Carol’s Wall—Asking Questions to a REAL Author!

We have been enjoying a series of books by Kate and Jim McMullan.  Recently, I was lucky enough to make a connection with Kate.  I thought the children might like to send a letter to ask a real author about her book, I Stink.  Kate was kind enough to send a prompt reply, isn’t that just wonderful!  Here is the children’s letter and Kate’s reply.

 

Kate's Reply:

Hi Carol -
Happy to answer your kids' questions - I'll do it in caps below.
~K

 

The Children's Letter with Kate's Reply:

May 4, 2012

Dear Kate,

We love your book, I Stink.  It was stinky good! We have some questions and comments for you:

 

Comments about the book: (What the children wanted you to know)

" I have three garbage cans at my house."

 THREE! THAT MAKES THE STINKY TRUCK VERY HAPPY!

 

"A garbage truck comes to my house to pick up and it's not too stinky."

OH…THAT'S GOOD. YOU MUST BE AT THE BEGINNING OF THE ROUTE.

 

"When we are awake, there are garbage trucks on the other side of the world working."  (Isn't this an AMAZING comment from 4 year old!)

THAT IS SO TRUE, AND I'D NEVER THOUGHT OF IT LIKE THAT. THANK YOU!

 

"I loved this book and I liked it too."

I'M GLAD YOU LIKED IT AND LOVED IT!

 

Questions for Kate:

"Why does the garbage truck eat with his back, not with his mouth?  Kate, I know you know why garbage trucks eat this way."

THAT'S JUST HOW TRUCKS ARE SET UP, WITH THE HOPPER IN THE BACK.  IF THE TRUCK OPENED UP HIS MOUTH REALLY, REALLY WIDE, YOU WOULDN'T SEE HIS TONSILS, YOU'D SEE HIS ENGINE.

 

"Why is your book so yucky-poo-poo?  Your book was very ewwwww when I saw the dirty diaper!"

WELL, WHAT SORTS OF THINGS DO YOU THROW INTO THE GARBAGE? SOME OF THEM ARE SORT OF YUCKY, RIGHT?  I'LL TELL YOU A SECRET -- WHEN I SAW THE WAY JIM (Jim is Kate’s husband and the book’s illustrator) DREW THE DIRTY DIAPER, I THOUGHT, YUCK!

 

"Do you know Kate, why does trash stink?"

BECAUSE WHEN FOOD ROTS, IT GIVES OFF GAS AND THAT'S WHAT SMELLS. BILLY AND EARL, OUR SANITATION WORKERS (Kate followed real NYC sanitation workers before she wrote the book) , TOLD US THAT THE HUMAN NOSE CAN SMELL A BAD SMELL FOR A FEW MINUTES, AND THEN THE SMELL FADES AWAY. THEY ARE VERY GLAD THEIR NOSES WORK THIS WAY SO THAT THEY DON'T HAVE TO SMELL GARBAGE FOR VERY LONG.

 

"Why does the truck roar?"

THE ROARING IS THE ENGINE REVVING WHEN IT'S POWERING THE CRUSHER BLADE, WHICH COMPACTS THE TRASH.

 

"Why does the garbage truck say "STOP" at the end of the story?"

THE TRUCK SAYS 'STOP' WHEN ITS HOPPER IS FULL AND HE NEEDS THE CRUSHER BLADE TO COMPACT IT SO HE HAS ROOM FOR MORE.

 

"Why did the barge carry the garbage?  Where does it go?"

NEW YORK CITY GARBAGE IS SOMETIMES TAKEN BY BARGE TO UPSTATE OR TO NEW JERSEY OR OTHER PLACES. SOMETIMES IT IS TAKEN BY TRUCK TO A LANDFILL.

THERE IS TOO MUCH GARBAGE. WE ALL NEED TO CUT DOWN ON HOW MUCH WE THROW AWAY!

 

It's good and funny, we really love your book.

Love,

Your friends at the Cobble Hill Playschool

PS.   Please write back and write a bunch more books. 

 

THANK YOU! I LOVED YOUR QUESTIONS. THEY MADE ME THINK ABOUT THAT GARBAGE TRUCK.  OUR LATEST BOOK IS, I'M FAST!

IT’S ABOUT A RACE BETWEEN A FREIGHT TRAIN AND A RACE CAR. IT ISN'T YUCKY AT ALL AND NOW WE ARE WORKING ON A BOOK ABOUT A FIRE ENGINE.

IT'S GOING TO BE CALLED, I'M BRAVE!

YOUR FRIEND,
KATE MCMULLAN

 

Hi Kate,

Thank you so much for your prompt email reply.  My students will be so excited that you wrote them back!

One more thing--I have a little "Carol's Wall" on our school website where I post all kinds of classroom related things.  I would love the parents to see what the children wrote to you and what your responses were.  I would like to post the letters but I will not do that without your permission.  If it is alright with you to put your reply on our website, please let me know.

On a personal note, I am quite excited about your new projects and cannot wait to read your new books to my students!  We just LOVE race cars, trains and the FDNY!

With my kindest regards,

Carol


 

From Kate:

Carol, post away! (hope no typos!)

I had fun responding to such great questions!

~ K

Getting Ready for Kindergarten

On May 2nd, the CHP Cooperative Community Support committee (thank you Rose Kob!) with the help of local Kindergarten teachers (thank you Carolyn Rivas and Lesley May!) and Kindergarten parents (thank you Pamela Herper and Kristin Brady) presented an evening to help our parents prepare for Kindergarten.

Here is the hand-out I contributed for the event.
 

Getting Ready for Kindergarten—Helpful Tips from Carol!
 

Kindergarten entrance time can be so scary…for grown-ups!  We want the best for our children and when the Kindergarten process seems beyond our control, it is upsetting.  Take heart, there are many things you can do to make your child’s Kindergarten experience more rewarding-and less stressful for you too.

Here is a list of things I did (or in retrospect wish I did) to help my own children have a successful Kindergarten experience. We all live such busy lives, there never seems to be enough time and it seems like we are always playing “catch-up.”  Preparation and planning will go a long way on the road to a smooth transition to Kindergarten.
 

Where to begin:

  1. Sleep is important.  Set a reasonable bedtime and be consistent.  Kindergarten is full-day, full tilt.  If you want your child to enter Kindergarten each day at their best, make sure they get enough sleep!  Structure is important to everyone, especially to your little Kindergartener.  Set a reasonable bed time and stick to it. It would be wise to begin this regime a few weeks prior to the beginning of the school year so that Kindergarten does not get a bad rap for causing an early bedtime! 
  2. Be prepared.  To eliminate potential trials and tribulations in the morning before school, make sure your child’s clothing is set for the next day and all their backpack is ready to go.  If your child brings his or her lunch, it can be prepared the night before. Prepare lunch and place it in the refrigerator so you have one less thing to in the morning.
  3. Lunch Prep. If your child has never eaten lunch at school, or if you get a new lunchbox, practice eating lunch out of the lunchbox prior to the commencement of Kindergarten.  I fed my own children from their lunchbox the summer before Kindergarten began, and they really liked it!  I choose the food they liked for lunch and made sure that they could open the lunch box and containers inside by themselves.
  4. Eat Healthy. Get up in the morning with enough time to eat a good healthy breakfast.  Food is the fuel your child needs to get their day off to a good start.  If your kids are well rested and you are not running about looking for their backpacks or arguing over clothing choices, you might find that you have time to eat breakfast with them!
  5. Morning Activity. There is not enough physical activity in the Kindergartener’s day.  If you can, walk to school and even get in a 15-20 minute run in the park or the schoolyard prior to the commencement of the school day.

Starting Kindergarten:

  1. GET TO SCHOOL ON TIME!  I cannot stress enough the importance of punctuality.  Children need to enter the classroom together, to experience the structure and rituals that are part of the advent of each school day.  When a child is late to school every day, they enter the classroom disadvantaged, almost as an outsider.   Not only will your child benefit from entering the classroom on time, but you must know that our middle schools and high schools are highly competitive.  Applicants are screened not only by academic performance but by absenteeism and lateness.  Getting to school on time will teach your child to be punctual which will serve them well now and for years to come.
  2. Get involved.  Your child’s teacher needs your help.  Volunteer to become a class parent, donate supplies and let your teacher know you are ready, willing and able to do what you can to help out.  Remember that your child is part of the Kindergarten community; what you do for your child’s school and classroom will help everyone in the school, including your child.
  3. Do not overschedule your child.  I scheduled my children’s play dates and afterschool activities on Friday and Saturday because Kindergarten was a long day.  I felt the most important afterschool activity was to let my children run-off steam in the park before we went home.  After a run in the park, we went home and started homework.  When you get home, always check your child’s folder for notes and homework. I never found success leaving homework for after dinner, as dinner time was the best time to talk about my children’s day and decompress.
  4. Have fun!  Always remember that YOU are and will always be your child’s first teacher.  Talk to your children, read books, visit the library, and broaden your child’s horizon by visiting new places and learning new things together.
Caldecott Winner

The 2011 Caldecott Medal and Honor winners were announced this January and recognize the most distinguished picture books for children.   The Caldecott award is a good starting point when selecting books for children, but best practice when buying books for your child is to read the book before you buy it. A book should speak to you or to what you think will speak to your child.

Back to the 2011 Caldecott awards, I was so pleased to find out that Me…Jane by Patrick McDonnell, received a Caldecott Honor.  Ironically, when I first learned about this book, I did not originally purchase it for CHP because I thought a children’s biographic picture book on Jane Goodall might not be for preschoolers.  Soon after, Sandra (our CHP volunteer) arrived to school with the book which she read at snack time.  Before the day was over, I ordered the book for our classroom library. Jane’s life story is dear and the illustrations are lovely and so appropriate for older preschoolers.   The pictures and text captivates, but this book embodies so much more. 

On the title page you will find a black and white photograph of Jane Goodall at about three or four years old.  In her hand is her beloved stuffed monkey named Jubilee—she loved monkeys even then. The book tells the story of Jane and her love of animals.   As a tiny child, Jane had a vision of how she wanted to change the world for the better.  “She was a girl in a time when girls were not encouraged to pursue adventurous careers.”   Despite this fact and that Jane Goodall was not a child of a wealthy family, at ten years old, she decided that she would go to Africa and help animals. 

This book serves as a reminder that little ones can have big dreams and sometimes those dreams do come true.

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