Trapped! A Whale’s Rescue by Robert Burleigh

Recommended Grades: 3-5

A humpback whale travels along the Pacific coast, but hidden in the water is a forgotten fishing net.  When the whale becomes trapped, the story, based on a true event, reminds us of the important connection between humans and animals. 

Mentor Text: Word Choice

trapped photoBurleigh uses fantastic word choice and description in Trapped! A Whale’s Rescue.  His use of sensory words to describe the whale’s journey are beautifully complemented by Minor’s paintings. When students write informative texts, useTrapped! A Whale’s Rescue
as a mentor text to model great word choice.

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

©2015 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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Hi, Koo! A Year of Seasons by Jon J Muth

Recommended Grades: 4-6

Using an adorable panda, Koo, Jon J. Muth challenges readers to stretch their minds and imaginations with twenty-six haiku about the four seasons. In the author’s note, Muth explains that haiku has evolved over time and now poets no longer adhere to the rigid structure of 5-7-5 syllables. Instead, Muth uses sensory images to capture a moment of emotion in words.

Lesson Idea:


Mentor Text: Author’s Craft/Word Choice: Read aloud Hi, Koo!: A Year of Seasons and discuss how haiku has evolved over time. Look at several of the haiku and talk about Muth’s use of sensory details instead of the typical 5-7-5 syllable structure. Using  Hi, Koo!: A Year of Seasons as a mentor text for author’s craft, encourage students to write haiku that develops through sensory images, instead of the traditional, rigid 5-7-5 syllable structure.

©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.

The Mouse and the Meadow by Chad Wallace

Publisher: Dawn Publications

Date: January 26, 2014

Recommended Grades: 4-6

An informational book written in rhyme tells the story of a mouse in the meadow and the other animals who live there. 

Lesson Idea:


Mentor Text: Narrative Nonfiction/Word Choice:  Read aloud The Mouse and the Meadow in a study on habitats in a meadow.  Discuss how the author shares information in a narrative way.  Consider using The Mouse and the Meadow as a mentor text in writer’s workshop.  After a study of habitats, ask students to write a narrative nonfiction piece emulating The Mouse and the Meadow.

Additionally, the language the author uses brings the story alive.  Discuss how the author’s word choice helps develop the story while remaining true to the scientific concepts developed in the story.

Finally, Dawn Publications has created an interactive app to go along with the book.  Download the app and watch the animals become 3-D as it reads aloud the story.  It’s a pretty neat experience.

Disclosure:  I received a copy of this book from the publisher for review.

©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.

Locomotive by Brian Floca

Recommended Grades: 3-5

It is the summer of 1869, and trains, crews, and family are traveling together, riding America’s first transcontinental railroad, still new, just built. 

Lesson Idea:


Informational Text/Narrative Nonfiction/Word Choice: Read aloud Locomotive and discuss the characteristics of narrative non-fiction.  Demonstrate how the author uses word choice (onomatopoeia, specifically) to develop the story.  How does the author’s choice of words (and the text features) help the reader to understand the text?  Ask, how can you choose words to develop your nonfiction writing?  Provide time for students to practice using onomatopoeia in their own informational 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.

The Monstore by Tara Lazar

Recommended Grades: 3-5

The Monstore sells only the most useful monsters perfect for all your monsterly needs.  Zack has a monsterly need to frighten his pesky little sister away.  Does his plan work?

Lesson Idea:


Word Choice/Voice: Read aloud The Monstore and discuss how the author used word choice to bring voice to the text. Consider: “Zack begged, whined, grumbled, and collapsed onto the cash register.” How did the author use synonyms to make the text more exciting and the language more descriptive?  Use The Monstore as a mentor text for word choice when students are writing their own texts.

©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.