Gooney Bird Greene by Lois Lowry is not only adorable; it’s also a book that will appeal to both adults and children–not a easy thing to find. Adults will like the meta-fiction aspect of it; this is a story about telling stories. And kids will love Gooney Bird! She is as unique as the outfits she chooses each day (well, actually, she lays out her clothes the night before) and she tells the most wonderful stories. Each one has a surprise in it, and each one is terribly suspenseful. The fact that she interjects a lot of “Suddenlys” helps to keep her audience on the edge of their second-grade seats.
We read this for my second-grade Mother/Daughter Book Group, and it was a winner! What about my criteria? Let’s see:
1. The Story: Gooney Bird Greene is new to school, and she enters with a flourish. She regales her classmates and her teacher with a different story each day, and along the way the students, the teacher, and we–the readers–learn a different aspect of story-telling from each of Gooney’s tales.. We learn what makes a great story, where to find ideas for a great story, and how to tell a great story. And, best of all, we see that we should accompany every happy ending with a group dance!
2. Questions: This book generates lots of questions about story-telling, but it also brought up questions about language. One mom mentioned that a lot of Gooney’s stories are surprising because she uses language in an unexpected way, much like Amelia Bedelia. Quite true, and a wonderful inter-textual connection!
3. Life Lessons: Well, learning how to tell a good story is a lesson and a skill to take through life, and our book group decided not only to talk about Gooney Bird; we also stepped into her character and became a story-teller. Each girl stood up and told a story–trying to incorporate as many elements from the book that she could. It was fabulous! And I, for one, whenever I am losing anyone’s attention, am going to insert a “Suddenly!” just to get that person to focus and pay attention to what I have to say!
Gooney Bird Greene by Lois Lowry is a great choice for a Second-Grade Mother/Daughter book Group. Enjoy!