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The Secret Stars by Joseph Slate, Illustrated by Felipe Davalos

Age Range/Grade: 4-7, Grades1st-2nd Grade

Theme: Winter holidays, faith, family

It's dark and cold and there are no stars in the sky. While the children worry that their holiday will be affected, their grandmother shows them in a dream how to have faith about things you can't see.

Introduce the Cover

 

Describe the picture. What colors are mostly used? What do you think is happening in the picture?

PredictWhat do you think this book will be about?

Pause at...

Pages 2-3

Point to...

"Rain pelts the pine...”; “...slices down…”;

 

“She is the warm hearth, She is the nestling log.”

Ponder...

What does the word slice make you think of? 

 

Why did the author describe the grandmother as a warm hearth and a nestling log?  

Talk about...

Repeat the sound puh-puh-puh. What does that sound make you think of?

 

Describe the small picture on the bottom of page 2, and the small pictures in the top corners on page 3. What does the illustrator want us to know?

Pause at...

Pages 4-5

Point to...

“Baby Manger”; “Will the Three Kings bring toys?”

Ponder...

Is it a special time of year? Who are the Three Kings?

Talk about...

What tradition is taking place? What are the children worried about?

Pause at...

Pages 6-7

Point to...

“...something in our shoes”; “...the drum-drumming of the rain.”

Ponder...

What are your family holiday traditions?

Talk about...

Why has the author described the rain as a drum?

Pause at...

Pages 8-9

Point to...

The three sleeping at the bottom of the picture; the two small pictures in the top corner on page 8.

Ponder...

What is happening? Are the three really flying?

Talk about...

What do the words sail and float have in common? How do they connect to the description of the grandmother as ‘a big bird’?

Pause at...

Pages 10-11

Point to...

The small pictures in the top corners on page 10.

 

‘...ice storm,’ ‘The air is cold, cold…”

Ponder...

What do you think is going to happen? 

Explain what is happening to the children. 

What are your family holiday traditions? Does anything here look like your celebrations?

Talk about...

 Why did the author repeat the word cold?

Pause at...

Pages 12-13

Point to...

“...a mantle of ice.”

 

‘sparkle,’ ‘twinkle and chime,’ ‘laced with ice,’ ‘icy nest glistens’

Ponder...

Describe this scene. What is a ‘mantle of ice?’ (Hint: There is a mantle on the previous page. Is this the same thing?)

Talk about...

Why did the author use words like sparkle, twinkle, and glisten?

Pause at...

Pages 14-15

Point to...

“...a thin spidery ice”

 

‘chicken coop’

Ponder...

Explain ‘spidery ice.’ (Hint: Look back to page 13 at the spider’s web).

Talk about...

Are the fish and the frog above or below the water? How do you know?

Pause at...

Pages 16-17

Point to...

“He cranes his stippled neck…”

Ponder...

Show what the rooster is doing with his neck.

Talk about...

How are the hens’ dreams similar to or different from the childrens’ dreams? What else is similar between the hens and rooster, and the children and their grandmother?

Pause at...

Pages 18-19

Point to...

“The horns glitter with frost. ‘Like stars,’ says Pepe.

Ponder...

Does this picture make you think of any other stories?

Talk about...

Can you remember everything that the children have seen so far? Where were the stars?

Pause at...

Pages 20-21

Point to...

“A halo steams round his head.”

 

“So we must hurry, hurry.”

Ponder...

What is a halo? 

 

What is about to happen?

Talk about...

What clues did the illustrator use to help you make that prediction?

Pause at...

Pages 22-23

Point to...

“Star-frost spatters the window glass.”

Ponder...

What is star-frost?

Talk about...

How are they “like feathers?” Where are they “drifting down” to? Why did the author use the word feather?

Pause at...

Pages 24-25

Point to...

They criss-cross like stars.

Ponder...

Why do the children think they look like stars?

Talk about...

What has happened in this story?

Pause at...

Pages 26-27

Point to...

They…

They…

They…

 

“The door yields with a sharp crack.”

Ponder...

Who is “they?” How are “they” feeling?  

 

Context Clue: What does yield mean?

Talk about...

Up to now in the story, how were the children moving? How are they moving now? What changed?

Pause at...

Pages 28-29

Point to...

“The hay is gone. The figs are gone.”

Ponder...

What happened to the hay and the figs?

Talk about...

Who are the Three Kings?

Pause at...

Page 30

Point to...

“‘And their crowns and capes,’ says Sila, ‘they are filled with stars.’”

Ponder...

Do you see the crowns and capes?

Talk about...

What are the secret stars?

Furthering the Conversation

Why did the grandmother want the children to know about the secret stars? How did the Three Kings find their way?

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