Thursday, October 20, 2011

The House of Boo


The House of Boo 
By J. Patrick Lewis
Illustrated by Katya Krenina

Reader's Guide
by Raquel Solis
Lewis, J. P. (1998). The House of Boo. . Ill.  by Katya Krenina, New York: Atheneum Books for Young Readers. ISBN: 9780689803567
Recommended Age Levels 4-8

Summary of Book
Three brave trick or treaters set out on a Halloween night to find the ghost of Boo Scoggins who lived on Humpback Hill.  A Beware sign, a whining cat, billowing curtains, bats, shadowy figures, swirling leaves and dark sky are all sights the children see on their spooky adventure. "The crooked fence post warned: Beware! Misfortune follows fools who dare/Somewhere a cat unwound a whine/That gave the children such a scare." The children try to surprise the legend of Boo Scoggins, not once, but twice. J. Patrick Lewis incorporates a steady stream of rhyming words that evoke fun suspense and Katya Krenina’s mixed media illustrations help amplify the excitement children crave from a good Halloween night fright.  Children of all ages would enjoy this mixture of Halloween rhyme and illustrations. 

Review Excerpts
“For children who like their frights unredeemed by the usual happy endings, try this spooky picture book. The rhyming verse tells of three children who climb Humpback Hill to Boo Scoggins' haunted-looking house. Frightened by a shadow on the stairs, a posted warning sign, and a cat's sudden whine, the children run down the hill, only to find a freshly dug grave with Scoggins' name on the headstone. They climb the hill again, but the house is now closed and dark. The local legend of Boo Scoggins lives on, mysterious as ever. Perhaps in part because the unusual rhyme scheme (abba / bbcb / ccdc, etc.) limits the poet's choice of end words, the story seems a bit confusing at times, but the menace comes through in the verse and in the gouache paintings. Rendered in dark colors with brighter highlights against black backgrounds, the dramatic illustrations create an eerie atmosphere suitable for this unusual Halloween poem.” The Booklist

"Three children, dressed as ghosts, check out Boo Scoggins's house on Humpback Hill. Yet exactly what transpires there will be unclear to readers. Despite a couple of stumbles, the nimble verse trippingly sets a spooky mood, especially when read aloud (e.g., "Somewhere a cat unwound a whine..." or "In dark woods thick with creeper vine..."), yet ultimately makes the action difficult to follow. The gouache illustrations are wonderfully dark. Krenina uses purple and green shades of black to illuminate the scenes. Contrasted with the orange typeface, the full-spread paintings combine with the words to create the perfect atmosphere. However, in the end, it seems that this book is nothing but atmosphere. The ambiguous and confusing conclusion will leave some readers cold instead of "chilled." Still, many kids enjoy even an empty scare-that kind of deliberate fright that they can invent out of anything-and so might appreciate this book. ­–School Library Journal

Questions to Ask Before Reading
Before reading The House of Boo, by J. Patrick Lewis begin the read aloud by asking questions that activate prior knowledge and introduce concepts and vocabulary. 
            *Lead the students through a picture walk of the book. While turning the pages, encourage students to describe what they see in order to monitor vocabulary and evidence of prior knowledge. What things do we see in the illustrations of this book?  Where is this story occurring?  Who do you think will be the characters in this story?
            *Lead the students towards making predictions. After looking at the pictures, what do you predict this book will be about?  What do you predict we will learn?
            *Activate prior knowledge.  How many of you have been trick or treating?  How many of you have felt scared or frightened?

Suggestions for Reading Poems Aloud
            *Adult Read Aloud- The best way to introduce this book to 4-8 year old children is first through an adult read aloud.  The teacher will read the book slowly and with expression to help give the students a foundational awareness of the book’s atmosphere, vocabulary, tone, and rhyming words. 
            *Emotions- The House ofBoo evokes many different types of emotions and reactions.  After reading the poem aloud, the teacher should scaffold discussion of the poetry such as in a Poetry Talk.
            *Drama- Have the students act out the roles of the trick or treaters.  Select different stanzas of the book to reread and then ask the children to interpret the stanza through movement.  The students are sure to have fun acting out their interpretation of fear and suspense.

Follow Up Activities
            *Shared Writing:  The House of Boo is written in Rubaiyat rhyme.  After reading the book, lead the children into a shared writing activity.  Ask students to identify and retell words they identified as rhyming words in the story.  One list of words, for example, would be from the –ill word family.  The list would include hill, mill, and whippoorwill. 
            *Paired Writing:  Provide the students with the opportunity to create their own spooky Halloween Storybook.  Working in pairs, ask students to think about what characters, setting, problem, and conclusion they would choose for their spooky story.  The pair of students would later read their spooky Halloween Storybook to the class.
            *Independent Writing: Incorporate some fun to encourage fine motor development, writing fluency, and retelling skills.  Provide the students with a white, yellow, green and purple crayon to be used to draw their favorite part of the story on black construction paper.  Encourage and scaffold students while writing their sentences.  Students will get a kick out of drawing on black paper!
            *Counting:  After counting how many ghosts are in the story, introduce the song, “One little, two little, three little ghosts, four little, five little, six little ghosts, seven little, eight little, nine little ghost, and 10 little ghosts say, ‘BOO!” Introduce the number ten, the quantity of ten, and number order.
            *Patterns:  Introduce and review pattern concepts such as ABA, ABBA, and ABAB with the students.  Provide students with 10 die cut ghosts.  Have the students mark the ghosts with different faces or color them different colors to create ghost patterns. 
The illustrations in the book The House of Boo are full of dark pictures with haze, shadow, and mist.  The following simple science experiments will add to the eerie, scary atmosphere Katya Krenina beautifully incorporated into the story. 
            *Shadow and light:  Introduce and discuss what make shadows. Ask students to reflect on shadows they see during the day and shadows they see at night.  Set up an area in the classroom where students can experiment with shadow making behind a white sheet and using a flashlight.  Provide students with different props such as ghosts and other characters that they can manipulate to make a shadow puppet storyline. 
            *Eerie Mist: Create an eerie mist while also introducing the properties of matter.  Teach students about the process of matter such as sometimes solids become a liquid, and then a gas.  Direct students to observe a piece of dry ice.  Students may observe how the gas mixes with tiny droplets of water, forma a water vapor or heavy steam.
            * Smoke and Bubbles: A “smoky” experiment is sure to excite the students! Using a rebus, discuss and demonstrate how all the materials will interact to create smoke.  Introduce and encourage use of vocabulary such as vapor, tongs, gas, interaction, reaction, and dry ice.
Social Studies
       *Halloween around the world: Introduce students to the different ways people around the world celebrate Halloween.  Mexico, for example, celebrates a different version of Halloween called Day of the Dead.  Compare and contrast the different traditions.
            *Halloween safety:  Safety is always a very important thing to learn before trick or treating.  Young children need to learn how to keep safe while out having fun.  Review helpful safety tips to ensure a healthy and safe Halloween outing such as trick or treating in a group, candy safety checks, and never leaving with strangers.

       *The First Trick or Treaters:  Share with students information about how Halloween traditions first began and how the tradition still remains.
            *Paper Plate Ghost:  Using white paper plates, white construction paper, and some black crayons to draw a face ask students to construct a spooky ghost representative of those in the story.
            * Footprint Ghost Craft:  This activity is sure to tickle some tiny feet.  Using white paint, paint the bottom of a student’s foot with a paint brush.  After paint the bottom of the foot, have the child press their foot onto a black piece of construction paper.  Using crayons the children can then draw around the ghost a scene of The House of Boo such as Boo Scoggins's house on Humpback Hill.

            *Ghost Windsocks:  Using white construction paper and white streamers, have the children create ghost windsocks.  Students can use them to make them sway and boo just like the ghost characters in the story.

Related Web Sites

Picture Books and Pirouettes: A Celebration of dance, movement, and children’s literature.
-This website contains two other Halloween poetry picture books that may be fun to use to compare styles, illustrations, and themes.

A Picture Book-Inspired Poetry Lesson from WritingFix - Focus Trait: Word Choice Support Trait: Conventions
-Visit this website to for lessons that will encourage students to write Halloween poems.

Sing Songs with Emily, the Blog
-This website contains the titles of singable Halloween picture books and Halloween scary songs.

Los Gatos Black on Halloween by Yuri Montes
-Visit this interactive website about the book Los Gatos Black on Halloween and watch the book come to life!

Related Books
Fiction Children’s Literature about Halloween Poetry Picture Books

Andrews, S., & Plecas, J. (1995). Rattlebone Rock. New York: HarperCollins.

Montes, M. (2006). Los gatos black on Halloween. New York, NY: Henry Holt and Company.

Nikola-Lisa, W., and Mike Reed. 1997. Shake dem Halloween bones. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co.

Riley, J. W., & Stanley, D. (1983). Little Orphant Annie. New York: Putnam.

Wheeler, Lisa, and Mark Siegel. 2008. Boogie knights. New York: Atheneum Books for Young Readers.

Nonfiction Literature Related to Halloween

Brokaw, Meredith, Annie Gilbar, and Jill Weber. 1991. The Penny Whistle Halloween book. New York: Simon & Schuster.

Gibbons, Gail. 1984. Halloween. New York: Holiday House

Gibbons, Gail. 2002. Halloween is--. New York: Holiday House.

Greene, Carol, and Linda Bronson. 2004. The story of Halloween. New York: HarperCollins.

Marx, David F. 2000. Halloween. New York: Children's Press.

Poetry Related to Halloween

Behn, Harry, and Greg Couch. 2003. Halloween. New York: North-South Books.

Carlstrom, Nancy White, and R. W. Alley. 1995. Who said boo?: Halloween poems for the very young. New York, N.Y.: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers.

Hopkins, Lee Bennett, and Stacey Schuett. 2005. Halloween howls: holiday poetry.
New York, NY: HarperCollins Publishers.

Horton, Joan, and JoAnn Adinolfi. 1999. Halloween hoots and howls. New York: Henry Holt.

About the Author
“A great book is a homing device
For navigating paradise.

A good book somehow makes you care
About the comfort of a chair.

A bad book owes to many trees
A forest of apologies.”
J. Patrick Lewis

J. Patrick Lewis is an award winning American poet and author of numerous children and adult poem books.  While Lewis holds a Ph. D in Economics and taught economics at the University of Ohio, he remained devoted to writing poetry.  Lewis has been received many notable honors for many of his books such as from the American Library Association, 2010-11 National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) Excellence in Children's Poetry Award, and Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators.  Lewis has more than 25 published books that demonstrate his strong abilities to create stories with riddles, rhyming, and word play that lure devoted readers.

About the Illustrator
Katya Krenina is a writer and illustrator of several children’s books.  Her background includes studying at two Ukrainian Art Institutes in her native country the Ukraine.  Krenina majored in Illustration at Syracuse University in New York where she currently works full time.  She is currently teaching at Le Moyne College.  Krenina has worked on more than 15 published books using mixed media illustrations. 

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