1. Discuss author Tomie dePaola, famous for his illustrations and writing. Are your students familiar with other books by dePaola: Strega Nona, Oliver Button is a Sissy, The Popcorn Book or The Art Lesson? He often writes about children who are different from the norm. These dePaola characters have inner strength and courage to follow a different path in life, providing an inspirational message for readers.
2. Use a map of the United States and point out the area of the Plains. (Prairie and grasslands east of the Rocky Mountains and west of the Mississippi River)
3. This book is a legend, which is retold and illustrated by Tomie dePaola. Explain to the children what a “retold" legend means. A legend, in this case, is a story that is passed down over the years about a historical event or person. It may or may not be true.
4. For vocabulary work, there is always an opportunity to incorporate reading activities for Tomie dePaola books. In this case, we are learning what to do when coming upon an unfamiliar word when reading.
Write the following words on the board:
Look at each word individually and say it out loud. Ask if anyone has an idea of what each word might mean. Tell students that when they come across an unfamiliar word they can look for clues in the pictures and read the sentences around the word to help them find out its meaning. Remind the students to listen for the words as you read the book to them.
When you come upon one of the words, ask students to look at the pictures and listen again to the sentences around the word. Is the meaning of the unfamiliar word more clear?