Well, after a blissfully lazy reading week, it’s back to school and back to homework! Over the break, I read two books for school- Wonder by R.J. Palacio and A Tale Dark and Grimm by Adam Gidwitz. Both were recommended to me by my practicum supervisor and I was all to happy to take her advice on what to read. The assignment these books are for involves presenting two book talks. Now, for non-library people, book talks are essentially a 3-5 minute “preview” of the book. Some librarians might read a bit, others might show a book trailer, or simply talk the book up. We’ve had many presented to us in class, so I had a good idea getting into the assignment that it takes a certain book to make a book talk even remotely interesting.
Wonder is the perfect book talk book. Told from the perspective of six different people, the story deals with a boy who has extreme facial deformities and is going to school for the first time (grade 5, the start of middle school). I won’t go into it anymore than that, but there are several elements that I want to pull out of the story to use in my own book talk. First of all, what would it be like to have such a deformed face that you had never been to school? Second, what’s it like for other people, most specifically kids and teenagers, to be presented with a person who has a deformed face? And finally, how the hell do you tell kids that this book is about family and how great parents can be without turning them off the book entirely? The writing is beautiful and rings true to each distinct character. I also love how the book doesn’t skip around; you get one person’s story in several chapters. Did I mention that every single character is interesting? There wasn’t one that i didn’t like or want to skip through. Truly, this is a great book for kids, starting at age 9.
Now, I’ve already talked a little about A Tale Dark and Grimm. After reading the whole thing, I have to say that about halfway through the book I started to feel a little let down. It’s almost like the author used up all the excitement at the beginning. Book talk wise though, it’s golden. Beheadings, evil warlocks that rip out little girl’s throats, a dragon, and parents that are the bad guys- this story has it all. And best of all, you can go back after and read the original Grimm stories that everything is based on! There’s no doubt in my mind what I’ll say about this one.