Sunday, March 10, 2013
The year Mrs Montague cried by Susan White
Last year I was lucky to spend some time in Halifax and in particular visiting one of the best children's bookshops in the world - Woozles.
While I was there chatting with the manager she mentioned The Year Mrs Montague cried by a local author from New Brunswick. I do like to read books by local authors when I visit faraway places.
I am so very happy that she told me about this gentle book. As you will have guessed from the title this is an emotional story best suited to a very mature Grade six reader. Mrs Montague's son Zachary has died towards the end of the previous school year but she is back and ready to continue with this same group of children into Grade four. Mrs Montague is suffering profound grief and at times she has to leave her class in tears but she tries to soldier on by coming to school, encouraging the children to write every day in their journals because, as she explains, by writing and writing you become a better writer. Mrs Montague also loves to read to her class every day.
Here is a lovely image :
"When Mrs M reads to us during Read Aloud she sits on the couch. Every day she invites four kids to sit on the couch with her: she's in the middle and two kids are on each side. The rest of the class sits on the floor in front of the couch."
Mrs Montague reads the most wonderful books to her class. I would love to put this book in to the hands of all teachers - every one should read to their class every day. Mrs Montague is an inspiration and thoughtfully Susan White has included a book list so you can also read the books enjoyed by Taylor's class. We have nearly all of them in our school library. Some of my favourites are Because of Winn Dixie, The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey, Hatchet, Love you forever, Number the stars, Holes and Where the red fern grows.
While we read about the journey through grief that Mrs Montague shares with her class over the year, Taylor herself has a lot to contend with at home. Her younger brother Corey is gravely ill and through Taylor's insightful journal writing the reader is able to follow her emotional journey and changing family relationships.
I really enjoyed this book and even though sad books do make me cry I did not cry at all in The Year Mrs Montague cried. I think this is because Taylor herself writes which such deep wisdom and this allowed me to observe Mrs Montague slightly from a distance. I also enjoyed all the Canadian references in this book. It is one of the terrific things about being an English speaking country. We can enjoy books from so many different parts of the world.
I highly recommend this book for older students who enjoy sensitive and insightful stories. You might also enjoy Remembering Mrs Rossi.