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Explore Emotions with November 2015 Primary Titles

October 23rd, 2015 | Posted by etownsend in Primary (Grades K-2) | November | 2015-2016

bullyBully by Laura Vaccaro Seeger.  A Neal Porter BookPrimary Icon of a White-Tailed Deer/ Roaring Brook Press, 2013.

Not a bully but a bull takes center stage in Laura Vaccaro Seeger’s visually eloquent look at name-calling and insults. “Go away!” a big bull tells a smaller one, the rejection unmistakable on the small bull’s face. When the small bull is then approached by a group of animals inviting him to play, he puffs himself up and says, “No!” But he doesn’t stop there. He calls the chicken a chicken. He calls the turtle a slow poke. He calls the pig a pig. His anger intensifies each time, and even though the words at face value are generally factual (a chicken is a chicken and a pig is a pig, after all), intent is everything here. When a billy goat counters with a name of his own for the bull, everything changes. “Bully!” Suddenly the bull, which had been growing larger with each insult he hurled, deflates. Despite its seemingly obvious message, Seeger’s book is leaves plenty of space for readers of the words and pictures to observe, reflect upon, and discuss the characters’ thoughts, feelings, and actions. The spare text is comprised only of the words the animals exchange, while the bold illustrations are simple in composition but complex in terms of gesture and feeling. (MS) ©2013 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Teaching ideas and guides, book trailer, and author interviews for Bully at TeachingBooks.net.

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. Why do you think the bull picks on the other animals? Which animal makes the bull change?
  2. What does the bull say to insult the animals? How do these words relate to the specific animal being insulted? How are these words insulting and not insulting to the animals?
  3. Why do you think the illustrator shows the bull growing larger with each animal it teases?

Ivan: The Remarkable True Story of the Shopping Mall Gorilla byivan the remarkable true story Katherine Applegate. Illustrated by G. Brian Karas. Clarion, 2014.

“In leafy calm, in gentle arms, a gorilla’s life begins.” The baby gorilla learned as he played in the tropical forest of central Africa. He learned, too, by watching and listening to his mother and his father and other gorillas. But he didn’t learn about humans until he was captured by poachers and shipped in a crate with another baby gorilla to the United States. “A man who owned a shopping mall had ordered and paid for them, like a couple of pizzas, like a pair of shoes.” They were given names in a contest: Burma and Ivan. Then Burma died and Ivan was alone. He learned how to do things humans do—hold babies, sleep in a bed—but not the things that gorillas do. Eventually, he was too big to do anything but live a cage at the mall, with a TV, some art supplies, and a tire. After many years, people began to get angry on Ivan’s behalf. After twenty-seven years in a cage, he was finally moved, to Zoo Atlanta, a safe haven where he was released into the open air again. “In leafy calm, in gentle arms, a gorilla’s life begins again.” Katherine Applegate tells the story of the gorilla that inspired her Newbery-award-winning The One and Only Ivan in this lyrical and moving picture book tenderly illustrated by G. Brian Karas. A two-page photo essay at story’s end tells more about Ivan.  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Teaching guides and a dedicated website for Ivan available through TeachingBooks.net.

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. Before reading: How would you feel if you had to live in a shopping mall?
  2. What are some differences between Ivan’s life in the jungle and in captivity?
  3. How do the author and illustrator show you how Ivan feels throughout the story?
  4. Why do you think the shopping center owner let Ivan leave? What in the text and illustrations shows you this?

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