Anna & Natalie
by Barbara H. Cole
Winner, 2007 ASPCA® Henry Bergh Children’s Book Award
Reading Level: Ages 4-8
Every year a group of students from Mrs. Randall’s class gets to lay a wreath on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. This year, the lucky students will be those who write the best letter pleading their case. Anna and Natalie are determined to win, and they submit a convincing letter inspired by the role Natalie’s great-great-grandfather played in World War II. This story, with a surprising twist at the ending will teach young children the power of believing in your own talents despite disabilities and that we should recognize the unsung heroes in our everyday lives.
ASK: What and who do you think this story is about? What clues on the front and back cover tell you the theme of the story?
SHOW: Look at the front and back covers of this book, and read the title.
CONNECT: The story we will read tells about the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Do you know what this is? What can you infer from the name? Look online or in an encyclopedia to find out more about this monument.
ASK: Why is Anna so excited about being the wreath presenter at the ceremony?
SHOW: Look at the pictures of Anna in her school classroom. What can you tell about what the class is studying?
CONNECT: If you had the opportunity to represent your class during an important event, for what reasons do you think you would be the best person?
ASK: Who did you think Natalie was before you read the end of the story? Did the author fool you?
SHOW: Look at the pictures of Anna and Natalie at the wreath-laying ceremony.
CONNECT: Do you know why Natalie is a special dog? Make sure you notice Natalie’s special harness.
Does this look like a regular dog’s collar? Natalie is a guide dog. She helps Anna get around because Anna is blind. Natalie helps Anna cross the street, walk around furniture and other obstacles, and she could help Anna in the case of a fire or other emergency. A guide dog is also a great friend. Natalie’s great-great-grandfather was a special dog, too. Read the last page of the book to find out why.
- To find out more about how dogs were used during war time, go to www.uswardogs.org. You can also donate to the U.S. War Dogs Memorial. If you were going to create a memorial for your dog, what would you include and how would you describe your dog. Draw a picture or write a paragraph to explain.
- Dogs are still in service in the military today. Go to www.defenselink.mil/home/features/2006/Working-Dogs to find out how working dogs are used by troops today.
- War dogs are heroes in the same way that human soldiers are. They risk their lives and they do dangerous work to keep soldiers and regular people safe. Write a poem about war dogs. You can pick a specific dog/story from the Web site mentioned above or make up a war dog in your imagination. You can write
a free verse poem or choose to write a haiku, sonnet, limerick, diamante, or cinquain.
- Guide dogs are working animals. This means that when they are out helping their owners, they are at their job. That’s why it’s important to learn the following rules:
- If you meet a guide dog team, ask first if you can pet the guide dog.
- Do not pet a guide dog without permission from the handler first!
- If the guide dog handler says "No", respect his or her wishes.