Review & Lesson: Weslandia (1999)

WeslandiaWeslandia by Paul Fleischman

Wesley is a thinker and a dreamer.  He is an outcast.  Other kids pick on him and he has no friends.  So Wesley creates a world all his own, a world he calls Weslandia.  Weslandia begins as a small garden and develops into a community.  Wesley grows his own food, creates his own sport, and even makes up an entirely new language (with an 80 letter alphabet!).  By using his knowledge and putting his energy toward something productive, Wesley finds that he is able to find true happiness and make friends.

This would a great book to teach children about civilizations, however I recently used it for another reason: to teach kids how to be a thinker.  There is no stronger tool, I feel, for teaching our students than the books we read to or with them.  I like how this book honors Wesley being himself, how Wesley’s brain and smarts help him find his happiness, and how by not being afraid to think outside the box and do something other people wouldn’t do, Wesley was able to teach others and make friends.  Attached is the lesson I wrote for grades 3-5.   -Marika

3-5 Thinker Lesson


Review: The Most Magnificent Thing (2014)


The Most Magnificent Thing by Ashley Spires chronicles the hard work and perseverance of a young girl with an idea. As an educator, I have encountered numerous children who believe that things will come easy to them. Maybe they believe this is the way it is for everyone, maybe most of their lives things have been easy. Whatever the case may be, I’ve seen many students get to a place where they struggle and I’ve watched as they want to give up. How I wish I had this book at my fingertips!

I love so many things about this book. I love that the protagonist/inventor/creator is a girl. I love that she makes numerous attempts at her design. I love that she takes a step away and sees things from a different angle. Her sidekick puppy is an adorable companion.

This book would pair well with What Do You Do With an Idea? by Kobi Yamada or The Dot by Peter H. Reynolds.

Because, after all, we can do hard things. -Erin

(When I first read this book, I did not make the connection that the author is the same author of the Binky the Space Cat graphic novels.  Binky the Space Cat is also fantastic!)