Sunday, August 25, 2013

"Candy and the Cankersaur" by Jason Sandberg [Review and Teaching Ideas]

As children my boys loved dinosaurs, so I decorated their room using dinosaur wallpaper, baked and decorated dinosaur cakes for their birthdays, read dinosaur-themed books nightly, and played dinosaur games with them. 

Although dinosaurs ceased to roam the earth long ago, they still romp through the imaginations of children, whose natural inquisitiveness and desire to learn know no such extinction. It's in this vein that graphic artist and author Jason Sandberg introduces Candy and the Cankersaur (Kindle $1.99) a visually stunning ebook sure to appeal to the dinosaur-lover in most children and in many parents and teachers, too. 
Candy and the Cankersaur uses stunning images to narrate the story of Candy, a child who from all appearances leads a privileged life. Simply, she has every material object money can buy, but what money can't buy is what Candy wants most: time with her busy father.

To "solve" his and Candy's problem, Candy's father decides she needs an exotic pet, one no other child has. That's how Candy and Cank get together. As with any good story, there's a conflict. In Candy and the Cankersaur, jealousy rears it's ugly green head, and something must be done when another child's covetousness threaten Candy's and Cank's bond.

Sandberg describes himself as

a Fine Artist who also wants to produce the ‘missing books’ from my childhood, the books I wished I’d had.

While Candy's story will appeal to both boys and girls, it's themes will signal to parents the importance of 

  • spending time with their children rather than worrying so much about the toys in the toy box,
  • teaching children that there are times when the hard and fast rules must be broken, especially when they threaten someone's safety,
  • admitting a mistake and making amends leads to stronger friendships and relationships, and
  • sharing and generosity are among the most admirable traits we can foster in our children.
Teachers will want to mine Candy and the Cankersaur for its clever alliteration, such as "Buster the Beast Bester." That's quite a tongue twister, making the book a good read-aloud for my speech students. 

Additionally, I like the abundance of dialogue and voices Sandberg uses. This, too, is something I look for in read-alouds, particularly those my students use in our children's story-telling unit. 

As more classrooms and students acquire iPads, the demand for high-quality ebooks will grow. Finding high-quality stories that reinforce the virtues of kindness and friendship while appealing to children's love of exotic animals reinforces the benefits of moving from print to pad. 

Finally, a colorful book like Candy and the Cankersaur will allow me to move an old lesson-plan into the twenty-first century. I like having students write their own stories for wordless picture books. This is something I first did with Tuesday by David Wiesner, which is now available as an ebook.

Unfortunately, having only one copy of the book presented many limitations to the assignment, so I abandoned it long ago. In contrast, an ebook gives me the opportunity to resurrect that extinct assignment using the Kindle Cloud Reader. And although CatC isn't a wordless book, I can adapt the assignment by projecting only the pictures and having students write their own version of the story. Then we can compare their rewrites to the original. 

Looks as though that old dinosaur of an assignment isn't extinct after all, thanks to Candy and the Cankersaur by Jason Sandberg! 

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