Monday, February 25, 2013

Booking Across the USA: Maryland

Today is "Booking Across the USA" at Growing Book by Book, and I'm representing Maryland! Bloggers representing all 50 states are sharing picture books related to their states and sharing educational activities or projects to go along with the books. You can see the whole list of participating blogs here.

When I first volunteered to represent Maryland, I wasn't sure which picture book to highlight. Should I pick a book that features the whole state? Share a historical story from a specific region? Or choose a book written by a Maryland author? After many hours of thinking and reading, I decided to highlight a book by a Maryland artist!

One Wolf Howls, written by Scotti Cohn and illustrated by Maryland's own Susan Detwiler, was published by Sylvan Dell in 2011. Written in beautiful rhyme, One Wolf Howls goes through each month of the year (one month on each full-page spread) to help reinforce numbers and months of the year and to introduce the habitat and behavior of wolves. Here are two of my favorite spreads that include movement or dance...

Two wolves play in a February snowfall --
frisky, frosty, fairyland snow.
Two wolves play in a February snowfall
deep in the woods where the harsh winds blow.

Eight wolves dance in the August twilight --
splash feet, paddle feet, prance by the lake.
Eight wolves dance in the August twilight
deep in the woods as the owls awake. 

One Wolf Howls, like all Sylvan Dell Books, includes a "For Creative Minds" section at the back of the book, where you will find several pages of educational activities. Sylvan Dell has also put a lot of effort into creating additional "teaching activities" for One Wolf Howls that coincide with the language arts, science, math, and geography. You can access the full list of teaching activities from the top right of this wonderful page on the Sylvan Dell website, which also includes a fun and informative book trailer.

If you like to incorporate movement into the classroom or you teach creative dance or pre-ballet classes, this book would also be well suited for teaching choreography and practicing movements in unison. One idea is to make up short movement phrases to go with each of the 12 stanzas in the book. An example for the "Eight wolves dance in the August twilight" stanza would be to have the kids splash their feet, paddle their arms, or prance. The students could practice repeating the movements twice during each stanza.

I think it would then be really fun to create a dance in which one student performs the first stanza, which talks about only one wolf. Then another dancer could join the first dancer for the second stanza, which talks about two wolves, and on and on until 12 students are dancing together. The kids could even dance to the rhythm of the poetry rather than to traditional music.

If you have a small group of students, the students could just dance part of the book. And if you have a large class, you could split the kids into two groups, and one group could be the audience. Hopefully the dancers would make the audience howl!

Susan Detwiler grew up in Maryland and attended the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore, where she now lives with her husband and two sons. Susan has illustrated several books for children, including four for Sylvan Dell. Her illustrations have also been published in children's magazines and in puzzles, games, and greeting cards. Visit her website here.


  1. Wolves are a very popular animal in my space. This sounds like a great book to add to our list for animal books where we actually learn about the animal and it's habitat.

    1. I'm glad this book will work in your environment. There's a lot of information in the back about the way wolves communicate, their life cycle, and some other interesting things. We don't have wolves here in Maryland, but I just found out we have coyotes!

  2. I love that you were able to find a book related to your state AND tie it in to dance and movement! The illustrations look beautiful. Thank you for participating in the Booking Across the USA project!

    1. Thanks, Jodie. This has been a wonderful project to be a part of. Thanks again for including me!


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