"I have always imagined that Paradise will be some kind of library." ~ Jorge Luis Borges

Sunday, March 18, 2018


Clever, Informative, Motivating, Interesting, Captivating

These are a few of the words I would use to describe HELLO HELLO by Brendan Wenzel after reading this story aloud with my first graders. 
HELLO HELLO is a celebration of the interconnectedness on Earth, but it's not just a celebration, it is a call to action to see and hear that which surrounds us. That act of seeing and hearing leads to learning and an understanding of the importance of caring for our planet and the beings that inhabit it.

Brendan Wenzel's mixed media art for this book is wonderfully-engaging and encourages the reader to slow down and explore each spread. Expressions and body language enliven this friendly group of animals.

The back matter includes a note from Brendan Wenzel encouraging readers to keep on learning. This is followed by a listing of the ninety-two animals that appear in the book along with their status - vulnerable, endangered, critically endangered, etc. This back matter proved useful when my students wanted to identify a few of the animals in the story.

Want a sense of how I shared HELLO HELLO with my students and the project it lead to? Read on!

I showed my students the book trailer before I read the book:
I was able to do a case art reveal and it was fun. The students were eager to share the names of all the animals they recognized in the silhouettes on the case.  We took a quick gander at the end papers and then were ready to read. 

Given the enthusiasm for sharing all the animals they recognized (and had some pretty vast knowledge of) on the case, I asked the students to practice their visual literacy skills and see what they noticed, what did they see that the words didn't mention? 

They shared some of common features and similarities that they saw. My students noticed many small and big details within the story, like how the last animal that appears on the far right of the spread is the first animal on the far left of the next spread, thereby reminding readers of the continuous thread of connectedness woven through the book. They also noticed when bird plumage and fish spiky fin rays were the same, or webbed feet, or striped tails.

We finished by going back page by page and talking through the connections. With these ideas in mind, the students went to the PebbleGo Animals Encyclopedia to begin exploring and looking for common features and connections between animals. Here are a few that I heard about just in an initial perusal of the articles:

cardinal and blue jay - they are both birds
hawk and a jaguar - they both hunt
eel and newt - similar tails
parrot fish and parrot - colors and teeth/beak

The students will return this week to gather information on this sheet:

I am excited to see how they continue this thread of interconnectedness started by HELLO HELLO.

What are you waiting for?
Just say...

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