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Bartholomew and the Oobleck

Last updated Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Author: Dr. Seuss
Date of Publication: 1949
ISBN: 0394800753
Grade Level: Kindergarten    (GLCs: Click here for grade level guidelines.)
Date(s) Used: Apr. 2011

Synopsis: From Amazon.com
Bartholomew Cubbins serves thanklessly as pageboy to King Derwin of Didd, a headstrong man who's decided he isn't satisfied with mere sun, fog, rain, and snow. ("Humph! The things that come down from my sky!") He wants something else, something uniquely his own, so he calls in his royal magicians ("Shuffle, duffle, muzzle, muff. Fista, wista, mista-cuff. We are men of groans and howls, mystic men who eat boiled owls"). Happy to oblige, the magicians tell the king they can make "oobleck" fall from the sky, only nobody--not even the magicians--knows just what oobleck is. But after a night of arcane incantations, everyone in the kingdom gets a taste of the stuff (in the case of the Captain of the Guard, literally!), as the green, gluey goo gums up everything in sight.

Of course, Bartholomew tries to help, but it's up to the king to save the day, as he learns to utter not magic words but simple words with magic in them: "I'm sorry."

Note to readers:
•  This is a great story by Dr. Seuss that is different from his normal books. It doesn’t have the sing-songy rhyming narrative, and although the names and some things are silly, it’s a fairly no-nonsense story. Even though it is a great story it takes a long time to read. So to be able to get through the story we suggest you skip the following parts: the magician incantation, the royal trumpeter, the captain of the guards, the royal stables, the royal cook, the royal laundress, and the royal fiddlers. Pick up again when Bartholomew remembers the King. Where was the King?

Discussion topics for before reading:
•  Does anyone know who Dr. Seuss is?
•  Can anyone name any other Dr. Seuss books?
•  Does anyone have any idea as to what an Oobleck is?

Vocabulary Selection:
•  KINGDOM: a state or government having a king or queen as its head.
•  MAJESTY: regal, lofty, or stately dignity; imposing character; grandeur. a title used when speaking of or to a sovereign (usually preceded by his, her, or your ): His Majesty's Navy; Will your Majesty hear our petitions?
•  MUTTERING: to utter words indistinctly or in a low tone, often as if talking to oneself; murmur. To complain murmuring; grumble. To make a low, rumbling sound.
•  MUSTY: having an odor or flavor suggestive of mold, as old buildings, long-closed rooms, or stale food.
•  DUNGUEON: a strong, dark prison or cell, usually underground, as in a medieval castle.
•  HOWLS: to utter a loud, prolonged, mournful cry, as that of a dog or wolf. To utter a similar cry in distress, pain, rage, etc.; wail. To make a sound like an animal howling: The wind howls through the trees.
•  GROWL: to utter a deep guttural sound of anger or hostility: The dog growled at the mail carrier. To murmur or complain angrily; grumble. To rumble: The thunder growled.

Discussion topics for during/after reading:
•  What do you think the King learned in this story?

Craft ideas:
•  1) Take a bunch of white cotton balls and have the kids colored them with green (or the color in their oobleck) markers.
2) Have the kids draw a picture of their house or a castle.
3) Then take the cotton balls and glue them the picture

*Note: These craft ideas are just suggestions. You can use them, but you don’t have to use them. You can expand upon them, or add your own twist. Remember, though, that the focus of your time should not be on the development and execution of a craft; the focus should be on the read-aloud and the enjoyment of the book!