Thursday, July 23, 2015
The small aventure of Popeye and Elvis by Barbara O'Connor
Think of Tom Sawyer with a small dash of Pippi Longstocking and you have The small adventure of Popeye and Elvis.
I read this book in one sitting. I picked up this book because I recently watched the movie of How to Steal a dog. I was keen to read another story by Barbara O'Connor. I am smiling right now because I am so happy I read this book - it is fabulous.
Popeye lives with grandmother Valma in South Carolina. Life is dull and boring.
Popeye is so named because he has one good eye and one bad eye - the result of an accident back when he was three. Valma holds onto her fragile sanity by reciting the kings and queens of England in alphabetical order. She has a lot to contend with. Popeye's father lives far away, his mother comes and goes and her other son Dooley is unemployed and constantly in trouble with the law.
"Everyday the same
So what if the rain stopped? Popeye thought.
It would still be boring.
It would always be boring in Fayette, South Carolina.
Every day would always be the same.
Popeye was certain about that.
But Popeye was wrong."
One day a large motor home arrives. It has become bogged in the gloppy red mud and the giant wheels are sunk deep down.
Life has been so dull for Popeye but now the adventures can begin because living in this motor home is the most amazing family including Elvis - the oldest boy. Popeye and Elvis set out to find adventures.
Valma teaches Popeye a new word each week. Barbara O'Connor uses these as a story device and she includes a dictionary definition as each word helps Popeye make sense of the excitement that comes from meeting this family and of making a new friend.
"Popeye couldn't help but notice how different Elvis was from all the others.
Elvis was taciturn
taciturn: adjective; reserved or uncommunicative in speech, staying little
All the others were loquacious
loquacious: adjective; talkative."
There are so many delights in the language of this book. I adore words like : bajillion, qualm, whoop and dang.
You can watch a brilliant trailer for this book on the author web site. Here is a comprehensive set of teaching notes. Here is a detailed review from the School Library Journal which is well worth reading.
There are boats in this book made from Yoo-Hoo milk cartons - see below. I have also included an alternate cover. This book would be an excellent read-aloud for a middle primary class.