Briar Rose, by Jane Yolen

Briar Rose, by Jane Yolen, is an excellent mentor text for the study of fairy tales and the uses of enchantment, as well as for a study of the Holocaust. The brilliant Jane Yolen re-envisions the tale of Sleeping Beauty as one woman’s attempt to transform her horrific experience in Nazi-controlled Poland into something mythical, and her grand-daughter’s attempt to find the truth of her grandmother’s past. It is a good example of parallel storytelling — one chapter mythical, one chapter set in the present — until all part of the mystery are revealed and the stories converge.


Biographies: Creating Connections

My picture book biography of Ansel Adams, “Antsy Ansel”, will be out in 2016. I love how these teachers are using the work of contemporary picture book biographers as mentor texts to teach about biography!

Biographies: Creating Connections.

via Biographies: Creating Connections.

Ten Plants that Shook the World; Seeds of Change

I just came across two amazing books — one brand new, and one very old — and am using them to teach how plants have moved around the globe — particularly potatoes, as that is a focus of our school garden program. Plants can be used as a frame of reference to look at global migration, and the impact that the movement of people and plants has had across the world. IMG_1037 IMG_1038


This is an amazing book, looking at the history of a city and a tree, using the scope of a tree’s life as a frame of reference. Kind of puts things in perspective when you think of how long a tree lives. It would be great to use it as a way to study our own neighborhoods or cities, and as a way of studying plants and trees.



Going North, by Janice Harrington

1050194This beautiful book shares the story of one black family’s move north in 1964, from Alabama to Nebraska. It is a narrative text written in poetic language. It can be used as a mentor text when talking about African American history, as an example of the use of repetition, alliteration and assonance, sensory imagery, personification, and onomatopoeia, as narrative nonfiction, or to show a narrative story arc.

There’s an example from the book, showing Harrington’s poetic use of language:

“Lunchtime, are you hungry?”

Picnic basket and paper plates,

Big Mama’s tea cakes

potato salad and lemonade,

cold chicken and corn bread.

The car smells like chicken.

our fingers taste salty sweet.

We’re riding in a lemonade car,

a yellow station wagon, heading North.

To see the book cover, check out this link!

Going NorthHarrington_Janice_N

Here  is a photo of author, Janice Harrington from