Literature Link: Don’s Destiny

The Adventures of Don and the White Animals:

Children Adventure & Education( Intermediate readers, Animal friends, Secret power)

Written by Meir Eshel


First in a series of middle grade readers featuring Don White, a child born with the gift of communicating with animals, especially white ones. From the time Don comes home from the hospital, his family senses something special about him. As the car sped toward home, they were accompanied by several dogs and a flock of birds chirping around the house. A plague of insects and animals infest the house and drive several babysitters away. Finally an elderly man named Bruce has the courage to take on the job. As Dan grows, it becomes clear that he has the ability to communicate with animals like his mouse named Tiny and dog named Pup.

One day Don’s dad notices that his pets have the same reddish birthmarks as his son. Don is an exceptionally bright boy whose attachment to animals leads him into trouble. When he pleads to attend the Pendor Circus, the family reluctantly acquiesces. This first adventure leads to a kidnapping by monkey named Mog who is able to communicate animal cruelty toward the circus animals. Don will use the experience to draw attention to animal abuse. Then an insensitive teacher will bring down the wrath of Don when she ridicules him in front of the class. She will suffer an embarrassing experience from some of Don’s slimy animal friends. Don is led to the Delphiton racetrack to set the score straight, and a family vacation turns tragic when Don is kidnapped by a group of his enemies.

Don’s adventures are narrated by his father. Noteworthy are his family’s unwavering support and the way Don shows respect, loyalty and good humor despite his fanatic devotion to animal rights causes. At just over one hundred pages, the story has enough elements of fantasy, humor and adventure to delight the middle grade reader, especially boys and reluctant readers. Looking forward to Don’s next adventure.

Barbara Ann Mojica
Author of the Little Miss HISTORY Travels to series of children’s books

Anticipation Guide for The Candle Star

candle star kindle insert

Title: Anticipation Guide for The Candle Star, by Michelle Isenhoff
*This entire lesson plan is available as a downloadable PDF.

The purpose of an anticipation guide is to prepare students for reading a text by exploring what they already know about the ideas they will soon encounter. By connecting to prior knowledge, they will be more able to make predictions, understand cause and effect relationships within the text, make and discuss generalizations, and develop their own responses to the ideas presented.

Time:   10-20 minutes to complete pre-reading activity
10-30 minutes to complete culminating activity


1.  Pass out the guide to students before reading The Candle Star. Allow them to complete it on their own. When they have finished, discuss the students’ responses. Do not make any judgments as to right or wrong answers, but encourage the students to support their decisions with real life examples.

2. Instruct the students to hold on to the guide and refer to what they have written as they read The Candle Star.

3.  As a culminating activity, return to the guide after reading the book. Discuss how the students’ answers might have changed. Encourage students to cite examples from the text that made them rethink their original answers. Have the students choose one statement from the guide and write a paragraph supporting their belief using prior knowledge and examples from the text.

Text of Anticipation Guide handout
(Handout is available as downloadable PDF.)

  1. It’s okay to force someone to change if you know you’re right.
  2. It’s okay for the government to force a person or group of people to change.
  3. Your upbringing gives you a solid basis on which to make decisions about right and wrong.
  4. It’s wrong to hide someone the government says is a fugitive.
  5. A person in authority can be trusted to make good choices if they have good intensions.
  6. The culture you live in defines the value of a person’s life.

Visit Michelle Isenhoff’s page here on Quest to locate free digital copies of The Candle Star and additional lesson plans.

Great Apps that Allow Students to “Tell the Story” with Multi-Media

Lights. Camera. Action!  Getting your students involved in projects that bring literature to life in the classroom is a challenging and rewarding endeavour. Daunting, I know, but have no fear; technology can come to your rescue! Whether in the classroom or homeschooling, here are some highlights of  apps that  can help you set up  multimedia projects that will really engage their students while producing videos that will be fun to share with their parents and peers.  Now let’s get storytelling !

  • Smoovie is a stop animation app that has all the basics covered. This cool app allows students to use ipads to take photos, move, edit, and delete frames easily. With just a few simple commands, they can then play the frames back at different speeds, add titles and music.  The friendly controls allow the users to switch between the camera, editing and playback modes with ease.  My students worked in small groups to create this video summary of the first chapters of The Ultimate Treasure Quest 1: The Jewel of Peru.  They loved it and learned so much as they had to read, summarize, create a script, act out the scene and read fluently to add voice over and cooperate to produce scenes, puppets, movement and camera shots. A story telling project with plenty of learning embedded!
  • If you’re looking for a project that can incorporate both student shot video footage and  photos and quickly turn them into something to share, then try  Animoto or Magisto.  Both ipad apps allow students to shoot video using the ipad, then  quickly add  format effects, text and music.  The videos can then be shared via Facebook or email.  These apps would be ideal for quick chapter reviews, mock newscasts, current affairs reports ,students demonstrations, or coverage of school events.  What fun for students to be able  to tell their “story” with  all the bells and whistles pre- built in.  These apps create a quick professional looking project with minimal input time.  Just what we are looking for in the classroom!
  • Finally, if your wanting to give your students more experience with actual video editing the imovie,  pinnacle or  free VideoPad looks to incorporate many video editing tools that might make it something to explore, though I’ve note used it myself and it seems to need a lot of memory to access the media from the ipad gallery.  If anyone has experience with it, I would love to hear your feedback.  Have fun creating new projects and keep encouraging our students to tell stories in new and interesting ways!

Interesting Narrative Helps Students Connect

They say that necessity breeds ingenuity.  There is truth in that.  I was terribly bored when the whole idea of teaching the curriculum through the narrative hit me.  As the drone of the “professional development” presenter faded into the background of my thoughts,  I started to wish that I had chosen a different session. Suddenly, I realized that I often do the same thing to my students.  I bore them.  If I wanted to learn from this session, then I needed it to be relevant, engaging and connected to my teaching practice.  That got me thinking, what if this presenter were presenting me with the same information, but it was presented through “story”.  Then I would be interested. Suddenly, there it was; the entire concept for Quest Teaching.  What if… I  could craft a story that would connect many curriculum concepts throughout the narrative, for my students.

Then the teacher in me came out and I started to think about the criteria for the story. This is what I came up with:

1. It would have to be good literature; not filled with contrived dialogue imparting knowledge to my students, but rather a fast paced exciting quest that would hook them into the learning before they knew what was happening.

2.  It would have to have all the elements of good literature: well developed characters with which the kids could connect, action woven throughout an intricate plot, interesting vocabulary to increase their love of words, use the variety of literary techniques that I teach them to use, and of course, be centered around a problem that was curriculum related, but kid relevant.


Click to see all the topic/chapter curricular connections!

3.  I wanted the story to provide jumping off points for lessons in science, social studies and language arts at a minimum, and   hopefully link to other subjects, too.  Could it provide a hook to learn about mapping while it also led into a lesson about rocks and minerals? (Can you tell I’m a theme teacher at heart?)

Could this be done?  I’ve always loved writing, so was I crazy enough to try?  The answer is yes!  I planned the story and it all came together. All the skills and concepts I wanted them to learn could be embedded in the plot!  I started by modelling the writing process with my class. Each week I would share the new chapter that I wrote, after planning and marking, of course.

The response was magic! They loved it, and begged for more.  It really worked better than I ever imagined. My students identified with the characters, and rooted for them while they were taken through the story and they loved the page- turner endings of most chapters. But, the best part was – the story gave me a way to connect all their learning. The “remember when…” factor provided me with the jumping off point for lessons that I was seeking.  As the students identified with all that the characters had gone through, they connected it to the classroom lessons and therefore, they were immediately interested and engaged.

The_Ultimate_Treasur_Cover_for_Kindle (2)

Click here: Now available on Amazon

Today, one year and one month later, I received the first shipment of the paperback novels. I am now a published author and I am now thrilled to offer this exciting quest to other teachers, parents and anyone who loves a good story and loves helping others learn about the wonderful planet we live on.  It is my quest to help you take youth on a Quest that will incite them to find the Ultimate Treasure of Learning!