Finding children’s literature in our home was a challange since I have no children.  Most of the children’s books I have are books to teach a child their ABCs, colors, first words, etc.  My niece, who is four years old loves to read, so this assignment was great for her since I checked out many children’s books over this Spring semester.

CA Content Standard: 3.0 Literary Response & Analysis (Grade Three)

Structural Features of Literature
3.1 Distinguish common forms of literature (e.g., poetry, drama, fiction, nonfiction).

Narrative Analysis of Grade-Level-Appropriate Text
3.2 Comprehend basic plots of classic fairy tales, myths, folktales, legends, and fables from
around the world.
3.3 Determine what characters are like by what they say or do and by how the author or
illustrator portrays them.
3.4 Determine the underlying theme or author’s message in fiction and nonfiction text.
3.5 Recognize the similarities of sounds in words and rhythmic patterns (e.g., alliteration,
onomatopoeia) in a selection.
3.6 Identify the speaker or narrator in a selection.

princess and pauperTitle:  Barbie as the Princess and the Pauper

Author:  Mary Man-Kong

This is one of the books that my niece has here at our home.  We bought her the book because she likes dolls and of course Barbie.  I always like to see her facial expressions, and love when she asks questions as to why the princess had to hid wearing a hood and the pauper a wig.  She always says (in regards to the mean Madame Carp), “That’s not okay, huh.  She needs to be nice to everyone.”

Because there are many versions of The Princess and the Pauper, children are able to compare and contrast this same story that reflect different cultures.  This story in particular is of course reflecting a westernized culture (Barbie), but the setting is in a village where there is a monarchy for the political scheme.  Another important attribute is that it is in a different time period before the industrial age and before electricity.  There are a couple of characters in the story that have difficult names that may be a challenge for the child reading the story.  The greatest challenge is that this book (in my opinion) is gender bias because most second grade boys will find it challenging to read this version of  The Pricess and the Pauper due to its title and the illustrations are vivid real life-like barbies.

Obviously, this is a folktale that has many versions in many different cultures.  It derives from traditional oral cultures who depended on storytelling .  It is in third person point of view.  The persona is acting as an objective observer, meaning that the narrator is simply recounting the events, incidents, dialogue, and activity that could be related by any reasonable individual present at the scene.  One will find that inner fears, hopes, and concerns are expressed through the narration of the text itself such as dialogue instead of them being disclosed by the narrator.  Within the dialogue one will find direct discourse (verbatim recording of the character’s words):  “She’s an imposter!” he shouted, pointing at Erika. As in most prose, the character drives the story creating a series of events plotted that lead to a climax.  It is the development of the main character, in this two main characters, that drive the story allowing its readers to experience the crisis the characters were facing.  It is the common battle between good and evil.  In this case, the battle is between the good and evil found in people, close trustworthy people.

Cultural references and social values are deeply ingrained in this folktale.  As mentioned before, the interpretation of the princess and the pauper both being the western phenomena Barbie, plays a deep role in disclosing the western societal value on aesthetics (no matter how rich or poor an individual is, beauty is a must) because all characters are “perfect slim figures”.  There is an emphasis on social classes and the types of roles, activities, and social circles that determines to what class one belongs.  For example, Princess Anneliese had servants, went to balls, had special made dresses, and lived in a castle.  Erika, the pauper, was an orphan, a servant, poor, and live in shack.  I found interesting that the “royal” characters ALL had blonde hair, and even the princess’ cat was white.  Erika, Julian (Annaliese’s servant friend), Erika’s dog, and Preminger’s dog (Preminger, the evil royal adviser) had dark hair.  It is common to find a close relationship between the colors black and white, where white signifies purity/good and black signifies evil.  In this story, these colors are used to demark the line between royalty and peasant roles.

Performance:  It would be a bit difficult to perform this text because it is rich in characters not only in gender but in tonal voicing.  It would amplify my strength as a performer because it has several crisis events in which my use of space and kinesthetic response can develop.  It would extend me into new territory as a performer because I would have to strengthen my vocal variety and vocal quality (accent and dialect) when trying to interpret more than 6 characters plus the narrator.

too many tamalesTitle:  Too Many Tamales

Author:  Gary Soto

This text is one that I found online as I was searching books for my young niece.  I saw a couple of preview pages on, and liked the illustration and the plot of the story.  I decided to check it out for one of those bedtime story reads for Deborah.  I feel a strong connection with this text because for my family and I making tamales is more than just a good feast.

This is a grade appropriate for third graders, not only because the vocabulary is simple, but because every time a foreign (Spanish) word is introduced, it is in italics and there is a definition in the context of the dialogue or narration.  The reader will be exposed to a vivid and warm contemporary realistic fiction as a form of literature.  This text a great illustration for readers to determine how a character is based on what the character does or say.  In this case, Maria, the protagonist is young girl who love’s to play grown-up, but gets into trouble.  The reader must capture what the author is saying about Maria when it comes to fixing a mistake.

The agent of the text is in a dramatic mode taking different roles to recreate conversations and engaged in them.  It is in an informal and concrete style with some complexities. The structure of the text is in a chronological order.  A dramatistic point in this story is its scene (where, when and to who the speaker is speaking).  The performative context of Too Many Tamales is a social context, and is based on a memorable story scheme.  As a structural component, the persona is in third person narration and is an Omniscient observer.  This mean that the narrator recounts the events, incidents, dialogue, and the acitivity within the scene PLUS the narrator can access the internal life of a character or the characters of a text.  An example in this text is when the narrator is disclosing how Maria is feeling after loosing her mother’s ring and also sharing with the reader Maria’s personal thoughs.

There are many cultural markers evident in this story. The text and illustrations depict a mixed culture, the illustration where Maria and her mother are kneading the masa in the kitchen shows the decorative ceramic plates from Mexico in the background, and the some of the ingredients that they are using are labeled in English and others in Spanish. The part of the story where Maria’s father helps out in the kitchen also suggests a mix in cultures. In Mexico it is not usual for men to be in the kitchen, the author includes him in the process of making the tamales. This was a bit ackward for me since I find this to still prove itself true even here in the United States.  My father never enters the kitchen during our holidays and we are making tamales. I found the theme of family as an important value int he Hispanic society.  The kneading of the masa (corn flour mix), the corporal husk-wrapping process, and then feasting as a family brings to me the symbolism of how important it is for families to create values that will nurture the future generations.

Performance:  My challenge here is the lack of knowledge in my audience in regards to the new vocabulary.  Some vocabulary in the book was clarified through the illustrations; this poses a challenge as a performer.  This text would amplify my strength as a performer simply because I am so familiar with the theme, the text, and obviously with the language (Spanish).  A new territory as a performer would be as an omniscient observer when narrating the text.


Title:  The Polar Express

Author:  Chris Van Allsburg

I chose to analyze this text because I had read it once in a children’s literature class when I first transferred to Stan State.  I found it in our library, and like it because one of my favorite seasons is Christmas.  I love to go the snow with my family.  Every year, we take a trip up to Yosemite.  This book brings fun memories of my childhood, and funny stories of my adulthood trips to the snow after Christmas holidays and on New Year’s Day.

This book is specifically geared more towards second grade, but it is a great read for third graders because they are to distinguish between fiction and non-fiction events as well as characters.  I find that there are few reading challenges for a third grade reader.  The appropriateness of this text lies not only in the easy vocabulary, but in an almost universal concept of  the magical character of Santa Claus.

The book is written in first person point of view, and it is obvious that the persona of this story is the the boy itself, but he seems to be narrating it as an adult.  My motive to believe this is because the book ends with, “At one time, most of my friends could hear the bell, but as years passed, it fell silent for all of them. Even Sarah found one Christmas that she could no longer hear its sweet sound. Though I’ve grown old, the bell still rings for me, as it does for all who truly believe.”  The “Though I’ve grown old…” is an indication that the persona is retelling the story.  It could be that he is telling the story to one of his own children or  even to himself as a reminder of how a little boy’s belief system can beat the odds.  It is in narrative form as the plot of the story deals with a boy’s journey.  The beauty of this text is that if has all 3 features of quality literature:  Universality (childhood journeys between reality and imagination), Individuality (this boy’s journey involved a train, being chosen among the children to receive the first gift from Santa Claus), and Suggestion (the reader has the opportunity to do something with this story–perhaps ponder upon their own belief systems or imaginary journeys).

The cultural references in this book include the sedentary life found in Grand Rapids, Michigan.  The descriptions of this place is used for half of the setting of this story.  Another reference is the celebrating of Christmas and its importance in a society.  I find the boy’s relationship with his parents an analogy to what the was experiencing as he read in his encyclopedia that the North Pole was a “devoid in life”.  It was almost as if the author was telling the reader that logic (encyclopedia) and adulthood many times jade our innocent beliefs.  The moral of this story is to not allow anything to keep you from believing. Another important point here is the importance of a boy’s rite of passage; the journey that involves self-realization.

Performance:  One challenge would be finding a good class arrangement to either evoke the locus of the storytelling or choosing one of the settings in the text (the North Pole, by the Christmas tree, or in the boy’s bedroom).  Because I am fond of this season, this text would amplify my performance in committing to my character and conveying emotive performance choices.  My challenge would be playing the opposite sex, and a young boy.


Title:  The Lotus Seed

Author:  Sherry Garland

This text is found in the CSU Stanislaus library, and reason why it interested me was because my family and I are immigrants to the United States; we have many stories under our belts regarding the great sacrifices we encountered as we came from Mexico.  The main theme in the text deals with the idea of how hard it is to leave the familiar to an unfamiliar land.

This text is appropriate for third graders and even higher secondary grades by modifying the analytical activities.  It will help the reader understand that even though this is a fictional story meaning that the author created it, it still contains many “real-life” events such as the migration of Vietnamese citizens to the United States.  It is easy for the students to recognize the narrator of the story (a young girl).  They will be able to Compare and contrast their lives to lives of kids in other parts of the world.  For lower grade levels, one of the challenges the reader will face is encountering new vocabulary such as a lotus seed.

The persona of this particular prose is a young Vietnamese girl.  She retells the story of how  B`a, her grandmother, had to escape Vietnam during their civil war.  The setting of the story begins in the continent of Asia.  The young girl narrates this text as a fictional tale of everyday life.  I find the 3 features that Gura and Lee, authors of the textbook Oral Interpretation, write about.  I’d like to argue that The Lotus Seed encompasses the literary touchstone of Universality (a concept that states that all readers can relate to the text).  Because there are several themes in the text, any reader can relate to Hope, Family Life, Tradition, and even immigration.  Immigration is known to most people of the world whether the individual themself is an immigrant or they’ve been exposed to an environment where they’ve encountered immigrant individuals.  The individuality of the text is the lotus seed itself.  In many families tradition is a common concept where things are passed down from generation to generation.  The uniqueness of this story is the Vietnamese lotus seed that after many years blooms to give many more seeds for the generations to come.  The suggestion of the text allows the reader to ponder on what traditions are important in one’s individual family.  How does one personally define hope and freedom?  How is the reader’s life compare to the immigrant’s life in America and to the life they used to live in Vietname (a non-western culture).

“The Lotus Seed” is a story about the importance of family heritage. A young Vietnamese narrator tells the story of her grandmother who, as a girl, accidentally sees the day of the emperor’s abdication. She takes a lotus seed as a remembrance after a war and prior to leaving Vietnam. The treasured seed survives her journey to the United States where she adapts to a new way of life. She maintains her cultural heritage and shares it with her grandchildren. This is the story of hope and continuance.  There is evidence of split social values.  The Vietnamese family values their national tradition of being a collective society.  As an immigrant, B`a takes up part of the American value of independence and a more capitalist individual as she learns English and becomes a bilingual Vietnamese.  I makes me think of what are the differences between my ancestor’s culture (Mexico) and my current culture (Mexican American).

Performance:  If I were to choose this text to perform, one challenge would be portraying to my audience the difference between past time (B`a  in Vietnam), the narrator’s time as a young girl, or the narrator’s locus or present time of the storytelling.  As a performer, a choice performance would involve props or getting the audience’s attention by having them plant a seed symbolizing a treasure tradition in their family.  New territory would involve performing in more than one time from and be moving between a character that is both young and older in the same story.

i crocodile

Title:  I, Crocodile

Author: Fred Marcellino

This by far my favorite picture book I have read to my niece.  I loved the word choice, the illustrations, and the ending for the book.  I checked it out twice just to keep it on my niece’s caddy book holder that we have in our livingroom.  I had read online that there was a previous version or manuscript of this same story, so I researched a bit and found an excerpt of it and an audio version of the latest published version.

I, Crocodile by Fred Marcellino published in 1999 for children ages 4-8.  This is the story of a meticulous Nile crocodile, told by the crocodile himself. The reader will distinguish between fiction characters and non-fiction characters.  An example of such content standard is the protagonist and antagonist characters.  Crocodile is a fictional character while Napoleon of France is a real person in history.  The reader will learn in what point of view this text is narrated.

The most important literary element in this text is the use of personification.  The author gives Crocodile all human atributes such as speaking, enjoying celebraty priviledges, and taking conscious decisions while critically analysing events in life.  One of the most important dramatistic elements in my analysis is the agent.  Because Crocodile’s character is the narrator, the main character, and the driving element of the story, the speaker’s attitude towards himself is important.  Crocodile is a narcissus that is well aware of his position in the “animal kingdom” in the fertile grounds of Egypt’s Nile.  He states, “I’m an aristocrat.  A direct descendent from the noble crocodiles of ancient Egypt.”  I will be focusing on my head posture during such lines to project to the audience my interpretation of Crocodile’s high self-esteem.  The choice of words and situations makes the reader giggle in a bit of disbelief as it is hard to relate longing to “finish [one’s] scrumptious dessert—pink flaming!”  Another entertaining memory is capturing the agent’s passion for food (delectable fish, succulent water-birds, plus a few reptiles on the side; distant cousins only.)  The purpose of the narrator is to persuade the reader that many vital innocent communities were negatively impacted or uprooted because of the European’s colonialism feats.  I see it expressed in excerpts such as, “…that French guy who thought he owned the world…what a cruel and abrupt departure from…my beloved home.”  As a reader, one seems to perceive that Crocodile is motivated to purposely inform the reader that real live historical events caused his poignant current condition and removal from the place he called home.  Crocodile istates the exact date (to be precise, August 17, 1799), and the famous name of empire that raided his homeland, Napoleon.

The cultural reference here is that European colonialism caused great disturbance in other nations that were inpotent against such world power.  A clear social value here is the goldern rule where one should not do unto others what one would not like others to do to us.  People usually think that crocodiles are a threat to humans.  But this text suggest the idea that it is humans themselves who disturb the peaceful relationship that has existed for centuries between mankind and nature .

Performance:  Memorizing the entire text may pose a challenge since it is farely long for a picture book, and it includes historical events with a couple of details such as dates and French words.   As Crocodile narrates the story in chronological order, I will choose kinestetic performance choices to deliver a poised-narcistic aristocratic crocodile.  I am almost positive this is the one I will perform.  The new territory I will be exploring if I choose this text is using my body as my strongest performance choice instead of props or facial expressions.


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