Saturday, May 7, 2011

Saturday Spotlight: Nancy Carlson (A Favorite Author)

My favorite librarian introduced me to Nancy Carlson’s books several months ago.   Not only did my son (and I) enjoy them the first time we read all the available ones in the local library, but again and again, he checks out one or more on our weekly library trips.  Some of her books are narrative while others are instructional.  Ms. Carlson uses memorable characters (both animal and children) to depict life lessons and to teach social skills. 

The stories are ideal for early readers and young listeners.  There are only 1-2 lines on a page using basic vocabulary, allowing for students to feel prompt success.  The plot lines and characters are entertaining and relatable which will prompt children to go back to them over and over.  The target audience for these picture books is ages 4-9. 

Loudmouth George Earns His Allowance, Henry’s Amazing Imagination, and Think Big are examples of her narratives.

Loudmouth George Earns His Allowance 
Loudmouth George spends the weeks relaxing and hanging out.  When his best friend calls to invite him to the movies, George learns he has to do a week's worth of chores to earn the money to go. Still trying to get out of his duties, he enlists his siblings to do them.  Unfortunately, they causes a bigger mess and more work for him.  He learns the hard way that taking short cuts often leads to bigger problems.

Henry’s Amazing Imagination  
Henry loves using his imagination!  During  show and tell, he shares about his experiences with big fish, green aliens, and colossal snowmen until he is called a big fibber by one of his classmates.  His teacher encourages him to write his imaginative stories down, which he enthusiastically does.  Now, show and tell is boring without Henry's tall, exhilarating tales.  Then, he gets an idea on how to make show and tell exciting again without being a fibber. 

Think Big! 
Because Vinney is short, he is often the object of ridicule and jokes at school.   His mother encourages him to "Think big."  The next morning, he begins to turn things around, showing his quick wit and cleverness.  Soon he is using  his small stature and his unique talents to make a positive name for himself amongst his peers.  Vinney learns he can be "big" even if he isn't very tall.   

How to Lose All Your Friends, Think Happy, and Get Up and Go are samples of her instructional books. 

Children will see first-hand how pushing in line, grabbing all the toys, and whining for treats will quickly alienate everyone in their paths!  Using ironic and lighthearted humor and active illustrations the consequences of bullying, tattle-telling, and selfishness are depicted.  The book provides an excellent opportunity for discussing how these behaviors affect others as well as how to be a good friend.

Feeling sad is a common emotion.  Staying sad isn’t necessary though.  This selection offers lots of exuberant pictures and advice on how to make your own happiness.  Suggestions vary from asking for help to throwing a party to being friendly.  Happy thoughts and kind actions can turn any frown up-side down!

People come in different shapes and sizes—which is normal.  Everyone needs to take care of his body though.  The benefits of exercise are given in a accessible manner.  Children exercise helps them become better sports, make new friends, see amazing places, and keep the body healthy.  Numerous energetic pictures show animal characters skating, batting, biking, hiking, boating, and more.   Readers will want to get up and go! 

Nancy Carlson has written nearly 50 children’s books!  Visit her website to see a complete list of her titles. 

1 comment:

  1. It's not easy writing entertaining stories with a limited vocabulary. Kudos to Ms Carlson!


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