100 Chapter Books Project: The Invention of Hugo Cabret

hugo_intro_cover2One of the more current books on the Top 100 Chapter Books list is 2007’s The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick (#39).

What it’s about: A young orphan, Hugo Cabret, works in a Parisian train station, keeping the clocks running after the disappearance of his uncle. His passion, though, is the automaton that he rescued from the museum fire that killed his watchmaker father. His desire to repair it and reveal the secret it is keeping leads him to unexpected relationships and a hidden history.

Age level: Grades 3-5

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Best part: The artwork, obviously, and the use of real cinematic history. When Z and I read this together a couple of years ago, we immediately researched Georges Méliès and his film “A Trip to the Moon”.

Worst part: The story is a bit chaotic and made me feel uncomfortable at times, seeing a child in trauma.

Verdict: Buy

A Caldecott Medal winner, this book is always a pleasure to read and the kids at Z’s school seem to love it as well. The fact that it’s a huge book but a quick read gives them a sense of accomplishment and, I think, teaches them not to fear the chunkster. It’s an imaginative format, about two-thirds images and one-third words. It allows the reader to create the bridging narrative themselves. This really is a special book.

The next book I have scheduled is The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. I haven’t read the book in years but I’ve always been on the fence about C.S. Lewis and Narnia so this will be interesting.

*****
Schedule – March through June
March 30 – #5 The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis (1950)
April 15 – #71 Each Little Bird That Sings by Deborah Wiles (2005)
April 30 – Spring Break
May 15 – #31 Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll (1865)
May 31 – #4 The Giver by Lois Lowry (1993)
June 15 – #80 The Four-Story Mistake by Elizabeth Enright (1942)

Geek Love Discussion Post!

GeekLoveRAL

All right y’all. It’s time to tell us. Did you read the book? DID YOU FINISH? We must know these things. Here are some questions to help prod you on:

  1. Geek Love was written in the early eighties. How does it reflect and satirize American culture at that time?
  2. How difficult is it to suspend disbelief and enter into the fictional world of Geek Love? What are the rewards of doing so?
  3. How do the twins, Iphy and Elly, Arty, Chick, and Oly relate to each other? What roles do they play? How does Arty gain control over them?
  4. In what ways does the novel seek to shock readers? What preconceptions does it try to overturn? How does it manage to be both engaging and deeply disturbing?

If you post to your own blog, be sure to link up here! Or feel free to discuss in the comments. Mwah!

100 Chapter Books Project: My Father’s Dragon

MyFathersDragonRight in the middle of the Top 100 Chapter Books list, at number 49, is My Father’s Dragon (1948) by Ruth Stiles Gannett. Frankly, I was a little surprised to see it on the list because it’s more a chapter book/picture book hybrid, suitable for a much younger audience than almost all of the other books on the list. However, I also bought this book when Z was a toddler and we read it together at bedtime when he was a preschooler and both loved it so I’m happy I got a chance to read it again!

What it’s about: The author tells the story about her father, Elmer Elevator. It’s the tale of how he left home on the advice of an alley cat and set out to find and free a captive baby dragon on Wild Island.

Age level: Grades 0-3

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Best part: I honestly love this map the most. It’s so funny and once you read the story and go back to it, you feel like you’re in on all of the secrets. I wish my copy had this beautiful color map that is in the original.

Worst part: I really regret never picking up the other two books that came after this one — Elmer and the Dragon and The Dragons of Blueland. Now I want to know what happened with these two escapees!

Verdict: Buy

This is a great transitional story from picture to chapter books, either when it’s time to move forward in bedtime stories or when young ones are ready to read it themselves. I love that the book was a collaboration between a stepdaughter (writer) and stepmother (illustrator) too.

Next up is another reread for me — The Invention of Hugo Cabret. I’ve already read it twice but it’s a beautiful book so I’m excited to revisit it.

*****
Schedule – March through May
March 15 – #39 The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick (2007)
March 30 – #5 The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis (1950)
April 15 – #71 Each Little Bird That Sings by Deborah Wiles (2005)
April 30 – Spring Break
May 15 – #31 Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll (1865)
May 31 – #4 The Giver by Lois Lowry (1993)