Lewis, Patrick J. 1997. The La-di-da hare. Ill. by Diana C. Bluthenthal. New York: Atheneum. ISBN 0-689-31925-8
Recommended Age Levels 4-8
Summary of Book
The La-Di-Da Hare is a nonsensical book about a hare and her two new acquaintances: Honeypot Bear and Commodore Mouse. In the opening, readers are introduce to Bear and Mouse who ponder about the Island of Oh where the beautiful La-Di-Da Hare resides. They decide to take the long journey to explore the Island themselves. The La-Di-Da Hare greets the two travelers with a wonderful, energetic “La-dee-dee and whoop-de do” and offers them new beach wear and an extravagant feast with the other inhabitants of the Island of Oh. The La-Di-Da Hare loves their company so much that she invites them to stay on the Island indefinitely and without hesitation Commodore Mouse and Honeypot Bear decide that they will “sail no more”.
“This clever addition to Lewis's growing collection of fine poetry for children will delight lovers of nonsense and clever rhyme. Honeypot Bear and Commodore Mouse journey to the island of Oh, where they are welcomed by the La-di-da Hare, who sits on the beach and admires the ocean view. Older readers can appreciate and compare sly references to Edward Lear's "The Owl and the Pussycat," Lewis Carroll's "The Walrus and the Carpenter," and even to A. A. Milne's Winnie the Pooh. Lewis carefully establishes rhythm in this poem and adds delightfully awful puns such as Lady Hare's "2-carrot gold" ring. His small, vivid descriptions owls "think-blinking," the hare rising on her "Q-Tip toes," and walks on "the cinnamon sand" raise this piece above simple nonsense. Bluthenthal's gouache illustrations perfectly complement the text with vivid tropical pinks, purples, and turquoises set against simple white backgrounds that echo the lightness of the story. The animals are depicted with a fanciful grace that is reminiscent of illustrators Jose Aruego and Ariane Dewey's work in Owliver (Windmill, 1974; o.p.). A highly satisfying picture-book experience that's perfect for read-alouds.”
~School Library Journal~
“Clever wordplay and a marvelous island bestiary distinguish this rhymed wonder quest from Lewis (Black Swan/White Crow, 1995, etc.). Mouse suggests to Honeypot Bear that they set sail for the magical Island of Oh, ``to hear the applause of the Red Lobster claws/For the beautiful La-di-da Hare.'' Honeypot Bear obliges by becoming their boat, Mouse navigates (``Honey! Bear right!'') and takes the honorary title of Commodore, and when they reach Oh, La-di-da Hare welcomes them lavishly: She decks them out in Bermuda shorts, Hawaiian shirts, and cool designer shades, then rustles up some deli sandwiches for the whole island crowd. The Crocodile accepts a pastrami on rye, Oyster and Blue-clawed Crab tuck into deviled eggs and dill pickles, ``And who prefers a pat of peanut/Butter on a bun?/The Owls sat think-blinking that/Might do. `Yoo-whoo!' said one.'' La-di-da Hare convinces the two to remain forever, ``For animal crackers,/And wheels of bleu cheese- -/And a bungalow, boys,/For as long as you please!'' They are persuaded, and remain there to this day. It's a good subversive touch--let's have none of that home-in-time-for-tea stuff. Bluthenthal's animated illustrations are an excellent complement, in beachcombing colors of sand and surf, convincing in the depiction of a place awash in fresh, salt breezes.”
• U.S. Children’s Poet Laureate (2011-2013), Poetry Foundation
• 2010-2011 National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) Excellence in Children’s Poetry Award
Questions to Ask Before Reading
Invite children to discuss the following questions prior to reading aloud.
Invite children to discuss what it means to go on vacation and what are some things people might wear and bring when they go on vacation as well as how they would get to their destination.
What story clues are in the title and front cover? Try to lead the children into talking about islands and beaches. Once children have brought up the term island, ask them to define it and explain how people can get to and fro.
Ask students to discuss what they think ‘La-Di-Da’ means. Have they heard it before? If so, in what context/situation?
Ask the children to come up with a list of animals that they might discover on an island and what animals they would not see on an island.
Suggestions for books that can be read aloud
“Bein’ with you this Way”- The book is very rhythmic and is intended to be read as a rap, so encourage students to join in on the refrains.
Read a collection of nonsensical poetry, such as “Jabberwocky”, “The Owl and the Pussycat”, “Flamingos on the Roof”, and Shel Silverstein’s “Running Rabbit”. All four books are fun to read and provide students with an opportunity to hear wonderful examples of nonsensical poetry.
Symmetry can be explored in the books “Snowflake Bentley” and “Look what I did with a leaf. Read these books aloud and engage students in a discussion of examples of real-life symmetry.
Follow up Activities
• Have students compose an advertisement or brochure that will entice audiences to move to their island. Brochure should include shelter, food sources, types of life, as well as illustrations which should all aid in the desire for people to move and stay on their island.
• Once the collection of nonsensical poetry is shared have students produce their own nonsense poem.
• After reading “Bein’ with you this way”, encourage students to generate a list of similarities and differences found in the book. Have students categorize their list and graph the list they generate. In turn, have students generate ways to group the animals in “The La-Di-Da Hare”, such as animals that have two legs or animals that fly.
• Ask students to view the book carefully and see if they can find an image that is repeated on the majority of the pages. They should discover that a blue butterfly is on many of the pages. This could be a great introduction to the symmetrical feature of a butterfly. Explain to students that butterflies have one line of symmetry. See if students can find other animals or items that have one line of symmetry. Introduce them to animals and items that have multiple lines of symmetry, such as the beach umbrella and the beach towel.
• On the Island of Oh, we find various animals. Some that would be considered to be indigenous to a real island and some that are not. Have students investigate which animals would be considered indigenous and which are not. Have students pick an animal (from the list of animals that would not typically be found on a salt water beach) to create a diorama displaying the animals habitat, including food sources, shelter, terrain, and climate.
• In the book, the characters are living on an island. Have students determine whether Texas has islands. When they discover it does, have them explore the islands. Make a graphic organizer that will require students to fill our categories, such as an image of a map of where the island is located, what wildlife will be found, climate, recent natural disasters, population, and at least one interesting fact.
• The Island of Oh is perfect in every way. Divide students into small groups and have them come up with a plan to the following problem: A hurricane has hit the Island of Oh, which has completely wiped out 75% of the Island’s vegetation. The survival of the animals is questionable, because of the limited food sources, lack of shelter, and lack of fresh water nearby. Prior to devising a plan, students will be allowed to pick five must-have items for their inhabitants. Students will be graded by their decision-making skills and cooperation with fellow group members.
• Students composed a brochure to entice people to move and stay on an island they created. Encourage students to add illustrations that will motivate their audience (other classmates or students from another class) to move to their island. Have students explore the use of watercolors, like Bluthenthal or experiment with 3D art by using modeling clay.
• Have students collaborate in the writing of a readers theatre for “The La-Di-Da Hare”. Use Animoto to make a movie that can be shared on the internet. Divide students into groups: a group that will make the characters and the group that will design sets. Students can use paper mache to design the characters and the set designers can use watercolors to design back drops. This will be a lengthy project, however it is an integration of varying disciplines : social studies (working together to produce a product), art, writing, reading, and technology.
Related Web Sites
[View this website to allow students to explore the varying habitats in the world]
[Have students explore this interactive website of Shel Silverstein’s poems. They listen to an audio clip of one of his poems and they select the illustration that matches the poem.]
[Students can listen to Lewis Carroll’s whimsical story of “Jabberwocky”.]
[Check this website to hear “The Pobble who has No Toes” a fun, engaging poem of Edward Lear’s.]
J. Patrick Lewis
[Look at these sites to discover more about the author, J. Patrick Lewis and try your hand at answering the riddles.]
Fiction Children’s Literature about hares,islands, and mice
Bernstein, Dan. (2007). The Tortoise and the Hare Race Again. Ill. by Andrew Glass. Holiday House.
Brown, Margaret. (1993). The Little Island. Ill. by Leonard Weisgard. Dragonfly Books.
Robey, Katharine. (2006). Hare and the Big Green Lawn. Ill. by Larry MacDougall. Cooper Square.
Slanina, Anne (2011). Annie Mouse Meets a New Friend. Ill. by Lisa Akers Slanina. Annie Mouse Books.
Stevens, Janet. (1985). The Tortoise and the Hare. Holiday House.
Watts, Bernadette. 1999. Harvey Hare, Postman Extraordinaire. North-South.
Wilson, Karma. (2006). Bear’s New Friend. Ill. by Jane Chapman. Margaret K. McElderry Books.
Nonfiction literature related to animal habitats and islands
Press, Judy. (2005). Animal Habitiats!. Ill. by Betsy Day. Ideals.
Relf, Pat. (1995). The Magic School Bus Hops Home: A book about animal habitats. Ill. by Nancy Stevenson. Scholastic.
Robbins, Lynette. (2011). Rabbits and Hares. Rosen.
Swanson, Diana. (2010). Rabbits and Hares. Whtiecap Books.
Tagliaferro, Linda (2000). Galapagos Islands: Nature’s Delicate Balance at Risk. Lerner.
Wilsdon, Christina. (2009). How do Islands form? Chelsea Clubhouse.
Wojahn, Rebecca & Wojahn, Donald. (2009). A Galapagos Island Food Chain: A Who-Eats-What Adventure. Lerner Pub Group.
Other Nonsensical Poetry
Lear, Edward. (1996). The Owl and the Pussycat. Ill. bu Jan Brett. Penguin Group.
Lewis, J. Patrick. (2000). Isabella Abnormella and the Very, Very Finicky Queen of Trouble. Ill. by Krysten Brooker. Kindersley.
Silverstein, Shel. (2009). A Light in the Attic: Special Edition. HarperCollins.
Silverstein, Shel. (2011). Every Thing On it. HarperCollins.
About the Author
J. Patrick Lewis’s first career was an economic professor, but in 1998 he started writing poetry and prose. Currently, he is the U.S. Children’s Poet Laureate and the winner of the NCTE 2011 Excellence in Children’s Poetry Award. "A Hippopotamusn’t: And Other Animal Poems”, “Isabella Abnormella and the Very, Very Finicky Queen of Trouble”, “Black Swan, White Crow”, “A Burst of Firsts: Doers, Shaker, and Record Breakers” are just a few of his wonderful creations. His love of language is infectious and has brought smiles to many faces.
“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.”
About the Illustrator
Diana C. Bluthenthal has illustrated and authored many books. She mostly illustrates children chapter books, picture books, and early readers. “I’m not invited?” and “Matilda the Moocher” are two books she has written. Besides “The La-Di-Da Hare”, she illustrated “Molly Gets Mad”, “Little Sister, Big Sister”, and “The Youngest Fairy Godmother Ever”. Many of the books she has written and illustrator involve childhood social issues.