Thursday, August 24, 2017

Are you PET CRAZY? I am!

I’m back from my travels, ready for a new semester to start, and happy to celebrate a brand new book just in time for the new school year. Please indulge me as I plug another collaboration with the wonderful, endlessly energetic Janet Wong, and the fabulous poets who collaborated with us on our latest book, Pet Crazy, a story-in-poems about wanting and getting a new pet (Pomelo Books, 2017). Just for fun, enjoy this hilarious video of Janet reading her cat poem from Pet Crazy to Tony the Tiger himself!

Thanks to these fabulous poets for their poems that “anchor” this book: Kristy Dempsey, Helen Frost, Janice Harrington, Eric Ode, Laura Shovan, Eileen Spinelli, Elizabeth Steinglass, Don Tate, Padma Venkatraman, April Halprin Wayland, Carole Boston Weatherford, and Tamera Will Wissinger. We’re also excited to feature new illustrations by German artist Franzi Paetzold, whom I just met in person during my travels through Berlin!

PET CRAZY is the third installment in our Poetry Friday Power Book series that weaves together poetry, activities, and resources for young readers and writers. Just like the two previous books, You Just Wait and Here We Go, our new book Pet Crazy features twelve PowerPacks that use creative activities to get children (K-3) thinking, drawing, reading, and writing about cats, dogs, lizards, rabbits, and more. 

Resources for children (as well as parents, teachers, and book club leaders) include “Hidden Language Skills” to sharpen language learning even further, recommended reading lists and websites, tips for reading aloud and writing, talking points, and places to publish.

One of my favorite things about this book (besides the fun topic of pets that remind me of all the dogs, birds, and turtles we’ve had in my family) is the new, big size of this book—so easy for young children and their teachers to use, share, and enjoy. 

And I love all the layers to explore in this book-- the game-like drawing and thinking activities, the engaging poems that tell a story, the extra resources in the back for MORE reading and writing, and the subtle skills woven throughout for kids to notice and explore. And all of this is arranged in a dozen "PowerPacks" or subsets of poems and activities that make a natural "mini-story" to read and discuss. Let's look at one sample PowerPack (#8) that focuses on "found" poetry.

PowerPack 8
Each PowerPack always begins with fun "PowerPlay" activities that get kids thinking, drawing, doodling, and ready to read and talk about poems, words, and language. For PowerPack 8, we invite children to try two puzzles that get them skimming and scanning and hunting-- just like we do when we create "found" poems! 

Next, is the heart of the PowerPack, an "anchor" poem-- each poem by a different poet. The talented Laura Shovan, author of the award-winning novel in verse, The Last Fifth Grade of Emerson Elementary, wrote this wonderful "found" poem (and we created this visual poster/postcard for her poem):

Laura used the following text for creating her poem. See how she chose six key words and built her poem around those words-- and from the point of view of the lost cat!

Next in the PowerPack is a response poem. Here, Janet (Wong) writes a new, original poem in response to the anchor poem by another poet. She uses Laura Shovan's poem itself as the root of her "found" poem. THEN, she follows with another new poem that we call a "mentor" poem because it leads to the writing activity that concludes the PowerPack. Here, she used text from a government website about pet care as the root text for her "found" poem. 

Here is the response poem and mentor poem created by Janet-- these two poems work together with the anchor poem to tell a tiny bit of the story, while moving the book's whole plot forward too. 

Every PowerPack ends with an opportunity for kids to WRITE by building on everything they've been thinking about and reading about in the three poems that are the building blocks of each PowerPack. 

As the book continues, each PowerPack follows with more of the story, but with a new poem focus (like rhyming, questioning, using repetition or alliteration, understanding stanzas, conveying emotion, employing dialogue, and trying found, acrostic, list, and free verse poems). Each time, there are different creative activities to jumpstart the PowerPack as well as an opportunity for children to try writing poetry at the end. 

Finally, there's a bonus at the very end of the book, with a look at some of the "hidden" language skills commonly taught in the primary grades and all tucked away in the PowerPack poems throughout the book. For example, kids can hunt for antonyms, commonly misspelled words (like they're/their/there), adjectives, punctuation, capitalization, and more (and with the answers provided too).

I was very excited to have an advance copy of Pet Crazy with me at my conference in Poland and add it to the "little library" created out of this old phone booth just outside the conference center! It's so fun to think about a young reader in Poland discovering our little book! 

If you would like to see more sample PowerPacks and learn more about Pet Crazy, check out this week's blog post by the wonderful Jone MacCulloch who is also hosting Poetry Friday over at Check it Out

Order your copy of Pet Crazy now and let us know what you think! We're crazy about it! 


Liz Steinglass said...

I love Laura's sweet kitty poem and I absolutely adore the video of Janet reading to Tony. How fun! I am so very happy to be part of this wonderful book.

Janet Wong said...

We are so happy to have your "BOOK HOUND" acrostic poem, Liz! Kids love acrostic poems generally—and I'm sure that yours will become one of their favorites. In PET CRAZY's Resources section, Sylvia lists some "reading buddy" pet programs (and I'll list them here too):
There are many photos and tips on how to get started and why reading to pets is special.

R.E.A.D. Program
The Intermountain Therapy Animals R.E.A.D. (Reading Education Assistance Dog) program is a central resource and has workshops in many places.
This is a program in low-income neighborhoods in Chicago with trained volunteers and Certified Reading Assistance Dogs.

Tail Waggin’ Tutors
Therapy Dogs International has a model program described here.

But of course: kids can read to their own pets (and stuffed animals) at home, too!

Robyn Hood Black said...

Can't wait to have this one in my paws to read, and to share, of course! Love the peeks I've seen so far - and that Tony was a pretty good listener, huh?
That little library is one of the best ones I've ever seen...
Kudos to all for another sure-to-be winner! (The kids who get to enjoy this will be the real winners.) :0)

Buffy Silverman said...

Lucky Tony the Tiger...and lucky kids and teachers who get their hands on this book! So much to love about this post and Pet Crazy--wonderful poems, examples to inspire kids' writings, and activities.

Sylvia Vardell said...

Thank you for your support of our PET CRAZY project-- and for sharing those pet program links, Janet. We're so excited about this-- the topic, the poems, the fun activities-- an appreciate all the enthusiasm!

Jane @ said...

I'm sure I'm going to be CRAZY over this one, too - can't wait to share it with my pet-loving young writers!!

Mary Lee said...

Your Power Books are each a force for good in the universe...and you keep getting more and more creative with every new volume! Three cheers for Vardell and Wong!

Linda Mitchell said...

Wonderful looking book. Happy Book Birthday! Can't wait to get into this. I know kids are going to love it. This year, our school wide focus is.....WRITING! This is perfect.

Kay said...

So much fun and poetry goodness are packed into this book. I hope it travels far and wide!

Michelle Heidenrich Barnes said...

Crazy FUN, that's what this book is all about! Congratulations and happy new release!

Anonymous said...

This Pet power-pack looks like a crazy lot of fun and inspiration! Cute video!

jone said...

Thank you for bringing this book into the world. I can't wait to use with students.

Charles Waters said...

Many, many congrats on another gem in the Pomelo universe. :-) VARDELL and WONG POWER!

Charles Waters said...

Many, many congrats on another gem in the Pomelo universe. :-) VARDELL and WONG POWER!