Smackdown Books 2017

Arlene's smackdown17 book montage

The Memory of Things
Hour of the Bees
The Gospel Truth
Ultraman, Vol. 1
The Bunker Diary
Trouble Is a Friend of Mine
Footer Davis Probably Is Crazy
The Hired Girl
An Ember in the Ashes
The Porcupine of Truth
Enchanted Air: Two Cultures, Two Wings: A Memoir
Drowned City: Hurricane Katrina and New Orleans
Goodbye Stranger
Beautiful Blue World
The Blackthorn Key
All American Boys

Monday, December 15, 2014

Aviary Wonders Inc. Spring Catalog and Instruction Manual

Even before The Smack began this year, as the books arrived and the piles in Dia`s office grew, I was intrigued by this book in particular. In its picture book format, it did not fit the typical Smackdown novel or graphic novel or even literary nonfiction format that we have seen in the last four years. At least not that I could remember. Dia, feel free to correct me. This book might possibly be a first for The Mighty Smackdown.

On the bottom of the front of the dust jacket, `Renewing the World`s Bird Supply Since 2031` had me very curious. What was this author up to? What they were up to is to cleverly point out what we have lost and what we could potentially lose if we don`t take care of what we have.

As this review at the Washington Post points out, and publisher trailer on YouTube embedded below brings to life, this book could easily become an interactive app, However, I fear its message would probably be lost in such a transformation to another form. And it is because of its sophisticated message that, while its images could be enjoyed by a younger student its message would probably be lost as well.

I think this book could lead to lots of interesting inquiry questions for students as they explore then discover other bird books as well as resources online.

I can`t wait to share it with my grade nines to see what they think!

p.s. If it wasn`t for Mr. Shu`s post and vine, I would have forgotten to remove the dust jacket. What a surprise!

Update: This post sat as a draft until now. Since then I have tested out Aviary Wonders on a couple of students and finished Falling into Place. But first: Falling into Place.

 When I started Falling into Place, the voice in my head said, "Oh, this is one of those books." The mean girl with the Mercedes. I won't summarize as Dia has already done that for us. I did find it had momentum and I wanted to find out what happened. It did lead Dia and I, and later Andrew, to have much discussion. Can high school really be this bad? Yes, yes it can.

In the end, though, I much prefer Aviary Wonders. And, when I tried it out on a couple of my students, as Dia mentioned, the student that had more guidance (although, in this case, it was simply a "you might want to read it for a second time now that you are finished...) was the one to hit the nail on the head and understand the message. The student that did not have guidance, while intrigued that his peer was reading "a picture book" was not able to glean the message.

This reminds me of one of the many messages from Kelly Gallagher about the importance of re-reading for different purposes. The first time, you're just getting the lay of the land. The second, third, fourth...each repeated reading brings a different surprise.

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