Monday, October 31, 2011

Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick

I just finished Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick! My mind is racing, and all of my thoughts are not in order over this spectacular book.  However, I am afraid if I don’t write right now I will never put down those thoughts in writing.  Awestruck comes first.  Through out the book I constantly stopped and re-read sections to take in the beauty of Mr. Selznick’s prose and illustrations.  I know my writing will not do justice to this book.

Wonderstruck is a story told in text and illustration.  It is a hybrid novel, picture book and graphic novel.  Unfortunately, these labels do not do truly fit this book.  There are two principle characters in the story. The section on Ben is done in text and takes place in 1977, and the section on Rose is done in illustrations and is set in 1927.  Eventually the two stories collide. 

The inside flap says,  “both children set out alone on desperate quests to find what they are missing.”  We the readers are fortunate to travel with them on their quests.  At the end we are get as much out of the journey as Ben and Rose.

I use Hugo Cabret in my higher guided book clubs because Mr. Selznick ability as a storyteller makes students slow down and REALLY think about what they are reading, and everything is not always as it seems.  I will use this book the same way.  It will be easy to challenge students to find the clues of how the characters are connected.  What type of items would they put in their own wonder cabinet?  What will I put in my wonder cabinet?

Sorry for jumping all over the place, but I am excited about this book because I have a new student that is severely hearing impaired and I can’t wait to share this book with M and her mom.

To stop my ramblings I will end with just a couple more thoughts about Wonderstruck.  First, one of the reasons I am passionate about getting children to read is, so they can experience books like this.  Second, this book is for people 8 and above. (YES adults must read this book.)  Finally, Brian Selznick should come to the CCIRA Conference!

Wonderstruck is nominated for the CYBILS in the graphic novel.  I did not receive a copy from the publisher, but it is worth the $30.

Monday, October 17, 2011

The Astonishing Secret of Awesome Man by Michalel Chabon

The other day I was reading The New York Times Book Review, and on the list of bestseller picture books was a new book by Michael Chabon.  How did I miss the fact that my favorite author had a new kids book?  The beginning of the school year, a kidney infection, and a new puppy played a major part of being out of the loop; but missing this geez!
The very first author I saw speak ok was Michael Chabon.  He was read from The Mysteries of Pittsburg.  I remember sitting at the Tattered Cover, mesmerized by an author discussing the writing process. Over the years I have read his books and seen him speak a few more times.  Can you say groupie?  The Amazing Adventure of Kavalier and Clay is one of my favorite novels, even if I spent a lot of time looking up words in the dictionary.  I do use this example to show my students that all readers have to use different strategies to be successful.

The other day I had a dentist appointment, so I had a little extra time between when my guest teacher showed up and the hygienist mutilated my gums.  What does one do with an extra hour in the middle of the day?  Easy!  Spend the time loading up with books at The Bookies.  My copy of The Astonishing Secret of Awesome Man was one of the many books in my box. 

I instantly fell in love with this book.  From the beginning the reader gets to know that Awesome Man is very special.  Throughout the book Awesome Man demonstrates his many talents.  He is so totally awesome that he can hug mutant Jell-O from Beyond the Stars.  Awesome Man shares his secret identity with the reader, or does he? 

When he reveals his secret identity half my class guessed incorrectly.  Do not worry there will be no spoiler alert.  Awesome Man is an enjoyable read aloud.  Kids laughed at his abilities and understood the importance of the ginormous Awesome Power Grip.

I have waited years for Chabon to write a picture book.  It is exciting that I finally get to share his writing with my students.

Thursday, October 6, 2011


I am so excited to be a judge again this year.  The last two years I was a first round judge for Middle Grade Fiction.  This year I am honored to judge Graphic Novels. There are positive changes in this years nominating process, so make sure to read them.  Check it out here CYBILS 2011 LET THE READING COMMENCE!!!