Friday, February 11, 2011

The Perfect Gift by Mary Newell DePalma

Title: The Perfect Gift
Author: Mary Newell DePalma
Copyright date: 2010
Grade Level: K - 8
Theme: Brainstorming, Gifts/Presents

Synopsis: The Perfect Gift by Mary Newell DePalma is a story about Lori the lorikeet who has a perfect gift: a bright red strawberry that she is taking to her grandmother. The only problem is that Lori drops her bright red strawberry into the river where the greedy big crocodile lurks. Lori encounters a few friends on the way: a chipmunk, a goose, and a frog, who without much success try to help Lori get the strawberry out of the river without upsetting the crocodile. In the end, these four friends huddle up in a tree and with their beaks, jaws, feathers and paws together, they figure out what Lori can give her grandmother instead. They work together and they help Lori make a new present for her grandma.

Pre-Reading Activity: Talk about the cover of the book and ask children what they think the story is about. Talk about what their perfect gift would be and why.

Post-Reading Activity: After reading this story, the children can come up with their own ideas of what Lori can get for her grandmother. As a class, they can all come up with a story that the teacher can write down or if the children are old enough they can write themselves. This way they'll brainstorm and work as a team, giving they own input into the story.

Reflection: As a preschool teacher at a day care and as a future educator, I think this is one of those “cute” books you can read just for fun or to pass time. I really enjoyed reading it to the preschoolers I work with at my day care. Before I even started reading it, the children seemed interested in the book because they kept pointing to the animals in the story; especially the crocodile peaking out from the bottom of the cover. The book was easy to read and easy to understand, so the children had no problem paying attention. During the first few pages of the book, the children seemed very interested because they were pointing to the pictures and asking questions such as “Where is the strawberry” or “Why can't they reach the strawberry”. They seemed very enthusiastic about the book, and they were very entertained during it. Usually I have to chase someone around the room to make him or her sit down and listen to a story, but during this story there were no problems other than minor talking and noise making. I think the book is very sweet, and the children get introduced to a few characters in the story. During the story, you can also talk about the reasons why some of these animals can't go into the river to get the strawberry or talk about what Lori could have made as a present for her grandmother instead of giving her the strawberry. (Of course, it's good to talk about this before the end of the story, so the children can come up with their own ideas).

About the author:
Mary Newell DePalma is a children's book author and illustrator who lives with her family in Boston, Massachussetts. She enjoy drawing pictures and enjoys writing books for her son and for her daughter, Kepley. "Mary worked a number of different jobs. She has knitted designer sweaters, interpreted for the deaf, painted signs, and worked as an apprentice engrosser and medical illustrator. 'But writing and illustrating children's books is the best," she says. We can see that she enjoys art based on the pictures in her books. They're all beautifully drawn and each one is very colorful and energetic, capturing the attention of the audience with every page.

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