Sunday, October 3, 2010

What You Know First/Elsie's Bird

What You Know First
written by Patricia MacLachlan; illustrated by Barry Moser
(Joanna Cotler Books) 1995
Source: Mebane Public Library

I was looking through our book collection at home when I came across What You Know First. I don't know how it came into our hands, but I'm really glad I found it. In the book, a young girl is unhappy about having to move away from her prairie home to a new place next to the ocean. Her parents try to sway her by telling her about the ocean and the trees. The girl's reply is "I don't need an ocean. I've got an ocean of grass." Mama talks about how her baby brother will miss her and not know about the wonders of the prairie. This seems to persuade the girl to come along but not before she grabs some natural mementos from the prairie to remember the landscape of her first home.

This book seemed very familiar as I read it and I immediately thought of the recently published Elsie's Bird by Jane Yolen and David Small. Both main characters are moving away from their first homes, but in opposite directions. Instead of moving to the ocean, Elsie moves from the ocean to a new home in Nebraska. She describes it as a "sea of grass" and reluctantly warms up to the prairie. I will be teaching text-to-text connections soon so I will be using both of these books in the near future to model making this connection. A good extension activity would be to ask students to think about whether the girl in What You Know First will like her new home next to the ocean as Elsie grew to like the prairie.

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