Monday, July 23, 2012

Horten’s Miraculous Mechanisms by Lissa Evans

It is hard to believe that very soon we will start our first read aloud of the year.  Some teachers start with the same book each year.  Some because they haven’t learned what books their students will like, and some because they read the same books every year.  I don’t fit in this mold.  I have been on the look out for a read aloud for a third grade class.  This year I will have lower readers, so I am not sure what that will bring.  I just finished a book that is on the top of the stack for the first read aloud.  The funny thing I bought one at The Bookies and one came from Amazon. (I got a very generous gift card from my students at the end of the school year.)

British Cover
Horten’s Miraculous Mechanisms by Lissa Evans is a wonderful tale. (Funny in England it is Small Change for Stuart.  A much better title!)  Stuart Horten is a vertically impaired 10 year-old. He is teased at school about his height, and S. Horten. His mother’s job has changed so the family must move.  Dad realizes that the town in which he grew up is close to Mum’s new job, so the family moves to Beeton.  Dad writes crossword puzzles.  He uses very large and odd vocabulary.  At one point Stuart thinks he should just have a question mark tattooed on to his forehead, and just point at it when his talking with his dad!  Unfortunately, the move happens at the beginning of summer vacation.  Making it very difficult for making new friends.

Once arriving Stuart find that he had triplet girls living next door, April, May, and June.  It is easy to say that Stuart is not thrilled that there are three snooping girls next door.  Stuart soon finds out that his great uncle was a magician, but he disappeared during World War II.  Stuart, also, discovers a hidden note from this uncle with clues to finding his workshop filled with magical mechanisms.  Grudgingly, at first, Stuart accepts April’s help in solving the mystery.  There is, of course, a time crunch because his uncle’s house is set to be demolished.

I really enjoyed this fast read.  It was witty, and filled with 10 year-old angst.  I liked how Ms. Evans fostered the new friendship between these two odd and different kids.  If I decide not to do it first I will do it as a read aloud later in the year.  The vocabulary is rich, and luckily the book has the definitions. 

I am open to suggestions for read alouds.  Also, why did they change the name for the States?  Go figure.


GLYS said...

Happy that I found your blog through a kidlitblogosphere site.

I have readalouds tagged on my goodreads shelf. Are you on that site? Two of my favorites are Freak the Mighty and Harris and Me.

I currently teach 5th grade.

Jennifer Donovan said...

My 3rd grade son and I LOVED these books!!