Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Three Robbers Celebration--Best Poem About A Dead Bunny

Another book for younger ones:
I read one of Dan Gutman's Weird School books (he's written twenty-one of them) back in 2005 and found it well intentioned but written with a run-of-the-mill voice and containing forced humor. I actually liked one of his more recent Weird School books, Ms. Coco Is Loco!, better.

While the first-person narrator still isn't terribly distinctive, more of the humor works, and the school setting is very realistic. The gifted and talented kids being sent out to the gifted and talented teacher who finds whatever they do gifted and talented--yeah, I've seen something like that. Then you've got the older kids sent to the kindergarten class to inspire the little "trolls" (as the main character calls them) by reading poetry to them. Hmmm, yeah, I've seen that, too. The incredibly random responses from the little kids ("Yesterday I ate a booger") sure were realistic. The school setting a goal for the number of poems to be written during Poetry Month...that could happen and probably has.

There was something sort of subversive about this book that I couldn't help liking, too. For a while I thought, Eww, this is going to be a learn to love poetry book. But, no, not at all. If anything, our hero, A.J., makes at least one poetry-loving adult at his school look foolish. He also ends up raking in the old bucks selling illicit poetry. He's the school poetry dealer. I don't know if the kids will get that, but I sure did.

And then there's A.J.s dead bunny poem. I thought it was brilliant.

For a series book for 7- to 10-year-olds, Ms. Coco Is Loco! is deep. It recognizes that, yes, real-world weird things actually do happen at school.

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