Logo Title Quebec Reading Connection

The Salamander Room

Mazer, Anne (Author)
Johnson, Steve (Illustrator)
Fancher, Lou (Illustrator)
Penguin Random House 1994. 32 pages
First published: 1991
ISBN: 9780679861874 (paperback)
Original language: English
Book type: Picture Book

Text Elements:

dialogue, figurative language, recurring patterns

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:

This is a wonderful story about inside and outside, and the creatures who flourish in each setting. Young Brian finds a beautiful orange salamander in the forest and brings it home. The rest of the story develops entirely through his mother’s questions—which gently challenge the wisdom of the boy’s decision—and the boy’s increasingly elaborate solutions.

The language manages beautifully to balance a believable conversation between mother and son, while bringing fantastical, magical and poetic images to young readers: “‘Where will he sleep?’ his mother asked. ‘I will cover him with leaves that are fresh and green, and bring moss that looks like little stars to be a pillow for his head.’” The soft, warm-toned realism of the illustrations are a perfect match for bringing Brian’s ever-growing fantasy to life.

In what is a fine literary choice—and sure to be popular with young readers—the story stays within Brian’s fantasy to the end. Children may wish to debate the likelihood of Brian’s ideas, and there is an opportunity to discuss natural habitats for all animals, including humans. But in the world of stories, Brian sleeps in his bed “under the stars . . .and next to (him) . . . the salamander will sleep.”

  •  

    Discuss the advantages and disadvantages of keeping the salamander for both Brian and the salamander.

  •  

    Research the natural habitat of salamanders and other animals mentioned in the story. Share your findings with the class.

  •  

    Write the story from the point of view of the salamander.

  •  

    Discuss what a salamander needs to grow and thrive. Draw a mind-map of your findings.

  •  

    Discuss what belongs inside and what belongs outside. Are animals better off inside or outside?

  •  

    Sort words from the story by animals, plants, actions and adjectives.

  • To solve problems
  • To use creativity
  • To use information
  • Environmental Awareness and Consumer Rights and Responsibilities
  • Health and Well-Being
  • Science and Technology