Friday, June 14, 2013

World Rat Day

Title: World Rat Day: Poems About Real Holidays You've Never Heard of
Author: J. Patrick Lewis  
Illustrator: Anna Raff 
Publisher: Candlewick 
Publication Date: March 2013 
Genre/Format: Poetry Anthology/Picture Book
GoodReads Summary: From the Children’s Poet Laureate comes a year-round ode to wacky holidays just begging to be celebrated.

Nobody should ever forget Ewe on Ohio Sheep Day (July 14). No mata mata how hard they may try on World Turtle Day (May 23). If you’ve never heard of Dragon Appreciation Day, International Cephalopod Awareness Day, or Yell "Fudge!" at the Cobras in North America Day, it’s not because they don’t exist, it’s simply that they needed someone to spread the word. Luckily, the fantastically zany poems of J. Patrick Lewis and Anna Raff’s equally hilarious illustrations have memorialized these holidays forever. So get out your calendars — from Happy Mew Year for Cats Day to Chocolate-Covered Anything Day, World Rat Day (April 4) calls for a year-round celebration. 

What Kellee Thinks:Who knew there were so many animal related holidays?!?! J. Patrick Lewis takes us chronologically through the year and introduces us to quirky holidays throughout the year ranging from Dragon Appreciation Day (1/16) to National Skunk Day (Today!) to National Sloth Day (11/19). The poems range in types including concrete, but most are AB rhyming. The only thing I wish is there was a text box explaining the history of each holiday so we understood the holiday more instead of only having the poem as the reference; however, this could lend itself nicely into how to use it in the classroom. Read the poem, read a nonfiction article about the holiday, then write a story or some sort of variation.
What Jen Thinks: I hope that I am able to avoid skunks today! While I'm happy they exist in this world, I'm happy to not have to co-exist with them in the same space. I much prefer skunks in books...and rats for that matter. There are all sorts of animals throughout this book. I know that students will be intrigued by certain animals and also by all the silly puns throughout this book. I love talking to students about words with multiple meanings and giving them time to think through the plays on words throughout the poems in this book.
     I remember celebrating the spring equinox when I was in high school. We wore yellow and had a sun-themed party to celebrate  that our days were going to be getting longer and that we would have more fun. I loved that celebration, however nerdy it was. I can see how talking about the different days in this book could spark a conversation with students about what they might want to celebrate. Then students could research different days associated with what they want to celebrate. As I was reading this book, I was reminded of Anita Silvey's Book Almanac and website. There she shares bookish tidbits about the day. Matching these two together would be a wonderful way to share Anita's resource with students.  
Read Together: Grades K and up 
Read Alone: Grades 2 and up
Read With: Children's Book-A-Day Almanac by Anita Silvey (
Snatch of Text:   
June 14
National Skunk Day

"If the skunk did not exist,
Then the skunk would not be mist."
(p. 27)
Reading Strategies to Practice: Activating Background Knowledge, Making Connections, Asking Questions
Writing Strategies to Practice: Expository, Personal Narrative, Word Play, Puns, Rhyme,
Writing Prompts: Find a holiday that wasn't mentioned in World Rat Day and write your own poem celebrating this holiday.; After learning more about one of the holidays in the book, write a story about celebrating the holiday.
Topics Covered: Holidays, Animals, Integration - Social Sciences 
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