Written and Illustrated by: J.C. Phillipps
Look at the cover illustration, and read the teaser on the jacket flap. Ask your child to summarize what s/he thinks the book will explore. Ask questions about illustrations and descriptions you see.
The title of this book is Wink: The Ninja Who Wanted To Be Noticed. Why do you
think he wants to be noticed?
In this picture, the character looks <insert emotion>, why do you suppose s/he looks that way?”
What do you think will happen in this story based on the pictures we have seen so far?
Activate Prior Knowledge
List everything that your child thinks s/he already knows about ninjas. What do they do? How do they act? Where else has s/he seen or read about them? Also, consider asking questions about being noticed. “How do you get others to notice you? What do you do if you do not want to be noticed?”
As You Read
The first time you read a story, consider going through the whole book, and only stopping if your child asks for help with a word. Encourage your child to discover the word’s meaning by using the illustrations and the words surrounding it. In addition to context clues, have your child reread the sentence or try to connect the sound of the word to ones s/he already knows. Ask “Have you seen or heard it before?" If not, either give the definition or look the words up in a dictionary or online together. If you have the time, try to keep track of your child’s newly acquired vocabulary words by keeping a “Vocabulary Journal” nearby when reading. Examples of new words from Wink: The Ninja Who Wanted To Be Noticed include:
As you read, do simple comprehension checks, followed by making connections to your child’s everyday life. For example, ask “Wink doesn’t want to go to the circus with his grandma. Why do you think he doesn’t want to go?”
Summarize and Interpret
To ensure comprehension, ask your child about what happened in the book. Who were the main characters, and were the primary places? What happened in the story? Ask your child the following questions after finishing to further explore his/her understanding of the book:
What was your favorite part of the story? Why?
If you were in Ninja school, would you be friends with Wink? Why or why not?
What was your favorite pose from the story? Give it a try!
Do you think Wink made the right decision to leave his Ninja School and join the Circus? Why or why not?
In the last scene, Master Zutsu says, “Free flowing water will always find its way.” What do you think this means? How do you think Master Zutsu’s feelings about Wink changed from the beginning to the end of the story?
Now that you have read this story, is there anything that you will do or think about differently than before you read it?
In the story, Wink’s teacher says, “The blossom that flaunts its color is soon plucked!” Discuss what this might mean. To explain, line up a group of 4 crayons, 3 of which are dark colors (black, brown, gray), and then a very bright crayon. Ask your child to pick the most noticeable one. Now tell them, we are going to do an experiment to see if the blossom that flaunts its color is plucked first!
Make 5 gray flowers out of tissue paper, and wrap them with green pipe cleaner “stems.” Then, make one very brightly colored flower. Create a bouquet with the flowers, and be sure to place the brightly colored one above the others, just like Wink. Decide how many people you are going to show the vase (we suggest at least 5), and guess how many of those people will choose the brightly colored flower first, when asked to take one. Now, go out and ask ~5 friends or family members to choose one flower. Of course, don’t let them keep it, just say it’s for an experiment. Keep track of responses on a simple sheet of paper that looks like the one below. When you are finished, count up the responses and compare to what you predicted would be the outcome.
Point out the vase of iris blooms in Wink’s grandmother’s house. Explain that flower arranging is an art in Japan called ikebana. Instead of bunching the flowers together in a vase, as we do in the west, ikebana artists arrange only a few flowers, leaving space between each. Invite your child to make three tissue paper flowers and arrange them in a vase (a tall paper cup with play dough in the bottom for securing the stems and weighting down the cup). To learn more about ikebana, visit this site.