Teachers, Librarians, and Readers, if you’re reading The Naked Mole-Rat Letters, you might want to check out the live naked mole-rat cam from the National Zoo. Once you get to the page, scroll down until you see the embedded video. Click it to make it full size. If you don’t see anything moving in the frame, then check back again…the critters crawl in and out of sight.
Sharon Salluzzo’s Interview with Mary Amato for Children’s Literature.
Make your own notebook with these investigation notebook stickers from Holiday House.
Teachers, if you can’t access youtube, try teachertube.
Teachers if you can’t access youtube, please see teachertube.
Here’s my 2-minute youtube video showing the editing and publishing process. Teachers, if you can’t access youtube in the classroom, please use this teachertube link.
Try these poetry writing activities based on Mr. Crew’s lessons in Edgar Allan’s Official Crime Investigation Notebook by Mary Amato
When Kip doesn’t understand how to create a metaphor, Destiny says, “Thinks of candy…then think of something else that’s really fun, like a party. Then squash the two things together: Candy is a party in my mouth.” (p. 16) Choose a subject for a poem (a noun is easiest), and then try to write a metaphor poem about the subject.
Pretend that you are something else and try writing a riddle poem, like Edgar does when he writes his pencil poem (p. 48) and his nose poem (p. 52). It doesn’t have to rhyme. You might start with “I am…” but don’t reveal exactly who you are so that your classmates can guess when you read it aloud.
Think of a rhythm in your head (such as Da Dum Da Dum Da Dum) and try writing a poem with that rhythm (p. 78).
Imagine that you are a thief and you have stolen something. Write a poem, confessing your crime.
A parody is a literary work in which the style of another author is imitated for comic effect. Choose one of the poems that the thief leaves (p. 3, p. 66, p. 98, and p.199) and find the original, famous poem upon which Mary Amato based her parody. Then, choose a famous poem or song and try writing your own parody.
Graphic Design Activity:
Mr. Crew loves poetry and drinks Tennyson Tea. Create a 3-D box for Tennyson Tea that uses both poetic words and images to entice the customer to buy it.
1. Edgar spies on his classmates in an effort to solve the mystery, and in the process he learns something important about each one. Specifically, he reads: Destiny’s poem about the willow tree; Taz’s article about osteosarcoma; and Patrick’s poems about his parents’ divorce. Do you think Edgar should have read these items? What did he learn about his classmates?
2. On page 59, Edgar wonders if everybody has a secret sadness. What do you think?
3. Why do you think Mr. Crew likes his students to have a moment of silence before they start to write?
4. Describe Edgar’s weakness and strengths.
5. Authors often deliberately repeat images or details in a book. For example, Edgar says that giving up would be like handing Patrick a big bowl of victory with whipped cream on top (p. 20) Later, after he writes his “Inside ” poem, Edgar helps himself to a big bowl of ice cream with whipped cream on top (p.95). Why do you think Mary Amato chose to do this? Dogs are another repeated image throughout the book. Discuss where and how dogs are mentioned or appear in the book. Why do you think Amato chose to have Edgar wish he could have a dog?
6. In the first part of the book, Edgar doesn’t like poetry, is embarrassed that his parents are clowns, believes that Destiny and Taz are always happy, and says that he hates Patrick several times. Describe how and why Edgar’s feelings about topics change by the end of the book.
7. See Mary Amato’s revision example and discuss how and why she revised.
Many of the characters in Edgar Allan’s Official Crime Investigation Notebook are named after famous people. See if you can figure out who the following characters are named after.
Edgar’s art teacher, Ms. Cassatt:
Edgar’s music teacher, Ms. Schubert:
Edgar’s science teacher, Ms. Herschel:
Henri’s band director, Mr. Copland:
The characters in Edgar Allan’s Official Crime Investigation Notebook write lots of funny poems. Download this pdf to discover how to write your own humorous poetry:
How to Write a Funny Poem by Mary Amato