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How To Make Friends With a Giant

Last updated Friday, March 6, 2009

Author: Gennifer Choldenko
Illustrator: Amy Walrod
Date of Publication: 2006
ISBN: 0399237798
Grade Level: 1st    (GLCs: Click here for grade level guidelines.)
Date(s) Used: Feb. 2009

Synopsis: Kindergarten-Grade 2–Because Jake is the shortest kid in his class, he is either dismissed or teased by his classmates. Then Jacomo arrives, and the focus of the child's derision shifts to him. He is enormous–he's too big to fit on the school bus, and he crowds the other children at story time. Jake befriends the new boy, teaching him how to kick a soccer ball so it doesn't disappear and defending him when the others insist he doesn't belong. By the end of the day, the two are best friends, and Jake has never felt so tall. This is a quirky tale of two opposites who find common ground because they are regarded as different, but who together make a good team. It is unfortunate (but perhaps also realistic) that the other children never come to truly value either boy, and that their consistent meanness is never addressed by their teacher. Walrod's highly stylized color cartoons are a good match for the text.–Grace Oliff, Ann Blanche Smith School, Hillsdale, NJ Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Note to readers:
•  Vocabulary words: Dangle, mobile, tremble, piggyback

Discussion topics for before reading:
•  What is a giant? Do you know any giants?
•  Who do you think is the giant in the picture?

Discussion topics for during/after reading:
•  Is it okay to make fun of new kids?
•  Is everyone around you the same? Are they different?
•  Is it okay to be different?
•  Do you think what you say hurts others? Is it okay to say mean things?
•  Do you think Ed is a good friend to Jacomo? Why?
•  Have you ever felt like you don’t belong?

Craft ideas:
•  Conversation HEARTS: Letters to the Troops and First Family. In response to President Obama's call to service and volunteerism, make valentines to send the Troops or any member of the First Family (President Obama, First Lady Michelle, Sasha, Malia). Have each student write their first name, school and grade on the back of their valentine. Turn the valentines into the Site Coordinators to be sent out following the reading clubs.
•  Valentine's Day bookmark. Take a piece of construction paper and fold in half lengthwise. Fold lengthwise again, so there will be 4 long rectangles. Then, fold the paper in half width wise. This should give you 8 bookmarks per page. Cut on the creased lines. Next, decorate by drawing, putting tulle overlay or cutting and pasting on different colored hearts. After decorating, make a small hole towards the top. Take a piece of ribbon and fold it in half. Insert the folded end into the hole and bring the loose ends of the ribbon into that hole.
•  Paper heart ornament. Trace a large heart onto construction paper and cut out. Cut additional smaller hearts in other colors or using tulle/lace circles. Glue these additional pieces directly onto the large heart. Make two hole on each side of the heart. Cut ribbon and insert it through the 2 holes. Secure the ribbon by tying knots on each end. Heart ornament can be put on door knob or on a bulletin board.
•  Make a Valentine’s Day card.
•  Draw Jake and Jacomo together. Fold a piece of paper in half “hot dog style” (length wise). Draw Jacomo (full length) on one side. Draw Jacomo’s arms down with one hand meeting at the crease. Draw Jake on the other side of the paper with his arms up. One hand should meet at the crease. Open the paper and you will have Jake and Jacomo together on the same page holding hands.
•  Draw a picture of Jake and Jacomo playing soccer together.

*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!