Sunday, February 27, 2011

Word of the Week/The Small Adventure of Popeye and Elvis

It's time for our Word of the Week feature here at LitLad. Here's how it works: Every Sunday the boys and I read a book from which they pick their favorite-sounding unfamiliar word. They each write the word that night and we try to use it in conversation as much as we can throughout the week. According to The Read-Aloud Handbook by Jim Trelease, "the only words children learn having heard them only once are the words you wish you had never said in front of them."

This week's word is taciturn, an adjective that is defined in our book as "reserved or uncommunicative in speech; saying little."

And we're reading The Small Adventure of Popeye and Elvis, in which Popeye describes his new friend Elvis as taciturn: "But Elvis just kept on walking in that way of his – head down, fists jammed in his pockets. Taciturn."

The Small Adventure of Popeye and Elvis
Author/illustrator: Barbara O'Connor
Publisher: Farrar, Straus & Giroux (September 2009)
Source: Public library/Scholastic book fair (donation to 2nd grade classroom)

Popeye is a bored and lonely boy who lives in Fayette, South Carolina, with his grandmother, Velma, and his uncle, Dooley, whose bad aim with a BB gun gave Popeye his nickname. Things start to change when Elvis comes to town and the two go off looking for a small adventure. When they finally find one, the boys need to figure out how to get to the bottom of the Yoo-hoo boat mystery without incurring the overprotective Velma's wrath and before the motor home in which Elvis and his family live finally escapes from the mud near Popeye's house.

Usually for our Word of the Week we pick a book that I read to both boys, but since Velma teaches Popeye a new vocabulary word each week ("taciturn" is one of them), I couldn't resist using this one. I chose this book from a book fair wish list for Tintin's classroom and had it inscribed with Tintin's name. Of course, he was so proud that he donated a book to his classroom that he immediately chose it for his DEAR (drop everything and read) time. Well, I wanted to read it, too, so I got it out of the library and decided to have a little contest with him to see who finished first. I've never read a Barbara O'Connor book before this one, but we've both decided that we want more.

March 1 update: Tintin told me tonight that he finished the book yesterday and then started it over again during his DEAR time. He read up to chapter 10 today.

I didn't want to leave Johnny Boo out, so we explained a little bit about the book to him and then we all went looking for a small adventure of our own while pretending to be the characters from the book (Tintin was Elvis, Johnny Boo was Popeye, I was Elvis's sister, Prissy, and LitDad was Elvis's brother Calvin). Here are Elvis and Popeye near a slightly more suburban creek than the one in the book:

We didn't find any Yoo-hoo boats with secret messages floating around, so we made our own (we're still calling them Yoo-hoo boats, even though they're made from Horizon Organic chocolate milk boxes):

And here's our beef broth boat carrier:

Barbara O'Connor has a great video on her blog with instructions on how to make your own Yoo-hoo boat. Be sure to check out the rest of her blog, too, while you're there.

Find The Small Adventure of Popeye and Elvis: Amazon, IndieBound


RedTedArt said...

What a perfect boat! Love the use of recycled materials! Brilliant! And sounds like you had lots of fun with the book!


Jan said...

This sounds like a great book, but I'm even more impressed with the way you made it come alive for your children! Fantastic! I have Jim Trelease's read-aloud book too, which is a great resource. The vocabulary and hands-on experiences you're introducing will stick with them for a lifetime.
Jan (Teacher, in Southern CA)

Barbara O'Connor said...

Fantastic!!! I am so flattered and absolutely love those boats. I'm going to post on my blog. Thanks a million.

JDaniel4's Mom said...

Taciturn is such a great word! How wonderful to search for an adventure and find it in your tub.

Thanks for linking to Read.Explore.Learn.

Raising a Happy Child said...

I like the idea of teaching a new word every week - very cool! And those boats are terrific, we might make some ourselves if we find a suitable carton.

The Book Chook said...

I am a wordaholic and love any ideas for sharing the joy of language with kids. I also love how you make literature the centrepiece and have so many activities linked to it!