Sophie’s Fish by A.E. Cannon

Recommended Grades:3-5

How hard can it be to babysit a fish?  That’s what Jake thinks when Sophie asks him to take care of Yo-Yo for the weekend.  Then Jake starts to over think what it means to take care of a fish. 

Lesson Idea:


Six Traits Mentor Text: Organization:  Read aloud Sophie’s Fish as part of a unit on the craft of endings.  Sophie’s Fish is a great example of a surprise ending, but the illustrator shares the surprise, not the author.  Read aloud other mentor texts that demonstrate surprise endings.  Encourage students to write a surprise ending for one of their writing pieces.      

©2014 by Dawn Little for Picture This! Teaching with Picture Books. All Amazon links are affiliate links and may result in my receiving a small commission. This is at no additional cost to you.

That is Not a Good Idea! by Mo Willems

Recommended Grades: 3-5

One day a very hungry fox meets a very plump goose.  A dinner invitation is offered.  Will dinner go as planned? Or do the plans involve a secret ingredient? 

Lesson Idea:  


Mentor Text, Organization: Read aloud That Is Not a Good Idea! and discuss the craft of the text.  How did Willems craft the story?  What do readers notice?  Point out the surprise ending and use this book as a mentor text for organization when teaching the Six Traits of Writing.

©2013 by Dawn Little for Picture This! Teaching with Picture Books. All Amazon links are affiliate links and may result in my receiving a small commission. This is at no additional cost to you.

One Cool Friend by Toni Buzzeo

Recommended Grades: 3-5

What would you do if you met your ideal pet?  Elliot asks his father if he can have a penguin during a visit to the aquarium.  This begins a silly tale of an irresistible friendship. 

Lesson Idea:  


Six Traits Mentor Text/Conventions or Organization: Read aloud One Cool Friend and discuss how the author/illustrator modeled the use of dialogue.  The author actually uses dialogue bubbles embedded within the text.  Additionally, this book would be a great model text for surprise endings.

©2012 by Dawn Little for Picture This! Teaching with Picture Books. All Amazon links are affiliate links and may result in my receiving a small commission. This is at no additional cost to you.

The Odd Egg by Emily Gravett

Recommended Grades: 4-6

All the birds have laid an egg, except Duck.  Duck wants an egg, too.  He comes upon a huge green spotted egg and makes it his own.  All the other birds make fun of him, telling him it will never hatch and calling it an odd egg.  When it finally does hatch, Duck (and all the other birds) are quite surprised!

Lesson Idea:

Six Traits


Organization, Surprise Ending: Read aloud The Odd Egg and have students predict what they think is in the egg prior to reading the ending.  Read aloud the rest of the story and discuss whether student predictions were correct.  How did the author surprise the reader with the ending?  Share other books with surprise endings and use them as mentor texts when writing in writer’s workshop. 

©2012 by Dawn Little for Picture This! Teaching with Picture Books. All Amazon links are affiliate links and may result in my receiving a small commission. This is at no additional cost to you.

Extra Yarn by Mac Barnett

Published by: Harper Collins Children

Date: January 17, 2012

Recommended Grades: 4-6

On a cold afternoon, in a cold little town, where everywhere you looked was either the white of snow or the black of soot from chimneys, Annabelle found a box filled with yarn of every color. 

Using the yarn, Annabelle knits herself a sweater.  When she has extra yarn, she begins to knit sweaters for other townspeople and even for things that don’t wear sweaters.  When an archduke sails across the sea and offers to buy the yarn from Annabelle, she refuses.  The archduke steals the box of yarn and sails back across the sea.  What happens in the end is a surprise for all!

Lesson Idea:

Six Traits

Organization, Surprise Ending: Read aloud Extra Yarn to the point where the archduke sails away with the yarn.  Stop and ask students to predict what they think will happen.  Read aloud the rest of the story and discuss whether student predictions were correct.  How did the author surprise the reader with the ending?  Share other books with surprise endings and use them as mentor texts when writing in writer’s workshop. 

Note: I received this book for review from the publisher. 

©2012 by Dawn Little for Picture This! Teaching with Picture Books. All Amazon links are affiliate links and may result in my receiving a small commission. This is at no additional cost to you.

Snow Day! by Lester L. Laminack

Recommended Grades: 3-5

When the weatherman predicts an overnight snowfall, the narrator dreams of all the fun he can have on his day off from school.  Children will enjoy the surprise ending. 

Lesson Idea:


Six Traits: Organization: Read aloud Snow Day! Discuss the surprise ending.  Pair it with other books with surprise endings (First Day Jitters, I Want My Hat Back) as mentor texts.  Have students use the models to guide their own writing by encouraging students to write a piece with a surprise ending.

©2012 by Dawn Little for Picture This! Teaching with Picture Books. All Amazon links are affiliate links and may result in my receiving a small commission. This is at no additional cost to you.

I Want My Hat Back by Jon Klassen

Recommended Grades: 4-6

A bear loses his hat and asks the other animals if they have seen it.  A surprise ending might catch the reader off guard. 

Note: I originally learned about this book on Twitter via my Professional Learning Network (PLN).  If you aren’t familiar with it already, Twitter is a fantastic professional development resource!

Lesson Idea:


Writer’s Workshop: Read aloud I Want My Hat Back and analyze the way the author indicated dialogue.  Provide students with other books in which the author uses dialogue in non-traditional ways. Have students analyze all books and choose one style to practice with in their own writing.  Disclaimer: This idea came from Donalyn Miller, a fantastic resource in all things reading!

Trait: Organization: After reading aloud I Want My Hat Back, discuss the surprise ending with students.  What direction did you think the author was going in?  How did the ending stand out? Analyze other picture books with surprise endings and have students practice using this technique in their own writing.

©2011 by Dawn Little for Picture This! Teaching with Picture Books. All Amazon links are affiliate links and may result in my receiving a small commission. This is at no additional cost to you.

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