Thursday, March 24, 2016

Learning from Picture Books - SPECIAL DELIVERY

I am especially fond of stories about elephants and this one is a lot of fun! 

Sadie is on her way to deliver an elephant to her Great-Aunt Josephine, who lives completely alone and can really use the company.

She tries everything from mailing the elephant to boarding a plane, a train, and an alligator to get to her aunt's home. Along the way she meets an array of interesting characters, including an odd postal worker and a gang of bandit monkeys, who all help her get where she is going.

Special Delivery, written by Philip C. Stead and illustrated by Matthew Cordell was published by Roaring Brook Press in 2015.

First line: “Where are you going?”

My thoughts as a writer:

Although I predicted the ending, the journey to get there was a lot of fun. I really liked the way the author told the story completely in dialogue (and a few signs). This story also includes a wonderful example of effectively using a repeated line of text.

The illustrations are delightful, especially if you look closely at the expressions of the elephant and the clever details on each page. It was interesting that Sadie’s interactions with people in the story were all outside (outdoor post office) which made me think of Sadie’s story on another level as part of her imaginative play at a family gathering.

My thoughts as a teacher:

This story would be a lot of fun to read with young students! As a kindergarten teacher, I would probably plan to read it just for fun when setting up a class post office (even though snail mail seems to be disappearing). It would also be a good example for talking about story structure with a problem and solution. Or a good example for encouraging students to make up their own "tall tales."

Ages: 4 – 8

Grades: K - 3

Themes: voyages and travels, elephants, persistence


Choose your favorite animal. Draw a picture to show an imaginative way to deliver your animal to Great-Aunt Josephine.

Act out the story, making up actions to show the different kinds of transportation Sadie used to get to Great-Aunt Josephine’s.

Play a group memory game: Sit in a circle. Pass around a bean bag or ball. Students repeat the line: On Sadie's trip to visit her aunt, she traveled by _______, adding a new method of transportation each time. See how many you can remember!


To learn more about the author, illustrator and the process of making this book, visit Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast for SPECIAL DELIVERY: A Visit with Matthew Cordell & Philip Stead and Even a Moment with Neal Porter


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