Saturday, September 25, 2010

Literary Elements

While all of the literary elements play a crucial role in creating understanding of the overall story, there are several that I find to be the most important and play a significant role in understanding and connecting with the story. Point of view is first and foremost important if you ask me. It is very difficult to begin to understand a story if we are unsure of who the narrator is. The story can be told in first person, third person, a combination of both, or a variation in between. There is a large difference between a story told in third person and a story told in first person. The difference is that in one instance, we are inside a particular character’s head, and in the other, we are told about the story events by an outside party or perspective. The perspective that dominates the story greatly alters our experience with the story, our understanding of the events, and our connection with the characters. My personal favorite stories and books are ones in which the story is told from the first person, but specifically from the first person of multiple characters. For example, Jodi Picoult’s books are told from the first person perspective of each of the characters, and they alternate from chapter to chapter. I find this to be one of the most effective ways to get to know the characters on a deeper and more emotional level. Without a clear sense of the point of view that the story

Another almost equally critical component to the understanding of a story is the sense of time. Without a clear understanding of how time interacts with the underlying story line, the reader can easily become confused and lost in the story. Time is directly tied to the action that occurs throughout a story, and can be varied to include present tense, past tense (often in the form of flashbacks), and even future events. Time, when used properly, can add immense understanding and interest to a story. When time is unclear or not done properly, it can lead to great confusion in the reader and a lack of understanding. Great books impeccably intertwine the element of time with the other literary elements, to the point where we, as readers, do not even need to consider the aspect of time. It is so naturally included that we almost forget that it is there, yet it obviously must be there in order to move us through the action of the story. Good writers make the inclusion of time seem effortless, allowing the reader to get lost in the action without having to devote conscious thought to determining the role that time plays in the story.

Characters are critical to completing a story. While they might not be crucial to the understanding of the story, they definitely add depth and meaning to the plot and action. IT can be difficult to understand both the point of view and the time sequence if we do not have an understanding of the characters. The characters are so critical because it is with them that we, as readers, truly connect. Good quality books are those that have personable, concrete, and dynamic characters. Characters play a large role in determining the mood of the story and helping us connect on an emotional level. It is through the characters that we really appreciate a story. Place is a second literary component that is very important, yet not critical to understanding a story. Understanding the place in which a story occurs can definitely help us make meaning and truly understand a story. Place does not just refer to a specific location, country, state, or town, but also includes where the characters interact and during what time period the story takes place. For example, does the story take place in the 1900’s, or in the future? These differences play an important role in how the story is understood by the reader.

The other literary elements interact with the point of view, time, characters, and place to provide a meaningful experience for the reader. Well-written stories use all of these separate elements in a subtle, yet important interaction to provide a wonderful and enthralling story. These literary elements not only make the story interesting, but they also aid in the understanding of the most basic elements of the story. 

Brave Margaret

Brave Margaret (An Irish Adventure)
Written by Robert D. San Souci, Illustrated by Sally Wern Comport
Children’s Picture Book): 1-5
Stars: 4 (out of 5)

Summary: Margaret is bored with her country life and is thrilled when she gets to go off with the King of the East to see the world. A sea serpent ultimately leads to the separation of the King and Margaret, which results in Margaret residing with an old woman until the King finally arrives. The old woman has a sword on her wall that must be used to slay a giant, and can only be used by the man whose finger the sword’s ring fits. The old woman has cast a spell upon Margaret so that she cannot leave until the right man clays the giant. Margaret’s finger is the one that fits the ring, and thus, she goes on to slay the giant and live happily ever after with the King.

What I found most interesting about this story was the complex story line. Often, children’s books have deluded plots and characters. This plot was very complex and contained several separate components. What I like though, is that I believe an elementary aged child could follow the story line and would be captivated by the story. When I was first reading it, I considered putting it back on the shelf, for I felt that with all of the text, the story would drag on and on and I would not enjoy it. What happened though, is that I was completely drawn into the story and could not wait to finish it to find out what happens to Margaret and the King. Thus, the complex story line was enough to keep me turning the page and yearning for more. While none of the main characters were particularly interesting, the plot definitely was. One of my favorite subtle components was that the old woman kept waiting for a man to arrive, fit his finger in the ring, and slay the giant with the sword. What ended up happening though is that the ring fit on Margaret, a woman’s, finger, and a woman was the one to ultimately slay the giant. This subtle gender stereotype fits so perfectly into the story, yet could be a great jumping point into discussing stereotypes in our society.

That being said, this book could be used in my classroom in a number of ways. Like I mentioned, it could be used to explore gender stereotypes, which is something that I would do in the upper elementary grades. More likely though, I would use it in a fairy tale unit, for it is one that is rarely heard (at least I had never heard of it). Even more simplistically, it would be a great book to read aloud to the class on a rainy afternoon. I think that it would be a perfect book to read to second graders, with the right mix of interest, length, and depth. 

Cactus Soup

Cactus Soup
Written by Eric A. Kimmel, Illustrated by Phil Huling
Children’s Picture Book: 1-4
Stars: 4.5 (out of 5)

Summary: This story is similar to that of Stone Soup. A group of soldiers are passing through the town of San Miguel, and the mayor suggests that the townspeople hide all of their food and put dirt on their faces to look like poor people. This way, the townspeople won’t be eaten out of their food. The plan backfires though, when the soldiers begin to make cactus soup, and need all sorts of ingredients to make it tasty. The townspeople end up uncovering all of their hidden food and use it to make the cactus soup.

I originally picked up this book because of its brightly colored illustrations and the interesting title. At that time, I made no connection to the story of Stone Soup. I was intrigued as well because I am always in search of picture books that don’t just portray Caucasian children in middle class homes or towns. I try to find books that are different and have a wide variety of characters, including those of different races, languages, countries, social classes, etc.. Thus, I thought this book might be an interesting one, and one that I could include in my classroom library. Overall, the story is a powerful one, that stresses the importance of telling the truth and not trying to deceive others, for such actions will only backfire. As hard as the townspeople try to fool the soldiers, the soldiers don’t believe that they are poor and have no food to spare. Ultimately, the soldiers end up tricking the townspeople into providing them a good meal, and in the end, the townspeople still don’t even realize that they have been tricked. The illustrations add a whole other dimension to the story, with their bold watercolors and intricate details.

What I particularly liked about this book is that it contains characters that are not white, and that it is set in a Mexican town. At the same time, I can find something slightly problematic with this story, when I look at it from a critical perspective. While there are intelligent Mexican soldiers that come into town and trick the townspeople, the townspeople are ultimately seen as foolish, at least by the reader, particularly because they don’t even realize what has just happened to them. In addition, the townspeople are dishonest and that it the premise of the entire story. Thus. I would be hesitant to use this with a group of older children for that reason, for I would fear that they might take one of those two messages away from the story. I would definitely not want to promote and exacerbate stereotypes. I would probably use such a story with a younger group of children (1st-2nd graders), for they might glaze over that potential underlying stereotypes and simply enjoy the story and the message, including the inclusion of non-traditional characters. 

The First Strawberries

The First Strawberries (A Cherokee Story)
Retold by Joseph Bruchac, Illustrated by Anna Vojtech
Children’s Picture Book: K-6
Stars: 5 (out of 5)

Summary: This story is an old Cherokee tale about how strawberries came to exist on the earth. A young woman runs away after a quarrel with her husband over dinner not being ready when he returns home. The husband tries to catch up with his wife, but she is too fast, and so the sun decides to help him but growing raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, and finally strawberries. The wife stops to try some strawberries, decides she loves them and her husband would too, which gives her husband enough time to catch up with her to apologize.

My favorite part of this book is definitely the illustrations! They are very realistic and colorful. These illustrations are large and take up the entire page, some with the words of the story written over them, some simply without words. Those are my favorite, the juxtaposed pages with no words, but just an illustration that stretches across two whole pages. These illustrations really help provide a sense of what the land looked like and the setting in which the tale takes place. This is a simple story, with few words, but the words that are indeed written are powerful and do plenty to convey the story and the underlying message. Even though this is a Cherokee Indian tale, as I was reading the story, I completely forgot about that aspect. I was so immersed in the story that I forgot that this was a “folk tale.” Part of this, I believe, is due to the fact that the story elicited such an emotional response. I felt for the husband, sharing in his worry that he would not catch up to his wife and would lose her forever. My emotional connection to him was powerful, and I felt as distraught as I imagined he must have been feeling. Part of this emotional connection I think arose due to the universal nature of the story. I could remember times in my life when I had said something that I instantly regretted and the person that I had hurt refused to hear an apology. They were either unavailable or unwilling to hear me out, which was always super frustrating. Thus, I really felt for this man and was relieved when the sun agreed to help him attain his goal: to apologize to his wife.

While the tale is a simple one, that focuses on the Cherokee Indians and what strawberries are reminiscent of: “to always be kind to one another; to remember that friendship and respect are as sweet at the taste of ripe, red berries.” But even students who are not Cherokee descendants can relate to this story, for most simply, it is about forgiveness and appreciating the sweetness in others. It is also about regret and the power of our words. I think it could not only be used in a social studies unit related to the Native American experience, but it would also be just as appropriate when discussing more basic and universal themes, such as the power of words and forgiveness. Since I hope to teach one of the primary grades, I would likely use this book in my classroom for the second purpose, to explore the power of words and the importance of thinking before we speak. I have seen many fights on the playground or during recess over students speaking negatively to one another, not recognizing the power of the words that they might say to one another. This could be used to illustrate the lesson: we need to be careful of what we say to friends because negative words can be hurtful, and that it is appropriate to apologize when our words have hurt someone that we care about, be it a parent, a sibling, a classmate, or a friend. 

Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People’s Ears

Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People’s Ears
Written by Verna Aardema, Illustrated by Leo & Diane Dillon
Children’s Picture Book: K-6
Stars: 4.5 (out of 5)

Summary: In this West African tale, a mosquito tells an iguana an absolutely and ridiculous story/rumor that leads to a series of unfortunate events. In the end, all of the misfortunes can be traced back to the mosquito, who ultimately loses all of his friends.

First, I must say that the illustrations in this book are absolutely exquisite.  The style is very unique, combining bright, bold colors and geometric shapes in a style that borders surrealism. The illustrations add an immense amount of interest to the written story and are very eye catching. No wonder this book won a Caldecott Award! In terms of the story, it is a West African tale that is a bit like a folk tale. The folk tale involves the progression of an event that has lead the mosquito to be a creature that buzzes in people’s ears. An important aspect about this book that I must mention is the repetativeness of the lines. On each page, an additional event is added to the ones prior to it. Thus, each event is repeated over and over again, which can be fun for students. For emerging readers, this is a great book to elicit participation and enhance the belief that they can “read.” At the same time, it is a great book for even older children, for the message is an important one.

This story conveys an important message to students: rumors can cause great problems and have great consequences for the person who has started the rumor. This is a very important message to teach students, one that can be brought up in many situations. It can be simply introduced to the classroom in isolation. It can also be brought up after “rumor events” have been taking place in the classroom, in hopes to assuage such issues. Ultimately though, it is simply a book that is fun to listen to. I could definitely see myself using it in a classroom of older elementary aged children, by acting out the events of the story and encouraging the entire class of students to become involved in the action and presentation of the story. In such a situation, it would be fun to “play” this story for a group of younger elementary students and then have the older students lead a discussion about the problems associated with rumors. It would be an interesting way to get the older students involved with those who are younger, and provide an opportunity to act as experts and teachers. Regardless of the way that I choose to use this book in my classroom, one thing is for sure, I am definitely going to use it!

Sheila Rae, the Brave

Sheila Rae, the Brave
Written by Kevin Henkes
Children’s Picture Book: K-3
Stars: 5 (out of 5)
Summary: Sheila Rae is very brave, until she tries to take a new route home from school and gets lost.

I think that my favorite part of this book is the uniqueness of Sheila Rae. Her love of adventure is something that I think many children can relate to. She boasts about how brave she is, even taking a new route home from school. Her younger sister refuses to try the new route with her, which is ultimately a smart choice, since Sheila Rae ends up getting lost and is very frightened. Who comes to the rescue? Of course, her younger sister! I think that the moral of this book really speaks to children, who are in their own, trying to act brave and more adult-like. Ultimately though, they are all vulnerable and need help with some things. The illustrations in this book are very rich and help portray Sheila Ray’s “brave” character.

I think that this book could be a great jumping point into talking about how students help one another out. Sheila Rae is a bit of a bully in some of the scenes, and teachers could take this opportunity to talk about bullying. At the same time, students could also talk about situations in which they have been able to help someone (that they least expect) out. Sometimes we think that we are not old enough, strong enough, good enough, etc. to be of use, bur as it turns out, there are times when we are just the right people to help. By encouraging students to think about the ways in which they are able to help out their parents, older siblings, and even teachers, we could help promote a sense of self-esteem and self-worth in our students. By taking the time just to discuss the ways in which our students play vital roles in society, we can encourage them to continue helping other out and taking pride in what they can do.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Illustrator Project: Sophie Blackall

I had never heard of my illustrator, Sophie Blackall, prior to this assignment. I found her children’s book illustrations to be really amazing. In all of the books that I was able to get my hands on (including Wild Boars Cook, Jumpy Jack & Googily, and Red Butterfly: How a 
Princess Smuggled the Secret Silk Out of China), I found that without Blackall’s illustrations, the stories would have been incomplete. Particularly, in Jumpy Jack & Googily, I found the illustrations of Googily to be extremely adorable. The bold colors that Blackall uses, along with her technique of using Chinese ink and watercolors, really makes the characters pop off the page. The characters almost have a liveliness to them, likely as a result of her techniques, in addition to the way that she uses the space on the pages. Her illustrations completely cover the pages of the books, as she uses all of the space to create large and detailed characters and background scenery.

Unfortunately, I found that I did not enjoy many of the stories that Sophie Blackall has illustrated (with the exception of Jumpy Jack & Googily). Overall, the stories seem a bit bland and lack a strong story line that the reader is easily able to follow. I found several to be too long and others to be too slow. But I must admit that the illustrations, like I said before, really make the books. Without the illustrations, I feel as though the stories might be complete flops.

Her website ( is something unique, that at first, I found a bit challenging to navigate. Her website primarily contains pictures of individual illustrations that she has done, categorized by the subject of the drawings (animals, children, health & beauty, food, etc.) There is not much personal information about Blackall herself, but there are links to her blogs and her Etsy site, where images can be purchased.

What I found particularly interesting about Sophie Blackall are the Missed Connections images she creates. I found this to be such a unique idea, to take the posts on Craig’s List’s Missed Connections and focus on freezing the moment in an illustration. The way that she imagines and illustrates these “missed connection” encounters brings a unique life to them. I find it to be a very original way to create art, using simply a few phrases with little detail. From there, her imagination runs wild as she creates her illustrations. She then sells these illustrations on Etsy, which is another unique idea. According to my research, she has sold about 150 of them at $40 each. What a profitable hobby! After completing this study, I know that I am excited for the book of these images that she hopes to publish in the upcoming year.

Sophie Blackall has several blogs as well, one in which she posts about her personal life, including projects she is working on and places she is traveling. She also includes bits and pieces about her family life, apart from her work. Her second blog is used to post pictures of her Missed Connections illustrations, as well as to discuss ideas related to those images. If you get a chance, I would definitely check her Missed Connections blog out at: She had created some really fun illustrations to go along with the posts, and I spent hours browsing through them!

What I think I might take most from the illustrator exploration is the idea behind the missed connections. I think it might be a fun activity to do in my own classroom sometime. Where we would get the inspiration for missed moments, I’m not sure. What I’m thinking of as of right now, is that maybe I would read some of the Missed Connections to my students (the most appropriate and relatable ones of course). I might then ask them to each write a sentence on a slip of paper that models the Missed Connections. I would then collect these sentence strips and then pass them out to the class, so that each student has one that he/she did not write. I would then ask them to create an illustration for the sentence. It would be really interesting to see what the students create, and how these images might differ from the mental images that the author had in mind.

Another way in which I might use Sophie Blackall’s work in my classroom is to have my students look at one of her images/illustrations on her webpage, and then to create a story based off of that image. Most of her illustrations are unique and detailed, so they would be appropriate to use as story starters.

This is a bit of a side note, but I found this fact to be really fun: she is even featured on the Urban Outfitters website! Maybe I just find this exciting because I actually work for the Urban Outfitters Inc. company, but it is definitely something I plan on showing to my coworkers!

Examples of Missed Connections Illustrations:

Monday, September 13, 2010

Junie B. Jones, Cheater Pants

Junie B., First Grader: Cheater Pants
Written by Barbara Parks, Illustrated by Denise Brunkus
Chapter Book: 1-4
Rating: 4.5 stars (out of 5)
Summary: Junie B. Jones cheats off of her classmate May, only to be caught by Mr. Scary who sends a note home to her parents. The following day, she “borrows” a word off of her friends spelling test, but both students end up coming clean once they begin to feel guilty about cheating.

            I feel like I missed out on a lot as a child, never having read a single Junie B. Jones book. I’m not sure why I never read her when I was growing up, but I definitely never did. I loved the language of this book, as it was written from a first grader’s perspective. Thus, Junie’s thoughts were written in her unique language, with interesting spellings and hilarious word choices. I can definitely understand why so many elementary children love reading these books. I think that this might be because children feel like they can really relate to Junie, as they think many of the same thoughts (which they might not be as bold as Junie to act upon). I found that while the words were interesting on the page, the words really came alive once I started reading the book outloud. Reading it on the page does not allow for the enthusiasm that Junie seems to embody.
            Thus, I feel like this series is a great one to read aloud to a class. With enough experience listening to someone else reading the book, young readers (likely 3rd graders or above), might find it fun to take turns reading chapters aloud in small groups. It would be a great opportunity to have them practice reading with both verbal and nonverbal cues. It might even be something that older elementary age students could read to younger “buddies” in first or second grade. Unfortunately, I think that Junie might resonate more with young female students, not as much males. Thus, it would be important to read other similar chapter books as well, not just Junie B. Jones. I know that sever others include A to Z Mysteries and Magic Treehouse books. 

Bear's New Friend

Bear’s New Friend
Written by Karma Wilson, Illustrated by Jane Chapman
Picture Book: K-2
Rating: 3.5 stars (out of 5)
Summary: Bear wants to go out to play, and as soon as he goes outside, he hear a noise. He spends the afternoon trying to figure out who is making that sound.

            I have read a book about Bear by this author before, Bear is Sick, and loved it, so I decided that this one might be a good read as well. When Bear hears a new noise, he is trying to figure out who is it so that he can play with him/her. I wish that his search was more interesting. We know that he hears a noise and that he is searching for whoever it is, and that his friends keep showing up, meaning that it is not one of his known friends. Thus, I wish there were more “clues” as to who it might be making the noise. I feel as thought this might keep the reader more interested, using the “clues” to stay actively engaged in trying to figure out where the noise is coming from. The story line is also interesting, for Bear is looking for someone to play with, not for a new friend. The book is adorable and has really fun illustrations, but I did not find the story line to be overly captivating.  (I must say I prefer Bear is Sick.)
            I think that if I were to use this book in my classroom, I might make it into more of a mystery, creating a more interactive lesson for my students. It might even be a fun book to “play” in class. I might create a lesson in which students take turns acting out the drama in the book, playing the separate characters, trying to determine “who?” It could fit into the curriculum during lessons on solving mysteries or following clues. It could also possibly work as a means to discuss friendship, although there is not a clear friendship message in the story. It might be used to supplement other lessons on friendship, including going out of one’s way to include others who might be shy (as Bear’s new friend is). 

Let's Get a Pup

“Let’s Get a Pup!” Said Kate
By Bob Graham
Picture Book: 2-6
Rating: 2 stars (out of 5)
Summary: The family in this story goes to a local Rescue Center to get a puppy, but in the end, they end up with two.

            I was a bit taken aback by the way that this story began. The young girl, Kate, wakes her mother and father up shouting, “let’s get a pup!” And just like that, her parents hop out of bed and they end up getting two dogs within a forty-eight hour time period. I found this to be pretty unrealistic, since puppies require a lot of work. Most families do not just wake up one morning, decide they want a pet, and go and get one that morning. Instead, the process takes time. Plus, once the family brought home the one puppy and realized how loud a puppy can be, they decided to go back and get a second dog the next day. I guess to me, this just didn’t make so much sense.
            I was reading this book outloud (to one of my roommates), without looking at the pictures. I got about halfway through the book before I even glanced at the pictures, and when I did, I was a bit surprised. I looked over to see the mother with a nose ring and a big blue tattoo on her bicep. Further over, the father had on a t-shirt with a lit, smoking cigarette. In my personal opinion, I was shocked to see such a portrayal in a children’s picture book. I was originally reading this book to determine whether or not I was going to bring it to read to a second grader. Once I saw the illustrations, I decided that it might not be so appropriate. The more I thought about it, the more I struggled with what to do with a book like this. On one hand, many students might have parents that have tattoos or piercings, or who smoke cigarettes. Does this make it okay to read to the rest of the class thought? While the illustrations would bring a bit of diversity to the reading circle, I can see how many parents might have reservations about such images, and be opposed to the promotion of them by means of a children’s book. Would I be comfortable with my own child being in a classroom where a book like this is read, probably not. But my opinion is not the only one that matters, nor is it the correct opinion. While the piercings and tattoo took me aback, it was the cigarette that led me to not include the book in my selection for the second grader. I feel strongly that smoking should not be promoted in the classroom, and I felt that these illustrations did just that. I’m still really unsure of how to deal with such a book, and whether or not it is something that I might include in my own classroom.
            Regardless of the illustrations, I was not a big fan of the story line, due to its possible unreality, as well as to the slow story line. I found myself glancing over at the illustrations, mainly because I was bored of the text. There was not a lot of excitement or action. I would probably not use this book in my future classroom for this reason alone, but am still curious about the etiquette dealing with the illustration issue/concern. 

You're Too Small

You’re Too Small
Written by Shen Roddie, Illustrated by Steve Lavis
Picture Book: K-4
Rating: 5 stars (out of 5)
Summary: Tad, the mouse, tries to help out all of his friends with their chores on the farm, each time to be told, “you’re too small.” As Tad begins to become disheartened by his size, he is able to help his friends out when they get into trouble, simply because he is small enough to get the job done.

            My favorite part about this book was definitely the message! We, as individuals, each have something to bring to the table. Our differences, which we might see as disadvantages in one situation, can be extremely advantageous in other situations. While I was reading this book, I can recall telling my younger sister over and over again that she was “too young” to help me out with projects when we were growing up. And then of course, I would need her help in a particular circumstance, as she was the only one who could help. And of course, she would refuse to help me since I had denied her help repeatedly in the past.
            The one thing that I did not particularly understand or enjoy about this book was the way in which the characters were named. The main character, Tad, had a name separate from his animal name, mouse. The remainder of the characters were called by their animal names: pig, cow, rabbit, goose. I found it very odd that there was one character that had a unique name, while the rest of the characters had generic names. Why might the author have done this? I don’t know. But I have been trying to think of possible reasons to make sense of it.
            This book definitely has classroom application. Similar to The Hair of Zoe Fleefenbacher Goes to School, this book can be used to begin or supplement a discussion on individualism and the ways in which our differences can benefit the entire classroom community. We each have strengths and weaknesses that can be important and useful in separate situations. In our classroom, we could also brainstorm situations in which each of the students that they have felt not _____ enough to do something that they wanted to do. To go along then, we would discuss other situations in which we have been able to help our friends and families because of our abilities. 

The Hair of Zoe Fleefenbacher Goes to School

The Hair of Zoe Fleefenbacher Goes to School
Written by Laurie Halse Anderson, Illustrated by Ard Hoyt
Picture Book: K-3
Rating: 4 stars (out of 5)
Summary: In this book, Zoe is having difficulty with her long, crazy hair once she begins first grade. Her first grade teacher, Ms. Trisk, demands that Zoe keep her hair under control, finally realizing in the end that she can use the hair’s abilities to her benefit.

            I was drawn to this book as I explored the children’s section at the public library, primarily by the crazy illustration on the front cover. The tiny girl has long hair that is almost four times the size of her body. Once I picked it up and began leafing through it, I realized that the front cover showed a modest mop of hair, compared to the wild and crazy red hair that covered the inside pages. I must admit that the illustrations definitely made the story come to life. Without the illustrations, this picture book would have been anything but complete. The illustrator captured perfectly the unruly and uncontrollable hair that Zoe had to live with. I empathized with this poor child, who could not control her hair, and was constantly in trouble with her teacher for the misbehavior of her hair. In each picture Zoe looks absolutely distraught over her situation. In the end, I was very glad to know that Ms. Trisk found the usefulness in Zoe’s hair. I really enjoyed the personification of Zoe’s hair in this book. I found it interesting that her hair had a mind of it’s own, and operated apart from Zoe herself.
            I think that there is a definite possibility of using this book in my future classroom. The message that can be taken away from the book is that we each have unique talents and can each contribute to the classroom in important ways. What one person may see as a huge disadvantage or inconvenience can be seen as particularly useful to another. Zoe’s wild hair might seem like a pain to Ms. Trisk, and often Zoe herself, but in the end, her hair comes to help teach a science lesson in the classroom. In a similar way, it is important to teach our students that they each bring uniqueness to the classroom, often resulting in insurmountable benefits that could not be achieved otherwise. My only concern with this book arises from an experience I had reading this to a second grader. Before arriving at the end of the book, and the “moral” of the story, she was becoming increasingly frustrated that Zoe didn’t just cut her hair to solve all of the problems. I think that the message may not be apparent enough until the conclusion of the story, and thus it may be hard to captivate students up until that point. It would be useful to maybe talk about why Zoe did not cut her hair as she encountered difficulty in school, as a means of stressing that we each have great possibilities just the way that we are.