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Gabby & Grandma Go Green

Gabby & Grandma Go Green
Written and Illustrated by Monica Wellington
Published in 2011 by Dutton Children’s Books, ISBN 0-525-42214-5
Grades PreK – 6
From the recycling symbols on the endpapers to the “Green Tips” in the back matter, the latest offering from Monica Wellington sends a consistent message: take action to protect your environment. In Gabby & Grandma Go Green, eager Gabby and her active grandmother do just that. They begin their day by sewing reusable shopping bags, which they then load up with recyclables, and head out to the supermarket. Their next stop is the local Farmer’s Market where they purchase favorite foods for a picnic in the park. There, Gabby plays and Grandma reads, recycling her newspaper of course. Before heading home, they stop at the library where, naturally, they check out books with “save the Earth projects.” While the clear linear narrative appeals to the youngest readers, the actions of these characters and the strong theme of care for the environment provide plenty of material to inspire discussions and actions in readers across the elementary grades. Wellington’s mixed media illustrations and interactive borders will inspire repeat readings. Use this title to celebrate Earth Day in your classroom or to launch “green” projects.
Teaching Invitations
PreK – Grade Two
  • Interactive Writing: Things I Can Do to Help the Earth. Ask students to help you make a list of the things that Gabby & her grandmother did to help protect the earth. Then, ask students to create a page for a class authored big book in which they describe and illustrate steps that they can take to protect their environment.
Grades PreK – Six
  • Make the Bags / Eco-craft Fair. The back matter of Gabby and Grandma Go Green includes directions for making the reusable shopping bags that Gabby and her grandmother made together. Recruit the assistance of parents and / or your art teacher and have your students design and create reusable bags. Expand this activity by having students research and create additional eco-crafts. Hold an eco-craft fair at your school to raise money for an event or to donate to a charity.
  • Earth Day Posters. Have your students employ Monica Wellington’s style to create Earth Day posters. Provide students with collage media, such as fabric samples, textured papers, and the opportunity to take and print digital photographs. Have students plan and create a poster from these materials that incorporates a border. Study Monica Wellington’s borders in her various books to see how these borders relate to the main illustrations. Display students’ completed posters in the school or in community locations.
Grades Two – Six
  • Author Study. Monica Wellington has written and illustrated many engaging picture books appropriate for the primary grades and of interest as writing models for intermediate grade students. The books listed below are good starting points for looking at her body of work. Invite students to read across these books to identify patterns in theme, setting, characterization, plot, and artistic style. Your students may comment on her use of borders, the industrious nature of the main characters, the content of the back matter, the use of collage and recurring images across the illustrations. Ask your students to consider the genre of her books. Through the vehicle of a fictional narrative, Wellington provides the reader with a great deal of information about a variety of topics, including apple farming, long range trucking, and small business ownership. To obtain biographical information about the author, you can visit her blog and ask your school librarian to help you access an entry in Something About the Author. A short video clip of Monica Wellington discussing her process for creating Mr. Cookie Baker is included in the links below.
  • History of Earth Day / Days of Commemoration. Research the history of Earth Day and the advocacy process undertaken by Senator Gaylord Nelson to establish this day. You may want to have students create a timeline of important dates and accomplishments in the environmental movement. Alternatively, you may choose to focus on the concept of commemorating something with an annual day of recognition. Ask student to identify an issue that they would advocate for setting aside a day to focus attention on this issue or special eve. You might want to read aloud Byrd Baylor’s I’m in Charge of Celebrations.
Grades Three – Six
Critical Literacy:
  • How Green is Your School? As Gabby and Grandma travel around their town, they are conscious of the steps that they can take to protect their environment; they shop locally, refrain from feeding the ducks in the park, and dispose of grandma’s newspaper in the recycle bin. Ask your students to survey the classroom, school, and school grounds to determine whether the physical environment invites people act responsibly toward the environment. With support from your principal, you might invite students to look closely at the practices involved in food preparation, cleaning, and grounds maintenance at your school. The Natural Resources Defense Council has a website that can guide you in this process (see the Green Squad link below) as does the Earth Day Foundation ( ).
  • Local Foods Movement. Gabby and Grandma shop a local farmer’s market. Invite your students to learn more about the local foods movement in the context of an inquiry into where the food they eat comes from. Discuss the terms local, sustainable, and global in relation to food growing practices and economics. Do a little local research of your own to identify food growers of various types in your area. Are there any CSA’s (Community Supported Agriculture) in the area? Invite local farmers, beekeepers, bakers, etc. to come talk to your class about their work. What are the reasons that someone would go to the trouble to seek out a local vendor and possibly pay more for the product? The Sustainable Table website may be of use to you in this investigation
  • Twenty Years Later. Children reading Gabby & Grandma Go Green will most likely be very familiar with the concept of recycling, but this was not always the case. Two editions of Paul Showers’s book, Where Does the Garbage Go?, written twenty years apart offer students the opportunity for a historical review of changes in how refuse is disposed of. In 1974 when the book was first written, wide scale recycling was a hopeful vision for the future. Reading the two editions, ask students to create a comparison chart detailing the changes. Engage students in research into new disposal options that have come up since the 1994 edition was published. You might then choose to add a third column to the chart and ask students to speculate about next steps in trash disposal – what might be included in 2014 and 2034 editions of the book?
Further Explorations
Online Resources
Monica Wellington’s Blog
Monica Wellington’s Website
Meet the Author: Monica Wellington: Can I Read to You?
EPA: Environmental Kids Club
Natural Resources Defense Council: The Green Squad
Earth Day Network
Think Green: Discovery Education
Eco-Friendly Crafts
The Sustainable Table
The Edible Schoolyard
Farm to School
Baylor, B. (1986). I’m in charge of celebrations. Ill. by P. Parnall. New York: Scribner’s.
  • A young resident of the southwest desert remembers special days by naming and celebrating them, for example, Rainbow Celebration Day commemorates the day she saw a triple rainbow.
The Earth Works Group. (2008). The new 50 simple things kids can do to save the earth. Ill. by M. Montez & L. Bodger. Kansas City: Andrews McMeel Publishers.
  • Fifty suggested action steps kids can take to protect our natural resources.
The Earth Works Group. (1994). 50 Simple things kids can do to recycle. Ill. by M. Montez. Berkeley, CA: Earth Works Press.
  • A collection of activities, projects and practices to encourage kids to recycle.
Gibbons, G. (1992). Recycle: A handbook for kids. Boston: Little Brown.
  • An explanation of the processes of recycling paper, glass, aluminum, and plastic accompanied by Gibbons’s clearly detailed illustrations.
Henry, S. & Cook, T. (2011). Eco-crafts. New York: Power Kids Press.
  • Instructions for making usable items from recycled materials.
Roop, C & Roop, P. (2001). Let’s celebrate earth day. Ill. by G. Connelly. Brookfield, CT: Millbrook Press.
  • An introduction to Earth Day in question and answer format, this informative title includes a history of the celebration and an overview of related legislation.
Schwartz, L. (1990). Earth book for kids: Activities to help heal the environment. Santa Barbara, CA: Learning Works.
  • This activity book features hands on ways that kids can make a difference, including paper making instructions and crafts with recycled materials.
Showers, P. (1974). Where does the garbage go? Ill. by L. Lustig. New York: Crowell.
Showers, P. (1994). Where does the garbage go? Ill. by R. Chewning. New York: HarperCollins.
  • These two editions, published twenty years apart, offer the reader an opportunity to see how the ways that people dispose of trash have changed over time.
Seuss, D. (1971). The Lorax. New York: Random House.
  • No listing of books that focus on conservation would be complete without this classic title by Dr. Seuss, which sends a strong message about the potential hazards big industry poses to the environment.
Van Allsburg, C. (1990). Just a dream. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.
  • After dreaming of a world devastated by pollution, Walter decides to clean up his act and take better care of his environment.
Walsh, M. (2008). Ten things I can do to help my world. Cambridge, MA: Candlewick Press.
  • This lift the flap book for the young readers presents ten simple things that kids can do to protect their world, such as turning off the water when brushing one’s teeth.
Wellington, M. (2001). Apple farmer Annie. New York: Puffin Books.
  • Annie grows apples in her orchards; she sells apples, applesauce, cider, and baked goods at a Farmer’s Market.
Wellington, M. (2006). Mr. Cookie Baker. New York: Dutton Children’s Books.
  • Mr. Baker gets up very early in the morning to start the process of making and decorating his beautiful sugar cookies.
Wellington, M. (2006). Pizza at Sally’s. New York: Dutton Children’s Books.
  • Join Sally as she collects the ingredients to make pizzas at her popular restaurant in the city.
Wellington, M. (2009). Ricki’s birdhouse. New York: Dutton Children’s Books.
  • Ricki welcomes a pair of bluebirds to his yard by building them a birdhouse.
Wellington, M. (2007). Truck driver Tom. New York: Dutton Children’s Books.
  • Travel with Tom in his big rig as he takes produce from the farm to a grocery store in the city.
Wellington, M. (2007). Zinnia’s flower garden. New York: Puffin Books.
  • Zinnia plans and plants a beautiful flower garden; she sells her bouquets at a roadside stand.
Wellington, M. (2004). Crepes by Suzette. New York: Dutton Children’s Books.
  • Tour the streets of Paris with Suzette as she sells delectable crepes from her pushcart.
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.