The Books That Got Away

I’ve been a bit remiss in the last month and a half or so, and haven’t written my usual detailed posts on book group meetings and the kids’ reactions to the book group books.  So here’s a quick overview of some the books we’ve read and discussed lately: 

Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt ~ The 5th grade group discussed this book back in March.  To facilitate our discussion, I brought in my laptop and played the first scene-and-a-bit from the recent movie that starred Sissy Spacek and William Hurt.  Prior to playing the selection from the movie, I had read aloud that first lovely, perfect chapter from the book, then we settled in to compare and contrast.  To my dismay, there were several kids who preferred the movie’s opening (and there was a competitive scramble to see who would be the lucky one to take the DVD of the movie home that day), but there were also the kids who loved the language of the book and spoke eloquently about it.  Our discussion did end up focusing on the pros and cons of eternal life, and I was very impressed by what the group had to say.  (Too bad that the distance of a month has blurred my memories of their specific comments, but suffice it to say that they’re a smart, well-spoken bunch of kids.)

A Girl, A Boy, and a Monster Cat by Gail Gauthier ~ Discussed by the 3rd grade book group just a week and a half ago, this book proved to be a disappointment to both me and the kids.  We all had the same thought: the book didn’t live up to its title, and would have been better served by a different title.  All of us had expected the Monster Cat to play a major role in the story, and when it didn’t, we all felt a bit cheated and let down.  Not that this was a bad book – it was just less than we had hoped it would be.  On a side note, it’s fun for me to observe the formation of a new book group with these third graders, to see them learning to work together as a group and to share the discussion time with each other.  I’ll miss working with the younger kids when Jennifer picks up the 3rd and 4th grade groups in the fall.

The Thief Lord by Cornelia Funke ~ Once again, I chose to go the multi-media route for the 6th graders’ March discussion of Funke’s modern classic.  Using the surprisingly excellent and entertaining movie of the same name, I played the merry-go-round scene for the kids, then read selected parts from the book (the merry-go-round chapter of the book is quite long, and it would be tough to read all of it aloud for an even comparison, so I had to pick and choose bits to share).   Our discussion was fairly good, but with the distance of a few weeks, I can’t honestly remember what we talked about.  I’m hoping that the next two 6th grade books will inspire an animated conversation that involves all group members…

March’s teen book group discussion centered on Airborn by Kenneth Oppel, a book that I chose to appeal to the boys in the group (who, ironically, either no longer attend or attend only sporadically…).  Surprisingly, given that I chose the book based solely upon my need to find a good book that wasn’t a “girl book,” it’s one of the best books we’ve read this year.  Taut plot, great premise, heart-stopping suspense – I loved this book, and so did everyone in the group.  One boy did attend that day, having picked up a copy of Airborn on the day prior to our meeting, and he said something like, “Finally!  A book that I liked in this group!”  The girls shared their happy surprise at having thoroughly enjoyed the book, and admitted that they would have never picked up this book on their own, but were very glad that they had been steered towards it.  We all agreed that we’d like to read the sequel, and E. was the lucky one who got to take the sequel home with her that day. 

So that’s the update on the books that we’ve read since March.  Three out of the four are exceptional reads, highly recommended by me and by the book groups, and the fourth is acceptable, though not fabulous.  There are only four more book group meetings this school year, and I’ll do my best to write posts on those as the groups happen.

2 thoughts on “The Books That Got Away”

  1. Hi,

    I am the author of A Girl, a Boy, and a Monster Cat, and I just want to say that while it never occurred to me that anyone would take the title as literally as your reading group did, now that you point it out, I can see how someone could take it that way. Please tell your readers that I am very impressed with how carefully they read that title.

    They might be interested in reading the second book in the Brandon and Hannah Stories, A Girl, a Boy, and Three Robbers, which is coming out in July. The robbers really are trying to steal something.


  2. Hi Gail,

    Thanks for your comment! I will pass that on to the kids in the book group – and you’re right, they are an impressive group of close readers (especially for third graders!).

    I’m glad to hear about the next book in the series…I had mentioned to the group that there was a second book coming out soon, and they were all quite enthusiastic about reading it. Me too. 🙂

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