Sunday, October 22, 2006

Pond Scum

Pond Scum by Alan Silberberg, 2006

Alan Silberberg's Pond Scum is full of fun and heart and is a hoot to read. Pond Scum will even tempt those nonfiction-reptile-amphipian-reading boys and girls to drop those DK Eyewitness books and try a novel for a change.

The hilarious opening chapter sees a hapless real estate agent attempting to show the old ramshackle house by the pond to some prospective buyers only to be dive bombed by every insect, bird and mammal in the area. The agent and house-hunters run for their lives. No sale!

Oliver and his sister have been uprooted from their home in the city when their newly divorced mother takes a job as a teacher in a small community. Against her better instincts, the real estate agent tries, once more, to unload the old house on this newly-arrived family. Despite what seems to be yet another organized attack on them by the local insects and animals, their mother takes a shine to the old run down house and decides to buy it.

Moving does not really bother Oliver as his only friends are television characters and his idea of a good time is watching TV and tearing the wings off house flies. School is just something else to be endured like his father's infrequent and rushed visits with him and his sister.

The lack of a television signal is making Oliver crazy though. When he attempts to install a rickety antenna on the roof, he is attacked by crows. His plummet through the roof of the house lands him in the attic where he finds a mysterious gem stone that will change his life.

The stone allows him to change form and join the animal kingdom. Unlike Narnia or Neverland, Oliver's secret new world is just outside his front door. He discovers the natural world with his new best friend, Mooch the salamander. Nature is not paradise though as the cruel and power mad crow, General Santo Domingo, is preparing to grab control of the animal Alliance and rule over all the animals of the pond.

Along with the scum and goo and slime and plenty of eewwwwww-ness, Pond Scum also considers the importance of friendship, brother-sister relationships and finding your place in the world.

I am looking forward to booktalking this novel and getting the book into the hands of my reading friends.


Anonymous said...

I've heard of this book from my students who have been laughing with it all year. I just ordered one to see if I can use it for my Science unit.

Thanks for the review.

Camille said...

This would be a great novel for science teachers to use. It would be a fun read aloud.

Naomi said...

I just read Pond Scum and I was wondering if you would consider it to be Science Fiction or Modern Fantasy. I am in a Children's Literature class right now and I was having trouble trying to classify it.

I also wanted to say that I really liked this book. The only problem I had was when The General was beating up on Oliver when he was a snake. It was very disturbing to me, and I wonder if children would react the same way as I did. All I can say is that I was very happy that everything worked out in the end!

Naomi said...

Yes I can tell that there is some screenplay background! I was actually talking to some of my Book Club members and we were trying to figure out who we thought would be good for the voices of the characters if it was a movie. I think children who read this book can relate to the issues of friendship and find that it has an interesting story to go along with it.

Camille said...

The opening scene was so visual and humorous that I could easily picture it as the opening scene of a Disney Channel movie. What a great book for a book club!

Anonymous said...

I love the book. A great read. I am recommending it to my book club.