Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Mary Smith

I love Andrea U'Ren's illustrations.  Mary Smith is one of my favorite books.  I use it for think alouds and shared experiences with Drawing Inferences, Synthesizing, or Activating Background Knowledge or Background Experience.  It's a terrific read!
     Back in the days before there were alarm clocks, there were "knocker-ups" whose job it was to wake the townspeople for a few pennies each week.  When I first show the cover to students, they are sure it's a work of fiction about a woman who "likes to shoot spitballs" or "shoots peas at a target."  But the moment I open the book to the opening photograph of the real Mary Smith, they realize that there's more to this book than they first imagined. 
     It's a wonderful tale of Mary, whose peas hit windows of the townsfolk each day with a "Tock! Tock! Tock!" or a "Click Clack Snap!"  She wakes the laundry maids, the fishmonger, the mayor.... The mayor tells her, "Without you, everyone would still be asleep in bed, no one would be working, and I wouldn't have a town to run because everything would be shut down!"
     BUT, Mary forgets to rouse one person... which makes for a surprising and humorous ending (you want to know who, don't you)!  I love that Andrea U'Ren provides an historical note at the end of the book which explains a bit about Mrs. Mary Smith and the role of the turn-of-the-center "knocker-ups."
      Andrea U’Ren re-creates for the reader a delightful narrative of a typical morning in the life of Mary Smith... one of many turn of the century "knocker-ups".  You can visit her work at: 
     Read about real-life knocker-ups and listen to a sound bit at:

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