The Big Fat Cow That Goes Kapow!

12 08 2012

Apparently there’s an award called the Monarch Award.  Who knew?

Named after the butterfly to symbolize the growth, change, and freedom that becoming a reader brings to kids, the Monarch is an annual award given to kindergarten through third grade level books.  As a sixth grade teacher, I was well aware of the Rebecca Caudill Award, but the Monarch and the Bluestem (named after some type of grass and given to 3rd through 5th grade books) were new to me when I stumbled across a really cool section of the library in my new town.

I decided to read a few of the Bluestem list, because some of my students read at a slightly lower level and might enjoy them.  I also grabbed a few of the Monarch Award nominees, because they caught my eye and I thought they’d be fun to read with my 1st grade son.

I was right.

Rather, the Monarch folks were right.  They pick some good books.

The first one I read, along with Andy, was The Big Fat Cow That Goes Kapow!, which is a collection of ten illustrated poem stories that remind me a lot of Dr. Seuss, but only if Dr. Seuss was Australian, had a fetish for exploding bovines, and seemed to have been kicked in the head by a manatee (and yes, I’m aware that manatees don’t have legs and are unlikely to kick someone).

That’s a good review in case you were wondering.  Author Andy Griffiths and illustrator Tony Denton seem to be my kind of crazy, because every part of this book perfectly matched my ridiculous sense of humor.

I thoroughly enjoyed all ten of the poems, especially “Big Fat Cows,” “Somewhere Less Spikey,” and “Lumpy-Head Fred,” and will definitely be recommending this one to any kid that thinks they don’t like poetry because it’s all about smooshy-mushy things like love and flowers and cartoon hearts.

Sometimes poetry can also be about a cow that just happens to be exploding.

Poetry is fun like that.

The Big Fat Cow That Goes Kapow! was the 72nd book I read this summer during my quest to finish 90 books in 90 days.  

Shark Girl

26 05 2012

Lately there have been a whole bunch of really good novels for young people written in poetry form.  I read Home of the Brave by Katherine Applegate earlier this year, and that was fantastic.  Heaven Looks a Lot Like the Mall by Wendy Mass (who visited our school a few years ago) is a great book.  Love that Dog and Heartbeat by Sharon Creech, Out of the Dust by Karen Hesse, and Sold by Patricia McCormick are all wonderful books – and really quick reads  – that are great novels with outstanding characters told in a series of poems.

Yesterday I read another one – Shark Girl  by Kelly Bingham.  This one’s about a 15 year old girls who is attacked by a shark during a family trip to the beach.  She loses her right arm, the one she uses to draw and paint, so she seems to lose a little bit of her self worth too.

The story takes place over the course of about a year, during which Jane deals with her mom’s need to protect her, her brother going away to college, her friends looking at her just a little bit differently, and the stares and pseudo-sympathy of complete strangers that just won’t let her create her “new normal.

Shark Girl is a great summer read.  It’s quick (I don’t read fast, and I finished in one day), it’s interesting, and it has a wonderful main character that you really want to root for.

In my effort to read 90 books in 90 days this summer, Shark Girl is number 2.  Follow my progress here or on Twitter @MCLiterature.