Thursday, January 24, 2013

Book talk: Mirror Mirror: A Book of Reversible Verse (Virginia Readers' Choice, 2012-2013)

Did you look in the mirror this morning? Mirrors are funny. They show us a reversed image of ourselves. This book, Mirror Mirror, is all about reversals in fairy tales, a really fun topic, because reversals are everywhere in fairy tales: the poor, abused girl becomes the rich, beloved princess; the ugly duckling becomes the beautiful swan; the old crone becomes the young girl. There are reversals of appearance, of reality, and of good/evil.

"In the Hood," a reverso poem
But what if you made a poem, called a reverso, about this? Reversos are deceptively simple. I’m going to read you my favorite one. [Read your favorite reverso to the kids while showing them the accompanying picture: I like “In the Hood”]

[While explaining the reverso format, turn the pages so they can see others…] A reverso poem is like a puzzle: you read it, going down, as you would normally read. If you then took them bottom lines and put them at the top, reversing the order, you’re using exactly the same words but somehow, mysteriously, the meaning changes. Look carefully or you’ll miss it.

Mirror Mirror: A Book of Reversible Verse by Marilyn Singer, illustrated by Josee Masse. Dutton Children’s Books: 2010. Booktalk to elementary (I would use it for 1st through 5th). Virginia Readers’ Choice, 2012-2013.

Book talk: The Trouble with Chickens (Virginia Readers' Choice, 2012-2013)

J. J. Tully, 'retired' rescue dog

Search and rescue dogs are really cool and really smart. They use their keen sense of smell, orders from humans, and animal intuition to find missing people. It’s a noble job. J. J. Tully is a rescue dog. He has found many missing people by sniffing them out of rubble, snow, darkness, and danger. But now he’s got a mother chicken harassing him. Wait…a mother chicken? Why would a mother chicken harass a rescue dog? Oh, right…missing chicks. So, how hard can it be to find a bunch of missing chicks? Hold on, let me ask J. J. Tully. [Pause.] Okay, much harder than finding humans. Humans stink. You can smell them miles away. 

A chick trail is much harder, especially when it’s pouring rain, you’ve got a mom chicken and two other chicks right behind you and a cryptic ransom note. This was the weirdest ransom note I have ever read. I have to read it to you. It says, “I have your peeps. It behooves you to rendezvous. Twilight. Your place.” What?!?! Who talks likes this? This is going to be one crazy, weird mystery.

The Trouble with Chickens: A J. J. Tully Mystery by Doreen Cronin, illustrated by Kevin Cornell. 119 pages. Balzer + Bray, 2011. Booktalk to intermediate grades. Virginia Readers’ Choice, 2012-2013.

Book talk: I Need My Monster by Amanda Noll (Virginia Readers' Choice, 2012-2013)

When I was your age, I was afraid to look under my bed at night because that’s where the monsters live. Don’t laugh. I know you feel the same, but you don’t have to admit it. Ethan actually knows the monster under his bed. Yeah: they’re buddies. Isn’t that weird?

Ethan is a lot braver than I am, but he’s got a problem: his monster is going out of town for a week. Don’t ask me why, but Ethan has to have a monster under his bed. He will NOT be without one, so he starts interviewing monsters to see which one is suitable to stay under his bed at night! I know: I don’t get it, either.

How hard can it be to find the right monster? Okay, one was wearing a bow, one had an absurdly long tongue, and one was green but not scary. Agghhhhh!!!! How many monsters does a boy have to interview before he finds one appropriately terrifying to stay under his bed?

 I Need My Monster by Amanda Noll, illustrated by Howard McWilliam. Unpaged. Booktalk to K-2. Virginia Readers’ Choice, 2012-2013.