The Judge by Harve Zemach – Teaching Literary Skills with Picture Books

I am sharing a book a day for the next 30+ days. Picture books that can be used to teach literary skills to middle or high school students. Just because they are in the older grades doesn’t mean that picture books can’t be a great resource on its own or as a paired passage. Here is #7

The Judge by Harve Zemach51UVScGE9VL._SY385_BO1,204,203,200_

Five prisoners come before a judge one at a time to share their innocence and beg to be released on the grounds that they did not know they were breaking the law.  These five honestly reported what they saw. The story is told with humorous illustrations and dialogue. The ending is perfect with irony and suspense. Students of all ages enjoy this story.

Literary Skills that can be taught with the book The Judge, a Caldecott Honor Book?


  • –  Scoundrel
  • –  Nincompoop
  • –  Ninnyhammer
  • –  Dimwit
  • –  Dunce

    What can you infer about the time period and setting based on the illustrated characters?

    Describe each of the five prisoners and what they all had in common.
    What one word would you use to describe the Judge and why? Use text evidence.
    What does it say about the Judge that he would not believe the same story from five different people?

    What can you infer from the five prisoners stories?
    Do you think the Judge is good at his job? Why or why not?

    What do you think will happen to the Judge when the story stops and you are left with just the illustrations? What clue is in the window?
    What happens to the five prisoners?

    Explain the irony in the Judge being eaten by the monster.

    Extension Activity
    Have the students draw the monster based on one or all of the prisoners accounts. Then compare that drawing to the illustrated monster in the book.
    Create a chart comparing each prisoners accounts of the monster looking for similarities and differences.

The Judge by Harve Zemach can be found on Amazon click HERE

Want more? There is more and can be found on the resource at TpT.

Follow this blog and my TpT store for more great picture books to teach to secondary students.

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