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2013 Theodore S. Geisel Award: Up! Tall! And High!

2013 Theodore S. Geisel Award Winner

Up! Tall! And High!

Written and Illustrated by Ethan Long
Published in 2012 by G.P. Putnam’s Sons
ISBN: 978-0-399-25611-0
Grades PreK – Six
Book Review:
A chapter book for the very youngest reader? A sturdy lift-the-flap book well suited for a toddler audience? A conceptual exploration of adjectives describing size and location? Yes! All these and more, Ethan Long’s Geisel award winning book, Up! Tall! And High! (but not necessarily in that order) has broad appeal.  A quirky cast of avian characters take center stage in this chapter book for very beginners. In three quite short  stories, multiple birds compare their heights or locations.  An element of surprise in each story keeps repetitive text from being boring and lift-up flaps provide added dimension, interactivity, and humor. Long uses simple, yet expressive line, comic-book styling, and a limited palette of pastel colors, distinguishing each story with a different background color. A vocabulary consisting of high-frequency words and clear picture correlation make this read a real confidence booster for those readers just beginning to make the print speech match. The humor, engaging illustrations and subtle exploration of abstract concepts (the different meanings of the words up, tall, and high) make Up! Tall! And High! appealing and appropriate for a wider audience.

Teaching Invitations: Ideas for Your Classroom

Grades PreK – Three.
Dialogue Bubbles. Read Up! Tall! And High!, along with a collection of other books for beginning readers that feature the use of dialogue bubbles, such as Mo Willems’s Let’s Say Hi To Friends That Fly and There is a Bird on My Head; and Geisel honor award winning book in the Toon Books series, Benny and Penny in the Big No-No!. Engage your students in close study of these books and a discussion of how the text in the dialogue bubbles interacts with the visual images to create a narrative.   Provide your students with the opportunity to experiment with the composition of stories that incorporate dialogue bubbles.
Readers’ Theater. As we have suggested in previous entries for books comprised of dialogue (e.g., I Want My Hat Back and This is Not My Hat), Up! Tall! And High! is excellent material for exploration through Readers’ Theater.  View the author’s read-aloud of the text linked in Further Explorations below and then invite groups of students to try their own dramatization of the three stories in the text.
Word Study. Through the text and images of the book, Ethan Long explores the subtle differences in meaning among the words: up, tall, and high. Over a period of time, ask your students to note / collect examples of the uses of these words in phrases and sentences. Record the examples so that you can look across the listing to try to develop generalizations around the use of these words.
Cartoons Strips:  Comparisons. Discuss with your students how the illustrations and and text of Up! Tall! And High! help to explain these concepts. Invite your students to try their own hand at depicting the concepts explored in the book up/down, tall/ short, high/ low in a cartoon strip format, using Ethan Long’s style as inspiration for their own work.
Grades 1 -6
Bird Heights. Up! Tall! And High! might also be used a launch for an inquiry into height and flight ranges in the bird species. The BBC site and the Audubon foundation site listed below could be a starting point for this exploration. Use Steve Jenkins’s book Actual Size as inspiration for a class created texts that depicts birds of different varieties and sizes.
Author / Illustrator Study. Ethan Long is quite prolific. Gather together a collection of his books and explore information about him provided on his website. Read the books over time, noting patterns in his artistic style, character development, and use of humor and word play.
Up! Tall! And High! As a Mentor Text. Invite your students to study the illustrative? artistic? (so as not to confuse with a text-based definition of “composition”) composition of Up! Tall! And High! bBefore composing their own graphic texts. You could leave the subject matter open- ended or your could as your students to write a text that includes comparisons of some sort (height, location, shape, etc.). On her blog, A Fuse 8 Production, Elizabeth Bird includes a wonderful video that shows Ethan Long drawing the birds featured in the story. Students will be inspired by and eager to try to create the expressive effect Long achieves with very simple lines.
Comparison to Dr. Seuss. Discuss the fact that Up! Tall! And High!has received an award that, in name, honors the work of Theodore Geisel, or Dr. Seuss.  Compare Up! Tall! And High! with one of Dr. Seuss’s beginning readers such as Hop on Pop. What is similar about the two books? What is different? What makes the books well suited for beginning readers? Expand this activity by gathering the other Geisel award winners and sharing the award criteria with your students. Distribute the books to small groups of students and ask them to discuss how in their view, the criteria apply to the winners. As a further extension of this activity, you might ask older students to use what they have learned about books for beginning readers to author their own beginning reader book. These books can be shared with primary grade students. Further discussion of Geisel award winners can be found in our Classroom Bookshelf entry for Tales for Very Picky Eaters.

Further Explorations

Online Resources
Geisel Award Home Page
Geisel Award Criteria
Ethan Long’s Website
School Library Journal: A Fuse 8 Production: Review of the Day
YouTube: Ethan Long Reads Up! Tall! And High!
BBC: Bird Size Range
Audubon: Birds
Alborough, J.  (2005). Tall. Cambridge, MA: Candlewick Press.
Coffelt, N. (2009). Big, bigger, biggest. New York: Henry Holt.
Hayes, G. (2009). Benny and Penny in the big no-no!: A Toon Book. New York: Raw Junior.
Henkes, K. (2009). Birds. New York: Greenwillow Books.
Jenkins, S. (2004).  Actual size. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.
Klassen, J. (2011). I want by hat back. Somerville, MA: Candlewick Press.
Klassen, J. (2012). This is not my hat. Somerville, MA. Candlewick Press.
Miller, M. (1998). Big and little. New York: Greenwillow Books.
Patricelli, L. (2009). Higher! Higher! Cambridge, MA: Candlewick Press.
Seuss, Dr. (1963). Hop on pop. New York: Beginner Books.
Schneider, J. (2011). Tales for very picky eaters. New York: Clarion Books.
Tankard, J. (2007). Grumpy bird. New York: Scholastic.
Willems, M. (2010). Let’s say hi to friends that fly. Cat the Cat. New York: Baltzer & Bray.
Willems, M. (2009). Big Frog can’t fit in: A pop-up book. New York: Hyperion.
Willems, M. (2007). There is a bird on your head. Elephant & Piggie. New York: Hyperion.

Erika Thulin Dawes About Erika Thulin Dawes

Erika is a professor of language and literacy at Lesley University. A former classroom teacher, reading specialist, and literacy supervisor, she now teaches courses in children’s literature, early literacy, and literacy methods. Erika is the co-author of Learning to Write with Purpose, Teaching with Text Sets, and Teaching to Complexity.