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Nobody Hugs A Cactus by Carter Goodrich

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Hank likes it peaceful and quiet. Hank likes to be alone... until characters from the desert interrupt his peace and quiet. Despite Hank's grumpy attitude, he begins to realize the value of kindness, a friend, and a hug.

This beautifully illustrated book provides numerous angles for instruction both as a stand-alone literacy unit or with lessons about friendship and kindness. Let's look at different aspects of this versatile book....


Before you read... 

Discuss story vocabulary in the book. This story is rich with higher level vocabulary words. Choose 2-3 words and role play. For example: prickly refers to something like a cactus or porcupine. But figuatively, note "prickly personalities" (Grumpy from Snow White, Grut from Despicable Me) or 'prickly situations" (I want to join my friends but I'll get in trouble). 

  • Story Vocabulary: Here are level 2 vocabulary words with multiple or abstract meanings that are great for discussions and role play.  Use this "Prickly" semantic map to come up with words to associate with prickly to help students connect to their knowledge.

Read the story... 

Stop as you read and notice details in the illustrations. Stick question cards in book pages as a reminder of which questions to ask. 

  • Reading Comprehension: Here are some comprehension cards to read during or following the story. 

After the story... 

Sit back and recall the story. Take opportunities to play with story vocabulary and sequencing. Reread the story looking at different aspects of the narrative.  

  • Characters: This book shows a sequence of characters who pass Hank and "interrupts his peace and quiet". Here are the characters in a Bingo Game. You can play traditional Bingo or mark them in the order they appear in the story. 
  • Sequencing:  Sequence story details or characters as they enter the story. 
  • Social Skills: Here is a "Contingency Map" template. Use this visual to discuss what to do when someone else is in a bad mood. After reading, "Nobody Hugs A Cactus" by Carter Goodrich, have a disucssion on how to deal with a person who is in a grumpy mood.  Consider ways to cheer them up like hugging, telling a joke, making a card, or playing music. Then consider how to leave them alone by walking away, reading a book, ignore them, telling them you want to play later, or smiling and waving bye. Write student answers in the boxes.
  • Writing: How can you show kindness to someone? Students can write their ideas on how they show kindness. 
  • Art: Make a card (ie: Valentine's Day). Make a green handprint and glue a flowerpot under the handprint. Glue the message square on the handprint. Add black lines on the handprint to make "prickles". 
  • Science:  Look at the characters in the story. Are they an animal, plant, or object? Some may require discussion. 
  • Outside Play: I love how Hank states different ways of saying "don't come close to me". Play Red Light/ Green Light using signs that say "Keep out!" and "Hug Me". 

  • Fun Maze: Help Rosie reach Hank