Thursday, April 24, 2008

A Red Wagon Year

Maya doesn't have a little red wagon yet, but Patty did put together our wheelbarrow this weekend. And we know how much depends upon that.

A Red Wagon Year, by Kathi Appelt and illustrated by Laura McGee Kvasnosky, looks at the useful life of wagons month by month. In January "It's a table for the winter birds." In May "A cart for blossoms, pink and blue." And in December "...a reindeer's merry sleigh."

Colorful illustrations illustrate each month. A border around each page has the name of the month and a symbol of that time of year (For example, sea creatures in June and apples in September).

A great book for when your children are learning the months of the year. Don't forget to emphasize when everyone's birthday is.

I wanted to tell you about another novel for older kids I read recently. The Wednesday Wars, by Gary D. Schmidt, received a Newbery Honor this year, and I feel it's well deserved. Holling Hoodhood (great character name) is the only seventh-grader who doesn't leave school early for a church function because he's the only Presbyterian.

His teacher, Mrs. Baker, is obviously annoyed by this. His parents and sister are no help. Mrs. Baker takes her frustrations out on Holling, first by making him clean all of the teachers' erasers, then by getting him in trouble with his friends, then by bringing out the worst anthology she possibly could.

Eventually Holling begins to find inspiration in Mrs. Baker's curriculum choices for him, and he learns what it means to become a man.

I love books that pair two unlikely themes. In this book the themes are Shakespeare and the Vietnam War. I learned a bit about Shakespeare and quite a bit about life at that time. As Holling is in seventh grade, I recommend this book for older grade-school students (or for their parents if they merely want to read a great book).

No comments: