Field Tested and Passed (with flying colors!)
Yesterday and today I volunteered in our school district's Promise to Read community/school outreach program. I visited two schools and read to second and first graders.
In addition to Dragon, I carried Cynthia Leitich Smith's new book, Holler Loudly. I enjoyed this addition to the American tall tale cannon but my field tests have confirmed that it is a book that will stay in my "have-book, will-travel" bag for future deployment.Holler was born with a big voice. There is no "dial down" on his volume control. His parents, teachers, and grandfather and town folk wish Holler would "hush." His voice causes chalk to burst into dust and can upend a fishing boat. Holler can't seem to control himself and wishes people didn't mind his voice. There is a nice moment when Holler realizes that quiet does have its advantages and allows him to hear more. When danger threatens the town though, Holler's voice saves the day. First and second graders appreciated the irony of the town's "thanks" to Holler at the end.
The students loved Barry Gott's illustrations. His humorous style connected with them. All the children noted the size of Baby Holler's wide open mouth and the carnage his voice caused in his school classroom. The details in the illustrations invite closer looks. The picture of a pig riding away from Holler's voice on the back of a cow at the state fair had the classes laughing.
The book invites participation and, to my delight, I found the second graders clicked right away, with with Gott's oversize text that voices Holler's speech. Unprompted, they began to read Holler's lines, in unison. In fact, at the climax of the story, as Holler booms out a command to the tornado about to swoop through the town, the children were reading together, with expression (loudly.) Several of them covered their own ears as they read.
We talked about "tall tales" and thought about why Holler Loudly could be considered a tall tale character. An additional teachable moment presented itself when they asked about the F&G I was reading from. Ah, yes, what is the publisher's job, boys and girls?
Thank you to the divine Cynthia and Barry for a book it was pure pleasure to share, this week.