Sort it Out!

Reading Rockets - July 2016

This picture book is a humorous introduction to sorting and classifying. Packy the Pack Rat comes home with a cart full of things — a locket, a book, an umbrella, a pinecone, and other random items. After his mother asks him to put it away, Packy begins sorting things with similar characteristics, such as color, shape, or where they were found. Children who like to collect may be inspired to bring order to their own treasures. (Ages 4-8)

Books 4 Learning - March 2011

is an enjoyable math “mystery.”  The first time I read it out loud to my son, I was caught up in the playful rhyme and pleasing text.  As a result, the final outcome or “mystery” was a delightful surprise.  My son and I went back and re-examined Sherry Rogers’ adorable illustrations to discover the “clues.”   I love that multi-dimensional aspect of the book.  Barbara Mariconda’s Sort It Out is an ideal set or lead in to a preschool or kindergarten math lesson on sorting.  I love the rhyming couplets.  Not only do they provide a teaching opportunity in rhyming words and sorting, but also in predicting skills.  The final rhyme (and also the way the items are sorted) is not revealed right away.  Instead, it is in a little box on the next page.  Parents or teachers can cover up the word with a finger or sticky note.  Then, allow the child to predict what the word might be.   Whether they are correct or not, they are sure to delight in solving the “mystery.”

Eclectic Homeschool Online - Nov 2009

Pack Rat has a problem. He has collected so much stuff that his mother has decreed that it's time to sort everything out and put it away. Young readers will enjoy the colorful pictures as the little collector finds many different ways to organize his collection: by color, shape, texture, where they come from, what they're used for, what they're made of... But wait! There's a mystery here. Some of Pack Rat's treasures have been disappearing. Where could they be?

Of course, the mystery is solved on the last page, and then if you're like our family, you'll have to go back through the book all over again to look for the clues you missed the first time through.The last few pages of the book contain activity ideas and reproducible sorting cards with pictures of Pack Rat's treasures, for your young reader to sort along with Packy.

Sort It Out!, along with many other titles from Arbordale, are available on the publisher's website in both English and Spanish. In addition, visit the Arbordale website for free activity pages across the curriculum, as well as mp3 audio books, interactive quizzes, related websites, and more.

Oregon Mathematics Teacher Newsletter - Dec 2008

“Linking Math, Literature and Science – Sort It Out!

Sorting and classifying activities are engaging and educational for children of all ages. Linking these activities with literature brings together science, math and language arts. A recent book from Arbordale Publishing, Sort It Out!, by Barbara Mariconda, provides the ideal piece of literature to introduce sorting and classifying activities in the primary grades.

This well-illustrated story is something young children can easily relate to. Packy the Packrat’s mother is frustrated by his rapidly-growing collection of junk and she insists he categorize it by like attributes. Told in delightful rhyme, the story gives children the opportunity to help label the categories.

The Arbordale Web site offers impressive free on-line resources to support the book. In addition to teaching activities for science, math and language arts, there is a section of extensions called “For Creative Minds.” Comprehensive quizzes, e-books with English and Spanish audio, and Learning Links to subject-related Web sites are also features of this site.
- Cathy Bernhard

Teaching Children Mathematics - March 2009

Sort It out! is an attribute story told in rhyme and geared to students in grades K-3. A packrat sorts his collection of treasures and then notices that the quantities are shrinking (thanks to his sister). Children who are studying patterns and sorting will find this book interesting, especially because the packrat has so many different ways to sort objects in addition to using color, size, and shape. Some ways are not necessarily obvious. Engaging illustrations, especially of everyday items from a "rat's-eye" perspective, draw children into the story. The author also cites resources that complement the book and includes several pages of ideas to further develop concepts. Youngsters will need a strong foundation in basic sorting techniques before working with this book because the categories are not necessarily related to one another; some are determined through higher-level thinking strategies. I did not use the book with kindergarteners. First and second grader would find the ideas challenging, but older students would enjoy all the sorting options.

The Reading Tub - June 2008

Summary: Packy Rat has been busy today. His wagon is filled with treasures. His mother doesn't see it that way. She just sees clutter. So she tasks Packy with the job of sorting his things and putting them away. Young listeners and readers learn sorting and categorizing ... and help solve a mystery, too.

Type of Reading: bedtime story, anytime reading, family reading, playtime reading, read aloud book, learning to read

Recommended Age: read together: 4 to 8; read yourself: 6 to 9

Interest Level: 5 to 9

Reading Level: 3.6

Age of Child: Read with a Kindergarten class.

Little Kid Reaction: The kids loved this book, and were quick to discover the "extra hands" helping Packy.

Big Kid Reaction: This is a great book. It is very useful in the classroom, but also has wonderful attributes for sharing at home. It is much easier to truly explore the story and illustrations (like the hidden pictures) when the book is in your lap.

Pros: Kids will jump into this story of helping Packy sort and categorize; anticipate the rhyming words, and explore the other elements of the story.

Cons: Because the scale of each page changes and the objects change, it isn't immediately easy to see that Packy's pile of treasures is dwindling.

Borrow or Buy: Buy. This book has long-term value. Kids will enjoy the rhyme and whimsical story (even after they know the end), and you can draw out lessons with ever-increasing sophistication as they get older.

Educational Themes: This book offers you lots to do. For toddlers and preschoolers, you can use the book for object identification, learning colors, understanding texture, and basic sorting. For elementary students, expand the study of sorting and categorizing Copy (or cut out) the picture cards in the back and then "copy" Packy's sorting themes, and add some of your own, such as thin things (bean, toothbrush, needle, umbrella). Ask your child to collect his/her treasures and create your own sorting game.

Children's Literature Comprehensive Database - June 2008

Packy the Packrat faces the problem of sorting out his pile of “stuff” in this delightful, rhyming book that is sure to grab the attention of youngsters. Watching Packy group things in different ways reinforces the concept of sorting, which is an important skill for young children. As gatherers of “stuff,” young listeners will easily relate to Packy’s dilemma of cleaning up. Colorful, amusing illustrations add to the text to make this a book children will want to look at over and over again. The rhyming text is easy to follow and will allow listeners to participate in the reading during repeated readings. What readers won’t expect, but will enjoy, is the surprise ending in which Packy’s sister makes off with some of his good loot to have a tea party of her own. Excellent end of book activities include a hidden picture exercise, a sorting, categorizing, and classifying card game, a chart to sort like scientists do, and a writing suggestion. This book is well worth adding to preschool and early grade shelves to reinforce science, math, and language lessons.
- Nancy Attebury

Midwest Book Review - Dec 2008

Featuring colorful and charming illustrations, Sort it Out! is a rhyming children's picturebook about packy the Packrat, an anthropomorphic rodent focused on organizing his ever-growing collection as he puts the trinkets away. For example, he puts an acorn, pinecone, and cherry together because all were plucked from a tree; while his needle, locket, and dented tin kettle belong together because all three are made of metal. Surprisingly, some of his items have gone missing - his sister borrowed them for a tea party! To encourage creativity in young readers, the final few pages include some simple sorting and classifying exercises for the reader to try with "Packy's Sorting Cards," which the reader (or more likely, their parents) can photocopy from the book itself or print out from the publisher's website. A great read-aloud story book ideal for stimulating young minds.

School Library Journal - Sept 2008

When Pack rat comes home with a cart full of stuff–a locket, a book, an umbrella, a pinecone, and many more random items–his mother admonishes him to sort it all out and put it away. Packy does just that, cleverly sorting things with like characteristics such as where they’re found, their color, shape, etc. Children who like to collect may be inspired to bring some order to their own assortments. The illustrations are brightly colored, large, and very clear. Careful readers will notice a subplot in the pictures and find satisfaction in seeing its resolution on the final page. In addition, the rhyming text prompts them to guess the word that defines each collection. Back matter has activities to extend the experience. Most collections would benefit from this simple entry into the world of mathematics.
- Linda M. Kenton, San Rafael Public Library, CA

Mom Central - Dec 2008

Packy the pack rat has just returned home from one of his favorite activities, collecting, in this adorable book by Barbara Mariconda. He plops all of his new treasures down on his bed and decides that he would like to arrange them in specific groups for easy sorting, organizing his objects by color, shape, purpose, texture and more. Soon though, he realizes someone has stolen his goods. This book is a wonderful introduction to teach children how to organize, classify, and group certain objects. Organization and understanding what objects belong together for certain reasons is an early test of critical thinking. The educational supplement at the end of the story helps parents and teachers continue with the learnings taught throughout the book, and the fun illustrations by Sherry Rogers make the interactive story even more enjoyable to read.

Stories for Children Magazine - Oct 2008

This is a very unique book, and I just loved it.  Packy the Pack Rat has many collections.  Mom has had enough of the messy house, so she orders Packy to sort his collections and put them all away.  What kinds of collections does Packy have?  Will he obey his mom, organize them, and then put them away?  Or, will the Packrat household remain in disarray forever? You'll just have to read this really cute book to find out!  Author Barbara Mariconda does a great job telling this charming story in rhyme in such a fun way that it invites readers to participate by guessing the next rhyming word. The illustrations are so cheerful and bright.  If you look carefully at the illustrations, you may spot Packy's sister up to some very interesting antics. I give this book a high five for fun while teaching your child critical thinking skills that will help them later in life for math, science and life skills; and for the plot, the very unique collections highlighted, and for the sub-plot illustrations.  This book is a keeper!

The author specifically wrote this book because when she was teaching second grade, she wanted to use books that made math and science fun. There were so few at the time, she decided to write them herself to share with her second graders and fellow teachers. I'm so glad she did!

As with all Arbordale books, the end of the book contains a section called For Creative Minds that is also available online.  In this section is:  "Hidden Picture", "Sorting, Categorizing, and Classifying", "Scientists Sort Things Into Groups Too!" (contains a graph), "Packy's Sorting Cards" and "Writing Connection".

In addition, readers can find cross-curricular “Teaching Activities,” an audio reading, child-friendly “Learning Links,” and comprehension and math quizzes for free at - May 2008

There comes a time early in a child’s life when they collect who knows what for who knows why but children do and collecting must happen. Then they classify and sort into groups for who knows why, but again they do and sorting must happen. It’s how they develop into thinking children. Barbara Mariconda’s book Sort It Out might nudge those young sorters with some new strategies.

Using a fast-paced, fun rhyme we meet a master sorter, young Packy the Pack Rat, who has just driven his mother to the end of her patience with his “collections” of discoveries. It is an ever-growing collection of trinkets and artifacts and they’re not in any order until she finally demands that he sort it out and now!

"Pack Rat collected a whole bag of stuff.
His mother said, Packy, enough is enough!
Empty that stuff you’ve collected today!
Then sort it all out and put it away.

Today’s haul contained turtles, lockets, marbles, umbrellas, brushes, pinecones, clover, cherries and so much more. He looked and he looked and then began to group them. The sorting went something like this:

The turtle, the egg, and acorn that fell,
These are all things with a hard outer… shell

Rhyme and pictures help young readers predict the logic behind each of Packy’s groups. You guess,

The acorn, the pinecone, the cherry you see,
All of these things can be plucked from a ….

All the while he’s sorting and putting his treasures away, a mystery occurs. Items begin to disappear and all readers see is a small hand. It’s not until the end that we discover the humorous subplot and pilferer.

Barbara Mariconda’s strategy for teaching sorting is clever, creative and humorous. Sherry Rogers’ illustrations are bright and cheerful; her Pack Rat family is charming and will appeal to young children. The book and graphics are designed for three to five year olds. This book will enhance critical thinking skills, particularly in math. Children who are natural collectors will love the flow of the story as well as the strategy of Packy.

If your own children were pack rats ( I know mine were) and had strange little collections, for whatever reason, getting them to organize could be delightful and entertaining. What would be the logic behind a group that consisted of a dented tin kettle, a locket, or a needle? I liked watching Packy’s facial and body expressions as he pondered his choices such as the locket, book, and umbrella.

From Arbordale
This book published by Arbordale could simply stop with the story, but it doesn’t, there’s more. Creative Minds, a consistent feature in all of their books, dedicates five pages at the end to educational activities. Arbordale invites readers back to the first page of the story to look for hidden items. Then they support sorting, categorizing, and classifying activities using “Packy’s Sorting Cards” that can be copied from the website (but also from the book). Another activity provides a sorting table to decide if something is non-living, animal, or plant.

Beyond the Book
Online at parents and teachers can further explore with a 22-page PDF of age-appropriate teaching activities. Question examples guide the reading while activities cover math, language art, science, and art. Learning Links enrich the curriculum and teaching with a few excellent online resources.

Rhyme clues build language skills and picture clues help with reading skills. The sorting and classifying combine to develop scientific thought and mental organization in very young children, but it’s appropriate. Picture clues support both and I found this such a valuable learning experience that I printed the teaching activities and promptly walked the book to my education department to use for preschool visits. The fun part is that nobody realizes how much they are learning because the story is so cute. That’s my kind of teaching!

Recommended: Yes

Math Murmurs Newsletter, MA - Oct 2008

A new resource available for early childhood classrooms: Sort It Out! Submitted by Susan Looney, Looney Consulting

Sort it out! by Barbara Mariconda is a delightful story about Packy the packrat, who decides to sort the treasures he has collected. The story is written in rhyme that is funny and easy to follow. Once Packy decides he is going to sort his collection, he chooses to group items in various ways. One particularly clever aspect of the sorting is that objects are including in more than one group. The turtle belongs to both the green group and the group of hard objects, due to his hard shell. Young children will enjoy looking at the group of items and listening to the rhyme, trying to predict the category to which the objects belong. The illustrations are bright and cheery. The pictures include the category in writing on a card, which actually takes away the fun of guessing the category for those that can read. I would suggest covering these words with a sticky note that can be flipped up. In addition to the story, there are suggested sorting activities included at the end of the book. The activities are simple and easy to follow, and will enhance the reader’s understanding of sorting items by different attributes, an important mathematical skill. Furthermore, there is a website listed that includes printable versions of the activities from the back of the book and many more related resources. In my opinion, Sort it Out! would be a great book for any early childhood teacher to include in a mathematical literature library. - Aug 2008

Sort it Out! makes early math concepts fun. It's an imaginative format that allows children to have fun and learn at the same time. Packy the Packrat has a chore to do. His mother is tired of the mess in his room. He sorts all his stuff by category and attributes. Barbara Mariconda manages to pull it all off in rhyme, no less.

There's room for a bit of reader participation, which adds to the fun. Watch Sherry Rogers' pictures—they're bright and colorful, but they also reveal a secret and if you're watching carefully, the anticipation will build.  

 All Arbordale books come with additional activities in the back matter, so after the story, you can continue the fun and the learning. If you want to combine fun and learning, Arbordale is your best bet.

In the Pages - Aug 2008

Oh so sad to get to the bottom of a Arbordale box!!!  Sort it Out by Barbara Mariconda and illustrated by Sherry Rogers was a fun find at the bottom!  I did a story hour just last year and needed books on sorting and this would have been great!  This fun story is told in rhyme but with a great way of letting the kids interact and add ideas while you are reading - so fun for reading aloud!  Sorting, graphing, attributes, even writing ideas - this one is another great find!Thank you Arbordale - I can not tell you how much I give these books to parents AND teachers alike and ALWAYS send them to your website as well - you are REALLY leaving your mark in the education world!

Athens Banner - Herald - Nov 2008

Packy the pack rat has a bunch of cool stuff! But his mother tells him to sort it out, and put it where it belongs!

Packy has to sort out the objects by color, texture, shape, what it's made out of and what it can do. But after a while, it seems like his collection is getting smaller and smaller! Who is taking all of Packy's stuff?

This book is great for toddlers who are learning what's different and what's alike. I really love the illustrations in this book. They are very colorful and fun to look at. And in the back of this book, there is a page about sorting, categorizing and classifying. This book reminds me a lot of "River Beds: Sleeping in the World's Rivers."

First, they were both published by Arbordale Publishing. Second, they are both informational books for younger kids. And third, they both have pages in the back with even more information! All in all, this is a pretty good book. I recommend it for ages 3-5.
- Grace Allen Polaneczky is 9 years old and lives in Athens with her mom, dad and brother.

Great Kids Reads blog - July 6, 2009

Packy the Pack Rat mouse has a whole bunch of things. But his collections are so disorganized he can never find the things he wants or knows what to do with his treasures. His wonderful mother helps him come up with a system to sort his treasures and even has a party for him when he is done (because sorting can be disheartening). Cute, colorful, and understanding, this is one of my favorite books that help understand people's quirks and habits. It is also winner of the Moonbeam Children's Book Award and is a Children's Choice award winner.