Teacher Guide to Barry’s Books

A One Page Teacher Guide for Barry’s Books

Bulletin board created by the students at Lower Southampton School to welcome Barry Louis Polisar

Peculiar Zoo, Insect Soup, Curious Creatures, and Something Fishy

These four books can be tied-in with a unit on poetry and nature. Talk about alliteration, internal rhyme and other elements of poetry. Students can read and research an unusual animal or insect and describe it to the class or perhaps even write a poem about their favorite animal or bug. Collect the poems and put them together as a class book. Barry’s books can also be used in a unit on the environment as well as a discussion on endangered species.

The Trouble With Ben

This is a book that on the surface seems like a picture book for younger children. If you dig deeper, a richer story emerges. What is this book really saying? Use as an example of a story having two different meanings. What is a metaphor? How is it used here? Have students rewrite this story with a different animal as the main character. What kinds of trouble would another kind of animal get in?

Snakes and the Boy Who Was Afraid of Them and The Snake Who Was Afraid of People

These are two other picture books with underlying themes. What are these books really saying? Use as examples of a story having two different meanings. What is a metaphor? How is it used here? Compare the use of metaphor with author’s other story books. Compare these two snake books and discuss perspective and point of view. How must an author think about all his characters? How does the author use a reptile from the animal kingdom and humanize him? What is the author trying to say?

The Haunted House Party

This book can also be tied-in with unit on poetry and discussion of metaphor. Talk about alliteration, internal rhyme and other elements of poetry. What does this story say? Is there a subtext underneath–what could the message of this book be? Have students compare the story-line with the Dr. Seuss book The Cat in the Hat. How is Barry’s story similar? How is it different in the actions and behavior of the main character?

Don’t Do That

This is a book that can be linked with a unit on satire. Why is this book so funny? What is the difference between writing about something and actually doing it? Do any examples in this book reflect real life? Use this book as a discussion on manners and why we have real rules about behavior.

Dinosaurs I Have Known

This book can be linked with a unit on Dinosaurs and uses of imagination; have the students invent their own dinosaurs. What made their dinosaurs go extinct? Can they illustrate a picture of their dinosaur and write a brief description of it?

A Little Less Noise

Compare the words that appear in this book to the songs on Barry’s CDs. How are song lyics and poetry different? How are they the same? What makes a good poem? Can they think of songs they know that–without the music–could work like a poem?

Stolen Man

This book is a historical fiction, based on a true story. How is this book different from Barry’s other books? Barry says it was harder for him to write this book than any other story and he wrote over 30 rough drafts over a twelve year period before this book was published. Can you imagine why this book was so hard?