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Family Fun: January 2016 Intermediate Titles

December 15th, 2015 | Posted by etownsend in Intermediate (Grades 3-5) | 2015-2016 | January

lulu and the cat in the bagLulu and the Cat in the Bag by Hilary McKay. Illustrated by Icon for the Intermediate (Grades 3-5) readersPriscilla Lamont. U.S. edition: Albert Whitman, 2013.

Irrepressible, animal-loving Lulu is back in two new breezy outings. In Lulu and the Cat in the Bag, Lulu’s grandma, Nan, has come to stay with Lulu and her cousin, Mellie, while their parents are on vacation. Nan is decidedly not an animal lover, and the arrival of a breathing burlap bag on the doorstep has her in a panic about what might be inside. The marigold cat it proves to be isn’t too thrilled, either, and bolts when Lulu opens the bag. But she returns when Nan isn’t looking, making herself at home on Lulu’s bed. When the cat disappears, it’s Lulu’s turn to panic. The outcome of her search for the missing feline is surprising to everyone—perhaps Nan most of all. In Lulu and the Dog from the Sea, Lulu’s parents take Lulu and Mellie on a trip to a seaside cottage. After spotting a stray dog on the beach, Lulu is determined to capture the canine and take care of it. Mellie, meanwhile, is determined to build a kite from the complicated kit she has brought along. Hilary McKay, masterful at writing funny books about families and friends alike, once again offers up a cast of singular, delightful characters in two outstanding books for newly independent readers continuing the series about brown-skinned Lulu that began with Lulu and the Duck in the Park (U.S. edition: Albert Whitman, 2012).  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Resources from TeachingBooks.net.

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. Before reading: What would you do if you found a cat on your doorstep?
  2. What role do pets play in the family in this book? What role do pets play for the main character?
  3. How is the grandmother different at the beginning of the story from the end of the story? Why did the grandmother change her mind about the cat?
  4. How does the setting affect the story? What setting might create a different ending for this story?

The Misadventures of the Family Fletcher by Dana Alison Levy. misadventures of the family fletcher001Delacorte, 2014.

The multiracial Fletcher family is comprised of four boys — twelve-year-old Sam, ten-year-olds Jax and Eli (who are not twins), and six-year-old Frog — along with their adoptive Dads, whom they call Dad and Papa. Set over the course of a single school year, a warm, funny story in the tradition of classics like The Saturdays features wonderful family dynamics that will ring true to readers regardless of what their own family structure looks like. Over the course of the novel, each of the boys faces a dilemma. Sam, who has been single-minded about soccer, is taken by surprise at how much he enjoys acting in the school play and feels torn about where to put his energy. Jax chooses their crabby next-door neighbor as the focus of a year-long Veteran’s Project for school, but then finds it impossible to engage the unfriendly man. Eli hates the special school for gifted academic kids that he begged to attend, but now feels he has to stick with it. And Frog has a new friend, Ladybug, that the rest of the family assumes is imaginary, like the cheetah that lived under his bed. Their good-humored yet often exasperated parents and a variety of friends and neighbors all add to the fun of a story that is fresh, lively, and comforting.  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Resources from TeachingBooks.net.

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. How is each brother featured as a protagonist? How does that change the story?
  2. This book features messages and emails at the beginning of each chapter. How does that affect your understanding of the narrative? What do you learn about the characters from these notes?
  3. Why did Mr. Nelson appear to be grumpy for much of the story?
  4. Which character changes the most throughout the story? Why do you think this? Cite examples.

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