Written By: Eric Rohmann
Take a moment to peruse and admire Eric Rohmann’s incredible illustrations before you begin your read-through. Have a discussion with your child about what s/he sees on the cover and in the illustrations, as well as what s/he predicts will occur in the story. Start off by asking questions like:
What do you notice on the cover?
Do these look like the cats that people keep as pets? What do they look like?
What are some other kinds of cats (i.e. Tigers, cheetahs, jaguars, etc)? How are these different from pet cats?
What do you think will happen in this story?
If you have a cat at home or know someone else’s cat, ask, “How are these cats like ________? That’s right! They also both have… How are they different?”
As You Read
This book consists of both wordless pages and pages with text, enabling readers to create their own narrative for the beginning of the story. As the little boy climbs into the sailboat, ask your child, “What is the boy doing? Where do you think the sailboat will take him? How is this sailboat different from other sailboats?” Encourage your child to come up with the story that accompanies these pages until you get to the text. At that point, you can supplement the text with descriptions of what is going on in the illustrations.
As you read, be aware of the rhyming text and make your reading lyrical, slightly emphasizing the rhythmic nature of the text. Also, take the time to pause and discover the meaning of any new words that your child may not be aware of. Use the words and illustrations surrounding it to help your child the meaning of each new word. New words in The Cinder-Eyed Cats include:
Help your child consider what s/he would do if in the little boy’s position by asking, “If you were on this faraway island, what would you do? Do you think it would be fun? Why or why not? If you could bring three things with you on your trip there, what would they be?”
Summarize and Interpret
Take some time to discuss the story once you are through by asking questions like:
What was your favorite part of the story?
How did the boy get to the island?
How were the animals different from regular animals?
What do they do during the nighttime?
What happened when the sun started to rise?
Activity: Illustrate Your Child’s Own Imaginary Island
Supplies: Paper, pencil/pen and coloring materials
- Let your child explore his/her imagination to create a one-of-a-kind fantasy island. The little boy’s fantasy consisted of a tropical island and flying sea creatures and giant cats, and now it’s your child’s turn to come up with his/her own.
- Ask your child what the island in the story was like. Let your child brainstorm ideas for what his/her imaginary island would be like. Ask questions like, “What animals would there be? What kinds of plants? Would it be cold or warm? Is it on a different planet? How would you get there? What would you do there?” Perhaps it is a place where animals live like humans and wear silly clothes or where robots roam around playing all day. The sillier and more creative, the better. As s/he comes up with ideas, work together to write each characteristic down on a sheet of paper.
- Let him/her begin illustrating this fantasy island and include all of the characteristics that you previously mentioned.
- Then, compare and contrast this island with the one in the story.