"No one is born fully-formed: it is through self-experience in the world that we become what we are." Pablo Freire

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Dark Emperor & Other Poems of the Night

Discursive,  Alluring, Enthralling, Eloquent, Didactic
Dark Emperor & Other Poems of the Night by Joyce Sidman 
Illustrated by Rick Allen
Published by Houghton Mifflin Hartcourt Copyright 2010
Newbery Honor Book 2011 && Boston Globe/Horn Book Honor Award

"Allen's detailed yet moody prints encapsulate the mysteries and magic of the midnight hours. In Sidman's delicious poems, darkness is the norm, and there's nothing to fear but the rising sun."—Publishers Weekly, starred review

Sidman's twelve poems and informational pages use imagery to bring the words to life. Not only does he provide us with a poem describing the creature, but he gives us an illustration with a paragraph if facts about the creatures of the night. This piece of literature is great for science topics including but not limited to: pollination, photosynthesis, stridulation, omnivores, and nocturnal. In this book students will learn about all different creatures, capturing their interests with poems and interesting facts. From the tiny snails to the oak trees Sidman presents us with a typical night with nature stirring, eating, growing and sleeping. While some poems such as "Welcome to the Night," "Ballad of the Wandering Eft," and others rhyme, others do not. Each poem is accompanied with an alluring illustration for readers to enjoy.

Reading Level: Grade 5/6 Lexile 1020L
Suggested Delivery: Read aloud or small group read

Teachers, here are some resources that may help you teach Dark Emperor & Other Poems of the Night...
Key Vocabulary: dappled, enchanted, nocturnal, forage, omnivorous, nimble, unparalleled, morsels, whorls, nectar, dainty, pollinating, preen, mesmerizing, symphonies, realm, swivel, pores, warblers, photosynthesis, triumphs, sprig, pirouette, porcupette, raucous, trilling, serrated, stridulation, elfin, spores, eft, don, loam, vagabond, echolocation

Electronic Resources:
  • Youtube: Watch this video before reading to capture student interests and have students make predictions about the book. 
  • AuthorsSite: On Sidman's website you can read reviews, view awards, watch a video, read about how the book got started and buy the book from multiple places.
  • GoogleBooks: Read this book now at google books! Great for incorporating technology into a lesson.
Activities for Students:
  • Before Reading: Show the beginning page (with no words) and ask students to make predictions about what the book will be about. Have them write a couple sentences to make their thinking concrete. Then show the last page and ask them if their predictions changed. Why did they change? What made you change them? Discuss these questions with the class.
  • During Reading: Have students pick their own favorite animal from the story and have them write a poem about it, describing what it does. Also, invite them to look up and research additional facts about the creature they chose.
  • After Reading: Discuss the dark emperor. Which animal or insect was the dark emperor? What does that mean? This may be tricky, because in the picture next to the poem "Dark Emperor" the mouse looks like it might be the dark emperor, but invite them to look at the cover page and then have them take a closer look at the picture again. Have them write about the dark emperor, what animal he is, and what he does, including researched facts and background knowledge. 
"This is a fine collection for classroom use at any time, but it'll bring extra impact to those who can find a way to share it at dusk with the lights dimmed, watching through the windows as the nocturnal ballet begins outside."—The Bulletin, starred review

Sidman, J., & Allen, R. (2010). Dark emperor & other poems of the night. Cookery: Houghton Mifflin Books For Children.

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