Thursday, April 9, 2015

Learning from Picture Books: Maple and Willow Together

This sweet and simple book about two sisters captures the relationship between sisters so well! I borrowed a copy from the library after hearing about this book through Perfect Picture Book Friday.

Here's the summary from Amazon:

Maple and Willow do everything together. They love playing outside throughout the whole year, welcoming the sun, rain, leaves, and snow. But it’s not always sunshine and rainbows, because sometimes big sisters can be bossy—and sometimes little sisters can be frustrating—and even the best of friends need a break from each other . . . at least until they can no longer bear to be apart.

Maple and Willow Together is written and illustrated by Lori Nichols and published by Nancy Paulsen Books, 2014.

My thoughts as a writer:

I love the way this story takes simple, everyday experiences and puts them into a story that young children can connect with. I especially liked the way the author chose to have the characters solve their conflict, in own their way, with little adult intervention. The argument between the sisters is portrayed in a realistic way.

This story is a good one to study to see how the text and illustrations work together. It also provides a great example of how page breaks help to propel the story forward.

To learn more about how Lori works and get a peek at her workspace, try this interview with Lori Nichols at Miss Marple's Musings.

My thoughts as a teacher:

The love of nature that Maple and Willow share in the outdoor setting fits nicely with a recent emphasis on learning outdoors. This book would be a great introduction for discussions on friendship, whether friends or siblings always need play together, having different interests, and ways friends can solve problems on their own. The clear and simple illustrations make this book perfect for preschool and young primary students.

Themes: siblings, friendship, bossiness, getting along, individual differences, solving social conflicts, imagination, nature

Suggested Ages: 2 - 6

Possible Activities:

- brainstorm ideas for different activities to do outside during different seasons of the year
- have students draw or write about something they like to do with a sibling or friend
- talk about a time when a friend or sibling was bossy and how they solved the problem; share solutions with other students
- discuss what it means to “meet halfway”

The author also provides a collection of Story Hour Activities on her website.

If you're looking for more great picture books to read to your class or to investigate as a writer, consider checking out the list of Perfect Picture Books, put together by author Susanna Leonard Hill.

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