If you had walked by my speech room early in the week, you would have heard a gaggle of giggles and a riotous roar of laugher as I read, Cowpoke Clyde and Dirty Dawg by Lori Mortensen, illustrated by Michael Allen Austin.
It’s a good thing my room is somewhat removed from other classrooms on our campus. This lively tale had the kids hopping out of their seats crying, “wait, wait, wait, wait!” each time I tried to turn a page. They didn’t want to miss a single detail.
They loved Cowpoke Clyde’s bony face and spindly body. They moved in close to point out the terrified, open-beaked expression on the rooster as Dirty Dawg shot through the chicken coop. When we came to a close-up of the hog snapping the rope to escape Cowpoke Clyde (who landed on his derriere—feet up and hat flying), the kids puffed out their own cheeks in imitation of the bloated hog. They couldn’t hold their breath for long—air burst from their mouths in snorting chuckles. All this fun came from Dirty Dawg trying to escape the dreaded bath.
Clyde set his hat and grabbed a rope,
filled some buckets, snatched the soap.
but right before he sprung his plan,
ol’ Dawg woke up, and off he ran.
The kids caught on to the rhyming scheme and tried to finish the couplets every time I paused to give them a chance. The author prompted such predictions with several clever page turns.
“Gadzooks!” yelled Clyde. “This ain’t no joke.
Come back here, boy and get yer soak!”
But Dawg ignored his mighty pleas.
Instead Dawg left a trail of . . .
“PEAS!” the kids all shouted. They were quick to change their answer when I turned the page and, instead of peas rolling along behind him, they saw Dawg with his hind leg up, scratching his ear. After that, they were like eager detectives, scouring each spread for clues. They noticed several but they didn’t notice the fact that they were working on a Common Core Standard. One of the foundational reading standards for kindergarten students is to “recognize and produce rhyming words.”
I used the same book with a group of second graders and they enjoyed the story as much as the younger kids. They had no trouble at all describing Dawg’s response to the idea of a bath, or Clyde’s response to that ornery Dawg. By doing so, they were working on the third reading standard for literature: “Describe how characters in a story respond to major events and challenges.” The challenges in the story were obvious but it was no challenge for me to keep these students fully engaged.
And it was easy to slip in a nod to the first Language Standard where students are expected to “Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English grammar and usage when writing or speaking.” They loved correcting that ol’ Cowpoke Clyde when he warn’t talkin’ jes right.
If you’d walked by my room later in the week, you wouldn’t have heard much. The students were busy writing and drawing pictures for their own stories, like Maddi’s tale about a girl named Pearl and her cat named Hat.
She’s got the beginnings of an engaging rhyming story. I’m not sure where the plot is heading; Maddi is keeping a few secrets but she plans to work on the story over the weekend so I’m sure I’ll hear more about it next week. If we don’t find another book of Lori Mortensen’s to share in the near future, I have high hopes for a few romping good tales from our young speech room authors.