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:: reading challenge update #3 ::

February 13, 2011

This week of the reading challenge only saw us complete 4 books (numbers 15 to 18 on the list). However, it also saw us introduced to an incredible, unexpected find from the library.

Water Hole Waiting by Jane and Christopher Kurtz was a ‘throw-it-in-the-basket’ type grab from the library shelf two weeks ago.  Ava is interested in all things savanna (it was a name she championed while I was pregnant with Violet) and loves to hear stories about animals, so it seemed as though it could be an entertaining read. It sat in the library bag until this week when we finally peeled open the cover, and believe me, it was worth waiting for.

The language in this story is just delicious. Perhaps I’m scorned by Dora’s repetitive and redundant lack of adjectives (“The giant Giant!” “That dragon is so dragon-y!”) but I was captivated instantly by the word choices in this book.  Even Isaac got into the wordplay, feeling quite proud to be learning new descriptors (“The frog plopped, Mom!  Plopped means jumped.”)

The plot follows a thirsty young monkey through his day on the Savannah. The opening line, “Morning slinks onto the savanna and licks up the night shadows one by one” illustrates the author’s creative use of verbs. The author continues her poetic narrative from the sunrise until the draw of dusk.  Monkey must refrain from running to the water hole throughout the day because of the larger, more dangerous animals who also are thirsty. His mother chides him as they bide their time until twilight.

Overall, the story was creative, Monkey was impulsive and nattery (hmmm….like any other little monkeys I know?), and the dreadful crocodile was (to channel my inner Dora) Crocodilian. This was one of those books that does not seem like much at first glance, but holds a vestibule of language, information and realistic illustration between the covers.

Here are a few websites I found (for us teacher folk) with extension activities based upon the story:

Information about Jane Kurtz’s research into African animals and botany while writing the book

For older readers, this site discusses the literary elements used in the story

Also for older readers, a lesson plan based on this story which teaches setting development in a Writing Workshop model.

Remember that if you are participating in the challenge, you need to link your book reviews in the appropriate month to be eligible for prizes!

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