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The Great Big Green by Peggy Gifford
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The Great Big Green

by Peggy Gifford

Other authors: Lisa Desimini (Illustrator)

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A celebration of all things green. ( )
  Sullywriter | May 22, 2015 |
Gifford's book is a playful riddle, describing the Earth's many shades of green. The language was almost difficult to read aloud, but it was fun and my students responded well. We read this book on St. Patrick's Day, since everything was green. We are also learning about weather, life cycles, and plants, so it was relevant to them. The illustrations are vibrant and very interesting. It almost looks like Desimini, the illustrator, took pictures of different green surfaces and created the pictures by cutting out various shapes, almost like Eric Carle. After reading the Artist's Note, I learned that Desimini did indeed use pictures to create the illustrations. She scanned paintings, fabric, pictures, and other materials to create her multi-media collages. I loved that she scanned pictures of her own skin for texture. She was also careful to demonstrate diversity via the children she illustrates, which are of two different races and genders. This book's illustrations are what make it so valuable, both for read alouds and for independent reading. Parts here and there look like photographs of real grass and vegetables, and some parts are clearly hand painted. There are many layers on each page, and my students were enamored with this. They were able to sit and look at the book independently during center time and they treated it similarly to an “I Spy” book, pointing out what they saw.
I think the riddle was lost on my students. A few times the author would check the audience to see if they had a guess yet, but it was several pages from the original question that my students seemed to draw a blank in response to my asking “anyone know yet?”. We read the whole book and at the end my kids understood that the Earth is made of greens and blues.
We followed the read aloud up with a whole group chart of our own ideas for the color green. I pulled out chart paper and simply wrote “GREEN” at the top. I like to illustrate pictures next to whatever words they come up with, and they enjoy this. I prompted them to think of things that are green, whether they are ideas from the book or just their own. They came up with a plethora of ideas, including leaves, alligators, leprechauns, clovers, glitter, my earrings, trees, grass, their uniform dresses, and boogers. A lot of the girls had green bows in their hair, which we lined up to compare size. We lined up the bow from smallest to biggest and biggest to smallest.
In their free center, I had them play freely with a basket full of green items. I filled the basket with plants, a green dragon, plastic palm trees, green blocks, green pieces of paper, green markers, green books, etc. I made sure to explain that the markers were to be used only on the blank white paper, which the understood. We are at a point in the year where I don't need to explain these types of things anymore, but it can't hurt. My students know the purpose of each material, and I was careful not to include items they had never seen before. We also had green glittery play-dough and a green “smelling station” full of different herbs trapped in toilet paper rolls.
They enjoyed having a couple days to escape the “have to” of the day, myself included. This book sparked their ideas and the centers I prepared seemed to foster their ideas in an open-ended way. I thought the book was useful for the pictures alone, and my students enjoyed looking at it independently. This is a great opportunity for me to reiterate the importance of treating books with gently hands. They know that books are sacred and should be treated with care. This practice and daily exposure also helps them learn to develop patience, share materials, turn pages properly, etc.
  mdhoward | Mar 30, 2015 |
This book talked about everything that is the color green in the world. And the end of the story ended saying that part two would be about everything that was blue in the world, like all the water that is around the world. ( )
  Analley | Mar 3, 2015 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Peggy Giffordprimary authorall editionscalculated
Desimini, LisaIllustratorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
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Both a riddle and an ode to the earth, this picture book arrives just in time for Earth Day. Readers will revisit the world after the riddle's reveal to find the many green things hidden in each piece of art.

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