Each week Stacia and Amanda at Collaboration Cuties host a Must-Read Mentor Texts link-up. There is a different theme focus every week throughout the month and blogs can link up on Sundays. I'll be rotating through reviews of different mentor texts for language arts, math, science, and social studies. You can check out their blog for previous link-ups to connect with other mentor texts they have shared and other bloggers have reviewed, too.
Author: Candace Fleming
Illustrator: G. Brian Karas
Publisher: Schwartz & Wade
Publication Date: August, 2010
Genre/Format: Fiction/Picture Book
GoodReads Summary: Take a bite out of this deliciously funny original fairy tale, which received four starred reviews and was named a Best Book of the Year by Booklist, School Library Journal, Kirkus Reviews, and the Bank Street College of Education.
What would you do if you were invited to the princess’s tenth birthday party but didn’t have money for a gift? Well, clever Jack decides to bake the princess a cake.
Now he just has to get it to the castle in one piece. What could possibly go wrong?
Candace Fleming and G. Brian Karas, creators of the bestselling picture book Muncha! Muncha! Muncha!, have teamed up again to bring us a modern fairy tale starring a determined boy and a story-loving princess with a good sense of humor. While girls will fall for a story featuring a princess’s birthday party, Jack’s adventures with trolls, bears, and gypsies make this the perfect read for young boys as well—and ideal for storytime.
What I Think: I adore this book! I wish I had been able to meet Candace Fleming while I was at ALA last weekend because I so admire her work. I had never read Clever Jack's story but it is a great modern fairy tale. I particularly love this book as a mentor text for writing in general. First of all, Clever Jack seems to stumble upon his story. Helping students realize that stories are all around us and that we just need to open our eyes to them is so important. By the end of this story we see how Jack's experiences on the way to the princess's party truly become a great story. The other message I love about this book is that weaving together a story and being able to communicate with others truly is a gift but it's also a gift that we all have. Our world seems to revolve more and more around material things, especially gadgety, technological things but I love that this book helps us slow down and realize how awesome the gift of a story can be. Hooray for writing!
On Monday, when I shared that I would be reviewing this book this week, one reader, Julee Murphy, shared that she uses Clever Jack as a readers' theater and I think that's a brilliant idea! It would definitely work well as a readers' theater activity as Jack encounters various characters along the way. Each of those characters has a unique voice that would encourage students to practice their fluency and reading with expression. I love readers' theater as an opportunity for students to do a self-assessment of their speaking skills. When I did readers' theater with students, I created a rubric they could use to go back and look at things like was their voice loud or soft appropriate, did they change the speed of their voice from fast to slow when appropriate, or did they change the intonation in their voice from low to high as needed. It's interesting to have students assess themselves. Taping themselves beforehand gives them an opportunity to assess themselves and then make adjustments so that when they do the final readers' theater performance they can see how they changed and if they did read it well. I also had students compare professional audiobook narrators to themselves to see how it was different and for them to have a great model of reading aloud. It's amazing how much students change in their fluency when it becomes obvious to them what great reading aloud really entails. Thanks to Julee for pointing out that this would be great for readers' theater!
Read Together: Grades K - 5
Read Alone: Grades 2 - 5
Read With: Goldilocks and Just One Bear by Leigh Hodgkinson, Extra Yarn by Mac Barnett, Phileas's Fortune by Agnes De Lestrade, A Tale Dark and Grimm by Adam Gidwitz, It's a Book by Lane Smith, Rocket Writes a Story by Tad Hills, Ralph Tells a Story by Abby Hanlon
Snatch of Text:
"Then he set to work, curning, chopping, blending, baking.
That same night, Jack stood back to admire his creation - two layers of golden-sweet cake covered in buttery frosting and ringed with ten tiny candles. Across the cake's top, walnuts spelled out 'Happy Birthday, Princess.' And in the very center - in the place of honor - sat the succulent strawberry.
'What a fine, fine gift,' said Jack's mother.
Reading Strategies to Practice: Activating Background Knowledge, Making Connections, Making Inferences, Making Predictions, Readers' Theater, Fluency, Speaking
Writing Strategies to Practice: Personal Narrative, Commas (series), Word Choice, $100 Words
Writing Prompts: Write about a time in your life when you encountered an obstacle. What did you do to overcome that obstacle and still accomplish what you set to accomplish? What did you learn from the experience?
Topics Covered: Determination, Perseverance, Ingenuity, Creativity, Motivation
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