Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse 
By Kevin Henkes

Awards: MANY! *ALA Nootable Children's Book *Booklist Editors' Choice * Hornbook Fanfare*Publishers Weekly Best Book *School Library Journal Best Book *IRA Children's Choice*American Booksellers Book of Year * Children's Literature Choice List ...to name a few!!!

One of the most effective ways to use mentor texts as models for Reading and Writing Workshop genres and strategies is to use books that the students are familiar with.  

At first that sounds a bit strange and counter-intuitive…but the reason makes tremendous sense.

Students need to be very familiar with the storyline, they need to have an understanding of the characters’ motives, they need to appreciate the humor, the hook, the flashbacks—whatever that story ‘held’.  

If students do have a strong understanding of the story through read aloud, they can then freely turn their attention to understanding the important teaching point of the mini-lesson for which you are using the book. 

Students will be ready to look at the story through a new and different lens. They will be engaged because of their prior connection to the story and ready/open to learn something new.

Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse fits into the category of ‘well known books’ by students—making it an excellent mentor text.

And although Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse is typically read in Grades K-2 as a read aloud, I would recommend it as an outstanding mentor text to use in Grades 4 and 5.  Henkes' writing is brilliant and sophisticated, and embedded with humor that the students will ‘get’ at a deeper level in the upper grades. This makes it a fitting model for several different and interesting reader’s and writer’s moves that 4th and 5th graders could grasp, experiment with, and emulate.

Book Talk
Lilly loved school and absolutely adored her teacher, Mr. Slinger.  She would do anything and everything to please him. Mr. Slinger was so cool and unusual, which motivated Lilly to do well in school. He also motivated Lilly to want to become a teacher when she grew up.  In class, she particularly enjoyed going to the special area- the “Light Bulb Lab”-to explore her creative side.

One day, Lilly brought a new purple plastic purse (which sang a tune when opened) and new movie star sunglasses to school!  She couldn't wait to tell the class about them and she constantly interrupted Mr. Slinger during the morning’s lessons by whispering to others about her purse.

Mr. Slinger told Lilly to put her things away and wait until Sharing Time. Being told to wait made Lilly want to share all the more—especially because she was so excited about the purse. She continued to whisper and finally in his ‘firm teacher’s voice’ (which he had never used before with Lilly), Mr. Slinger took the purse and sunglasses away from Lilly to hold until the end of the day.

A favorite line:Lilly really, really want to show everyone. “Not now,” said Mr. Slinger. “Wait until recess or Sharing Time.” But Lilly could not wait. The glasses were so glittery. The quarters were so shiny. and the purse played such nice music, not to mention how excellent it was for storing school supplies.”

Lilly was shocked, hurt….and furious!!  And being  hurt and furious is not a good thing to be!  Letting her emotions get the best of her, she again visits the Light Bulb Lab and writes Mr. Slinger a not-so-nice note and slips it into his teacher bag. She then also decides that she does not  want to become a teacher when she grows up.

At the end of the day, Mr. Slinger returns the items to Lilly. On her way home, she opens the purse and finds a very, very nice and understanding note from Mr. Slinger.

She feels horrible, small and is ridden with guilt because of the note she left him and she knows he is going to find and read.

She tells her parents everything and they guide her through her emotional battle of working through her embarrassment.  (She even puts herself in her ‘uncooperative chair!)  Her mother helps her write a new note and dad makes a snack for her to take to school the next day.

The next day she goes immediately to Mr. Slinger, delivers him the peace offering of the snacks, the note and a verbal heartfelt apology.  He loves the new note and together they decide to rip up the note from the day before. Lilly had brought her purple purse back to school and enthusiastically shared it at Sharing Time. Mr. Slinger, Lilly and the class all danced to the music that the purse made. The class enjoyed the snacks. The school day ended up being a very good day—just as Mr. Slinger had predicted and Lilly once again wanted to be a teacher when she grew up (that is—if she doesn’t change her mind).

Suggested Uses as a Mentor Text:
Book Genre: Animal Fantasy
Reading Workshop strategies: Connecting, Inferring, Synthesizing, Analyzing
Writing Workshop genre and strategies: Fantasy, Strong Lead, Elaboration, Character Development, Strong Female

Kevin Henke’s websitehttp://www.kevinhenkes.com/

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