Monday, April 8, 2019

I Call Dibs!

Dibs, written by Laura Gehl and illustrated by Marcin Piwowarski, is the story of two brothers. Julian calls “dibs” so frequently that his baby brother Clancy ends up saying “dibs” as his very first word. Things get out of control when Clancy starts calling dibs on a bakery, an airplane, and even the White House! But when Clancy gets trapped in space, it is Julian who needs to harness the power of dibs to rescue his little brother.

 After reading Dibs out loud, try these writing activities with your students:

1. If you could call dibs on ANYTHING, the way Clancy does, what would you call dibs on? Why?

2. Julian gets frustrated when Clancy doesn’t follow the “rules” of Dibs. Even though these rules are not written down, most kids know you can call dibs on the biggest cookie but not on a whole bakery. You can call dibs on sitting in the window seat in an airplane, but you can’t call dibs on a whole airplane. Think about rules in your life. What rules at home or school do you wish you could break? What rules do you wish other people followed? Do you have a sibling, cousin, or friend who breaks rules? How do you feel about that when it happens?

3. Some kids who read the book Dibs already know the expression “calling dibs,” and some kids have never heard the expression before. Make a list of expressions that you know. Which of these expressions do you actually use when you talk to your friends?

4. Look at your list of expressions that you know from #3. Can you imagine how a kid could take one of those expressions too far, the way Clancy takes dibs too far in the book Dibs? How could you turn that into a story? For example, think about the expression “An apple a day keeps the doctor away.” What if a kid decided that she would eat ten apples—or a hundred apples—or a thousand apples—every day so that she would never, ever get sick? And then she ate so many apples that it actually made her sick! Or maybe she turned into an apple and then her grandma wanted to turn her into apple pie! Take one of the expressions from your list and write a story in which a kid takes the expression too far.
Bio: Laura Gehl is the author of picture books including One Big Pair of Underwear (Charlotte Zolotow Highly Commended Title, International Literacy Association Honor Book, Booklist Books for Youth Editors’ Choice); Hare and Tortoise Race Across Israel, And Then Another Sheep Turned Up, and Koala Challah (all PJ Library selections); the Peep and Egg series (Parents’ Choice Recommendation, Amazon Editors’ Pick, Children’s Choice Book Award Finalist); My Pillow Keeps Moving (Junior Library Guild selection, NYPL Best Books of 2018 selection); and I Got a Chicken for my Birthday (Kirkus Best Picture Books of 2018 selection). 2019 releases include Except When They Don’t (Little Bee), Dibs! (Lerner), Juniper Kai: Super Spy (Two Lions); Judge Juliette (Sterling); Always Looking Up: A Story of Astronomer Nancy Grace Roman (Whitman); and the Baby Scientist series (HarperCollins). Laura lives in Chevy Chase, Maryland, with her husband and four children.  Visit her online at

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