Friday, March 22, 2013

The Black Rabbit

Title: The Black Rabbit 
Author: Philippa Leathers  
Illustrator: Philippa Leathers 
Publisher: Candlewick Press 
Publication Date: January, 2013 
Genre/Format: Fiction/Picture Book 
GoodReads Summary: In this clever picture book, a debut author-illustrator introduces a plucky rabbit and the new companion that he just can’t shake.
     Rabbit has a problem. There’s a large black rabbit chasing him. No matter where he runs — behind a tree, over the river — the shadowy rabbit follows. Finally in the deep, dark wood, Rabbit loses his nemesis — only to encounter a real foe! Kids who like to be in on the secret will revel in this humorous look at shadows and friendship, brought to light by a talented animator.  
What Jen Thinks: In our house we have an almost three-year-old and he is really starting to use his imagination. It's so much fun to see. He'll make me food and tell stories and guess who always makes it into these stories? The Big Bad Wolf. This boy is always talking about the Big Bad Wolf. He is convinced that the Big Bad Wolf is all over the place. Earlier this week, at bedtime, his closet was open a crack and he was sure the Big Bad Wolf was in there. We read this book and of course, he was even more adamant that the Big Bad Wolf was around every corner so we have been talking about how the Big Bad Wolf is not real. I hope he's starting to get it! I know kids will relate to this book, especially if we connect it with a conversation about what kids have been or might still be afraid of and how they have or can face those fears.
     One thing I noticed about this book was that there are a few instances when the rabbit talks to the big black rabbit. He's scared and is trying to confront the big black rabbit. This stuck out to me because it's a great opportunity to talk about why authors use dialogue. When it comes to teaching quotation marks, it should be about understanding why an author uses dialogue and therefore actually needs quotation marks. Understanding why we use quotation marks is more than recognizing that a person is talking. In order for a students to understand why and how to use quotation marks, we have to show them why an author would want to use quotation marks. The instances in this book when the rabbit talks to the big rabbit really show his emotion. If I were talking to upper elementary students about why the author decided to actually make the rabbit speak, I would compare what the story might be like if it was only told through narration. The rabbit talking in this book really makes readers recognize how scared and brave he is being. It is much stronger with the dialogue than it would be if it was all told by the narrator. 
     The more I think about this book, the more I like it. I'm recognizing so many more ways to use this book as a mentor text. There are various different good reading strategies to apply while reading depending on what you want to focus on with students as well as numerous follow up activities to do with students. I would definitely use this to talk about dialogue and how to use quotation marks and then ask students to look at their own writing and think about whether it makes sense to use dialogue or not. We have to be clear to students that it's not okay to just put in quotation marks or dialogue whenever we want and that dialogue is more than just people talking. They should be intentional about when and why a character is talking and whether is supports their purpose in writing. 
What Kellee Thinks:  I agree with Jen. When I first read the book, it seemed simple, but the more I read it and thought about it, the more I started to love The Black Rabbit. It is such a cute picture book which is beautifully illustrated and has a fiesty little protagonist. Along with the lesson about quotation marks and imagination, the little rabbit is having a problem that only a mini-science lesson will explain. This book would be a wonderful (and entertaining) addition to a lesson about sunlight and shadows.  Also, it is a great book to practice predicting. Though I figured out the secret early on in the book, students who are just learning about shadows will find the secret fun and would help make a great prediction lesson.  
Read Together: Grades Pre-K - 5 
Read Alone: Grades Pre-K - 2 
Read With: Chalk by Bill Thomson, I Want My Hat Back by Jon Klassen 
Snatch of Text:  
"Rabbit woke up one morning and stepped out of his burrow into the bright sunlight. It was a beautiful day."
Reading Strategies to Practice: Activating Background Knowledge, Making Connections, Making Predictions, Making Inferences, Visualizing
Writing Strategies to Practice: Alliteration, Author's Purpose, Dialogue 
Writing Prompts: Write about at time in your life when you were scared. Write about a time in your life when you did something brave. 
Topics Covered: Integration - Science, Sunshine, Shadows, Courage, 
Jen and Kellee *heart* It:
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**Thank you to Candlewick Press for providing the book for review**

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