Logo Title Quebec Reading Connection

Charlie’s Dirt Day

Fitzhenry & Whiteside 2015. 32 pages
First published: 2015
ISBN: 9781554553341 (hardcover)
Original language: English
Dewey: 631.8
Book type: Non-Fiction

Text Elements:

figurative language

Reading Range

 
Cycle
Elementary
Secondary
 
1
2
3
1
2
ELA
K
1
2
3
4
5
6
1
2
3
4
5
ESL
1
2
3
4
5
6
1
2
3
4
5
ESL Intensive & Enriched
5
6
1
2
3
4
5

Description:

A little boy named Charlie stands on his balcony watching the world on the street below. When a parade of people goes by, he and his dad join in. It turns out the commotion is over a big pile of dirt. The city is giving away compost for “Dirt Day” and avid gardeners have come to get some. After meeting Mr. Martino, who makes spaghetti sauce from ingredients he and his neighbours grow, Charlie is inspired to become a balcony gardener and grow “his own garden in the sky.” He even brings a special ingredient to contribute to Mr. Martino’s sauce.

Mixed-media illustrations use coloured pencil, layered newspaper that has been partly whited out, streaky paint for brickwork and lead pencil detailing. People are depicted with oversized heads and vivid eyes. Their large, round faces lend naïve warmth to the characters.

Text is a straightforward third-person narrative told with affection and regard for Charlie and Mr. Martino and their gardening pursuits. The story starts off with rhythm and panache—“Nannies and grannies and moms and dads and boys and girls and cats and dogs and wagons and wheelbarrows and buckets and bowls … and babies, too Phew!”—and ends up taking a graceful, grounded tone.

This “Tell-Me-More!” storybook includes a detailed section on compost, worms and balcony gardens at the back.

  •  

    Read the story up to the point when the characters get to the park and see the big pile of dirt. Brainstorm why the people might be so excited to be at the park.

  •  Use pictures and words to illustrate how the people will use the compost.
  •  

    Write an acrostic poem about dirt, compost or gardens (or another word from the book).

  •  Try out some of the activities related to composting at the back of the book. Record the steps you take and share them with another class or a larger audience.
  •  Brainstorm what you know about dirt and compost.
  •  

    Start a composting centre at your school or encourage people to use the city one more efficiently. Create a poster to announce your project and give instructions about compost collection.

  •  

    Plant seedlings, some in plain planting soil, others in soil enriched with compost. Observe and measure how the seedlings grow. Create a growth chart. Add pertinent information.

  • To cooperate with others
  • To use information
  • Environmental Awareness and Consumer Rights and Responsibilities
  • Mathematics
  • Science and Technology