Thursday, May 25, 2006

Book learning #11

The Island of the Aunts by Eva Ibbotson.

I have spent the last few weeks reading this book to the children in my class. Therefore I have also read and enjoyed it. That's why I'm going to tell you all about it.

I've been teaching older elementary kids for close to 10 years now and I pride myself of selecting interesting books for class read alouds. I do not read Harry Potter and I very rarely read Roald Dahl. This is not because I disaprove of such books, no, It's because the kids will have read all these books themselves at home, over and over again. I like to try to broaden their horizons a little each time I read to them. It's a core part of my job.

Having said that I do have a staple list of great kid's books that I love to read. 'Nicobobinus' by Terry Jones, 'Emil and the Detectives' by Erich Kastner, 'Danny, Champion of the World' by Roald Dahl, I could go on.

The thing is this, It can become a bit like going to see your favourite band and hoping that they will play all your bestest tunes from that album they did in 1996. Next time you go and see your favourite band performing all their mid nineties hits take a good long look at the lead singer's face. Is he really enjoying it as much as you are?

See what i mean?

You have to mix it up a bit.

That's why I went to Unwellness in the school library earlier this year and asked her "I want something like David Sedaris for third graders"

She came up with this, I'm ashamed to admit that I had never heard of the author but I took a quick glance and figured, why not? We'll let the kids be the judges and if it stinks they will soon tell me and we can read someting else.

They didn't think it stank, in fact they soon became quietly absorbed in it's story and it's morality play. Grown up are often stupid, greedy, ugly and ill natured. Most children are reliable, in posession of a sense of fun and ingenuity and end up becoming the plucky heroes of the tale. It's fairly formulaic in that sense, the story touches upon several modern day issues, global capitalism against organic individualism, The modern media complex against a bunch of lunatic eccentrics stuck on an island off the coast of England.
The kids didn't pick up on all the nuances but they enjoyed the gist of it- rotten grown ups defeated by ingenious kids, eccentric aunts and a host of fantastic sea creatures.

Best of all?

I got to do my Geordie accent for most of the characters


bri said...

Yay for me finding British authors you haven't heard of!

Geordie like Lam*r Burt*n from Star Trek? Am I missing something?

I loved The Star of Kazan, Ibbotson's latest but I suspect you have to love Vienna at least a little to love it as I do.

Really, though, this author can do very little wrong in my book. You should maybe try The Great Ghost Rescue next year.

Mondale said...

The great ghost rescue it is.