Mrs. Katz and Tush

Multicultural Picture Book By: Toyanna Pop

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Mrs. Katz and Tush written and illustrated by Patricia Polacco was published in August 1991 by Dell Publishing a division of Bantam Doubleday Dell Publishing Group, Inc.

The read aloud is planned for fourth graders. "Mrs. Katz and Tush" is a picture book about Larnel Moore, a young African-American boy, and Mrs. Katz, an elderly Jewish woman, develop an unusual friendship through their mutual concern for an abandoned cat named Tush. The book has been recognized for the literary award:


Nov. 9th 1993 Jane Adams Peace Asoc. and Women’s Intl. League for Peace and Freedom

Honor award to Mrs. Katz and Tush for it’s effective contribution to peace and social justice.

The picture book demonstrates unique language or style with its formatting of English and occasional Polish words. This book is rich in cultural details of a Jewish woman who moved from Poland to America. This story is about two cultural groups who interact substantively and authentically Mrs. Katz a Polish woman, and her next door neighbors who are of the African American decent.

Mrs Katz and Tush
Patricia Polacco

Background Preparation of the Picture Book Read Aloud and Vocabulary Presentation

Narrative:

Larnel doesn't know his neighbor Mrs. Katz very well until he asks her to adopt an abandoned kitten, Mrs. Katz agrees, on one condition that Larnel help her take care of the kitten she names Tush. When Larnel starts spending more and more time with Mrs. Kats to help with Tush, Mrs. Katz tells him stories about coming to American from Poland and about the good times she spent with her late husband. As Larnel grows to love Mrs. Katz, he also learns about the suffering and triumph black history shares with the Jewish heritage. Finally, they celebrate a festive Passover seder together, but their friendship is only just beginning.

Implementing the Read Aloud

Engaging the Learner Focus (ELF):

The teacher will begin with saying “Today, we are to read a story that celebrates multicultural diversity “Mrs. Katz and Tush” by Patricia Polacco. Today I brought a few items from home that represents items that are talked about in the story.” During this time the teacher will show students different items such as a stuffed animal kitten, a pair of glasses, a photo album, cat toy, cat food, a book, a rock, a scarf, a tea cup, table cloth, two plates with different patterns. Along with the items the teacher will attach an index card to each object telling what the item is, and write a short explanation of how it relates to the book. The teacher will say to students “this is a stuffed animal kitten and it represents Mrs. Katz kitten in the story. This is a pair of glasses that Mrs. Katz wears throughout the story, and this is a photo album which represents the pictures of her family. I have a cat toy and cat food for the kitten as well as a book because Mrs. Katz likes to read, a rock which is placed on a headstone of a family member. Another item I have is a scarf which Mrs. Katz loves to wear and a table cloth which represents the table cloth from Mrs. Katz wedding. I also have two different plates because Mrs. Katz likes to eat from plates with different patterns.” Next, the teacher will ask students to raise their hand and tell me “what is one item that you feel represents who you are?” The teacher will call on a few students. The students will answer with things like “glasses because I wear glasses or a green Girl Scout vest because I am a girl scout.”

Instructional Sequence

1. ELF transition; “So today Before I begin reading the story to you there are two vocabulary words used in the story that I want us to determine the meaning of and to do this we are going to do two word puzzles.


2. Next, the teacher will say “each of you will need two word puzzle worksheets, a dictionary, and a thesaurus to complete this activity.


3. “Next, I am going to model on the smart board how to complete a sample word puzzle with a sample vocab word.” The teacher will click on the smart board and the definition of that vocab word will appear. “The definition of the word commotion is a noisy disturbance.”


4. Next, the teacher will click on the statement part of the word puzzle on the smartboard and the teacher will say “I want you to raise your hand and tell me how I can use the word commotion in a statement.” The students will raise their hand and say a sentence using the word commotion such as “There was a lot of commotion coming from the classroom next door.”


5. Then the teacher will say “Ok, now we are going to draw a picture representing the word commotion, I want you to raise your hand and tell me what could I draw to represent that?” The students will answer with things like “you could draw a door with music notes coming out the top.” The teacher will say “Ok, good!!”


6. Next, the teacher will say “Ok, now we are going to find a synonym and antonym for the word commotion. Please tell your should partner what an antonym for the word commotion is. The students will tell their shoulder partner what you think a synonym and antonym for the word commotion could be. Next, the teacher will call on a student and ask them “What is a synonym and anonym you came up with for the word commotion.” The student will answer with answers like “a synonym for the word commotion is noisy and an antonym is silence.” The teacher will say “Ok, good!!”


7. “On the word puzzle you and your partner will look up the definition of the word, write a statement using that vocab word, draw a picture representing that word, and find the antonym and synonym of that word.”


8. Next, the teacher will ask “Are there any questions of how to complete a word puzzle? You will be given 12 minutes to complete this task.”


9. Next the teacher will say “Now we are going to go back to our desks for a couple of minutes and you will work with your shoulder partner to determine the meanings of the two vocabulary words “seder and bubeleh. Both students will fill out two word puzzle worksheets using a dictionary and a thesaurus.”


10. At this time, the teacher will pass out two worksheets per student and remind students that they and their partner are to be at a voice level 1 while working on the word puzzle.


11. “When you and your partner are finished with this activity please sit quietly and read a book.”


12. Then after all of the students have completed their word puzzle, instruct students to “come have a seat on the carpet in front of the smart board and sit at a voice level 0.”


13. Next, the teacher will say “before I began reading “Mrs. Katz and Tush” “what did we discover that the word “bubeleh” and “seder” mean?” The students will respond with answers like “a bubeleh is a term used to represent a small child.” The teacher will say to the students “you are correct a bubeleh is a small child or someone or something you feel affectionate towards like a pet. “Okay so while we are reading this story lets pay attention to how these words are used in the text.”


14. Next, the teacher will ask students “by looking at the cover of this book, what do you think this story is going to be about?” The students will most likely answer with “a boy, his grandma, and a cat.” The teacher will say “that sounds like a good assumption we will have to read the story to find out!”


15. After reading a few pages of the story, then the teacher will ask students “what is the setting of the story?” The students will answer with “at Mrs. Katz house!” The teacher will say “Now don’t forget the setting of a story is not only when it takes place which is time but also location, time period, and weather. So keep this in mind as we are reading the story. What is the location of this story?” The students will answer with “in a city.” Then the teacher will ask the students “what is the weather like in this story?” The students will answer with “sunny and warm weather. It is probably summer time.” The teacher will say “Yes it could be warm, sunny, and summertime.”


16. Then the teacher will keep reading the story.”


17. After reading the story, the teacher will ask the students “Do Larnel and Mrs. Katz share the same cultural heritage? “The students will reply with “No they do not. Mrs. Katz is from Poland and Larnel is from the U.S. Mrs. Katz is Polish and Larnel is African American.”


18. Next, the teacher will ask the students “so what is something we learned while reading “Mrs. Katz and Tush” by Patricia Polacco? The student’s answers will vary. A possible answer from a student could be “Even though people have different cultures they can still be good friends.” The teacher will say “yes you are right. Is there anything else we learned while reading this story?” The students could answer with “we learned that the yiddish word bubeleh means something small like a child or something you feel affectionate about. We also learned that the word seder means festive dinner.” The teacher will continue to discuss the story with students and assess what they learned while reading “Mrs. Katz and Tush.”

Before, During, and After Questions

Before Reading:

1. What do you think the setting of this story will be?

2. Do you think that both the elderly women and the boy share the same cultural heritage?

3. By looking at the cover of this book, what do you think this story is going to be about?”

During Reading:

4. What is the location of this story?

6. What is the weather like in this story?

After Reading:

5. So what is something we learned while reading “Mrs. Katz and Tush” by Patricia Polacco?

6. Do Larnel and Mrs. Katz share the same cultural heritage?