Monday, March 22, 2010

Happy Birthday Kate DiCamillo - March 25

Happy Birthday Kate DiCamillo- March 25, 1964

I planned on making four posts this month, one post for each author celebration. Then, I stumbled upon the Share a Story, Shape a Future online literacy event.  As a result, I have already posted more than I expected.  In addition to spending more time preparing posts, I am reading many other blogs, and even following twitter.  Share a Story motivated me as a reader and a writer.  During the event, I realized more than ever the importance of reading to my kids and the value of sharing my experiences may hold for my readers of this blog.

 I have always been a big fan of technology and computers.  I actually worked for two years in the technology department in my former school district.  However, I was apprehensive to use the social media avenues like Facebook, Twitter, Google FriendConnect, etc.  I think I had the same apprehension when getting my first email account about 14 years ago.  However, it is these types of technologies that lead me to Share a Story and some other great book blogs. The Share a Story event theme was, "It takes a village to raise a reader."  (The cartoon at the right was made my Susan Stephenson of the Book Chook using  Through these technologies, I have been able to access a village of helpful and knowledgeable moms, teachers, and experts sharing their insights to help raise readers.  In response, I have started to add links to many of the blogs I follow along the right hand side of this blog under my Twitter updates.

One of my favorite bloggers from the Share a Story event was the Reading Countess.  Her posts are well written, interesting, and insightful.  Recently, she wrote about her favorite chapter book to read to children of all ages.  Her choice was The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamillo.  I immediately reserved a copy at my library as soon as I finished reading her post.

I introduced Edward Tulane to my daughter and the first thing she said was, "Does it have a movie?"  I told her unfortunately it doesn't at this time, but maybe some day.  Last two books we read were Charlie and the Chocolate Factoryand James and Giant Peachby Roald Dahl.  Both books have corresponding movies which we also watched.  We would read part of the chapter book, and then would watch the movie up to the point in which we read the book.  Then we would read more and then watch more of the movie.  This technique provided additional support for my daughter, as she is new to listening to chapter books.  The visual of the movie strengthened her comprehension and allowed us to discuss the book more deeply.

It was after the second day of reading Edward Tulane to my daughter before "quiet time" that I knew it was going to be a great book.  The story was simple, a young girl was given a china rabbit named Edward by her Grandmother.  She dressed him, took care of him, and loved him more than anything in the world. However, the story turns when Edward is lost at sea on family vacation.  This is when Edward embarks on his miraculous journey.  This is also when the true message of the book appears.  At first the message is abstract, but through subtle comments and referencing of past key events, even my 4 year old daughter was starting to understand the personal discovery Edward was to experience.  The illustrations are wonderful and very detailed.  They are placed at the exact places necessary to support a young reader.

While reading the story, I wondered about Kate DiCamillo's birthday. I do that quite frequently now.  I found out it was this month and I knew I had to celebrate even though it wasn't originally planned. DiCamillo can be considered a fairly new author.  However, many of her books have received accolades. Her first book, Because of Winn-Dixie, was a Newbery Honor Book in 2001.  She followed it up with a National Book Award Finalist for The Tiger Rising.  Then, in 2004, she was awarded the Newbery Medal for Tale of Despereaux.  She has published 5 novels, 6 early chapter books (Mercy Watson), and 2 picture books. Tale of Despereaux and Because of Winn-Dixie have been made into movies. The Tiger Rising and Edward Tulane are said to be in production.

Note: All of the above text was written before I actually finished reading Edward Tulane with my daughter. 

Today, Sunday, we read quite a bit.  We did a Sketch-to-Stretch activity right after lunch in our favorite reading spot, the sunny screened-in porch.  I asked my daughter to sketch or draw while I read to her.  I used to do this activity with my fourth grade students as I read aloud to them.  Most of them were antsy boys and this gave them an activity to do while they listened.  Without this activity, reading aloud became torture for them and me.  My students were asked to draw about anything they desired as long as it was about the story I was reading.  It could have been an event that already happened, or it could be exactly what I was reading at the time.  Today, my daughter chose to draw the part of Edward Tulane when he was taken to the dump.  She drew a hill covered with old tires, cans, and rotten vegetables along with a nice drawing of Edward.

Later, it was our usual time of reading before her "quiet time".  We had roughly 6 or 7 chapters to go before we finished the book.  I think for the first time my daughter felt that feeling you get when you can't do anything else until you finish the story.  After two chapters, I asked if she wanted me to read more.  She said, "I want you to finish the book."  I was so glad she said that because I couldn't wait to find out what was going to happen myself. At the end, my daughter looked at me and said, "That was fantastic. Fantastic." No prompts, just pure, innocent, appreciation for one of the best books we have read together.  I believe I just had the most memorable moment reading with her.  Reading Countess was exactly right when she recommended this book - THANK YOU!

Sorry, but there is no book giveaway for this author this month since this post was a last minute addition.


1.  Reading Countess Blog - Recommendation of Edward Tulane
2.  Kate DiCamillo's Website
3.  Edward Tulane Book Website - Teacher's Guide
4.  Reading Rockets Video Interview
5.  Kate DiCamillo talks about movie Tale of Despereaux - YouTube
6.  Kate DiCamillo talks of writing - YouTube (Cool Interview!)
7.  The Magician's Elephant (Her Newest Book)  - Website, Activity Guide, Discussion Guide


  1. I am so happy you and your daughter had such a rewarding experience with such a magnificent story! I had to laugh when she asked dubiously at first if the book had a movie to go along with it! My middle son is right there on that part of the reading journey. I like the idea of stopping and watching bits of the movie-I might try that out with him next time. One of the many aspects about DiCamillo's Tulane is that adults receive such a deeper understanding of the book than the younger readers, but all can thoroughly enjoy it to no end. I love how she sighed with satisfaction at the end! Thank you so much for letting me know that you both enjoyed it.

  2. I just checked it out of the library. We will be starting it as our next family book tonight. I will keep you posted.


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