Butterfly Wings

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CLICK, CLACK, MOO COWS THAT TYPE – Picture Book, Caldecott Honor Book September 16, 2008

Filed under: Picture Books — anet smith @ 10:12 pm


Cronin, Doreen. Click, Clack, Moo Cows That Type. Ill. By Betsy Lewin.  New York: Simon & Schuster, 2000.  ISBN: 1416903488



Farmer Brown’s cows put their typing skills to work protesting the cold temperature of the barn at night.  They want electric blankets.  When Farmer Brown refuses, the cows and eventually the hens, go on strike. Duck, as a “neutral” party, negotiates a deal:  the typewriter for the blankets.  However, Duck does not deliver the typewriter and he can type!



Click, Clack, Moo is full of humor with literate cows, cold hens, a duck negotiator, and a flustered Farmer Brown as characters.  The plot of the story is easy to follow with typewritten notes expressing problems and solutions and Farmer Brown’s expressions, “No eggs!”  “Click, clack, moo. Click, clack moo. Clickety, clack, moo” is a repetitive line that children can expect and chime in each time.


The beautiful watercolor illustrations are so expressive.  The cows look deliberate and focused; the hens look angry and even the eavesdropping barn animals have watchful expressions.  I love the one of just the shadow on the barn of a leaping Farmer brown with his hair and arms raised!  It completely illustrates his mood and feeling.  Lewin does a fabulous job of creating time and place with her color choice.  There is bright yellow for morning, white or blue for later in the day, shades of pastels as it gets close to dusk and deep purple and black for night.  Red is used for scenes at the barn and Farmer Brown’s house is “wall papered”.


I love the witty stories and smart farm characters of this and other books collaborated by Cronin and Lewin.



BOKLIST: “Lewin’s wild line-and-watercolor cartoons are perfectly suited to this barnyard farce about animals that go on strike to demand better working conditions.”


PUBLISHER’S WEEKLY: “Kids and underdogs everywhere will cheer for the clever critters that calmly and politely stand up for their rights, while their human caretaker becomes more and more unglued.”



*For primary students

Discuss parts of the book that could be real and make-believe.  Explanation of a typewriter may be necessary as some children make call it make-believe.  Use sentence strips for children to correct capitalization and punctuation and then sequence.

*For intermediate students

Explore other inventions that are not used widely today.  What has replaced them? Which works better? Why?

Write your own letter about something you think is unfair.

*Also illustrated by Betsy  Lewin,

Cronin, Doreen. Duck for President.  ISBN: 0439671442


JOSEPH HAD A LITTLE OVERCOAT – Picture Book, Caldecott Award Winner September 12, 2008

Filed under: Picture Books — anet smith @ 2:02 pm


Taback, Simms. Joseph Had a Little Overcoat. New York: Viking, 1999.  ISBN 0670878553



Joseph has little overcoat and when it is too worn, he makes another smaller article of clothing.  Each time the item is old and worn, he does the same again until nothing is left.  However, all is not lost, Joseph is a creative genius!



This is an engineered pictured book, meaning it has die-cuts in each page.  Simms Taback adapted his favorite Yiddish folk song, “I Had a Little Overcoat” into a book and later re-illustrated the book after people noticed that Joseph looked like him.


The text style is predictable, “Joseph had a….. It got old and worn”.  The phrases alternate between what Joseph has and what he makes new and then does.  The story line flows naturally and makes Joseph real and likeable.


The beautiful illustrations of this book will give children a glimpse into Joseph’s everyday life with his farm animals, in his home, and with his community.  The lively expressions on the character’s faces invoke feelings they must have been experiencing.  Careful inspection of the pages reveal Joseph is a reader, receives letters and postcards from others, is Jewish, and lives in Poland.  At first glance and especially if you are looking at the die-cuts and bold colors, these details might be missed.


Children will enjoy this clever book with a positive lesson.  They may also enjoy looking at the photographs Joseph has in his home.  Some look like illustrations and some look like real photography.



PUBLISHER’S WEEKLY, 2/29/2000: “This is tailor-made for reading aloud.”

BOOKLIST, January 1 & 15, 2000: “A true example of accomplished bookmaking”.



*Read other books with a moral.  Have older students try writing their own story with a moral.

*Lead a discussion about recycling.  Have students bring an object to class and make something new out of it.

*Use the creative artwork on each page to work on observation skills.

*Other books by or illustrated by Taback:

Taback, Simms.  There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly.  ISBN 0590631888

Ziefert, Harriet. Who Said Moo? ISBN 9781929766475

Hennessy, B.G. Road Builders ISBN 9780670833900