Saturday, July 9, 2016

By Lyn Rossiter McFarland
Pictures by Jim McFarland
Published: 2001

Awards: Booklist Editors' Choice, Booklinks Lasting Connection, IRA-CBC Children's Choices, Alabama Children's Choice Book Award, Washington State Children’s Choice Picture Book Award-2003, Missouri Library Building Block Award-2002

The book reviewed today,Widget, is a book that is perfect for our younger students in both Reading and Writing Workshop!

In Reading Workshop for grades K-2, I would use Widget to work on the strategies of predicting, questioning and inferring.  Although my Mentor Text Golden Rule #1(see upper right sidebar) is basically: 'the first duty of a mentor text is to be a read-aloud’…and after only that—a teacher should use the mentor text in a mini-lesson to demonstrate teaching points, craft and strategies—the strategy of ‘prediction’ creates an exception to that Golden Rule!  

How can you work on predicting—and sometimes questioning—if the students already know the outcome of the book??  So I admit, that I do bend a little—at times—about my Mentor Text Golden Rule #1! ;-D

Widget’s narrative,vocabulary, sentence length, problem/solution, and humor are all perfect to engage K-2 students for both Reading and Writing Workshop.In fact, since in my mind, Reading and Writing Workshop are nearly seamless, I would use Widget as a mentor text for both workshops. Many students who have dogs and cats as pets will easily be able to connect and relate to this story.  That will spark conversation and storytelling of their own—which in turn-creates stories for writing workshop and the motivation to read more animal stories!

Book Talk
Widget is a stray, lonely, hungry dog who wanders through a pet door one night and comes across (what at first seems to be) a marvelous sight: a warm room, six dishes of pet food, six warm pet beds.

As he rushes towards the food-he meets Mrs. Diggs-who is warm and friendly—but has to check with ‘the girls’ to see if truly Widget would be welcomed into the home. 'The Girls’ turn out to be Mrs. Diggs’ six cats. AND- as Mrs. Diggs has already informed Widget—they do not like dogs!

However, Widget really likes Mrs. Diggs and the home is so nice and warm, that he decides to do anything to stay. (Even if that means acting like a cat!)

The cats are not welcoming, but Widget is determined!

Some favorite lines:
“Widget really wanted to stay. “Meow?” said Widget.
Mrs. Diggs  laughed. “Well, girls,” she said. “What do you think?”
The girls puffed up.
Widget puffed up.
The girls hissed and spit.
Widget hissed and spit.
The girls growled.
Widget purred…played with a toy mouse…and used the litter box.
The girls were confused.”

The ‘girls’ finally and reluctantly accept Widget into their home.  He gets fed and gets his own bed. He plays with the cats and does everything they do.Sometimes Widget even thought he was a cat! (Your students will laugh at the humor in the text and the pictures.)

But one day, Mrs. Diggs falls and cannot get up. The cats and Widget make all kinds of cat noises to try to attract the neighbors’ attention—but it didn’t work.

Finally—Widget starts barking very loudly—just like a dog should.  And within minutes, help for Mrs. Diggs had arrived.

Widget—acting like a dog—had saved the day!  

In the end, the cats lovingly accept Widget for what he is—a wonderful dog!

Suggested Uses As a Mentor Text:
Book Genre: Fiction/ Animal Story
Reading Workshop Strategies: Predicting, Questioning, Inferring, Questioning, Synthesize
Writing Workshop Genre and Strategies: Narrative, Animal Story, Grammar-Sentence Length, Character Development

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