Do you want to fake your kids into getting ready for school? Read a book with them that’s totally fun and secretly educational. A book like The Fly (by Elise Gravel, 2014, filed in C-12). It’s so gross they’ll never even realize that they learned something.
Flies adore us, it turns out, because we produce garbage. They love it. (Did you know that flies barf on garbage, to break it down into a liquid, and then slurp it up? YUuuCK….. COoooOOL!)
Never has so much disgustingness been so well explained, nor illustrated so delightfully. Gravel is also behind the books Head Lice, The Worm, and The Rat.
At a bit of a higher reading level, there’s The Queen’s Shadow, a whodunnit in which we try to discover which of the party guests has stolen the queen’s shadow. The mantis shrimp? The lancehead viper? The pigeon? The squid? The sea urchin? Each of these critters sees differently, and we find out how their eyes work as we work through the clues each gives us. For curious kids who love animals, and mysteries. (By Cybèle Young, 2015, filed in C-80.)
If your child finds numbers intimidating, offer them a totally different point of view with If… A Mind-bending New Way Of Looking At Big Ideas And Numbers (by Daniel J. Smith and Steve Adams, 2014, in C-138). The Earth, and time, explained with numbers.
Classes at the Eastern Townships School Board begin Monday; the French sector at the Commission scolaire Région-de-Sherbrooke started classes earlier this week.
If your child is taking a scary school bus for the first time, consider the Magic School Bus series (filed in C-62; you can order more English and French stories in the series, and the complete animated series on DVD, via interlibrary loan). The Magic School Bus Gets Baked In A Cake (a book about kitchen chemistry) has the kids learning how to make a birthday cake for their fab teacher, Ms Frizzle. Not all goes according to plan. (After this book, you’ll need to test out kitchen chemistry at home with baking soda, vinegar and peanuts, or something that’s about the same weight, so make sure your supplies are up to date…) The point, though, is that school buses can be fun.
Speaking of Ms Frizzle, not all teachers are beloved. Little Bobby, for example, hates his teacher. She’s always mad at him. His story can be found in My Teacher Is A Monster (No, I Am Not), by Peter Brown (2014, in C-78).
One day Bobby meets Ms Kirby, his teacher, in the park. It’s very strange – for both of them.
This is a story about how people behave in class, and how they behave outside of class. Great illustrations, fun tale.
Here’s another helpful book: Junie B’s Essential Survival Guide To School (by Barbara Park, 2009/2013, in C-158). Junie B has been “going to school for over one and a half entire years! And that is a long time to be in the system, I tell you!”
There’s sections on “Getting started”, “Getting bossed around” (see principal, and teachers), and “Getting in trouble” (see principal, and teachers). Junie is a bit of a handful, so she tends to get into trouble a lot…
This book includes giant lizards attempting to take over the world (not really), and important advice like wearing dark red clothes to school, so no one will notice the ketchup you squirted on yourself. Also includes the words “poohead” and “hamster pants”.
Some parents are wary of Junie because these books really do read as if spoken by a six-year-old, who uses words that are not grammatically correct. Here’s the thing, though: she’s actually following the rules. It’s that English is full of exceptions, and like all kids, she still just learning the exceptions: “I runned straight to the sink.” That’s a perfect use of the rule, and all kids talk like this. We figure it out eventually, but this is part of Junie’s charm – that she is so very real. (The book includes crossed-out words and some corrections, but some mistakes remain…) If you consider this to be a horrible thing, skip the best-selling Junie B series.
Here’s an old Good Reads favorite: Lunch Lady And The Bake Sale Bandit (by Jarrett J. Krosoczka, 2010, filed in Graphic Novels). The school is holding a fundraising bake sale when… someone steals all the goodies! Who is the thief? A group of students tries to find out. But in the end, they are helped by a superhero: Lunch Lady. Who could imagine that the woman who runs the caf would be so multitalented?
Lunch Lady And The Bake Sale Bandit is tagged Young Adult, but a lot of kids will find this fun, too (the publisher suggests ages 7 to 10.) There’s action, adventure, and cupcakes.
And finally, one last graphic novel, a New Arrival: El Deafo (by Cece Bell, 2014, in C-420; Scolastic suggests grades 4 to 9, but this is a book to be enjoyed at any age). This is an award-winning memoir, in which Bell recalls going deaf at the age of four, and her early struggles in elementary school. Even the well-intentioned hearing folk mess up, and Bell was, as a child, never able to actually tell people they were being silly. She was stubborn in ways that did not help her (and in ways that did).
Cece’s first hearing aid helps a bit, but not enough: “Doo you wan sumping do dring? We have Jerry’s mop.” As little Cece explains. “Most of the time we are lost, drifting away on our own planets.”
People forget she’s deaf and turn away from her: “I sure can’t lip-read a butt!” she says to herself.
When she finally gets a super-dooper-sized hearing aid, she gets the superpower of super-hearing! She becomes a superhero… El Deafo! It’s especially funny when her teacher forgets to remove the microphone that feeds her voice to the hearing aid when she goes to pee.
All the characters are drawn as bunnies. Because… ears. Great read.
Whoops, there’s the bell! We’re done here. Now hit the books.
Next week: Reads for older students (and something for teachers, too).
— Eleanor Brown, August 28, 2015