Water Can Be… by Salas (Millbrook Press, 2014) has a lot of potential for enjoyment and instruction in the classroom. This book is a “poetic exploration of the many roles of water throughout the year.” When I first read it, I had to let go of making complete sense of the content and just enjoy the rhyme and rhythm, the beautiful illustrations, and the general messages of the author–which is what I would recommend doing with students. Then I reread the book to make sense of the content.
I struggled a little bit with the difference between water being a “picture catcher” (with an illustration of a young girl looking at her reflection in the water) and a “tadpole hatcher” (with an illustration of tadpoles swimming in the water). A child’s reflection IS the water. In the case of tadpole hatcher, the water is not exactly that–but instead is the environment needed for tadpoles to hatch. This is the case with the various “names” for water or “roles of water” that Salas uses in this verse. She also has roles that end with the suffix -er/-or (meaning “a thing that does something”) and roles like “salmon highway” – which is an object versus a thing that does something. This might be confusing to some students. (An another note–Salas also explicitly addresses states of water in “spring” and “autumn,” but does not explicitly refer to summer and winter–it’s implied though.)
BUT this is what makes the text complex and worthy of rereading to grapple with the content (versus discarding and choosing another). What about stopping as you reread the text a second or third time and saying, “What do you think the author means by that? By ‘salmon highway’? Let’s look carefully at the illustration and think about that.” Be prepared to provide wait time and to model with your own thinking if needed. (Common Core Reading Info Text standard 1.4, 1.7, 2.4, 2.6, 2.7, 3.4, 3.7) With students, refer to the author’s note at the end, where Salas lists each role in the book and describes this role (CC RI.2.8). You might refer to the particular description in this author’s note when you discuss “bruise shrinker” or “eagle flyway” – after looking carefully at the illustration.
She also gets at the idea that water comes in many forms – gas, liquid and solid – without saying that explicitly–“Water is water–it’s fog, frost, and sea. When autumn comes chasing, water can be a…” (no page numbers). This might be an opportunity to apply some of what students have been learning in a unit of study on water. You could reread the book with students –a third time maybe–and ask them to identify the state of water for each role Salas names. (CC RI.1.3 & 2.3)
Salas’ text might also be a mentor text for writing…what are the roles of fire (e.g., house destroyer, forest renewer)? of soil (e.g., nutrient provider, nature protector)? of trees? of earthworms? (CC W.3.10)
Lots of possibilities.
Hope your transition into the new year was peaceful!