Monday, October 17, 2011

One Hundred books continued

Over the next seven weeks I plan to read one hundred books to one hundred classes. So far it has been very exciting to see the reaction of different groups of children to some of my cherished favourites.

In addition to the titles mentioned in the last post about this project by the end of last week we had read Where's the Baby by Pat Hutchins - there are four books in this series, Chrysanthemum by Kevin Henkes, The Mouse with the too long tail by Banni McSpedden and Princess Smartypants by Babette Cole. The search of identity within a family seems to be a link.

Pat Hutchins has created a delightful cast of characters in her monster series staring the wonderful Hazel and her little monster brother Billy. In the first book little Billy is lost. Hazel can see all the mischief he has been up too but the true delight comes from the reactions of the grownups - Grandma and Ma who, blinded by love perhaps, think all these horrible things show how marvelous Billy truly is. He paints the walls, spreads the chimney soot all over the white carpet, floods the bathroom and even cuts up a new dress Ma has been making. For Hazel the worst is yet to come when Billy attacks her room but the final scene is the one all children love. Where did those eggs come from?

Chrysanthemum is loved by her mother and father and life is happy and filled with warmth until the day she goes to school. Her beautiful name becomes a torture and each day is harder than the one before until the wonderful Mrs Twinkle turns things around in an unexpected way. We also have the Weston Woods video of this story and it was very special to see how the children were caught up in the plight of Chrysanthemum and how the actions of the bullies enraged them.

Years ago I read The mouse with the too long tail to a group and one little boy who had a fairly severe physical disability declared at the end that it was the best book he had ever heard. I could see him cheering for "Mouse with the too long tail" - the fifteenth child of Mr and Mrs Mouse. Our little hero has to discover that sometimes differences can be an advantage. At first he hates his tail but after a special dream everything is turned around. "The only difference was how happy he was - now that his tail was some thing everyone looked up to." Once again this is a very old book long out of print but well worth looking for in your library.

Finally we read Princess Smartypants to a group of Grade One children. I think parts of it may have been a little too difficult for this group although one child loved listening to this story as it was clearly a personal favourite. Babette Cole does not water down the vocabulary so the teacher needed to do quite a lot of talking all the way through. I have always loved defiant princesses and Smartypants is a wonderful example. There are two sequels to this book in our library.

Where to next? I think we should continue this theme by reading The very worst Monster by Pat Hutchins, Wemberly Worried by Kevin Henkes, Trixie the witch's cat by Nick Butterworth and The paperbag princess by Robert Munch.

Next post I will talk about some longer picture books we are sharing with Grade 3 and the next in my series of holocaust picture books for Grade 6.

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