Tuesday, April 19, 2016

We are celebrating today! It's Mentor Text Central's 1st birthday! I have tremendously enjoyed sharing my insights about how to use children's literature as a tool to deepen student's understanding of the reading and writing process and I plan to continue. If you have a moment, I invite you to leave me a comment on your thoughts /impressions /suggestions about Mentor Text Central.  The Relatives Came was my first review on April 20, 2015. Here is revision for MTC's birthday entry! Thank you so much for visiting my blog! Patty

The Relatives Came 
Story by Cynthia Rylant
Illustrated by Stephen Gammell

Awards: Caldecott Honor AwardBoston Globe/Horn Book Honor Book

This is one of my favorite Cynthia Rylant's books! I love the visual imagery that she creates for readers by her use of easy-flowing language. 

Because of Rylant's brilliant use of language, The Relatives Came would be an outstanding writing workshop mentor text for older student working on word choice, elaboration, and writer's voice. Most students at all grade levels will be able to relate to family get-togethers and family traditions.  The Relatives Came would also be a strong mentor text for personal narrative or memoir. (It will be interesting to point out information about Cynthia Rylant's younger years. The Relatives Came is often thought of as one of her memoir pieces.)

In reading workshop, The Relatives Came, could be used for the different strategies of connecting, inferring, visualizing. Because of Rylant's smooth writing style by writing long flowy sentences, The Relatives Came would be a good choice to also work on fluency.

No wonder it was a Caldecott Honor for Stephen Gammell: the soft, water-color illustrations are beautiful, funny and animated.

Book Talk: The relatives live in Virginia and they travel to the storyteller's home.  As they travel, they think about the home they are leaving, as well as the visiting that will happen all summer.

Some favorite lines:  "They drove all day and into the night and while they traveled along they looked at the strange houses and different mountains and they thought about their almost purple grapes back home. They thought about Virginia--but they thought about us, too."

When the relatives arrive, there are endless rounds of hugs at the car....in the yard to the house.....and through the house.

More favorite lines: Then it was hugging time. Talk about hugging! Those relatives just passed us all around their car, puling us against their wrinkled Virgina clothes, crying sometimes. Then it was into the house and so much laughing, shining faces and hugging in the doorway! You have to go through at least four different hugs to get from the kitchen to the front room. Those relatives!"

The storyteller describes the meals together ("A big supper-two or three times around the table") and the after-meal 'glow'.  

The description of the crowded sleeping arrangements is humorous, yet sweet.
Even more favorite lines: 
 "The relatives weren't particular about beds, which was good since there weren't any extras. So a few squeezed in with us and the rest slept on the floor. It was different going to sleep with all that new breathing going on."

The summer continues, the relatives stay for weeks and weeks--eating, fixing things, playing music, sleeping and of course, hugging!

The story ends with the relatives going back home to Virginia in their rainbowed colored car--with promises of returning next summer.

Stephen Gammell won a Caldecott Honor Award for his explicit, yet humorous, colorful illustrations.

Suggested uses as a Mentor Text:
Genre: Realistic Fiction
Reading Workshop Strategies: Making Connections, Inferring, Visualizing, Maintaining Fluency
Writing Workshop Genre and Strategies:  Narrative, Memoir, Writer's Voice, Elaboration, Inspiring Writers
Grammar: adjectives, sentence fluency
Curricular themes: family, extended family, traditions

Cynthia Rylant's webpage: http://www.cynthiarylant.com/

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