JUST ME AND 6,000 RATS by Rick Walton and Mike and Carl Gordon

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An amusing romp that introduces readers to the meanings of different conjunctions.



A boy and his 6,000 rats go to a city and visit a school, a baseball game, a restaurant, and a skyscraper, along with some other sites. Each odd numbered page ends with a conjunction, and the page turn reveals the end of the complex sentence. The story is told from the boy’s point of view, and he is oblivious to the effect his 6,000 rats are causing. So this is one of those books where there’s an ironic distance between the events as they’re being narrated and the actual occurrences. That set-up plus the hilarious antics of the mice in the pictures delight third and fourth graders.

A sample page turn:

After lunch, we thought it would be fun to visit a school. We learned a lot ALTHOUGH…

we weren’t impressed with the students’ behavior.

This is not a book to use to teach sentence combining. In fact, the author uses commas incorrectly. But it is a nice one to add levity to the task of learning how to make compound and complex sentences. You could have each kid write a version where the boy and his rats go to a different destination using some conjunctions you have selected. Or you could have the class tell a group story where one child tells the first half of the sentence and ends with a hanging conjunction. The next child takes over by completing that sentence, and setting up the next storyteller with a simple sentence and conjunction. You can also make a Bingo game to practice combining simple sentences with conjunctions. I haven’t found one for sale, so I’m showing my homemade one in this month’s READING GAMES.