Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Roscoe Riley Rules Never Swipe a Bully's Bear by Katherine Applegate illustrated by Brian Biggs

There seem to be two important elements that make a successful beginning chapter book - characters and situations that the reader recognizes and humour.  This little book has both.

The story Never Swipe a bully's bear opens with Roscoe Riley in the time-out corner. "This time I broke rule 214 : Do not kidnap your classmate's teddy bear. And hide him in the dirty clothes basket."

First Grader Roscoe takes his toy pig Hamilton to school.  His older brother warns him this is not a good idea but Roscoe cannot bear the idea of leaving his precious friend at home.

"I sat in the kitchen and stared at Hamilton.  I put him on the counter.  What if Max was right?  I was getting awfully old.  I mean, I had a loose tooth.  That's WAY old.  Hamilton looked worried, like he might start to cry.  I could see this was very hard for him.  'Okay, buddy, you can come,' I said.  I smushed Hamilton into the very bottom of my backpack.  I left the zipper open a little.  So he could breathe."

Are you smiling?  I am.  I adore so many of the revelations here - the tooth signifying maturity, the special relationship between Roscoe and Hamilton and most of all the open zipper!  I certainly did this with my toys. I also love words like 'smushed'.

Wyatt is the class bully.  No one is supposed to know about Hamilton hidden in the bottom of Roscoe's bag but of course Wyatt does find out.  When Hamilton is pig-napped Roscoe points the finger of blame at Wyatt and so when Roscoe discovers Wyatt has his toy at school - a bear called Bobo - retribution is in the air.

This slim volume has much to recommend it.  I think it would make a terrific class read-aloud.  You might want to talk about - guilt, innocence, bullies, evidence, and of course jumping to wrong conclusions.  This is the second book in this series.  We do have book one and now I need to add all the other titles to my shopping list.

Katherine Applegate is the author of The One and Only Ivan which is a book for older students that I recently reviewed and loved.

No comments: