Saturday, September 1, 2012

Book #245: Mom and Dad are Palindromes by Mark Shulman, Illustrated by Adam McCauley

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Bob’s life is going along just fine until one day his teacher, Miss Sim, teaches the class about palindromes. That’s when Bob realizes with alarm that he is a palindrome! And what’s worse, he's completely surrounded by palindromes: his kayak, his race car, his pup. To top it all off, he realizes that mom and dad are palindromes, as well as the names of his sisters, Anna and Nan! Bob tries to run away, but no matter what he does or where he goes, those pesky palindromes follow him. Finally, Bob finds a solution to his problem. He’ll go by his full name, instead of just Bob. He should be safe, right? Oh wait, his full name is Robert Trebor!

Featuring over 101 palindromes in the text and illustrations, this book is a great read aloud kids in upper elementary school (grade 2 and up). Palindromes in the narrative are printed in bold fonts, but keep your eyes open for the palindromes hidden in the illustrations, such as the titles of the books in Bob’s living room, posters on city walls, and names of companies and stores.  Using mixed media techniques, McCauley creates a bustling urban environment that surrounds Bob in bold primary blues, yellows, and reds. The illustrations alternate between full page illustrations and isolated illustrations, which provides visual variety and pacing. You may recognize McCauley’s illustration style from the covers and spot illustrations in The Time Warp Trio.

When you read this story out loud run your finger under the palindromes in the text. Try spelling the words backwards and forwards as well to reinforce the concept. By the end of the book, the kids will probably be pointing out the palindromes to you.

Follow up by writing a story using as many palindromes as possible. Start by picking a name for your protagonist. See how many names you can brainstorm as a group and check out this list of palindrome names. Perhaps after that your character might travel to one of these palindrome locations.

For a math lesson, practice adding, subtracting, multiplying, etc. palindrome numbers. You can make this as complicated or simple as your group requires. You could have a target number everyone has to get to using different operators or you can simply use tiles with numbers on them to arrange them into palindrome numbers.

Check out the activity guide provided by Chronicle Books, as well as a Q&A with Shulman that contains 44 palindromes.


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