Logo Title Quebec Reading Connection

Singing Away the Dark

Morstad, Julie (Illustrator)
Simply Read Books 2010. 36 pages
First published: 2010
ISBN: 9781897476413 (hardcover)
Original language: English
Book type: Picture Book

Text Elements:

character, point of view, setting, structures and features

Award

Marilyn Baillie Picture Book Award – Finalist – 2011

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

Description:

A six-year-old girl must leave her house before the sun rises to walk a mile to catch the school bus. The long walk is mostly through dark woods, which is frightening for her, but she has found ways to cope with her insecurity by singing and identifying landmarks that indicate she is on the right track toward her destination.

The writing is simple with most of the story told in rhyming verse, the melodic text reinforcing the impression that the young girl is singing to herself: “The cattle block the road ahead/The bull is munching hay/I softly sing to calm myself/and plan the safest way.”

Set in a rural area, the story also gives readers an idea of what life is like in Canada’s countryside. The illustrations are ink sketches printed on matte paper; the colours are rich and deep in tone. This gives emphasis to the darkness of the morning sky, a contrast to the white snow.

Bundled in her hat, scarf and mittens, the little girl looks cold and her boots sink deeply into the snowy field she must cross. The little girl’s relief is visible once she sees the school bus and joins her friends. The book provides a good opportunity to discuss fears and how to cope with them.

  •  Discuss how, on a winter’s day, it can be difficult to leave your warm house to head out to school. How far do you have to walk? Are you alone? Is it dark?
  •  

    The illustrator sets different moods in the story by using different colour tones. After reading, revisit the images and identify where the mood shifts. How much of the story is spent in each mood and what does this tell you about the story?

  •  The main character confronts her fears by singing. What are other ways of dealing with fears?
  •  

    In the Author’s Note, Caroline Woodward mentions that she comes from Peace River, “where she really did walk a mile to her school bus stop, uphill both ways.” In writing, explain how this note changes your view of the story.

  •  

    Discuss how you come to school. How long does it take you? What is the distance from your house to your school? Discuss, survey and graph different ways of going to school, measures of time and distance, and means of transportation.

  •  

    Go for a picture walk through the book. Discuss the setting and the emotions. After the story is read aloud, draw a mind map of the protagonist’s walk to school.

  •  In a similar style, draw your own trip to get to school.
  •  Compare and contrast the two ways of coming to school.
  • To construct his/her identity
  • Citizenship and Community Life
  • Health and Well-Being
  • Mathematics
  • Physical Education and Health