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Celebrate Nature with the March 2016 Primary Titles

February 24th, 2016 | Posted by etownsend in Primary (Grades K-2) | 2015-2016 | March

firefly julyFirefly July: A Year of Very Short Poems by Primary Icon of a White-Tailed DeerPaul B. Janeczko. Illustrated by Melissa Sweet. Candlewick Press, 2014.

A smile-inducing collection of poems offers a range of perspectives on the seasons and an introduction to an array of poets both contemporary and classic. Charlotte Zolotow’s “Little Orange Cat,” Ralph Fletcher’s “Water Lily,” and Carl Sandburg’s “Window” are among subjects for Spring. Summer includes “Subway Rush Hour” by Langston Hughes and Joyce Sidman’s “Happy Meeting” in which “Rain meets dust: / soft, cinnamon kisses. / Quick, noisy courtship, / then marriage: mud.” Fall and Winter speak in the voices of William Carlos Williams, Eve Merriam, Robert Frost, Ted Kooser, and others. The brevity of the individual poems makes each one feel like a perfect little package, to be opened, sighed over, shared. Melissa Sweet’s lovely illustrations offer concrete yet whimsical images that shift stylistically, providing an appealing accompaniment to poem while maintaining a sense of unity across the pages.  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Find more resources for Firefly July at TeachingBooks.net, including this teaching guide from The Classroom Bookshelf and QR codes.

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. How do the illustrations help us to understand the words in the poems?
  2. Describe how the words and illustrations identify the seasons?
  3. What are the differences between the fog in Carl Sandburg’s poem (p. 36) and Ever Merriam’s poem (p. 37)?

What Forest Knows by George Ella Lyon. Illustrated by what forest knowsAugust Hall. A Richard Jackson Book / Atheneum, 2014.

An inspired journey through the seasons in a wood offers a growing litany of what Forest knows, from “snow / icy branches / frozen waterfall” in winter to “buds … / waking / opening up” in spring. Forest knows “growing, / going forth … / fruit” in summer, and “gathering in, letting go” in fall. Then Forest knows snow again, and change, in everything and everyone. A picture book full of rich, evocative words moves seamlessly between ideas and concrete details of many things that might be found in the wood across the seasons. Astute observers will appreciate the dual meaning applied to “Forest” through the illustrations. The word can not only be taken as the woods personified, it can also be interpreted as the name of the brown dog seen on every page spread, exploring the woods throughout the year. Highly Commended, 2015 Charlotte Zolotow Award  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Find more resources for What Forest Knows at TeachingBooks.net,

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. Who or what do you think is Forest? Show examples for your opinion.
  2. In what season does the book begin? In what season does the book end?
  3. Identify words in the story that describe or show action?

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