Thursday, December 1, 2011

Grade 3 – readers in the making

My big adventure this week will be meeting with a couple of classes of grade 3 students at Nellie McClung Elementary School. I’ve been asked to come in a talk about how to pick a good book. Can’t say I’ve got all the details worked out but I know I’ve got a box of books ready to go. Stay tuned.

In preparing for this outing, I’ve been getting caught up with a few shorter novels/early reader-type chapter books. I’ve discovered that not all of these kinds of books are created equal. Some are just boring or have a message that hits you over the head. Ouch!

The following titles are the ones I enjoyed the most. It wasn't until I compile this list that I noticed the emphasis on humour in this selection.

Iggy and me by Jenny Valentine
I love this author’s young adult books and was curious about this one. Sweet family-life story focused on two sisters. Well-written.

Justin Case: school, drool, and other daily disasters by Rachel Vail
I can totally relate to Justin, a worry-wart of profound proportions. This was me in elementary school.  Well, ok -- maybe I didn't have a 'bjillion' worries like Justin but it would have seemed like it.  I'm sure that me and Justin aren't the only ones.

Sideways stories from Wayside school by Louis Sachar (823 Sa138S 2003 FIC)
This is not a new book -- but some how I’ve managed to miss the Wayside school stories. I can’t say I thought it uproariously hilarious but I did enjoy the silly, dark humour. I can see why kids love these books.

The Talented Clementine by Sara Pennypacker (823 P3837T FIC)
Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful. I love Clementine and her quirky character. She even takes herself to the principal when she thinks she might be in trouble. I particularly like the ending where Clementine is appreciated for her true talents.

The Trouble with chickens by Doreen Cronin (823 C881T FIC)
I’m curious what kids will make of this one. The humour is sly and witty and has the feel of Sam Spade as played by Humphrey Bogart. J.J. Tully, a retired search and rescue dog turned detective, tells this story of missing (kidnapped?) chicks.

I’ve also revisited a few older favorites:
The Dragon’s boy by Jane Yolen (823 Y78D1 FIC)
A version of the King Arthur story. 13-year-old Artos meets up with an old ‘dragon’ who teaches him the value of friendship, honesty and courage. The twist at the end is interesting.

Rats on the roof by James Marshall (823 M356R FIC)
Totally ridiculous stories! Animal characters who, intentionally and unintentionally outsmart each other. Goofiness galore.

The Time Travel Trio series by Jon Scieszka and Lane Smith (823 Sci27K FIC)
Again, with the humour!!! Nerdy, goofy boys always ending up where they don’t want to be, having near-misses while experiencing high adventure. The illustrations are just as enjoyable as the narrative. Great boy books.


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