Book Review: Poppy and Sam and the Leaf Thief by Cathon

I am an Amazon Affiliate, which means if you click on links or pictures it will direct you to Amazon, where if you make a purchase I receive a percentage of the sale. I am not paid to review books. I did receive access to the book from NetGalley.

Poppy and Sam and the Leaf Thief by Cathon. OwlKids books, Published 8/15/2018.

Talk

 Comics and graphic novels are the perfect stepping stone to build enthusiastic readers.

My kids love graphic novels. I gave up a long time ago asking them to read my favorite chapter books. The quality of comic books and graphic novels has really improved and more and more I find myself suggesting graphic novels to parents.

The problem is, there is a bias against these types of publications. While in the past, they were not always of the best quality, the market has certainly changed. For new or emerging readers the simple text and picture driven story provide a solid foundation for reading comprehension. If you have a hesitant reader, comics and graphic novels are the perfect stepping stone to build enthusiastic readers.

Meet Poppy and Sam

Poppy and Sam, through trial and error, discover the mystery of who has been eating Basil’s leaves. The comic/graphic novel illustrations keep the narrative clear showing children the sequence of events from beginning to end without a lot of extras to confuse the narrative. The language is rich and unique and repetitive in all the right places to help children learn new vocabulary. This book is not only great for independent readers who love comic books, but it serves as a great read aloud to preschoolers. The themes of friendship, community, manners along with the mystery element will keep readers engaged through the pages.

Million Dollar Words

  • culprit
  • interviewing
  • nibbled
  • lurking
  • aphids
  • shifty
  • tunnel
  • dense
  • earwig

How do you help your kids learn these new vocabulary words without making it boring?

Play Charades

Play charades! Grab a bag and write the words on slips of paper and toss them in the bag. Have your child chose a paper. Read the word to them, making sure to run your finger underneath as you read it to encourage print and letter awareness. Then, talk about what the word means and choose an action to represent it. Have your child repeat the motion/action and choose another. After you have gone through the words a few times together, see if they can perform the action on their own when you read the word.

Go on a word scavenger hunt

This one will be tricky and requires imagination but see if you can find books or objects that the child can experience each word out of context of the book. Dig through dirt and see if you can find any earwigs. Look for books on aphids and ladybugs. Give an impromptu science lesson by finding objects that are dense, versus objects that are hollow. There is no right or wrong!

Sing

Singing promotes literacy because it breaks down the sounds of words. The phonemes the children hear provide a solid basis for future reading. Play music in the car as you drive around town, put on music during the 4 o’clock witching hour and have your kids dance their energy out and during baths or getting ready for daycare or preschool, sing songs to keep everyone’s mood light and squeeze in more learning time for your child.

Fingerplays are another great way to get kids involved in the action. There are alot of great options on the internet or create your own using nursery rhymes your child already knows.

Play

Recently, I read a great article about how movement, especially crossing the midline, is essential to building reading comprehension. I know it sounds weird, but readers are built by playing!

How Crossing the Midline Activities Helped this Child Listen to His Teacher retrieved from Integrated Learning Strategies Learning Corner on 10/11/18.

So whenever you are listening to music, or find yourself waiting, have your child practice some of these moves to help integrate their whole body.

Cook with Basil

Make Spaghetti Sauce! Cooking or baking are great ways to practice reading, numbers, math and all sorts of goodness. Go to the store and by fresh basil and pretend earwig is nibbling on the plant. Tear up the leaves and prepare your favorite sauce recipe. Have your child taste the basil as you cook.

Mystery Bag

Fill a gift bag, grocery bag, or whatever you have lying around with different objects. Have your child pretend to be Poppy or Sam and solve the mystery of what’s in the bag. Have them close their eyes and feel the object and make a guess to what it is. You might need to show this a few times to them before giving them a turn. Any old household item will do, not only does it increase vocabulary, it gets their senses involved!

Read

Book Review: As Time Went By By Jose Sanabria

Ages 3-5

As Time Went By. Jose Sanabria. Translated by Audrey Hall. North South Books Inc. New York: 2016.

 

(I am an Amazon Affiliate. If you click on a picture it takes you to Amazon, where if you make a purchase, I receive a portion of the sale. )

What the Book is About

The changing life of a steamboat and the changing faces of who inhabits and uses the boat.

How to Use this Book

Below are suggestions broken down by literacy skill to help you engage your young listener. You will not use each activity or skill in one sitting, but choose one or two to focus on each reading.

Print Awareness

It is always important to orient the child to the story and book before you begin a reading. This particular book’s cover illustration goes from front cover to back cover. Open up the book, so both front and back cover show. Start at the left of the picture and ask questions about what the child sees. Ask about the people, the colors, the different types of transportation shown before you even open the book.

Next, underline with your finger the title and author. Point out the author and illustrator and then mention that the author is from another country and this book was written in Spanish and translated into English.

Flip through the book and show how it is structured into part 1, Part 2 and Part 3. Simply describe that books are put together or assembled in different ways. This one has two stories that become one story.

Vocabulary

Research shows that the more unique words a child hears in everyday conversation, the more prepared she is when it comes time to read. Face to face conversation is critical because not only are the children listening to the words, but they watch how the mouth moves when the words are formed. Tablets, TV and smartphones do not provide the same benefit. (see Talking with Young Children)

Try to find unique words that are in the story or words you might use while talking about the story. For example:

  1. Translate
  2. Rebuilt
  3. Assembled
  4. Abandoned
  5. Company
  6. Luxury
  7. Village
  8. Harbor
  9. Steamship
  10. Sea
  11. Sail

Pick a few words each day and find ways to incorporate them into conversation. With repetition these words will become a part of your child’s vocabulary. Some words are hard to find ways to use naturally! So find a game or activity that would allow you to use them. And don’t forget, that is why we read books! The more we read, the more kids hear, the bigger vocabularies they build.

The more we read, the more kids hear, the bigger vocabularies they build.

Activities to use:

Categorize words. For example: From the list above, categorize words into nouns: People, places or things; Adjectives or describing words; Verbs or moving words. Write lists or make drawings in each of the categories. This will help the child connect with the words on a deeper level.

Find the words in the book: Abandoned, luxury and homeless. The illustrator uses different colors on pages that these words appear. Talk about happy and sad emotions (and remind them that emotions are feelings) Then look at the pictures and have the child say whether the people on that page feel happy or sad or a different emotion. This not only builds vocabulary but helps the child reinforce reading comprehension and narrative skills. You could even make paper faces and draw the face and label happy or sad and have the child hold up how the picture makes him or her feel.

Phonological Awareness

Alliteration is a big word and concept that can be simplified for kids by pointing out the beginning sounds of words. For example:

Ship that sailed beside the sun.

Ship. Sailed. Sun.

See if you and your child can write your own alliterative phrases.

The sun shines severely.

The board barely broke.

Write out and underline the similar starting sounds. This also encourages letter awareness/knowledge along with phonological awareness which is hearing the smaller sounds that make up the whole word.

Sing Row Row Row your boat. Singing is a great way to build Phonological Awareness. Add in motions to make it a whole body experience.

Narrative Skills (Building Reading Comprehension)

Connect the book to other ideas the child might know. For example, discuss what a steamship is and then talk about other types of boats. If you search for images online you can print out the pictures of different types of boats and then create labels for each type. Play a matching game. This also builds letter awareness and vocabulary.

Boat Color Sheets

Britannica Kids: Motorboat

Kidzsearch: Steamship

Questioning:

Ask questions about the story as you read. Not every page, but every few pages. It is also a good way to see if the child is understanding the story or if it is still a little too hard comprehension wise. At the end of the book, go back through and pick out main points of the story and discuss them. It may take a few readings before the child can tell you the story on his or her own.

Print Motivation

Repeated phrases are a great way to engage listeners in the book. Reading should never be a passive event! A repeated phrase in the book is, as time went by. When you get to that line, make sure to follow with your finger and encourage your child to say it with you. After a few times he or she may say it with you with little prompting.

After the Story

Do your own As Time Went By story. Take a loved toy, or hand me down clothing or some other repurposed object and write its story. Use the story as a guide, but have your child dictate what you are to write. Have him illustrate and put it together like a book.

Take a field trip. Find a repurposed building in your city to visit. Talk about what it had been and how it is used now. Was it ever abandoned like in the story? It is a good way to not only practice vocabulary, but to connect the story with the real world, a stepping stone to critical thinking.

Write in the comments section what skills and activities you tried. How did they work? What did you try different?

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Happy Reading!