I started off this morning's session by telling my younger readers a little bit about Italy. I asked them if they knew where to find Italy on the map of Europe. After a couple failed attempts I gave them a little hint! "Italy looks like a boot kicking a rock!" well that did it. They quickly found Italy and we discussed some of the places and things that we would discover as we read the book Olivia goes to Venice. We spoke about the amazing buildings, Venice, the city on water, gondolas and of course some of the food they would be familiar with, like pizza and ice cream/gelato!
The children were very fascinated by the illustrations in this book. The backdrops are all photographs and Olivia and her family are all cartoon drawings. My assumption was that this style was chosen because, like Madeline in London, Olivia goes to Venice focused on some of landmarks and tourist attractions in Italy, not only by naming them, but by simply including them in the background. Among the sites Olivia and her family visited were, the Piazza San Marco, the Bridge of Sighs and the basilica. Of course no trip to Venice would be complete if Olivia and her family did not eat gelato and go on a gondola ride.
As Olivia's trip came to and end she desperately sought the perfect souvenir. Unfortunately she removed a brick from the clock tower in Piazza San Marco causing it to crumble soon after she left! The children enjoyed this story, especially the end, because Olivia was oblivious to all the damage she had done. Their passport entry consisted of matching words seen in the book to pictures and of course colouring the Italian flag.
I love the book I chose to read to my older readers! Papa Gatto is a Cinderella type story with a twist! The children were really excited throughout the entire story.
The story is set in a time when it was not unusual for animals to speak. Papa Gatto, an adviser to the prince, lived with his lovely wife and recently welcomed the birth of eight kittens however, the joys of being a new father were soon dampened by the death of his wife. He was now left to take care of his eight kittens, a task that would be difficult as he was often called away to advise the Prince. Papa Gatto sent a message via the town crier asking for someone to take care of his children and his home. He was willing to pay anything!
In the same town a mother lived with her daughter Sophia and her stepdaughter Beatrice. Sophia was lovely to look at but she was selfish and mean. Beatrice was plain looking but had a heart of gold. The stepmother and her daughters heard the town criers message and immediately the stepmother decided that her own daughter, Sophia, should take the job. Surely enough Sophia took the job at Papa Gatto's and failed miserably. She tried to take an eight diamond necklace as her payment but after seeing the horrid job Sophia had done Papa Gatto snatched it from her hand scaring it with four scratches.
Papa Gatto sent the town crier with yet another message seeking help and this time Beatrice answered his request. Beatrice was wonderful with the kittens and kept Papa Gatto's house and garden in good order. Papa Gatto was extremely impressed. When he asked her what she desired for her payment Beatrice stated that she only wished for his kind words and to right her sister's wrongs. Papa Gatto insisted that Beatrice take the eight diamond bracelet as payment and so Beatrice left with it though what she really wanted was to stay with Papa Gatto and the kittens.
When Beatrice returned home her stepsister and stepmother were furious! They realized she had gone to Papa Gatto's and her step sister took the bracelet from her and put it on her own wrist.
Meanwhile Papa Gatto was boasting to the prince about the lovely woman who had taken care of his children and his home. The prince was impressed by the woman's kind heart and desired to meet her as he had been looking for a wife. Papa Gatto told the prince that Beatrice would be at the festival wearing a lovely diamond bracelet and that he should approach her. Of course the prince encountered Sophia who led the him to believe that she was Beatrice.
When the prince discovered he had been deceived he and Papa Gatto devised a plan. They went to Sophia and Beatrice's house. Sophia tried to disguise herself but Papa Gatto recognized her by the scars his scratches had left on her hand. The prince and Beatrice were introduced and, as is customary in a "Cinderella" story, the prince asked for her hand in marriage...but here comes the twist...Beatrice says No! She explains that she does not know the prince and therefore cannot love him. She asks if she could stay with Papa Gatto. Of course Papa Gatto agrees and the prince decides he would visit often so he could win her heart.
Well, the young ladies in the class were delighted by the surprise ending! They agreed that Beatrice did the right thing. "You should not marry someone you just met!"
This story kept the children engaged every second. They literally wanted me to read more and more so they could find out what happens in the end. They all happily made their passport entries and coloured their flags. It feels good to be back in their good graces! LOL!
Check out their journey through Italy with art done at their Arty Pants Studio sessions.