Have you got Big Plans for your students this year?
I started the school year off sharing the book Big Plans by Bob Shea, illustrated by Lane Smith with my library classes. It’s a perfect choice for many reasons, not the least of which is because there is so much for kids to notice in the illustrations!
We begin (as I always do when sharing a picture book) by examining the end papers for clues to the story. It won’t be until we read about the football game that some observant student will exclaim “It’s the end papers!” upon seeing the “crowd” background, and then the hunt is on for more callbacks to the opening double-page spread showing our protagonist sitting in time-out in his classroom. (A brief glance at the chalkboard will reveal why!) Showing no remorse at all, he seizes this opportunity to envision himself conquering the worlds of business, sports, politics, and space travel on his way to world domination.
By the time we get to the last page of the book the kids are falling all over themselves to tell me how all the illustrations fit together, and how the hero of the story has been inspired by all the things around him in his classroom. The myna bird sidekick adds a “Where’s Waldo” element to the illustrations, and the book ends with one last tidbit of information to share: The book was designed by Molly Leach, who is – wait for it – married to Lane Smith! This revelation simply BLOWS kids’ minds, and provides a perfect opportunity to discuss a largely unknown (among elementary students) job in the publishing world.
Be prepared when reading this book aloud to “go big or go home” because this guy has BIG PLANS! BIG PLANS I SAY! and you have to read it like you mean it! Shea’s word choice, repetition, and larger-than-life story line cry out for a no-holds-barred presentation! And it leads right into a discussion of my enthusiasm for the big plans I have for the students this year, and how I hope that the things they see and do in the library will inspire them to start forming big plans of their own.
Take a look inside BIG PLANS at the Amazon website.
Kudos to Bob, Lane, and Molly for giving us such a fun, wacky, inspirational book!