Written by: John Lithgow

Illustrated by: C.F. Payne

Before Reading

Preview and Predict

Micawber has always been interested in art but when he sees a young girl painting in an art museum one day, he finds himself trying his hand at painting and his whole world changes! Take a moment before you begin reading to draw attention to the illustrations and make predictions about what you think will happen in the story. Use prompts like:

What do you notice on the cover?

Where do you think Micawber is?

What do you think this story will be about?

What do you think Micawber uses to paint? What makes you think that?

Let's look through the story and describe what we see.

As You Read

Build Vocabulary

Encourage your child to discover the definition of unfamiliar words using context clues on the pages, giving guidance as you go. With each reading, discover more vocabulary words in the story, slowly introducing your child to the meaning of new words as opposed to defining them all in one reading. For more complicated words like BEGUILER and STOWAWAY, you may choose to simply provide the meanings for your child and explain why they are being used in that context. Other new words in this story include:

  1. RARE
  2. ABODE

Try to incorporate instructional words into your discussion by saying things like, "From this picture, can you DETERMINE..." or "Let's COMPARE...".


Monitor Comprehension

Be sure to connect the text to the illustrations. For example, when Micawber takes the shoelace to carry his new painting, ask, "Why is the girl looking at her show that way? How do you think she is feeling?" You can also make connections to your child's life by asking, "Do you like to paint? What do you like to paint? Do you have a favorite color that you like to use?"

 After Reading

Make Connections

Take this opportunity to build and ensure comprehension of the story using these questions:

Did you like that story? What was your favorite part?

Can you give a SUMMARY of what happened in the story?

Where did Micawber like to go every week?

When did he make his first painting?

What does it mean if something is "RARE"?

I wonder if the girl ever figured out that Micawber was the one who took her shoelace and was using her supplies. What do you think?


Talk About Interests and Hobbies

What are your hobbies (favorite things to do)?

When do you like to do your hobbies?

Extended Learning Exploration

Create Your Own Home Museum

Turn your living room into a museum using simple supplies from around your home. First choose what you want to put on display. You can go the traditional route and display all of your child's paintings or you can choose to create a shoe museum, a toy museum, a hat museum, etc. Work together to set it up, going around the house to collect pieces, deciding where and how to display each one, and making labels giving each piece a name and a short description about the significance of the piece or any special memories that you have with it. Once you're done, you can give tours of your museum to family members, friends or even interested stuffed animals!


Visit a Real Museum

If you and your child want to see some real art on display, visit your nearest museum! You can turn it into a scavenger hunt, encouraging your child to find and identify art pieces that falls under certain categories like landscape paintings, paintings of people or animals, sculptures, etc. Your child can also bring along paper and coloring materials and try to recreate one of the pieces like the girl in the story!