Monday, May 17, 2010


Chalk by Bill Thomson
(Marshall Cavendish Children) 2010
Source: Mebane Public Library

On a rainy day, three kids are walking innocently along near a playground when they see a dinosaur spring rider.  Hanging on the dinosaur's lower jaw is a gift bag decorated with stars and crescent moons. Inside the bag are pieces of chalk. One of the friends pulls out a yellow piece of chalk and draws the sun. Amazingly, the sun rises from the pavement and clears out the rainy day. Another friend pulls out an orange piece of chalk and draws several butterflies. Sure enough, butterflies fill the playground air. The last friend, a slightly mischievious boy, gently takes out a green piece of chalk and draws the dinosaur. A peaceful playground becomes the stomping grounds for an enormous T-Rex. Scrambling to find shelter in the playground equipment, the friends must find a way to escape from the dinosaur.

Bill Thomson's wordless Chalk is a visual delight.  Thomson used acrylic paint and colored pencils to create the very real looking playground scenes. He also knows kids. We have several who live in our neighborhood and use sidewalk chalk to draw pictures. They draw figures similar to what the fictional kids draw. My favorite part of the book is the dinosaur and the solution one of the quick thinking friends devises to save the group. You can teach lessons on problem/solution, prediction, or story arcs using Chalk. Thomson does a terrific job of illustrating a child's imagination. The look on one of the friend's face at the end would make for a rich open ended discussion on what they are thinking at that moment.

Speaking of rich, click on this link for a lengthy explanation from Bill Thomson on the process of creating the illustrations for Chalk. This discussion is an excellent example of procedural text.


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