Hubie’s teacher, mean Mrs. Green, says everyone has to run for a class office. At first, Hubie wants to run for the hills. Then he decides to run for president against Doris, who has a secret weapon—free ice cream bars. Hubie and his campaign manager Eric come up with a slogan, posters, and a stump speech. And, despite his occasional flights of anxiety, Hubie begins to dream of being president, including what he’ll do one day in the White House.
Things start to go wild in Hubie’s imagination as the election day nears. He has to shake everyone’s hand, debate Doris, take polls, and worry a lot about being a loser. Finally, class election day arrives. The tension is unbearable for Hubie as his classmates cast their ballots. But when Mrs. Green counts the final vote, all his fears disappear. Hubie is president of the class from the Black Lagoon!
About the Author
Mike Thaler has been called “one of the most creative people in children’s books today.” Thaler himself sums up his approach to writing in this quote: “The most powerful nation in the world is IMAGINATION.” Thaler believes that story writing and riddles are the most useful tools in stimulating children’s awareness of language and its creative use. An award-winning author and illustrator, he travels the world sharing his message with teachers and children.
Born in Los Angeles in 1936, Thaler moved to New York City to start his career as a cartoonist. An editor encouraged him to write children’s books, and now, over 200 books later, he is an award winning author and illustrator. Thaler now lives in West Linn, Oregon, surrounded by his family, friends, and yellow, his favorite color. Visit Mike Thaler’s website.
Teaching the Book
How scary can a class election be? If it’s from the Black Lagoon, it can be really scary! Hubie takes his worries about school to the chapter book level in this Black Lagoon adventure. The book provides an opportunity to teach how fears affect the imagination, how an author uses puns and word play, and how character is developed through text and illustrations. Activities will engage students in creative writing, dramatic readings, and word play.
Theme Focus: Imagination
Comprehension Focus: Analyze Character
Language Focus: Puns & Word Play
Get Ready to Read
The Black Lagoon
Engage students’ interest and build background by talking about Mike Thaler’s Black Lagoon series. Explain that the first book was The Teacher from the Black Lagoon, named after the horror movie, The Creature from the Black Lagoon. Thaler’s main character Hubie has a wild imagination that goes to work whenever he is worried or fearful about something in school, also known as the Black Lagoon. Display the book cover and ask: What might Hubie be worried about in this picture? What is that monster doing behind him? Discuss students’ responses; then ask what other things about school can cause worries, prompting them with these Black Lagoon titles:
- The Talent Show from the Black Lagoon
- The Gym Teacher from the Black Lagoon
- Valentine’s Day from the Black Lagoon
Preview and Predict
Display the illustration on page 7 of Mrs. Green and the class. Ask students to predict whether or not Mrs. Green really looks like this.
Puns and Word Play
Knowing the meaning of the words below will increase students’ understanding and enjoyment of the word play in the book. Encourage students to look for clues in the text and the illustrations to figure out the meaning of unfamiliar words or have them check a dictionary definition. Use Resource #1: Vocabulary Cards and distribute copies to students.
Words to Know
Read aloud the following descriptions for the vocabulary words. Ask students to hold up the vocabulary card that matches each description. Then help them find Hubie’s wordplay or riddle about each word.
- someone who wants an elected office candidate (Candied-Dates, p. 9)
- a plan to get votes campaign (a campaign in the neck. p. 9)
- a saying a candidate uses to get votes slogan (A Fast Slogan, p. 12)
- the beliefs of a candidate platform (I don’t need a platform. I’m tall enough. p. 24)
- a list of things to do agenda (My gender’s a boy. p. 26)
- a paper or card used for voting ballot (The Ballot of Hubie Cool, p. 35)
- to talk or argue about something debate (Put debate on the hook. p. 44)
- a survey of how people will vote poll (flag poll, fishing poll, poll vault p. 50)
As You Read
Reading the Book
Read aloud the first chapter of the book, asking the class to follow along. Point out that Hubie likes to ramble as he tells the story—and he likes to use his imagination. The wacky things Hubie thinks and says are pictured in the illustrations; for example, his face on Mt. Rushmore and the $3 bill. Remind students to look at the illustrations as they read for more clues about what’s happening in the story.
Assign partners to read the book together. Encourage them to share questions and reactions with each other.
Big Question: Critical Thinking
Ask students to think about this question as they read and be ready to answer it when they’ve finished the book. Write the question on chart paper or have students write it in their reading journals. Who wins the class election . . . and why?
The Class Election from the Black Lagoon is not only about Hubie, but it’s told through Hubie’s mind. Plus, the illustrator shows Hubie doing things in the real world and in his imaginative world. Together, the words and the pictures provide a good portrayal of Hubie’s character traits. Help students analyze Hubie’s character using evidence from the text and pictures.
Use the graphic organizer on Resource #2: Analyze Character to model for students how to use evidence to analyze a character. Project the page on a whiteboard or pass out copies to students.
We’re going to think about Hubie and his character traits. A trait is a quality or habit that a person has. The first trait on the list is “a big imagination.” Is that true about Hubie? I’ll see if I can find evidence of a big imagination in the text or pictures. I see an example of his imagination on page 8. He thinks his face might be on a three-dollar bill! I’ll write that in the second column as evidence of “a wild imagination.”
Have students fill in the rest of the organizer for the traits of “a funny sense of humor” and “worries about things.” Ask students to use the text and pictures to write in a fourth character trait for Hubie in the space provided. Check that they have provided evidence to support each trait. (Answers will vary because there are many examples in both the text and illustrations.)
After You Read
Questions to Discuss
Lead students in a discussion of these focus story elements.
What happens to Mrs. Green in the illustrations starting on page 59? Why do you think she looked like a monster before? (Sample answer: Mrs. Green looks normal in the last chapter. Hubie has just imagined that she was a monster because she did things that worried him.)
2. Analyze Character
How do the illustrations help you get to know Hubie? What did you learn about him from them? (Sample answer: The illustrations showed what a wild imagination Hubie has…especially all the monsters who must be what he’s worried about.)
3. Puns and Word Play
What is your favorite example of a pun or riddle in the book? Why do you like it? (Answers will vary.)
Questions to Share
Encourage students to share their responses with a partner or small group.
1. Text to Self
Would you want to run for an office in a class election? Why or why not? If yes, which office would you choose?
2. Text to World
How was Hubie’s campaign similar to political campaigns in the real world? How was it different?
3. Text to Text
Hubie has starred in many other Black Lagoon books. What topic about school do you think would make a good Black Lagoon book?
Content Area Connections
Take a Poll
Have students take a poll about a school or community topic. Guide them to think of a question and then list two or three possible answers or responses. Suggest that each student polls ten people about the issue and records their answers. When the poll is completed, direct them to count and compare their results.
In Chapter 5, Hubie tells some tall tales about U.S. presidents. Show students how to check the facts using online resources or library books. For further research, encourage students to find out fun facts about the Presidents that are true. Consider using these two possible website sources: the Presidential Pet Museum and Scholastic.com.
Ask partners to record a dramatic reading of a chapter in the book. Chapters that include two speakers are: 3, 6, and 11. Encourage students to rehearse their reading several times. Remind them
to express the characters’ feelings while saying their parts.
The Worry Monster
When Hubie is worried, he imagines all kinds of monsters in school. Ask students to imagine what their “Worry Monster” looks like. When would this monster appear in their imaginations? Give students art paper, and have them draw and name their monster. Remind them to look at Jared Lee’s illustrations for inspiration.
The Riddle King’s Riddle Recipe
Share with students Mike Thaler’s recipe for writing a riddle. Then have students write a group riddle book, using the recipe.
- Pick a subject: PIG
- Make a list of synonyms and related words: HOG, SWINE, OINK, HAM
- Take any word from the list: “HAM” and drop the first letter. “HAM” becomes “AM.”
- List words that begin with “AM”: AMBULANCE, AMNESIA, AMATEUR
- Take the “H” that you dropped from “HAM” and add it to the beginning of your other words: HAMBULANCE, HAMNESIA, HAMATEUR (These are your riddle answers.)
- Now make up your riddle questions using the answer’s definition.Q: How do you get a pig to the hospital? A: In a HAMULANCE.
Don't Forget the Big Question
Give each student an opportunity to answer the big question. Encourage students to support their answers with details and evidence from the text. Tell them there is no one right answer. Who wins the class election . . .and why?
Vote for Me!
Assign students to create their own campaign poster for a class office. Remind them to have fun with it, just like Hubie did on page 15. They should choose the office they want to run for, write a campaign slogan, and provide an illustration. Make copies of the Big Activity: Vote for Me!, and distribute to students. Read the directions and answer any questions to clarify the activity.
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