Monday, October 10, 2011

Some Smug Slug

I love a book about slugs!  That's right, slugs. Which is strange because slugs totally freak me out in real life, but not this guy!  Every so often, I like to share a picture book that has worked for me in a mini-lesson and is a hit with my 5th grade friends.  Today,  I want to share with you a little paperback picture book,  Some Smug Slug by Pamela Duncan Edwards. 

This is the story of a cute, YES! CUTE!, little slug that sees a slope he wants to climb.  As he climbs the slope, several different critters warn him to stop.  He keeps on his path to a very surprising end.  I'll tell you more about the end of the book later in this post.

Here are some of the ways I have used this book with my friends in the past:

Teaching Alliteration
This is perhaps the most obvious lesson for this book.  Every single page, almost every single word focuses on the alliteration of S.  Honestly, the first time I read this book, I was amazed that you could write a cohesive, entertaining story using almost all S words.  Here's a sample page: "Slowly the slug started up the steep surface, stringing behind it scribble sparkling like silk."

Teaching Variety of Dialog Verbs
You would think that a book so focused on the alliteration of S would use said as a dialog verb at least once.  Not this book!  Some Smug Slug does not use said at all.  Instead, there is a great variety of dialog verbs used such as:
  • screamed
  • shrieked
  • sighed
  • snickered
  • squealed
It's also a good book for just teaching action verbs.  The slug and other animals shift, shudder, sway, swing, slumber, and there are many more S verbs used.

Teaching Surprise Endings in Writing
Through the entire book, we follow this cute little slug as he finally climbs the slope.  Well, <SPOILER ALERT!> that slope turns out to be a salamander that promptly eats the slug!  It's an unexpected surprise at the end that gets my friends every time.  Now, my 5th graders totally find the humor in the slug being eaten, but I don't know how that would go over with a younger set. You'll have to make that call.  The surprise ending is something my friends are always eager to try right away in their writer's notebook.  It's a fun technique to use in spooky stories for Halloween.

Now that you know the slug is eaten in the end, you realize that all those animals that were warning the slug to stop knew it was a salamander and not a slope.  While you read the book aloud, you can model your thinking aloud, wondering why the animals keep warning the slug. Your friends can make predictions as to why they think the animals would be saying those things to the slug. I promise you when you get to the end of the book, your friends will be all, "That's why the animals were warning him!"  It's a nice simple lesson on foreshadowing.

This book is also just plain fun.  The illustrations, by Henry Cole, are so well done.  While they have different illustrators, these  remind me of the illustrations in The Great Kapok Tree.  Also, there is a hidden S in every picture.  To be honest, I never remember where they are and I never find them all when I search, but my friends are able to find them all every time.

In case you want to preview the book, I found a video on YouTube that I embedded below.  It's a reading of the book that shows each page, so you can take a look and decide if it's good for you.

I should mention that I ran to Barnes & Nobel to pick up another copy of this book on Sunday.  As I paid for the book, the clerk said sarcastically, "A book about slugs?  Nice."  If only she knew just how nice! (By the way, did you catch it?  "said sarcastically"  This S alliteration thing is catchy!  I know, I'm a total cornball sometimes!)

The reason I purchased another copy is that I am going to include it as one of the prizes in my little thank you give-away, which I will be posting about on Wednesday.  So, come back on Wednesday to enter the give-away and possibly win a copy of Some Smug Slug for yourself!

*By the way, this is just me sharing an opinion of a book I like.  Pamela Duncan Edwards, Henry Cole, and the publishers of Some Smug Slug don't even know I exist or that I can read! ;-)


  1. Nancy, I discovered your blog today and enjoyed it VERY much. I teach 6th grade and have been blogging about my experiences for 2 years now. It's such a joy to share, isn't it??!! Thank you for your great suggestions.

  2. I've used this book too, but have never used it for forshadowing. Love the idea!

    1. It is a fun book and great for the older elementary kids. Thanks for reading the blog, Tammy!a

      And, you too Mr.s Howard! I just noticed that I never replied to your very nice comment. Hope you are still reading!