magical monthly reads

  teeny tale:

"what are you doing possum?" asks skunk. a clearly petrified possum replies, i am hiding from night animals." skunk quickly joins possum in the deep dark forest as they hide together from night animals. students will immediately giggle from the hilarious illustrations and whimsical details spotted throughout this charming text. as the story continues ferocious nocturnal animal join possum and skunk in their pursuit to be safe. eventually a little bat informs the animals that they ARE night anmals! this great read aloud begs to be read again and again. on a second reading perhaps read it in the dark with a flashlight!


mentor text for writing workshop

 turn and talk:


  • look at the cover and the end page, you can see two eyes balls in the dark. 
    students could predict what they think will happen in this story  and why?
  • what is something you can be scared of?
  • this is a great book to have student turn and act.
  • Have partner A  pretend to be possum and partner B pretend to be the skunk. you job is to pretend to be that character and what you think they may be thinking or saying at that moment. it is helpful for the teacher to model and show students how you can think beyond the text.
  • at the end of this story, have student retell the events that happened first, next and last.  
  • what made this a funny book?

mentor text

reading like a reader
i’m thinking…
I’m wondering…
this reminds me...
reading like a writer

what is the writer doing?
i am thinking this story may be about an opossum who is afraid of animals that are bigger than him.

could the animals be scared of the dark?
it reminds me of sometimes seeing animals in my backyard.
gianna sets the tone of the story by making each page pitch black. this makes the reader feel scared. there are many things happening in the illustrations that aren’t happening in the words.

Ex. the skunk is clinging on the tree for his dear life and spraying every one.
Possum plays dead at times.
i think the author wanted the setting to be black because it makes the story suspenseful.  

i wonder what will happen to possum and skunk?
gianna uses speech bubbles of the animals talking to one another. we can tell how scared the night animals are feeling by their actions and expression on their faces.
students will delight in the subtle humor.

Ex. Did you hear something?
Are you trying to scare me?
the night noises remind me of noises i sometimes hear in my bed at night.

it also reminds me of the story we read, Joshua’s Night Whispers.

i wonder if the aaaarrrooo is going to eat them up.
i think it’s a wild animal that may eat them.
giana uses onomatopoeia to let us know how the characters are feeling. you can
hear the sounds of whisper words and noisy words.

Ex: aaaarrrrrrrooooooooo

I think now that the wolf is joining the
skunk and opossum.  This is a funny tale,
here they are afraid of night animals and
they are night animals!  I think it’s funny because_______________________.
gianna uses fonts and punctuation in interesting and powerful ways.

Ex. HELP ME! Help YOU!?
You’re a wolf?

But SOMETHING is following me!
what was the message of this book?
sometimes we're afraid when we shouldn’t be.
gianna has a surprise ending.  when the bat tells them that they are night animals they are relieved but quickly scared by two humans camping in a nearby tent. the book ends with everyone running from everyone else.

mentor text

unit of study: illustration study for writing workshop, character study for reading workshop

 tiny tip: give students post-its to make pictures or write about what the characters are doing, thinking and saying.

character unit of study

happy monday!

jess & laura & melissa


  1. I love this--I am going to buy this book and teach this lesson!
    So excited for your blog!-

  2. Chris the kids will LOVE this book!!! It was my all time favorite book last year!

  3. Great book! Hadn't heard of it yet! Yippee! Can you share this post in a couple weeks on my book linky?? Kathleen