Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Swan: The Life and Dance of Anna Pavlova

Title: Swan: The Life and Dance of Anna Pavlova 
Author: Laurel Snyder  
Illustrator: Julie Morstad 
Publisher: Chronicle Books 
Publication Date: August 18th, 2015 
Genre/Format: Non-Fiction Biography/Picture Book 
GoodReads Summary: The world is big.
Anna is small.
The snow is
and all around.
But one night . . .
One night, her mother takes her to the ballet, and everything is changed. Anna finds a beauty inside herself that she cannot contain.
So begins the journey of a girl who will one day grow up to be the most famous prima ballerina of all time, inspiring legions of dancers after her: the brave, the generous, the transcendently gifted Anna Pavlova.  
What I Think: Words, words, words. I love words. But I especially love words that are strung together in such a way that they feel like art. Don't get me wrong, all words are art, but sometimes, words just envelope me and pull me into a sort of dream-like fairy tale just from how they are put together. Laurel Snyder's words do just that. As they tell Anna Pavlova's story, it feels like being sweetly tugged into a dance. Julie Morstad's art adds to the story, gently ushering the reader into the story woven by the text. It all just works together to make for an amazing book.
     Teaching tone and mood isn't easy. It's a little easier to recognize it as a reader than it is to write. But it all starts with reading and recognizing what authors have done differently. By looking at at least two different texts, readers can see the difference. Once they can see the difference, then you can invite them to zone in and notice what the author has done differently. And from there, you can invite them to try what the author has done in their own writing. Maybe they add some figurative language. Maybe they break up words or phrases or add figurative language in a very purposeful way. It's fun to play with words and to see what happens and using books like Swan as a mentor text really help writers see what is possible and find ways to write like that too.
Read Together: Grades 2 - 6  
Read Alone: Grades 2 - 4 
Read With: Enormous Smallness: A Story of e.e. cummings by Matthew Burgess and illustrated by Kris Di Giacomo, The Cosmo Biography of Sun Ra by Chris Raschka, The Sky Painter: Louis Fuertes, Bird Artist by Margarita Engle and illustrated by Aliona Bereghici, The Right Word: Roget and His Thesaurus by Jen Bryant and illustratd by Melissa Sweet, Sounds Like a Rainbow: A Story of the Young Jimi Hendrix by Gary Golio and illustrated by Javaka Steptoe
Snatch of Text: 
"Something is happening...
There's a swell of strings,
a scurry of skirts.
A hiss and a hum and...
Writing Prompts: Write about something you feel strongly about sharing with others. What might you do to help share your passion with others?
Topics Covered: Family, Dreams, Determination, Courage 
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