Wednesday, June 12, 2024

The Wave (by Tyler Charlton)

Title:  The Wave

Author:  Tyler Charlton

Illustrator:  Tyler Charlton

Target Ages: 5 and up

Genre: Fiction Picture Book

Summary:  A young boy describes his experience with a wave of sadness that he must learn to navigate to get back to shore.

First Lines:  

“The last time it happened I was building a fort.  


I lose my joy and I don’t know why…

…and the wave takes me away.”

Memorable Moment

“And even though the wave still has me…I can get to my feet.”


I pulled this book for a symbolism activity, but I felt it was worthy of a post on its own. In college, I took a course called Bibliotherapy.  It made me realize the power books can have to help someone deal and heal.  If I were teaching that course, I would use The Wave as an example book for educators to support their students and counselors to help their patients.  

I like this book because it illustrates and discusses depression in a concrete way that children can understand. The wave symbolism aptly captures how someone depressed feels–alone, joyless, overpowered.  The book extends beyond that though.  

The protagonist shares what he does to help him reach the shore (i.e. get through the depression and back to himself).  Even when the wave has him, he can get to his feet and keep moving.  He can protect himself from further hurt–emotional, mental, and physical.  He can look for (and move toward) the shore.  Just as a person caught in a wave will fight to protect himself and to gain his footing again, so should a person caught in a wave of sadness. The narrative shows these positive principles in the text and illustrations.

The story provides hope.  First, as mentioned previously, depressed people can do things to help them survive and eventually get back to themselves. Second, the story reminds readers that a wave eventually ends and makes it to the shore.  Similarly, the pain of depression will end for most.  Finally, the shore is hopeful because there are loved ones there waiting to support the protagonist.  In the same way, the reader has people wanting to help them.  The extended wave metaphor gives readers hope that the sad feeling can subside or end.  

For those experiencing depression, the wave captures what they are going through.  For those who do not experience depression, the wave illustrates what some of the peers and loved ones struggle with.  

The book is geared for children.  However, picture books like this one can be used with all ages–middle schoolers, high schoolers, adults–to help them identify their feelings or to build empathy for others.

Activities and Extension Ideas for Lesson Plans:

  • Bibliotherapy:  Read the book with someone experiencing depression.  Use it as a starting point to discuss how he/she feels and how to cope with the feelings and symptoms. 

  • Character Education:  Use this story to discuss how to show empathy for others. 

  • Comparison:  Compare on a graphic organizer how a wave acts to how the character is feeling.  

  • Figurative Language:  Use this book as a springboard to teach or to discuss symbolism and/or extended metaphors.  The wave is a powerful symbol for depression and its impact on a person.  

  • Project Board:  Brainstorm ways to support someone struggling with depression.  Then, use a project board to educate others how to help people with depression.

  • Poetry:  Older readers can study Atwood’s poem “Up” which describes in more depth what depression feels like. Use the poem to further the discussion of depression or compare it to the descriptive details in the book.

Saturday, June 8, 2024

The Good Egg (Jory John)

Title:  The Good Egg

Author:  Jory John

Illustrator:  Pete Oswald

Target Ages: 4 and up

Genre: Fiction Picture Book

Summary:  The Good Egg is helpful. The Good Egg is kind. The Good Egg is responsible. The Good Egg tries to make everyone else act the right way too.  His do-good mantra is taken to an extreme which has an unwanted outcome.     

First Lines:  

“Oh, hello!

I was just rescuing this cat.

Know why?

Because I’m a good egg.

A verrrrrry good egg.”

Memorable Moment

“For once, I found time for me. And guess what! Little by little, the cracks in my shell started to heal.  My head no longer felt scrambled.”


A “good egg” is an archaic way of saying someone is a kind person. The term began as a contrast to the slang term “bad egg” to characterize a person who is not nice.  Author Jory John brilliantly builds on these terms to create a story about perfectionism, mental health, and letting go.  

The Good Egg is the second book in his creative and thought-provoking food series. The first is The Bad Seed, which I enjoyed so much that I purchased it. 

The Good Egg isn’t just a kind person. He has taken it to an extreme.  He has become a perfectionist, and with it, he is driven by a need to control. The text says, “I tried to take charge.  I tried to fix their bad behavior.  I tried to keep the peace.  Because I am a good egg.” His desire is noble: He wants everyone to act right and to do good.  Jory’s characterization resonates with many people.  

Little does the Good Egg realize, but the added pressure to control his surroundings is causing his shell to crack. He is literally cracking up (nice pun).  This situation is more reflective of the experiences of many older children and adults, but there are some young children who are perfectionistic and/or controlling. This story illustrates in a concrete manner where those tendencies lead.

The Good Egg leaves the chaos to take care of himself.  He walks, reads, relaxes, paints, and writes. He gets some spa time in. The text states, “Little by little, the cracks in my shell started to heal. My head no longer felt scrambled. (another good pun) I started to feel like myself again.”  The story illustrates many positive examples on how to deal with stress and mental exhaustion.  Overall, it shows the importance of making good personal choices.  

When the Good Egg returns to his home, he deals with the pressure better.  He doesn’t try to change others and control everything.  His shell heals to reflect how he has healed internally.  This story is a springboard for discussing healthy choices and boundaries.  

Illustrator Pete Oswald helps keep the serious topic lighthearted.  Whether it is the Good Egg walking an old lady piece of bacon across the road or the egg receiving a yolk IV, each watercolor illustration is a delight.  

This story will speak to people of all ages.  It may just be more meaningful for older children and adults than the target ages of a typical picture book.  I highly recommend The Good Egg.

Activities and Extension Ideas for Lesson Plans:

  • Art: Download a free egg template. Students can create their own egg character.

  • Character Education: Use this book as a springboard for discussion on healthy boundaries in relationships as well as on self-care.

  • Comparison:  Compare how the Good Egg interacts with his fellow eggs in the beginning and at the end of the story.  Or compare The Good Egg to The Bad Seed.  How are these 2 stories similar and different?

  • Creative Writing: Teach or review the plot diagram.  Then, have students pick a food item to write a story about in which they must incorporate all the parts of a story–exposition, inciting incident, rising action, climax, falling action, and resolution. 

  • Figurative Language:  Use the story to teach about puns and/or symbolism. 

  • Literature: As a class or family, read the whole fruit series by Jory John and  Pete Oswald.

  • Math: There are 12 eggs in a dozen. There are 12 egg characters in the story.  Learn or practice how to count by 12’s.  Do some math story problems using the term “dozen.”

  • From TPT: Differentiated Book Study Companion Activities.

Friday, June 7, 2024

Beastly Verse (by Joohee Yoon)

Unlike most people who participate in Poetry Friday, I am not a huge poetry fan. I rarely

read poetry except for my handful of favorite poems.  I join this round up periodically

because it challenges me to step out of my comfort zone.  Fortunately, I pick up some new

favorites to add to my collection as I do. Over time, I have gained a greater appreciation of

the genre–in part because of Poetry Friday.

While at the library this week, I found...

Title: Beastly Verse

Illustrator: Joohee Yoon

Target Ages: 5 and up

Genre: Poetry Anthology Picture Book

Summary: This anthology is a beastly menagerie of 16 poems about a variety of creatures like crocodiles, pelicans, hyenas, tigers, centipedes, hummingbirds, and snails. There are selections for both lesser known poets and well-known ones like William Blake, Lewis Carroll, and Christina Rosssetti. 

Favorite Poems

“The Crocodile” (by Lewis Carroll)

How doth the little crocodile

Improve his shining tail,

And pour the water of the Nile

On every golden scale!

How cheerful he seems to grin,

How nearly spreads his claws,

And welcomes little fishes in,

With gently smiling jaws!

“Eletelephony” (by Laura E. Richards)

Once there was an elephant,

Who tried to use the telephant–

No! no! I mean an elephone

Who tried to use the telephone–

(Dear me! Am not certain quite

That even now I’ve got it right.)

Howe’er it was, he got his trunk 

Entangled in the telephunk;

The more he tried to get it free,

The louder buzzed the telephee–

(I fear I’d better drop the song

Of elephop and telephong!) 


The illustrations draw in a young audience.  The art work is whimsical, colorful, and

textured.  Some of the pages expand to a triple page spread.   

There are some longer, more serious poems which I question if the target audience will be

drawn too. However, the shorter, more fanciful poems will captivate children with their

rhyme, playful language, and humorous twists.  

Beastly Verse is a poetry anthology worth checking out.  

Tangles and Tails

Thursday, June 6, 2024

Nonfiction: Log Life (Amy Hevron)

Title: Log Life

Author: Amy Hevron

Illustrator: Amy Hevron

Target Ages: 5 and up

Genre:  Nonfiction Science Picture Book

Publisher Summary

“A fallen log

is full of life.

Peek inside this tiny habitat

and meet the plants

and the creatures

that call it home.”

First Lines: “Once there stood a giant fir tree that stretched to the sun. One stormy day, a great gust came.  The tree creaked…and cracked…and collapsed.”

Memorable Moments



This book is an ideal introduction for young readers learning about habitats.  However, older readers could use it as a springboard for research or projects.

The narrative shows how a “dead” tree gets a second life as a nurse log. It begins in the spring of first year. The child-friendly multimedia illustrations show how different organisms quickly make their home in the nurse log.  Fungi, lichens, liverwort, and much more join in the lively party in their new habitat. Then, the insects and animals are introduced that make this place to call home or to find food. Cute dialogue boxes for the different organisms keep this potentially dense topic lively and child-centered.  

The story skips ahead 10 years and moves to the summer season.  Now, lots of new organisms inhabit the log–from frogs who find a cool den in the hollowed parts to salamanders who slither in the hollows to hide.  

It jumps three more times–to autumn in 100 years, winter in 500 years, and spring again in 1000 years. As a result, readers get a glimpse of the life cycle of a nurse tree in all the different seasons and through many centuries.  

The narrative is a story of cause and effect.  Because one group moves in, it attracts others.  As the nurse log changes, so do the creatures and organisms that make a temporary or permanent home there.  (Ideal crossover skill)

With so much ground being covered, it may seem like this book too comprehensive for children. Not to worry, Hevron does an excellent job keeping the log’s narrative light and readable. Everything from the pictures to the text are age appropriate. 

Log Life is an amazing science picture book!  It is geared for the elementary level, but it is so accessible, fascinating, and informative, readers of all ages will enjoy getting a look into this little known world.  

Activities and Extension Ideas for Lesson Plans

  • Comparison:  Create a Venn diagram comparing/contrasting this habitat with another habitat. 

  • Causal: Use a graphic organizer to plot one or more causal relationships or a causal chain that occurs in this habitat.  

  • Creative Writing:  Write about log life from the perspective of one of the animals or organisms. 

  • Research: Students can pick one of the creatures who make a nurse log home.  Then, write a paper, fill in a graphic organizer, or create a SlideShow with the new information they found.

  • Art:  Use a medium like a shoebox or small poster board to create a 3-dimensional or multi-media replica of one of the stages of the nurse log.

  • Reading: Also, read A Log's Life by Wendy Pfeffer. Compare and contrast the different depictions of this habitat. This paid TPT resource has 19 activities could accompany either or both books.

For more Perfect Picture Book suggestions visit Susanna Leonard Hill's blog.

The Wave (by Tyler Charlton)

Title :  The Wave Author :  Tyler Charlton Illustrator :  Tyler Charlton Target Ages : 5 and up Genre : Fiction Picture Book Summary :  A yo...