Sunday, March 14, 2010

35 Kilos of Hope by Anna Gavalda

I always recommend 35 kilos of Hope by Anna Gavalda to boys in senior grades who are reluctant readers. Not because it is a book of slap stick humour that will give them heaps of laughs but because it is a truly sensitive story that might get them thinking and it is presented in a very easy to read format. The print size in this book is perfect for boys and there is heaps of white space so as you read the pages just fly by plus there are only 110 pages so this should be a quick read. With all this in mind I recently gave this special little book to a Year 5 boy. He returned about 2 weeks later and told me this story was so powerful. It really affected him emotionally! This might even be the first complete book this boy has read!! Yippee!

In 35 kilos of Hope (named 95 Pounds of Hope in US!!) we meet our hero Gregory just as he is about to begin school. He attends for the first morning, comes home for lunch and then it is time to go back. “No. I’m not going … Because I’ve already been. I’ve seen what it’s like, and it’s not interesting.” Unfortunately, as we know, Gregory will have to attend school, at least until he is fifteen. School is torture for our narrator. He finds the work impossible, his days leave his stomach in knots and PE is terrifying. Gregory does have abilities – special abilities with his hands but these are rarely used or recognized at school and so inevitably he is expelled. He has three years of school still to endure. The only place open to him seems to be boarding school so Gregory writes a letter.

Dear Sir,
I would like to go to your college but I know that it is impossible because my school record is too bad.


In your brochure, I noticed that you have workshops for mechanics and carpentry. You also have computer labs and greenhouses etc.

Personally, I think that good marks are not all there is to life. Motivation is just as important. I would like to go to Granfield because I’m sure I would be happy there. At least I think so.

I am not very big : I weigh about 35 kilos of hope.

Goodbye
Gregory Murray.

PS This is the first time I have ever begged someone to let me go to school. I think I must be ill.
PPS I am sending you the plans of a banana peeler that I built when I was seven.

The one place where Gregory feels happy is with his Grandad Leo working in his shed. Grandad knows all the special qualities and abilities of Gregory but will this be enough to save him?

Soon I will be talking to some important people about books in translation that have influenced me. I have a big dilemma – 35 Kilos of Hope was originally written in French, Momo was written in German and my other choice Rose Blanche is an Italian book. Which will I choose?

Make sure you take a look at the back cover of 35 Kilos of Hope it is fabulous!

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