Monday, June 29, 2015

Night in the Country 
by Cynthia Rylant
Illustrations by Mary Szilagyi

I have always been in awe of Cynthia Rylant’s writing—and—her ability to write. If you have read about her writing process—she often states that when she is ready to write a book, she simply sits down and writes it out.  That’s it.  Rarely any rewrites or revisions!  

I mean—who does that!!!!!???? 

A brilliant, talented and gifted author—that’s who!

As simple as the text is in Night in the Country, Rylant’s use of words is powerful (as always!).  This would be a great mentor to use with upper elementary students to demonstrate sentence fluency and variety, elaboration and language that could foster visualization.

Book Talk 
From the beginning of this story, readers get a sense of a storyteller describing to them what night is like in the country… peaceful, quiet, yet very busy in its own way.

A favorite line is the opening:
“There is no night so dark, so black as a night in the country. In little houses people lie sleeping and dreaming about daytime things, while outside—in the field, and by the rivers, and deep in the trees—there is only night and nighttime things.”

Rylant, as storyteller, continues to gently, quietly weave her lyrical description of  the night: owls swooping, frogs singing, apples falling to the ground, rabbits munching, raccoons and cows cuddling their babies.

All of this happens while we sleep—unless one happens to not be able to sleep! Then you can hear the sounds quietly happening all around outside as well as in the house:

Another favorite line:
“And all around you on a night in the country are the groans and thumps and squeaks that houses make when they are trying, like you, to sleep.”

The storyteller ends the tale with a bird announcing the upcoming dawn, the nighttime animals growing quiet and getting ready to observe and listen to us as we all wake up.

Suggested Use as a Mentor Text:
Book Genre: Realistic Fiction
Reading Workshop strategies: Connecting, Visualizing, Maintaining Fluency
Writing Workshop genre and strategies: Narrative Writing, Strong Lead, Elaboration, Sentence Variety / Fluency

Cynthia Rylant’s webpage:

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