My Bed is both written and illustrated by Mercer Mayer. The target audience is early elementary school children, both girls and boys.

-Rating: Four out of Five Stars ****
-Summary: An alligator lives under a small boy's bed and he decides he wants to get the alligator out from under his bed. He makes a trail of food from his bed to the garage for the alligator to follow. Once it makes it all the way to the garage, after following the snacks the boy has left out, he locks him up so he won't have to worry about it anymore.

Many children go through the fear of having something living under their bed at an early age, and it can be frightening. This book connects to young readers in a more light-hearted and humorous way about having the fear of something "getting" you as you crawl under the covers at nighttime. As a reader, I connected with this idea and it brought me back to my childhood paranoia and having my parents peek under the bed to make sure nothing was there and I feel a lot of children can connect with this idea which can lead to children liking the book. The illustrations are well thought out and drawn. All the pictures are rendered in watercolor. I can clearly make out what is going on without even reading the text below the pictures. Children who cannot read yet and just want to enjoy the pictures would still be able to understand the idea behind the story. The illustrations range from the parents looking under the bed to the boy making the food trail for the alligator to follow. This allows the books to be appealing to readers and non-readers of an early age.
This book can be incorporated into the classroom as a writing activity where students can write and illustrate something they fear. It can be used as an outlet for students to express something they fear and can then be talked about within a class setting to address those fears. The only hesitation I would have is that maybe not all students would feel comfortable talking about something they are afraid of in front of all their peers. This lesson would be situational in that I would have to first get to know the class to determine if there are any problems between students that would put them in a position to be uncomfortable discussing such topics within a classroom setting.