My boys registered with the South Pasadena Library's reading program on Friday, and I picked up Gooseberry Park when I recognized the author, Cynthia Rylant. I've been a huge fan of hers since I read through her Mr. Putter and Tabby early chapter books with all three boys. We started with Mr. Putter and Tabby Walk the Dog and then discovered favorites (Fly the Plane, Paint the Porch, Pick the Pears), many of which we added to our home library. It's been one of my favorite series to "gift," and I usually buy copies for the libraries from the book fairs at the kids' schools. I feel like kids at this age should all read these stories about a sweet friendship between two elderly neighbors.
Gooseberry Park is reminiscent of Mr. Putter and Tabby. The main character reminds me of Mr. Putter. In this story, Professor Albert is an elderly man who lives alone with his pets. The story starts off in Gooseberry Park with a red squirrel about to give birth and describes her friendship with Kona, Professor Albert's dog and Murray, a friendly bat who shares the tree where she builds her nest for her newborn babies. A hermit crab, another pet of Professor Albert's, is a wise and helpful friend and when the "wild" animals are in danger during an ice storm, the domestic animals come to their rescue.
As I was reading through David's ELA book from this year, it occurred to me that I used to do a lot of "writing the question" practice with my ESL students (so that they could learn about do/does) and that regular first-language learners could benefit from it as well. I saw that they practice question words, and I know they struggle with writing complete sentences. So here is where my mind went while I was reading Gooseberry Park.
1. Stumpy builds her nest in a pin oak tree.
Where does stumpy build her nest?
2. Murray's cousin, Ralph, stole the glow-in-the-dark watch.
Who stole the glow-in-the-dark watch?
3. Stumpy collects straws, gum wrappers, rubber bands, and empty yogurt cups for her nest.
What does Stumpy collect for her nest?
Gregory didn't feel like reading Monday night, so I read from Gooseberry Park. When I finished up Chapter 5, he asked if he could stay up to read more. Of course! He finished (and very much enjoyed) this adorable story.
Feedback is always welcome! Teachers---please comment below. Would you like to see a worksheet or activity for Gooseberry Park? Which grammar point would you like reviewed?