It has been such a pleasure to introduce my students to the Disgusting Critters series by Elise Gravel. These titles are written partly like a graphic or comic style early reader and partly as a nonfiction picture book. So far, there are four titles published including The Worm, The Fly, The Slug and The Rat. I think The Rat might be my favourite because I feel bravest when I read it. Oh how I despise rats . . .
When I first read The Fly in the summer, I knew. I knew these books would be such a hit in my classroom. I had all kinds of ideas:
- pair them with a more traditional nonfiction series to allow students to continue gathering facts
- have pairs of students read through and list facts discovered (go on a “fact hunt”) and also list parts of the books that are included for other purposes like humour, story line, etc.
- make lists of other disgusting critters that might need to have a book devoted to them
Day one and we started with Disgusting Critters.
— Carrie Gelson (@CarrieGelson) September 23, 2014
Independent reading time included a lot of reading devotion to these books.
Then I thought . . . what if we made our own “fan art” and designed a Disgusting Critter book jacket? I used some of the terms on the back covers for students to answer for the “back” of their cover:
We drew pencil sketches. I made a photocopy. We added colour. One for our bulletin board and one for Elise Gravel. We had lots of interesting “critters” including snails, centipedes, ladybugs, lizards, lobsters and lots of spiders. And many more :-)
We wrote Elise letters full of questions and things we wanted her to notice. Some favourite lines from different letters:
- I drew the lice because I liked it. Lots of kids have lots of lice, so be careful.
- Mine is a spider. Did you notice my spider’s eyelashes?
- I love your art Elise.
- I hate spiders but I like your art. Can you write about lizards and crabs?
- I love how you mixed humour and nonfiction.
- Is writing a book hard?
We wrote thoughtfully . . .
We got some help editing for meaning and clarity:
Lots of hard work and creativity by all to complete these projects. Some art, some writing, a little research and a bit of creative license.
I shared much of this with Elise along the way via twitter.
@CarrieGelson I’m very happy. I’m used to that fan behavior in French but it’s heart warming to see that anglo kids like my work, too :)
— Elise Gravel (@EliseGravel) October 16, 2014
A package of “fan art” and letters is on route to her in Montreal!
So much buzz about these books. Nonfiction that is exciting and engaging? That leads to reading more nonfiction about certain creatures? More Disgusting Critters please Elise Gravel!!
Thanks to Alyson from Kid Lit Frenzy for the inspiration to read and share more nonfiction picture books in 2014. Follow the link to Alyson’s blog to read about more nonfiction books you need to read!
My goal is to read 65 nonfiction picture books for 2014. Progress: 111/65 complete!