Saturday, March 1, 2008

Whistle for Willie

Whistle for Willie
By Ezra Jack Keats

Link to the book:

Summary: A boy named Peter tries and tries to learn how to whistle. He practices every day until all of his hard work paid off and is then able to whistle. When Peter realizes that he can whistle, his doe Willie looks around to see who is whistling and calling him. Peter becomes so happy with himself and what he was able to do, that he whistles for the whole walk home.

Reflection: This book is great for children of all ages because it shows the importance of practicing and working hard to order to achieve something important to you. The character Peter is someone who everyone can relate to since he shows the reader that a person should never give up or stop working hard. Sometimes it takes many attempts and a long time in order to be able to do what one wants. Colorful illustrations accompany the text with each attempt that Peter tries to learn to whistle.

How I would use the book/curriculum units: This book would fit well into a “writing as mentor author study” on Ezra Jack Keats. Students would learn a different writing strategy for several Ezra Jack Keats books. The strategy for Whistle for Willie could be the use of ellipses to build tension when reading. For younger grades, students could list things that they would like to be able to do and either write journal entries or draw pictures. They could then share with a partner or the class and discuss how they will feel when their hard work pays off and they are able to do these things.

Links to Websites:

Domains of Social Justice:

1.) Self-Love and Acceptance: Children learn about their own culture. Peter’s neighborhood is one that is diverse and varied and is present throughout many different Ezra Jack Keats books. Throughout the story, Peter learns about himself and his own abilities as he struggles to learn how to whistle.

2.) Respect for Others: Strengthens intercultural competence. Peter becomes competent at whistling, as he tries to learn how to whistle. He pretends to be his father to add to his own strengths and learn about his background in hope of learning how to whistle.

3.) Exploring Issues of Social Justice- Racism, Classism, Sexism, homophobia and other forms of oppression are confronted. When Peter walks through the neighborhood with Willie, there is graffiti on the walls and streets which he passes through. His neighborhood is one where there are forms of racism and although it is not explicitly written in the books, the graffiti on the walls depicts this.

4.) Social Movements and Social Change- Students learn about how people have struggled for social change. Peter learns to accept others for what they can and cannot do. He learns that different people have strengths and weaknesses, such as different abilities and that it is important to accept people for who they are.

5.) Taking Social Action: Students explore their own context and develop tools to work for change. Through his many attempts at learning how to whistle, Peter learns about himself in so far as what works and what did not help him learn to whistle. It is these attempts that he was finally able to bring about that change; learning how to whistle and attaining his goal. He came across many obstacles and was able to learn something that he put his mind to.

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