Tag Archives: travel

The Phantom Tollbooth

Bibliographic Information: Juster, Norton. (1964). The Phantom Tollbooth. New York: Random House.

Plot Description: Bored and disinterested 10 year old Milo, is never satisfied with anything. He always longs to be somewhere else and when he gets there he wonders why he bothered going. One day he discovers a package containing a toy tollbooth and map to the Lands Beyond. He sets it up and drives his little toy car through the booth and into a fantastical adventure. He meets an array of interesting and unusual characters, such as Tock the watch dog, who is both figuratively and literally a watch dog, since he keeps watch to guard against time wasting and also has a giant clock in him. Along his journey Milo visits several lands, learning something new in each one, until he finally figures out how to enjoy the small pleasures of life.

Quantitative Reading Level: Lexile Measure: 1000L Interest Level: Middle Grades ATOS Book Level: 6.7

Qualitative Reading Analysis: The book features black and white drawings and is told by a third person narrator, who is credible, but only knows Milo’s thoughts. Figurative language is used throughout the novel. Many phrases in the story have both literal and figurative meaning. Some students may have trouble discerning the often multiple meanings behind names and ideas. The author uses satire and humor to convey meaning. Higher level vocabulary is used throughout the story. Students will likely expand their vocabulary reading this novel and can use context to help understand new words. There is most certainly a distance between the events of the text and the experiences of the reader and events will be unfamiliar to readers. However, readers may connect to Milo and his boredom, as everyone has experienced it at some point, though hopefully not as severely as Milo. Knowledge specific to the fantastical lands in the story are often explained to help readers understand how things work in the Lands Beyond, though the explanations may not always be clear.

Content Area: Reading, Literature, Mathematics

Content Area Standard:

English Language Arts Standards for Reading: Literature: Craft and Structure: CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.6.4 Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including figurative and connotative meanings; analyze the impact of a specific word choice on meaning and tone.

English Language Arts Standards for Language: Vocabulary Acquisition and Use: CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.6.4 Determine or clarify the meaning of unknown and multiple-meaning words and phrases based on grade 6 reading and content, choosing flexibly from a range of strategies.

English Language Arts Standards for Language: Vocabulary Acquisition and Use: CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.6.4.a Use context (e.g., the overall meaning of a sentence or paragraph; a word’s position or function in a sentence) as a clue to the meaning of a word or phrase.

Curriculum Suggestions: Have students identify figurative language in the text and determine the often dual meanings (figurative and literal) using contextual clues. As they read, ask students to record character traits of Milo, Humbug and Tock throughout the story. Have students respond to the following quote about Milo: “He regarded the process of seeking knowledge as the greatest waste of time of all” (p. 2). Do you feel the same way? Why or why not? Why do you think Milo felt that way? How could you show Milo the importance of seeking knowledge?

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Awards: George C. Stone Centre for Children’s Books Award

Character names/descriptions: Milo, a ten year old boy who is in the doldrums. He is always bored and takes little interest in his surroundings.

Personal Thoughts: I enjoyed this book as a child and think it is still relevant today. Even with all the technology and countless ways to amuse oneself, many children are still bored by everything (maybe even more so than when the book was written). It has a great lesson for readers and it is very entertaining and funny.

High interest annotation: Everything bores young Milo, so perhaps a trip through the phantom tollbooth is just what he needs to embark on a journey of discovery that will change all that

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Miss Rumphius

Bibliographic Information: Cooney, Barbara. (1982). Miss Rumphius. New York: Viking.

Plot Description: As a child Alice tells her Grandfather she will travel and live by the sea when she is old, just like him. He makes her promise to do one more thing: make the world more beautiful. Before long Alice is grown up and called Miss Rumphius. She moves away from the sea and works in a library where there are books about far away places. Miss Rumphius visits many of these places, but when she hurts her back on one of her adventures, she decides it is time to move to the sea side. She is almost happy, but she still needs to make the world more beautiful as she promised her Grandfather. The problem is that she doesn’t know how…yet.

Quantitative Reading Level: Lexile Measure: 680L Interest Level: Lower Grades ATOS Book Level: 3.8

Qualitative Reading Analysis: The story is told by a third person narrator. Miss Rumphius is supposedly the great Aunt of the narrator, so the story is limited to what Miss Rumphius has passed on about her life. The story begins with a paragraph talking about the little old Lupin Lady and then from there goes back in time to when the Lupin Lady was a little girl. The story progresses in chronological order from then on. Language closely adheres to readers linguistic base. Miss Rumphius’ story does not contain events that will be familiar to readers, but they may relate to hearing oral histories from their elders like Alice and the narrator do in the story. The conventionality is largely explicit and easy to understand. The author uses primarily simple and compound sentences with some complex constructions. There is a little bit of figurative language, such as alliteration for the ‘Lupin Lady’.

Content Area: Reading, Literature

Content Area Standard:

English Language Arts Standards: Language: Conventions of Standard English: CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.2.1 Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English grammar and usage when writing or speaking.

English Language Arts Standards » Anchor Standards » College and Career Readiness Anchor Standards for Writing: CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.W.3 Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, well-chosen details and well-structured event sequences.

Curriculum Suggestions: Have students think of things they could do to make the world (or their community, school, etc) more beautiful. Alice tells her Grandfather two things she wants to do when she grows up and then he makes her promise to do a third thing as well. Have students write a paragraph about the things they will do when they grow up. On her travels Miss Rumphius makes friends she says she will never forget. Have students write about a friends that they will never forget.

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Awards: National Book Award; American Book Award

Character names/descriptions: Miss Rumphius, who has three goals in life: to travel, to live by the sea when she is old and to make the world more beautiful.

Personal Thoughts: I love the illustrations in this book. As well as, the ideas of broadening your horizons through travel and of trying to make the world more beautiful.

High interest annotation: Miss Rumphius has adventures traveling the world and then lives by the sea, but how will she fulfill her promise to her Grandfather to make the world more beautiful

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The Adventures of Tintin

Bibliographic information: Herge: The Adventures of Tintin: http://us.tintin.com/

Brief description: This website features a variety of information on the comic book character Tintin and his many adventures across various medias, such as books, films, cartoons and games. There is a section about all the Tintin books, which includes a summary of each story, key and supporting characters and pictures. There is also a section of the website about the characters that features more in depth information about each one, including the real life inspiration behind the character, fun facts, the titles of stories they appear in and an overview of their traits and qualities. There is another tab with information about how Tintin began and his author. The News and Happenings section tells about all Tintin related news and events. Then there is the Tintin store with numerous Tintin memorabilia and products. The last link is to the Tintin movie.

Qualitative  analysis: There are a series of Tintin books, so some knowledge of the characters is helpful, but not necessary for understanding. For those who want to find out more about the characters, the website features information about key characters, so there should not be a gap in understanding for those with no prior knowledge of the series. There is distance between readers’ experiences and those of the text; however there is plenty of explanation to bridge the gap. There is a wide array of text features to aid in comprehension, such as changes in font, notes, graphics, etc that compete for the readers attention. The visuals are used to augment and illustrate information in the text. The vocabulary is mostly contemporary and familiar. The language used, closely adheres to the readers linguistic base. There may be some dated phrases that readers are unfamiliar with, but they are easily understood in context.

Subject area: History, Language Arts

Personal thoughts: I found this site when looking for resources for my French class. The French version is a little better, but I still like the English version too. I think these websites that feature characters in various media are great for engaging reluctant readers. I also like the little tutorial on how to draw Tintin, though mine didn’t turn out so well.

Subjects/themes: adventures, Tintin

Series information: The Adventures of Tintin

Character names/descriptions: Tintin is a journalist who travels the world to uncover the truth (and help save the day).

High interest annotation: Join Tintin on his many adventures around the globe, as he investigates and makes his own headlines.

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The Wanderer

Bibliographic Information: Creech, Sharon. (2000). The Wanderer. New York: Joanna Cotler Books.

Plot Description: This story is told in alternating viewpoints through journal entries written by thirteen year old Sophie and her cousin Cody as they sail across the Atlantic to England, the home of their Grandfather. Sophie is the only girl in a crew of five men (her three uncles and two cousins). There is another reason Sophie is different from the rest of the crew. They have always been family and Sophie only became a part of their ranks three years ago when she was adopted by the uncles’ sister. Sophie is excited to find adventure on the high seas, but she also takes a journey of profound personal discovery. The second narrator, Cody also takes a personal journey as he proves to himself and his family that he has a deep inner strength behind his clowning exterior.

Quantitative Reading Level: Lexile Measure: 830L Interest Level: Middle Grades ATOS Book Level: 5.2

Qualitative Reading Analysis: The author uses figurative language, such as personification and similes to make connections within the text. For example, ‘Sophie is like the sea,’ she has different personalities like the sea: calm, still, rough, etc. The author uses alternating points of view in limited first person narration, to show the reader different views of the same story. There is significant complexity and multiple levels of meaning. Some meaning is stated, while others are left to the reader to interpret. Vocabulary is mostly conventional, conversational and familiar. Unfamiliar nautical and boat related terms are explained and easily inferred from context. Sentences are primarily simple and compound, with occasion for more complex phrases and transition words. Experiences portrayed are uncommon to most readers. Not many will have sailed (especially on a long journey) or been adopted (particularly in later childhood). Students may connect with themes of belonging, searching for yourself and grief.

Content Area: Reading, Literature, Geography

Content Area Standard:

English Language Arts Standards for Reading: Literature: Key Ideas and Details: CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.5.1 Quote accurately from a text when explaining what the text says explicitly and when drawing inferences from the text.

Curriculum Suggestions: Have students create a map of the Wanderer’s journey across the Atlantic. Label the important places it sails and crucial events that happen there. Chart the changes that occur for key characters over the course of the journey. Support your answers with details from the text. Sophie is like the sea. Have students pick an element of nature that they are like and explain why.

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Awards: SLJ Best Book; State Award; Parent’s Choice Award; ALA Notable/Best Books; Christopher Award; Publishers Weekly Best Book; BCCB Blue Ribbon Book; Newbery Honor; Young Reader’s Choice Award/Nominee; Carnegie Medal/Honors; Book Sense Book of the Year Award/Honorees; Booklist Editors’ Choice

Character names/descriptions: Sophie a young girl whose parents died and was adopted three years ago, Cody is her new cousin, who is interested and intrigued by her.

Personal Thoughts: Sophie is a brave and tenacious young girl who makes a wonderful narrator. I also enjoyed the view of Sophie from both her words and those of someone getting to know her.

High interest annotation: Come along on an exciting and perilous journey sailing across the Atlantic, which is also a journey of self discovery for the six wanderers on board

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Filed under Reading For Pleasure (Chapter Books)