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					                                             Seven Hills
                                               March 2011
                                           Book of the Month

                                     Mr. Peabody’s
                                          Written by Madonna
                power of your words!”
 “Remember the Illustrated by Loren Long
Mr. Peabody’s Apples is the story about the power of words, the vulnerability of
perception and the importance of community. It tells of how one man’s innocent actions,
when viewed from the wrong perception, leads to the near-ruin of his reputation. Each
Saturday after the game, Mr. Peabody, the respected history teacher and baseball coach of
Happville, helps himself to the shiniest apple he can find in Mr. Funkadeli’s fruit market.
Tommy, one of Mr. Peabody’s players and students, sees him taking the apple without
apparently paying for it, and immediately assumes that Mr. Peabody is a thief. He
spreads the word around town and, before long; the same townsfolk who had only
recently been his friends shun Mr. Peabody.

When the fact that Mr. Peabody actually pays for his apple in advance comes out, it
offers him an opportunity to teach Tommy a valuable lesson about community, trust and
the power of words. By having Tommy split open a feather-filled pillow into the wind
and telling him, “Each feather represents a person in Happville,” Mr. Peabody creatively
illustrates (he is a teacher, after all!) the wide reach that words carry. By having Tommy
pick up each feather, Mr. Peabody helps him learn the work that it takes to undo misused
words and the impact that even the slightest words can have on an entire community.

I chose Mr. Peadbody’s Apples as our March book of the month because I think it
illustrates the March character trait very well. Although Tommy wasn’t purposely being
dishonest, he did spread a lie about Mr. Peadbody. This story shows how our words can
really harm a person feelings and reputation. We hope that students will realize how
powerful their words are in positive and negative ways. Recognizing the power of words
obviously has huge implications for us. Words have a life of their own. Teaching
students to appreciate this fact is what we live for as teachers. If our students walk away
from our classrooms with nothing other than having been affected by the awesome
impact that words – the written word in particular, can have – then we have been
For all of the power that words carry, one of the more telling pieces of Mr.
Peabody’s Apples is the wordless last page. There on the bed sewn back together
with imperfect stitches is the pillow with most of its feathers put back in. Even
more interesting what does that pillow look like? Though difficult and no doubt
tedious, Tommy was apparently able to piece back together the broken pieces of
his mistake. What do you see through the window? What do you know after
seeing this last page of the book? Does it need words? A misplaced word, a
conclusion too quickly arrived upon or too tightly held to, or a choice to isolate
one can all lead to feathers blowing in the wind.
Discuss the words: honesty, dishonesty, lies and rumors
Are lies different from rumors?
Create a chart that students can record experiences that required students to be
honest when it was hard.
Play the telephone game with the students and discuss how rumors can get started.
Fill a bag with leaves or flowers, take them outside, and let them blow away. Use
this to show them the idea of taking back your words and hard that is.
Have the students write a newspaper article about the story. Have the students
illustrate their article.
3rd-5th grade students have been very engulfed in TAKS practice. Use Mr.
Peabody’s Apples to allow the students create different graphic organizers that
can be used. Also, have the students create their own TAKS formatted questions
about the book. Discuss with them the types of questions that are on TAKS, and
do not allow them to write simple knowledge questions. Students can switch
questions with each other.
Explore the dialog in the book, and have students pull a previous written narrative
piece and add dialog to it.
Analyze the characters of the book using text evidence from the book. For
instance, what does the way Mr. Peabody handle the rumor tell about him? Do
you think that Tommy is a bad boy because he spread the rumor?
Write about a time you had to be honest even though it was hard. Write about a
time you were dishonest and what happened as a result of your dishonesty. Did
you learn a lesson?

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