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Picture Book Thursday: Butterflies and Birds

South South
Written and illustrated by Patrick McDonnell
Little, Brown and Co.
Age Range 4-9 years

Houdini_2 Houdini the Amazing Caterpillar
Written and illustrated by Janet Pedersen
Clarion Books
Age Range 4-9 years

Red Red Butterfly: How a Princess Smuggled the Secret of Silk Out of China
Written by Deborah Noyes, Illustrated by Sophie Blackall
Candlewick Press
Age Range 6-10 years

Hey folks.  It’s Picture Book Thursday and the leaves are flying.  Along with them are the birds and butterflies, as they make their way south for the winter.  That makes this the perfect time of year for…

So I have to admit, I am not a fan of wordless picture books.  Sure many of them have gorgeous illustrations but I’m a meat and potatoes kind of guy; I need the words.  That said, Patrick McDonnell has totally won me over with South.  Illustrated in a warm sketchy style, the characters evoke so much emotion as a lost bird is helped out by a cat.  I was totally caught up in their journey and friendship.  I can picture using this story to kick off a unit on migration.

Houdini the Amazing Caterpillar
This title tells the tale of a caterpillar in a classroom. Readers are treated to Houdini and his “performances” as he molts, does a high-wire-stick routine and vanishing leaf act.   His humor would make him a great sidekick for the The Very Hungry Caterpillar.  My students had a blast predicting what his final magic trick would be and got a kick out of spotting the life cycle posters pictured in the illustrations.  Houdini will be a super addition to your collection of butterfly books. 

Red Butterfly: How a Princess Smuggled the Secret of Silk Out of China
While this isn’t a book about migration, it does recount the legend of how the silkworm traveled through Ancient China to Khotan, “an oasis north of the Plain of Tibet.”  As a Chinese princess comes to terms with leaving her family to start a new life with the king of Khotan, the reader is regaled with illustrations filled with peaches, pinks and patterns.  This is a nice title to include in poetry units, as it’s written in the style of T’ang Dynasty poetry.  Check out the Author’s Note in the back for some fascinating facts about the beginnings of silk production.

I hope you enjoy these books.  What am I talking about?  You’re going to love them.  See you tomorrow for the Round-Up

Using Patrick McDonnell’s South, cut speech bubbles out of Post-It notes and have students write text for the bird and cat.


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