Tuesday, October 16, 2012

The Giraffe, the Pelly, and Me (Roald Dahl)


I don't know how many times I have read this book with my son. He is now 10. He proves to me that kids really don't change that much. Sometimes I think he's too old to sit and snuggle together and read a book, but it's clear that he still loves it. He still has favorite books he likes to read again and again. He still jumps up and acts out things that happen in the book (It's like he can't help himself). He still likes the silliness of Roald Dahl. Well, truthfully, who doesn't?!

Roald Dahl amazes me. This book is just full of nonsense that doesn't seem like it would make a good story. You wouldn't imagine that you could make a story about a giraffe, a pelican and a monkey who meet a boy and they make him their business manager for their window washing business, but you can! They are able to solve a crime while cleaning the Duke's windows at his estate, that have not been washed for 50 years or so. The silly words, the silly actions, the plain old silliness of it all has made it a book that he have read a number of times in our house. My son has also listened to it on CD a few times and so he can't seem to help reading it with a British accent.

Really, it's quite a hoot. It's a quick read (we read the whole thing tonight in an hour!) and it's definitely worth it. Well, if you like silliness, it's worth it. But then, who doesn't.

Monday, October 15, 2012

What I'm Reading

Still haven't finished Loser. I'm not loving that book...but I really should finish it and see if the ending makes me enjoy it more.

Hattie Big Sky has been recommended by a lot of bloggers that I read. I think I will jump into that book this week.

I'm reading The Witches aloud to my class. It's such a hoot. They're loving it! And so, I'm loving it too.


The Kaleidoscope Conference is coming up and I really should get reading some more books by the authors that will be there. *sigh* So mny good books. So little time!

Saturday, October 13, 2012

My Name is Parvanna (Deborah Ellis)

I love The Breadwinner series. I read it to my class when I was teaching Gr. 4. They loved The Breadwinner so much they made me read Parvanna's Journey next. It takes a long time to read those two books out loud. I made them read Mud City themselves, if they were interested, though. Most of them did. I had a class of 23 kids, 17 or which were boys. Many of them were from countries near Afghanistan. They were really taken by the story. Then when I taught Gr. 3 it happened again. Same thing. But these kids weren't so closely tied to those war torn countries. Yet, they were still as riveted. We read The Breadwinner. I tried to sell them on reading Parvanna's Journey themselves, but they wanted me to read it aloud. So we did. (I'm such a push over) Again, I made them pick up Mud City themselves if they wanted to continue. I would sure be willing to read My Name is Parvanna aloud to them even after reading the others aloud. This book brings everything back to the original story.

I worry about the things that happen in these books being too much for Gr. 3. They're recommended for ages 10 and up, so they're just on the edge, I guess.

This story stirs something inside of me that makes me want to do something to help women and children who are victims of war. Not sure what I can do though!

When I found out Deborah Ellis had written another book in the series I had to have it right away. Well, I had to put it on hold at the library right away. (One day I will buy all these wonderful books!)

I had to go tell my class from last year that another book is out. They, in turn, also had to go get it right away. I will return this one today so that some of them will get their hold. I can't wait to discuss it with them next time I am on supervision or run into them in the hallways.

This story is riveting. It makes me cry. It has moments when I feel like my world has been rocked, and I have to put it down for a moment to show some respect for what just happened in the story. It isn't a biography, but it is stuff that happens to hundreds of kid's in Afghanistan. It makes me shake my head at the atrocities of war. How can we justify that these things happen to families, to women, to children!

We can't.

We are so lucky the stories are being told.

My Name is Parvanna is the fourth book in The Breadwinner series. It tells the story of Paranna after meeting up again with her mother and her sisters. Parvanna is now 15 and her mother has started a school. They're faced with a lot of threats and persecution. Some people are not quite as brave as Parvanna and her mother. They persist and they bring light into people's lives in Afghanistan. That is, until the light is shut out.

The book starts off with Parvanna being in jail. The author intersperses a kind of flash back inbetween chapters of her jail experience to bring us up to speed on what has happened. It's an interesting writing style and it works well in this book.

Some parts that made me pause:

Parvanna is a smart girl and in prison she keeps herself self-disciplined by reciting times tables to herself, or by quoting parts of books. She steals a book from a guard and is faced with the dilemma of weather she should savor it by reading it slowly, or gobble as much as she can before it is taken away. Oh to appreciate the opportunity to read so much!

p. 129 At first she thought she would just read a chapter to make it last, but she decided not to bother rationing it. At any minute of the day, soldiers could come into her room and take everything away. They could move her to another jail. They could take her into the desert, shoot her and leave her body for the buzzards.

She decided to devour the book. The more she read, the more she would have in her mind to entertain herself the next time they made her stand in that horrible little office.

At one point her mother goes off to a meeting and is late coming home. Parvanna reflects on her life and the battles she has faced

p. 159 They sang just loud enough to keep their voices busy and not afraid.

Long after Asif curled up on his side and fell asleep, Parvana remained awake and watchful as the constellations traveled across the ksy, then faded into gray.

She could not remember a time when she did not believe she was on the edge of a disaster. Her life had gone from battle to battle, and she was never, ever sure that the future would not be terrifying. And just when it started to look like things were getting quiet and back to normal, her mother had to go to a meeting and did not come home on time.


Parvana's mother dies in this book. It is absolutely shocking the way it is told...but it seems so true to what happens in Afghanistan:

p. 169 She walked over to the body and drew back the cloth that covered her mother's head. She stared at the mess the men had made of her mother's face.

There was a note pinned to her mother's clothes.

This woman ran a school for evil girls.
Now she is dead. Her school will be closed.

In this bok Parvana and Shauzia meet up again. More must happen. I'm sure Deborah Ellis will be able to write another book. I hope she will! It ends in a way that just made me quietly close the book and weep for the people of Afghanistan:

p. 198 "So," Parvana said, "more of the same, then. More hunger, more fear and more work."

"This is Afghanistan," Shauzia said. "What do you want - a happy ending?"

You MUST read this book.
You MUST read this series.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

What I'm Reading

Well, it's not really Monday. It only feels like Monday since yesterday was Thanksgiving.

I'm so excited!! I love Deborah Ellis' books. I have read and blogged about a lot of them. The Breadwinner is one that I've read to my students almost every year. They always love it. I found out Deborah Ellis has written another book for the series that tells what happens to Parvanna after she is all alone. I can't wait to read it!! I have to go tell my class from last year too. They're all going to be so excited about it!

I also need to finish this one:

Sunday, October 7, 2012

The One And Only Ivan

There has been so much talk of this book. Every blog I read has gad a post about it, it seems. I actually had it out of the library a couple of times this summer but never could get into it. I decided to put it on hold one more time since so many people on the planet are doing it for the Global Read Aloud.

Friday I stopped by the library on my walk home from school. I had an amazing pile of holds that had shown up. The One and Only Ivan was one of them. I decided to go over to the pool and read while my kid's had swim practice. This time I got it. It is a great book! I sat and read for just over an hour. It was one of those books that I got so absorbed in that I wasn't distracted by the conversations of other parents that all too often drag me away from my book, nor was I distracted by noisy kids that hang around the pool. It was just me and the book, and it was wonderful.

The One and Only Ivan is a quick read. The story is about a gorilla who was taken from his family to be on display in a mall. He has no other gorillas to associate with and misses them terribly. He does have a stray dog named Bob, an old elephant named Stella, and in time, a baby elephant named Ruby. The story is so touching and really makes you think about the love animals need, just like humans do. I would definitely recommend this book! It is based on the life of a real gorilla that actually passed away this past summer in the Atlanta Zoo.