Saturday, January 20, 2007

Thank Heaven for Second Grade!

Each grade level has its charms and challenges for those teaching/working/toiling in schools. There is a wonderfulness about second graders that I find hard to resist as a librarian. Most of them have developed some solid reading skills and they are also savvy enough to catch subtle nuances in storylines. They have not acquired that hormonal chemical veneer that just begins to show in 2nd semester third graders and are still malleable enough (for the most part) to shush when shushed and sit when told to sit.

I had the pleasure of reading some chapters of a boffo book to second grade this week. They laughed in all the right places and got the joke of the narrative.

I HIGHLY recommend Lucy Nolan's Down Girl and Sit: Smarter than Squirrels, 2004. If you live with a dog or dogs, you will appreciate Nolan's understanding of all things canine.

Down Girl narrates the story of her daily life. Along with her best friend, Sit, who lives next door, she protects the backyard from birds and squirrels by chasing the invaders up into the trees. She saves her master, Ruff, from the paperboy by barking at him through the window. This is important because she knows that newspapers are for spankings and she wants to save her master from a spanking.

The book is written in short chapters and Mike Reed's illustrations underline the humor. A sharp eyed boy sitting near me, pointed out that the names on the dog houses said "Happy" and "Dot." The dogs think their names are "Down Girl" and "Sit." They have another dog friend named "Hush." When the dogs describe their efforts to guard their masters' hiding place for treasure, Reed's drawings help the reader see that the hiding place is really the trash can. The kids understood we are hearing these hilarious stories from the dog's point of view.

We have a new phrase at our house now, "We are smarter than squirrels."

I see there is a sequel, On the Road. I have to read it.


Vivian Mahoney said...

This sounds wonderful. I'll have to look for it for my 2nd grader. Thanks for the recommendation.

Unknown said...

Great recommendation. Thanks. I liked the review, but not this phrase, "that hormonal chemical veneer that just begins to show in 2nd semester third graders."

I have a 2nd semester third grader at home, and you've confirmed a creeping suspicion that I've been having that things are really changing.