January 2016

The Tale of Despereaux

Cinders: A Chicken Cinderella

Jan Brett

On a snowy Russian winter day, Tasha feeds her flock of chickens in the old tower and falls asleep on a bed of straw. So begins a magical night...

In Jan Brett's version of a favorite fairy tale, Cinders is pushed around by her comical sisters Pecky and Bossy, and their haughty mother, Largessa. This night the chickens fly off to Prince Cockerel’s Ice Palace. All except poor Cinders—until a Silkie flies in with her magic wand and transforms the little hen into a beautiful and mysterious guest at the ball. Jan Brett’s fanciful illustrations and fun chicken characters bring a unique twist to a classic story.

Family Activities

  1. Read Cinders: A Chicken Cinderella aloud with a friend or family member, sharing the beautiful picture illustrations. The story is familiar, but there are many words, some related to the unusual setting, that may be new to readers. Write down words that you do not know in the story. Try to understand what the word may mean in its context and write down a possible definition. Ask a parent or adult to help you look up the word in a dictionary or discuss its meaning. Reading books can be a great way to grow vocabulary if you take extra time to understand and learn new words!
  2. In this story, the author writes a unique version of a classic fairytale by featuring animals as main characters. Personification is the literary term for giving human traits and qualities, such as emotions, desires, gestures and speech, to animals or non-living things. Write your own story or version of a fairytale using personification to give life to your favorite animals. Share your finished story with family or friends!
  3. Did you know that Jan Brett writes and illustrates her books? When Jan was a little girl, she loved to draw and read books. She knew she wanted to be an illustrator when she grew up, and she has published more than 30 books! Draw pictures to illustrate your new story. Look at how Jan Brett features small cameo drawings on the side of the page to foreshadow what will happen next. You might like to watch this video showing how Jan Brett illustrated Cinders: A Chicken Cinderella before you get started with your drawing! 
  4. Jan Brett says that travel is a constant inspiration for her books. She has visited and researched many different countries to accurately draw and represent architecture, costumes, and culture in her work. Have you been to a state outside of Tennessee or country outside of America? If so, what did you learn on your trip? Research a country that you might like to visit with your family and keep a journal about what you learn about its history, culture, landscape, and people. Your local library is a great resource for information!

A Note from the First Lady:

Dear Read20 Book Club families,

I want to wish you a happy and healthy New Year! We are excited to launch into another year of reading together and look forward to sharing exciting new book selections with you each month.

 As you plan for the year ahead, I hope you will set reading goals for your family. Think back over your last year in books. Did you read as much or as frequently as you would have liked? What were the best, funniest, and longest books read by your family in 2015?

Start this year off right with a new commitment to read at least 20 minutes every day. Books are so much fun! More importantly, reading is the best way to learn, increase vocabulary, and improve memory, writing and critical thinking. Reading books wrapped in a warm blanket or snuggled up by a fire can make winter the best season for reading, so let’s get started!

Warmly,

Crissy Haslam
First Lady of Tennessee