Monday Reading

Happy July!

I thought I’d share some picture books this week.  I hope you’ll check them out.  They are funny, interesting and make great mentors to model your writing on.

The first is The Panda Problem (Ella, this is one for you to read for sure) by Deborah Underwood.  It begins, “Once upon a time, there was a panda who lived in a beautiful bamboo grove.  But the panda had a BIG problem.”  The panda disagrees – “Nope.” The narrator replies, “Excuse me?”  Panda and the narrator continue to have a conversation.  Panda says, “I don’t have any problems.  Lovely view, lots of bamboo to eat, sunny day – what could be better?”

“Psssst … this is a story!  I’m the narrator.  And YOU are the main character.”

“The main character?  That sounds important!”

“It is!  But you need a problem.”


“So you can solve the problem.  That’s how the stories work.”

That is how stories work so the narrator and Panda have their work cut out for them.  They work through issues with  jellybeans, burping, aliens and some penguins, and finally find a problem, and then a solution, that satisfies everyone by the time the book is over.

Bethany Barton has written two other books using a similar format that I really like, I’m Trying to Love Spiders and Give Bees a Chance.  When I read about I’m Trying to Love Math, I thought I should get it right away.  Here’s the OFFICIAL Math Test from the flap of the book.  “What do you do when your teacher gives you a pop quiz with a problem like this?



  • a.  Whip out your pencil and shout, “Alakazam!”
  • b. Say you need to use the bathroom… for the rest of the class.
  • c. Run over to your teacher and give them a big ol’ hug.
  • d. Cross your eyes, fall to the floor and played dead.

If you chose a or c, you will LOVE this book.  It’s full of fascinating ways that math is used from gold records in space to golden ratios in nature.

If you chose b or d, you NEED this book.  It shows you that math is much more lovable when you understand that it’s in lots o things you already love – like cookies and pizza and music!”

Math really is about exploring and creating and understanding. I bet we can all agree we can’t live without it.  I don’t know if reading this book will totally change your mind when it comes to answering the opening question… but maybe?! Who knows.

Our Flag Was Still There – the True Story of Mary Pickersgill and The Star Spangled Banner tells the story of the flag that inspired our national anthem.  Thirty years after the Revolutionary War, the United States went to war with Britain again.  Major George Armistead, ready to lead the troops to defend Baltimore’s Fort McHenry wanted to send a message to the British.  He wanted them to know that this land was America.  He asked Mary Pickersgill, the owner of a flag making shop, if she could do the job, and fast.  She said yes, and so in just a few weeks six women (sewing all by hand) created a flag that was 42 feet long and 30 feet tall to fly over the fort. The Battle of Fort McHenry happened on a stormy night.  It was difficult to tell who was winning until the sun came up to show the American flag. Francis Scott Key, was on a ship in the harbor while the battle raged.  He wrote a poem about what he saw.  That poem was put to music and in 1931 became our national anthem.  And the Star Spangled Banner… you can see it in the Smithsonian Museum – the flag is still there.

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