giveaway · graphic organizer · responsive classroom · writer's notebook · writing

Five on Friday

Enter to win a copy of this book by leaving a comment on this post.
Enter to win a copy of this book by leaving a comment on this post.

1)  Mother’s Day is approaching. The only gift I need that day is to spend it with my family.  However, children are usually in search of the perfect item to give.  One way to help kids understand it doesn’t take something grand to satisfy their mom is by sharing a story.  Enter A Gift for Mama, a new book written by Linda Ravin Lodding and illustrated by Allison Jay.  

A Gift for Mama is one of my daughter’s favorite titles.  The illustrations are exquisite and unique.  They draw you into the world of the story, which is set in the Vienna in the late 1800’s, and make you want to stay. 

Click on the image to enlarge.  Interior illustration copyright (C) 2014 by Alison Jay.
Click on the image to enlarge. Interior illustration copyright (C) 2014 by Alison Jay.
But it’s not just the illustrations that draw you into this tale, it’s also the writing. “Economy of words” is a phrase I heard over and over again at SCBWI. This means every word is working to tell the story succinctly.  The words describe precisely. Nothing in the text is superfluous. This is the case with A Gift for Mama. While it’s not a short picture book, every word does its job to envelop the reader in young Oskar’s world as he goes on a quest in search of the perfect birthday gift for his mother.

2)  Tracy Mercier’s “The Hot Seat” is an article about an an idea she adapted from Jeffrey Wilhelm. In essence, one student plays the role of a character from a book or a time period the class is studying.  The rest of the students ask the person in the hot seat questions, which encourages them to think critically about whatever they’re learning. It’s an interactive way to deepen content area learning and a way to engage students with characters from read aloud books.  Click here to learn more about it.

Mapping-out the climax of a story.
Mapping-out the climax of a story.

3)  I’m a left-brained person who is constantly trying to make the right side of my brain work a bit harder. Recently, my husband caught me mapping out the manuscript I’m revising in Grids & Guides: A Notebook for Visual Thinkers.  “Are you drawing?” he asked (perplexed). Kinda. I told him I was pushing myself to story board the climax of my picture book manuscript as a way to help me think it through in another way.  I’m finding Grids & Guides is an effective way to push me as a writer since it helps me envision my writing away from the computer screen.

4)  It’s graduation season, which means the advice is going to start flowing.  Flavorwire has advice for graduating seniors from 30 different writers.  Read through it, find some wisdom, then share it with the graduate in your life!
5)  The New York Times celebrated the last week of National Poetry Month with a multimedia Blackout Poetry feature.  Essentially readers were given the opportunity to blackout all but 15 words from a recent NYT article for the purpose of creating a poem.  I had a go with one the other night.  (It was a so-so attempt!)
I tinkered and tinkered and this is all I could come up with.  It's about the process, right?  ;)
I tinkered and tinkered and this is all I could come up with. It’s about the process, right? 😉
Click here to give The New York Times’ Blackout Poetry feature a try.
On a related note, check out Dana’s Erasure Poetry post, which is quite similar.
My posting day in May and June is on Fridays so I’ll be taking using a few of my Fridays to participate in the “Five on Friday” Challenge.



  • This giveaway is for a copy of A Gift for Mama. Many thanks to Random House Kids for sponsoring this giveaway.
  • For a chance to win this copy of A Gift for Mama please leave a comment about this post by Sunday, May 11th at 11:59 p.m. EDT. The following day I’ll use a random number generator to pick the winner whose name I will announce at the bottom of this post by Monday, May 12th.
  • Please be sure to leave a valid e-mail address when you post your comment, so I can contact you to obtain your mailing address if you win.  From there, my contact at Random House Kids will ship the book out to you.  (NOTE: Your e-mail address will not be published online if you leave it in the e-mail field.)

Comments are now closed. Thanks to everyone who left a comment.  Jen B.’s commenter number was selected so she’ll win a copy of A Gift for Mama.  Here’s what she said:

It sounds so sweet! I would love to have a copy of this one!! And I LOVE the Five on Friday idea — might have to try that out!

19 thoughts on “Five on Friday

  1. What a beautiful book… A Gift For Mama! I want a copy for all my children, nieces and friends!! 🙂
    Love your idea for a student to be a character and answer questions! My daughter had to start a Facebook page using a character in a book and write a status or post comments to other characters fb pages. I thought it was brilliant.


  2. What a wonderful story and am so glad to see it made into such a beautiful book.
    Should I win, I’d love to keep this book… but should give it to my daughter on her First Mother’s day, to read to her 8 month old daughter Elise (my first granddaughter) to carry on the reading to your child tradition!


  3. I enjoy books of this type. I read them to my daughters, I read them during circle time to my Kinders, I read them to my 6th graders. Helping people explore books they normally wouldn’t is important.


  4. I love this book both as a mother and a coach. I am excited to use it this week as a read aloud. Hoping to tie it in the mentor text as well!


  5. #2….what a FUN activity! I can see it really helping students to think deeply about the characters. I have seen a similar writing activity (same goal) where students have to write about what kind of shoe certain characters would wear. I like the oral language skill integration here.


  6. I just ordered that book for my daughter, whose kids call her Mama. It looks delightful, Stacey. If I should win, there is a colleague due in June-another person for the book. Thanks for all the other links. I’ll use the grad quotes. Invitations are coming in from former students!


  7. A Gift for Mama… set in Venice! How timely! My only child, married a year ago, will be traveling for the first time to Europe with his wife’s family. What bittersweet feelings I have about this excursion! Sharing this young man with his wife’s family on Mother’s Day! I will miss him terribly but am thrilled that he is living the life he loves with the one he loves! #sharingisamust


  8. Stacey, this post is a real treasure-trove! Although I don’t really have anyone the right age for A Gift for Mama, I love Alison Jay’s art and will be buying this book. I’m also really excited to see Grids & Guides: A Notebook for Visual Thinkers. It sounds like a great tool. Thanks so much for sharing!


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