When you ask your class to predict what this book is about, based on the cover only, I predict that at least one little person will suggest that this is a story about a witch. This is the perfect time to go to your already-prepared chart paper, and ask students for "proof" that they can find within the cover to back up the thought that maybe this lady is really a witch. Decide to make a list of the clues. During literacy time, you can dip in and out of reading and writing skills as you wish, since they are always combined, aren't they?
The list may look something like this:
1. She has a mean face.
2. She is ugly.
3. She has a broom.
4. She has a big pot to make a witch's brew in.
5. It looks like she is doing something magical.
6. She has on a black dress and black shoes.
7. She has ugly, messy black hair.
8. She looks really mad!
9. Instead of a black cat, this one has a duck. (That will be your high achiever!)
As you read along in the story, your listeners will find out through the words and pictures that Mrs. Biddlebox is nothing more than a person who woke up cranky, found her breakfast stale, and is suffering from a bad-hair day. Or so it seems.
How does she solve her bad day problem? She uses her pot and broom to gather up the day, including rolling up the sky, and shoving everything inside her big pot. Her skills border on magical in this area. She says:
I will cook this rotten morning!
I will turn it into cake!
I will fire up my oven!
I will set the day to bake!
When I read this page, I always pause to think aloud about a text-to-text connection this gives me. "You know what, this kind of reminds me of Hansel and Gretel! There was a witch in that story and she had a pretty fired-up oven herself!" This is modeling how a real reader continues to think while he or she is reading, sifting through new ideas that suggest themselves as more of the plot is revealed. Readers are allowed to change their opinion!
In the end, she does bake the day into a perfectly scrumptious cake, eats it until she is stuffed, and then toddles off to bed. Fabulous.
It is a great time to identify the genre of this story as fantasy, because we know that in real life we can't roll up a bad day and bake it away. However, this leads into a great Reader's Notebook
Have the students use a full page of their notebook to draw the biggest cake they can. Then ask them to make up something bad that could happen to them and write or draw it inside the cake. I like to model the drawing and a few items myself before they begin. This gives them confidence for some reason! I might include the sentence "I fell down the stairs.", and "I dropped my tray at lunch." I would caution that you should remind them that you don't want to see blood and guts or scary movie stuff. No, thank you. Just one sentence like "My dog bit me."
When done writing their ideas, allow them to decorate around the writing with colored pencils, and share their stories together later on the rug.
This makes a great bulletin board display as well!
Happy Reading! Until next time....Nancy