The third graders were completely riveted with this book. As a read aloud it is fantastic.The spare writing, The many messages. The engaging art. They were hooked by the title page. Did I mention that the story begins before the title page? Another brilliant little touch. These third graders understood the book's important messages about the difficulty of learning to read as well as how, once those words are unlocked, there lies a gift -- the stories that allow readers to travels to places far and wide but always bring them safely back home.
Prior to reading the book, I explained to the students that the book was like an onion, there were many layers which meant there could be many aspects to discuss. Right away, in each class, a student pointed out the the cover has a story written on it (they were not yet aware that it is indeed, this story).
(better view on the case art)
Following a brief pause at the end papers, the story begins...who doesn't love to find a book lying around?
After a brief exploration, our reader is disgusted to find there are no pictures in the book.
The frustration felt is taken out on the book, but soon our reader feels badly and apologies.
More exploration ensues, a new reader arrives, as do my favorite lines to read aloud:
"It's a book
with no pictures."
Can you read it?"
The art in this book is engaging in both the use of color and style. I love how this log bridge represents those first tentative steps into reading -- heading over that chasm of uncertainty, yet off into an adventure.
Everything here looks familiar, but not quite right.
The "aha" moment arrives. Some of those letters click into place, a pattern emerges, a word is recognized...a story is born.
In the next few pages Sergio Ruzzier introduces the reader to the idea of words that are funny, sad, wild and peaceful. After reading the book and discussing it, the students had an opportunity to share sad, wild, and peaceful words that they had come across in their own reading. These third graders' words demonstrate the power of story.
Spoiler alert here...the ending is wonderful
Sigh. Sniff. Sigh.
So true. So beautiful.
Yes, this one will stay with me.
After reading the book I asked for a volunteer to read the end papers. I projected this page.
The student sounded out each of the first few words carefully. I stopped the volunteer after three or four words. Many students wanted to give it a try. They were then asked to look over the whole page. The AHA! moment crossed over their faces as they found words they recognized, like bee, mountain, and cloud. In two of the classes, a student noticed that the words were all words just in jumbled order and then did a pretty decent job of decoding on the spot.
We then went back and read the story as it appears at the end papers on the back flap. It is the story. Of the book. The third graders were completely awed. This also provided a chance to talk about what Sergio Ruzzier had been able to show in his art and what words still remained. This book is like an onion, many layers to discuss. Right?
There is much that could be done with this gem of a book. I have seen it on quite a few Mock Caldecott lists and completely agree. This one deserves a good long look.