Book reviewer extraordinaire!

Archive for May, 2012

James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl

My students are getting a kick out of the book! Most of them do not read fantasy so I thought this would be a great way to engage them. As a bonus we are watching pieces of the movie. Students are asked to compare and contrast the two and so far they are right on the nose. While the movie allows some of my more literal students to visualize what is taking place they are also analytical enough to point out the differences.

They are asking questions about how James is being treated by the aunts. We discussed when the book was written and the perspective on children and how they were treated. They were shocked to learn that the world did not revolve around children back in the 50s and 60s. Children were sent out to play and not seen until lunch or dinner and parents did not send their kids to camp this or that all summer long. Children were expected to do chores! Shocker!

They do understand this book to be fantasy as James travels inside a peach with giant bugs who befriend him, and yes – they speak! They all travel through the night sky to see the stars up close, and they meet the cloud people ho make the weather, sharks that like peaches, and even pirates! All of this leads James and his friends to the magical city of New York!

Completely silly and fun. I can’t wait to ask them about the cloud people and the sharks. It is fun to pick their brains and open their minds.

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We Are in a Book by Mo Willems

Received this book last week and have read it to PreK and K classes.

Funny! Really funny! My PreK didn’t get it, the who concept was over their heads but they laughed with me…when I said “Banana” they rolled!

My K classes have adored this book! They even made me read it again! They laughed even harder the second time. It was so fun to read the book and have the lights go on inside their minds as they understood – I was the reader!! They loved the fact that the book could manipulate me. It is also a great way to help them understand about word bubbles. Truly interactive book.

Way to go Mo!

James and the Giant Peach

By Roald Dahl
It had been a long time since I have read this children’s story. My fourth grade reading club is working on it so I bought a copy to re-read. For an adult it was a quick hour read but I realized I might have to go over vocabulary with my students. The word queer only has one meaning to students today. Shame. There are a few other items most people forget about because they read a children’s book so long ago; feelings remain but actual words and subjects covered, we forget. In an era where most people equate a spanking with child abuse this book may appear inappropriate. I believe the author wrote most of his books with tongue firmly planted in cheek. Our society has changed greatly since he wrote this book. Our children are covered in protective gear when riding bikes but we allow them to watch tv and movies and play video or computer games that may be more damaging. We protect the body while allowing the brain to be corrupted.
Dahl is still intriguing and families need to read his books and discuss what he writes. Enjoy!

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