Module 8: The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane

Module 8: The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane

DiCamillo, K. (2006). The miraculous journey of Edward Tulane. Somerville, MA: Candlewick Press.

Summary

The journey of Edward Tulane, a chine rabbit, is detailed in this story by Kate DiCamillo. Beginning with his life as a companion for a wealthy girl, the story follows Edward through a variety of situations in which he finds himself. The journey helps Edward discover what is important in life and to make the ultimate discovery about himself.

What Did I Think?

This is a very touching and heartfelt story about Edward and the changes he makes as he comes to discover what it means to love someone. The writing is such that the reader is able to connect fully with the characters and, in the end, they are able to make some important discoveries of their own. I enjoy the way each character he comes in contact with is brought to life and how his despair at different parts of the story is so evident.

Reviews

From School Library Journal

Starred Review. Grade 3-6–This achingly beautiful story shows a true master of writing at her very best. Edward Tulane is an exceedingly vain, cold-hearted china rabbit owned by 10-year-old Abilene Tulane, who dearly loves him. Her grandmother relates a fairy tale about a princess who never felt love; she then whispers to Edward that he disappoints her. His path to redemption begins when he falls overboard during the familys ocean journey. Sinking to the bottom of the sea where he will spend 297 days, Edward feels his first emotion–fear. Caught in a fishermans net, he lives with the old man and his wife and begins to care about his humans. Then their adult daughter takes him to the dump, where a dog and a hobo find him. They ride the rails together until Edward is cruelly separated from them. His heart is truly broken when next owner, four-year-old Sarah Ruth, dies. He recalls Abilenes grandmother with a new sense of humility, wishing she knew that he has learned to love. When his head is shattered by an angry man, Edward wants to join Sarah Ruth but those he has loved convince him to live. Repaired by a doll store owner, he closes his heart to love, as it is too painful, until a wise doll tells him that he that he must open his heart for someone to love him. This superb book is beautifully written in spare yet stirring language. The tender look at the changes from arrogance to grateful loving is perfectly delineated. Ibatoullines lovely sepia-toned gouache illustrations and beautifully rendered color plates are exquisite. An ever-so-marvelous tale.–B. Allison Gray, John Jermain Library, Sag Harbor, NY
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Gr. 2-4. As she did in her Newbery Medal Book, The Tale of Despereaux (2004), DiCamillo tucks important messages into this story and once more plumbs the mystery of the heart–or, in this case, the heartless. Edward Tulane is a china rabbit with an extensive wardrobe. He belongs to 10-year-old Abilene, who thinks almost as highly of Edward as Edward does of himself. Even young children will soon realize that Edward is riding for a fall. And fall he does, into the sea, after mean boys rip him from Abilene’s hands during an ocean voyage. Thus begins Edward’s journey from watery grave to the gentle embrace of a fisherman’s wife, to the care of a hobo and his dog, and into the hands of a dying girl. Then, pure meanness breaks Edward apart, and love and sacrifice put him back together–until just the right child finds him. With every person who taouches him, Edward’s heart grows a little bit softer and a little bit bigger. Bruised and battered, Edward is at his most beautiful, and beautiful is a fine word to describe the artwork. Ibatoulline outdoes himself; his precisely rendered sepia-tone drawings and color plates of high artistic merit are an integral part of this handsomely designed package. Yet even standing alone, the story soars because of DiCamillo’s lyrical use of language and her understanding of universal yearnings. This will be a pleasure to read aloud. Ilene Cooper
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
Library Lesson
This book lends itself to a lesson on character traits and changes. Students could describe Edward at different points of the story and explain the change he makes in his character. It would also be a good story to use in story sequencing. Students could complete a story map to show the progression he makes and illustrates both the physical and personal journey he makes.
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Module 7: Alvin Ho: Allergic to Girls, School, and Other Scary Things

Module 7: Alvin Ho: Allergic to Girls, School, and Other Scary Things

Look, L. (2009). Alvin Ho: Allergic to girls, school and other scary things. New York: Yearling.

Summary

The story of an Asian American second grader who is scared at school but not so much at home. He is scared of many, many things and is so shy at school that he never even says a word. The book details his second grade life as he deals with his fears and learns to overcome them.

What Did I Think?

I enjoyed the way Alvin’s Asian heritage is integrated into the story. It helps to create an unforgettable character in second grader Alvin Ho. It also discusses relevant topics such as dealing with a bully and facing fears in life.

Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 2–4—Second-grader Alvin Ho is determined to make friends, even though he is afraid of any number of things and can’t talk—at all—in school. Episodic chapters feature events at home, at school, and in his Concord, MA, neighborhood. Everyday adventures include being left stranded by his siblings during stretching exercises that leave him upside down in a tree, being sent alone to the scary piano teacher’s house, and deciding whether or not to hang out with the classroom bully. Although Look resists providing a tidy ending, readers will be sure that Alvin is on the right road when he surprises even himself by suddenly speaking to his psychotherapist. And they won’t have to understand the Shakespearean curses that come out of his mouth to know that this time he has a good reason to be afraid. Whether they are fearful or brave, kids will smile at Alvin’s scrapes and empathize with his concerns. Aspects of his Chinese-American background are seamlessly integrated into the story and add richness. The book is chock-full of well-placed illustrations. Martin Bridge, make room for Alvin Ho.—Faith Brautigam, Gail Borden Public Library, Elgin, IL
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. –This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
Horn Book (July/August, 2008)

Fearful second-grader Alvin Ho has never, not once, said a single word in school. His voice works at home, in the car, on the school bus. “But as soon as I get to school…I am as silent as a side of beef.” Like the author’s Ruby Lu chapter books (Ruby Lu, Brave and True; Ruby Lu, Empress of Everything, rev. 5/06), this one acknowledges kids’ troubles while lightening them in a funny yet respectful way. For instance, Alvin plays cards with the psychotherapist he sees for his anxiety. When he realizes she’s letting him win, he says his first words to her — swear words he’s learned from his dad. But they’re Shakespearean swear words (“Sit thee on a spit, then eat my sneakers, thou droning beef-witted nut hook”), so she’s impressed. There’s no miracle cure for Alvin’s missing voice, and the book nicely focuses more on his need for friends. At the end, he’s still afraid of school, scary movies, etc., but he’s made a friend — and it’s (yikes!) a girl. Generously illustrated short chapters include laugh-out-loud descriptions of Alvin’s attempt to grow taller (his siblings leave him hanging from a tree branch where he remains forgotten until his mother spots his empty seat at dinner), his fateful decision to bring his dad’s beloved childhood Johnny Astro toy for show-and-tell, and his brief membership in a not-so-tough neighborhood gang. Readers will hope Alvin has enough fears to fill yet another small but hugely amusing chapter book.

Library Lesson
This book could be a great book to use in a book club for boys as a way to get them interested in reading. The book is not too challenging and can help reluctant readers find a character to connect with.

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Module 7: Charlie Joe Jackson’s Guide to Not Reading

Module 7: Charlie Joe Jackson’s Guide to Not Reading

Greenwald, T. (2012). Charlie Joe Jackson’s guide to not reading. New York: Square Fish.

Summary

Charlie Joe Jackson is not a fan of reading. This book tells the story of his pursuit to remain a non-reader and the challenge he is facing now that he has entered middle school and his friend will no longer cover for him.

What Did I Think?

This is an accurate portrayal of the feelings many boys, and girls, have about reading. I think it was funny and will hopefully convince others that reading can be fun if you give it a chance.

Reviews

“This is a fun, fast-moving look at middle-school life through the eyes of a kid who would rather clean his room than pick up a book. Reluctant readers will be pleased.” —SLJ
“A delightful choice for reluctant readers…Tommy Greenwald’s writing style is breezy and accessible without being too easy. It is also extremely funny and hard to put down. If the book’s cover showed something blowing up, every reluctant boy reader in middle school would be proud to carry it around while secretly enjoying the nonviolent, straightforward story. Bookworms won’t care; they’ll love it either way.” —BookPage
Library Lesson
This book could be used with a group of middle school struggling readers as a way to look at their feelings towards reading but at the same time enjoying the act of reading. Students could summarize chapters, make inferences while reading, and make predictions about the next chapter.

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Module 6: If You Give a Mouse a Cookie

Module 6: If You Give a Mouse a Cookie

Numeroff, L. (1985). If you give a mouse a cookie. New York: Harper Collins.

Summary

If You Give a Mouse a Cookie describes the chain of events that comes from the simple act of giving a mouse a cookie. From needing a napkin to a glass of milk, the mouse leads the boy on a never ending mission that ends back where it started from.

What Did I Think?

This story is entertaining and funny. It is an accurate description of what chain of events can unfold after one single act. Like Numeroff’s other similar books, I believe young children will enjoy the amusing requests the mouse makes of the boy.

Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Who would ever suspect that a tiny little mouse could wear out an energetic young boy? Well, if you’re going to go around giving an exuberantly bossy rodent a cookie, you’d best be prepared to do one or two more favors for it before your day is through. For example, he’ll certainly need a glass of milk to wash down that cookie, won’t he? And you can’t expect him to drink the milk without a straw, can you? By the time our hero is finished granting all the mouse’s very urgent requests–and cleaning up after him–it’s no wonder his head is becoming a bit heavy. Laura Joffe Numeroff’s tale of warped logic is a sure-fire winner in the giggle-generator category. But concerned parents can rest assured, there’s even a little education thrown in for good measure: underneath the folly rest valuable lessons about cause and effect. Felicia Bond’s hilarious pictures are full of subtle, fun details. Fans will be happy to know that this dynamic author-illustrator pair teamed up again for If You Give a Moose a Muffin and If You Give a Pig a Pancake. (Great read aloud, ages 4 to 8) –Emilie Coulter
Library Lesson
Adding props to this book is a great way to keep listeners engaged in a read-aloud. Students could also create their own version of If You Give a _____ a _____.  The ideas could be combined into one big book to share with the library.
 

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Module 5: Monster

Module 5: Monster

Myers, W.D. (2001). Monster. New York: Amistad.

Summary

This is the story of a 16 year-old who has been accused of being a part in a fatal shooting. The book is written in movie script format and tells the story of Steve Harmon and his time in prison and the courtroom after being accused of being a lookout for a fatal convenience store robbery. The book examines the issue from all sides and details the emotions Steve goes through during the tragic event.

What Did I Think?

This book is realistic, sad and eye-opening. It allows the reader to examine their beliefs as they get to know Steve and his role in the fatal shooting. The book challenges the reader to be both a juror and a witness and is presented in an engaging way. It is almost like watching a movie unfold as you read about different moments in time throughout the book. Overall it is an excellent book to examine difficult issues that young adults are faced with today. It connects the reader to a place that is real and gives a real-life look at what happens when choices are made.

Reviews

From Kirkus Reviews

PLB 0-06-028078-6 In a riveting novel from Myers (At Her Majesty’s Request, 1999, etc.), a teenager who dreams of being a filmmaker writes the story of his trial for felony murder in the form of a movie script, with journal entries after each day’s action. Steve is accused of being an accomplice in the robbery and murder of a drug store owner. As he goes through his trial, returning each night to a prison where most nights he can hear other inmates being beaten and raped, he reviews the events leading to this point in his life. Although Steve is eventually acquitted, Myers leaves it up to readers to decide for themselves on his protagonist’s guilt or innocence. The format of this taut and moving drama forcefully regulates the pacing; breathless, edge-of-the-seat courtroom scenes written entirely in dialogue alternate with thoughtful, introspective journal entries that offer a sense of Steve’s terror and confusion, and that deftly demonstrate Myers’s point: the road from innocence to trouble is comprised of small, almost invisible steps, each involving an experience in which a “positive moral decision” was not made. (illustrations, not seen) (Fiction. 12-14) — Copyright ©1999, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved. –This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Library Lesson

A candidate for a book talk with high school aged students, Monster gives readers a realistic view to what can happen, even when you might be innocent. Students could examine that topic as they look at real court cases where the accused were found innocent. It could also be a springboard to learning about court proceedings and law as an addition to a government class lesson.

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Module 5: Bud, Not Buddy

Module 5: Bud, Not Buddy

Curtis, C. (1999). Bud, not Buddy. New York: Delacorte Books for Young Readers.

Summary

This book tells the heartwarming story of a boy named Bud (not Buddy) and his journey to locate the man he believes is his father. Set during the Great Depression, Bud is an orphan on the run from his latest foster home where he was wrongly accused of beating up a boy. He decides to find his father and must make his way alone across the state.

What Did I Think?

This book starts right off with drawing the reader into the story. Bud is a character liked immediately and he becomes someone to root for as he tries to find his own way to his father. He is smart and kind but has developed his own rules for how to survive. These rules might not always be the best advice, but coming from an orphan it is easy to see why he developed them. The book deals with topics of abandonment, the depression, and segregation in a way that is realistic and appropriate. The book was entertaining and funny.

Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

As in his Newbery Honor-winning debut, The Watsons Go to BirminghamA1963, Curtis draws on a remarkable and disarming mix of comedy and pathos, this time to describe the travails and adventures of a 10-year-old African-American orphan in Depression-era Michigan. Bud is fed up with the cruel treatment he has received at various foster homes, and after being locked up for the night in a shed with a swarm of angry hornets, he decides to run away. His goal: to reach the man heAon the flimsiest of evidenceAbelieves to be his father, jazz musician Herman E. Calloway. Relying on his own ingenuity and good luck, Bud makes it to Grand Rapids, where his “father” owns a club. Calloway, who is much older and grouchier than Bud imagined, is none too thrilled to meet a boy claiming to be his long-lost son. It is the other members of his bandASteady Eddie, Mr. Jimmy, Doug the Thug, Doo-Doo Bug Cross, Dirty Deed Breed and motherly Miss ThomasAwho make Bud feel like he has finally arrived home. While the grim conditions of the times and the harshness of Bud’s circumstances are authentically depicted, Curtis shines on them an aura of hope and optimism. And even when he sets up a daunting scenario, he makes readers laughAfor example, mopping floors for the rejecting Calloway, Bud pretends the mop is “that underwater boat in the book Momma read to me, Twenty Thousand Leaks Under the Sea.” Bud’s journey, punctuated by Dickensian twists in plot and enlivened by a host of memorable personalities, will keep readers engrossed from first page to last. Ages 9-12. (Sept.)
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Booklist (Vol. 96, No. 1 (September 1, 1999))

Gr. 4-6. Bud, 10, is on the run from the orphanage and from yet another mean foster family. His mother died when he was 6, and he wants to find his father. Set in Michigan during the Great Depression, this is an Oliver Twist kind of foundling story, but it’s told with affectionate comedy, like the first part of Curtis’ The Watsons Go to Birmingham (1995). On his journey, Bud finds danger and violence (most of it treated as farce), but more often, he finds kindness–in the food line, in the library, in the Hooverville squatter camp, on the road–until he discovers who he is and where he belongs. Told in the boy’s naive, desperate voice, with lots of examples of his survival tactics (“Rules and Things for Having a Funner Life and Making a Better Liar out of Yourself”), this will make a great read-aloud. Curtis says in an afterword that some of the characters are based on real people, including his own grandfathers, so it’s not surprising that the rich blend of tall tale, slapstick, sorrow, and sweetness has the wry, teasing warmth of family folklore.

Library Lesson

Adding an introduction to jazz music would be a great addition to reading this book. Students could hear jazz and be taken back in time to the days of the Great Depression and Bud’s journey to find his father. Another idea would be to have students create their own list of rules to help in life.

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Module 4: Missing May

Module 4: Missing May

Rylant, C. (1993). Missing May. New York: Yearling

Summary

A story of loss and learning to go on, Missing May tells the story of Summer and her Uncle Ob who are struggling after the death of Aunt May. They begin a journey to find a sign from May as a way to ease their sorrow.

What Did I Think?

This book was a tear-jerker filled with realistic emotions from Summer and Ob. The loss of her aunt is heartbreaking for Summer and she spends her time worrying about Ob and missing her aunt. Filled with emotion, I found this book to be a true picture of learning to live after the death of a loved one.

Reviews

Amazon.com Review

This wonderful book revolves around a few delightfully named characters: Summer, Uncle Ob, Aunt May and Cletus Underwood. After being passed among relatives, Summer joins her aunt and uncle and marvels at the couple’s deep love for one another. But after Aunt May dies, Summer and Uncle Ob are brought together in their struggles to come to terms with the death. Cletus, a neighbor boy, comes along to help provide an answer. This simple and sweet story, which won the Newbery Medal in 1993, is injected with just the right touches of humor and mysticism.

From Publishers Weekly

This short novel is a study of grief–chiefly, that felt by Summer after her foster mother’s sudden death, but also her sorrow at witnessing the grief of Ob, her foster father–she realizes that she herself may not be reason enough for him to go on living. And for several months it seems as if he may not in fact go on, until Summer and Ob take a short car trip that somehow transforms their lives. In a direct, matter-of-fact voice occasionally laced with irony and wry humor, Summer articulates many discerning insights about sorrow and loss. The reader remains a distant observer of her emotions, however–perhaps because the novel begins after May’s death, making her a less immediate figure, perhaps because Summer’s perceptions are quite sophisticated, even adult. And the novel’s emotional turning point is difficult to grasp, either verbally or intuitively: all Summer, and we, know is that “something happened to Ob” to make him embrace life fully again. Ages 11-up.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc. –This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Library Lesson
This book could be used to explore the topic of death and dealing with the loss of a loved one. Students could examine feelings of loss they have experienced and identify ways they were able to move on from that loss. It would be a good book to use in collaboration with a counseling lesson on the same topic and perhaps as a book study for students dealing with loss.

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