Sunday, June 26, 2011

Some Books Are So Good, I Have To Write About Them Before I Even Finish Them

Recommended for grades 3 to 7

You know how you have those moments where the joke or story is so funny (or at least you think so), that you have trouble telling it because you start laughing?  Yeah, well… I had that moment the other night.  My mom, sister, and I were attending The Muny and before the show started I decided to read a short story from Guys Read: Funny Business, edited by Jon Scieszka.   I was to a “Three Stooges” slapstick funny part and started laughing—well, of course my mom and sister wanted to know what was so funny.  I did a good job of setting up the beginning of the story, but started giggling when coming up to the funny part.  The short and sweet of it—the story is written by David Yoo and all I really need to say is that it contains a somersault-turning, ball kicking turkey named Travis and author’s run in with a tree.
This book is so clever!  Its short humorous stories, so it’s not an intimidating read.  One story a day and by the end, the reader feels accomplished because they’ve finished a novel.  I'd also recommend using the illustrations at the beginning of each story to prompt a writing assignment.  At the same time, if you are an educator, you will be seeing classroom applications very deceptively tucked into each short story.  For example, Kate DiCamillo and Jon Scieszka co-author the story, “Your Question For Author Here”.  It’s back and forth letter-writing between a boy and an author (that he only picked to annoy a girl in his class).  The boy doesn’t want to write to the author, but it’s part of a school assignment and he doesn’t want to get in trouble with his teacher or parents (again).  The banter between the two is humorous and so unbelievable that the boy’s teacher doesn’t even believe the exchange occurred—this little issue is remedied in the most awesome way.
One of the many things I love about short story anthologies from authors that write children’s and young adult literature, is that students get a sampler  of their work and can continue on to the author’s other books.  I mean, who wouldn’t want to pick up a book edited by Jon Scieszka?!  With stories by David Lubar, Christopher Paul Curtis, Eoin Colfer, etc, etc, etc.  (Oh and by the way, my mom stole my book after I couldn’t get through the funny scene so she could read it—don’t worry, she eventually returned it).

Scieszka, J. E. (2010). Guys read: funny business. New York, NY: Walden Pond Press.

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