In Search of Something Green

Matthew heads to the cottage for a week with his grandparents, Grandpoobee and Nanabanana. Will he overcome his fears of swimming in the lake and jumping off the dock? Does his nightly search for something green bring him luck in overcoming his fear?

“I’m on a search for something green,
A four-leaf clover that is rarely seen.
It is said that for those who find such a charm
That luck will stay and protect from harm.”

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The cover for the children's story "In Search of Something Green"

The front cover of In Search of Something Green

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The Backstory

Years ago, our family of four would vacation at my parents’ cottage in the Laurentians in the summer. While there I would often look through masses of clover in search of four-leaf clovers. At the shore was a large dock, which allowed us to dive into the lake. During this one summer visit, our two sons, Matthew, a seven-year-old, and Andrew, a four-year-old , would excitedly head to the dock to jump off and practice their swimming skills learned during swimming lessons at the local pool back home. Andrew was tiny and fearless and didn’t think twice about jumping or diving off the dock. Although older, Matthew, who’d managed to successfully get through his swimming lessons, was terrified of the lake. Possibly this fear was rooted in his cautious personality, that he was exceptionally tall for his age and his height caused a long distance before he reached the water, or that the pressure to compete with his brother created a lathering cloud of anxiety. Try as we might, his father and I couldn’t help break through his fears. It was my father (yes, we called him the Grandpoobee) who managed to get through to Matt, gently coaching his every day with different strategies. My mom (yes, we gave her the nickname of Nanabanana), who also would sit by the sidelines and offer suggestions and sometimes critique my father to let Matt be, reassured Matt that in time he’d be able to dive off the dock. Hence, it was watching the power of this precious bond between grandson and grandparents that this story was born. We are so grateful for the role my parents played in helping our sons develop into the fine young men they are today.

About the Illustrator

Katie Shepherd resides in Winona, Ontario, and is an artist, piano teacher, mother of three, grandmother, and has been a leader of a variety of ministries within her church. Twenty years ago while Mary Catherine was teaching her three children over a three year period, she gave her story to Katie to read. A couple of months after, not hearing any feedback, Mary Catherine, asked Katie what she thought of the story. Katie grinned and replied, “I love it and I’m illustrating it!”. A thrilling moment to say the least for MC. Upon completion of the illustrations, Katie gifted all the illustrations to MC. MC vowed to work at getting the story published. Now twenty years later MC has published the story and returned the illustrations to their rightful home. When MC arrived at Katie’s doorstep with the water colours in hand, Katie said, “But I gave these to you.” MC responded , “They need to be with your family. They are a part of your family history (Katie used the likeness of her son, Cody, who just happened to look a touch like my son, and her husband Chris’ grandparents, when painting the characters).” Katie’s very generous gift of the heart made this final book possible. A truly remarkable and giving woman.

Guide for Reading: PRC

Predictions, Reflections and Connections


Predicting is an essential tool when developing as a strong reader. This story has been written to hook the young audience in engaging in predictable events.

Ask the following questions:

Simple sequencing of time cueing …Monday to Friday. What will be the next day after Tuesday? What is the next day after Wednesday? Continue to challenge the listener to predict the name of the next day in the story sequence. Then go back and ask if the second day began with Tuesday what day did Matthew travel and arrive at the cottage ( in other words: On what day did the story start?) the next day in the story?

What might Nanabana be looking for in the grass?

Predicting the rhyme and bringing it to memory… After reaching the point where Nanabana and Matthew are searching in the grass for a four leaf clover, together chime out the rhyme.

How many leaves are on the first clover that Matthew finds? How many on the second, third, fourth and last night?

What might the weather be like the following day and or night?

What is the next device or strategy Matthew uses to gain strength and confidence?


Reflecting throughout a book makes the story extra personal and come alive. It reflects a reader’s level of comprehension. A more thoughtful and complex reflection and connection reveal a higher understanding of the story. They also help reinforce one’s memory sequence which forms the basis of a retelling with more detail and reference to nuance. A simple and literal retelling reflects a more simplistic understanding.

Use the following questions for points of discussion:

Does this story remind you of any of your summer holidays? How?

Does this story remind you of your grandparents? Do you have nicknames for your grandparents? Do they have nicknames for you?

When did your grandparents help or coach you? How did you feel?

Were you ever scared to swim in a lake or jump off a dock like Matthew? Tell me about a time that you were scared to do something? How did you learn not to be scared? How did you feel after you conquered what you feared?

What is your favourite part of the story and why?

Do you believe in magic? Do you think the four leaf clover helped Matt make his jump?

What were the strategies that were used each day to help Matthew gain strength and courage? Do you think that was a good idea? Why or why not?

Have you ever looked for or found a four leaf clover? Can you remember the rhyme? Might you remember it when you go looking for four leaf clovers?


Making connections facilitates a deeper understanding of a story through making inferences, noting details and relating them to prior information. It is seeing, linking, and articulating other topics and events to the story. The reader is applying this reading experience to other learned information. Often when making connections the reader will arrive at exciting new insights that extend beyond the literal story.

Use the following questions for points of discussion:

Compare the colour of the pages at the start of the book to those at the end of the book. What do you notice? Why have they changed? What do you think the colour change signifies? What do green traffic lights? How does this relate to Matthew? When courage increases what happens to fear? Can you move forward if you are fearful? Why did the author intentionally change the colour?

What does the grandfather keep saying to Matthew?

Several pages have bold words or phrases. Choose one, two or all of them. What do they mean to you personally or as it relates to the story? Adults remember to be willing to share your answers in a casual way with the child or instead of the child answering. Make it a personal sharing not a grilling. How do these emphasize a part of the story?

Additional Resources

MC invites you to visit the following links:

Here are a couple of links to coach parents in instilling swimming confidence in their children: