The World of Rosemary Wells

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Updated on: February 8, 2001
Page 2 of 2

Sorting it Out
In Max Cleans Up, Ruby puts Max's toys in his toy chest, Max's sneakers in his closet, and Max's windup bugs in his bug box. Ruby must sort through her brother's belongings before she can put them away. Discuss how items are sorted by similar attributes or properties. Then introduce the properties of color, weight, size, shape, and texture. Present students with a group of assorted materials (e.g., shells, buttons, math counters, or seeds) and have them sort them into groups. Ask students to describe the common property of the items in each group.

After reading Max Cleans Up, create a list of the items Max likes to collect (e.g., dolls, windup bugs, ants, motorcycle riders). Ask students what they like to collect, and plan a day for bringing their collections into school. In small groups, have students estimate the number of items in their classmates' collections. Then have students count the number of items by 2s, 5s, or 10s to practice skip-counting and to determine the correct number of items. (Note: This activity is appropriate for the 100th Day of School; students can be asked to bring in a collection containing 100 items.)

Family Graphs
After reading Noisy Nora or Morris's Disappearing Bag, create a class graph depicting the number of members in each student's family. A second graph might portray the ordinal position of the students in their families.

Shopping Spree
Use Bunny Money, Max's Dragon Shirt, and Bunny Cakes to introduce a money unit. Begin a discussion about how to earn money, to save money, and to budget money wisely. Then teach students to identify coins and their respective value, to count money, and to make change. After students have practiced these math skills, culminate the unit by having students create their own "shops." They can use actual objects (e.g., books from the classroom library for a book shop) or design, color, and cut out their inventory using construction paper, cardboard, or oak tag (e.g., illustrating animals for a pet store). Provide each student with plastic coins or actual currency. Give each student an opportunity to "purchase" items in their classmates' stores and to function as the cashier in their own store. (Note: Students can substitute paper "currency" for coins during this activity as suggested in Bunny Money.)


In Bunny Cakes, Max is able to convey his shopping choice by drawing a picture for the grocer. Explain to students that ancient Egyptians used pictures or hieroglyphics to communicate just as Max did. Provide students with a copy of the hieroglyphic alphabet and have them compose messages using these symbols. If students have access to the Internet, the search engine Ask Jeeves for Kids ( can suggest useful websites about hieroglyphics.

Face Your Fears
After reading Shy Charles, ask students to recall incidents in which they managed to resolve a situation or to experience something new despite feeling shy, nervous, or frightened. Then discuss Charles' experience with Mrs. Block, and design a class chart depicting appropriate actions during an emergency. Shy Charles can be used to introduce a global health and safety unit.

Let's Eat
After reading Bunny Cakes, Max and Ruby's Midas, or Max's Chocolate Chicken, introduce the USDA nutrition pyramid. Discuss how Max's favorite foods in these stories (Red-Hot Marshmallow Squirters, cupcakes, and chocolate) belong in the smallest section of the pyramid. Then ask students to suggest sweet but healthier foods that Max might enjoy eating (e.g., watermelon, strawberries, or frozen yogurt). Students can then discuss their own favorite foods and learn where their food choices are located on the nutrition pyramid.

Mythology and Me
Max and Ruby in Pandora's Box and Max and Ruby's Midas offer students an entertaining and accessible introduction to the study of Greek mythology. Provide students with an overview of the Greek gods and goddesses and their stories. Ask students to write a report about a specific character in Greek mythology. Student presentations of their completed reports will expose the entire class to a variety of individuals in mythology. Students can even dress like their mythological character on the day of their presentation.

Egg Hunt
After reading Max's Chocolate Chicken, students can decorate their own eggs. They can dye hard-boiled eggs, or adorn plastic eggs with paint, stickers, bits of paper and ribbon, and glitter glue. Students can then participate in an egg hunt either in their classroom or outdoors.

Rosemary Wells was born in New York City in 1943. Her mother was a member of Ballets Russes de Monte Carlo, and her father was a playwright and actor. Most of her childhood was spent outdoors on the New Jersey shore at a time when New Jersey was still small farms and miles of woods. Mrs. Wells says, "My father made sure I could swim and ride well. My mother made sure I listened to classical music. Both of them flooded me with books and stories and took me to the theater and to museums. I thank them endlessly for giving me all the important stuff in life. When I was two years old I began to draw and they saw right away the career that lay ahead of me and encouraged me every day of my life."

Rosemary Wells attended Boston Museum School and married in her early twenties. She and her architect husband, Tom, have two daughters and live near New York City.

Rosemary Wells' career as an author and illustrator spans more than 30 years and 60 books. She has won numerous awards, including the Osborne Humor Award, and has given readers such unforgettable characters as Timothy, Max and Ruby, and Noisy Nora. She also spearheaded a campaign for early literacy nationwide under the name "Read to Your Bunny - the Most Important Twenty Minutes of Your Day." Most days, Mrs. Wells can be found in her studio, sketching and painting illustrations for her books, or at her computer writing a story. Even when traveling she sketches and paints, using a notebook and a portable watercolor set. Besides writing and illustrating, she loves to cook for friends, play tennis, and sit by the ocean with a wonderful book.

Bunny Cakes
International Reading Association - Children's Book Council Children's Choice
School Library Journal Best Book of the Year
0-14-056667-8 (PB) / 0-8037-2143-9 (HC)

Bunny Money
0-14-056750-X (PB) / 0-8037-2146-3 (HC)

Goodnight Max
0-670-88707-2 (HC)

Hazel's Amazing Mother
New York Times Best Illustrated Book
0-14-054911-0 (PB)

Max and Ruby in Pandora's Box
0-14-056415-2 (PB)

Max and Ruby's Midas
International Reading Association - Children's Book Council Children's Choice
0-8037-1782-2 (HC)

Max Cleans Up
0-670-89218-1 (HC)

Max's Chocolate Chicken
0-14-056672-4 (PB) / 0-670-88713-7 (HC)

Max's Dragon Shirt
International Reading Association - Children's Book Council Children's Choice
American Library Association Notable Book Horn Book Fanfare
0-14-056727-5 (PB) / 0-670-88727-7 (HC)

Morris's Disappearing Bag
American Library Association Notable Book
School Library Journal Best Book of the Year
0-14-054664-2 (PB) / 0-670-88721-8 (HC)

Noisy Nora
American Library Association Notable Book
School Library Journal Best Book of the Year
0-14-056728-3 (PB) / 0-670-88722-6 (HC)

Shy Charles
School Library Journal Best Book of the Year
Horn Book Fanfare
Boston Globe - Horn Book Award
0-14-054537-9 (PB) / 0-670-88729-3 (HC available May 2001)

Timothy Goes to School
International Reading Association - Children's Book Council Children's Choice
Booklist Editor's Choice
0-14-056742-9 (PB) / 0-670-89182-7 (HC)

Voyage to the Bunny Planet
0-8037-1174-3 (HC)

This guide was prepared by Sue Ornstein, who is a first grade teacher for the Byram Hills School District in Armonk, New York. She lives with her husband, two children, and two cats in Chappaqua, New York.

Teacher's guide © 2000 by Penguin Putnam Books for Young Readers. All or part of this guide can be reproduced for classroom use.

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