Tag Archives: Jonathan London

Condor’s Egg: #113texts

Jonathan London is probably best known in children’s book circles as the author of the Froggy books, but he has many wonderful books that are varied in content and well written.  I mentioned Dream Weaver a couple of days ago as my contribution to the #113texts Mentor Text Challenge.  Today I want to tell you a bit about Condor’s Egg by Jonathan London.

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Condor’s Egg is a realistic story about a family of California Condors in the wild.  As is typical with London, the language is lyrical and carefully chosen.  His use of verbs evokes movement and creates a sense of action.  And as an added bonus, there is factual information about California Condors at the end of the book as well as a guide to using the book with children.

During the 2012-13 school year, after reading the book as part of our study of birds, we used a number of sentences from this book as mentor sentences for our students to study and then to replicate with their own content.

Here’s one sentence we studied: Circling, he rides the warm air, higher than the tops of the clouds. This is a tricky construction with the main part of the sentence between the parentheses where extra information is often deposited.

T (a second grader) created this sentence–a close approximation:  Roaring, they start their engines, then the drivers shoot off the starting line.

J (another second grader) came up with this one:  Building, Steve builds a square house, nice and safe!

Here’s one from a first grader (Okay–I know it’s not fair–this is a talented writer!): Running, she goes through the house as fast as she can, trying to get away from the pretend monster.

And here’s one more second grader: Diving, she is determined to catch it, landing on the dusty floor of the canyon.

We used many sentences from this book and explored creating our own sentences following the pattern of London’s sentences.  By doing this my students had opportunities to try out new sentence structures, which later showed up in their own writing.

I was thinking about the Jonathan London titles that I use…here’s a few:

  • Dream Weaver
  • Condor’s Egg
  • Puddles
  • The Waterfall
  • Like Butter on Pancakes

How have you used London’s books?  What titles do you like?

Dream Weaver: a Mentor Text

Sometimes it is the simplest books that pack a powerful punch.  When I started to consider a recommendation for the #113texts Mentor Text Challenge so many books came to mind.  I expect to add more than one!

dream weaver

Dream Weaver by Jonathan London is one of those simple books with beautiful language.  The verbs create an orchestra of sound and movement.

A sudden wind, and the trees hum, the branches creak, and Yellow Spider’s web shimmers, like wind across a pond.  But she hangs on and you stay with her.  The whole world is in these leaves.

Besides the language, there are two other features of the book that I love.  One is the way the books uses the space on the page and draws you in close to feel the insect view and then pulls back to give a human perspective.  I also love that the back of the book includes facts about spiders.  (The fiction/non-fiction mix is one of my favorites!)

This year we used this book as one of several to teach beginnings.  Here’s the text of the first page:

Nestled in the soft earth beside the path, you see a little yellow spider.

This beginning takes the reader directly to the “place” in the book.  Our students wrote a piece where they highlighted the qualities of our local community–exploring ways to share their opinions with evidence from their own experience.  But like most young writers, they are still working to build effective beginnings.  So they studied this beginning from Jonathan London and many tried their hand at making this structure work in their own writing.  (Nestled did become a favorite word in our class!)

Here’s a couple of examples from students:

“B” , a second grader wrote this opening

Nestled between the blue beach and the desert there’s a small town called Cardiff-by-the Sea

Okay–I’m not sure that the beach and desert are quite close enough to “nestle” this little town, but she definitely got the idea!

“K”, a third grader tried this version where the setting is revealed in a similar way without using the word “nestled.”

A little town called Cardiff lies between two other towns in Southern California: Encinitas and Del Mar.

There are many ways to use this book as a mentor text.  I highly recommend it, especially for students in grades K-3.  I’d love to know how you’ve used this book (or others like it)!