On short notice, I was asked to fill in for the last session of Wayzata, another nearby HC system library branch’s Guys Reads this summer, and I jumped at the opportunity to see how another group of kids responds and reacts to the chosen material. So, here’s a few more entries to check out before my last Summer session on Wednesday! There were two groups this time, Guys Jr and Guys and the chosen books were Love that Dog and Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library.
Both of the groups in this class enjoyed the titles here, though one had probably the most positive reception I’ve seen yet for a book.
For the younger kids, we read Love That Dog by Sharon Creech, what I found a rather heart-rending and beautiful celebration of poetry and of one child’s dog. I’ve always found the emotional range and power of poetry to be really interesting, though I must admit to having read sadly too little and have not had too much practice actually attempting to write it. Here, Creech’s simple poetry of a young boy coming to terms with the loss of his pet and his growing love of poetry, through the tutelage of a great teacher, really would be a great place to start. Before sharing it with the book club, I read it to my Mom and she was quickly weeping.
The kids in the group found it surprisingly emotional too, with one telling the group “I almost cried,” and another chiming in “I did cry.” There were a few complaints of “boring,” but even these appreciated a greater understanding of poetry, telling us that “poetry is really easy to write!” Maybe, maybe. I guess I should try it more! They also enjoyed the addition of some pieces of classic classroom poetry as well. All in all, I’d recommend this a great read for kids learning about poetry, and how poems can help in expressing feelings one has a hard time putting into words.
The older kids read, and greatly enjoyed, Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library by Chris Grabenstein. This was an action packed, silly exploration of what libraries are and how they can be fun! A pretty appropriate choice for the book club, of course. Personally, I found it a bit too silly, with a cast of stock characters teaming up to explore the clues in eccentric millionaire, Mr. Lemoncello, game maker extraordinaire high tech superlibrary to win fabulous prizes before the snotty, elitist bully Charles Chiltingon cheats his way to the top. It kind of presents the library as more of a fun house than a place of learning, and makes an interesting piece to read along with my last review, BiblioTech.
The kids, though, loved it and really couldn’t get enough of Mr. Lemoncello. Probably the thing that really grabbed them was the puzzles that the characters were solving, and which you can solve too! Word games, logic, and a knowledge of children’s book trivia and the Dewey Decimal System can get you far. Designed to introduce and entice children into using and understanding their library, what might have felt a little heavy handed to me, seemed to really engage the kids. While our system uses Library of Congress Classification, much of the generals of the classification system remain the same. The special, afterword puzzle at the end of the book took up a large part of the conversation. Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library comes with a lot of resources for using the book in a library book club or classroom, as well. Definitely a good choice!
Later this week, I’ll be posting my fourth, and last, Guys Read Session for my Eden Prairie groups, and it looks like it will be some particularly interesting ones!
*Music Theme for Entry: "The Library," Kimya Dawson, Thunder Things, 2011