Friday, July 25, 2014

Absolutely Almost by Lisa Graff

I found it!  You might be asking yourself, “What did Kyle find?”  I found my first chapter book read aloud of the 2014-2015 school year.  As you know finding that perfect first book is a daunting task, but after starting Absolutely Almost by Lisa Graff  I knew it was the right one. 

The book starts off with the hero of our story finding out that he has to go to a new school.  The private school he attended didn’t think his academic abilities lived up to their standards.  Albie is just average.  At first Albie is devastated because Erlan, his best friend, goes to the same school.  However, quickly Albie likes his new school.  He has met a new friend, and his teacher is OK because she lets him read graphic novels and Captain Underpants.  During this time of transition his parents hire a new nanny to be with him after school.  Albie is not pleased about this because he is “too old” for a nanny or a baby sitter. 

Luckily Calista is not your average nanny.  (Actually, I think she probably is!)  She is new to New York City, so Albie gives her lessons on living in the City.  Because of Calista’s young age she doesn’t always make the best choices.  She does make Albie feel like he can be successful.  Something his hardly even seen father is capable of doing. 

The book takes place over a school year.  During that time we learn that Albie has really hard time learning. He can almost  get words correct on his spelling test.  He can almost read aloud with out stumbling over words.  In other words Albie is absolutely almost.  His best friend, Erlan, is considered highly gifted, but it doesn’t really bother the two.  This relationship is one of the things that drew me to this story.  I work in a school that  Garrison Keillor best describes at the beginning of every Prairie Home Companion, “all the children are above average."  The problem with this is that when students believe this and don’t achieve greatness etc. they often feel like failures.  This is for the kids that read above grade level etc.  For the kids that do struggle in this type of environment it can be devastating.  I’m not bashing my school.  It is a great school.  There is support in reading and math for kids that are “almost”.  I think that is one of the reasons I like this book.  It lets us average people (Yes, I was a solid C student, except in spelling were I was a strong F student) see other people like us in books. 

As the book ends Albie still hasn’t found his passion, or what he really enjoys, but he seems to be ok with that.  The ending is not sad, nor is it one where all of a sudden we find out the main character is fantastic at something.  At the end we discover that right know Albie is absolutely almost.


Unknown said...

I can't wait to read this book!

Laura Hamilton said...

This sounds great! Perfect for my "almost" son who believes he is "no where near"!
Love you, thanks!

Peaceful Reader said...

This sounds like a wonderful read-aloud. It is also on my list to read for Iowa's book award. I will have to order a copy and have it waiting for the first teacher to ask for a good read-aloud.

Anonymous said...

I'm currently using Absolutely Almost as my realistic fiction read aloud. It's an excellent book and the kiddos love it! One of my students even insisted that his parents buy the book so he could share it with them at home - this boy was my most reluctant reader at the start of the year!

I'm currently looking for other 4/5/6th grade classes who are either currently reading or have read Absolutely Almost to join my class in a Twitter chat about the novel. Read my blog post for more info. I hope you or someone you know may be able to help me out and make this happen!