Aunt Isabel Makes Trouble

by Kate Duke

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Aunt Isabel Makes Trouble
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    Penguin Group

    Students will be introduced to more complex issues of story development through an analysis of the story element "the problem." Through a reading of Aunt Isabel Makes Trouble, students observe and appreciate how a story without trouble is a story without excitement! Each time Penelope "but-but-butts" in, Aunt Isabel adds bits of trouble to create the problem and to keep the story full of surprises! Students will strengthen their understanding of the importance of the problem through an activity that requires them to eliminate the trouble from the tale! A group discussion gives students the chance to share their opinions and ideas about this story element.

    1. Students will listen to and be able to discuss the story element "the problem" through a reading of Aunt Isabel Makes Trouble.

    2. Students will develop a problem-less story by deconstructing Aunt Isabel Makes Trouble and eliminating the trouble.

    3. Through large-group sharing and discussion students will understand that a story without a problem lacks excitement and appeal.


    1. Aunt Isabel Makes Trouble by Kate Duke

    2. Overhead projector, transparency of a graphic organizer you design, and dry erase marker

    3. Pencils and paper (optional)

    1. Review with students the four basic story elements – setting, characters, problem, and solution.

    2. Show them the cover of Aunt Isabel Makes Trouble and ask them to make predictions about the story. Read the story pausing appropriately for questions and discussion. Be sure to ask students how it makes them feel each time Penelope says "but" and Aunt Isabel adds trouble! Direct the discussion to the importance of problems to a good, interesting story.

    3. You can create a graphic organizer that provides a chart in which the story with trouble and the story without trouble can be compared side by side! This allows students to see the importance of this story element. Begin by working with the students to retell the story on an overhead projector. Encourage the students to summarize the plot points with brief statements in the left column. Be sure to highlight the bits of trouble and corresponding solutions. (You may wish to write some of these beforehand, leaving gaps for the students to fill in.)

    4. In the right column have the students work individually or in groups, using paper and pencil to summarize the story leaving out the trouble. For example, Penelope looks at her calendar and realizes that it is Prince Augustus' birthday and she has forgotten it! Eliminate this bit of trouble. Instead Penelope looks at her calendar and sees that Prince Augustus' birthday is a week away, with plenty of time for her to find a gift and deliver it! Once the students are finished, have them share their work and decide as a class which story is more interesting and why.

    5. For ESL and other special needs students: Use the same procedure, but have them dictate the new story to you working in a small group. Let them use the illustrations as cues.

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    Brought to you by Penguin Young Readers Group.

    The Penguin Group is the second-largest English-language trade book publisher in the world. The company possesses perhaps the world's most prestigious list of best-selling authors and a backlist of unparalleled breadth, depth, and quality. Penguin Young Readers Group features books by authors and illustrators including Judy Blume, Brian Jacques, Eric Carle, and beloved characters like Winnie-the-Pooh, Madeline, The Little Engine that Could, and many, many more.

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